Arts + Culture

These 10 Photos Offer a Taste of the Upcoming Addis Foto Fest

The East African photography event highlights work from Ethiopia, Africa, and the world at large as a means to connect and educate.

In one image, a religious leader draped in crisp white garbs stands in front of a crumbling doorway to an ancient temple. Carved deep into a cliffside, its stairs are on their way to becoming an Earthen hill. In another photo, twin siblings lay in bed, heads hanging upside down off the side to face the camera. The kids are identical except for fake vampire teeth in the mouth of one.


These are but two photographs chosen for the fourth biannual Addis Foto Fest. In its newest iteration, the festival has gone global, seeking out photographers from every inhabited continent to show their work. This will be the first international photography festival in East Africa. While it has been globalized, the shift relates to their fundamental mission: connecting Africa to the rest of the world.

"My main goal has been to have a global conversation as it relates to the role of images in educating, promoting, and disseminating a balanced perspective of Africa," Aida Muluneh tells Okayafrica. A photographer herself, Muluneh founded the festival.

A weeklong event in Addis Ababa on Dec. 15, they will showcase works by 126 photographers from 40 countries. There will also be exhibitions, portfolio reviews, a conference, a discussion panel, and of course an awards ceremony. Winners receive prizes including a digital camera and printers.

The collection, comprised entirely of digital photography, was chosen by Muluneh and various curators based on submissions from an open call. Choosing from such a broad selection was difficult, she says, but the process included "building a collection that reflects our goal of educating our audience on the large spectrum of photography." Winners are chosen through the portfolio reviews, which are supported by National Geographic.

Although there will be a first prize winner, one photo can't embody the festival in its entirety. Rather, the collection as a whole ultimately speaks for it. "It's the collective works of all the photographers that makes the festival," Muluneh explains. "Each in his or her way contribute a different perspective and approach, which offers our audience varying experiences."

To get an idea of what will be on display, view some of the collection below, courtesy of Addis Foto Fest:

Dina Oganova, Georgia

 

Sarah Waiswa, Uganda

 

Abiy Solomon, Ethiopia

Photo by Abiy Solomon, courtesy Addis Foto Fest

 

Messay Shoakena, U.S.A.

 

Sadegh Souri, Iran

 

Mahader Haileselassie, Ethiopia

 

Salma Abedin Prithi, Bangladesh

 

Yonas Tadesse, Ethiopia

 

Tahir Carl Karmali, Kenya

 

Gali Tibbon, Jerusalem

 

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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