KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Samson Demissie Teffera, PMP®
ADDRESS: "iNetwork: Narrowing the technology gap between Ethiopia and the Diaspora"
Read more about Samson Demissie Teffera, PMP® HERE
Asfaw Seife will be holding a compelling discussion around human rights.
GUEST SPEAKER: Asfaw Seife
Fikre Germa will be facilitating an interactive seminar around the discourse of health within the Ethiopian community.
GUEST SPEAKER: Fikre Germa, MD, CCFP (EM), FCFP
Read more about Fikre Germa, MD, CCFP (EM), FCFP HERE
GUEST SPEAKER: Weyni Mengesha
Named the "Sofia Coppola of black Canadian theatre" by Toronto Life Magazine, Weyni Mengesha is an award-winning director/dramaturge who was born in Vancouver and raised in Toronto. She first received acclaim directing trey anthony's 'da kink in my hair, helping build it into an international sensation; and composing its Dora-nominated score. Mengesha has gone on to make a name for herself with other credits including; directing d'bi.young.anitafrika's play blood.claat, for which she and the production received major critical acclaim and numerous awards across Canada. She directed Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun; her directorial vision garnering the production a place in NOW magazine's "Top Ten Theatre Productions of 2008". Citing her ability to "skillfully blend visuals and emotions" , Mengesha personally earned the number two spot among NOW's "Top Ten Theatre Artists of 2008" . Her latest production, Yellowman, has received major critical acclaim; citing Mengesha's work as 'Triumphant' (National Post).
Mengesha is a committed mentor of new talent and producer of youth arts initiatives. She is the co-Founder and Artistic Director of Sound The Horn (STH), an organziation dedicated to educating and empowering Ethiopian and Eritrean youth through the arts. Since 2004, STH has been working with People to People Canada to showcase and train over 60 artists annually through its various programs and festivals, including the annual Selam Youth Festival. Now in its sixth year, Sound The Horn is launching the first Selam Visual Arts Festival this spring. Mengesha has received numerous awards including the "2008 RBC Emerging Artist of the Year" by the Toronto Arts Council Foundation.
"[Mengesha] uses her skills to forward our entire community, exemplifying the difference between an artist and a cultural leader. I see Weyni as a prime 'provoker' in the arts community, and I believe that she will emerge as one of the central defining voices of theatre over the next decade."
- Albert Schultz, Artistic Director, soulpepper theatre
GUEST SPEAKER: Hendeke Asrat
Hendeke Asrat is a writer/editor/co-founder of Abesha.Com, a diaspora-based online magazine that promotes Eritrean and Ethiopian culture and creativity. She majored in Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at NYU, and worked in Ethiopia for three years in different humanitarian organizations before returning to the States to pursue writing full time. Presently, she is focusing on producing works of short fiction and creative nonfiction, with an eye towards authors whose writings skillfully translate transnational experiences and identities into compelling fictional characters. Aside from her own creative endeavors, Hendeke enjoys recording and documenting cultural innovations in music, film, and the arts within the Diaspora and Ethiopia, and does so through her writings for Abesha.com.
GUEST SPEAKER: Saba
Saba is a versatile and innovative dancer, choreographer and instructor. She is known for her uniqueness in both traditional and fusion styles of African, Middle Eastern and related dance forms. Her background being Ethiopian dance, Saba has further training and performing experience in styles such as Congolese Soukous, West African, Hip Hop and Belly Dance. She has trained with Sonya Mann McFarlane of Imani Edutainers (USA), Yasmina Ramzy and Denise Mireau of Arabesque, DLM and others. Saba currently is a teacher and lead dancer with Arabesque Dance Company. She is also director and choreographer of her Jaivah aka Nouvel Exposé African Dance Troupe. Saba further collaborates with many artists for music videos and stage shows. www.SabaSabina.com
GUEST SPEAKER: Assegid Gessesse
Assegid Gessesse hails from Ethiopia and has since made North America his home. Originally settling in Canada, he presently lives in New York City producing art and working as a self-employed Creative Director for global organizations like the Open Society Institute.
Assegid is an artist, filmmaker and designer with a body of work that has been extensively displayed in North America and Africa. In his 21-year career his print, television and interactive communication have also garnered him numerous awards.
Assegid is unique for his ability to explore the limitless possibilities and palette of his creativity. He generates prolifically from his atelier, while seamlessly advising on branding strategies. Assegid has worked with others as Creative Director. Working in one of the country’s most venerable multicultural ad agencies, Assegid developed a reputation as an architect of the big idea. He has provided advertising strategy for Fortune 100 accounts and equally venerated individuals including AT&T, Bank of America, Kraft Foods, Pepsi, 3Musketeers, Marines, HSBC, Burger King, Ford, Lincoln, Con Edison, Colgate, Microsoft and Time Warner; and Bill Cosby, Ossie Davis, Rube Dee, Donald Trump, Johnnie Cochran, Magic Johnson, Common, Ludacris, Mayor David Dinkins, and Billie Jean King.
Assegid’s art work expresses the numerous influences that he constantly reflects upon. His work is at once distinctly African, American and from the diaspora. Assegid’s compositions reveal constant receptivity to new forms of stimulation and interpretation. By definition, ephemeral, the quality of Assegid’s prints recalls the fleeting nature of life, and most importantly, memory. His prints eloquently capture the transience of the diaspora, recollections of the past; preserving only hints of a moment in time, while allowing all but the scene’s essence to fade into abstraction. On his canvas, Assegid gives a particularly touching commentary on the passing of time and life.
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