Fresno State’s latest CineCulture meeting presented a film that celebrated the power of speaking up and telling your story.
Presented last Friday, Feb. 16, was “A Girl from Mogadishu,” directed and written by Mary McGuckian, a filmmaker from Northern Ireland.
The film is based off of a true story that ells the story of Ifrah Ahmed, played by Aja Noami King who is a young woman from Somalia who escaped civil war torn Somalia to travel to Northern Ireland.
She is a refugee and became a humans righst activist and be a voice for women around the world.
Once in Northern Ireland, Ahmed worked to become a citizen of Ireland, but she could not read nor write, and knew no English. But she wanted her story to be told.
“I needed to learn it fast, so I can tell my story,” Ahmed said of learning English.
Ahmed was a victim of female circumcision, or cutting, a life-threatening practice that is common in many African countries.
While in Ireland, she did learn english and was able to use her voice and her story to bring awareness of cutting and get it outlawed in the country.
Not everyone was supported of her efforts. She even found herself being threatened.
“Good girls don’t talk so much,” said Hassan in the film, the man who helped smuggle Ahmed into Ireland. However, Ahmed, though scared, did not back down.
Her efforts and success in Ireland led to other countries also creating laws against cutting.
The discussant for the night was Rose Maria Kuhn, who teaches a class called “Voices of Africa.” She led the discussion around Ahmed’s life and the topic of cutting and the risks it poses to women around the world.
“[Ahmed had] two choices, play the victim or make something,” said Kuhn.
Ahmed chose to make something by using her voice and telling her story.
According to Kunh, there was not much information about Ahmed’s life before the film, so the real Ifrah was interviewed.
It took two days for her story to be recorded.
Many members of the audience seemed to show interest in the topic of cutting and the effect it has on women around the world.
“[Cutting has] so many negative, horrible effects,” Kuhn said, also pointing out how cutting can lead to health problems, reproductive issues and even to death. In the film, Ahmed lost a cousin to cutting.
Kuhn also noted how the practice is widespread, “all over Africa,” and has even been reported in the United States.
However, Kuhn also noted that many organizations are fighting the practice and that the United Nations banned it in 2013.
One student was surprised about how subtle the filmmakers were on the fact that cutting was about control over women and girls.
“[Cutting is] a question controlling women’s bodies,” Kuhn said. “It’s to keep control over them.”
However, Ahmed did not let that control her or let it prevent her from using her voice.
“I will not be silenced,” Ahmed said in the film.
The film celebrates the power of testimony when women find the reslience to speak aloud and tell their truth.
The film was sponsored by The French Program and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.
CineCulture meets at 5:30 p.m. every Friday in the Peters Education Center Auditorium. The events are free for students and the general public.
The film for Feb. 21 will be – “Singing Our Way to Freedom,” presented by director Paul Espinosa.