Addis Ababa: Launch event for the first Ethiopian comic book, based on a true story
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altOn 11 December, the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia hosted on its premises an event presenting the comic strip entitled "Agga", the first publication ever issued in Ethiopia to feature the comic book art form. Its publishing was sponsored by the Republic of Serbia.
The story of Abdissa Agga, a hero of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War born around 1920, and his Yugoslav friends Julije and Stefan, is widely known in Ethiopia. According to Abdisa's journals, a heralded piece of literature in Ethiopia, he was wounded in 1937, and transferred as a hostage to Italy where he was sentenced to eight years in prison. As a patriot and a fearless fighter he was kept under special surveillance. Nevertheless, joined by six Yugoslavs, he fled to the woods and met with another group of fugitive prisoners, mostly Yugoslavs and Englishmen. Abdissa then had them return to the camp and free many of the hostages. Led by Abdissa, a British Major and a Yugoslav national (most commonly referred to as Julije, among other names) they persevered continuing to fight the Italians and Germans. In addition to Italy, they allegedly also fought in the territory of Yugoslavia. According to the legend, Abdissa and his Yugoslav friend rolled into the liberated Rome on a road vehicle, waving Ethiopian and Yugoslav flags.
Abdissa's courage has been an inspiration to the people of Ethiopia for decades. Even though he had been forgotten for some time, legend has it that it was President Tito who brought Abdissa to the attention of Emperor Haile Selassie and secured him a rank he deserved as he became the Emperor's security guard. Abdissa passed away in the late 1970s.
At the comic book launch event, the guests were addressed by Daniel Mesfin President of the Association of Ethiopian Patriots, an organization that gathers war veterans, their descendants and admirers, Minas Halefom, author of the comic book, Addisalem Abdissa - Abdissa Agga's daughter and Ambassador Aleksandar Ristic, while Retired General Wasihun Nigatu, who fought together with Abdissa in the 1964 Ethiopian–Somali war, spoke about the author and presented to the Ambassador a gift copy of the remembrance book.
The salon of the Embassy welcomed over one hundred guests, including, in addition to citizens with an interest in art, comics and history, Nebiat Getachew Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, Workneh Aklilu Advisor to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, two MPs from the House of Peoples' Representatives, Prince Beede Mariam Mekonnen – a grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, ambassadors and diplomats, Ethiopians who had attended university in Serbia, Serbian nationals living in Ethiopia and friends and members of the author's and Abdissa's families. Special attention was paid to the organized arrival of Ethiopian veterans, their admirers and former army officers, one of whom is 102 years old.
The event received public and media attention and solidified the partnership relations between Serbia and Ethiopia in the field of culture as well.