Photographing The Streets Of Addis

Ethiopian photographer Girma Berta takes us inside his ongoing Instagram project.

Photo: Girma Berta. Courtesy of the photographer.
Addis Ababa is a mosaic, says Girma Berta. Like a mosaic, the city is a distinct patchwork of rough moving parts that taken together create beautiful art.

“Most of the images that were created in the past tend to show a preconceived notion of the country. They’re either touristic or they’re about poverty. It’s a one-sided imagery” the Ethiopian photographer and creative director tells Okayafrica. With his ongoing Instagram series, Berta is documenting another side of his city, one iPhone-shot photo at a time.

#StreetsOfAddis began as a hashtag on Berta’s personal Instagram. It later became the theme of an exhibition, and most recently, the foundation for an Ethiopian street photography community. Berta, who’s also part of the @EverydayHornOfAfrica collective, encourages his fellow Addis-based photographers to share their own images for the @StreetsOfAddis Instagram feed.

“The Addis Ababa photo scene is growing,” Berta tells us. The community is steadily increasing as more galleries, events and workshops geared towards photography and photographers pop up. According to Berta, camera phones are allowing more and more Ethiopians to take an interest in photography. “People are realizing that beauty isn’t always about setting up a scene or taking a photo of oneself,” he says. For Berta, photography is all about the rawness of a moment.

Girma Berta, founder of #StreetsOfAddis. Courtesy of Berta.
In Addis, Berta says he’s always on his toes. He never knows what he’s going to see around the corner. “Events seem somewhat random but in a very beautiful way” he says.

With his Instagram posts, Berta usually keeps the descriptions vague for the sake of encouraging debate and interpretation. “Each individual has a personal experience in their lives of what I have captured in my photos” he says.

Although Berta doesn’t have a single favorite photo, there is one he especially loves: a photo of a man smoking a cigarette in front of a small brightly-painted red shop in a “shabby” part of Addis. “I always pass by this shop and it always draws my eyes towards it by its bright paint and its contrasting color from its dull surroundings,” says Berta. “On the day I took the picture it felt like the perfect time was upon me and I just had to capture the moment.”

For Berta, someone needs to be doing the work of documenting Addis Ababa’s history. He’s happy for that someone to be him.

“I love Addis. It has everything in it. Both the old and young. The rich and the poor. The ugly and the beautiful.”

Keep up with Berta (@gboxcreative) and @StreetsOfAddis on Instagram.

  • Old Age • Photo by @gere1110 #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #Bw #blackandwhite #ethiopianphotographers   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

  • ? • Photo by @naderphoto #StreetsofAddis #StreetPhotography #VSCO #EthiopianPhotographers #EverydayAfrica   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

• Mother's Love • Photo by @ab_teshome #StreetsofAddis #StreetPhotography #EthiopianPhotographers #AddisLife #Ethiopia A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

• Framez • Photo by @eyerusalem_a_jiregna #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #AfricanCity #Ethiopia #StreetPhotos A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

  • Street Style • Photo by @nicolemarieens #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #AfricanCity #AddisAbaba #EveryDayAfrica   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

• Team Work • Photo by @abiy_solomon #StreetsOfAddis #StreetsOfAddis #AfricanCity #Ethiopia #VSCO A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

  • The Wait • ? @naderphoto #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #AfricanCity #Ethiopia #EveryDayAfrica   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

Xplosive's version of pop music takes the musical and technical chops he earned while producing boom bap, trap, Afrobeats and other styles, squeezing the best out of those skills and making something that can appeal to the masses.

Interview: Xplosive DJ Calls Many Places Home With His Debut Release ‘Plan B’

After years of working with other artists, South African-based producer Xplosive DJ shares his sound in his new project 'Plan B'.

It is difficult to place the producer/sound engineer Xplosive DJ when he talks. His tempered drawl could be from any East African country. His slang is distinctly Joburg, but a typically hood phrase falls out of his mouth before a suburbanism when he speaks. His accent fuses English, Arabic and Nubian intonations.

Xplosive DJ's recently released five-track debut project, Plan B, was produced and recorded over four years and makes the producer behind it even more difficult to locate, geographically and musically.

Born Ahmed Khaled Dahab in the Congo, raised in Sudan and living in South Africa since 2007, Xplosive grew up in a home where all four compass points of African music were familiar. He was drawn to reggae, hip-hop and dancehall on street sound systems as he grew up to develop his own musical taste.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


African Women Political Leaders Set For WTO Leadership Role

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Chawahir Mohamed and Nigeria's former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have been selected as top candidates for director-general of World Trade Organisation.