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Somalia Screens First Film in 30 Years

Somalia Screens First Film in 30 Years

Friday, 24 September, 2021 - 09:45
Viewers wait for the first screening of Somali films at The Somali National Theatre in Mogadishu, on September 22, 2021, which has been opened for the first time to public after its inauguration in 2020. (Photo by Abdirahman YUSUF / AFP)

Somalia hosted its first screening of a movie in three decades under heavy security on Wednesday.

Built by Chinese engineers as a gift from Mao Zedong in 1967, the National Theatre of Somalia has a history that reflects the tumultuous journey of the Horn of Africa nation.

"This is going to be a historic night for the Somali people,” theatre director Abdikadir Abdi Yusuf said before the screening.

The evening's program was two short films by Somali director IBrahim CM -- "Hoos" and "Date from Hell" -- with tickets sold for $10 each, expensive for many.

According to sources contacted by AFP, the evening passed off without any security incidents.

Although Mogadishu was home to many cinema halls during its cultural heyday, with the national theatre also hosting live concerts and plays, the seaside capital fell silent after civil war erupted in 1991.

It reopened in 2012, but was blown up by Al-Shabaab terrorists two weeks later.

The Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group launches regular attacks in Mogadishu.

After a painstaking restoration, the authorities announced plans to hold the theatre's first screening this week.

"I used to watch concerts, dramas, pop shows, folk dances and movies in the national theatre during the good old days," said Osman Yusuf Osman, a self-confessed film buff.

"It makes me feel bad when I see Mogadishu lacking the nightlife it once had. But this is a good start," he told AFP.

"People used to go out during the night and stay back late if they wished -- but now, I don't think it is so safe," said a mother-of-six, Hakimo Mohamed.

The militants were driven out of Mogadishu a decade ago, but retain control of swathes of countryside.

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