Category Archives: Art

Kirumpt Diary & Happy New Year – by TEXT MESSAGE

by Emma Lochery

This is the first post in an ongoing series featuring artworks from and about the Horn of Africa region. We will start with two short stories by Emma Lochery, both read at our blog launch party this past weekend. Click on the sound boxes below each story title to hear Emma’s recitation. The stories are an excerpt of letters Emma wrote home from Addis Ababa in 2008 and 2009. They are dedicated to her neighbours in Arat Kilo.

Happy New Year – by TEXT MESSAGE 

(An overview of SMS greetings Ethiopian government style) 

[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/u/49608111/TextMessages.mp3]

First, I must wish you a very happy New Year…yes, last month Ethiopians welcomed the year 2002. We were as usual bombarded with the text messages from various government ministries and other companies…I always save these text messages that come on holidays.

First, there are the more straightforward reminders –

Quality education for all! 
Quality education is every one’s job! 
Happy new year
Ministry of Education

And –

NEW YEAR, NEW LIFE! 
TEST FOR HIV, TEST WITH YOUR PARTNER, 
GET YOUR CHILDREN TESTED AND BRIGHTEN THE FUTURE OF YOUR
FAMILY. FREE TESTING. 
HAPPY NEW YEAR.AAHAPCO 

And here is one from an event earlier this year a lot of you missed, I am betting –

“Your child will grow strong & healthy when only breast milk is given from the first hour of life until 6 months.” FMOH [Fed Min of Health], World Health Breastfeeding Week, 1-7 Aug 2009

Then also for New Year, the evil tax evaders among us got a subtle nudge –

Wish all a happy and prosperous new year. 
“Compliance to law including the laws governing tax & customs is basis for a sustainable growth”. 
Melaku Fanta (ERCA) [Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority]

And for the 10th anniversary of Ethiopian Telecommunications, we got free SMS for 24 hours:

Ginbot 20 (Eth. Renaissance) and the 10th Anniversary of Mobile (telecom renaissance), ETC grants its subscribers to use free local SMS for 24 hrs. ETC

We also get kind wishes that make us feel like business tycoons –

Ethiopian cargo wishes you happy easter with the new exciting business opportunities of MD 11 air craft capacity. EAL CEO, Girma Wake 
[EAL = Ethiopian Airlines]

And ones like this that come out of the blue:

“Go to <www.fsc.gov.et>  or dial 992 to get information about cases in the Federal Supreme Court.”

All in all, I don’t feel alone on the holidays with all this bombarding me…

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Filed under Addis Ababa, Art, Ethiopia, Short stories

Officially Launched

Thanks to everyone who came to our blog launch party this last Sunday in Oxford! It was a great night, with fantastic food, art, and conversation. We used the night to bring together a wide range of artists and artworks from the Horn of Africa region, with filmed photo essays of Addis Ababa communities by Salima Punjani, Marco and Adelaide Di Nunzio. The event was hosted by the OxfordHub, and photographers Alpha Abebe and Miraf Sinke transformed the place with exhibitions of their art. Emma Lochery provided recorded stories from her time in Ethiopia, and we heard live recitations by Hamza Egal and music performance by Sayid Khalifa.

Stay tuned to the blog in the coming month for more posts from these and other artists, as well as our regular commentary on political events in the Horn.

All photos courtesy of Alpha Abebe.

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Filed under Admin, Art, Blogging

The poetry of Hamza Egal

Next Sunday, 10 June we will be hosting a blog launch party at the Oxford Hub, with food, art, music, and poetry, including performances by Hamza Egal, a Somali poet and philosopher based in the UK. The following is a poem by Hamza, but you can read more of his work and other Somali poets here.

Even a caged bird never forgets to sing

Picture how the heavens teach the most beautiful of lessons, celestial movements have compromise and union in their every essence. The sun doesn’t hold on to the skies when it’s time for the moon to dazzle your eyes. Man’s ignorance is his only prison, when every word is laced with poison and thoughts of treason.  Understanding oneself is long forgotten, replaced by addiction to the false illusions that they call freedom.

Insatiable hunger to feed the obsession with the dollar, thoughts contaminated, and basic human emotions intoxicated so we stagger to oblivion. Night and daydreaming, the scene keeps repeating, around me I see humanity frozen, in slumber deeper than animal hibernation. So every sunrise I am shovelling arctic snow, trying to ascertain the truth with me deep down and below. Equality and justice has no gender or skin tone, and those who truly desire it seek no throne.

I wonder if I could once again see this world through the eyes of a child, when everything was a wonderful reality and not memories retained in a mental file. Who knew all the while fear would become a tradition. Cowardice has us willing to accept lies, obey and listen, in school they precede me to worship a man made system. In university they asked me to take an oath and maintain the enslavement of the following generation. Capitalise on the warmth of your desires, let the lesser humans make up the coal for your fires.

We elect our tyrant masters by ticking a piece of paper, then turn around the next day bewildered by their behaviour. Only a fool would build a sand castle by the shore and ask the sea to respect its door.  If all men are equal then why do I carry the weight of your wars and interest? Ask yourselves the fundamental questions; only death has no medicine, together we can withstand and push back the evils that they bring. Hope is eternal even a caged bird never forgets to sing.

– Hamza O Egal

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Filed under Admin, Art, Somali diaspora, Somalia