Thursday 25 July 2019

Over the last few months’ 120 students in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar have created amazing artwork about rivers. These students, along with others in Sudan, Morocco, Kenya, Palestine, Malawi and the United Kingdom are part of the two–year Rivers of the World project. This is the second time Ethiopia has been chosen for the project, in 2016-17 the focus was on 5 Ethiopian rivers, but this time all the artwork is about Ethiopia’s most famous river; The Blue Nile.

Rivers of the World is the flagship visual art and education project run by Thames Festival Trust in London working in partnership with the British Council. Rivers of the World connects pupils around the globe to their local river through environmental, economic and cultural learning and themes. Alongside this students and teachers form connections for cultural exchange with partner schools in the UK. This year schools in Ethiopia are joined with schools in Warrington, which The Mersey river runs through connecting the city with Liverpool and Manchester. Next year in Ethiopia students will focus on The Mersey for their artwork, whilst their Warrington counterparts will create art about the Blue Nile.

Working with their teacher and British Council facilitators Martha Hardy and Zeny Zerfu, students in Ethiopia have now completed 6 banner size artworks. In Bahir Dar pupils from Ghion and Fasilo schools experimented with painting and jewelry making, their artwork representing the resourcefulness of the Blue Nile and its riverside city Bahir Dar (which translates into English as Sea Shore). Whilst in Addis students from Menelik II, Nazereth, Abune Gorgorios and Africa Andinet schools crafted artwork ranging from decorated musical instruments and intricate basket designs to collaged self-portraits made from shopping bags and statues made with waste materials. Though conveying different themes such as pollution and culture, these artworks are united by their shared focus on the Blue Nile, celebrating its beauty and value for Ethiopia but also emphasizing the need to protect and care for it.

In September artwork from every country involved will be exhibited along the banks of London’s Thames River as part of the annual month-long Totally Thames festival. It will then travel around the UK visiting each of the cities involved. At the same time exhibitions will be held across the world in the six other countries involved, including Ethiopia!

In the words of the students:

“I started to realize now what I am capable of doing, that there could be so many more things I could do.”

Student from Ghion School, Bahir Dar

“It helped me love my ideas.”

Student from Nazereth School, Addis Ababa

“I enjoyed it because it’s very useful for our country and our world.”

Student from Abune Gorgorios School, Addis Ababa

“Creativity is very important for everybody.”

Student from Africa Andinet School, Addis Ababa

“The work gives me happiness and taught us good things, we learnt through drawing and talking.”

Student from Menelik School, Addis Ababa

“I am very, very happy.”

Student from Fasilo School, Bahir Dar


For more information please contact:

Inku Fasil, Programme and Partnership Manager at the British Council