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Symbols on the wall (9) - fruit and veg shop in Ibb

Marjolein Katsma

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Share this page photo: © 2007 Marjolein Katsma | text: © 2010 Marjolein Katsma


Tags for this photograph:
painted, graffiti, travel, politics, door, shopfront, shop, yemen, elections, opposition, ibb, saddam hussein, international politics, painted over, baath socialist party


This image is part of Symbols on the wall – a “documentary” on the walls of Yemen and things attached to walls. Please read the Introduction first!

< previous Symbols on the wall (8) - painted wall in Ibb   ^ Things on walls   Symbols on the wall (10) - graffiti wall in Taizz next >


A nice fruit and vegetables shop in Ibb – it’s still in the shade, so the produce won’t spoil from the harsh sunshine. The shop is fairly typical of many shops in Yemen: a simple rectangular space with a double door, no windows of any kind; to open the shop you just open the doors (which often sum up what is on offer on the inside), maybe put some of the wares on display outside, and possibly turn on a lamp.

But there’s more to see here…

On the wall on the left we spot yet more painted-over graffiti (again, light-blue paint over blue writing on a whitewashed wall – there seems to be a pattern here), sufficiently painted over so we have no idea what it may once have said.

The shop itself doesn’t need to advertise its wares on the doors, the crates with onions, peppers, oranges and much more make it clear enough what’s on offer here. Instead, the doors are used to display a few posters. Yes, more posters (and not accidental in this image).

Eeer, what!? These can’t be election posters can they?

Hussein in the fruit and veg shop Again, Hussein in the fruit and veg shop

The truth is, I have seen a few more images of Saddam Hussein in Yemen – but what does it mean? It’s not as though he could have been a candidate for the presidential or municipal elections: his regime in Iraq ended officially on April 9, 2003; we were here in April 2007 and he had been executed the year before, in December 2006 (though admittedly a few months after the elections in Yemen). So what is going on here?

First, it is clear some Yemeni have anti-American feelings, and this might be an expression of that. That was my first thought when I took this photo.

But there is more to it than that: A bit of research revealed that the Ba’ath Party actually has a (pro-Hussein) branch in Yemen, also known as the Arab Socialist Rebirth Party, and currently represented by two seats in Parliament. And at the time of the elections, this Ba’ath Socialist Party was one of the smaller parties in the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) opposition coalition which was represented by Faisal Bin Shamlan who we already met in Al Mukalla and finally Ibb seems to be a center of government opposition.

In this context, these posters no longer seem so strange: quite likely the shop owner is showing his support for the Ba’ath Socialist Party in Yemen (and opposition to the government) by means of these posters, rather than making a statement about international politics.

Taken in Ibb, Yemen 2007
Camera: Fuji Finepix F30

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