Thomas Allen Harris’s First Digital Diaspora Class in Ethiopia!

Banner w studentsR

First day teaching my class for the Pan African workshop on Professional Media Production: Building Capacity in Photojournalism, Documentary Film and Feature Writing. The program is sponsored by UNESCO, the Blue Nile Film School and the African Union, just to name a few.

I am teaching the first leg of the documentary and creative non-fiction media-making workshop to be taken up later by filmmakers Stephen Rudder and Dwayne Johnson over the next few weeks. Today, I focused on the Image – reflecting on recent and current projects around the photographic image, representation and the archive. The theme of the program is related to my doc, Through A Lens Darkly, as it focuses on using media changing the African narrative. We will be screening selections of Through A Lens Darkly within the class curriculum as well as the official public screening of the film at the À L’ALLIANCE ETHIO-FRANÇAISE D’ADDIS ABEBA on Saturday, Oct 24th. 


It was a full class of 70 plus students! I was expecting a smaller workshop but we were able to get everyone to share something today – who they were, why they were here and expectations for the class.


Using our Digital Diaspora Family Reunion format to structure the course, the first assignment is built around using Family Photos as a source of inspiration.  I encouraged the participants to tell the stories of unsung heroes/heroines and will be showing my film Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela: A Son’s Tribute to Unsung Heroes later in the week. Today, we discussed Image & Representation while looking at the stereotype, its reincarnations and resulting repercussions – in Ethiopia, Africa, the USA as well as South America. The participants are wonderful and really engaged and very diverse in terms of age, media experience and origin. Most of course are Ethiopian from Addis Ababa, but we also had participants today from the African Union, Lesotho, South Sudan, Benin, Botswana, Ethiopian Government Communications Affairs Office, Ministry of Culture, Blue Nile Film School, Addis Ababa University, and the Ethiopian Broadcasting Agency.

Tomorrow participants will begin sharing their first assignment so stay tuned here as well as on our DDFR Facebook Group!



The program came about as a result of a conversation earlier this year between the photographer and Kamoinge member Russell Frederick, the cinematographer & Founder of the Blue Nile Film School in Addis Ababa, Abraham Haile Biru and Sasha Rubell, of Unesco Liaison Office with the African Union and ECA. I must say that I am awed with how quickly they were able to gather the resources to bring us all here and provide for us so well while we are here. It’s work but it feels like a treat! My hat is off for all them and their staff and colleagues! Next week for the documentary class, I will be joined by Stephen Rudder of the UK and then Dwayne Johnson. This week’s photojournalism is led by Russell Fredrick, Ruddy Roye and the Kamoinge co-founder Shawn Walker. Robert Naylor is leading the writing course.  Great to be here fellowshipping with them all and everyone here.




, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply