Baza Al-Batni..From teaching French to the world of dolls and children's stories

Baza Al-Batni..From teaching French to the world of dolls and children’s stories

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One is puzzled by how to follow the activities of the Kuwaiti researcher and writer Baza Al-Batni. It has been like this since I knew it, a non-stop movement, a constant movement from one place to another, and various interests, accompanied by fun, wit, paper and circumstance, and a great deal of sophistication in morals and good taste in selection and the way of dealing with the other.

I knew her in Beirut in the seventies when both of us were studying there at two different universities. Student unions brought us together, their parties, trips, and various activities. Then the communication was suddenly cut off due to the Lebanese civil war, which separated colleagues and friends, and took each of them on a different path. At the time, Bazza was studying French among a group of Kuwaiti students on scholarships to Beirut University College for Girls, and with the outbreak of war, the Kuwaiti government decided to transfer them to continue their studies in France.

Indeed, Bazaa finished her studies and graduated from the French University of Grenouil in 1976 and returned to Kuwait armed with a certificate of specialization in teaching French to non-native speakers, to marry Hilal Hamad Fajhan Al-Mutairi, give birth and form her small family, and her career begins as a French language teacher at the secondary level starting in 1977. During her teaching career, she co-authored the French Language Curriculum for the Nizam al-Maqrarat High School. Bazza Al Batini was born in 1954 in the Al Mirqab region, the daughter of a family that bore the title Al Batini in relation to the Al Batinah region of Oman.

I found an article in the Kuwaiti newspaper “Al-Jarida” (2/21/2014) about her father, “Mullah Ghulum Al-Batni,” stating that he was born in the Omani state of Sohar in approximately 1875, and came to Kuwait at the age of ten, where he settled with the Al-Asousi family at the beginning of the year. The matter and worked with them on their sailing trips for many years before he got stronger and established a family by marrying one of the well-known Al-Sudani family’s ladies. After that, he moved to Al-Mirqab area, then lived in Al-Naqra and died on November 24, 1956, leaving behind six sons and three daughters from different marriages. The author of the article told us that the man was known among the people for his righteousness, piety and uprightness, so he was nicknamed “Mullah Ghulum.”

Baza studied her regular education in Kuwait and obtained a high school diploma from Al-Jazair School for Girls in the Levant region in 1972, the year she received a mission to complete her education in Lebanon.

During her studies in Lebanon, she assumed the secretariat of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students – Beirut Branch between 1973 and 1975. She was also keen to invest her summer vacation periods in a useful way, so she went on summer courses to various French cities. She loved her job in the teaching profession, but she suddenly discovered another field for giving and creativity, so she decided in 1983 to resign and turn her life around in another direction. About this change in her life, she told me that she took the opportunity of giving birth to her fourth child in May 1983 to take an unpaid maternity leave for a year, and that she spent that period looking after her children with the help of her mother, and they sang to them together, which made her discover new songs for children that she had not heard before from her mother. , so you wrote it down to save it. Baza says: “It was that radiant moment that lit up the path for me that I knew existed and that I had not yet inferred.

It brought back that moment and my childhood prayer when I was writing down stories to tell, and it was a new beginning. I started an individual campaign to collect and record the songs of the nativity, and at the end of the maternity leave I had in my hands a book (from the songs of the nativity in Kuwait), which was later published by the Center for Folklore of the Cooperation Council Countries.”

She adds: “After that launch, I sought to collect and write down everything that was destined for me from our oral heritage with a passionate passion. My love, which renewed and began with the songs of the cradle, was sparked by a literary look that imposed my personal inclinations and the nature of my study of the French language and literature.

What is surprising about Bazza’s story with its new field is that its fieldwork for collecting intangible cultural heritage was a purely individual effort, that is, without commission or financial support from any official body. Nor did she attend any training courses for this purpose. Therefore, she is proud that she was the field researcher, blogger, writer, painter, typist, designer, publisher and distributor, which reflects the perseverance and patience of a suit for work, and her unlimited passion for what she chose.

Thus, we find that the young girl who was born in an illiterate environment, and who enjoyed playing the role of a tale narrator for her friends and relatives in her childhood, turns into a narrator of folk tales for her children and all of her Kuwaiti and Gulf countrymen. In 1984, I left teaching the French language and moved to work at the Folk Heritage Center (Bait Al-Badr) affiliated to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information. Through this new work, she sought to collect and codify a large amount of the Kuwaiti oral heritage, an effort that gradually resulted in the publication of several of her books, including: The book “Women’s Anecdotes and Tales,” which was published in two parts in 1985 and 1994, respectively, containing 30 stories and anecdotes. On the relationship of a woman to a woman, and her relationship to a man.

It can be said that the public success of her book paved the way for her to experience the narration of folk tales and folklore through the official radio, where Al-Batni presented programs in the local dialect through Kuwait Radio, in which she played the role of the narrator and was interspersed with dramatic paragraphs representing the well-known Kuwaiti theater stars. This, in turn, opened the door for her to experience the experience of appearing on the silver screen, during which she presented 15 episodes of the “Kuwaiti Tales” program in 2000, which contributed to the spread of her name and the increase in fans of her work, to find herself, over time, required to talk about folklore in lectures, evenings and seminars inside Kuwait. and outside. In 1985, Al-Batni began issuing a series of books directed to children under the name “People’s Heritage” for children aged 8-12, knowing that all these books were decorated with drawings prepared by her that suit the material and the age of the recipient. Perhaps one of the evidence of the success of this work is the fact that many Arab schools in European countries have acquired quantities of their books to distribute to students.

The year 1987 witnessed the birth of her first work in English on folklore of women and children, under the title Traditions, which included many folk tales in a simplified manner with the aim of teaching the student the English language through his local folk creations. The tales were then written in French in Le Koweit Histoire et Flklore, followed by a similar book in German under the title Geschichte. The following year (1988) was one of the busy years of work and creativity in her life, during which she accepted an invitation she received from the Joint Program Production Corporation for the Gulf States to participate in writing episodes for the children’s television program “Open Sesame” (Part Two).

She also received a similar invitation to participate in writing the episodes of the “Open my Country Your Doors” program, and writing the cartoon series “Zaatour” (the first purely Gulf Arab cartoon series). Graphic design and implementation. In 1997, she presented the “Beit Al-Hazawi” program on Kuwait TV at the request of the Minister of Information at the time, Sheikh Saud Al-Sabah, may God have mercy on him, in which she assumed the role of the “aunt” who told the stories.

After that, Bazza recorded 30 television episodes of the program “Khaleejia Tales”, which included fairy tales from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in the classical language for the benefit of the Joint Program Production Corporation for the Gulf States. One of the episodes won the first prize at the Tunis Festival for Radio and Television Programs in June 2008. Her activity to Bahrain, where she presented, at the request of the Bahrain National Museum, a workshop and lectures on the patterns of folk tales, the way they were written and narrated, and the definition and methods of the storyteller, noting that she also attended evenings, seminars and various cultural events in Manama, Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Stockholm and Beijing.

One of the signs of Baza’s constant passion for research, exploration and learning new things, is that she was not satisfied with the knowledge, languages ​​and experiences she had accumulated throughout her life, but she returned to the study classes again by joining the Community Service Center of Kuwait University to study the German language in the mid-1980s and the Urdu language in the mid-nineties . Between this and that, she became active through her membership in dozens of clubs, associations and federations. She also started writing successive research on topics that captured her interests, or translating them from English and French and publishing them in some reputable cultural magazines.

Among the various other forms of her activities are the establishment of art exhibitions for her drawings and works, where she set up a puppet theater and an exhibition of her paintings on the activities of Kuwaiti women in the past at the Royal Museum in Scotland in 1985. The plastic artist entitled “Precious Moments” in London in 2005, and represented her country in the workshop of famous Arab painters in China in 2012, and participated in the workshop of Kuwaiti artists in Cyprus in 2014, not to mention her participation in many plastic arts exhibitions in Kuwait and Bahrain.

Finally, Baza, who lived 15 years of her life between 2000 and 2014 in Britain, believes that writing folk tales is important as it preserves for successive generations a material from the core of her environment and beliefs. The old folk tale, in her view, “has the ability to coexist with us in our present age, and even enrich our present and stimulate the imagination of the contemporary child.”

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