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| 227 Somali Cinema A Brief History Relating Italian Colonization, Somali Diaspora, and the Changing Ideas of Nationhood Daniele Comberiati T his chapter explores how Somali cinema from 1950 to the present has contributed to a rethinking of the colonial past and the independence era. With reference to colonial and postcolonial fijilms (from the period of AFIS, 1949–60, to current directors of the Somali diaspora), I intend to show how the brief, but very intense Italian Trusteeship Administration of Somalia (named AFIS,AmministrazionefijiduciariaitalianadellaSomalia)changedthedevelopment of Somali cinema history until the present day. Of particular interest during this discussion will be the examination of the ways in which some intense economic and cultural relations were established between Italian and Somali producers during the period of AFIS. This chapter is structured in three parts. In the fijirst part, I propose to analyze thecinemaindustryduringAFISwithaparticularfocusonthepartnershipbetween Italy, the former colonizing country, and Somalia. In this period there was also a collaboration between Rome’s Cinecittà and the fijirst Somali directors: Hajji Cagakombe’s fijilm Miyi Iyo Magaalo/Town and Village (1963) is a consequence of thisperiodof Somali-Italiancoproduction.Thesecondpartwillbeentirelyfocused on Somali cinema of the era of independence, with fijilms such as Love ma yaqaan dhibaatooyinka hortaagan/Love Does Not Know Obstacles by Hussein Mabrouk 228 | Daniele Comberiati (1961), or the Somali-Chinese coproduction The Horn of Africa (Hussein Mabrouk, 1961),whichwonthemostprestigiousawardatthefourthInternationalAfricanFilm Festival held annually in Mogadishu. In this period collaborations also continued with Italy, the most important example being Dan Iyo Xarrago/Reality and Myth (1973) by Idriss Hassan Dirie, processed in Technicolor in Rome. The third part of this discussion will analyze cinematic production by the Somali diaspora and the Somali-language fijilm industry (dubbed “Somaliwood”) to understand how this fijilm industry is important to forming the idea of a “new” nation in the collective imagination. The AFIS Era: 1949–1960 The defeat of the Italian army by British-led forces during the Second World War brought Italian colonial rule in Africa to an end. After the Allies entered Mogadishu onFebruary25,1941,Somaliawaspromotedasthe“fijirstcolonytobefreed”fromthe Nazi-Fascist rule, according to the British information service (Hussein 1983, 47). UN Resolution 289 of November 21, 1949, fijinally allowed the independence of the former Italian Somalia after a ten-year period of international trusteeship. Italy, the former colonial power, was asked to uphold the mandate over Somalia on behalf of the United Nations. According to a statement by the Italian prime minister at the time,AlcideDeGasperi,ItalywasacceptingSomalitrusteeship“inordertoworkfor a better world, to earn friendship among all the people who aspire to freedom and progress”(BritishMilitaryAdministration1994).TheItalianTrustAdministrationin Somalia(AFIS)wasintendedtobeaformof redressforthepreviouscolonialruleby theItalianpost-FascistleadershipinordertodemonstrategoodwilltowardAfrican and Asian countries and demonstrate Italy’s post-Fascist democratic politics. The most peripheral of the former Italian dependencies became the only example of Italian decolonization within the specifijic, even paternalistic to a certain extent, framework of the trusteeship system.1 During the AFIS period Italy attempted a revolution of the traditional Somali social structure. The most prominent form of Somali culture is its oral poetry; however, Italy tried to change this oral tradition into a bourgeois and written tradition. Education was considered by the Italian administration to be one of the most important pillars for the creation of a local middle class and for the development of the country. However, in this fijield the challenges were enormous Somali Cinema | 229 because in 1950 the level of illiteracy in Somali society was 99.4 percent and, most importantly, a formal system of written Somali had not yet been developed (Del Boca1993;Palumbo2003).Wecanseehereevidenceof thepersistenceof aresidual rhetoric of the “civilizing mission,” which later became fundamental in the process of auto-absolutioncreatedbyItalyinformercolonies.TheItaliancivilizingmission in Africa was based upon two premises: the fijirst, justifijied by the nation’s aim of scientifijic progress in relation to the colonized peoples, who should be studied and analysed as objects; the second, linked to the moral and intellectual superiority of Italians, who had gone to Africa to export their qualities. During the period of Fascist colonization, the newspaper Il Corriere della Somalia, published in Mogadishu and funded by the Italian Ministry of Culture, presented some articles about the important role of culture and cinema, in particular, in an attempt to build the consciousness of the new nation. In these articles the possibility for the creation of a future relationship between Italian and Somali cinema was discussed, and a few Italian fijilms made in Somalia over the...


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