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Samintu (The Week )(excerpt): stop action animation on a single canvas, 11 min.: 01 sec.
Group exhibition: "Feedback: Art, Africa and the Eighties"
Curated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
Reflecting growing up in Ethiopia in the 1980s'.
The eighties were a gloomy, heavy decade of turmoil for Ethiopia, marked by the rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Wello famine (which killed a million people and affected over 7 million people), Ethiopia and Soviet relations, the civil war with the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) and the forming of the TPLF (Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front). It was the last decade of the communist Derg regime (Marxist-Leninist military junta).
I was born in 1980 in Addis Ababa (the capital city of Ethiopia). At that time popular music was melancholiac, influences from the outside world were limited and information was filtered. No one trusted anyone. Friends and brothers were separated not knowing who might be a member for the communist party. Artists were forced to make art about communism. Even children's' books were communist propaganda and most were translated from Russian. Murals could only be portraits of Marx, Lenin Engels or the president. Communist slogans took over street posters, and government owned media. People were prohibited to practice their religion. Oneness was the new religion. The youth feared turning 18, since they would have to join the army and serve as soldiers in the war. Leaving the country was difficult (getting a passport was almost impossible) however many fled in secret. As the decade carried on, supplies and support from the USSR thinned and the war seemed never to end. The Derg's promises of winning the battle against poverty and illiteracy, and uniting a fragmented society were left unfulfilled. Communism in Ethiopia ended with the decade. On the positive side, because food was rationed and the market restricted most household could afford their basic needs, and many were thought to read and write.
This animation recreate and explore the everyday "routines" of that era from my own lived expereinces. The piece is divided into seven chapters, each chapter for each day of the week. Journeying through the week enabled me to recollect, remember and reflect on my own lived experiences of the era.
Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Image courtsey of University of Bayreuth
Copyright © 2021, Ezra Wube