Children’s Magazine Waits for Ministerial Approval [Archives:2001/05/Culture]

January 29 2001

Karen Dabrowska
Zaqzaqat, a magazine produced by children for children, is ready to start publication. All it needs is approval from the Ministry of Information.
Twenty-five children from Sana’a have been working on the magazine during the past few months writing articles, taking photographs and finalizing illustrations.
But when Maha Salah approached the Ministry of Information for permission to start publishing she was met with an indifferent response.
“They did not try to understand what the magazine was about”, Salah told The Yemen Times. The idea is new and anything new takes time to establish. At first people are afraid of it.”
Her next strategy is to approach the ministry accompanied by the fathers of the children who are producing the magazine. And if that doesn’t work they will meet the Minister of Information and the Minister of Culture if necessary.
Salah, an accountancy student in her final year of studies, is being assisted in the project by a number of well-known Yemeni literary figures: architect Yassin Ghaleb, poet Mohammed Hussein Aitam, artist Samira Abud Ali, short story writer Maysaloun Khaladi and short story writer and classical Arabic scholar Haifa Abdu Salam.
Ghaleb attributes the procrastination of the authorities in granting the magazine a license to fear that the project could be an anti-government activity. “It may be opposed by different people for different reasons but that does not bother us”, he says confidently. “We are single-minded in our objectives and we will succeed”.
Zaqzaqat refers to the sound of the birds. “Life is like the music of the birds”, Salah explains. “The most important thing is that the magazine is produced by the children themselves. They do everything. The magazine will deal with all aspects of life, anything, which is important to the 25 children who are producing it.
Besides working on the magazine Salah and her colleagues organize group outings for the children aimed at developing research skills. When they first joined the group some of the children had never held a camera. After a tour of Sana’a old city they took many impressive photographs of both people and buildings.
Other activities include impromptu drama workshops and visits to exhibitions such as an exhibition of young Yemeni artists in Sana’a organized by DIA a French non-governmental organization of international development and solidarity founded in 1989.
The children from Salah’s group asked the young artists many difficult questions about their work and sources of inspiration while their parents had to wait patiently until the discussions finished before they could take their children home.