Don't Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV by Dawit N.M.


Born in Ethiopia, Dawit N.M. has always wanted to help tell the stories of people who are voiceless. His interest in community, family, and intrapersonal conflicts can be seen throughout his work.

 Initially, Dawit used photography to cope with and document his father’s sickness (and continues to do so today).  Presently, he aims to change how the world views countries and areas of poverty, whether it be through film or photography. He wants to show that there are more to these beautiful people and places than most get to see. 

Dawit N.M. currently lives and works in Virginia Beach, VA. 

I had to tell you my story 'cause they'd rather show you black kids with flies on their faces on the television.

 - Skepta (from Ojuelegba Remix ft. Drake & Skepta)


"As I was preparing to take my little cousin's photo he jokingly said to me, "Don't Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV." Stunned by this, I decided that I would compile all the photos I had taken during my stay in Ethiopia into a project and make sure people saw a different story. A real story. 

Due to the state of emergency in the country - a response to the anti-government protests) - I was limited to mostly taking photos outside of taxis or in private areas with a $10 point-and-shoot film camera; I was worried that my digital camera would cause too much attention, especially from the police. Luckily, I was still able to capture the beauty, freshness, and youthfulness of Ethiopia and her people.

The addition of old family photos (most likely taken with the same camera I used during my stay) made it more personal. Weaving new photos with old disrupts the normally linear perception of time. This project has became a personal journey through space and time in Ethiopia: a personal reflection of my life and identity while also contrasting the outdated and awfully misleading images of Ethiopia. 

It is unfortunate that many people are being shown a false depiction of Ethiopia and other foreign countries. I hope with this project I can play a part in changing the thoughts and assumptions of Ethiopia and Africa as a whole." 

-Dawit N.M. 


Images above are excerpts from Dawit's upcoming book, available for purchase here on January 29, 2018.