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Letter from ADDIS ABABA

I ran across a JSTOR link today that contains  Solomon Deressa’s essay,  ‘Letter from Addis Ababa’, which gives an overview of the Ethiopia’s graphic and literary arts of the time.It appeared in African Arts, Regents of the University of California in 1969.

If you have access to JSTOR, you could read the whole article.

Otherwise this excerpts might give you a taste of this thoughtful article.

Although perhaps the most cosmopolitian town on the continent, Addis Ababa is in many ways the most African of African cities.It was obviously conceived by Ethiopians for Ethiopians who had every intention of living a traditional Ethiopian life.

Because the traditional Ethiopian way of life has not been dealt with in foreign literatures, travelogs apart, and also because the Ethiopian character is anything but candid, the place often proves both fascinating and incomprehensible even for the more sensitive foreigner.The ultra-modern six-lane boulevards with fourphase traffic lights that can be turned into a purgatory of congestion by a couple of absent-minded cows crossing against the light- the cows are probably owned by a poor family that runs its diary farm right behind Africa Hall- lead into residential sidestreets which in turn open onto back alleys that can with startling abruptness turn into fragmented images in a hell dreamed up by Hieronymus Bosch.Children are playing marbles.The pros are standing  pert and insolent at the doors of their shabby or not-so-shabby dwellings.A carefree male customer is urinating into the gutter.

Notwithstanding whatever one might hear of life in Addis Ababa, I would not be surprised if it were the freest city in the world.So free, really, nobody talks of freedom.Free of fears about one’s political opinions, free of small town gossip, free of puritianical sexual mores.And also free for those who peddle junk in the guise of art.In fact, the manner in which these stray artists sidle up to you, look askance, and give you the hustler “esperanto” before unfurling the parchement or canvass, for a moment whets your appetite for more excitement than mere aestheic pleasure.As the almost collector of this junk,the artsy-craftsy resident foreigner, who generally claims that Ethiopians know nothing about art, has had a most detrimental effect on the traditional artist’s method of production.In the not-so-distant past the unschooled painter prepared his own canvass,concotted his own paint, and got to work without too much worry as to what others would think and without too much hope of finding a buyer for his product.He was perhaps completely unaware of the finer tricks of the trade, but in working for his own pleasure he was free to follow his own whim within the traditional stylized frame of reference.

Articles about Solomon Deressa

Solomon Deressa-Poet–Educator by

                                 Endrias Getachew,               Addis Tribune,January 1,1999

Solomon Deressa Launches Another Poetry Book(Zebet Ilfitu)

         by Michelle M.Sellassie

                   The Monitor, January 2-3, 1999

Categories: News
  1. Haimi
    November 26, 2006 at 6:21 am

    i’aint got no Jestor.Why don’t you publish it yourself.

  2. Kip
    January 30, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Have you seen any recent publishing’s from Solomon Deressa?

  3. winta
    December 12, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Yeah …there is the old ‘Lijinet ‘ and after wards there is ‘Wolelotat ‘.I think this one is the latest .

  1. January 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm
  2. July 14, 2009 at 8:21 am

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