The title is a rough translation of one of the Somali Bantu’s frequent expressions: ‘bish bish.’ Literally meaning ‘splash splash,’ the term refers to the return of rain after a long drought, the transformation of a desiccated land into a world bursting with new life. Despite all their hardships, they often referred to America as ‘bish bish,’ paradise, resurrection.
RAIN IN A DRY LAND is a film about culture shock, a leap from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century as two devout Muslim families find new homes in urban America. We meet these families, in their ‘cultural orientation class’ in a refugee cam in Kenya, where they are preparing for their new lives. In the classroom they discover ice, a refrigerator, a bathtub, and learn about elevators and stairs, and buildings taller than one story.
As their awe and excitement grow, we fear for them. How will these illiterate Muslim farmers who speak no English manage to survive in American cities? In cinema verite style, the film follows them from the refugee camp through their first eighteen months in America, experiencing with them hope and despair, success and failure, and ultimately a kind of rebirth. Throughout the film, their poetry, umor and amazing resilience reveal our own world through new eyes.