Portraits of Befekadu Hailu (left) and Eyob Derillo (right)
Past Event
Books & Debates

Global Conversations: A Heritage of Resistance

Fri 14 - Sun 30 May 2021
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Befekadu Hailu (Ethiopia) & Eyob Derillo (UK) unpack their roots in resistance and imagine what Ethiopia's future might be

In the 13th Century the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia resisted the Sultanate of Ifat and the Ifat's quest to expand the reach of Islam into their territory; in the early 17th Century, ordinary Ethiopians resisted their King's conversion to Catholicism; in the 20th Century, resistance birthed in churches and from women's movements thwarted the Italians's quest to colonise Ethiopia, famously winning the battle of Adwa and defying the Fascist Italian forces during a 5-year occupation. In spite of large-scale theft of its artefacts and betrayals by allies in the past, Ethiopia has managed to remain, largely through the spirit and endurance of its civilian population a defiant, proud and vibrant nation. What are the foundations of that heritage and how does it affect where Ethiopia goes next internally and on the global stage?

Delivered in Amharic, for the first time in Brighton Festival's history, two young Ethiopian thinkers unfurl the past and imagine how it weaves into the fabric of the future.

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Portrait of Eyob Derillo

Eyob Derillo

Eyob Derillo is curator for Ethiopic and Ethiopian collections at the British Library's department of Asia and Africa Studies. With a background in Art, Archaeology and Film, he is completing a doctorate at SOAS department of Religions and Philosophies, focusing on the nature and historical development of the concept of Ethiopian ‘magic’ and its use within a specifically Christian context. A regular contributor to documentaries for BBC Radio, Eyob co-curated the British Library’s highly acclaimed exhibition Harry Potter: History of Magic in 2017 and, more recently, the British Library's exhibition African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia – first exhibition to be held at the Library devoted entirely to Ethiopian manuscripts. He is currently working on a documentary about Prince Alemayehu Tewodros.

Portrait of Befekadu Hailu

Befekadu Hailu

A writer and advocate for liberal democracy in Ethiopia, Befekadu Hailu is an Executive Director at the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), having previously worked as an independent writer and activist for sociopolitical rights for more than a decade. He co-founded the multi-award winning Zone 9 Blogging and Activism Collective and served as an editor and opinion writer for many local print media outlets including Enqu and Weyeyet Magazines as well as Addis Maleda Amharic weekly. As a result of his activism, Befekadu has been unjustly prosecuted four times, spending a total of 596 days in jail, but never once found guilty. He is a weekly contributor to Deutsche Welle (Amharic Service), a Freedom Fellow at Human Rights Foundation, and a Draper Hills Fellow at the CDDRL, Stanford University. In 2019, he received the PEN Award for International Writer of Courage.

Global Conversations

Curated specially for a festival that loves conversations in a time that limits face-to-face meetings, Global Conversations focuses on the conversations that some of the most creative minds of our planet have been dying to have with people who live far away from them. From the minutiae of mundane tasks to the importance of resistance, in a range of languages, but always human, this is a space to expand the mind. Take a look at more Global Conversation events:


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