Somalia: National Theatre reopens in Mogadishu


Spectators gather to watch a performance staged by artists at the open-air, Chinese-built Somalia National Theatre which was reopened for the first time in 20 years, on March 19, 2012, in Mogadishu. The fragile Western-backed government, which is waging an uphill battle against Islamist Al Shabaab militants in the Horn of Africa nation, claimed it was a sign that things were slowly improving in the pockmarked seaside capital.



NAIROBI, Kenya — How do you describe Somalia? War-ravaged, chaotic, the world's worst failed state and a nation of poetry lovers ... wait, poetry lovers?

It's true, as GlobalPost reported in this dispatch from a couple of years ago.

"Without poetry we would not exist as a society," Hadraawi, Somalia's most famous living poet, told me at the time.

Some weeks later in Mogadishu the director of Somalia's National Theatre lamented its closure and destruction during the decades of war.

"Our hope is the theatre will be rebuilt, then the singers and poets will come back," said Abdi Dhuh.

Yesterday his hope was realized when the National Theatre re-opened.

Battered and bruised by the years of conflict and neglect it welcomed members of the public to a show of poetry, singing and drama.

It is a small thing but of huge symbolic importance.