Culture In Abyan: Lingering Worries and Long Pending Hopes [Archives:2001/20/Culture]

May 14 2001

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Yemen Times
Cultural activities are of prime importance to any society. Yemeni society is rich in this field which has a great impact on the identity of our society. However, it is a pity that these activities have been in wane in the past few years. This has actually crippled the creative development of artists as it weakens the cultural movement and the arts in general. Cultural activities have become restricted to some national ceremonies and festivals.
I will spotlight the cultural activities in the governorate of Abyan. I met with Mr. Hussain Mohammed Naser, Cultural Office GM in Abyan, who gave a detailed account of the whole issue and all the issues related to it. He said “We carry out cultural activities as planned by the Ministry of Culture. There are some cultural, artistic, folklore and theatrical activities annually.
As a matter of fact, cultural heritage in the governorate is not alien from that in other governorates. It lacks attention and support. So as to fulfill our goals there should be adequate resources mobilized to raise the cultural sensitivity. This is not to diminish the currently held cultural activities but to stress the point that it is not up the standard. This under-performance is attributed to the low grants provided by the Ministry to the Cultural Offices in general. What is granted to the Cultural Office can hardly cover the administrative expenses. We have discussed this issue with the Ministry. However, there has so far not been any good omen for a change.
On the other hand, we highly appreciate the incentive of the governorate officials to carry out cultural and artistic activities every now and then. Moreover, the employees and members in the Abyan Cultural Office are an example of solidarity and enthusiasm. It is true that there are some artistic groups which have disappeared from Zunjbar, capital of Abyan. However, others are steadfastly serving the artistic mission. Activities of the office are still confined to the town of Zunjubar. Hence, the Cultural Office has a great responsibility to organize cultural festivals, publications, and refining talents. To that end the Ministry has to activate the cultural activities in the Ministry sub-offices in other governorates. If support is provided, we then can go beyond the boundaries of Zunjubar to cover all the districts of the governorate. We count highly on Mr. Abdulwahab al-Rawhani, Culture Minister, to address these problems. We are also optimistic that in the coming days there will be promising cultural activities in all the governorates of the Republic.
Abyan was among the pioneering governorates that has a remarkable theatrical tradition which has lasted for many years. Besides, it has a qualified cadre of actors, authors, and producers who graduated from the Fine Arts Institute in Aden. The cadre is working hard to implement cultural programs. However, they can achieve little whorthwhile for the afore mentioned reasons.
Artistic teams of Abyan’s Cultural Office participated in some international and Arab festivals including the Soviet Union festival in 89 and 95, Babel exhibition in Iraq in 92 and 97 and al-Ismailiah festival in Egypt in 98. “We do hope that we will be able to participate this year in Babel festival which will be decided during our visit to the Ministry Office in Sana’a soon.” The Ministry gives teams opportunities to participate. However, the governorate and the artistic teams have to bear all the expenses.
The Ministry has to draw up a centralized plan for all the offices in governorates which should be provided adequate financial support to carry out these activities. It has to make all the necessary resources available to make these activities a success. It also has to organize competitions among cultural offices to be on a better stead when selecting teams for national festivals or when representing Yemen outside the country.
Mr. Faisal Sufi, Culture GM, said that there were clear instructions by President Saleh to the Culture Minister to revive and cultivate the cultural activities in all the governorates.
The Ministry can certainly revive the backward and stagnant literary activities provided the Ministry has the will to do so.
In conclusion, if the Ministry does not make sincere efforts to revive the tradition of culture and art, this may lead to the loss of our precious cultural heritage. Besides, developing and supporting literary men and woman is very crucial since they are the main pillar of any literary movement in our country.