A translated version of this piece is Available in: العربية (Arabic)
Ana Insan Madani is a recurring column in al-Madaniya Magazine where we present prominent Yemeni figures from a variety of backgrounds and fields. The aim is to share their thoughts on issues related to Yemen in general, with a focus on topics related to intellectual and societal debates in Yemen, such as notions of citizenship, the meaning of ‘civil society’, its implications and different dimensions, as well as other related topics.
Abdulrahman Mohammed Al-Ghabari is a film and theater director from Dhamar Governorate. He was born in 1956 and has two daughters and three sons. He is a founding member of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate and a member of the World Journalists Organization, as well as the Union of Arab Journalists. He is also the head of the Union of Arab Photographers in Yemen.
Al-Aghbari is someone with many talents. He is a musician, singer, and art writer. In addition, he has been a professional and specialist photographer for nearly half a century. To date, he has held more than 77 photography exhibitions in Yemen in various governorates and around the globe. He has received many awards and honors from official and civil society organizations in Yemen and abroad for his photography, which addresses different aspects of life in Yemen.
- What does homeland mean to you?
For me, homeland is about freedom. I love it, and its value increases when it becomes a homeland for all its people, so that they can live in peace, freedom, and work.
- What is the meaning of a civil state to you?
Civil state… secular democracy. That is what we really need in this particular circumstance.
- What responsibilities should a citizen in a society have?
If there are civil laws that guarantee rights and freedoms, all citizens will certainly live by them as long as these laws keep pace with the times.
- When you hear the word equality, what comes to your mind?
Equality is the requirement of each citizen. However, dictatorial regimes hate equality among people. Unfortunately, there is inequality in our society despite the concept being included within the objectives of the 26 September revolution. I hope the phenomenon of racism will vanish, but this will not happen unless people agree about a civil constitution that guarantees freedom, democracy and equality among all citizens.
- If you had the power to make one change in Yemen, what would it be and when?
I would change the current unjustrule of law. I consider myself one of those who have to make change in this issue through educating and enlightening the community, in order that citizens can obtain their rights according to a fair and new system of rule of law.
- In your opinion, what do you think is the reason of failure in Yemen?
The failure of Yemen is caused by the failure of successive authorities to rule Yemen. Over the years, these authorities have been running after their interests, strengthening a tribal system that refuses civilization, and weakening education through depending underdeveloped curricula. When the authorities are fanatical, inevitably they will fail and will force citizens to fail with them.
- What does Yemen need to stand up and progress?
It needs a valid rule of law for all citizens, an independent army, quality education, a fair democracy – but the most important point is that Yemen lacks a civil constitution. We need a rule of law that guaranteescitizens’ rights in work, and personal freedom for their way of life in general, respecting the rights of women and children, as well as providing social welfare. Without all these, Yemen can’t reach the civilized state of other countries.
- How do you think culture and art impact the country’s civilization and its development?
Culture is the identity of the people. Developing culture means the prosperity of the society and its political systems. Arts are considered the main reasons behind the progress and renaissance of many people. For instance, a European Renaissance was a result of arts and philosophy, not of politics and armies. When there is deep cultural awareness, inevitably people will develop and nations will progress.