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Abdulrahman al-Akhfash
'We don't have a good musical background to be able to develop our heritage.'
Last Modified: 11 May 2011 13:18

"I am Abdulrahman al-Akhfash. I come from an art-inheriting family. Very few families inherit this art from their ancestors.

Many political, social and economic circumstances have forced Yemenis, throughout ages, to migrate, such as wars and searching for food and water. That is what made them leave to far areas outside Yemen and outside the Arabian Peninsula.

Some went to Syria, al-Sham countries, Palestine, Lebanon, others went to Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. Some are also in Europe. They migrated long time ago, during the ages of Islamic conquests. 

When a society moves away, it takes its civilisation, culture, music, costumes and food with it. During the time of Imams, who believed singing was religiously forbidden, many singers moved from Yemen's northern governorates to the country's southern areas.

My grandfather was Qassim al-Akhfash, and he was a teacher. When he sang, he didn't know the people around him, expect for few friends. We, as a new generation, have managed to recover what was archived in Adan radio during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

In 1962, the Yemeni revolution erupted. Yemeni singers used to sing in secret before that time. It was until then when they started to sing in public. Since music was their life and soul, they managed to create a big change in Yemen's art. They have even dug out traditional folk songs and re-sung them in a nice, lively way.  

However, I believe that singing in Yemen since the 1990s up until now is zero, with all the respect to every Yemeni singer, and I am one of them. Their singing is not right, it lacks culture and heritage. We don't sing the traditional songs in a right way, and we don't even develop it. We don't have a good musical background to be able to develop our heritage. There are no schools, no institutes, no colleges or academies to teach music. Then, how could that be?

What is good is that we are doing something about it. Our work is a cultural one that serves the Yemeni people, the country and the coming generations. We have now started media and advertisement production. We started to make chants, national hymns and social songs. We have sung songs for women, pregnancy, having children and for education."

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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