“Al Maganeen” Prowling Everywhere ! [Archives:1998/21/Health]

May 25 1998

Going through our cities and villages, one cannot fail to notice the large number of crazy people spread everywhere. It is actually a remarkable phenomenon, isn’t it? It is virtually horrible and depressing to see such a large number of our citizens walking madly in the streets.
Many conscientious and concerned people feel that the number of these creatures has grown so much that they fear that the majority of our citizens will be driven insane or nuts. I was thoroughly appalled to know that there are around seven mad people in a small village in the suburb of Taiz. This is a dangerously threatening pointer.
It is tragic and pitiable to see these people wandering aimlessly, sleeping in the streets and eating from the garbage containers. Of course the reasons lying behind this tragedy of these “maganeen” are doubtlessly too many.
In the final psychological analysis, the current economic hardship is considered to be the most important reason among many other reasons. The standard of living of the majority of people is witnessing a free fall since the Gulf war in 1990. So many ex-patriots in the Gulf countries returned to Yemen and now the number of jobless people is on the rise. So imagine one being a father and a breadwinner for a dozen little kids, and he has not even a source to ensure their survival! What will he do? Of course some people find their salvation through begging, theft or some other immoral and evil deed. Some cannot help to see their dignity being tarnished and they hence they resort to committing suicide or even infanticide. But some lose their minds and take a visa into the world of madness or “gonon.”
It happens occasionally that some people fall in love and because of their inability to pay the high dowry required by the girl’s family, they undergo a kind of mental disorder.
Some people might suffer from a sort of psychological disturbance, because of social problems. And due to negligence, soon we find them hallucinating, wandering in the streets wearing dirty clothes. Now they are added to the list of outcast people, though their cases could have been cured.
Some people feign madness as a technique for protecting the safety and security of the regime and the people. They keep an open eye on outlaws and report their movements.
By in large, the reasons of madness are many. But here the most important thing for me is how to find a remedy for this virus of madness devouring the whole body of the society. I believe the establishment of a society to combat madness has become thoroughly urgent just like that of society to combat beggars established in Taiz.
Let me here give some suggestions which could help in tackling this nagging problem. I think that some of these mad people could be given some medical or psychological treatment since their cases are curable. Others should be kept in special public houses where they can be given food and health care, for they’re still human beings. In other words, the streets of our cities and villages should be cleaned from the “Maganeen.” This is because they have become a source of fear and fright for a good many of the people. Girls and children in particular, feel frightened of them and fear to walk in the streets alone. We really all do feel unhappy to see these helpless creatures prowling the streets of Taiz naked and looking for food in the rubbish bins.
These creatures scattered everywhere also give a very bad impression of Yemen to visiting tourists. That is to say they, in addition to the rubbish piles, are disfiguring the beautiful streets of Yemen. They also make the tourists change their attitude about our country which they knew from before coming. Therefore I call all the people concerned to take care of the reputation of our country.
Another thing that should be mentioned is this, I believe that some of these mad people do not create problems for others but for some they certainly do. People are under a constant threat and at the grip of their mercy. Some of them ask for money and if one does not give it, he or she may meet the inevitable. Some go to shops and snatch whatever they like and take to their heels. Therefore, to combat them has become essential and urgent. Not only that but the reasons behind their number must be checked too. Will this message get a response?
By Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi
Yemen Times, Taiz