By Ali Saeed
The Yemeni theater and TV have lost on May 15 the actor and comedian Yahya Al-Haimi, who died at the age of 53. He enriched the stages and TV screens in Yemen in over 32 art works including plays as well as TV and radio shows. Al-Haimi spent almost two thirds of his life working in this field.
Many Yemenis have bid their farewell to Al-Haimi who passed away at the Military Hospital after a long struggle against diabetes. His family in the capital Sana’a received hundreds of condolence calls from different parts of the country as well as from Yemeni migrants in in various parts of the world.
Passionate by the arts, Al-Haimi left his family in 1975 in Al-Sada village, his hometown in Al-Haima district, 25 km west of Sana’a, to live in the capital in a small converted room as he was not able to afford the rent of a house in the city.
He then started his career as an actor and comedian in 1979, after going to the Cultural Center where he successfully passed a test in theater and drama. Despite the fact that he had not studied any of these fields, he was acting his roles in a very professional and attractive way. In many of the plays in which he performed, he played the roles of different characters including a Sheikh (note: a tribal leader), a corrupt governmental employee and a greedy father looking for money from the marriage of his daughter.
He was rewarded several times by the Ministry of Culture for his efforts in theater and drama. In 1993, Hassan Al-Lawzi, then Minister of Culture and Tourism rewarded him for his participation in the second theater festival organized in January 1993. The University of Science and Technology, a private university based in Sana’a, even issued him a certificate after his death for his excellent contribution to theater.
Today, his family shares a simple shabby house with Al-Haimi’s brother in Sana’a since artists in this country do not make money out of their work unlike other parts of the world where some actors enjoy luxurious life.
“We are very proud of what our father did for the theater and drama,” said his son Mohammed. “We discovered after he died that his wealth was really in the audience’s love for his work.”
Mohammed, who remembers how his father used to accompany him to work, now hopes to get the same talent in the profession like his father. The young actor has already performed in some plays such as Harat Al-Uns (“Al-Uns neighborhood”), Waba’adain Ya Arab (“And then what Arabs”), Rehlat Hamoud (“Hamoud’s journey”) and the fourth part of Kin Mini TV show.
“The aim of my father in his art work was to teach the society the values of love, tolerance and getting solutions for people’s problems,” explained Mohamed “Me, I am acting to upgrade the society into higher a cultured level, to get them leave weapons and violence.”
Despite his life and the recognition he got, the family of Al-Haimi complained of the negligence of the government towards artists in general and their father in particular. “My father was suffering from diabetes and he was refusing to go to the hospital by fear of the treatment cost,” said Nabeel, another of his eight sons. “And when we finally took him to the Military Hospital, the doctor told us: ‘you brought him too late.’ This is because the government responded to our call for his treatment only after we did appeal in the media.”Français
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