Q&A: Dawit N. M.

09.04.18

What will baffle future generations about our day and age? That we had to carry around these big – in relation to what they, the future generations, are using – to access the internet. Are you aware of any conspiracies? I just found out that Sinbad was never in a movie where he played a genie. I’m pretty sure this is a conspiracy by the government that links to Sinbad being an actual genie.  
What is it that interests you about photography? Simply the ability to show people something. For millenniums story telling has been limited to just our tongue and our ability to draw, but now we have the ability to actually show. However, there are positives and negatives to this because the ability to show can sometime be able to and is often used to manipulate and even hide things from the mass. I want to show the brutal truth, weather that be in a physical state or a mental state. 
What is the worst thing about city life? I will have an answer to this later this year once I finally move to NYC. 
What part of the planet would you like to explore? It’s a tie between the bottom of the ocean and Antarctica. 
If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Nelson Mandela. 
Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Definitely astronomy. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? All of my middle school and high school years. I wish I took more photos of myself and my friends. I regret it till this day. Which living person do you most admire? My mother. 
On what occasion do you lie? When someone asks me if I’m on the way. What was the last crime you witnessed? Trump. What is the best way to educate yourself? Read, converse and create a lot, but don’t limit yourself to books, people, and creations that you feel comfortable with. 
What is the next book you want to read? “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins. I actually started it, but I just haven’t got around to finishing it. 
Ultimate camera? A 20/10 eye ball. I like my glasses, but it’s so limiting. 
How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? “A million books in one book”
. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Never satisfied. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. When Abebe Bikila ran barefoot and won the marathon in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. 
Are impulses more important than consequences? For me it’s 50/50. It all depends on the context. 
Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to sing like Frank Ocean. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Pretend to be busy hahaa.

“As I was preparing to take my little cousin’s photo he jokingly said to me, “Don’t Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV,” stunned by this, I decided that I would compile all the photos I had taken during my stay in Ethiopia into a project and make sure people saw a different story. A real story.

Due to the state of emergency (a response to the anti-governmanet protests) that the country was in, I was limited to mostly taking photos outside of taxis or in private areas and with a $10 point-and-shoot film camera because of worry that my digital camera would cause too much attention, especially from the police. Luckily, I was still able to capture the beauty, freshness, and youthfulness of Ethiopia and her people. I also added scans of old family photos (most likely taken with the same camera I used during my stay)to make it more personal.

Weaving new photos together with the old made it seem as if time was never linear. Without knowing it, the project became a personal journey through space and time in Ethiopia; a self reflection on my life and identity while still contrasting the out-dated and awfully misleading images of Ethiopia.

It is unfortunate to know that many people are constantly being shown false depiction of Ethiopia and other foreign countries. I hope with this project I can play a part in changing the thoughts and assumptions of Ethiopia and Africa as a whole.” — Dawit N.M.

“I had to tell my story ’cause they’d rather show you black kids with flies on their faces on the television.” – Skepta (from Ojuelegba Remix ft. Drake & Skepta)

Dawit N.M. (b. 1996) was born in Ethiopia and moved to America at the age of seven. His experience in Ethiopia led him to have a different perspective on life and also a different level of appreciation for living in America. Countless hours of time spent on the internet developed his interest in film and later photography. His fascination towards community, family, and intrapersonal conflicts leads him to use both mediums to help shed light on truths that are hidden from the world and even the individual. To see more of Dawit’s work visit — Website / Instagram.