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Tebeb Be Adebabay: A window to Everyone’s Artistic Side

Avatar: Iman Jemal
Iman JemalSeptember 6, 2020
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Tebeb Be Adebabay: A window to Everyone’s Artistic Side
Be it the traditional garments and their endemic design or the variety of food on display in each ethnic group, Ethiopian art features a rich history dating back more than 3,000 years. Over half a century ago modern Ethiopian art started pulling its weight, gaining more audience besides the local community due to the important role of the Orthodox Church and the country's few museums. A few years ago, Tebeb be Adebabay was born on the streets of Addis Ababa offering a platform to Ethiopian artists allowing them to express their art amongst their community without any cost. The experience also gave pedestrians a variety of sceneries they could look forward to during their daily endeavours. It also allowed many members of the community to pick skills up on their way.With support from the Goethe Institute, Tibeb Be Adebabay played a big role in bringing art to the public for three consecutive years. It allowed people to learn new ways of expressing themselves. Different types of artists moved throughout the city showcasing their creative works of art to the city’s inhabitants. They first did this by setting up temporary “Suks” - another name for kiosks or small shops - put up in different parts of Addis Ababa. They taught people skills related to writing, painting, drawing, photography, poetry, architecture and other forms of artistic expression. According to the project management team of Tebeb be Adebabay there are different criteria used to select the artists that are featured on the festival. The first criteria is guaranteeing projects proposed are related to the theme of migration.The artists need to compile inclusive and collaborative proposals that allow for an artistic process with an output. Next the community impact and contribution of the artist is evaluated to make sure it allows audience engagement and interaction. Once all of these criterias have been met the artists gain a spot in the Tebeb be Adebabay festival as curators who are given the responsibility of engaging the audience and teaching them different skills, according to the project management team of the festival.Tibeb Be Adebabay was born in 2017 on the streets, squares, and public spaces of Addis Ababa where the pedestrian community doesn’t have much to engage them while walking on the streets. The main goal of the festival was to get the public to participate in the creation of art works with professional and amiture artists. “The artists entertained the public with their art work and taught them how to express themselves on their own. Movable kiosks were set up at 6kilo, Merkato, Jemo, Megenagha, Kara Kore, Meskel Square, Piasa, Beherawi and Bole Bridge during our first Tibeb Be Adebabay festival.” said Lidya Yohannes, the Digital Communications Manager of Tibeb Be Adebabay. Each kiosk had its own theme and curator that gave people a brief idea on different skill sets like Architectural Design, Fine Arts, Music, Creative Arts, Cinematography, Photography, Gamification and Literature, according to the Communications Manager. In 2018, the festival was held for a whole week allowing people from all walks of life to  explore and discover their own creativity and engage with famous artists from Addis Ababa. People had the opportunity to play in a Jazz band at Megenagna, wrote short poems at 6 Kilo, joined Chewata awaki in gamifying everyday life  at Meskel Square and learned about architecture and urban planning in other locations, according to a 2018 newsletter by Goethe Institute. On top of this, Addis Ababa's famous Fekat Circus took big trampolines, juggling pins, hula hoops and other equipment to the public squares of the city to give people a unique and contemporary circus experience. People watched the performances and participated in workshops to try out jumping and juggling on their own. In 2019 from May 10 to 17 the festival took art to the streets once again setting up their unique Suks at Beherawi Theatre, Meskel Square, Bole Edna Mall Square, Ethio-Cuba Park, Piyasa and the Goethe Institut located around in the Business and Economics School of Addis Ababa University. At the National theater Narchome Center for Photography in Ethiopia (CPE), Ankboot Publishing House, Jazzamba as well as Dariwos HaileMichael and Kirubel Melke gave people the opportunity to explore creativity that coincides with the skills that the curators are equipped with. At EthioCuba Park Destino Dance Company, Fekat Circus, Chewata Awaki, Addis Street Art, Echowing Addis and some of the other companies that were featured at Beherawi theater set up their suks along with beautiful live Music played by Jazzamba. The same curatores took their art to Bole Edna Mall square, Meskel square and Piasa, in different shifts throughout the week, lighting up the city with live music, circus performances and so much more.In 2020 the world shifted because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Nowadays there aren’t that many places people can go to interact with each other and sense the feeling of a crowd like the one the festival has been creating for the past three years. To cope with the change in societal interaction, the festival was forced to move to the digital space. Tebeb be Adebabay 2020 is now a fascinating digital festival that officially started on Monday August 24 and will continue till September 15. Digital Communications Manager of Tebeb be adebabay፣ Lydia has told Addis zeybe “We are very careful and follow all the WHO guidelines to control the spread of the pandemic. We are working to make sure we limit the physical contact as much as possible during the festival. Which is why we choose the digital platform for Tibeb Be Adebabay 2020.” Lidya has also mentioned that “Tibeb be Adebabay 2020 came to life with the support of the Steering Committee members intensively working with the Project Management Team. The Steering Committee is composed of different organizations who came together to support this amazing art project.” She also stated that the partners of the festival include Goethe-Institut Addis Abeba, Alliance Ethio-française Addis Ababa, British Council Ethiopia, Istituto Italiano di Cultura Addis Abeba, Destino Dance Company Ethiopia, Fekat Circus, The Urban Center, FES Ethiopia, European Union in Ethiopia, EUNIC, and Embajada de España en Etiopía as well as Yibuti y Seychelles.This year the festival is featuring Addis Street Art which is a team of talented individuals showing their graffiti street art online. Dirios Hailemariam and Yonas Hailu will be showing their visual arts performance separately and teaching people how to engage in this art form. Dot Design is also giving an insight into the virtual and augmented reality. The musical group Janoah in collaboration with Fitsume Abera are scheduled to share their music and give participants a chance to answer the question “Who Am I?” by combining art and psychology and sending motivational videos supported by music, according to Lydia. This year Yasmin Abdu is the representative of Echowing Cites giving viewers a description on Architecture and Urbanism. Poetry and Music is portrayed by Gitem Sitem which is a colony of poets in collaboration with Yizzac a composer and recording Artist. The Katim Dance team’s performance breaks down barriers for people with disabilities to express themselves through movement. Finally, Yared Adem in collaboration with his team allows viewers to explore different cuisines showing the artistic side of creating different delicious meals.Lidya when asked what she would like the artists of Addis Ababa to know answered “We would like our project to be an inspiration for all the creators and artists out there and for them to take creative measures to put their art out to the public.” She also added “We believe art and creativity is a very important part of our society and we need artistic and creative expressions in all parts of our lives. Keep going, never give up on your creative side and believe in yourselves because we believe in you” sending her message to Ethiopians who have artistic aspirations. So far they are using Facebook, Twitter, Telegram  Youtube and their Website for the festival. For instance, a panel discussion on “Creative Experience of a City: Street Festival, Culture, City and Migration.” was hosted by Tibeb be Adebabay on September 4 via the online meeting platform Zoom. To be a part of this festival you can go to the social media sites mentioned above and search Tebeb be adebabay or Tebeb2020. The organizers invite you to allow your creativity to flourish while keeping yourself covid19 safe from the comfort of your home as well as your office.  
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A PIECE BYIman Jemal