Good-bye Zayd Moute’e Dammage… The Novelist and the Human [Archives:2000/13/Culture]

March 27 2000

Jalal Al-Shara’abi
Yemen Times
Last Monday one of its most prominent novelists bade farewell to his beloved country Yemen after a long struggle with blood cancer that started in the Mid 80s of this century. After the departure of  great novelist, Yemen and the entire Arab world have lost one of the stalwarts in literature.
The career of Zayd Moute’e Dammage began in the city of Bani Sowaif in Egypt. He secretly left the city of Taiz to Cairo in 1985 to escape from the Imam. There, he was able to develop his mental skills and education. First, he wrote “Okdah”, a story in which he exposed the stark reality of Cairo’s city and its style of living. Then, the rest were local oriented stories in which he used local terms like ‘Al-Mikhayah’, ‘Al-Samsarah’, ‘Al-Tahish’ and many others which he usually explained in the margins. His first novel “Al-Rahinah” was published for the first time in 1984. He described the conditions during the reign of the Imam using a very interesting plot. He explained what goes on in the Imam’s palace very skillfully mentioning all details. Then he ended the story with the escape of a Sheikhs son which symbolized his refusal to be a party to the corruption and class discrimination, despite all privileges and luxuries he enjoyed. The novelist has also written several other novels like Al-Jisr group, Tahish Al-Hoban and Ahzan Al-Bint Mayasah as well as many others which have not been published. These include Jisr Al-Layl, Malik Al-Khabt, Sa’aeed Al-Yemen and the play of Ayban.
Zayd was a suburban novelist, for the majority of his works embodied the suburban social mileau in all its asp ects. He always portrays the suffering of the Yemeni people who have been smitten by poverty, illiteracy and disease. He has also written on the theme of loving one’s country highlighted the virtue of patriotism. Now, one of his novels is taught as a textbook in Sana’a University. The UNESCO is monitoring its distribution in the Arab world. It has also been translated to eight languages like English, French and others not to mention that it is taught in many universities all around the world.
The Writers Unions has deeply condoled the death of this distinguished writer who has been struggling with the fatal disease for 15 years. The president in his condolence message said “Zayd Moute’e Dammage has, in his manners and literary works, showed a strong commitment to people and country’s cases.
He was born in 1943 in Di Al-Mahmar village. In 1944, he was released from the network jail in Taiz and headed for Aden. There he cultivated a love for reading and writing and used his potential in criticizing the conditions of people under the rule of Imams. In the Arab literary world he was influenced by the writings of Gorgy Zaydan. He was also influenced by the writings of Victor Hugo and Checkov. He was elected as member on the first parliament in 1971 and a governor for Al-Mahweet in 1975. In 1980 he worked as a Charge d’Affaires in the Yemeni embassy in Kuwait and before that in 1979 he worked as an ambassador in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has also been a member of the People’s Parliament, of the Permanent Committee, of the Peace and Collaboration Council and of the Writers Union. In addition, he won the badge of literature and arts twice. He died in London last Tuesday and his body will be flown to Sana’a so that it will be buried in Al-Shohada’a graveyard. Zayd Dammage did not leave a monetary fortune of any kind but rather a literary one that he left for the coming generations. Yemen has really lost one of its noblest and most innovative men of letters who spent their entire life working for a case that they believed in.