Five cities in 16 days: Using mobile cinema to nurture youth peacebuilders in Puntland

March 24, 2016

‚ÄúThe youth in Rako were able to transform the situation from one of conflict to a peaceful one. This is what we are capable of doing as youth, if given a chance. Maybe it would be good for all the elders to watch this film in order to understand the importance of youth becoming more involved in peace processes.‚ÄĚ

These were the words of Abdillahi Mohamed Yusuf, a secondary school student from Qardo in Puntland, Somalia. Abdillahi was speaking at a public screening organized by the Mobile Audio Visual Unit (MAVU) of the Puntland Development and Research Center (PDRC) to disseminate the story of a youth‚Äďled process that led to the resolution of a five-year conflict between two communities in the Rako district of Puntland. PDRC is Interpeace‚Äôs partner organization in Puntland.

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Students at one of the film screenings on the successful Rako reconciliation in Puntland. Photo credit: PDRC

MAVU is an outreach approach that provides awareness through film forums and facilitated discussions. It is also used as a peacebuilding tool to facilitate dialogue between rival communities through the use of film, and to amplify the voices of marginalized groups such as women, youth and minority communities. The Rako reconciliation process is an example of a peacebuilding process facilitated by MAVU.

Spread over a period of 16 days in January and February 2016, the film screenings initially targeted secondary school students from Garowe, Qardo, Galkayo, Bossaso and Badhan in Puntland. It ended up reaching a total of 2,500 people across the five cities as non-schooling youth and adult men and women joined in to watch the film and take part in the discussions.

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Youth enjoy a game of basketball ahead of an evening film screening. MAVU integrates sports in its youth outreach. Photo credit: PDRC

The MAVU team noticed that the youth grew increasingly interested in the film as they watched their age mates from Rako successfully driving the peace process, culminating in the signing of a peace agreement between the two communities after half a decade of conflict. There was a palpable sense of inspiration during the dialogue forums facilitated by the MAVU team after the screenings.

If Abdillahi’s words are anything to go by, it is apparent that the success of the Rako reconciliation struck a positive chord among many of the youth from the five cities. Such positive sentiments give the indication that MAVU’s engagement with the youth can contribute towards nurturing a generation of young agents of peace in Puntland and beyond.