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Ethiopians have always had traditional ways of looking good for both the face and body. Culturally recognized hairstyles, eye coloring sticks, hand softening traditional creams have been around for long. Modern makeup is growing more and more, however. The last few years have seen a change where makeup studios are becoming widespread. So much so that even makeup trainers and schools are popping up in Addis Ababa. Such is the growth as both a business and personal practice, writes EBR’s Trualem Asmare.


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As much as artists have been vocal about the power of performing arts in communicating messages that could change society in many ways, the endeavor has failed to reach epic heights expected from a culturally-rich nation like Ethiopia. From censorship to competition from the growing cinema business, theater’s voyage has been full of hurdles. Now, the art form is dealing with the pandemic and national security challenges. EBR’s Trualem Asmare explores.


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As mental illness continues to challenge society, government institutions and private citizens are contributing to possible remedies. Even when daunted by mistaken public awareness and infrastructure shortages, the use of art is lending a hand in the fight against the growing public health challenge, writes EBR’s Trualem Asmare, where she finds dedicated individuals tackling the issue with their artistic hands and minds.


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Visual and performing arts are augmented by fashion design in Ethiopia, especially after Kassmasse’s Negen Letizita music video and Betty G’s 2019 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony performance where Ethiopian fashion and visual art designers elevated their professions. Such opportunities provide fashion and set designers exposure to catapult their themselves, but not without sacrifice.

The industry, though seeing advancements, still has its low points. EBR’s Samuel Habtab looks at both up-and-coming as well as established industry players to the assess the confluence of fashion design, culture, and the visual art industry.


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Pursuing one’s artistic call is a luxury even for healthy people with decent jobs, let alone for those with disabilities. That is why all great art communities flourish when civilizations peak and citizens have secured their basic needs. When these basic needs are fulfilled, human beings tend to pursue higher values in life.
However, there are people with disabilities defying this fact. Not only are they pursuing art, but they are also using it to heal others. EBR’s Lidya Yohannes has explored the growing power of art on healing people with disabilities and their successes in the face of challenges and obstacles.


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In less than half a century, traditional arts which were the core of the fabric of Addis Ababans, shied away as the capital was flooded by Western cultures and negative governmental pressure. However, few like Fendika Cultural Center, surfed against the odds and have managed to become a museum of traditional art in the center of fast-urbanizing Addis Ababa. Fendika is a repository of genuine traditional music, art, poetry, books, and handicrafts. It is also a hub for tourism and enjoyment, for both foreigners and ethnographic enthusiasts.

Melaku Belay is Founder, Owner, and Manager of Fendika. He is also an acclaimed Dancer, Choreographer, and Founding President of the Ethiopian Dance Association. He made traditional art as strong as gravity in attracting audiences. He is planning on expanding his establishment even further. EBR’s Samuel Habtab visited Fendika and chatted with Melaku and traditional art enthusiasts.


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With its distinct ecoregions and vast range of fauna and flora, the area is home to Ethiopia’s second-highest peak as well as otherworldly landscapes—the Harenna Forest and Sanetti Plateau. Religious tourism, also present at Sof Omar and Sheik Hussein’s tomb, brings numerous Muslim pilgrims. With the recent advent of hiking groups making such travels more accessible to locals, the region stands to win if enabling infrastructures and sustainable development putting locals at the center are employed.


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Gone are the days when only humans play story characters. A human character does not have to put on excessive costumes to play the character of legends who passed even before photography was invented. With digital drawing pads, computers, and software programs, two- and three-dimensional visual characters are developed with even more features and abilities than their human counterparts. The only limitation, however, is that digital art cannot replace live theater.
The demand for digitally generated visual artworks is growing in Ethiopia, mainly from film makers, videogame enthusiasts, and visual advertisement agencies. However, there are only few digital artists as not even the traditional art has fully matured in Ethiopia. EBR’s Samuel Habtab, assessed the baby steps digital visual art is taking in Addis Ababa.


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Producing a television drama series that airs daily is overambitious, especially considering the broadcast production capacity of Ethiopia. Yet, new approaches are emerging to capture the growing viewership of addictive TV series.
Sewmehon Yismah, 38, is Founder of Sewmehon Film Production. He recently reached an agreement with DStv to produce the first-of-its-kind daily show, titled Adey. The script of the series is contextually adapted from English and other foreign languages. Once produced with localized characters in Ethiopia, it will be aired on a new TV channel to be launched on DStv. DStv outsourced the production to Sewmehon, a new arrangement in Ethiopia’s television drama series production history.
Sewmehon, a movie maker and cinematographer, has produced sensational music clips including Mar Eske Twaf and a number of Amharic movies like Balageru and Sewnetwa, displaying quality that DStv could not ignore. He is also currently producing a documentary on the life and work of Tilahun Gessesse. EBR’s Samuel Habtab visited Sewmehon’s studio to converse on his upcoming work.


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Urban thinking is often shaped by artistic touches. A simple painting can change minds, more than lectures or politicians’ speeches. A city with more artistic room can transform residents into civilized minds rather than modernization enthusiasts. For street artists thriving to bring such taste, Addis Ababa is rather a construction site than an inspirational neighborhood. Street art, an under formation concept in the capital, has to compete for space, amidst growing use for walls, buildings, structures, and outdoor spaces by commercial ads. Samuel Habtab, traveled around with groups of street artists rebranding the capital.



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