Addis Journal is one of the leading blogs coming from the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.It focuses on arts, books, films, politics, and music from Ethiopia and beyond. It chronicles the emergence and growth of Ethiopian painting, drawing, sculpture and decorative arts.I hope readers will find this source useful and interesting.Thanks for reading.

If you have a special event/performance/exhibition to share; if you wish to contribute as a blogger; if you have a story, please email to me at arefaynie@yahoo.com or arefaynie@gmail.com.
All pictures on this blog were taken by me (unless otherwise noted), so please do not use them without permission.

  1. January 12, 2007 at 4:42 am

    been following… keep it up man!

  2. Tedla
    March 5, 2007 at 4:57 am

    Hey Arefaynie:

    It’s so exciting to discover your blog just by sheer chance, as they say.

    This is Tedla, Kume’s and your friend, just you know that this is your friend dropping by to share his excitement at discovering your blog. It’s good to know that you’re blogging something of value about art, and culture, etc. I really liked its name and that is what led me into check it out. Glad I did!

    I’ll certainly stop by regularly and see if I’ve something to share as the days go by.

    Keep up the good job and you’re living the kind of life I’ve expected of you years back when I was there.

    Much love to Kume and yourself.


    Tedla, from Michigan, USA.

  3. E.M
    March 7, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears: A Novel
    Dinaw Mengestu
    Riverhead Books: 230 pp., $22.95

    Dinaw Mengestu belongs to that special group of American voices produced by global upheavals and intentional, if sometimes forced, migrations. These are the writer-immigrants coming here from Africa, East India, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Their struggles for identity mark a new turn within the ranks of American writers I like to call “the in-betweeners.” The most interesting work in American literature has often been done by such writers, their liminality and luminosity in American culture produced by changing national definitions (Twain, Kerouac, Ginsberg), by being the children of immigrants themselves (Bellow, Singer), by voluntary exile (Baldwin, Hemingway) and by trauma (Bambara, Morrison).

    The new writer-immigrants are more uniquely caught between loyalties — to a home they are still linked to and involved in and to the lives they are committed to making here. It is a difficult negotiation and yet an amazing resource for works of exquisite frustration: hopeful, lonely, joyful and something else that cannot be named. These are writers who are making America their own but are also bringing the larger world into its streets, to borrow a phrase from Walter Mosley. This is the kind of writer Mengestu is, and “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears” is the wrenching and important book he has made of this struggle.

    Set over eight months in Logan Circle, a gentrifying neighborhood in Washington, D.C., the novel shows us three characters bonding over their joint but different memories of another home, another sense of self, lost in the Africa they cannot return to. The engine of the book might be the relationships among these immigrants/refugees — Joseph from the Congo, Kenneth from Kenya and Sepha from Ethiopia — but the book’s molten core belongs to Sepha and his witty though elegiac voice. Seldom has a character emerged in a recent novel who is so compellingly dark but honest, hopeful but dismal, and able to turn his chronicle into a truly American tapestry: racially fraught, culturally limited, haunted by a dream of itself that has driven writers like Twain and others to make and remake it.

    The book’s title, placing an emphasis on paradise (and thus redemption), is one of the many subtle indications of the book’s debt to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” For the narrative structure is one of a variety of circles, of the hells and purgatories that characters endure, and that nest within each other like Russian dolls. Sepha opens a convenience store in Logan Circle, named after the general whose statue graces its middle. What happens here, as Sepha watches families getting evicted to make way for gentrification and redevelopment, is symbolic of an American empire that is as disappointing as the empire that Haile Selassie created in Ethiopia and from which Sepha has fled. Sepha never contacts the family he left there, but he is unable to move forward until he can reconnect with them. In fact, in one attempt by Sepha to escape the monotony of his grief, we are led with him on a vision quest through the heart of D.C.

    But “Beautiful Things” is no simple coming-to-America fable. Mengestu constantly parallels Ethiopia’s failed revolution with life in the U.S., and readers see in what happens in Logan Circle some proof that the alternative that America offers is failing and failing fast — what kind of paradise evicts its occupants on behalf of gentrification?

    The author sustains parallels between Africa and the U.S., between the immigrants’ experiences here and there, with devices such as the wonderful but tragic letters that Sepha’s uncle writes to President Carter. Judith, a white woman who moves into the predominantly black Logan Circle, becomes Sepha’s Beatrice, and, as with Dante, she leads him from his exile to purgatory and, eventually, to redemption. They meet over the counter in Sepha’s store, which is where all the community eventually comes together — to buy, to hang out, to shoplift, to receive and pass along gossip. Sepha’s relationship with Judith is facilitated by the wonderful connection he has to Judith’s precocious daughter, Naomi. And like Dante and Beatrice, they have a love that remains fraught and unconsummated but powerful and transformative nonetheless. Part of the difficulty is that Judith represents the new wave of gentrification and Sepha’s decision to date her is seen as an act of betrayal by the other residents. Neighborhood tensions build because of Judith (since she symbolizes the oppressor), and her home is fire-bombed by local thugs. Sepha’s own redemption and the choice he makes in this matter are what shape his new self.

    Naomi, Judith’s biracial daughter, is the angel who saves Sepha. He reads to her from “The Brothers Karamazov,” and their tender friendship is one of the book’ strongest delights. The child is a symbol of hope, partly because she represents all the factions in the book — here, the idea Mengestu seems to be suggesting is that we are all cultural mongrels, and the only chance we have is to accept that. There is of course no mistake in Naomi’s choosing Dostoevsky for Sepha to read to her: No other Russian writer seems better suited in a novel about the struggle between the possibilities an adopted land offers and the tortured agony that an investment in the past demands. In an Africa that often struggles with Marxist ideologies and power-hungry dictators, the effect of Russian literature and the emblematic opportunities it offers cannot be underestimated in the work of writers such as Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o and South African Alex La Guma.

    But Mengestu also has a sense of humor that is pitch perfect, falling between complete despair and pure sarcasm. Even the choice to name an immigrant from the Congo after Conrad and a Kenyan almost after Kenyatta seems at first obvious but is so subtly pulled off that the reader notices it only afterward. This triumvirate of friends, led by Sepha and his endlessly deferred dream, often plays a game of trying to match coups with dictators by using only dates or vague locations as clues — it is a kind of charades gone wrong.

    The most haunting moments in the novel occur when the narrative tries to balance small, quiet moments of shame with those of true tenderness. When Naomi, for instance, is helping Sepha in his shop, she tells an old homeless man who dotes on her, “Take a bath,” and her tone is full of delicious scorn and insult. After this harshness comes a scene in which Sepha, nearly broke, buys and wraps Christmas presents for Naomi and Judith, presents he never gets to give them.

    Ethiopia has one of the oldest histories of literacy and written literature, going back to the Middle Ages, and it is no wonder that Sepha is the chronicler of this book — he is the one who can contain it all and process it into the possibilities for transformation.

    With “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears,” Mengestu has made, and made well, a novel that is a retelling of the immigrant experience, one in which immigrants must come to terms with the past and find a way to be loyal to two ideas of home: the one they left and the one they’ve made in America. If there is a more American concern, I haven’t found it yet. This is a question that American writers like Walt Whitman, and even Ben Franklin, have wrestled with: how to make an America that is born of Europe but free of it and at peace with it. With this book, Mengestu moves the conversation forward.

    Chris Abani’s most recent novel is “The Virgin of Flames” by Penguin.

  4. Veritas
    March 8, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks E.M.

    I rarely read fictions/novels but now I promise to read this one based on what you say and the following very good reviews too:

    Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook

    “A startling, necessary novel. Dinaw Mengestu’s vision of America is clear and precise, opening our eyes to the country we inhabit, for better and for worse.”

    Rattawut Lapcharoensap, author of Sightseeing

    “This is a wonderful novel. It is not only the story of an Ethiopian immigrant living in Washington, DC–it is also, in the end, the story of this country, of the dreamers who continue to dream it despite the unfolding, unforgiving American nightmare. Dinaw Mengestu is a marvelous, abundantly talented writer.”

    Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales and Highwire Moon

    “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is unlike any other novel I’ve ever read – I was captured from the first page, with this wry, melancholic and very funny trio of immigrant friends who have made their own small place in this world. Stephanos, with his voice of hope and memory and survival, is a marvelous creation, and his attempts at love and salvation are rendered with exquisite care and humor by Dinaw Mengestu, a shining entry into the literary world.”

    Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    “Mengestu skirts immigrant-literature clichŽs and paints a beautiful portrait of a complex, conflicted man struggling with questions of love and loyalty… A nuanced slice of immigrant life.”

    About the Author

    Dinaw Meng Estu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. In 1980, he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled Ethiopia during the Red Terror. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction and the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts.


  5. March 22, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    This is a blog on addis: addiswatch.blogspot.com. I appreciate if you could add it as a link here…


  6. March 22, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    This is a blog on Addis. I appreciate if you could add it as a link on your blog.

    Addis Watch

  7. Dr. Ethiopia
    January 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Yeah i would like to echo what most of you have said so far. And i would also like to add that your blog would have been more personable if you had your picture on it.

    It’s like i enjoy reading your blog so much that i would like to know who is behind it.

    Keep up the good work.

    Your friend and reader from,

  8. March 25, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Hey Arefe,

    Thank you for your comment on one of my “new” (but not really) blog. Well, you know you are my inspiration and that i’m your biggest fan.

    Anywho, i came here to check if you had anything on the “Hissna Hayassiyan” guba’e that took place at the Chamber of Commerce the other day. Esti.. say a thing or two about it when you get time (I dream of becoming a “hayassi” when i grow up; mentally, that is! Lideten “chibo” beMabrat makber kejemerku senbichalehu :-)). While you are at it, give me your comment on the Teddy-Afro post I published yesterday (man, that feels good! Actually “Publishing” something :-)).

    Keep in touch.

  9. March 31, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Do you have the website address for the e-mail beAmarigna they were advertising on ETV a few days ago?

  10. Arefe
    March 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I think I saw the ad on the Reporter.I’ll check and e-mail it you.

  11. Valintino
    April 19, 2008 at 12:38 am

    Hello, Your site is great. abra2 [url=http://www.abra3.com]abra3[/url] http://www.abra1.com [URL]http://www.abra4.com[/URL] Regards, Valiintino Guxxi

  12. May 1, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    selam wondeme, my name is Dawit and i run an ethio entertainment site called ethioclips and was wondering if you could add a link in your blog.

  13. acherwa
    May 16, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    hi there,
    I am a new bee here, and from what Iam browsing I like the variety of your topics, gives me options
    one thing I expect from your blog since you are stationed in Ethiopia would be writings in fidel, some things are just butter untranslated

    thank you for sharing your blog

    Cher Yigtemih

  14. May 21, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Hey arefe,

    What up?

    Was coming around to check if you have a piece on Abreham Retta Alemu, the journalist/writer who Sheger F.M. said died yesterday evening. And, ofcourse, regarding the bombing at Arat Kilo. Esti.. annd hulet belen.

  15. Arefe
    May 21, 2008 at 8:15 am

    He died! So sad. I didn’t hear. I am sorry for the loss. I met him a couple of times a year ago. He was a nice person to be with. I used to read his book review that he used to write for Addis Admass mostly under a pseudonym and articles for Rose magazine.
    I will try to write an obituary, enshalah.
    The blast news is all over the internet, check Google Ethiopia. I don’t know any more than what is written there.
    The more depressing news is the famine that is taking a toll on 7 million children. It so disheartening and sad. But all what the state media is talking is the Ginbot 20 celebration. Shame on them.
    For now I am working a story on a documentary on the Ethiopian music of the 60′ and 70′ that that I have seen on Saturday at Alliance. May be that makes sense

  16. May 21, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Was coming to tell you I took the trouble of posting both newses. Yeah, Abreham’s death is sad and the famine problem sounds very scary. But nothing, I’m sorry to say, is scarier to my person right now as the knowledge my little bro & sis may be the next minibus bombing victims.

    Selaam yamta!

  17. May 21, 2008 at 10:55 am

    The more depressing news is the famine that is taking a toll on 7 million children. It so disheartening and sad. But all what the state media is talking is the Ginbot 20 celebration. Shame on them.

    Hmm.. reminds one of other famins in our history the same media refused to talk about. First to celebrate Atse Haileselassie’s 80th birthday and then “iSsapas aseregna amet”.

    I say: shame on all of them!

  18. June 20, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Hi Arefe,

    Endet neh? Long time no see!

    Have you read Alemayehu Gelagay’s controversial new book on Sebhat G/Egziabher and his works? Please read it and tell me what you think. Been having some “eseT aGeba” at my blog on it and I could use a comment from somebody who ACTUALLY read the book.

    Eskeza, cher yagenagegn.


  19. Arefe
    June 22, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Oh dear, lememeles hulet ken fegdebign aidel?
    Ye alemayehun metsehaf alanebekutm. Ke Addis Admass tichit besteker. I should say Keep the eset ageba up.
    Right now, I am reading Tesfaye Gesese’s novel that I am planning to write some reaction some time in the future. Ahunem kal sebari kalhonku.
    Ye adnaki thing, Seifu fantahun yehonku meselegn.

  20. June 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    It’s ok, arefe. I know you are a busy guy. Too busy to check out on the sister, obviously. But understandable ;).

    So Tesfaye Gessesse wrote a novel! Didn’t know! Bought his “Rubayats” of Umer Hayam from the book fair at the AAU i mentioned in this very blog a few months ago. But I gotta tell you, was an up hill work getting past the first two paragraphs! There seems to be something wrong with either the translation or myself. Myself, more likely. Coz Sebhat has been gushing about it under the comment section, and I’d like to think Sebhat knows what he’s talking about. Speaking of whom, check out my blog for more “Eset AgeBas” on the above mentioned book (and Sebhat the writer, and Sebhat the person). Most of the “tekerakaris” haven’t read the book either, so you’d be fine.

    Lol. Poor Seifu! Who would have thought, right?! I’m sure he’d have been shot at and missed atleast half a dozen times by now were he in addis. Rotten luck, his!

  21. June 23, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Check out = check on

  22. mignote
    December 17, 2008 at 9:18 am

    hey i was wondering if you could tell me where i could find the list of books , translations and poems written by Debebe seifu, Tesfaye Gessese ,solomon deressa and seifu metaferia . it is an assignment to be submitted hence please take your valuable time to give me replies i know you are to much congested with work and tight scheduled but please take the pain to write me back

  23. belay
    January 23, 2009 at 3:14 am

    wow, this is a nice new blog .i just found about it keep it up Arefe!!

    but you should work with newspapers or other media because many people don’t know about this blog. don’t waste your talent.

    anyway, keep reporting from addis

  24. Olivier
    March 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    To: Arefe. We plan to come and shoot a documentary about Waldeba monastries and religious life for french TV. I read your article “A PHD candidate at Waldeba”. Could we discuss further about it ? Thanks Olivier. PS: we shot already in various ethiopian monastries and travelled to the border of Waldeba area.

  25. tessema
    October 31, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    hallo!!Ato Arefe!!
    I have some photos collection .some was displayed hire in Europa and Africa
    is it possible to organized on your respectable web virtual exhibition?

  26. December 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Nice change in blog

  27. January 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Like the new look, but LOVED the old one. Appeared more professional and journal-like than this one. Lemanignawim qumnegeru “contentu” lai newu. Please keep us posted.

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Hi, abesheet,
      Good to hear from a good old, faithful friend.
      Yeah, I have been absent for a while. Since I took up a new job as a tourist guide, I have not been hanging around in Arat Kilo or Piassa, where I have been collecting materials. Travel isn’t bad either and there’s plenty to experience along the way and find new out- of- town inspirations.
      Only that I have to find the time to sit and compose. I am taking notes and collecting photos that accompany the story. Hope to be back on spot soon, probably with the old look.
      Because the new look took away my links, including yours.

  28. January 26, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Woo Hoo! It’s back on :-).

    Well, I’m glad to hear from you again, too, Arefe. Been always a big fan. Also glad to hear you’ve joined the old and illustrious profession [for anybody who speaks better english than everybody else] of a travel guide :-). It’s not for everyone. Would definitely make hard men out of young milk-sucking babes; curing them [unfortunately] of their idealism. But I think you’d love it. For the first two years anyway. After that “yeGuide-woch” ena “yeShuuferoch” hamet yesew dimts endititela yadergihal. YeHotel nuro ena yeSetegna adariwoch company yewondeLate guadahin yasnafiQuhal. Eco-tourism, grass-root development, “indigenious people” — yemilutin Qalat menager aydelem mesmat yatakitihal. [Not to mention the back-stabbing “friendly” competitors and the spoiled tourists who would want you to run over a hard working “gebere”, and his stubborn donkey or mule, on his way home from the fields.] After that.. all you’d wanna do is fill that form, pay that money, board that plane, take part in that “travel exhibition”, and “asylum teyiQeh meQret”.

    Or so I’ve been told :-).

    But, like I said, you still got time to enjoy it. Make the best of it, my friend. And always… always.. keep the journal :-).

  29. ethiopianfeminist
    May 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Never got a chance to say great content, so stopping by to say “great content” : ) …thanks for linking btw.

  30. August 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    hi, just wanted to say thank you for adding my blog on ethiopia to your blogroll – I really appreciate it! Don’t know how I didnt come across this site before, it’s great!

    Best wishes,



  31. September 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    No further comment just keep on doing the amazing work, your blog has become my daily dosage of drugs. Can you please feature more inspiring young or old artist in any form of artist and culture..

    • September 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Rahel,
      I’m really glad you like my blog. I hope you’ll continue to follow, and you’re also welcome if you want to guest blog.

  32. September 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Hmm… so many female bloggers. I don’t know whether to be grateful or disappointed. There used to be.. what.. only you and I, Arefe?! 🙂

    • September 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Hi abesheet,
      You make it sound like Mahamoud’s “kene ena anchi beker eneman neberu.” Well, I hope you will settle for ‘grateful’, if you haven’t so far (tinish ‘discour’, ende abesha wendenete). Well,for my part, it suits me fine, it is probably a lot easier to create a “buddy-buddy” feeling with the female than the male bloggers. And again as much I try wax on and on about new ones, being a decent and chewa Ethiopian, I’ m loyal to my dear old friends who stuck with me. please keep coming.

  33. December 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Editor of Addis Journal

    I found in your blog Addis Journal a section about Cinema. Therefore, I want you to write on your blog and other websites an article to inform the public and to suggest to film professionals to produce a film about refugees and the wasted riches of Africa.

    Here is a typical story of tens of thousands of African refugees seeking survival and better life. It is from an Ethiopian teacher his name is “Abdirizak Mohamed Mohamoud” from Lafaisa, in the Jijiga zone. The story is at: http://tariganter.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/even-if-i-got-a-visa-for-europei-wouldnt-go/

    I posted this real story with my comment on the the reasons that are making Africans suffer in search for better life. It is the story of all Africans. And it must make us act together to get our fair deal.
    For all those Africans who are trapped with poverty they must realize that Western and Arab countries, including the USA and European countries are not the solution but they are behind the problems that created Africa and World poverty; corruption; and armed conflicts.
    Behind every great fortune, there must be a crime, or more. Western and Arab countries devastated Africa before and they are continuing their pillage. Look at Congo; Ghana; Nigeria; Libya; Ivory Coast;…….. and all other African countries.

    There are a lot of African stories that are ignored just because they don’t serve the mainstream globalist Western media.
    I believe that the story of Abdirizak is genuine and very helpful great topic.
    It must be turned into an African movie or documentary for everybody to learn and stop dreaming of the West and look for other real solutions for Africa.

    I wish I can make this guy a hero, a model, and a celebrity.
    Please if you can help Abdirizak to become famous and successful. I will try hard to convince anybody in African film industry to turn his story to a movie or a documentary with emphasis on the looting African natural and human resources.
    Try to contact Abdirizak or find his contact address for me; and make interviews with him and collect more information and resources. I am sure this a good helpful opportunity to make fame and success. I assume, it is also possible to government support on this issue.

    Please give this subject considerable attention.

  34. May 21, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Digging the new look. Beje! Yibel :-).

  35. Peacock fan
    September 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Nice blog,

    I was hoping you’d cover the closing-down of Peacock bar/restaurant in Addis – not that the news deserves (inter-)national coverage, but the place served as a cool hangout for three generations of Addis Ababans. A photo shoot of the place one last time before they tear it down would also be appreciated.


  36. Gada, G.
    April 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    EPRDF inaugurated newly constructed roads in Addis Ababa this weekend with big splashes. This includes the roads from Sansussi to Asko and to Wingate and few others having a total length of about 7 km. The construction of these roads started 5 years ago. Why are they scheduled to be inaugurated now? There is will be an election to be held in a week’s time. Is there no one to tell this arrogant party that this is corruption by itself? Ethiopians are under siege by one party. What is the job of the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission then? Or this is not corruption? Seen in strategic terms, this is also one of the reasons why the Ethiopian political terrain cannot be fair for both the opposition and the governing party. Therefore, the Electoral Board and the Federal Anti-corruption Commission must take such acts of the incumbent into consideration while leveling fields and/or undertaking their duty of check and balance. Otherwise, we will remain under siege for ever by a party which made secrecy one of its major businesses. UUUUU!!!

  37. Roxanne Browne
    June 27, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    I love Bandy Payne banana art he’s my cousin I wish I could talk to him and tell him how proud I am of him. I haven’t spoken to him in years

  38. Thomas
    November 6, 2013 at 3:52 am

    i really enjoy your blog.. keep up the great work! There’s so much here that I didn’t know, thank you for sharing this.
    I’m hoping to visit Addis soon, can you recommend some good practical travel sites for me? I found some good ones already (http://www.africa.com/blog/insiders-guide-to-african-business-travel-addis-ababa-ethiopa/) .. have you seen this?

  1. May 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm

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