Mombasa Old-Town in “cessation of movement” over Ramadhan, May 2020
Video documentation from within, by Najeeb Ahmad Nassir Juma Bhalo
(Introduction by Kai Kresse; English translations and commentary summaries by Augustine Malija)
Najeeb A. Nassir is a young independent film-maker and photographer based in Mombasa’s Old Town. He also works as a radio presenter and news reader for a local station, and he is becoming known as a poet who is engaged in meaningful public dialogue and social critique. The video clips shown here are self-produced by him and were circulating on whatsapp and other social media channels during the month of Ramadhan, when Old Town Mombasa was under the imposition of “cessation of movement”, under directions from the government, for two consecutive two-week periods, from 6th May 2020. People were not allowed to leave the quarters of this part of town, while food supplies were brought in through authorized channels. One of Najeeb’s self-produced reports on this was also shown on BBC television.
The clips here capture vividly the voices of Old Town residents, particularly the youth, venting their anger and frustration about the sudden imposition of tough restrictions on their movements and everyday lives. Najeeb here comments directly on two of the four clips, all of which are shown here in their original Swahili versions capturing best the immediacy of experience and the emotions involved. As Muslims, Old Town residents were especially concerned about the restrictions upon their common provisions and the daily (re-)organization of their Ramadhan activities (and their alternatives), like special foods over night-time, late night prayers, and preparations for the Idd-el-Fitri holiday, which was coming up on 24th May 2020.