By Munira Mohamud
IA: Why were you motivated to film in Mogadishu? What was your experience like?
Munira: I made this film as my graduating project for my film major and I knew that I wanted to tell a personal story that also paid homage to those affected by the civil war. To tell this particular story meant that I had no choice (or better option) than to fly there and shoot on location. The filming experience was very guerrilla-style, 7 days, just one digital camera and a "crew" that included my parents, a driver and a security escort of 4-5 Somali soldiers/officers. I generally avoided busy areas which meant shooting mostly around noon when most people were indoors having a siesta. Everyone was very accommodating, and warm but most couldn't understand my fascination with dilapidated old buildings and ruins. It was a very fast shoot and I only really was able to reflect on the experience once I was back in Vancouver reviewing my footage.
IA: Can you speak more about Sheekoy, Sheeko?
Munira: The filming of Sheekoy, Sheeko was done in two parts: on a sound stage with green-screens in Vancouver, Canada and on location in the areas in and around Mogadishu, Somalia. The story itself stemmed from a desire to reflect on the recent history of violence in Somalia with the civil war and to present it as a part of a greater narrative of the country. I'm of the generation that was born into a Somalia at war with itself, so to even imagine it at peace is a huge task. All most of us have is this second-hand nostalgia we inherit from those old enough to remember happier times. Essentially it's how I imagine we'll be able to speak about the war to future generations; yes, it was a very dark chapter in our history, but it's only one sheeko out of the many that make us a nation.
IA: A woman in red guides us through the bleak ruins of Somalia post-war. Can you expand more on how this character was created and why?
For me, she's a purely symbolic figure who represents the youth of the nation, the unmarred spirit of Somalia which for me is feminine. Growing up the biggest influencers on me in general were the women in my life including my mom, grandmothers, sisters and aunts. My hooyo in particular has always been a pillar of poise in our family so I wanted to capture her essence in the creation of this character. In many cases it's the women of communities affected by violence who remain not only to hold families together, but keep memories and traditions alive through storytelling. The woman's journey through the ruins of an almost ghost-town Mogadishu was my attempt at visualizing how through the ugliness of war, some beauty and hope will always remain.
IA: What are you working on for the future?
Munira: I would really love to expand on Sheekoy, Sheeko and take the idea further into a documentary about our collective nostalgia as Somalis living abroad.
Ifrah Ahmed is an Editor of Araweelo Abroad Magazine.