Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Anne Makepeace's documentary Rain in a Dry Land begins with the sobering realization that in 2004 alone, over 13,000 Somali Bantus escaped from dire living conditions in Africa and immigrated, legally, to the United States, where they began new lives. The film itself provides biographical studies of two such families (both direct descendants of slaves) and observes each as they settle in differing geographic regions of the U.S. The narrative commences in January 2004, when the families attend cultural orientation classes at Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp - learning of refrigerators, ovens, automobiles, elevators, western schools, and all the other amenities so often taken for granted in North America; the picture then witnesses each family during the first two years of life in its new homeland. One moves to Springfield, Massachusetts, the other to Atlanta, Georgia - two wildly disparate regions, though in each case, the families struggle against racism, discrimination, impoverishment, and massive doses of culture shock to build new lives for themselves, and retain overwhelming optimism thanks to events such as the birth of a child, an American wedding, and the reunion of thousands of Somali Bantus from across the U.S.
Africa, family, minority, ostracism, poverty, slavery, Somalia, working-class