Photography: Ethiopia From The Heart

By Andarge Asfaw

I left Ethiopia at the age of thirteen. After a 29-year absence, I returned to my native land as a photographer eager to capture the vibrant memories of my youth. I arrived to find an unfamiliar Ethiopia. The trees had disappeared. Wildlife that had crossed the roads not far from the region where I grew up was absent. Many of the ancient religious sites were crumbling away. Unemployment, relocation, political differences and health concerns had reshaped the lives of the population. Devastated, I didn’t know where to begin documenting my dreams.

I traveled farther away from urban areas into the countryside. I thought about those who had given their lives for Ethiopia through wars, poverty and sickness. Gradually, I rediscovered my purpose and created a body of work that expressed my feelings. There were times when the photographs seemed to find me. I became attached to the images and realized that it was my responsibility as an Ethiopian photographer to honor the beauty that remains. Unfortunately, time did not allow me to capture every region of the country.

Above: Roadside market in the fog, kombolcha

Ethiopia is in crisis and needs alternatives to burning wood for fuel. A country once covered by trees has only a small percentage of forest left. In each region, new, indigenous trees must be planted to replenish the land. Deforestation continues to cause flooding and soil erosion. In a couple of decades, Ethiopia will become a desert incapable of rejuvenating itself. The animals and vegetation will be gone. The Ethiopian people will not be able to sustain themselves.

I want my images to inspire a call to action. We can still save this extraordinary habitat. I hope these photographs of Ethiopia allow you to hear with your eyes and see with your ears.

Above: Inside Abune Aron Church

Above: Gate keeper of Zege Kidane Mihiret monastery

About the Author:
Ethiopian-Born Andarge Asfaw, a graduate of the Hallmark Institute of Photography, is an award-winning commercial and fine art photographer based in Washington, D.C. His New Book, Ethiopia From The Heart, is available at:

1 Response to “Photography: Ethiopia From The Heart”

  1. 1 Temam Aug 11th, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Andarge, you are right Ethiopia is losing many environmental resources due to poor attention for the sector. You and me, as Ethiopian citizens have a responsibility to do something for the problem. We have to mobilize and convince our own people to do something about it. So,lets join hand to hand to contribute something for our country.


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