The Institute of Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) based in Berlin, Germany held a conference on ‘The Power of Film and the Arts to Build Peace’ on February 18th-20th. Due to the overwhelming acknowledgement of PDRC’s Mobile and Audio Visual Unit (MAVU) in promoting peace and awareness on key social issues through the usage of film forums and facilitated discussions, the ICD conference organizers extended an invitation for PDRC-MAVU to provide a keynote lecture and presentation on significant achievements made throughout Puntland. PDRC Communications Officer, Isahak Ahmed, attended the conference on behalf of PDRC-MAVU and gave a lecture highlighting the tremendous strides made towards peace, security and social reconciliation as a result of MAVU work. “In 2010, the Mobile and Audio Visual Unit or MAVU was established in partnership with Interpeace (the International Peacebuilding Alliance). The purpose of MAVU was to provide awareness to the most remote and rural communities-distant from tarmac roads-and otherwise, unvisited by the government and NGO’s. The methodology was innovative; to hold film forums for communities followed by facilitated discussions on key social issues. And, later these community events were documented and given to local and international partners so that concerns of respective communities could be addressed. But, what began as an audio visual tool for awareness later on transpired as an effective component for promoting peace and reconciliation among feuding clans” stated PDRC Communications Officer during his lecture at the ICD Conference. The participants of the conference included international diplomats, representatives of the European Parliament, researchers, peace practitioners, filmmakers and a wide array of other distinguished guests. Of all the keynote speakers, PDRC bore the privilege of representing Somalia; the last lecture given at ICD on Somalia related issues was presented by the former Somalia President Sharif Sh. Hassan.
This is not the first conference in which PDRC-MAVU has participated; the Lead Researcher Abdinasir Yusuf has given similar presentations at renowned international conferences at places such as Kenya to Belgium. Furthermore, the MAVU module has been immolated as an effective tool in Hargeisa, Somaliland and Bamako, Mali. During his lecture, the PDRC-MAVU representative highlighted this issue. “Due to the success of MAVU’s ability to promote peace by means of film forums; Interpeace working with other partners in the region, requested that our lead researcher Abdinasir Yusuf extend our expertise and experience in order to establish similar MAVU branches elsewhere. Now, there are MAVU branches in Hargeisa; and as far as Mali. In Hargeisa, following the same template of MAVU in Puntland- several major social reconciliation and peace efforts such as resolving the Ainoba Conflict in Hargeisa have been made possible due to film forums-and, blanket of peace messages”. Several brief videos were also shown to participants at the conference on the Rako Mediation Case Study; Anti-Piracy Awareness Campaigns and the difficult working conditions of MAVU in regards to travelling to the most remote locations of Puntland. The reality of Somalia’s unfortunate history of civil war, piracy and the emergence of security challenges has paralyzed the country’s ability to partake in high level conferences such as this one: However, the PDRC-MAVU attendance at the ICD conference is a turning point and milestone of not only the enormous contributions of our center to communities throughout the region but also to the international receptiveness of those individuals and/or institutions engaged in genuine progress and development. On that note, PDRC-MAVU representative concluded his lecture with; “It seems that usually when people think of Somalia and films, the first thing that comes to mind is Hollywood movies such as Captain Phillips and Black Hawk Down. These films do not depict the modern day Somalia; they do not embody the great progress and development which my country continues to make. I hope, after this lecture, you will remember the enormous contributions MAVU and its film forums continue to make in promoting peace-and, instead of Hollywood movies-MAVU films will be what you remember when you think of Somalia”.