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Getachew Admase: A life in photography

July 26, 2012 2 comments

If you’ve opened a magazine or newspaper in the past couple of decades, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen the work of Getachew Admase. The 71-year-old Ethiopian photo journalist has photographed portraits of many people, both famous and unknown – royalty, authors, artists, actors, and leading businessmen as well as “ordinary people” in a series of work reports for publications such as for Addis Zemen, the Ethiopian Herald and the defunct Ethiopia Mirror, Menen, Yekatit. His subjects include Emperor Haile Selassie, Prime Minster Aklilu Habte wolde, President Mengestu Haile Mariam, renowned statesman and author Haddis Alemayehu, poet and painter Gebre Kirstos Desta, and another painter Afewerk Tekele. In his more than five decades of work, Getachew has documented Ethiopia’s ethnic and religious diversity, as well as important events in the country’s modern history, both before and immediately after the 1974 revolution. In an era when photographers faced many technical disadvantages, he started with a Roller Flex camera and did not use a Nikon until the 1990s.

(Haddis Alemayehu, author of the Ethiopian classic Fikir Eske Mekabir and a statesman who served as Ethiopia’s representative to the UN.)
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Sultan to be crowned in Afar

October 29, 2011 4 comments

Hanfare Ali mirah


A ceremony to celebrate a new sultan’s accession to the throne will be held in Afar Region in a week’s time. Hanfareh Ali Mirah will succeed his late father, Sultan Ali Mirah as the spiritual chief of the Afars. The new sultan will be crowned at an outdoor coronation ceremony to be held in Asayta, capital of the Afar region on November 10, 2011.
Both spiritual and traditional leader to the two million Afar people who live in a triangle shape region between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti, the sultan will assume important responsibilities at both regional and national levels, Aramis Houmed, advisor to the new sultan, told Addis Journal. The move follows the death last April of Sultan Ali Mirah.Aramis said the appointment will make the process of succession smoother and more orderly.While traditional leaders hold few constitutional powers, they continue to exert significant influence, the advisor said.They are seen as custodians of both religion and tradition.
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Mandela on Haile Selassie

September 28, 2011 116 comments

What do Haile Selassie and Mandela have in common? Among other things, both are Africa’s most prominent politicians who have come to be considered as inspiring and iconic figures of our age. Though one was a symbol of regal and feudal power and the other a revolutionary with Marxist inclination, both have come to demonstrate great political ability and astuteness during their period in office. Both suffered colonial oppression, and both of them mobilized their respective peoples against oppressors that violated their freedoms. Both are cool, self-contained men, who managed to stay calm and graceful under pressure.
In 1962, the burly, black-haired Mandela came to Ethiopia seeking military and political training to fight apartheid. At a young age and without much experience as a freedom fighter, Mandela was thrilled to see and meet the black independent sovereign who already gained prominence in the international scene. The following excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s new book, Conversations With Myself, renders a portrait of Haile Selassie based on a meeting with the Ethiopian Emperor in military parade in Addis Ababa. Read more…

Passion for music

August 16, 2011 5 comments

When some three years ago pop singer Zeritu Kebede was asked who was arranging her second album, she came up with unfamiliar name, Samuel Yirga. The interviewer seemed to have no idea who he was. Zeritu profusely described him as someone on his way to becoming a much sought-after person.True, Samuel is rightly considered as one of the rising stars in the new generation of Ethio-jazz musicians, not only in the home front but also overseas. A couple of weeks ago, he has released his debut solo recording, the four tracks EP ‘Hagere’ in England, where he made a solo appearance at the acclaimed venue WOMAD Charlton Park. His full album is coming out in September on Real World Records. Read more…

The First Lady of Ethiopian Music (Part 2)

April 28, 2011 3 comments

Asnaketch/Addis Journal

In 1952 the Municipality of Addis Ababa launched the first department of music and theatre. Nineteen young men were freshly recruited to form the core foundation. Help and inspiration in the theatrical and musical field came from dedicated trainers like Yoftawi Neguse, Mekonen Endalkatchew (then Prime Minister), Kevrork Nalbandian and his nephew Nerses Nalbandian.
Soon two talented young men, Tesfaye Tesema and Asfaw Tefera, wrote and produced “Ye Fikir Chora” (Rays of Love), the first proper modern Ethiopian theatre that told a story through dance and music. There was not yet a female actress who could play the female role. The Municipality Theater by then had a few female vocalists and folk dancers but was missing a proper actress who could play a role in a theatrical production, a foreign innovation. In the few theatre performances that had been staged previously, the women’s roles were played by male actors in female attire.
After much consideration, the producer had his mind set on a perky, young 19-year-old woman, named Asnaketch Worku, who was considered to be a great beauty. Photographs from the time portrayed her as a voluptuous woman having a pale face, dark hair, and a thin nose. She was married to an Italian businessman who declared she would one day be an actress. Read more…

A Talk with Teferi Assefa, Drummer

April 12, 2011 14 comments

Teferi Assefa is a quiet, at times effervescent, and friendly person. A returnee from the United States, this thirty-eight-year-old drummer is one of the new generations of musicians leading the budding jazz scene in town. His entire life is centered on music. He is busy performing regularly, researching, and teaching.
Since childhood, Teferi has found his own sound on the drum. Influenced by a range of musical traditions, his percussion style was a key element of the Urban Vibes band’s distinctive sound that played recently at the acacia jazz festival. It is great to watch him play— the beat of his bass drum holding everything together. Not loud-felt more than heard. He hits a beat or drops an explosion on the tom-tom, making the drums ‘speak’ in a passionate and moody voice.
A week after the festival, I met this tall, bespectacled man at Kazanchis’s Jupiter Hotel, where he was about to begin his weekly gig. Read more…

Furra

January 5, 2008 3 comments

 I got an e-mail last night from one of my regular readers, Yaya, telling me my last post on Queen Furra got her curisoity going and asked me if I knew any material written about her and could direct her to it.I looked up in Encyclopadia Aethiopica (Harrasssowitz Verlag, 2005) and I found a half page entry written by a certain Anbessa Teferra.Here it is.

The orgin of Furra, the legendary queen of the Sidama, is not clear.According to Gasparini, she was the wife of Ahmad b.Ibrahaim al-Gazi (Gragn, known as Diingamo Koyya among the Sidama).Others claim that Furra’s father was an honourable clan leader during the 14th or 15th cent. and when he passed away, she was made queen because she was the eldest daughter. Read more…

Categories: Profile

A statue for Madiba

August 31, 2007 3 comments

A statute of Nelson Mandela has been unveiled in London this week. It was said the late South African anti-apartheid activist Donald Woods had the idea for the 9ft-high (2.7m) bronze statue.According to the BBC, Mandela, 89, who was in London for the occasion, told a crowd who gathered for the unveiling that, “Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolize all of those who resisted oppression, especially in my country.” Read more…

Categories: Profile
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