In today’s vodcast, Francesca Esposito speaks to Zakaria Mohamed Ali about his work in Italy with the Archives of Migrant Memories (AMM). Zakaria is a Somali filmmaker, photo-reporter and journalist. He fled Somalia in 2007 because of the war and his critical journalist work. He arrived in Italy in 2008 via the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. Zakaria currently works in Rome as a cultural mediator with Save the Children - Helpline Service for unaccompanied foreign minors. He is a human rights advocate and a member of the AMM.
In 2011 he created one of the episodes of the film ‘Welcome to Italy’: ‘Dadir’. In 2012 he made the short film ‘To whom it may concern’, a documentary about his return to Lampedusa in search of lost memories. The documentary was selected by the European Parliament's House of European History Exhibit in Brussels. From 2013 to 2015 he collaborated with Austrian director and film master, Peter Schreiner in the making of the film ‘Lampedusa’ shown in February 2016 at the International film festival in Rotterdam. In 2017 he participated as camera and light assistant for the film ‘Garden’ by the same director. From 2018-2019 Zakaria produced the ‘Il Signore di Mogadiscio’ (‘The Man of Mogadishu’), and in 2020 he produced his last documentary called ‘Families’. In 2018 Zakaria was invited to give the Ted-Talk ‘FROM A NUMBER TO A PERSON’.
In this interview, Francesca and Zakaria focus on the power of memories, storytelling and counter-narration to challenge the violence and dehumanisation brought about by EU migration policies. Telling these stories, as Zakaria points out, is an important ‘act of civil and cultural resistance’. It gives us the possibility to write another history, one which replaces numbers with names, and to pave the way for envisioning alternative futures for a borderless world.
As a contribution to this series, and to commemorate the victims of EU border policies, Zakaria has made publicly available his documentary ‘Il Signore di Mogadiscio’ (‘The Man of Mogadishu’), until the 11th of October 2020. The documentary, which includes testimonies of survivors of the October 3rd shipwreck, is dedicated to the people trapped in Libya, to the victims of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, and to all those seeking a better life. You can watch it here.