It is a pleasure for me to say a few words on behalf of Jinka University (JKU) as one of the institutions collaborating in the fourth photo exhibition organised by the Frobenius Institute (Germany) and Goethe-Institut in Addis Ababa.

JKU is one of eleven fourth generation Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) established in Ethiopia in 2017 with the mission of producing undergraduate graduates in various disciplines. JKU’s young age notwithstanding, its first batch of undergraduate students graduated in June 2021 and it has been actively involved in research and in the local community, building up the capacity of its staff and reaching the surrounding community through multiple engagements.

Over the past four years JKU has also been connecting with similar HEIs in and out of the country and stakeholders in all walks of life to develop its strategic focus, determine the direction of growth of its academic programmes, and strengthen its collaboration with leading institutes all over the world. In this, our participation in The Wax and Gold of Hairstyle in Ethiopia has been enormously beneficial. It has given us the opportunity to work with international partners in the form of the Frobenius Institute in Germany and the Goethe-Institut in Addis Ababa and has opened up new avenues for further joint endeavours in the area of culture. It is already the second photo exhibition developed in cooperation with these two partners to be shown at the South Omo Research Center. Some of the photographs that researchers from the Frobenius Institute took in the South Omo region in the first half of the twentieth century were featured in the 2011 Where Women Smoke and Banana Trees Grown No Fruit exhibition.

JKU’s participation in these photo exhibitions is particularly relevant given that the photographs included were taken by German anthropologists who travelled as far south as the Lower Omo Valley from the 1930s to 1970s. As such, they are rare testimonies of this time and place. Making these photographs accessible at their place of origin is one of the reasons why the exhibition organisers have generously decided to have the photographs exhibited at the South Omo Research Center of JKU after the end of the exhibition in Addis Ababa.

Finally, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Sophia Thubauville, a former director of the South Omo Research Center (SORC) and one of the organisers of the exhibition, for inviting JKU to be part of the exhibition together with the Goethe-Institut in Addis Ababa.

Dr Elias Alemu Bedasso

Vice President for Research and Community Services (VPRCS)

Jinka University (JKU)