Mrs. Brigitte Collet, Ambassador of France to Ethiopia, presented the official insignia of the Order of Arts and Letters to Meskerem Assegued and Melaku Belay, the founders of Fendika and ZCAC, respectively.

The French Government, through the French Embassy in Addis Ababa presented the Order of Arts and Letters, an award give to those that have contributed to the fields of arts and literature and other related areas, to Meskerem Assegued and Melaku Belay.

Meskerem Assegued is an anthropologist, curator, and writer. She is the founder of Zoma Contemporary Arts Center (ZCAC) which is an artist residency located in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Over the last 16 years, Meskerem has curated numerous exhibitions both in Ethiopia and abroad. She was also a member of the selection committee for the 2004 Dak’Art Biennale and the 2007 Venice Biennale African Pavilion.

“I am humbled. I have a lot more to do, we are just starting. What I can promise to Ethiopia is that I will keep doing what I am doing until I die,” Meskerem said when accepting the award from French Ambassador to Ethiopia Mrs. Brigitte Collet. Melaku Belay, the other awarded artist is very well-known for his master of traditional Ethiopian dances and the renowned club Fendika in the Kazanchis area.

“The rhythmic virtuosity of Melaku was often astounding. He can turn either the upper or lower body into an electrifying vehicle of rapid pulsation…Simply to see him sway his body to the music was a marvel: the angle of his out-held elbows, the pliancy of his spine, the rhythmic point of those shoulders all made their sensuous contributions. A happily superlative artist,” Alastair Macaulay from the New York Times said in a 2011 article. Up on accepting the award, Melaku said that: “There are many people that have contributed to my success and I would like to accept this award in the name of all those that supported me,” he said. He further spoke about his future plan to make Fendika a large cultural center that would have an impact much stronger and would be able to reach those far away.

Ambassador Collet stated that these kind of events where the French government honors individuals who have contributed to their communities immensely, is something that will continue in the future and strengthen the ties between France and Ethiopia.

Source: Capital Ethiopia
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