For some, Kuku Sebsibe’s best days are behind her. Changing musical trends and long absence from home might have prematurely ended her budding stardom, but the pop star’s recent musical résumé shows that may not always be the case. At 52, Kuku is still pushing boundaries with her music and is attracting new fans. In fact, the 80s star, known as much for her hair style as for her love songs, is enjoying renewed limelight. Performing every week at the renowned Jazz Amba, she has become part of the city’s music scene.Her recent track in which she pays tribute to the iconic Ethiopian female musician, Bizunesh Bekele, is remarkably well executed, and can regularly be heard playing on the radio and TV.
Ethiopian artists converged at Jazz Amba Lounge in Taitu Hotel on the 12th May 2012 to launch the Ethiopia Chapter of Arterial Network. Arterial Network is an African civil society network active in the continent’s creative sector to develop and promote the arts and culture (music, dance, theatre, literature, heritage, film, visual arts, craft, etc.) in their own rights, as well as in a manner that contributes to democracy, human rights and development.
Around 150 participants from a cross-section of the arts came together at Jazz Amba to form the network’s Ethiopia Chapter, making it the 38th to be launched on the continent. Coordinated by an organizing committee of volunteer-members comprising of the Interim Country Representative, Munit Mesfin and Daniel Tamrat, Mikias Hailu, Mohammed Kassa and Nebiyou Tekalign, the formalized country chapter came into existence after conducting a number meetings to introduce the idea to key members of the arts and culture community. Read more…
In 1909, Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II asked the German government for help in modernizing his country. German Emperor Wilhelm II sent in a team of experts, one of whom, Dr. Max Steinkühler, became Emperor Menelik’s personal physician. When the doctor arrived on the scene, the emperor was seriously ill. At first, Steinkühler’s treatment seemed to be working, but the emperor’s health then suddenly took a turn for the worse. Had the emperor been poisoned? This question is addressed during the afternoon symposium by scholars including Prof. Shiferaw Bekele from Addis Ababa University as well as Dr. Wolbert Smidt, Mekelle University. The exhibition opening after the symposium features the correspondence between Dr. Steinkühler and Ethiopian officials. Also on display: photos, a diary, travel reports and documents on the emperor’s health, along with some other exciting corpora delicti. Curated by Girma Fisseha. The exhibition opens on June 18 and runs until 30 June 2012 during the regular opening hours of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa Universty. (press release)
The work of French photographer Jérôme Tubiana is the subject of an exhibition at the French Center for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE) in Addis Ababa. Titled “Sudan’s Frontiers and Frontlines”, the exhibition includes 30 photographs, most of them taken after the independence of South Sudan in mid-2011.The photos depict the situations of rebel soldiers of Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the plight of refugees in Yida camp who had fled their homes in search of safety.With the independence of South Sudan, the frontlines which in the past pastoralists used to cross without necessarily feeling they belong to one side have now become disputed borderlands. Jérôme who has been travelling around those old and new frontiers became an eyewitness to the dramatic events, through his camra lens.”I position myself as a neutral observer, just showing what I saw, both victims and perpetuators,” says the 37-year-old photographer. Read more…
Last week was the premiere of the music video for Teddy Afro’s title track, Tikur Sew, which revolves around the Battle of Adwa, one of the pivotal moments in the country’s history in which an Ethiopian army under the leadership of Emperor Menelik decisively defeated the Italians. Showing such an important historical theme in a music video format could seem ambitious and a little ostentatious. Yet Tikur Sew is no ordinary video. It is ten minutes long, and it features 420 actors, 25 horses and riders, dozens of costume changes, dozens of extras. Well, the black-and-white video makes for a great watch, thanks to well-executed production, creative editing, good quality sound, and high definition images. Read more…
Debebe Seifu (1950-2000), the late Ethiopian poet and academician, wrote poems exploring topics ranging from struggles of the working class to the great imponderable such as beauty and truth. A warrior for truth, Debebe’s poems ring with a remarkable sincerity. His major themes were the creative impulse, power dynamics, greater self-awareness, and the clash between the artist and the values of a philistine society. Debebe, who studied English literature at the Addis Ababa University at Master’s level, taught at the same university — all the while balancing his academic life with his writing. He wrote most of his poems in Amharic and he translated a couple of them into English, though they remained unpublished. Here is one of his poems entitled, “We are now writing dirges”.
The fire blazing
Its tongue flowering
Called on us
To wrap ourselves
With its flaming scarves
But you and me
Warmth-proof that we were
Began to write dirges
With left-over cinders
On a tablet
Of tear-gray ashes
Exploring issue of environmental sustainability in a visual art has been around the corner for some time and one Ethiopian artist found inspiration to create a unique work of art in what some people may consider “garbage”.
Tewodros Bekele is one of the artists exhibiting his work as part of the 2012 edition of Fana Wogi Open Call, an event that is now held every year. Using found objects and throwaway treasures, the Addis-based experimental artist is displaying works with the themes and imagery of nature and society. A series of the artist’s meticulously decorated sculptures made from plastic water bottles have filled the gallery of the Modern Art Museum/ Gebre Kristos Desta Center.The artist gives the plastic a melting, almost alluring luminosity and the fluid surfaces of his sculptures seem to welcome not just the embrace of light but also the caress of the viewer’s hand.By exploring size and scale, the natural world and the urban environment, Tewodros invites his audience to question ways of seeing and experiencing art. Read more…