Cinema returns to Somalia after many years of shut-downs and strife

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MOGADISHU, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Dozens of Somalis posed for selfies and chattered excitedly in rows of pink, plush seats as they waited for the beginning of their nation’s first film screening in three many years.

Among the group within the National Theatre was 24-year-old Kaif Jama, the author and star of each movies on the programme – the horror story “Hoos”, a couple of single lady shifting into an empty home, and a not-so-romantic comedy known as “Date from Hell”.

“This means something for everyone including me. This is for every Somali who wants to make movies,” Jama mentioned, carrying a conventional Somali gown striped silver, yellow and inexperienced.

She left Somalia when she was six and moved between Kenya and Uganda earlier than settling in Cairo aged 19.

Since then, she has made 60 brief movies and skits with Somali filmmaker Ibrahim CM.

Somalis have spent years watching Indian and Arab movies on their televisions, she mentioned. “But if our own movies come to cinema and TVs then every single Somali person and child will be shaped and influenced by their own culture.”

Somali individuals watch the primary ever movie pageant held on the newly rebuilt National Theater within the capital of Mogadishu, Somalia, September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The National Theatre, a present from China’s Mao Zedong, opened its doorways in 1967.

It grew to become an vital dwelling for Somalia’s wealthy storytelling custom, internet hosting performs, musical extravaganzas and, within the Nineteen Eighties, pan-African movie festivals.

After the overthrow of president Siad Barre in 1991, clan-based warlords blasted one another with anti-aircraft weapons and fought over the theatre, which they used as a base. The constructing was hit so many occasions that the roof collapsed a yr into the battle.

Islamist militants who seized management in 2006 took over the constructing. They banned all types of public leisure – from concert events to soccer matches – that they thought of sinful.

African Union peacekeeping troops clawed again management of the capital in 2011 and the brand new Western-backed Somali authorities reopened the venue the next yr. But simply three weeks after that, a suicide bomber from the Islamist al Shabaab insurgency struck throughout a ceremony, killing six individuals. The constructing reopened once more in 2020.

Mogadishu resident Hassan Abdulahi Mohamed remembered spending half a Somali shilling on a film ticket and one shilling on snacks on the theatre within the Sixties.

“Last time I watched films in the cinema, it was 1991,” he mentioned.

Reporting by Abdirahman Hussein; Writing by Ayenat Mersie; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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Abdirahman Hussein

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