• Somalis enjoy first public film screening in 30 years
    Somalis enjoy first public film screening in 30 years

    The theatre was built in 1967 as a gift from China’s then leader Mao Zedong

    Somalia has hosted its first public film screening in 30 years – raising hopes of a cultural revival in the war-ravaged country.

    Two short films by Somali director Ibrahim CM were shown at the National Theatre in the capital Mogadishu, where heavy security was in place.

    The theatre has been a suicide bomb target and a base for warlords.

    Theatre director Abdikadir Abdi Yusuf said it was a “historic night for the Somali people”.

    “It shows how hopes have been revived… after so many years of challenges,” he told the AFP news agency.

    “It’s a platform that provides an opportunity to… Somali songwriters, storytellers, movie directors, and actors present their talent openly,” he added.

    Filmgoers paid $10 (£7) to watch the two films, Hoos and Date from Hell. They had to pass through several checkpoints in order to reach the heavily-guarded green zone, which houses the theatre as well as the presidential palace and the parliament.

    “I used to watch concerts, dramas, pop shows, folk dances, and movies in the national theatre during the good old days,” one attendee, Osman Yusuf Osman, told AFP.

    “It makes me feel bad when I see Mogadishu lacking the nightlife it once had. But this is a good start.”

    Another expressed concerns about safety.

    Viewers wait for the film screening at the Somali National Theatre in Mogadishu on 22 September 2021
    Filmgoers had to pass through several checkpoints to reach the cinema

    Hakimo Mohamed said she was a schoolgirl when she and her friends went to the theatre to watch concerts and dramas.

    “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,” she said.

    The cinema was built by Chinese engineers as a gift from China’s leader Mao Zedong in 1967. It was seen as an important driver for Somalia’s cultural development in the 1970s and 80s.

    It closed in 1991 at the start of the civil war and was used as a base for warlords fighting over the capital. The theatre fell into disrepair as a result.

    When it reopened in 2012 – after repairs carried out by the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) – the building was immediately blown up by al-Shabab militants who considered live entertainment and films to be morally corrupt.


  • Sudan admits the giant Ethiopian dam had a positive impact on the Sudanese flow of water this year
    Sudan admits the giant Ethiopian dam had a positive impact on the Sudanese flow of water this year

    The giant dam Ethiopia has constructed on the Blue Nile made no negative impact on this year’s floods in Sudan, which had taken costly precautions in the absence of any deal to regulate the flow of water, a Sudanese official said.

    Ethiopia has spent years in tense negotiations over the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with Sudan and Egypt, both of which are downstream of the dam, but have yet to come to an agreement and the dam remains a bone of contention between the countries.

    Sudan has said the dam could have a positive effect on flooding during the rainy season, and hoped to benefit from electricity production, but has complained of a lack of information from Ethiopia on the dam’s operation.

    Sudan and Egypt had demanded Ethiopia hold off on a second round of filling the dam before a binding agreement was signed regulating its operation and mandating the sharing of data Sudan feels is necessary to maintain its own dams and water stations.

    “Despite the unilateral filling of the Renaissance Dam … the dam had no effect on this year’s floods, but the lack of information exchange before filling forced Sudan to make costly precautions with significant economic and social impact,” said Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas in a tweet.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as key to its hopes of increased power generation and development, and says it is taking the interests of both downstream countries into account in its workings.

    Abbas said that after the dam reached a particular level on July 20, it let out as much water as it received.

    He noted that for the first time Sudan was able to utilize its own dams to lower the intensity of the yearly floods, which have historically devastated riverside farming communities.

    The UN said earlier this year almost 70,000 people were affected by the rainy season across Sudan, the bulk of them in River Nile state, which lies downstream after the White and Blue Niles meet in Khartoum.

    By this time last year, the UN had noted some 380,000 people had been affected.

    Abbas noted historically large flows for the White Nile, reaching 120 to 130 million cubic meters this rainy season, compared with a typical 70 to 80 million.

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