Born in Ethiopia, Dawit N.M. always wanted to help tell the stories of people that were voiceless. His interest in community, family, and intrapersonal conflicts can be seen throughout his work. He first used and still uses photography to coup and document with his father’s sickness. Now he works towards helping change how the world views third-world countries, areas of poverty, and the voiceless. Whether it be through film or photography, he wants to show that there are more to these beautiful people and places than most get to see. Dawit currently lives and works in Virginia Beach, VA.
Don’t Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV
As I was preparing to take my little cousin’s photo he jokingly said to me, “Don’t Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV,” stunned by this, I decided that I would compile all the photos I had taken during my stay in Ethiopia into a project and make sure people saw a different story. A real story.
Due to the state of emergency (a response to the anti-government protests) that the country was in, I was limited to mostly taking photos outside of taxis or in private areas and with a $10 point-and-shoot film camera because of worry that my digital camera would cause too much attention, especially from the police. Luckily, I was still able to capture the beauty, freshness, and youthfulness of Ethiopia and her people. I also added scans of old family photos (most likely taken with the same camera I used during my stay) to make it more personal.
Weaving new photos together with the old made it seem as if time was never linear. Without knowing it, the project became a personal journey through space and time in Ethiopia; a self reflection on my life and identity while still contrasting the out-dated and awfully misleading images of Ethiopia.
It is unfortunate to know that many people are constantly being shown false depiction of Ethiopia and other foreign countries. I hope with this project I can play a part in changing the thoughts and assumptions of Ethiopia and Africa as a whole.
“I had to tell my story ’cause they’d rather show you black kids with flies on their faces on the television.” – Skepta (from Ojuelegba Remix ft. Drake & Skepta)
To view more of Dawit N.M.’s work please visit his website.