My 9mins documentary film, Mogadishu Dreaming, is now online and can be viewed here. It’s about Somali painter Ahmed Hagi’s struggle to process his own displacement to Australia through his vivid paintings that mesh Sydney and Mogadishu landscapes.

It’s an apt time for it to go online, given the broadcast this week in Australia of the TV series Go Back to Where You Came From. This TV series examines the concerns of many Australians about the numbers of asylum seekers coming to Australia in boats. The programme sends six prominent Australians to Somalia and Afghanistan, to confront the conditions in which potential refugees live, and to discover the fate of asylum seekers that Australia rejected and returned to their homeland – many of whom were subsequently killed by their regimes. The participants then follow (to an extent) the journey that asylum seekers take to reach Australia – and the programme shows how their ideas and prejudices about asylum seekers are changed in the process. 

The programme website also encourages Australians to express their views and take a poll. Overwhelmingly, the poll so far indicates that Australians think the government should do more to help asylum seekers.

Through Ahmed’s story, my film Mogadishu Dreaming shows how people in Somalia have been robbed of their life prospects by political shifts, and are shunted – as Ahmed says – “between capitalism and communism playing football.” It also shows how a young man from a middle-class educated background in Somalia, lives in poor material conditions in Australia – hardly someone who has gained a better economic life – as many critics of asylum seekers claim are the motivations of refugees. Ahmed’s siblings are displaced all around the world, and his sister has been in a UNHCR camp in Kenya with four children for the last few years, but cannot find a country that will take her.

The need for a sustainable solution for asylum seekers is pressing, as the programme Go Back to Where You Came From indicates. Keeping asylum seekers in detention for years on remote islands is inhumane, and a wealthy country like Australia should be able to do better. The discussion around the programme indicates that many Australians want their government to find a better, more humane solution.

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