Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 23:12 PM EDT, 25 May 2011
This young and dynamic Habesha Nesh has big dreams some of which have been realized and others that are even now materializing because of her inner confidence, courage and dedication to following her truth.
Mengesha is one of the founding artists of Sound the Horn (STH). This organization sponsors an annual festival in Toronto, Canada called the Selam Youth Festival. This event provides the Ethiopian and Eritrean Diaspora with the opportunity to increase their cultural awareness and to maintain their connectedness to home.
In addition to serving the local community the organization also chose to focus on raising awareness about the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. The devastating impact of HIV/AIDS has been most severe in sub-Saharan countries. “At the end of 2009, there were 9 countries in Africa where more than one tenth of the adult population aged 15-49 was infected with HIV.1
In three countries, all in the southern cone of the continent, at least one adult in five is living with the virus. In Botswana, a shocking 24.8% of adults are now infected with HIV, while in South Africa, 17.8% are infected. With a total of around 5.6 million infected, South Africa has more people living with HIV than any other country. There are now an estimated 22.5 million Africans living with HIV/AIDS.” (Source: Avert)
Weyni said the idea to focus on HIV/AIDS awareness was initially conceived by People-to-People Canada, a group with which she was previously affiliated. Because the Selam Youth Festival attracts young people (ages 15-26), SHT decided to aim their educational efforts toward this population who typically have the highest risk for contracting the disease either because of ignorance or bravado.
Using music and festivities they were able to attract the youth to an environment that was non-threatening and provided distractions that would allow them to be more receptive to the seriousness of the topic of sexually transmitted diseases. Weyni felt that “ultimately it is a festival built to empower and connect the Ethiopian community and make it healthier.”
Weyni Mengesha first received acclaim directing ‘da kink in my hair‘. She won a Dora Mavor Moore award for her music score. The Dora is an award that recognizes and celebrates extraordinary Toronto talent in the performing arts. The production grew into an international success, with sold out runs in Toronto, New York, and London. The production was the subject of a feature documentary, and eventually a Canadian Television series.
Mengesha has achieved subsequent critical acclaim for the following productions:
- ‘blood.claat’ which she directed and won 2 Doras.
- ‘Blink’ which she directed and co-wrote.
- ‘Yellowman’ which she directed.
- ‘A Raisin in the Sun‘ which also garnered her a Dora.
Visit Weyni Mengesha’s official website here.
- Rural children camp to interrupt HIV/AIDS transmission (npong2franco.wordpress.com)