Baba Abdulrahman; Educated Yemeni Generations Through Radio TV. [Archives:1997/46/Culture]

November 17 1997

Mr. Abdulrahman Mutahar, known to child audiences as Baba Abdulrahman, is a consultant at the Capital’s Secretariat for the Culture and Arts Affairs. For the last 35 years, Baba Abdulrahman been known by Yemeni children and adults alike as a pioneer and champion of children entertainment and educational programs. He also published Yemen’s first comic magazine for children – Hodhod or hoopoe. Ismail Al-Ghabiry of Yemen Times met Mr. Mutahar and filed this interview.
Q: Could you tell us about your early days in the media? A: I started working for Sanaa radio shortly after the out break of the September Revolution in 1962.
Q: How do you find the production of children’s TV and radio programs? A: Producing children’s programs for TV or radio is far more difficult than those directed to the adult audience. I have been able, through my modest efforts and contributions to fill some of the gaps in our children’s educational life. Rawdhat Al-Atfal, which I prepare and present, has been quite successful. It started on the radio then moved on to TV, and has been a good forum for presenting our talented kids to the general public. It has also helped to preserve many children’s folkloric songs and tales by presenting them in a new, more modern context. Musaad & Musaada is also one of my most successful radio programs for adults. It was suddenly stopped for no apparent reason.
Q: How did the children respond to your early programs on radio? A: The children who listened to my programs then are the leaders of today. They are the generation of the revolution. Many of them often say that they received their first lessons in patriotism at the hands of Baba Abdulrahman through Rawdhat Al-Atfal.
Q: Could you mention the names of some of these children who grew up to become leaders of society and decision makers? A: They are many, and I can’t remember their names or current professions. However, the few that I remember and still see from time to time include Ms. Amatulaleem Al-Sooswa, the Deputy Minister of Information; Mr. Mohammed Al-Khateeb, the well-known lawyer; Ms. Fatin Al-Yoosufy, the TV announcer; Mr. Abdulbasit Al-Harithy, the musical conductor; and Ms. Kawkab Hamood Eesa, a well-known doctor. I could go on mentioning names.
Q: What are your current main programs produced for children? A: On radio, I have the weekly Rawdhat Al-Atfal – also presented on TV – and the daily Ahla Hikaya. I also publish Hodhod magazines for children.
Q: What sort of support has been provided by the official bodies concerned with children’s culture and entertainment? A: The support given by all such establishments, without exception, is solely in the form of “congratulations, best wishes,” and warmly shaking my hand.
Q: Have you participated in events abroad? A: Yes, I took part in several events related to children’s culture in Arab and European countries. I participated in an international children’s song competition held in Germany in 1979 to celebrate the International Child’s Year. My entry was a nice little song – I Am a Smart Champion Child. The song won, as decided by the judging committee in Geneva, and was internationally declared. But I was not given a prize, for which I am still waiting for in amazement. I also won the prize of Distinction in Serving Arab Childhood in the 13th Child Culture Festival held in 1997 in Shariqa, UAE. The prize included a shield, a certificate and a cash award. I was handed the award by HH Dr. Sultan Bin Ahmed Al-Qassemy, the ruler of Shariqa. He also promised to support the Hodhod magazine. I hope that all Arab rulers would follow his example in supporting and caring for children’s cAulture and education.