Addis Ababa, Ethiopia & the Horn of Africa in Ancient Photography & Maps ⎢ Addis-Abeba, l'Éthiopie & la Corne de l'Afrique dans la photo et les cartes anciennes

ADDIS ABÄBA through the lens of Ethiopia’s young photographers

5th AddisAbaba Photo Festival 6-10 December 2018



Established in 2010, Desta for Africa Creative Consulting (DFA) is a social enterprise providing services in the area of photography, curatorial services, event planning, public relations, media communication, graphic design, educational workshops and consulting in the creative industries. Located in Sidist kilo in the International Leadership Institute Building, DFA is managed by award winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur Aida Muluneh. DFA is a creative production company which, utilizing various talents in Ethiopia, develops unique services for clients and partners who seek innovative and creative approaches to promoting their brand(s) in the African and international markets. DFA is also a capacity building organization, geared towards elevating cultural discourse, the media profession and image production in general throughout Africa. One of DFA’s main goals is to utilize culture and visual communication tools to create self-sustainable opportunities to promote development in Africa, and in particular, Ethiopia. Hence, it is for this reason that the word DESTA, meaning happiness in the Ethiopian language of Amharic, also stands for Developing and Educating Society Through Art!

Addis Foto Fest is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.The Addis Foto Fest has been recognized as one of the leading photography festivals in Africa and in the world. (from

Some of the Ethiopian photographers have focused on Adids Abäba’s heritage, streets and metamorphosis.

Mahlet Teshome
Mahlet currently works as a senior associate for a legal consulting firm, but her true passion is in photography. Born in Addis Ababa in 1989, Mahlet fell in love with photography while she was attending law school at Addis Ababa University. She was inspired by the old buildings and the nostalgic feel of the campus’ architecture which compelled her to take photos on her mobile phone. Mahlet loves travelling and believes good photography is the best way to preserve all the wonderful memories from her travels.
Documenting Addis Ababa
A true Addis Ababa native, Mahlet is both amazed and concerned with the pace of change sweeping across the city’s landscape, with the old making way for the new. She realizes the city is going through a rapid growth stage where old buildings are bulldozed and continue to be replaced by new ones. With a deep sense of historical value for the city’s heritage, Mahlet set out to properly document the city’s historical buildings and its emerging edifices. She uses her photography to immortalize the city’s collective memories by capturing its buildings in mesmerizing pictures.



Meliksenay Debas

Feeling privileged for doing what he loves, Meliksenay works as a full-time photographer and graphics designer, though he graduated from Addis Ababa University with a degree in Business Administration and Information System. After receiving training in photography, he has been honing his skills, gaining valuable hands-on experience in photography. Since 2012, his love for photography took him on a journey of telling stories of day-to-day lives in Addis Ababa through photography. Meliksenay was featured in the AFF 2016 and is the co-founder and creative director at a creative communications company.
Construction workers
While the tremendous job opportunity created by the ongoing construction boom in Ethiopia in general, and in the capital Addis Ababa is commendable, the attention afforded to safety at construction sites is troublesome. Construction workers often find themselves working in rather precarious conditions, hanging in skyscrapers with as a leap of faith. Unfortunately for the workers, safety is taken for granted across the industry. Meliksenay’s collection highlights the daily struggles of the workers getting by with minimal wages, barely enough to make ends meet.



Mulugeta Ayene
An award-winning photojournalist and a fine art photographer based in Addis Ababa, Mulugeta currently works for the Associated Pres (AP). His photographic career has included regular assignments for prominent international organizations such as UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Rescue Committee, to mention a few. Mulugeta recently joined a team of judges on a local talent TV show where he mentors aspiring photographers. He also served as a judge on the Uganda Press Photo Award. While his work covers a wide range of subjects, recurrent in his work are social and spatial transformations and their effects on identity and social relations. Mulugeta has won several awards including the first ever prize in photojournalism under the ‘Excellence in Journalism” category organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of Ethiopia in 2011 and 2012.
Ethiopian Spring
In ‘Ethiopian Spring’ photographer Mulugeta Ayene presents a series of pictures taken at public rallies between April and September 2018 in Addis Ababa. While the emancipatory nature and success of Ethiopia’s ongoing political transformation are subject to outcomes of the ongoing social and political struggle, the pictures capture the sense of liberation and hope which dominated the early days of the coming to power of Ethiopia’s new and reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April 2018. While some pictures represent forms of political engagement commonly associated with notions of liberal democracy and urban middle class demands, others make explicit aesthetic references to revolutionary struggle and highlight the regional, ethnic and social questions which remain unanswered in the current state of transition. The series aims to challenge the narrative of universal aspirations for liberal democracy through showing how identity and class remain key elements in the wider complex social and political struggle over shaping the future of Ethiopia.



Samuel Mengesha
Born in 1986, I graduated in Mechanical Engineering and I am currently working in the construction sector of Addis Ababa. Having worked in France then China, I have been exposed to both the highly regimented automotive world as well as the delirious realm of creative directors in the luxury industry. I had an early age passion for drawing, which slowly transitioned to photography six years ago. A camera is never too far away whether the permanent point and shoot in my glove box, the phone inside my pocket or the occasional DSLR in the trunk. I am particularly fond of sneaking into buildings to get access to their rooftop as I can never get tired of that bird’s eye view of this great city.
Inside Out
Inside Out is a series of pictures themed around Addis Ababa’s landmarks, skyline and architecture. The viewer is invited to peek through suggested or actual frames unto the familiar city scenery earning a unique vantage point. These perspectives also offer a counter intuitive alternate reality where the inside can be interpreted as outside



Sehin Tewabe
A third-year accounting student, Sehin, 20, was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Growing up in a large family, She was always the designated cameraman in the household. Sehin taught herself the basics of photography and enjoys taking pictures on the streets. She believes there is so much more in street photography because it captures people’s facial expressions or their sense of state of mind at a specific moment and time.

“The place where all things meet,’ Megenagna looks a bit like a pile of a highway spaghetti. Sehin’s work features this overcrowded junction of Addis Ababa, which is a major intersection in the eastern side of the city. His pictures tell stories of angry drivers curs¬ing and honking their horns uncontrollably, gawking street vendors ambling, pedestrians who seem to be in a constant state of hurry and onlookers who are just there soaking up all the commotion. Sehin captures the organized chaos that is Megenagna and colorfully depicts the pace of the neighborhood.



Tewodros Girma
The second-year computer science student and native of Addis Ababa first fell in love with photography when he was 18. He started off by taking pictures with his phone. Proving the age-old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, through photography, Tewodros found a platform to express his thoughts, without uttering a single word.
Street Vendors
Addis Ababa is home to some four million people, and it is safe to assume it is one of the largest urban centers in the continent. Tewodros’ collection takes a close look at the street vendors hustling the ins and outs of the city, providing an ecosystem of goods and services that are not always available through regular market structures.





Les causes profondes du communautarisme éthiopien


Vintage Addis Ababa

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