Al-Misrakh-Sabir: Where Yemen Is Still Yemen [Archives:2001/35/Focus]

August 27 2001

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
While many people understandably will come up and say that Yemen is really changing – for worse – there seems to be a reluctance to fall into that kind of cynicism that is strongly apparent in quite a lot of the seemingly remote country side of this truly beautiful country of ours. Perhaps the rapid urban growth of Sana’a, that once peaceful serene capital, which has turned unfortunately into an ugly rendition of what modern cosmopolitan life is all about, dashed with the little evidence of the prevalence of law and order and a strong dose of the seduction of the material and mundane over values and a love affair with life, both of which once predominated in the hearts and soul of its carefree residents, many of whom have become scattered droplets surrounded by strange surroundings and unhealthy social decay, all have lead to the misconception that all is lost in Yemen and that the people of Yemen are truly forgetting themselves and their heritage of faith and dignity and pride in the simplicity of life they lead and the proximity to the bliss of spiritual paradise that is the reward of faith in this world and the compensation for the patience, which this faith requires. The rural areas of Yemen are no doubt suffering from deprivation and surely one can see that, as far as most of the rural areas are concerned, Yemen has a long way to go before it can boast of truly being a modern nation, with all its people enjoying equal opportunity for progress and development and equal access to essential services, such as access to reliable electricity and access to quality educational and health services, etc. So, it is not difficult to sympathize with the people of the rural areas of Yemen as one travels from Sa’ada to the remote villages of Tour Al-Baha and understand their feeling of being neglected by Government, many of whom serve in its military or security apparatus, but have nothing in return, except their meager salaries. On the other hand there are quite a few villages that have no real productive undertaking that can help meet their sustenance needs and thus solely rely on Government support to provide the minimum requirements for life. It is here that the heart can feel pity and regret that citizens are indeed prisoners of poverty, deprivation and hopelessness, not to mention the social ills that come from isolation and tribal and clan wars that seem to go on endlessly into the future.
Amidst all this sad picture that becomes painted into the mind of the visitor to our neglected countryside, one must go the area of Al-Misrakh-Sabir just to escape from all the paradoxes that have overtaken our Republic, and to see a parade of endless smiles starting from the foot of the steep climb all the way to the top of the wadi, which can only be reached by foot and after a strenuous – albeit healthy – climb along its rocky river bed that can become deadly if the onrush of its possible torrential flow is not kept in the back of the mind of the climber during the struggle to overcome the large jagged rocks that stand in the way of the steep climb. Along this climb, the observer cannot fail to note the endless trickle of friendly and clean men, women and children, going up or down the valley, as though the Lord Al-Mighty has singled out this area of the country to be free from suffering and free from the awful signs of deprivation, despite the remoteness of its location and the difficulty of access to most of its residences.
In Al-Misrakh – Sabir, children do not see summer vacation as a chance to take out the slingshots and take their revenge on society for providing them with inadequate educational services. The children are all attending schools receiving supplementary aid in their weak subjects, or improving their English language or enhancing their spiritual upbringing. What amazes the visitor in these lovely and clean children, is that these children are extremely well – mannered, not uttering one curse word among themselves or when talking to younger peers or older folks. Furthermore their reception of visitors, whether Yemeni or foreign is so congenial and warm that one is embarrassed at the courtesy and politeness displayed and the desire to go out of their way to offer anything to ease the hardships of the foot-climb and the fast heartbeat of an overworked heart. These children were happy and secure in knowing that all the ugliness of mundane urban life, will probably remain on the other side of Jabal Sabir for a long time and therefore not disturb their carefree life, thanking the Lord for the difficulty of reaching their habitat by modern vehicles, so that all that characterizes the decay of urban life remains distant from them.
The beautiful area of Misrakh-Sabir is just beautifully breathtaking from the top of the mountain and surely is worth the climb to the top, even if one has to do it by hand, as difficult as it already is on foot! Moreover the chance to meet and talk with its people across the ages, underscores the fact that indeed a healthy society once lived throughout the land of Sheba and Queen Arwa, enjoying their care free self sustaining lives and working hard to make sure that they need not stoop to anyone for help, because they are content with what God has bestowed them with and with what their hands provide to make up for the rest, if times are hard. It seems that there are no hard times in Al-Misrakh-Sabir, because all the people talk about here is God and his Kindness to them and to all mankind and they have no difficulty in realizing that faith in the Lord Al-Mighty is the only door to happiness and social cohesion and without true faith that comes from the heart there can only be decay, misery and hopelessness. Faith here in Misrakh-Sabir is not just a superficial convenient form of worship that one hope would lead to material splendor, which has regretfully filled our land. Faith in Misrakh-Sabir is still pure and innocent and appreciative of the wisdom of the creed, in bringing people together and living in harmony and peace. Faith here is a common denominator for all the people and the young and the old are equally steadfast in the faith they have – in God and in themselves. May God bless the people of Misrakh-Sabir for giving this observer a chance to see that, in Yemen, things are all right after all and that the Yemen, we all love and cherish, shall continue to prevail for a long time to come.