HARGEISA, 28 October 2009 (Somalilandpress) – “A soap opera or Musalsal, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on television or radio”. (Wikipedia)
Soap operas or Musalsal’s origin dates back to Britain. “It began on radio and consequently was associated with the BBC. The BBC continues to broadcast the world’s longest-running radio soap, The Archers, on BBC Radio 4, which has been running nationally since 1951”. (Wikipedia)
Musalsal was introduced to Somaliland just only several years later when the Somaliland society slightly recovered from the 1994-5 civil war. Since there was no local TV stations, the haves turned to buy satellite dishes that provided more than 20 foreign Arab channels with the exception of few other English speaking TV channels.
Since its inception, Musalsal brought social and cultural implications. The reason is that the basis of most Musalsal’s storylines is romance, secret relationship, and extramarital affairs, kidnapping, rape, and committing adultery. All are against the religious, cultural, values and norms of this highly conservative society. Characters having affairs, sharing the same bed illegally, strangers meeting, couples falling in love are all the scenes that audiences are hooked to unfold the story’s twists. Crimes such as murder, rape and murderer may go unpunished if the villain is too kept in the ongoing story.
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In detail, if we read between the lines, let’s look at the cultural and religious implications that have arisen as a result of the Musalsal.
Musalsal changed the mindset of how society perceived their norms, religion, culture and ethics. For instance, it normalizes premarital and extramarital relationships. These series show a mother and her daughter trying to seduce the same man. You see a young couples dating and sleeping together and later making love.
What is far worse, some Amarican soap operas like Grey’s Anatomy, season 4, began to include some lesbian characters in their series. The son of one of the five female actresses in Desperate Housewives is gay. The question is: How will the brain map of a youth especially girl turn out when she watches such disgusting programs every single night. Her subconscious mind will probably consume tons of it later causing an adverse effect on her way of thinking and behavior. You hear stories about girls being knocked up by their so called boyfriends. Later going to Addis to undergo Vacuum aspiration, a process consists of removing the fetus or embryo, placenta and membranes by suction using a manual syringe. The outcome: Increasing pre-marital pregnancies and Abortion.
Musalsal also changed the dress code of our young girls. At certain wedding parties or ceremonies, you may see some girls wearing trousers or short skirts while at same time putting on a tight t-shirt loosing upto the cleavage.
Musalsal can also be a leading cause of the increasing trend of social and family problems in Somaliland. There are families who broke up due to the Musalsal. The wife may stay up to watch her daily series which may come to air at 12:00 midnight, making the husband to feel disrespected or useless and Giving Satan the chance to whisper into to the husband’s ears advising him to divorce the wife in the next morning.
A part from Musalsal’s adverse impact on the adults, the young generations are taking the same direction. Nowadays, you can see an immature child who wants to make relationship with another immature child who is writing a romantic message which he/she claims that he/she can’t live without the other. This shows how our country lacks the censorship law that rate movies and TV programs according to their respective age group. A social shift is occurring. Unless something is done as a society, as a government and as religious leaders, the situation will be worse!
Written by Adnan A. Hassan