KUWAIT: LOYAC Academy of Performing Arts (LAPA) and Ajyal organized a panel discussion called “Memories of the 70s” as part of the “Memories of Al-Andalus” series, which has been ongoing since October.
The panel was hosted by Hamza Al-Olayan, who welcomed the golden era Kuwaiti actor Mustafa Ahmad, known as Abu Meshaal, and Former Minister of Communications Saad Bin Tefla. The discussion explored the role of Al-Andalus Cinema during the 70s. Bin Tefla shared recollections from Kuwait’s cultural scene, including the last mixed wedding he attended in 1980.
“The last work I saw with my university colleagues at Al-Andalus theater was in 1979 and 1980 – a play called “Cheers … my country” by Durayd Lahaam. After that, the cinema was torn down. This was followed by the removal of a number of buildings as the country’s cultural and art scene went through many changes,” he said.
Regarding the Kuwaiti cultural model during the 50s and the country’s principle of varied cultural sources, the preservation of freedom and refuting religious fundamentalism, Bin Tefla said: “We cannot turn Kuwait into a financial center when there are some who say that banking is not allowed in Islam,” he said.
“The evidence for the lack of development planning is the vacancies we see in about 500 leadership positions in the county. We cannot blame political and religious organizations alone, as the country has abandoned its role in educating its people and making them more aware and has made way for outlaws to roam freely. How can we build a civil and open-minded country? A country that is tolerant? How can we have that when some schools ban the teaching of arts and music with the excuse that it is forbidden?” he asked.
Bin Tefla added that the founding of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in 1973 as well as regional publications, such as Al-Arabi magazine, were signs of cultural and artistic development. He said it was unfortunate that the Awqaf ministry plays a “negative role” in Kuwait.
Abu Meshaal remembered the first time he stood on stage at Al-Andalus theater. “We were not used to going on the stage such as Al-Andalus theater. I was terrified. I had to perform two songs, but I ended up singing a few more. The theater used to host the biggest artists on the regional and local level, which all happened because of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah who worked to spread Kuwaiti Music all over the world.”
“Kuwaiti music was special in the 60s, in its rhythm, melodies and words, as one immediately knows its identity simply by listening. However today sadly, the Kuwaiti song does not have an identity under the excuse of ‘development’ or ‘this is what the audience wants to hear’. The songs of the 60s and 70s have been lost to memory,” Abu Meshaal added.