Two French journalists, Karim Lebhour and Vincent Defait, introduce us with false candor and great kindness to Ethiopia, a country in the throes of change. Heart stroke.
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There’s Joe Sacco and Mr John of Dupuy and Berberian in A season in Ethiopia (Editions Steinkis): the comic strip is both well-documented and full of humour. Karim Lebhour arrived in Addis Ababa in 2014 to take up the post of AFP correspondent. He comes from New York where he covered UN activities. The shock is terrible. In Karim’s head, Ethiopia was reduced to famine and solidarity concerts. However, he will discover it very quickly, the country has changed and continues to transform at a forced march.
Made in China or Chinafrica
Ethiopia has imported everything from China: all-out development, double-digit economic growth, repression and the muzzling of freedom of expression. Karim therefore arrives in a capital in full turmoil where the signs of the presence of China are visible everywhere, even to the street vendors who speak Chinese. Karim also discovers a paranoid power, whose culture of secrecy reaches new heights. Addis Ababa is important for Beijing, a milestone in its “New Silk Road”.
In this comic strip co-written by two journalists who have actually lived in Ethiopia, Karim Lebhour and Vincent Defait, and drawn by Léo Trinidad, we discover a country that is both closed and ambitious, authoritarian and nostalgic for a fantasized past. The comic strip is full of juicy, sometimes hilarious or simply absurd details like this lunar press conference of a regime so confident in itself that it announces, in all democracy, that the party in power has won 100% of the seats. Or when the author must establish his work and residence permit. Welcome to the maze of bureaucracy in madness. And it is these small scenes that best narrate the paradoxes of a power launched on a headlong rush, completely disconnected from the population.
The authors also tell of a population that tries to manage as best it can, and a youth that dreams of a necessarily more lenient elsewhere. To arrive in Europe, young candidates for exile pass through Sudan and Libya, often with death at the rendezvous.
A Season in Ethiopia: Chinafrica, State of Emergency and Macchiato (Steinkis editions), a geopolitical comic, full of humor and empathy. A favorite.
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