Faces From Yemen's Revolution
Fuad Al-Himyari: The revolution poet
Fuad Al-Himyari was born a poet. He remembers how at a very young age he used to rhyme sentences, even in everyday conversations. Soon he started polishing his skills and becoming more public with his words in his home town of Taiz, where he was known as a political poet.
Today he is the revolution’s supreme coalition spokesperson, a group he helped establish. Although the revolution can been seen as successful, he said there are points that should be reviewed – especially after the regime falls.
“I used my talent to advocate for the revolution which I had been dreaming of for years,” he said. Al-Himyari was one of the youth who advocated for a peaceful revolution even before the Arab Spring.
“I remember on Jul. 28, 2007, I was among a group of protesting youth demanding reforms outside the cabinet. We were the first protestors to get a taste of the regime thugs’ fists and sticks,” he said.
When Yemeni youths took to the streets this year he automatically found himself among them, vowing to stay until the end.
“I owe it to my family that I have lasted this long. My siblings and children come to visit me in Change Square and encourage me to continue,” said Al-Himyari.
He sings for the revolution and has already created a number of poems and plays. His latest production is a poetry collection under the name Premeditated Resistance, while his most famous poem is the Official Spokesperson, about the martyrs of the revolution.
In a society that enjoys and is affected by songs and poetry, Fuad Al-Himyari realizes the influence he has and the risks this poses. He has already been subjected to harassment and has been chased in the streets.
“My home was broken into and I keep receiving threatening calls,” he said. “I have been asked why don’t I fear for myself and my answer is that sacrifices have to be made.”
Ironically his house is in a pro-regime area and his neighbors are loyal to the regime but this does not affect his relations with them, which he described as friendly and respectful. “I feel sorry for them and want to help them realize how wrong they are,” he said.
Khalid Zaher: Singing for freedom
Khalid Zaher used to spread joy through his songs about life and love before the revolution and now he inspires and fires up the protestors through his revolutionary music. Many protestors now know his words by heart and are using his artistic work to mark their affiliation.
“I have been singing since I was nine years old and in college I studied musical coordination and composition,” said Zaher. “I wanted to revive the Yemeni traditional music and spiritual songs.”
He joined the revolution from the first week and it stirred his passion for singing so much that he composed several pieces for the movement.
“I sang for the revolution because I sing for freedom and sacrifice and the nation,” he said. “I will sing for my beloved country until the last breath.”
He did not face many threats but a few “annoying acts” as he called them. He remembers an incident he had with a pro-regime soldier who stopped him at a checkpoint after recognizing him as one of the singers appearing on the opposition Suhail TV channel.
“He accused me of breaking the country apart. I replied that it is because of people like him that we had our revolution. We stand against injustice and inequality. I gave him examples from his real life as a solider and he was convinced and let me go,” remembered Zaher.
For Zaher, it doesn’t matter that not all Yemenis support the revolution. He will always be civil to his fellow men and women despite their political differences. It is a part of the process of change, which cannot come all at once or to all parts, and he is sure that one day the revolution’s spirit will prevail.
Hilal Al-Marqab: Cartoons for change
His work gives the revolution flavor, style and color. Hilal Al-Marqab uses his talent as a cartoonist to portray in caricatures what words cannot do.
“I have been drawing since school and always used my cynicism to reflect on the environment around me,” said Al-Marqab. “Now I publish in several newspapers, websites and some of my work is shown on TV.”
He was part of the university students’ protests even before they realized that what they were doing would become a national revolution. Soon his art reflected the revolution and its progress, step by step.
“I drew about the regime, about Al-Ahmar family, about the assassination attempt, about the media, about the Saudi influence and the Western community. I drew it all,” he said. Some of his well-known works cover the electricity blackouts and fuel shortages. He also sketched about the kidnapping and abusing of protestors, which he personally experienced.
He joins the demonstrations and documents them through his art. Al-Marqab has participated in several exhibitions that were organized in Change Square and elsewhere, lending his art to a revolution that he believes will remain peaceful until the very end.