Reading with Xi Jinping | The Poetry of Shaaban Robert

By Zhou Linjia, Aris, Song Ge, Ebulayi, Su Yingxiang (People's Daily Online) 14:48, April 23, 2023

"Smile, my friends, for all hardships are bygones and life goes on." This is a line from Laugh Happily by Shaaban Robert, a well-known Tanzanian writer and literary critic. The reason why his poems have gained such widespread popularity is that they paint a true picture of people's lives and show his concern for those who face difficulties in their lives, as well as his yearning for a better society.

Having roots in the people conforms to Chinese President Xi Jinping's criterion for outstanding art works.

Before Xi was posted to Zhengding county, north China's Hebei Province, in 1980s, he met with Wang Yuanjian, a writer, who shared with him stories about Liu Qing. Liu, a writer, spent 14 years in Huangfu village of Chang'an county in Shaanxi Province, in order to gain a better understanding of local farmers' lives. Many episodes from his book History of Entrepreneurship came from the 14 years he spent in rural areas.

Wang told Xi that "you need to stay in the rural areas like Liu Qing, who familiarized himself with the villagers and maintained close ties with them." Liu knew the villagers so well that he could tell how his landlady would react to a new policy for the villagers unveiled by the central government, Wang added. Wouldn't such a thorough understanding of the aspirations of the people like this be helpful for an official to perform his duties?

Xi recalled the memory at a national forum on literature and art 32 years later in October 2014, during which he called on writers and artists to "keep the people's wellbeing in their minds."

"Smile, my friends, for all hardships are bygones and life goes on. All of us celebrate and gather around. A sign has come down from the starry sky, tearing through the clouds, and lighting up the skyline. Heavenly blessings pass joys on, for the elderly and young, who will enjoy happiness all around."

Xi's requirements for literature and art works show that the interests of the people are always on the top of the agenda of the Communist Party of China's governance. This is what makes him a real leader of the people.

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Wu Chengliang)


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