(Re)Discover Ethiopia!

May 8, 2015

I am happy to announce that the Ethiopian City Guides latest issue on Gondar has just been released by the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE) in Addis Ababa. This is one of the last projects to emerge from those I (co)managed in Addis Ababa (2011-2014).

The idea of the collection is very simple: help tourists and visitors to discover the hidden gems of Ethiopian cities, thus encouraging them to spend one more night in these cities, and collaborating to the cities’ economy.

Gondar City-Guide, CFEE- Shama Books, Addis Ababa, 2015

Gondar City-Guide, CFEE- Shama Books, Addis Ababa, 2015

Every guide book is a collaboration between three persons (and the city!):

  • one or several authors, researchers of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies (Addis Ababa) whose speciality enabled them to the city’s secrets;
  • an illustrator who will transcript the energy and the spirit of the place;
  • a talented graphic designer.

The team is completed by:

  • a committed editorial team – the director of the CFEE and his deputy;
  • a local publisher who will distribute the book everywhere in the country – Shama books, Addis Ababa;
  • a local printing house, that will eventually manage to print the book locally, making it a 100% Ethiopian job!
Dire Dawa City Guide, 2014

Dire Dawa City Guide, 2012

The first city guide on Dire Dawa was published in 2012. Dire Dawa, in Eastern Ethiopia, was the main station of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway. It used to be an active centre of trade and circulation of people (and ideas) between the Ethiopian highlands and the lowlands leading to the Red Sea. The city is now a sleeping beauty whose mix of western colonial-inspired architecture and vernacular architecture are decaying under the shadow of the bougainvilliers.

The guide book was funded by the French Embassy’s Social Development Fund as part of a tourist promotion of the city. The guide was first published for the International Conference on Ethiopian Studies that gathered 450 international researchers in this quaint city. The guide was written by Thomas Osmond, Anthropologist, specialist of Sufism in Eastern Ethiopia, illustrated by Nicolas Deleau, a French teacher and talented artist, and designed by Jonathan Le Péchon, graphic designer in Addis Ababa.

The watercolors are currently exhibited in Dire Dawa and will be displayed at the Alliance Française in Addis from 15 June 2015. If you’re around, they’re really worth the trip… Go and visit Dire Dawa! You’ll love it.

Do not forget to chew chat, the guide book explains how to enjoy the experience!

Nicolas Deleau, Dire Dawa, Magalla neighbourhood, 2012

Nicolas Deleau, Dire Dawa, Magalla neighbourhood, 2012

The second city guide on Gondar was released in 2015. Gondar was the capital of the 17th c. Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia and its skyline is still dominated by the so-called Ethio-Portuguese castles, registered as a UNESCO world Heritage site. The italian colonisers in the 1930s restored Gondar as a regional capital whose derelict colonial architecture gives a appealing charm to the city.

The publication coincided with the achievement of the Ras Ghimb castle restoration. This mysterious 17th c. castle was forgotten by the UNESCO World Heritage and was restored by a twin cities development programme of Gondar and Vincennes (France). The authors are Sisay Sahile, a researcher and an illustrious personality of Gondar, Anaïs Wion, Historian (CFEE, CNRS) specialised on the history of the 17th c. Gondarian dynasty and Simon Hardy who managed the restoration project and now develops ecotourism in French Provence. The spirit of the city was brilliantly sketched by Manuel João Ramos, Historian and anthropologist (ISCTE, Lisbon), and designed by Jonathan Le Péchon.

Last but not least, the publication of these books was made possible by the enthusiastic commitment of the CFEE directors Eloi Ficquet and Jean-François Breton.

You can buy these books in Addis Ababa’s Book World shops (in the main hotels, and at the airport). For those abroad, I guess you can ask the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies to ship them to you.

Enjoy your trip to the cities of Ethiopia !

5 Responses to “(Re)Discover Ethiopia!”

  1. Sisay Sahile said

    Really very nice description of the whole project.

  2. BRETON Jean-François said

    Congratulations to the editors of the Ethiopian City Guides and to all the authors of this very nice Gondar guide.

    The forthcoming will concern old houses in Addis Ababa.


    Jean-François BRETON
    Former director of the
    French Center of Ethiopian Studies
    Addis Ababa

    • Leturcq said

      Thanks ya mudir! Needless to repeat that your personal involvement contributed a lot to the publication of these guide books !

  3. tamerat said

    Just bought the Dire Dawa and Gondar city guides. ABSOLUTELY epic in every way. Thanks for such an outstanding work that will expose the hidden treasures of Ethiopia and wash away the tarnished imaged.
    We have been working on a website for 2yrs now that will serve as a tourist and investment guide covering all corners of Ethiopia. Any advice?

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