TURKEY’S public broadcaster TRT will help Somalia’s culture thrive again and train Somali filmmakers to produce high quality dramas, which were once popular but vanished after the civil war that broke out in 1990.
Somali presidential spokesman Abdirashid Mohamed Hashi told Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, ‘We have met with the TRT channel’s directors, and they will help us get our culture, music and film industry back on track.’
Hashi added, ‘Turkish dramas will be translated into Somalia to ensure the cultural exchange between the two countries thrives.”
‘If you go to Turkey and find an opportunity to visit Istanbul or Ankara, you will see that the Somali diaspora has been smoothly integrated into the society, doing business, attending universities to study, and all that is because we have Turkish airlines flying over Mogadishu every day carrying Somali passengers,’ Hashi explained.
Somalia and Turkey developed their close friendship in 2011 after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to the country as the first non-African leader to do so in over 20 years.
‘The Turkish film industry has been a game changer in the country, with other foreign films losing their dominance. Somalis previously loved to watch Bollywood films, but now this has been overtaken by Turkish films,’ Hashi said.
Demand for learning the Turkish language among young people, especially women and girls, has more than doubled this year because of the Turkish film industry.
Zaynab Abdi Adan loves Turkish dramas. She said she has been watching them for almost three years and has also learned how to communicate in Turkish.
‘I just love the way they act seriously when they’re acting in love affairs. I just love it, and I am now addicted to a new historical drama series called Alparslan: Buyuk Selcuklu, and the best actor for me is [the one who plays] Alpagut,’ she said.
‘If you want to know how much influence Turkiye has in Somalia, just check the female names in the country,’ said Ahmed Osman, an elderly man in Mogadishu.
One of the most well-known female names in the country is ‘Istanbul,’ he said.
‘We are related in terms of religion, and I am happy to see a major Muslim country have this kind of influence on us because before our generation, we had Western influences such as Italian culture, but not anymore.’
This year, Somalia celebrated the 10th anniversary of its special relationship with Turkey.
Foreign diplomats, senior Somali officials and the Turkish ambassador to Somalia were among the dignitaries who attended a ceremony in Mogadishu in which Turkish whirling dervishes performed live dances at the Halane compound that houses the UN’s headquarters in the capital Mogadishu.
‘Somali singers and Turkish musicians were invited to showcase how the cultural exchange between Somalia and Turkiye was working and all dignitaries and participants were amazed by the performances,’ said Hashi.