Ethiopian Business Review

Africa's Diverse Culture and History in the continent's Realm of Art and Litrature

Africa’s diverse culture and history has inspired many artists. Here are selected events and personalities in the continent’s realm of art and literature.


In 1911, Joseph Casely Hayford, a Ghanaian journalist, author, lawyer, educator, and politician who supported pan-African nationalism, published “Ethiopia Unbound’’, which is likely the rst African novel written in English. Although the work moves between ction and political advocacy, its publication and positive reviews in the Western press mark a watershed moment in African literature.




In 1935 Herbert Isaac Ernest Dhlomo of South Africa published the rst English-language African play, “e Girl Who Killed to Save” He is considered to be the rst prolic, African, creative writer to use the English language.


In 1946 “Mine Boy” was published by Peter Abraham. He was the rst author to expose the horric reality of South Africa's apartheid system of racial discrimination to international attention. Abrahams' father was from Ethiopia and his mother was classied by South Africa as a mixed-race person, a "Kleurling" or Coloured.


In 1958, Chinua Achebe published “ings Fall Apart” one of the rst African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. e book is considered to be the archetypal modern African novel; it is a staple book in schools throughout Africa. It is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world.


In 1958, the famous – “Fikir eske Mekabir”- considered a classic of modern Ethiopian literature was published by the Ethiopian educator, diplomat and novelist Hadis Alemayehu. e book is translated in to English with the title ‘Love unto Crypt’.


In 1962, Ngugi wa iong’o of Kenya wrote one of the rst East African Dramas in English, “e Black Hermit”, a cautionary tale about “tribalism”. e travelling theatre of Makerere College was the rst to produce the play, it was published in a small edition by Makerere University Press republished in Heinemann’s African Writers Series in 1968.


In 1965 Tsegaye Gebremedihin’s “Oda Oak Oracle”, a legend of black people, that told of gods and God, of hope and love, and of fears and Sacrices was published. His poems “Prologue to African Conscience” and “Black Antigone”, were also published in the Ethiopia Observer the same year.


In 1965, the South African Singer, Mariya Makeba and Belafonte won a Grammy Award for best folk recording.


In 1966, Season of “Migration to the North” of the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih, was published. It was read widely and translated into more than 30 languages, including English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Hebrew and Swedish.


In 1968 “e Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born” was published by the Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah. It tells the story of a nameless man who struggles to reconcile himself with the reality of post-independence Ghana.


In 1973: “Shaft In Africa” was released. It was the rst Hollywood movie shot in Ethiopia produced by major studios like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Sha Productions Ltd. e legendary Ethiopian actors Debebe Eshetu and Zenebech Tadesse, “Chira Keresh,” are among the actors .


In 1986, Wole Soyinka, the great Nigerian poet, became the rst black person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.He wrote an autobiography called, “e Man Died” in 1972.Wole was not only a brilliant writer but also a political activist who was never afraid of speaking his mind.


In the early 1990s “e Cairo Trilogy”, a trilogy of novels written by the Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz were published. He is regarded as one of the rst contemporary writers of Arabic literature, He published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and ve plays over a 70-year career. Many of his works have been made into Egyptian and foreign lms.


In 1991, Nadine Gordimer became the rst African women to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Gordimer’s writing has long dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned.


In 1993, South African Willie Bester presented- “Migrant Laborer”, a painting about the hardship of South African laborers, garnering critical acclaims.


In 1995, Nigerian writer and Nobel peace prize winner, Saro Wiwa was arrested and executed by the then military government with nine other environmentalists.


On December 20, 2001, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the rst president of Senegal, died.


World Laureate Maître Artist Afewerk Tekle was awarded the ‘Da Vinci Diamond’ in 2004 by International Biographical Centre of Cambridge, England for his contribution to the wealth of human learning and advancement of society through his art.


In 2004, Ali Farka Toure, the internationally renowned Malian guitarist and musician, became a mayor of Niafunké where he spent his own money upgrading roads and electricity in the town.


In February 2004, the South African Charlize eron won the 76th Academy Awards as a Best Actress for her performance in “Monster”.


April 19, 2009 the renowned Ethiopian musician, Tilahun Gessesse died. He was buried with a full state funeral.


In 2010, Malian musician Selif Keita won the World Music Award.


On May 12, 2012, Mulatu Astatke received an honorary doctorate of music degree from the Berklee College of Music. Long dubbed the “Father of Ethio Jazz”, he has blended Ethiopian folk melodies with free-form jazz and Latin avors.


On February 18, 2012 the famous Sudanese musician Mohammed Wardi died.

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