Talents vs Frustration [Archives:2000/15/Focus]

April 10 2000

Dhikra Ahmed Ali

Culture is a priceless treasure that possesses many humanitarian values. It is the talent and inventiveness that God had gifted human beings with distinguishing them from other unintelligent forms of lives. It is an outcome of human development and creativity and a measure of their advancement.
We, as a nation, have our own peculiarities and qualifications that are manifest in our deeds, habits, traditions, religions and heritage. We had our own literature represented in poems, novels, articles, tales and even theater. Yemen still nurtures innovators in these fields and others as well. However, at this point, we find ourselves obliged to ask few questions. Do these innovators have a good fortune to develop the talent and inventiveness that God had gifted them with? Is there any body who is concerned about sustaining and developing these human talents? And is there any one who realizes the value of these talents for the society? These are questions that are not easy to find an answer to. 

However, we still have to ask especially as we are undergoing a stagnation state. Educated people and innovators suffer from despair and frustration that started to eat into this sector of society. This state of depression, psychological afflictions and discomfiture that educated people in our society undergo did not grow out of nowhere. These conditions are a result of economic, political and social circumstances on the one hand and the stagnation of cultural activities on the other. The sensation of failure that attacks intellectuals and creators’ brains is assassinating their contributions. They meet with many obstacles such as routine ignorance, carelessness and negligence. Those people who do not possess the qualification to smooth out the hindrances that impede creativity are far from inventiveness and respect for creative brains. We are still making our first steps while many other innovators have already crossed hundreds of miles.
Artists, intellectuals and innovators are people who enjoy delicate emotions that are easily affected by the changes in their societies. These incidents fill their brain with innovations and soak their senses with emotions that they present in an artistic mold. They translate their feeling and peoples’ problems honestly through all means. The artist conveys a humanitarian, educational, moral and national message. He combines culture and education to support the civilization. In addition, he performs the role of a psychiatrist through his artistic treatment in quenching public’s needs and entertaining them. The artist strongly believes in the importance of the role he plays in life. Artists have always stood side by side with revolutionaries and revolutions. They ignited ardor in people’s souls and pushed them to participate and join the revolution. There are also many theatrical activities that played a big role before and after the revolution. Only artists and innovators could play these roles by means of their skill in affecting people’s feelings. Despite all of these, artists nowadays find themselves unable to contribute; not because they have run out of creativity but their feelings have become more like the flowing water that cannot find a place to escape from. So it will be rejuvenated. Their feelings accumulate to form an unerupted volcano inside their bodies.
Culture should not be a seasonal activity or else this shall be a death sentence on innovators. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Culture that is in charge of culture and innovators’ affairs, sieges them with its bizarre seasonal attitude. It has impeded creativity from flourishing except in certain seasons that it would determine. So, it chooses the subjects and presents them in the form of civilized caricature, giving certain limited hours to satisfy the needs of seasonal visitors. Those latter come with seasonal invitations just to prove that their need for creativity came to life again after it had died. Moreover, they do not really come to enjoy what innovators present, but rather are prompted by their feeling that it is their official duty to attend at least for a temporary, limited period of time. During this time, they impose on the artist what he should do so that he would not waste his time because the guests have other plans as well. At the end, they simply leave without saying a word of thanks to the artist that tried to present his art in the manner he is used to. 

This leaves the artist in bewilderment, anxiety and a state of depression, feeling that his art means nothing. In this manner the Ministry tries to be in its best forms in front of the elite of the society, leaving behind many trails of depression without bearing their responsibility. This has resulted in the humiliation of artists and the decline of the real audience who enjoys a presentation of art. It has broadened the gap between artists and their audiences until they have forgotten each other. Therefore, there are no artists, no audiences and, consequently, no culture. All these conditions have created a deep state of despair in the artist because he feels that no body respects him. He then finds himself meandering about though he was born to create and has dedicated his life to his art that he mastered tenaciously and diligently. This why we see many of our artists leave the country trying to find a place where his art would be valued. Nowadays, we can find many Yemeni artists working with other Arab artists in all different sorts of art. On the other hand, the ministry does not even bother asking why this is the case and what are the real causes behind this problem. I even believe that the ministry is not willing to patronize the remaining artists that are still in the country.
Apart from the fact that art is very important for the society the ministry should reconsider its policies and principles so as to bear its responsibility. In spite of the state of depression that artists undertake, many have still harbored some hope that things could be better. They are waiting for the day when they can activate cultural activities and they are well prepared for that. Therefore, the ministry is expected to use the help of specialized people and not the cadres who are aggressive and have narcissism. It should also make an analytical study for the ongoing conditions to know where the flaws are. After diagnosing the causes for this sorry state, it should formulate policies, programs and plans. Only in this manner can we sustain our culture and encourage our innovators and return to the Yemeni culture in excellence.