Political Analysis

Yemenis Explain Reality With Political Jokes

National Yemen

humorous in Yemen, Youth package stones for exports

Asma al-Mohattwari

When People’s pain becomes too much and the repeated crises continue to burden them, many escape reality by making jokes and funny stories to laugh and relieve their suffering.

Jokes are a popular means of expression among the people in Yemen. It is a critical outlet flanked with imagination, described as a silent weapon. Political jokes are a way to vent about problems of daily realities. Humor has an important role in Yemeni politics. It is sometimes impossible to reflect some attitudes and ideas in the press, media, or public lectures. Instead, people use jokes to express their anger.

All the events in Sana’a have made the Yemeni people use jokes to express irony or cynicism of the situation. The jokes center on political actors: Hadi, al-Houthi, and foreign interventions.After Sana’a fell to the hands of Houthis and became controlled by them, most embassies closed, some flights stopped, and most donors stopped their donations. The economy of Yemen has been badly affected so the leader of the Houthis, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, appeared on Yemen Satellite TV and delivered a speech to reassure people. Al-Houthi said that alternatives are available and the diplomatic isolation of the Gulf States and some Western countries will not affect Yemen because Yemen has tremendous wealth, including oil, gas, fisheries. Yemeni businessmen and ornamental stones represent the wealth of Yemen that allow Yemenis to have no need for donors.

The last sentence about ornamental stones raised wry responses and comments by Yemeni activists. This word led to an exchange of jokes among Yemenis on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest social media with people changing their profile picture to pictures of stones accompanied by jokes.

One of the jokes about the stones is that, if stones represent the Yemeni economy and al-Houthi will depend upon them in building Yemen, can the Houthis deposit stones in Switzerland banks?

Another joke went, goodbye post office, goodbye money exchangers, goodbye Central Bank, receive your salary from the nearest quarry.

Other important events happened in Sana’a, including Hadi’s resignation, the constitutional declaration by Houthis, appointing the leader of the Revolutionary Committees as a president in Sana’a. All these have inspired a lot of jokes among Yemenis.

After appointing Mohammed al-Houthi, the leader of the Revolutionary Committees, as a president in Sana’a, activists took his photo, changing it with Photoshop to someone selling Qat. The joke goes, the first decision by the new president was reducing Qat prices, and his first visit was to the Qat markets in Sana’a.

Another joke represent the effects of the Houthis’ control of Sana’a, going:

A teacher asks a student, “what is the animal creeping very slowly?”

Mohammed: A turtle.

Teacher: Well done. What is the job of your father?

Mohammed: A Doctor.

Teacher: The son’s of doctors are very smart.

The teacher asks another student: What is the bird that can speak?

Abdullah: A parrot.

Teacher: Well done, what is the job of your father?

Abdullah: An engineer.

Teacher: The son’s of engineers are so smart.

The teacher asks: What is the bird that starts with the letter C?

One of the students replies: A crocodile.

Teacher: Hey stupid, come here. What is the job of your father?

The student: He works with Ansar Allah, the Houthis.

Teacher: Well done. If the crocodile works hard, it can fly. Say hello to your father.

The largest numbers of jokes are about Hadi and his escape to Aden from Sana’a. Hadi left Sana’a to Aden by being smuggled. One joke says, we have heard about children smuggling, student smuggling, drug smuggling, and weapon smuggling, but this is the first time we have heard about president smuggling. His weight is 89 kg, he is bald, and he has a large paunch. One goes, people of Aden rejected President Hadi because he came by smuggling and they want a customhouse president.

The situation in Yemen has become chaos because there is no president and every party makes its own decisions. Rulers are the Houthis from Sada’a, Hadi from Aden, and Saleh from Sana’a. One joke goes like this, Hadi announced Aden as a federal capital, al-Houthi announced Sa’ada as a Kingdom capital and Sana’a announced itself as a nature reserve.

Yemenis are tired of the crises, and one joke shows that they have surrendered to reality. It goes, we have to have a factory reset for Yemen, Saleh returns as president, Ahmed Ali returns to the Guard, Ali Mohsen returns to the First armored division, Hadi returns to Vice President, and the Houthis return to Sa’ada.

Another goes, Yemen Today channel: President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Aden channel: President Hadi.

Al-Masirah Channel: President Mohammad al-Houthi.

Aden Live Channel: President Ali Salem.

We have become like the proverb saying that four people carried a camel but the camel can’t carry them.