Ethiopian-American Yadesa Bojia Wins AU Competition for New Flag Design The recent 2010 African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa …
The rich, bold colors of a painting byYADESA “YADDI” BOJIA ’05hangs in the Washington State Supreme Court judges’ chamber. But none of his paintings have been called upon to tell the story of a people as vividly as those commissioned for the recent west coast premiere of “Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia.”
The exhibit this winter at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle allowed visitors to come face to face with Lucy, one of the oldest, most complete, and best preserved adult fossils of a human ancestor. Since Lucy comes from Ethiopia, Bojia’s ancestral land, the organizers invited him and others from the city’s thriving Ethiopian community to see what was planned for the exhibit.
“I met with the curator,” Bojia says. “We discussed the importance of Ethiopian art for the show, and she decided to involve me.”
The artist, a former graphic design intern in Seattle Pacific University’s Office of University Communications and now a graphic designer for Housing and Food Services at the University of Washington, provided three paintings for the exhibit. One was of an Ethiopian shepherd. “March to Adwa” depicted Ethiopian King Minilik marching to the battlefield. The third provided an apocalyptic vision of Lucy witnessing the destruction of the world by modern humans.
Bojia was pleased that tens of thousands of people learned more about human existence — and his cultural heritage. “I was able to capture what most history books don’t. While they focus on the Ethiopian dynasties, they neglect the majority of Ethiopian people. I drew on every ethnic group.”
To do so, he created 10 motifs from traditional ethnic dress that were utilized throughout the exhibit as back-drops or to accent display designs. He also illustrated a keepsake receipt book to give visitors “a taste of Ethiopia.”
When African leaders launched a competition for the creation of a new African Union flag in 2007, they had no idea how far-flung the results would be. In fact, 106 designs were entered from 19 African countries and two from Diaspora communities—including Seattle. Which is where the winning design came from.
Earlier this year the AU chose the flag designed by UW staffer Yadesa Bojia (right), a Housing & Food Services graphic designer, to represent the AU and its 53 member countries.
Bojia says he was compelled to enter the competition in response to the admiration he has for the AU for its struggle to eradicate Apartheid and for its ability to get African leaders to engage in discussion on the vast issues affecting the continent. His flag represents the continent’s future more than its past, he says.
An artist before he even left Africa, Bojia came to the U.S. from Ethiopia in 1995 to pursue his education, earning degrees in graphic design and illustration, and in visual communications. Now, his flag flies in front of the United Nations.
. . . watch the African Union raise the flag that you designed?
My wife and children beside me, I stood directly behind Libyan President Moammar el-Qaddafi. He hoisted the new flag that took me four months to create. To watch it wave, I felt vindication, reconciliation, and pride.
When I was 2, my father and older brother were killed in our Ethiopian home by a brutal socialist government. Throughout childhood, I witnessed my mother’s grief. It eventually killed her. Now the African nations flew my flag, symbolizing a new day for more than 1 billion of my fellow Africans. It flew for unity, hope, and human rights. I knew then my family died for something meaningful. Though they were not there to celebrate with me, I felt their satisfaction.
Hello and Thank you for visiting my website. In this website, you will learn about me and my artistic journey. I planned to update this website whenever I have something worthy to say or have something worthy to show. Please feel free to leave me your comments at Yadesa@yadesabojia.com or simply comment in any post you see in this website.I hope you will come back to check my work in the future and I like to thank you one more time for your support.