Salambo in Addis

Salambo discovering Ethiopia


Ethiopia is currently one of the most popular destinations for international adoption, particularly in America where the number of Ethiopian babies and children adopted is on the rise from year to year. Ethiopia now ranks 5th for international adoption, and the number of agencies (American in particular) licensed for adoption has increased from one to over 20 in the last ten years.

Living in Addis and regularly going to all the international hotels, the statistics become reality. Every time we encounter European or American families with small Ethiopian babies. They have very recently adopted them or are still waiting for the administrative authorisation to take them out of the country, back to their new home. Others are just taking their already adopted children for a holiday in their country of origin.

So it is not surprising that the German cultural institute, the well known Goethe-Institut, chose its Addis centre to screen the film Adopted!. Directed by German artists Gudrun F. Widlok and Rouven Rech, the film documentary plays on the notion of adoption between Africa and the Western World, by turning the situation around and inviting Europeans to be adopted by an African family. In the artist’s view, it is time for Africa to give to Europe some of its wealth, in particular the very rich family life and tight network people have.

The project started as a somewhat conceptual idea: a desk at an art exhibition inviting Europeans to be adopted. However, to the artist’s surprise,  a number of candidates came forth, willing to be adopted. As a result, the initial idea had to be followed through and a team was set up to identify African families who would embrace the idea and accept to adopt Europeans. The condition was that the adopted Europeans would have to stay in their new family for a length of time, not just a holiday. Ghana was selected as an initial country because of its strong family structure.

In the film, we follow a young islandic student in her early 20s studying in Berlin but lonely there, a lady aged 70 who has just lost her husband and who is tired of the very individualistic society she lives in, and a man in his 30s who wants to change his life. The three of them go to live in their respective adoptive Ghanean families and we watch their progress over a few months, how they adapt or not to their new life, new family and new culture.  Some of them decide to stay longer than others, but in the process they each get to know their own self better. The result is very interesting and thought provoking. I can only recommend watching it! Check:

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