Survival of Somalia: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale Revealed by the Director of ‘The Village Next to Paradise’

The art of storytelling is embedded in Somalia’s culture, just like many other African societies. In the 1960s, Somali filmmakers and artists began crafting their own stories on the big screen. Harawe stands out among a wave of filmmakers striving to elevate Somali cinema on the global stage.

Exploring themes of militancy and counter-terrorism

“The Village Next to Paradise” (2024) delves into the lives of a family grappling with personal adversities while striving for a better future amidst challenging circumstances, painting a vivid picture of the country.

The film, celebrated at Cannes, opens with a news report detailing the demise of an Al-Shabaab leader in a US drone attack. However, Harawe’s focus isn’t solely on terrorism and counter-violence. He uses these themes as a backdrop to help viewers grasp the story’s setting and the environment of the Somali people.

Cast and crew of ‘The Village next to Paradise’ (photo supplied)

The story unfolds with Mamargade (portrayed by Ahmed Ali Farah), a multi-faceted character juggling roles as a driver, mechanic, and at times, a gravedigger. Mamargade’s son, Cigaal (played by Ahmed Mohamud Saleban), learns survival tactics in case of a drone attack. Araweelo (Anab Ahmed Ibrahim), Mamargade’s sister, finds solace at home after a family confrontation.

While Mamargade and Araweelo navigate life’s challenges, their paths differ in approach. One seeks quick wealth through odd jobs, while the other dreams of opening a tailor shop.

Harawe skillfully portrays a family confronting a sudden crisis when Mamargade is wrongfully detained under suspicion of aiding terrorists.

An alternate narrative

“My aim is to showcase the resilience and freedom of the Somali people, steering away from victimizing narratives,” shares Harawe. “I want to shed light on a side of Somalia often overshadowed by tales of terrorism. It’s a conscious effort to present a nuanced perspective,” he adds.

“I strive to reveal both the struggles and strengths of Somalia,” explains Harawe, highlighting the nation’s resilience in the face of external challenges.

Accepting the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes May 2024 (photo supplied)

Portraying a hopeful vision for Somalia

“The Village Next to Paradise” confronts issues like drone strikes, sea pollution, piracy, and illegal fishing, impacting the characters while maintaining a positive outlook. Harawe envisions a brighter future for Somalia, emphasizing the need to address external challenges.

Harawe reflects on Somalia’s independent customs and governance system, seeing potential in the nation’s unique approach. “Somalia’s lack of a conventional state structure fosters freedom and independence, setting it apart from the rest of the world,” he opines.

“If doomsday arrives, Somalia is the one country that can weather the storm, thanks to its adaptability and resilience,” Harawe states confidently.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More