Despite what we thinkYemen deserves [Archives:2003/648/Opinion]

July 7 2003

By Yazan Al-Saghiry
[email protected]

With the French revolution (July 14, 1789), and by its three shiny Principals: Liberty, Brotherhood and Equality, a new age was born. They call it technically 'the Modern Age'. Although the French revolution was a political and social revolution, the Modern age was a political, social, cultural, historical and technological revolution. Compared to the modern age, the Middle age was very shallow. We can't underestimate it, but the step of the modern age was very huge and was not expectable. We can call it also the age of dreams; dreams that never occurred but in the fantasy of children about flying in the sky, visiting the planets, lighting without candles in the nights. And the most important issue is the greatness of man, who was best shown in this era.
After this revolution, the world was divided many times, but it was always into two categories. First, there were the occupiers and the occupied countries. And this concept stayed until the second half of 20th century. And then it turned into: the first and the third world- and that did not mean that the first concept had totally disappeared, but this is a general talk. The first world countries are those which have very strong economy. As a result of that economy, they created a civilization. It is so easy, you have a strong economy, then you have civilization tools; you don't, and then feel sorry to say: welcome to the hell of the third world! Anyway, this class was led by the G-8 – they were seven until they finally accepted China as the member number eight.
On the other hand, we have our third world. The third world countries are those which are dependable financially on the first world countries, or they are dependable on the tool of the first world which is World Bank! Yemen is one of the poorest in the world.
In that concept my friend Abdullah A. S. sent me an email discussing his idea which was shown in his article “Not quite the time to go home” and which included a kind of discussion to some bad aspects in Yemen. Besides, it has an open invitation to immigrants that 'Yemen is not quite the place to achieve your ambitions'. Unfortunately, he asked me not to publish his email. Therefore, I'm going to discuss the whole idea.
First of all, Yemen is a very especial case. While the world gets into the modern world in 1798, Yemen stayed in the dark ages until 1962-1967! Believe it or not, there was no difference between the dark and the modern ages in Yemen until the republic's stage! The so- called Imam- the governor of the northwestern part of our Yemen until the great revolution of people on September the 26th 1962- was very afraid from the liberation movements that invaded the Arab world in Lebanon 1/8/1945- it announced its independence on 22/11/1943; but the last French soldier left Lebanon on 1/8/1945 – Syria 17/4/1946, Egypt 23/7/1952 and others. So, he decided to close the whole country by using his religious authority that he happened to have.
I don't find more exciting than the description of President Abdullah Al-Sallal (1917-1994) – the leader of 26 September revolution and the president of Yemen (from 1962 to 1967) – in his short biography, which was mainly concentrated on some incidents in the period before the revolution. One of them was about the first Yemeni military academic mission to Iraq, passing from Aden.
The southeastern part of our country, at that time, was a better place to live because as a British colony it had more facilities than the rest of the country. However, the occupiers made sure that people stay illiterate and ignorant because, they were – like the Imam – afraid of any kind of uprising. Besides, the most important element living was absent, which is freedom.
He wrote: 'when we saw, for the first time ever, the paved highways, electricity and other facilities, we were amazed!' another quotation is: 'my friend went to his room in the hotel. It was a single-bed room. Behind his bed there was a button. He used to play with it and every time he presses it, the waiter shows! The waiter screamed: you called me! My friend answered him: NO I DID NOT! He didn't know that this button was a bell in order to call the waiter!'
The funniest one, he wrote: 'we went to the cinema. It was the first time ever we went to a cinema. First, we thought that those songs we heard are the cinema! Then, suddenly, the lights were off, and it was an Indian film about Saladin – an Arabic hero liberated Al-Quads (Jerusalem) form the crusaders. We were astounded! Suddenly, there was a scene when we watched horses running, and we thought they were running toward us! So, some of us hid under our seats!'
Those pictures were real. And now they are history that seems to come from Dark Ages. It was only 45 years, and this period is nothing in the age of any civilization. But in these 45 years, Yemeni people could change that unbelievable situation, at least in the cities and most of the villages; like any other country in the world.
So, when we talk about the bad aspects in Yemen, we have to reconsider; what Yemen was and what Yemen is. All of Yemenis want their country to be the best, but this doesn't mean that if it was not, we abandon it!
I know we have really very bad aspects. We have poverty, unemployment, revenge, bribery etc ut the generation that lived the outbreak of 26 September revolution had worse. They had a country that missed 173 years of the age of modernity! They had a country of starving, homeless, and illiterate people. And they could make it, so, it is not mission impossible.
People like Abdullah who lived out of the country for a while – and by the way I'm one of them for 22 years – had a tangible contact with the differences. And this created in them a kind of sorrow. They love their country, not less than anyone, but they don't look at the situation from this angle.
And for my dear friend Abdullah; if your salary is 30,000 Yemeni Rials, mine is 10.850 Rials – by the way, I get only 10.800, because the 50 Rials are always taken by the accountant!
I know it is not about the money, but don't you think that those bad aspects are somehow funny? And don't you think that they are nothing compared to the benefit of a whole country?
Believe me Abdullah, Yemen deserves.