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:

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6 Responses to “Photography: Ethiopia From The Heart”

  1. 1 Bill Muray Sep 3rd, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Wonderful book. Looking through the book I feel like I went to Ethiopia and back. The best coffee table book I have seen. I am proud it is by an Ethiopian artist. MUST BUY!

  2. 2 conjit Sep 5th, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Hope many of us will support the Artist and also help deforestation as part of the sell money goes to that fund.

  3. 3 DIDIER WOLFF Dec 15th, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Ethiopian photography by Didier Wolff / France / Mother Teresa / Addis Abebba, Awassa, Kebré Menguist, Balé Goba, Afar, Alamata, Makalé, Adwa, Gondar, Dire Dawa, Jijiga, Derbé Markos, Jima


  1. 1 Ethiopia @ 2000 Photography Exhibition at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Jun 26th, 2008 at 8:18 pm
  2. 2 The Long Road Home: Photographer Andarge Asfaw ’s Quest to Raise Awareness Ethiopia’s Deforestation at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Jul 30th, 2008 at 9:30 pm
  3. 3 Climate Change: Ethiopia 27 million years ago had higher rainfall, warmer soil at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Oct 25th, 2009 at 11:26 am
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