Britain leaves legacy of colonialism in Aden
It is no secret that the current state of affairs in the South rest on implosive ground, with constant discussions of succession and transfers of leadership. To this present situation, many are forced to reflect on the ways British colonialism shaped the South's trajectory, for better or worse.
The complex discussion produces varied and wide-reaching views on this period in history especially regarding Aden, a stronghold of the British foreign interests that received a great deal of investment from its occupiers.
Mohammed Abduljabar Salam, the former Dean of the Media College at Sana’a University, is of the opinion that colonialism in Yemen produced a number of multi-faceted advantages, but the disadvantages are undeniable given the violation of national sovereignty.
“In the course of British colonialism, Aden witnessed a huge development progress. It was a free-trade market and an international trade center. Aden's port was one of the most famous ports in the world in relation to commercial momentum,” Salam said.
He also pointed out the advanced state of roads and infrastructure that the British brought.
Aden at this time was also known for its various educational and cultural activities and the rise of literary and cultural clubs, Salam said.
Media additionally thrived during this period. There were seven daily newspapers, and people used to buy more than one publication because of a trust in journalism according to Salam.
Saeed Thabet Saeed, a political writer and analyst, explained changes in policy that Aden experienced while under occupation. Aden was originally almost exclusively economically and politically connected to the county of India, another British colony at the time. Following India's expulsion of its occupiers, the Asian nation moved some of its newly independent operations to Aden, competing with British interests. This forced Britain to increase its services to the people Aden for fear of losing its control in the region.
“There was a cultural, media and political movement in the third decade of the twentieth century. It was not to the favor of the English people. It was the efforts of Arabs who performed many activities in Aden. [We] witnessed a huge movement in cultural fields. Many literary and cultural clubs were established," the analyst said.
Nabeel Al-Bukair, a researcher, said Aden experienced more progress in terms of media and urban development in comparison with other countries in the Arabian Peninsula because of the strategic value Britain placed on Aden.
Mohammed Saleh Al-Radfani, an Aden resident, relayed his views on the positive economic metamorphosis colonialism brought. He said living standards were high, and salaries were better than today.
He added that he knows people who lived during colonialism and they believe Aden was endowed with many services and projects during occupation. The British constructed schools, contributing to educational progress.
Although Al-Radfani recognizes the positives aspects of colonization, he indicated that a Democratic momentum was inevitable. Many parties were established, as well as groups like the Labor Syndicate. Aden wanted independence and freedom he said.
Despite the city's success in achieving this, historical events following Aden's sovereignty have been troubling.
“Unfortunately, the situation of the Southerners following the October Revolution of 1963 has been worse,” Al-Radfani said.
“Currently, Aden is regressing in many fields. Since the 1970s, Aden has not been progressing. We were happy about unity in 1990, but nothing positive has happened to Aden's development since,” he said.