News of sluggish economic performance in the euro zone and across the Atlantic in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis and its destabilizing impact for the world was steadily offset – thanks largely to manufacturing growth in China and commodity riders of the Middle East and Latin America. As the Asian powerhouses demanded more energy, food and metals and had no problem paying for it, suppliers of Brazilian ore and their counterparts in the Gulf and Africa kept investment and growth going. This much is true about the recession in the west and the emergence of growth centers elsewhere, which became a narrative that left the story of a more important growth trajectory taking shape, albeit quietly, in Africa.
Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aïda left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985. After studying film at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she went on to work as a freelance photographer for The Washington Post. Then in 2003, Aïda was chosen to be part of the groundbreaking show “Ethiopian Passages: Dialogues in the Diaspora” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. Later that same year, she made an appearance on “Imágenes Havana” a group photography exhibition in Havana, Cuba – the same fortuitous encounter that led to “The Unhealing Wound.” A documentary that explores her own stated fascination about her own identity and also with “how much cultural retention is possible without, necessarily, cultural interaction.” She is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie, in Bamako, Mali. As well as the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy. She is currently the Director of the Modern Art Museum/ Gebre Kristos Desta Center inside the Addis Ababa University and also the director/curator of the first international photography festival the Addis Foto Fest. She is also the director and founder of Desta for Africa Creative Consulting (DFA), a creative production company, which provides creative consulting, photography services and cultural event planning. Addis Standard interviewed Aïda on her work here in Ethiopia. Excerpts:
Kamilat Mehdi, a young Ethiopian from Addis Abeba, was acid burned by her ex-boyfriend; and Betel Addisu, a resident in Wollega, in western Ethiopia, was also acid burned by a man who had had an intimate relationship with her. Both attacks left the victims’ delicate faces disfigured beyond recognition, forever. And Aberash Hailay, a flight attendant at the national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, was left blinded by her ex-husband, who took both her eyes out with a knife because she wanted to leave him after years of troubled relationship. These are but few stories of violence against women that made it to the headlines in the last few years only.