Latest Articles - EthioArtist

Latest Articles

  • The TV series mania


    As TV series are becoming popular in Ethiopia, in substitute of movies whose popularity has come to a sudden halt, Samuel Getachew discovers the faces that once populated local cinemas are now at internet cafes downloading the latest of TV series from aboard. Local TV stations are catching the wave, offering imported series to capture a segment society that is fascinated by foreign cultures. 

    Churchill Avenue, located in the area of Piassa, the ever changing business district of the capital is where the first cinema in Ethiopia opened. That is where locals experienced the magic of movies for the first time. Those that experienced it found it magical as it was reflected for them on a white fabric on a wall. It seemed foreign to an Ethiopian audience who dubbed the cinema as the “Satan House”. 

    The experience was seen too forward and imaginative for many to comprehend. That was more than a century ago. Since then, Ethiopia has modernized its cinemas and earned a wider acceptance within Ethiopia. Foreign films from India and the United States, especially during the Derg regime became the norm as that era subdued local artistic freedom. The likes of Charlie Chaplin and Eddie Murphy and Indian movies such as Mother India became everyone’s favorite.

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  • Still grooving to the oldies



    Many music lovers around the world still dance to songs from the oldies but goodies collection produced 30, 40 and even 50 years ago. Apparently, the same period of time is widely regarded as the golden age of music in Ethiopia. Meheret-Selassie Mokonnen explores what makes the golden age so golden. 

    Distant sobbing and gasping are echoed from here and there. The auditorium filled with hiccups might mislead one as if something terrible has occurred. The truth is the event was an album release mini-concert. 

    Why all these tear? One might ask. The answer is not only in the lyrics of the songs or even the melody. Both the old and young crowed seem to have found the kind of music they relate to; the kind of music that creates a bridge between generations.The old folks were reminded of their hey-days. While the young ones traveled back in time to the 70s.

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  • Noble moves with Ethiopian



    Fusion of traditional and contemporary  Ethiopia is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. The traditional dance scene in Ethiopia speaks of this fact laud and clear. Every dance movement carries with it a piece of the specific mindset of the community which created it. Nevertheless, Ethiopia’s traditional dance scene is also the least studied and investigated. Yet, in recent times, some innovative dance crews are coming up with a unique style which is also important to preserve traditional dances by fusing it with contemporary moves, explores Meheret-Selassie Mokonnen. 

    Nambi IV, The Present Past, is a dance piece choreographed by Ugandan dancer Lilian Maxmillian Nabaggala. The dance performed by her along with two other contemporary dancers takes the audience back to ancient times to reflect up on potent African queens.  Last week the three dancers graced Alliance Ethio-Françaises’ stage with royal outfits and noble moves.

    The half an hour show was intended to depict how African queens used to rule their respective countries. The dance highlighted African queens from Yaa Asantawwa, Queen of the Ashanti Empire (Ghana), to Queen Nzinga of Angola, Queen of Sheba of Ethiopian and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.

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  • Land of Paradox - Israel


    There are not a lot of countries and communities who can trace their ancestry back to the biblical times or even further back. Knowing this, Israel also exploits these historical heritages effectively and obtains big revenue from tourism. Nevertheless, present day Israel is also known for its high-tech advancement and innovation, observes Neamin Ashenafi. 

    When someone thinks about the State of Israel and its people, the first thing that springs to mind is the rich religious history, as the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – are said to have their roots in what is now present day Israel and eventually spread to the rest of the world.

    Apart from that, the horrific history of the Jewish holocaust in the hands of Nazi Germany and the constant conflict that Israel is in with its Arab neighbors are also among some of the distinctive milestones that Israel is known for.

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  • Chapter 2 for the all-female band



    Founded in 2013 to tackle issues including domestic violence and forced marriage through songs and online videos Yegna primary aim was to have an impact on the culture of the country by highlighting important social issues in the Ethiopian society. Its members Rahel Getu, Zebiba Girma, Eyerusalem Kelemework, Lemlem Haile Michael, and Teref Kassahun adopted stage names: Lemlem, Emuye, Sara, Mimi and Melat. The initial reception was, to a larger extent good; however, things started to get a bit shaky for the band, dubbed "Ethiopia's Spice Girls".

    It was the victim of a long-running campaign by The Daily Mail, which claimed grants to the group were a waste of money eventually leading the British government to withdraw its support. Now, things are looking up once again for the band having received new funding writes Samuel Getachew. 

    When Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Priti Patel, the right-wing parliamentarian as the face of British aid in 2016 following a poor electoral result that reduced the Tory party to that of minority status and was forced to appease the influential blue voice within caucus, Patel wanted to change the narrative of British aid as one that held “core Tory values”.

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  • Alternative serving, snack and drink on the streets




    From the small fried fish that were sold on the streets of ancient Greece to the stir-fried noodles of modern day Bangkok, street food has been part of society for millennia.

    People from all walks of life eat street food and street food vending is found all around the world, but varies greatly between regions and cultures. Nowadays it is become common in Ethiopia, observes Meheret-Selassie Mokonnen.

    Etfruit, The Ethiopian Fruit and Vegetables Marketing Share Company, is probably one of the local companies that most Ethiopians are well-acquainted with. Many had shared the mangos, oranges, bananas and other fruits sold in the small Etfruit containers scattered all over Addis Ababa. 

    With 16 branches across Ethiopia, it was the most prominent fruit and vegetable provider until selling fruits on a wheelbarrow started to become common on the streets of Addis. Even though the street vendors are always getting in trouble with law enforcement officers, they have contributed a lot in terms bringing fruit and vegetable to the doorsteps of urban dwellers. 

    The street fruit and vegetable market extended to French fries, samosa, doughnut, cookies and other snacks over the past decade. With a growing number of people living in cities and the hectic work hours, many started to consume these relatively less expensive fast foods. 

    Eating on the streets hasn’t always been “accepted” in Ethiopian customs; however, the modern way of life seems to have transcended the norm. Consequently, especially at nights, the streets of Addis are being flooded with the fast spreading fast foods. 

    Given most of the vendors lack knowledge of healthy food preparation and the unsanitary streets of Addis, street food has been predestined to being a cause for food-related diseases. Nevertheless, there is a completely different reality regarding street food in other countries. Even in Nairobi, capital of neighboring Kenya, it is common to come across fast foods on the streets, including fried chicken. 

    Buying foods or drinks from the streets is extolled in other parts of the world as it saves time and one can get fresh products. Trying to transform the street food culture in Ethiopia, some private companies have recently started selling snacks and hot drinks with a better service than what people were used to. 

    On one of the busiest streets of Addis, Bole Edna mall area, cars and people walking by line up early in the morning. They wait for the arrival of two cars that have the label Bama Coffee written on them. 

    The founder of Bama coffee, Daniel Tesfaeyesus, and his employees hurriedly cut the fresh home-baked banana cake while serving coffee and macchiato. After a minute or so their customers head to their respective offices with a hot drink in a takeaway cup.  Bama started off by serving coffee and macchiato in meetings and conferences.

    The founder then decided to start selling drinks and snacks on the streets considering the time constraint many have to deal with especially when it comes to sitting down and dining during rush hours. 

    “We want people to know it is possible to get snacks and hot drinks within a short period of time. It takes us around thirty seconds to serve everything,” Daniel explains. He wants to change the perception of people when it comes to getting foods or drinks from the streets to be consumed on the way to work. 

    In this day and age, lots of people work two or three jobs and they prefer anything that is served as quick as possible. In this regards, companies like Bama strive to be the alternative service providers as opposed to cafés and restaurants. 

    “Besides the quick service, foods and drinks on the streets are inexpensive. For example, we sell all our hot drinks and snacks for 12 birr,” Daniel says.

    He is not oblivious to the fact that anything consumed from the streets has been considered unhygienic and unhealthy in the past. Many people have been hospitalized as a result of consuming street food.  “It is up to the service providers to make sure everything is clean. From the type of oil we use, to the place we work, store and serve at, we keep everything to the maximum standard,” he elaborates. 

    Let alone start-up food and drink, vendors on the streets, hotels and restaurants with huge names have been accused of serving contaminated food and operating in hazardous kitchens. In tlight of that, people say that it is up to the government to inspect the street vendors before licensing their companies.  According to Daniel, providing healthy snacks is their priority as they try to keep everything natural. He says they create doughnuts with various flavors and always try to come up with something new.

    They have a delivery service to offices that are in close proximity to their trucks and they have also started a coffee bar at Morning Star Mall.  “We will have a bigger market once the culture of consuming snacks and drinks from the streets becomes more popular in the Ethiopian,” he states, confirming street vendors are responsible in changing people’s mindset by providing clean products. 

    Bama has been in business for nine months now and the founder says they have had a good feedback from consumers so far. He also believes street food is an untapped market and companies providing a hygienic service have a chance of being profitable. 

    Other busy areas such as the road from the National Theater to Leghar and Mercato will be their following target markets. 

    Conversely, he notes, there are complications when it comes to working on the streets of Addis. “We have a license from the Ministry of Trade. But, we constantly clash with law enforcements since there is no clear demarcation to where we can work,” he explains. 

    As Daniel explains, street vending has a licensing section; however, selling on streets from vehicles is ambiguous as they can travel from one place to the other. He believes having a clear administrative laws and a common understanding with law enforcers will smoothen their work environment. 

    According to a research entitled “Hygienic and Sanitary Practices of Street Food Vendors in the City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia” written by Temesgen Eliku for the Department of Environmental Science, College of Natural and Computational Sciences in Wollega University, the quality of raw materials, food handling and storing activities are major factors that affect the safety of street food. 

    Bearing in mind the increasing number of street vendors, he recommends they should be cautious when it comes to choosing the environment they work around. In his research, he found out that most of them work in the presence of insects, gaseous pollutants from air, dirt particles and domestic animals. 

    “Street foods are at high risk of contamination. They are sometimes stored at unsuitable temperatures and sold from vending sites which include kiosks, make-shift accommodation, and push carts as well as other temporary structures,” he points and highlights food handling, storage and serving should be regulated. 

    He concludes, cities like Addis Ababa that are rapidly growing in size and population and also characterized by “people on the move” make a conducive environment for the street food business, if the vendors provide healthy snacks and drinks. 

    Lewam Haile, 28, has traveled to various African and European countries and one of the exciting things she mentions is finding inexpensive foods on the streets. She says almost everyone purchases hot drinks from the streets every morning. 

    She has bought coffee from Bama a few weeks ago and a snack from a truck located around Bole. “I like buying snacks or drinks from the streets mostly because I believe it is a wonderful idea given Addis is a huge city and needs lots of similar services,” she explains. 

    Like many locals she believes that not all street vendors provide healthy foods and drinks. “Anyone can tell if the vendors are providing clean products or not. However, there are some circumstances that are difficult to tell,” she says. 

    According to Lewam, the city will require more street food, with the influence of a modern way of living. She says the existence of street vendors will familiarize people with the idea of street consumption.

    She also hopes to see trucks that move around town selling ice cream, burgers and other fast foods since it could be a promising business as well.

    Source From - The Reporter of Ethiopia 

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  • The captivating Wangfujing Street of Beijing nights



    The capital of China, Beijing, is the most populous capital city in world. Most agree that it is a mega city with more than 3,000 years of history. However, the 21th century Beijing is truly a unique blend of the old and the new.

    Centuries-old sanctuaries and present-day high-rise buildings with its neon lights are part and parcel of the Beijing skyline. Still, the night life is where Beijing shines the brightest, observes Meheret-Selassie Mokonnen. 

    It is almost midnight; nonetheless, China’s capital Beijing is as lively as the daytime – if not more. While visiting one of the most vibrant cities in the world, one cannot help but stay awake to get the best of a pleasant night out. 

    With more than 3,000 years of history, the city has centuries-old sanctuaries and present-day high-rise buildings.  Among several spots that are recommended to be visited during night-time, Wangfujing Street tops the list offering countless activities. 

    From a pedestrian street to dynamic night market, shopping malls to strip clubs, bookstores to fried scorpion-on-a-stick, you name it – Wangfujing has it all.  Wangfujing, literally translated to mean ‘prince's mansion well’, is one of the well-known touristy streets in Beijing. The name was driven from prince’s residences which were built in the area during Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). 

    The street, which is located in Dongcheng district of the capital, has been a commercial center for locals and tourists since the middle of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644).  Though Wangfujing is essentially buzzing 24/7, the night life is more captivating. Not only this street, but most of the city’s best moments can be caught after sunset. 

    Wangfujing is one of the traditional downtown areas of Beijing and until the late 1990s it was open to traffic. Nowadays it is a pedestrian street, which helps to thoroughly observe endeavors of the area.  Bartenders of strip clubs in the area are usually overzealous and most of them walk around outside to summon passersby.

    They go on and on about what their club offers as opposed to the others. The clubs are made of a see-through glass and anyone can see the dancers hopping on the stripper poles. Customers choose the best clubs by looking at the dancers from outside of the clubs.  The clubs on this street are more public as opposed to the so called sex pubs which are more underground.

    They are discrete in a sense of ‘what happens in Beijing stays in Beijing’ kind of way. In these private pubs, although most of the waiters don’t speak much English, they try to elaborate their services using Mandarin and little English.  The 810-meter-long walking street fuses traditional stores and modern shopping malls.

    It includes two book stores—Wangfujing bookstore and Foreign Languages bookstore—which are over five decades old. It is pleasing to see many customers going from one shelf to the other in search of books published in China and imported from other countries. 

    The entire street, embroidered with squares, grasslands, flower beds, fountains, ornamental columns and sculptures is often full of people. Not being bothered by vehicles, walking on the street gives some sense of freedom as one walks in the middle of the road.

     Source - The Ethiopian Reporter News

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