Othman Abdurabo: “the concerned authorities should pay due attention to Yemeni artists” [Archives:2001/38/Culture]

September 17 2001

Othman Abdurabo is a prominent educator and well-educated personality. During his educational career in the Abyan Governorate, then known as the Fathli Sultanate, he could manage to be a teacher and an artist. Othman Abdurabo joined the educational field in 1956 when he was appointed as a teacher in a school in Yafa’a. Abdurabo has made many artistic and cultural contributions since he mastered several artistic genres, including duet monologue through which he tackled many negative aspects prevailing at that time. Othman Abdurabo Abdullah Muraybish was born in 1941 in the city of Shaqrah Abyan Governorate, is married and the father of three boys and three girls. Salleh Abdulbaqi of Yemen Times met Othman and spoke with him about different issues pertaining to culture.
Othman Abdurabo started his career as a teacher on November 1, 1956 in the sultanate of Yafa’a during the colonial rule. At that time schools used to hold different cultural, artistic and sporting activities which used to be called the ‘the Fathers’ Day’. Abdorabo was so keen in performing the monologue through which he criticized high dowries which used to be over 10 thousands shillings, though salaries at that time did not exceed 250 shillings per month. His monologues had great influence on the people at that time and people started thinking of fixing small dowries. This is what actually happened after the 14th of October Revolution, when the Dowry Act was enacted fixing it at the sum of 2 thousand shillings. Following the revolution, Abdurabo tackled different daily life problems and difficulties such as housing problems, labor issues, censorship, etc. In the 80s upon the establishment of a musical group headed by the prominent Adeni singer Atrush, Abdurabo joined the group at the invitation of the former. Then, Abdurabo started a professional career which had been significantly influenced by the late artist Omar Mahfuz Ghabah as for the art of monologue, although his artistic skills were not limited to monologue. Similarly, Abdurabo was deeply involved in theater through which he tackled many issues related to education and cooperatives, etc.
In 1975 he assumed the post of director of the Culture Office in Abyan. During his post, many cultural and artistic festivities were performed in Abyan such as weddings, songs and theater festivities. In 1958 he wrote a comic lyrical monologue (Kua’adah Ma Yehmylha Hamal) which coincided with the proclamation of the Federation of South Arabia and the unity of Egypt and Syria. This monologue became very famous and was broadcasted from the Cairo-based Voice of Arabs. At that time Abdurabo was called for to the office of the British Councilor in Ja’ar and Ahmed Fada’aq was requested to translate the monologue into English. When asked about the difference of the cultural situation in our country between the past and the present, Abdurabo said that the cultural and artistic life was more vigorous in the past, especially in the former South Yemen, as there used to be lots of musical groups, theater actors and folklore bands, all run by the former ministry of culture in the South. Moreover, the Fine Arts Institute in Aden played a pivotal role in promoting the cultural life in Aden. The different art groups participated in several festivals abroad and opened the door for our cultural heritage to be known overseas. If these artistic groups and festivities maintained their activity up until now, there would be a real cultural renaissance. However, what happened was the opposite, as the cultural life has further weakened and it is now in a stagnant situation. In my opinion, the reason behind this situation is because the concerned authorities do not pay due attention to those artists. Despite all this problems, we hope that the authorities will reconsider the situation of the Yemeni artists. Abdurabo lavishly spoke about the cultural renaissance took place in the 50s and 60s, saying that at that time people used to love art, and artists used to dedicate themselves to art as well. Abdurabo added that we shall not forget that Abyan has a rich cultural heritage that is different from the other parts of Yemen and this has given me the chance to interact with local traditions and norms there.