Growing up, Wesam AlMadani learned that nationality is the reason for people killing each other. She believes that the world belongs to all people and has never felt at home anywhere. Now she feels that she might for the first time be able to feel safe, at home and able to express herself freely.
- I don’t believe in nationalities, says Wesam AlMadani. I was born in Sudan, grew up in Egypt and later established myself in Gaza in Palestine.
With the repressive freedom of expression climate in Gaza, Wesam AlMadani has experienced restrictions of movement, threats, and self-censorship in attempting to practice her literary profession. During her 35 years, Wesam AlMadani has nonetheless managed to assert herself as a promising writer, a human rights activist and director of an IT company.
Wesam AlMadani has published several short stories and poetry. Her short story Dreams without homeland was published in 2012 in a book called “Dreams never die”. Her first poetry book “Yaa” was published in 2015. Two of AlMadani’s short stories, Ten Minutes and The Orange is in My hand, were published in the London based AlJadeed cultural and literary magazine in June 2016, raising her literary profile significantly. One of her poems were published in AlQasida and was favourably reviewed by Thaqafat.com magazine for its narrative style in an article about promising Arab female writers. AlMadani’s article Writing in the face of difficulties was published in an anthology writers from Gaza, called Mirror of the Light. AlMadani is an active member of the Palestinian Writers Union from 2013.
New book on the challenges women face in the Arab world
Now that she is safe, AlMadani has already been able to finish her novel, five years in the making. The working title of the book is Schizophrenia of the body and has as its starting point the tragic death of one of AlMadani’s friends. She was a successful woman, had her own business and family, and she was pregnant. Then she took her own life. Why? The answer is largely that her friend was lesbian living in the Arab world. AlMadani has spent much time researching the lesbian environment in this part of the world, where most lesbians keep their sexual orientation hidden, but have secret forums where they can communicate.
She knows that the book would never be published in Palestine. It talks about taboos, about problems facing women in Arabic countries, about violence and harassment. Her hope is that the book will be published in English and that it will trigger Arabic publishers to publish and distribute it in the Arab countries - to make people aware of the hardships faced by lack of human rights and freedom of expression.
Activst and IT-director
A versatile woman, AlMadani was the main coordinator of the project Utopia, established in Gaza in 2010. The group was formed together with other writers to raise awareness about the value of knowledge and culture as a source of hope or at least a tool of survival for helping people to cope with storms and the vicissitudes of life, particularly in Gaza.
AlMadani has also been mentored professionally by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and worked as an IT-professional for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) in Gaza’s field office. She was also deputy director of an IT solutions company in Gaza and undertook her first notable professional project whilst studying IT at the Al-Quds Open University. She took part in developing software called “lamalive” to help hearing-impaired people to use social media networks. To be able to develop such a programme, Madani had to learn and master sign language