Distinguishing Meskerem Assegued and Melaku Belay [fr]
Mrs Brigitte Collet, Ambassador of France to Ethiopia, presented on June 17, 2016 the official insignia of the Order of Arts and Letters to two prominent representatives of the Ethiopian vibrant arts and cultural community in the presence of many artists:
Mrs Meskerem Assegued, exhibition curator whose career is entirely dedicated to the promotion of major contemporary Ethiopian artist like Elias Sime and Abel Tilahun, founder of artists’ residence in Addis Ababa (ZOMA), member of several festivals selection committees (Dak’art Biennale, Venice Biennale ...), author of publications on Ethiopian art, a prominent contributor to cultural exchange and friendship between France and Ethiopia.
Mr. Melaku Belay, choreographer and a breathtaking dancer, true ambassador of music and dances of his country, adding his own "vibration" and in a permanent search, confronting the most diverse contemporary movements in Ethiopia just as across many countries which he goes regularly, including France. Cultural entrepreneur, director of Azmari Bet Fendika, founder of Ethiocolor group it has established over the years, a close collaboration with the Ethio-French Alliance.
The Ambassador stressed the commitment of France to the promotion of culture and cultural diversity. She recalled the broad definition that the Universal Declaration of UNESCO on Cultural Diversity of 2001 gives culture as "the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group." It found that in this respect as Meskerem Assegued Melaku Belay that was emblematic of the richness of Ethiopian culture, willingness to innovate and its openness to the world.
Both commended to see the Ethiopian arts and cultural scene recognized through this award by a country at the forefront in defense of “cultural exception” and the promotion of cultural diversity. They saw an encouragement to enhance their work with the support of cultural institutions of their country like their foreign partners.