By STAFF WRITER JULY 15, 2015
Ethiopia once made the headlines for a terrible drought that followed the ‘Red Terror,’ wreaking havoc on the nation. But much has changed in the 30 years that followed, changes that have not grabbed media attention as much as the famine did in the ‘70s.
On July 13, exactly 30 years to the day after ‘Live Aid’—a groundbreaking concert organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds to combat the Ethiopian famine—a new Ethiopian documentary debuted at the Caux Dialogue on land and security in Switzerland. Entitled “Ethiopia Rising: Red Terror to Green Revolution,” the documentary tells the story of the phenomenal environmental transformation of a nation told through the experience of one man.
“Aba Hawi mobilized an entire community to regenerate the surrounding hillsides, and in so doing saved his village from certain extinction,” the filmmaker’s website states. And this is his story.
The film, produced by Mark Dodd, the award-winning maker of ‘The Man Who Stopped the Desert,’ covers a period of 30 years. It begins in the mid-70s with the advent of the ‘Derg’ —a communist military regime that attempted to suppress resistance through a brutal and bloody campaign known as the ‘Red Terror’.
Aba Hawi was a teenager during these difficult years. He stood out from the crowd because he was against deforestation around his village despite opposition from his own community who wanted to cut the trees for firewood and animal fodder.
As the documentary follows the life of Aba Hawi, it highlights the environmental transformation his village—along with many other regions of Ethiopia—has undergone since the downfall of the Derg in 1991.
“For a generation brought up on Live-Aid with images of a desperate nation, little has emerged in mainstream media to correct this. Ethiopia Rising will go a long way to challenge these out-of-date perceptions,” the filmmakers stated.
The project was funded by World Resources Institute, a global research organization that works to sustain national resources. It also received support from World Bank Ethiopia, World Vision Australia and Mekelle University, among others.
The filmmakers say the film will be offered to national broadcasters, to international film festivals and will also be available on DVD via the official online shop.