The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Book Review - Lights, Camera, Jemuru - Adventures of a Film-Maker in Ethiopia

Bob Maddams

Reviewer - Paul Salt


I am sure many of you will remember a Society lecture by Andrew Coggins and Deborah Kingsland on November 4, 2003 entitled Gemini's Street Children Grow Wings. It was a very uplifting story of the street children of Addis Ababa given the opportunity to develop creative lives in their communities through The Ethiopian Gemini Trust. In this eBook, Bob Maddams brings the story up to date with his own reminiscences, having worked with GEM TV, Ethiopia's first community film school.

It is a quite remarkable story of enabling and empowering certain young people to develop their talents, formulate their own view of the world, express themselves and their views through their own films, drawing on their own experiences of life on the streets, and pulling into the picture other silent minorities, which are given their own voice via documentaries on crucial social issues.

Bob's story is also transformational in itself. Having enjoyed a successful advertising career in London with all the trappings of its concomitant media lifestyle, a chance meeting inspired him to swap all this for an opportunity to teach the young apprentices at GEM TV in Addis Ababa. As many of you know, Ethiopia has a way of taking over your life, and enticing you back, perhaps for another taste of its warm humanity, spirituality, and vital sense of family and community. Likewise, Bob found himself drawn back to GEM TV for a period of 10 years, and was able to travel with the film crew to diverse locations such as shanty towns, refugee stations, the Rastafarian settlement in Shashemene, and remote villages near the Sudanese border, in addition to visiting the more familiar tourist sites in the Rift Valley and the Historical Route.

Along the way, GEM TV made a variety of films, including a documentary about a poor farming community building a school, a pop video for a reggae band from Manchester, a campaign of TV commercials to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, and a fundraising film about The Ethiopian Gemini Trust, which is now called The Gemini Foundation.

Whilst the country's historical background may be familiar to Society members, Bob paints a variety of pen-portraits of people he meets on his travels, and provides detailed descriptions of scenes and situations which really bring them alive. Often sad, sometimes funny, and always moving, Bob portrays an inspirational story with genuine interest and wit, showing how a teacher can learn from his pupils, whilst provoking general thoughts of human potential both fulfilled and unfulfilled.

Lights, Camera, Jemuru book cover

Lights, Camera, Jemuru - Adventures of a Film-Maker in Ethiopia
Bob Maddams
Apostrophe Books, 2012
ISBN 9781908556264
Kindle eBook 230 pages
Price £1.09

First Published in News File Winter 2013

Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of the Society.
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