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Angelique Retief, Senior Policy Officer at Black South West Network reflects on the journey they took, with colleagues from Arnolfini, UWE Bristol and Let’s Make Art, to Zoma Museum this Summer.

Every once in a while, an experience comes along that leaves an indelible mark on our souls, shaping the way we view the world and our place within it. Such an experience happened recently when the BSWN team embarked on a transformative journey to Museum Zoma in the heart of Addis Ababa with colleagues from the Arnolfini and the University of the West of England (UWE) who were kind enough to invite us to share this experience with them. In this blog post, we share some of our reflections on the impact of our visit and the profound lessons we learned about art, architecture, education, sustainability, leadership, and the celebration and preservation of heritage and tradition.

Zoma Museum is a testament to the power of collaboration. In the heart of the city, it stands as a testament to the creative spirit and the transformative potential of art and architecture. As we walked through the carefully designed spaces, we marvelled at the seamless blend of tradition and innovation, where every architectural detail spoke to the heritage of Ethiopia. It reminded us of the beauty that can emerge when artists, architects, and the community come together to create something truly exceptional.

photograph of the Courtyard at Small Zoma
photograph of the Courtyard at Small Zoma

One of the striking aspects of Zoma Museum is its commitment to education. The museum doesn’t just preserve artefacts; it fosters a learning environment that encourages dialogue and critical thinking. This approach resonated with our team as we discussed the role of education in effecting lasting change. At Zoma, education becomes a catalyst for transformation, empowering communities to reclaim their narratives and shape their future.

Photograph of a Sign by the School Entrance.
Photograph of a Sign by the School Entrance.

Related to this shaping of the future was their approach to sustainability. Sustainability has become a buzzword, but at Museum Zoma, it’s a way of life. The museum showcases sustainable architecture and practices that align with the principles of environmental conservation and cultural preservation. Witnessing the integration of sustainability into every aspect of the institution was inspiring and a key reminder that responsible stewardship of the environment and heritage go hand in hand.

Photograph of  the Side of a Building in Small Zoma.
Photograph of the Side of a Building in Small Zoma.

About Black South West Network

Black South West Network’s over-arching strategic intent is to build dynamic, independent, and strong Black and Minoritised communities, businesses, and organisations that are empowered to flourish while challenging systemic barriers and forging a true path for themselves. We believe that only through this will we significantly address racial inequality. All our portfolio feeds into this aim.

Over the years, BSWN has developed a strong reputation for evidence-driven work based on our own robust and academically sound research. We have started to fill the significant gaps in knowledge that are created by the lack of focus on the specific understandings, experiences, needs, wants, feelings, and aspirations of the Black and Minoritised communities in Bristol and the region.

About the Artist

artist Elias Sime sits at a table, head down, concentrating on the creative activity in front of him on a table.

Elias Sime

Elias Sime (born 1968 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) has exhibited extensively around the world.

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