post Boomerang Effect 2

December 18th, 2010

Filed under: Life Stroies, Immigration Stories — Admassu @ 19:19

Continued from Part 1
(link to Boomerang Effect 1)

Part 2:
A Lesson is Learned

The old man continued his story:
“… It is the more I grew older that I began to understand the matter…” He said. “…between the childhood and teenage years, you know,  it was so natural if the name of our parents had a constant presence in our conversations. That we were entitled to frequently mention their name at that time was quite natural because they were our direct  link to love and survival….”

“….In my childhood years, I still remember, my mother was telling me endless stories about her own mother. She lost her mother as she was still a child, so she used talking about her mother as a way of alleviating her grief. I recall that I was amazed to witness that my mother was still reciting that same story about her mother till I was a teenager. Though she grew older, her stories about her mother has never lost their importance for her. I often asked myself: “Why is she doing that? Why is she repeating the same story over and over again?…”

“…I hope it does not make you feel strange if I tell you that it is not my wife or my children that occupy my mind in these lonely days of my life…” He continued with a visible melancholy written upon his face. “…My thoughts are filled with memories and stories of my mother just like the way her’s were filled with the memories of her own mother. A lesson is learned. And now, in my old days, I am beginning to understand her. A bit too late but, at least, a lesson is learned.”

The old man’s story is obviously taking us on a completely different route than I assumed. But I am not interrupting him. Maybe it is because I am also beginning to think about my own mother and about the stories she used to tell me. Maybe it is because that was my first time to reconsider: No matter how old we are, we all will be haunted by this deeply planted wish to run back to the protecting warmth of our mothers in order to escape from misfortunes of our everyday life.

So, seeing how deeply he was involved with this thoughts of his mother’s memory, I decided not to interrupt him and change the subject towards our main issue which was about his conflict with his wife. Instead, just to let his mood flow, I asked him to tell me more about his mother and his childhood years.

As I have predicted, he was glad about my interest. As a result, the attitude of his narration was free of mistrust towards my reaction. I could tell that because he was now openly referring his mother as “Emaye…“(Equivalent to mommy in English). That was quite strange to hear a seventy years old man addressing his mother using that terminology.

Emaye was only sixteen as she got married for the first time….” He continued. “…Her first husband was much older than her. As I have already mentioned, her mother was dead and her father was married again. She mentioned that her step mother was behind this arrangement of her early marriage to a much older guy. I don’t know why her father did nothing to prevent this marriage because I have never heard her mentioning his name. It was as if he has never existed. The only thing she was sure of was that if her mother were still alive, she wouldn’t have gone through that miserable situation….”

“…..Any ways, the marriage to this old man did not last long. Her husband sent her back home to her relatives as she gave birth to a daughter. The reason for this rejection was that the man wanted a son.  Though she was still very young, it was six years later after the divorce that she met my father. Despite the fact that she was already married and divorced and despite the fact that she has a daughter from another man, my father was really interested in her. I still don’t know why he has decided to marry her while he could have chosen among other unmarried young girls. My father adopted my by then six years old sister and treated her as his own child. Overwhelmed by his kindness towards my older sister, Emaye wanted to make him happy by giving him a child. Though my father has never put her under pressure, she determined to get pregnant….”

“…. But, unfortunately, the wish to get pregnant was not a success. As time went by, my mother started to fill nervous. My father was not disappointed and he even tried to calm her down saying that they will have a child when God permits. Well, that obviously didn’t help because, as years went by, she was sure that people have started to backbite and to talk about her condition. She didn’t like the way they were staring at her belly whenever she went to market or whenever they visited her at home. Soon, she decided to do something about it. There was no use to remain in the village waiting God to bless her with a miracle. Instead, she wanted to make pilgrimages to sacred churches and meet God right there at his domicile….”

“…. She went through all the procedures that women in her condition usually do in our country when they want God to give them a child. She made presents for all major orthodox churches, she fed beggars by cooking huge amount of meals and by having it brought to those churches. Once she crawled to Kulubi Gabriel till her knees were severely damaged…”

“…. Maybe God must have been too busy with other things, what ever hardship she went through, she didn’t get pregnant…”

“…. She was in the mid of this unbearable state but she didn’t want to accept her fate. Once, coming from a market place, she reached a small hill where hundreds of monkeys used to live. Though she has often used that route to the market, Emaye has never paid attention to those monkeys before. On that day she did something that she has never thought of doing before. To the noticeable astonishment of the passing by people, she started to walk to where the monkeys were gathered. Mistrusting her sudden approach, the monkeys started to jump around nervously and to make scary sounds. My mother kept on walking towards them without paying attention to their agitated reaction….”

“….As she reached the position where she thought was near enough, she started to speak to the bewildered monkeys loudly and clearly. By now, many people were gathered on the road inspecting her. They were sure that she was crazy. The monkeys must have thought the same about her for they stopped jumping around….”

“…. Emaye started to speak to them loudly saying: ‘Dear monkeys. I know you don’t speak my language. But I am sure you understand me. I am here to beg for a miracle from you. To beg you to lend me your secrets that blessed you with so many offspring. If you are kind enough to help me to get pregnant and have a child in a year, I will promise from the bottom of my heart to make you a gift of 25 kilogram of wheat from the finest quality…”

“…. After saying that, she went back to the road and headed home ignoring all those inspecting eyes….”

“….Well, guess what happened after that. Astonishingly, my mother got pregnant at last and I was born within less than a year after she made the unexpected visit to those monkeys. Whatever was the reason for my birth, my mother was 100% sure that it was the monkeys that helped her. Carrying me on her back and loading a donkey with 25 kilogram of the finest wheat she could find, Emaye went back to that hill of the monkeys: as promised, precisely in a year after her last visit….”

“…Some, who knew her story accompanied her. The monkeys were more irritated than the last time. As she reached the same spot, she opened the sack spreading the wheat allover the place. The monkeys started cautiously to gather around her eating their promised present. And Emaye? She was standing in the middle surrounded by wheat eating monkeys speaking to them. By stretching her hands towards the sky in humble and grateful manner, she was chanting continuously ‘Thank you!!!’ and replying with ‘Amen!!’ when ever a certain monkey made a sound….”

“…. To the very end of her life, Emaye was always sure that those monkeys were the one who helped her to have me…..”

The old man was quite for a while. Taken away by his story, I sat still and said nothing. In this uneasy silence, I felt a cloud of sadness lingering above us. I could see, he was fighting back his emotion. I kept silent knowing that whatever I would say, would make him more sad.

“…. A lesson is learned,..” He repeated his first statement. “… Though too late, a lesson is learned….. The reason why my mother is continuously on mind is the trouble she went through to have me. There was a time in my life, where I was sure that she would be proud of me for that what I have accomplished. But soon after that, I became a fool and forgot her suffering. If I had her story always focused on my mind, I haven’t gone that far to betray the mother of my own kids…. Now my dear friend, see how I am living… alone in a cage like this, depending on a welfare of Germany’s state for my daily bread….”

“….Seeing me like this from where ever she is now, what would Emaye think of me?….”

I had no answer for his question for it was more a statement than a question.


Sorry for the delayed continuation. We hope you enjoyed the story.


December 1st, 2010

Filed under: Events — Lissan Magazine @ 13:38



Addis Ababa’s first International Photography Festival, directed and curated by Aida Muluneh, photographer and director of the Modern Art Museum-Gebre Kristos Desta Centre, will take place from December 7th to 11th 2010.


The first edition of ADDIS FOTO FEST will bring together African and African Diaspora photographers, in order to foster a dialogue through various events and workshops. With the participation of representatives from the global photography market, the activities of the festival will be an opportunity to expose the participants to the various ways in which images of Africa are produced, negotiated, and marketed.

Every day of the festival, multiple events will be taking place, from training to exhibition, and from discussion to screening, offering a wonderful opportunity to engage with international photographers and curators. Three residency programs, with Akinbode Akinbiyi (Nigeria), Yo-Yo Gonthier (France) and Dawit L. Petros (Canada), have already started off activities in November These residencies will lead to exhibitions opening during the festival. In total, over a dozen shows will be opening during the week of celebrations, starting with a group exhibition titled “Ethiopia: Interior Visions” featuring eight photographers from various parts of the world with a focus on Ethiopia. In addition, the opening will feature a tribute to legendary photographer Shemelis Desta, who will be in attendance. .

The festival is not only about displaying and screening images, it will also include a closed portfolio review organized by the Goethe-Institut of South Africa. The reviews will bring together twelve emerging photographers from around the continent, whose work will be reviewed by celebrated curators such as Simon Njami and Chris Dercon. The 40 participants flying in from 18 different countries will also gather in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies for 2 panel discussions on ethics and standards of photography in Africa, with the participation of the Ethiopian artistic and media communities.

ADDIS FOTO FEST is supported by the African Union and the delegation of the European Union to the African Union, the Addis Ababa University, the Spanish Cooperation (AECID), the Prince Claus Fund, the British Council, the Goethe-Institut, the Alliance éthio-française and CulturesFrance, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Canadian Embassy, as well as private companies.



Shemelis Desta
Against the political and historical events that defined the twentieth century, Shemelis Desta recorded the tumultuous history of Ethiopia. For the first time in a major exhibition the key figures and moments he captured are revealed. From the early 60s until deposition Desta was Haile Selassie’s, Emperor of Ethiopia 1930 – 1974, official court photographer. During this time he took photographs of state leaders, including a youthful Queen Elizabeth II, paying their respects. Following the infamous 1974 military coup and subsequent deposition of the Emperor, Desta continued to record government activity under the rule of the military dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. Desta captured the colourful pageantry of state military processions as well as a state visit from Fidel Castro.

Akinbode Akinbiyi
Akinbode Akinbiyi was born of Nigerian parents in Oxford, England, in 1946. Today he lives in Berlin, working almost worldwide from there. His school and university experiences reach from Nigeria to England and Germany. He took his B.A. Degree in English at Ibadan University, Nigeria. Akinbode has been working as a freelance photographer since 1977. He got a STERN reportage grant to work in the cities of Lagos, Kano and Dakar in 1987 and was co-founder of UMZANZSI, a cultural center in Clermont Township in Durban, South Africa, in 1993. Akinbode Akinbiyi’s main photographic interest focuses on large, sprawling mega cities. He is working on the four biggest cities on the African continent – Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa and Johannesburg -, aiming at spreading these topics through serious art books and exhibitions. Akindbode has taken part in many international exhibitions and his publications have been printed worldwide. He also works as a curator and leader of photographic workshops.

Yo-Yo Gonthier
Yo-Yo Gonthier was born in Niamey, Niger, in 1974. He graduated with a Masters in Photography and Multimedia from Paris VIII University in 1997 and has since been working as a freelance photographer, primarily based in Paris. The object of his work is the erasure of memory in a western world where the essential values seem to be speed, progress and technology.

He seeks the sense of wonder, in a tension between attraction and repulsion, bringing his own interpretation to night-time photography and the use of light and dark/chiaroscuro. His nocturnal studies have already provided the material for several exhibitions, including Les lanternes sourdes, a study of shuttered dark lanterns, in 2004. He is also interested in the remnants of France’s colonial past, investigating the friction between history and memory.

This ongoing project already gave rise to a preliminary exhibition entitled Outre-mer at the Espace Khiasma, Paris, in June 2008. Yo-Yo Gonthier is also involved in a number of multimedia workshops, both in schools and hospitals. He is currently artist in residence at St Exupery middle school near Paris, working on the La Peau de la lune project on the theme of fligh. He recently completed a commission for the Parc de la Villette, Paris for the 2009 Kréyol Factory exhibition and currently participates in the Biennial of African Photography, in Bamako, Mali.

Dawit L. Petros
Dawit L. Petros was born in Asmara, Eritrea, and received his MFA in 2007 from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He was a 2008-2009 Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has exhibited his work in group shows throughout Canada and in the United States, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Wedge Curatorial Projects, Toronto; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Photographic Resource Centre, Boston; Massachusetts College of Art, Boston; Harbourfront Gallery, Toronto; Observatory 4,Montreal; Maison de la Culture Frontenac, Montréal; and Prefix Gallery, Toronto. He has received fellowships, as well as an Art Matters Foundation grant.

Zacharias Abubeker
Zach Abubeker is a photographer living and working in Chicago. He attended Columbia College Chicago, where he attained his BFA in Photography. He has recently shown at The Center Gallery in Wichita, Kansas, as well as in Columbia College’s BFA/BA photography exhibition. His work explores ideas of self-identity and the intermingling of race and culture. He plans to pursue an MFA in studio art within the next two years.

Simon Njami
Simon Njami is an independent lecturer, art critic, novelist and essayist. He lives in France, and has Cameroonian roots. He was also a consultant in visual arts for the Association Française d’Action Artistique and co-founder and editor-in-chief of the cultural magazine “Revue Noire”. Njami has been the artistic director of the Bamako photography biennale, and was co-curator with Fernando Alvim of the first African pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. He has curates numerous exhibitions of African art and photography, including Africa Remix and the first African Art Fair, held in Johannesburg in 2008, and most recently, “A Useful Dream” at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of African indenpendences in the framework of the Visionary Africa festival.

Endalkachew Tesfa
Endalkachew Tesfa was born November 14/1952 in Addis Ababa, He did his primary education in Ethiopia and his secondary education in the US. He then attended the Montgomery Community College school of communication where he developed interest in photography; later he attended Corcoran school of Art in Washington DC, concentrating on Photography. After Corcoran Endalkachew attended several photography classes at the US Department of Agriculture where he specialized in commercial photographing of products and establishments. To name a few, Endalkachew and partner Andarge Asfaw established F/Stop studio in Silver spring MD and worked with companies like Black & Decker, Mobil and other major companies, and later worked for a major retail studio (Sears Portrait Studio) as a studio photographer then as a studio manager, until promoted to district manager in Washington DC area, Philadelphia and Delaware, before moving back to Ethiopia . He currently works in a family printing and publishing business and has been the General manager for the past 13 years. Amongst others, Endalkachew has exhibitied at the Smithsonian Institute and Adams Morgan day, Washington in Group exhibitions and at Asni Gallery , Addis Ababa , in 2000 for a Solo Exhibition.

Grace Ndiritu
Grace Ndiritu was born in 1976 in Birmingham and lives and works in London. She studied at Winchester School of Art, London; De Ateliers, Amsterdam; and had a UK studio residency at Delfina Studios, London (2004-2006). Her ‘Hand-crafted videos’ and ‘Video Paintings’ have been widely exhibited, recent solo shows at the Chisenhale Gallery, London (2007), the 51st Venice Biennale (2005) and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2005) Recent group shows include those at the International Center of Photography, New York (2009), Studio Museum Harlem, New York (2008), Dakar Biennale, Senegal (2008) and Metropolitan Museum of Art and Grey Art Gallery, New York (2008).

Pierrot Men
Born in Madagascar from a franco-malagasy mother and a Chinese father, Pierrot Men (which literally means “light” in Chinese) is a photographer. Laureate of the Mother Jones International Fund Documentary Photography and winner of the Leica prize (USA), his photographs are regularly exhibited worldwide: from Paris to Brussels, Bamako, Las Palmas or Algiers, through Antananarivo or Saint-Denis de La Réunion. He lives and works on the island. He is also the founder and manager of a photo lab that bears his name.

Salim Amin
Salim Amin, an only child of Mohamed “Mo” Amin, undertakes a journey into the life of the frequently absent, globetrotting father he loved, revered and feared. In his late teens, Mohamed Amin abandons his studies to pursue a career in photography, which, over the course of thirty years, will turn him into a frontline cameraman extraordinaire – and, arguably, the most renowned photojournalist of his era.

Dudley M. Brooks
Dudley M. Brooks became a photographer, he says with a laugh, because he “refused to get a real job.” “Being a photographer gives you a license to go out and see how people live,” says Brooks. “And in order for us to learn about each other, we have to see how other people live.” From the psychedelic fury of an all-night rave dance party to roommates clowning around at the Laundromat, Brooks captures the motion and energy of the world at large. Brooks has been with The Post since 1983. He is the Senior photo director at Ebony magazine.

Antonio Fiorente
Antonio Fiorente is a photographer living and working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Working in both the commercial and artistic sectors he is best known for his ‘life’ and documentary work, which focuses on the people and landscape of rural, tribal Ethiopia, fiercely revealing the other side of this culturally enriched nation, whose tarnished image of drought and poverty dominate worldwide perception. His work seeks to explain and express the situation; communicating the artistry of the photographer, the skills and knowledge existing behind the camera giving the photo identity. He has been exhibited worldwide and achieved critical accreditation, achieving the 2003 4th African Press Photo Award.

Mark Sealy
Mark Sealy has a special interest in photography and its relationship to social change, identity politics and human rights. In his role as director of Autograph ABP he has initiated the production of well over 50 various publications, produced exhibitions worldwide, residency projects and commissioned photographers globally.

During his time with Autograph ABP, Sealy has jointly initiated and developed a £7.96 million capital building project (Rivington Place) in partnership with the Institute of International Visual Arts. This is the first new build visual arts project to be built in London for over 40 years. He has guest lectured extensively throughout the UK and abroad including The Royal College of Art and currently at Sothebys Art Institute where he lectures on the subject of global photography. He has written for the several international photography journals, including most recently for Foam Magazine. He has severed as a jury member World Press Photography and Sony’s World Photography Competition.

Sealy’s most recent large scale curated project was “Disposable People: a Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition which opened at Royal Festival Hall in London Oct 08 and toured nationally throughout 2009 the was viewed by over 450,000 people, and the first one person show for Sammy Baloji in London. His book project with Phaidon Press Limited titled “Different” on photography and identity produced with Professor Stuart Hall has received critical acclaim. In 2007, Sealy was awarded the Hood Medal for services to photography by the Royal Photographic Society. He is currently a PhD candidate at Durham University. His research focuses on photography and cultural violence. He is currently working on a major photography show for Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada which will examine issues of representation and human rights due to open in 2012.

Jamel Shabazz
Born in Brooklyn, Shabazz is a photographer, youth activist and long time member of the New York City Department of Corrections. Active as a photographer since age 15, he came to prominence with the publication of his first book, Back in the Days (2001), a document of New York’s early hip hop scene (1977-82). He has since published two further books, The Last Sunday in June (2003) and A Time Before Crack (2005). Ken Johnson, writing in the New York Times, has described Shabazz as “the best kind of photojournalist: one driven simply by curiosity about other human beings”. Jamel Shabazz lives in Long Island, New York.

Sammy Baloji
Sammy Baloji was born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, where he still lives and works. After graduating in Literature and Human Sciences at the University of Lubumbashi, he started out doing cartoons and then turned to video and photography. At the beginning, he focussed his work on ethnography and body expressiveness. Later he has become interested in the cultural heritage of Katanga, his province, and particularly in its colonial architecture. He has taken part into many different projects and his films and photos have been shown in several international exhibitions.

Maurizio Frullani
Maurizio Frullani was born in 1942 in Ronchi dei Legionari, Italy, where he now lives. He graduated at Upper Institut og Physical Training in Rome and has been a photographer since 1964. Since 1974 he has been taking a special interest in travel photography. In 1974 and in 1976 he went by car from Italy to India passing through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then he went back again
more time in India and Nepal, studying North India Classical Music. From 1993 to 2000 he lived in Eritrea working as teacher at Italian School of Asmara, visiting at the same time, Ethiopia, Egypt, Lesotho and Yemen. He exhibited his photos in more than 130 exhibitions, in Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, France, Austria, India, Eritrea and Russia.

Rosa Verhoeve
Rosa Verhoeve lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She graduated in Sculpture/Autonomous Works from the Rietveld Art Academy Amsterdam in 1995. After her graduation, while living in a rural community in France for seven years, she discovered the powerfool tool of photography. She became the villagers’ storyteller ithrough images, and has been a storyteller ever since.

Rosa worked in Europe, Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan) and Asia. She has a special relationship with Indonesia, because both her mother and grandmother originate from Java, Indonesia. Recently she has been working on a personal photo project called Kopi Susu (Coffee with Milk) in Indonesia and the Netherlands, about her mixed origins.

Rosa taught photography in Kenya, Ethiopia and Indonesia and is currently teaching Documentary Photography at the Dutch Fotovakschool. In 2006 she won the national Zilveren Camera (Art category) for her series “Salto Vitale” about Ethiopian youth circuses. In 2009, Christian Caujolle (Agence VU) selected her series TB+, about tuberculose in Sudan, for the international exhibition Stop TB.

Chester Higgins Jr
Chester Higgins is one of the premiere photographers of his generation. Because he believes art humanizes us, the subjects of his photographs are of utmost importance to him. His images resonate with a spiritual echo, which maintains the image and frees it from the constraints of time. Much of Higgins’ imagery is inspired by his quest to redefine the visual document as it relates to people of African descent. Viewers gain a rare insight into cultural behavior — a window to another place and time — through his portraits and studies of living rituals and ancient civilizations.

An Alabama native, he has been a staff photographer for The New York Times since 1975. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications including ARTnews, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Life, Newsweek, Fortune, Time, Ebony, Essence, The New Yorker and Archaeology. His solo exhibitions have been hosted by International Center of Photography, The Smithsonian Institution,The Museum of African Art, The Museum of Photographic Arts, The Schomburg Center, among others. He is the recipient of grants from The Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Center of Photography, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation (ICP).

Over the past five decades, Higgins has produced six books of compelling images reflecting a sensitive and in-depth diary of his explorations of the human Diaspora.

Jean-Baptiste Eczet
Jean-Baptiste Eczet is a french anthropologist who works in the lower Omo valley since 2006. His interest lie in the conception of the individual which is expressed, among the Mursi, through several aesthetical manifestations: body ornamentations, names and poems. His photographic work can be seen as complementary to his anthropological research: his pictures show attitudes that go beyond a cultural determination, the persons behind the individuals.

Nick Danziger
Nick Danziger was born in London but grew up in Monaco and Switzerland. He developed a taste for adventure and travel from a young age and, inspired by the comic-strip Belgian reporter Tintin, took off on his first solo trip to Paris aged 13. Without a passport or air ticket he managed to enter the country and travel around, selling sketches to make money. Nick’s initial ambition was to be an artist, and he later attended The Chelsea School of Art, where he gained an MA in Fine Art and was soon represented by the Robert Fraser Gallery.

Nick has spent much of the last 25 years photographing the world most dispossessed and disadvantaged. More recent photography projects have included a study of the impact of armed conflict on women and travel to eight of the world’s poorest countries to meet individuals living in extreme poverty. The aim was to document the progress being made towards meeting the eight ‘Millennium Development Goals’ set by the United Nations to eradicate poverty by 2015.


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