News

This New Documentary Shows an Ethiopian-American's Journey to Connect with His Heritage

'The Diaspora Journal' is a new documentary that shows director Nathan Araya coming to grips with his identity as he travels to Addis Ababa.

As a first generation Ethiopian-American, Nathan Araya, the director of a new documentary The Diaspora Journal, felt his adolescence was awkwardly positioned in the middle of two cultures. Neither fully Ethiopian nor fully American, he struggled coming to grips with his identity. In the documentary, Araya travels to Ethiopia in an attempt to bridge that gap.


In The Diaspora Journal, a film that Araya says it took him 30 years, or his whole life, to make, he finds himself in the bustling and rapidly growing capital Addis Ababa. Araya takes an immersive approach into finding out and experiencing the country by working as a taxi cab driver assistant and shoe shiner.

Araya on culture and his experience of traveling to Ethiopia:

America is full of different cultures, yet it baffles me when people with cultural differences, who rarely interact with each other on deep levels, have so much commentary on the others' cultural perspective. Division is to be expected when people aren't developing meaningful relationships with others outside their culture.

Everyone who lives in America does not see everything the same. But if you find yourself perplexed at someone's outlook...that may need to be the very person you build a relationship with. When I went to Ethiopia for the first time, I did not bring in a 'Western Savior' complex trying to help people that have been stigmatized through media as 'hopeless people.' I went in knowing that there was much to learn and I knew that I needed to be very intentional with building relationships through meaningful conversations to gain perspective.

Still From The Diaspora Journal courtesy of Nathan Araya.

Still From The Diaspora Journal courtesy of Nathan Araya.

An insightful, yet lighthearted documentary that explores a rapidly changing Ethiopia and its relation to the children of those who left it, The Diaspora Journal is necessary viewing.

Araya’s last documentary, Sincerely Ethiopia, also nominated for an African Movie Academy Award, showcases a diverse array of organizations that are creatively addressing issues of literacy, accessibility for people living with disabilities, homelessness, and a range of other social issues.

Although there are no upcoming screenings for the 40 minute documentary, Araya welcomes folks who want the documentary to be shown to contact him.

Still From The Diaspora Journal courtesy of Nathan Araya.

Check out the trailers of Sincerely Ethiopia and The Diaspora Journal and be sure to head here for more info.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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