Sunday, May 24, 2015

Living is Resisting

"To rich people it must seem that the ordinary little people -- perhaps because their lives are more rarefied, deprived of the oxygen of money and savoir-faire --  experience human emotions with less intensity and greatest indifference..... it was given that death, for us, must be a matter of course, whereas for our privileged neighbors it carried all the weight of injustice and drama."
- Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

As a war continues to ravage Yemen,   mainstream media focuses mostly on the political leaders, and often neglects the majority of the people or the looming catastrophic humanitarian crisis.  Information is provided about the war without a human context.  Victims are introduced as numbers without souls.  It is as if the people don't exist, as if their lives don't matter.  They are deemed irrelevant in the discussion of the war that affects them the most! 

What is also missing from the media discourse is the focus on survival mechanisms and the resilience of the people.  Yemen has always possessed exceptional social survival skills.  There is a side in Yemen that is focused on winning battles, but there is a side that is focused on winning life.  In the midst of the undeniable misery that the war - both internal and external - has caused, we see the thirst for life.  We see the strength of the people.  

Despite the lack of electricity, gas, food shortages, bombings, and street battles, they try to continue their daily routines as much as possible.   They find creative ways to gather water and live without electricity.  In the midst of war, comedy has also thrived, from daily jokes on WhatsApp, to satirical songs, videos and Facebook groups.

This post is not meant to undermine the dire humanitarian situation that is looming and destroying the lives of millions across the country especially those outside major cities, but rather it's an attempt to shed light on another aspect of the war.  Here are twelve examples illustrating life itself as resistance:

Man taking a selfie using the FRAME Yemen background. The flag on the public wall is made of shards of glass found on the streets of Sana'a after a massive explosion (For more info click here). Photo by Bushra al-Fusail, (@734555200), 20 April 2015.

Children playing on top of a tank in Aden. The photo was widely circulated in social media on 7 April 2015.
Photographer and exact date unknown.

Defying cultural taboos, women in Sana'a rode bicycles as a solution to petrol shortages and demanding the right to movement. This cause a fury of emotions, with many supporters, and some opposed to this initiative. Photo by Bushra al-Fusail (@734555200), 16 May 2015.

Weather in Yemen - shared on social media.

Mustafa Sabeha, a resident of Sana'a, posted this photo of his uncle on his Facebook Page and wrote: "It's impressive how Yemenis love life, no matter what they face still, they are determined to live each day with a smile. This is my happy uncle who has 25 happy males and females. Having as much children as he can is the ultimate happiness for him." 20 May 2015.

Young man at restaurant: "We don't stop, it's weird how people get hungry all the time these days!"
Photo by Thana Faroq (@ThanaFaroq), 29 April 2015.

إلا الشاحن هههههههههههههه
Posted by ‎الفنان الكوميدي خالد البحري‎ on Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Don’t mess with my charger! Video uploaded on Facebook by Yemeni comedian Khaled al-Bahry, 19 May 2015.

"Crazy about life" is how these young men described themsevles. In this photo from Taiz, they show us the proper way to use a tank. Photo by Ahmed Al-Asbahy.

Escaping war life to take a moment and read on the street. These street book vendors are very common in many cities throughout the country. Photo by Thana Faroq (@ThanaFaroq), 10 May 2015.

"The WhatsApp emoticons under bombs" -  shared in social media.

New street art campaign by Murad Subai entitled 'Ruins' to beautify walls in areas destroyed by the wars. Photo by Majd Fuad.

"We are alive and staying put- The dream will continue." Graphic by Ahmed Jahaf (@A7medJa7af), 17 May 2015.