Ahmed Salah Moneka was born in Baghdad, Iraq, where grew up in a creative, loving, and supportive family. He studied Theatre at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Theoretical Acting from the University of Baghdad. After acting in live theatre for 9 years, Ahmed became the first black television presenter in Iraq for a popular television show, Mizan Ramadan in 2012. He then moved to film and acted in critically acclaimed and award winning short and feature-length films, many of which have been screened at leading international film festivals including Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival.
Much of Ahmed’s work focuses on the issues of human rights and freedom in his native Iraq. In 2014, Ahmed starred in the short film The Society. Through its heart-wrenching story and gripping performances, the film exposes the ongoing indignity and danger that homosexuals in Iraq regularly experience. As a result of his performance and involvement in the film, Ahmed received serious threats and was unable to return to Iraq after his film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. Not knowing English and with very few connections, he sought refugee status in Canada.
He is now working to become a Canadian citizen.
His current projects include:
- Performing vocals and drums with Moneka Arabic Jazz. This group reflects his journey into and through the Toronto music scene. It fuses Maqam – a style of Arabic music he learned in his native Iraq – and African groove and rhythm that he inherited from his African descendants. Ahmed chose this fusion of Maqam, Jazz and Blues because they are a distinct reflection of his Afro-Arabic roots and fit right in to Toronto’s diverse music scene.
- Vocalist and drummer for Moskitto Bar, a multicultural folk band featuring French accordionist Tangi Ropars and Ukranian cimbalon player Yura Rafalui.
- Ahmed also conducts a series of workshops – called the Moneka Monologues – in Toronto to help educate and engage people on traditional Iraqi music.