How This Ethiopian Photographer Is Giving Storytellers a New Platform

optimism-aida-muluneh-photograph-1Source: Time

By Naina Bajekal

When TIME approached photographer Aida Muluneh to create images for the 2019 Optimists issue, she immediately turned to Ethiopia’s political climate for inspiration. A new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, had assumed office in April 2018 and started implementing a series of reforms. “He instilled a different energy that was needed in our country,” Muluneh says. “There were a lot of changes that incited optimism for many of us.”

Among those changes was a renewed championing of the role of women in politics. Last October, Abiy appointed women to half of the government’s 20 ministerial posts, up from four in the previous government’s much larger cabinet. “It’s commendable to see,” says Muluneh. As she began sketching out ideas relating to political optimism, she was keen to include female models and emphasize their role in politics and society. “Part of my optimism is about celebrating African cultures and traditions, but also about the need for the female voice.”

In the image above, titled “First in the heart is a dream,” a woman is being pulled in different directions — symbolizing the difficulty of understanding the truth and taking into account all angles, Muluneh says. But the woman, who wears a traditional headdress, also has a set of keys near her heart. “Sometimes we forget we hold the keys to unlock things,” she says. “Moving forward with truth and love is what optimism is.”

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Categories: Africa, Ethiopia

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