post Sosina Wogayehu

May 2nd, 2008

Filed under: Who is Who? — Lissan Magazine @ 12:06

Sosina was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. She started doing gymnastics at the age of 7, and was Ethiopian Gymnastics Champion at ages 9 and 11. She joined Circus Ethiopia in 1993, and toured the world for five years as an acrobat, contortionist and dancer, including performances at the Adelaide Festival, the Womad Festival in England, and a performance for the Queen of the Netherlands.

“Africa” photo: Rob Skovell

Sosina moved to Australia in 1998. In 1999 she completed a Diploma in Small Companies and Community Theatre at Swinburne University, including spending a month doing work experience with Australia’s flagship contemporary circus, Circus Oz, and participating in a Melbourne Women’s Circus community performance. She supported her studies and training with a job at Africako, where she was employed for her specialist Ethiopian hair braiding skills. Sometimes Sosina performed as a “hair busker”, braiding hair, adding colorful extensions and bright found objects and offering a free smile to the shoppers in Auckland St, St Kilda.

Sosina was fortunate to complete her diploma just as the Swinburne University National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) sought applications for their inaugural two-year diploma in circus arts. She was a successful applicant, and was one of its very first graduating students in 2001. While studying at NICA, she developed her world-class, solo, bouncing ball juggling act, and a ladder-balancing act. These acts, along with her stage presence, her contortion, her creativity, and her ability to work effectively in a collaborative creative environment led Circus Oz to offer her a position in their permanent performance ensemble in 2002.
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post Ethiopia / Australia

May 1st, 2008

Filed under: Immigration Stories — Lissan Magazine @ 13:19

History of immigration from Ethiopia

The Ethiopia-born community in Australia is a recently-established community, with the earliest migrants arriving during the 1970s when the ‘Derg’ socialist government assumed power in Ethiopia. The government repressed its opponents, and between 1977-78 over 30,000 people were imprisoned and several thousand killed on suspicion of anti-government activity.

Sosina Wogayehu, Circus Oz performer, during a show.
Sosina arrived from Ethiopia in 1998.
Photographer / Source: Ponch Hawkes

As armed conflict with the opposition groups erupted, over half a million refugees fled to neighbouring countries. Ethiopian refugees waited in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt before being accepted in Australia under the refugee and humanitarian programs. Drought and famine in the mid-1980s caused further distress and displacement.

The fall of the Derg regime in 1991 failed to end political persecution, and Ethiopians continued to flee their country. Over the next decade Victoria became home to the largest population of Ethiopia-born migrants in Australia, increasing by 137% to 1,971 between 1991 and 2001. Since 2001 the community has increased considerably.

The majority of the Ethiopia-born Victorians today are employed in production, transport and labouring; 17% of workers are employed in managerial or professional positions. The community mainly lives in Melbourne’s western suburbs such as Footscray.

The Ethiopia-born population in Victoria is a vibrant mix of diverse cultures, including the Tigray, Oromo, Amhara and Harari (also known as Adaree), each with a distinct sense of community and tradition. This cultural diversity is reflected in the number of religions followed and languages spoken at home by the Ethiopia-born population in Victoria.

Support services are provided by organisations including the Ethiopian Community Association in Victoria and the Hararian Community Association.


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