Somalia has gone to the cinema again after it hosted its first movie screening in 30 years under heavy security as the country hopes for a cultural renewal amid its crisis and political uncertainty.
The even held at the country’s National Theatre which has a history that reflects its turbulent journey.
Until Wednesday, the Horn of Africa nation had never screened a Somali film because has been targeted by suicide bombers and used as a base by warlords
While speaking at the movie screening, the theatre director, Abdikadir Abdi Yusuf said the moment marked a historic night for the Somali people as it shows how hopes have been revived after so many years of challenges.
Before now, Mogadishu was home to many cinema halls during its cultural heyday, after the National Theatre was built by Chinese engineers as a gift from Mao Zedong in 1967. The seaside capital later fell silent after civil war erupted in 1991.
Jihadists had used the theatre as a military base to launch attacks and the building fell into ruin. Although it reopened in 2012, it was blown up by al-Shabaab terrorists two weeks later. The al-Shabaab, which is an al-Qaida-linked Islamist group launches regular attacks in Mogadishu and considers entertainment evil.
After restoration, the authorities announced plans to revive entertainment by holding the theatre’s first screening which for many Somalis was a trip down memory lane and a reminder of happier times.
The jihadists were driven out of Mogadishu a decade ago, but retain control of swathes of countryside.
Attenders had to pass through several security checkpoints before arriving at the theatre, inside a heavily guarded complex that includes the presidential palace and the parliament.
The evening’s programme was two short films by Somali director IBrahim CM – Hoos and Date from Hell – with tickets sold for $10 (8.50 euros) each.