Art Review

Remembering the great Leo Tolstoy and an evening of Russian literature

Zela Gayle

As its monthly habit of celebrating Great Russian authors, in the month of September the Russian Cultural Centre in Addis Ababa hosted Russian language week and the 184th commemoration of Leo Tolstoy, which this year coincided with the 200th anniversary of the 1812 Patriotic War of Russia.
Berhanu Shiberu, Ethiopian film director who studied Russian literature in Russia was the honorary guest speaker during the evening commemorating the great Leo Tolstoy. The evening was attended by veteran and young Ethiopian writers, who presented their own writings of poetries in Amharic.
In celebrating Russian language week was also the ultimate presence of poetry, which, no matter the language, can be understood from the expressions evoked when presented.
Tolstoy was known for writing realistic fictions that would inspire many peoples’ lives at the time and of today’s generation. Written in the 19th century, his work of “War and Peace” is considered to be the most important novel and one of Tolstoy’s finest literary achievements in the world of literature. In graphic detail it delineates events surrounding the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic (French army) era on tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocrats.
“Tolstoy gave a shattering account of the mystery of birth and death. He was very   deep; you cannot get all the meaning from reading his novels.” Berhanu Shiberu told this magazine. “His legacy belongs to all the people who are living now”.
The weeklong celebrations at the Addis Ababa’s Russian Cultural Center was part of the implementation of the federal target program entitled “Russian Language”, which aims to promote Russian studies abroad. A delegation of the State Institute of the Russian Language Centre including Russian language teaching experts has arrived in Addis Ababa earlier to participate in the programs.

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