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Senegal meets Ethiopia in art, music

Senegal meets Ethiopia in art, music

A few years ago one of the most celebrated Ethiopian artists, Lemma Guya drew portraits of African leaders who founded the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU). This pan-African exhibition can be interlinked to his most recent collection. 

The latest collection focuses on Senegal’s political figures. The painter, known for his goat skin-mounted portraits, drew Senegalese political figures such as Abdoulaye Wade – President of Senegal from 2000 to 2012.

Portraits of Léopold Sédar Senghor, a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist, who was the first president of Senegal after independence and stayed in power for two decades, and Abdou Diouf, the second President of Senegal, from 1981 to 2000, were also displayed in the latest exhibit.

Accompanying the collection exhibited at Alliance Ethio-Française was a soothing traditional music from Senegal. Two traditional Senegalese musicians were performing while Lemma explained his artistic pieces.

On Monday October 16, Alliance Ethio-Française hosted an art and music event, where Ethiopian and Senegalese artists collaborated.

Alongside Ethiopian artists such as Birtukan Dejene, Biru Worku, Aynalem Gebremariam, Seifu Abebe, Seyoum Ayalew and Ruth Admasu, Senegalese visual artists Mariane Diakher Senghor, Arebenor Omar Yacinthe and others participated in the showcase.

Seyoum Ayalew, President of Ethiopian visual artist’s association, showcased his works depicting chronicles of tej bet, a traditional bar where locals drink resembling honey wine is served. Ruth Admasu’s “Hair and Identity” revealed the natural hair vanity. Whereas, Aynalem Gebremariam reflected the day-to-day life of Ethiopian women.

Mbaye Babacar Diouf‘s works are marked by various ancient symbols reflecting the human body. Most of the works at this exhibition depicted an African identity as the event was organized to form an alignment between Senegal and Ethiopia through art and music.

The art exhibition was followed by two consecutive musical performances by Senegalese national orchestra at Ethiopian National Theatre, on October 20th.

According to a message sent from Abdou Latif Coulabaly, Minister of Culture of Senegal, which was read at the event’s opening by Alose Ndam Diouf, the two countries has a longstanding history of cultural ties.

He stated that the Ethio-Senegalese art and music events in Addis Ababa have symbolic importance as well as having political, economic and social significance.

The minister recalls a similar event where the two countries were integrated saying “When it was necessary to show to the world that an ideal was rooted in culture and aimed at producing cultural fruits, Ethiopia stood on Senegal`s side, under the leadership of President Léopold Sédar Senghor, for organizing, the first World Festival of black Arts in 1966.”

Ethiopia is a symbol of freedom, not only for Senegal but for other African countries as well. Ethiopia, never being colonized and advocating for the emancipation of the rest of Africa, laid a firm ground for the Pan-African movement in the continent. Thus, he recommended, in this day and age African countries must cooperate in cultural platforms like that of the Ethio-Senegalese.

“The sustainability of political and economic cooperation between countries can only be based on knowledge, mutual respect and permanent dialogue of their cultures,” he elaborated.

On behalf of Ethiopian culture and tourism ministry, Mamitu Yilma affirmed that visual arts and music create solid connections between the two countries. She stated there will be further cooperation highlighting art and music.

Baye Moctar Diop, Senegal’s ambassador to Ethiopia, echoed similar sentiments and stated that the art exhibition and music concerts will help support creativity in cultural sectors.

“It contributes to bringing people and nations together by respecting originality of each culture and sharing knowledge and knowhow,” he explained, and noted the events will contribute to the establishment of suitable networking between Senegalese and Ethiopian artists.