Cinema returns to Somalia with first public screening in 30 years | Somalia
Somalia has hosted its first film screening in 30 years under tight security as the conflict-ravaged country hopes for a cultural revival.
The event took place at the Somali National Theater, whose history reflects the tumultuous journey of the Horn of Africa nation.
It was targeted by suicide bombers and used as a base by warlords – and until Wednesday he had never shown a Somali film.
“It will be a historic night for the Somali people: it shows how hopes have been rekindled… after so many years of challenges,” theater director Abdikadir Abdi Yusuf said before the screening.
“It is a platform that offers the opportunity for… Somali songwriters, storytellers, directors and actors to openly present their talent. “
The evening’s program consisted of two short films by the Somali director Ibrahim CM – Hoos and Date from Hell – with tickets sold for $ 10 (8.50 euros) each, expensive for many.
Mogadishu was home to many movie theaters in its cultural heyday, and the National Theater – built by Chinese engineers as a gift from Mao Zedong in 1967 – hosted concerts and plays. But the seaside capital fell silent after the outbreak of the civil war in 1991.
The warlords used the theater as a military base and the building fell into disrepair. It reopened in 2012, but was destroyed by al-Shabaab jihadists two weeks later.
The Islamist group linked to al-Qaida regularly launches attacks in Mogadishu and considers entertainment to be evil.
After careful restoration, authorities have announced their intention to host the theater’s first screening this week.
For many Somalis it was a trip down memory lane and a reminder of happier times.
“I used to watch concerts, plays, pop shows, folk dances and movies at the National Theater in the good old days,” said Osman Yusuf Osman, an avowed movie buff.
“It pains me to see Mogadishu lacking the nightlife it once had. But it’s a good start, ”he said.
Others were more circumspect and concerned about safety.
“I was a school-aged girl when my friends and I watched concerts and live plays at the National Theater,” said Hakimo Mohamed, a mother of six.
“People would go out at night and stay late if they wanted to – but now I don’t think it’s that safe,” she said.
The jihadists were driven out of Mogadishu ten years ago, but retain control of entire swathes of the countryside.
Spectators had to pass several security checkpoints before arriving at the theater, inside a heavily guarded complex that includes the Presidential Palace and Parliament.
But for some, the inconvenience and risks are trivial compared to the anticipation of seeing a movie in the cinema after such a long wait.
“I didn’t have the chance to watch concerts and / or movies at the theater (earlier)… because I was still a kid, but I can imagine how beautiful it was,” Abdullahi said. Adan, NGO employee.
“I want to experience this for the first time and see what it’s like to watch a movie with hundreds of people in a theater.”