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The first HOHE Literary Award is going to take place at the National Theatre on August 28, 2017. The award preparation process was informed of the past lessons of the preceding awards. This article glimpses upon the past trends of prize trust in Ethiopia, covering the ‘Haile Selassie I Prize’ and the ‘Ethiopian Fine Arts and Mass Media Prize Organization’.
Haile Selassie I Prize Trust
The ‘Haile Selassie I Prize Trust Awards’ operated from 1964-1973. Essence wise, the award draws diverse fields of Arts, Governance and excellence; indeed the whole award is intended to mimic the reputable award of ‘Noble prize’, also encompassed ‘Literature’, ‘Industry’, ‘Fine Arts’, ‘Educational Activities’, ‘Humanitarian Activities’, ‘African Research prize’, and ‘Ethiopian Studies prize’. Significantly, the award is insulated with high status with imperial aura.
Board of trustees who were basically drawn from Ministerial portfolio and the Academia administered the prize trust. The Board of trustees has met at least once in a quarter of a year.
H.S.I prize trust registered to award10,000 ETB along with certificates, diplomas and gold medals. Indeed the prize for International Awards goes to the extent of prizing 20, 000 ETB. Resource wise, the fund was sustainably generated from mandatory 400,000 ETB contributions from the then state owned St. George brewery. Perhaps later transferred totally to the H.S.I Prize Trust. Also, ‘the Trust’ owns a total of 213 gashasof land of Harar&Arsi. Grossly, 1,544, 301 ETB were invested in ten years of operation within the lifetime of ‘the Trust’. Out of which, 181, 274 ETB were spend for award administration of 1973 alone.
In addition to the mainstream prize, the H.S.I. Prize Trust had run other auxiliary functions. Thus, ‘the Trust’ has run fellowship program in the modality of research grants.
The Ethiopian Fine Arts and Mass Media Prize Organization (EFAMMPO)
The initiative of the 1997 EFAMMPO was more or less an expression for zeal to reinstate the glorious days of the H.S.I award. It triesto revitalize the H.S.I. organizational set-up whose scheme was to be instituted under government ministerial office. Thus, it was established under the then FDRE Ministry of Culture and Tourism, officially through a legal act on 3rd August 1998. Board of trustees comprised from 15 distinguished personalities headed this organization. Whereas the secretary of the board also serving as a full timer general manager of the organization.
EFAMMPO used to prize 20,000 ETB along with honorary diploma and gold medal. The award was made through administering selected questionnaires only to be filled with systematically selected specialists who can rate and justify their nominee. The precaution was ultimately to safeguard peer selection of the best awardees who qualify the prescribed criteria. As an informant disclosed that, the selection processes were held secretly to safeguard from any potential nepotistic abuse. The area of awardees also canvassed lifetime, long-time, yearly and special accomplishment. In effect, the awardees were drawn from professions and accomplishments of singers, composers, painters, writers, journalists, and actors.Unfortunately, 1998 awardees didn’t include from the category of yearly and special accomplishment.
Every event was also conceived to showcase a commemoration of a deceased personality. For instance, the 1998 award event was commemorated after YoftaheNegussie (1895-1947) who is a play-writer, composer, poet and journalist.
EFAMMPO used to raise funds with rigorous fund raising techniques; perhaps there were no sustainable means of financing other than raising funds on hodgepodge basis. Indeed that turned out to be inflammatory for the dissolution of the organization, just due to lack of sustainable means of financing.
The poor record of EFAMMPO was the means of financing the award, unsustainably. As one of our informant disclosed they were lobbying funding towards securing only for the yearly expenses of the prize. Moreover the funding base was so narrow only to approach that are known publicly for their presumed charitable record. The informant remembers the final days of the organization, as the Executive committee desperately lodged its request to own properties just like the time H.S.I prize trust, because they presumed as that was the only possible ways of securing financing the prize sustainably. The basic problem with that presumption was it was highly improbable proposal to own properties for generating finances for ‘the prize’, since the political economy of those days doesn’t encourage ‘public ownership of properties for any cause’. Generally, by way of drawing a lesson for the proposed HOHE Award includes unlearning the poor ways of generating funds carried out by EFAMMPO.
The EFAMMPO trends of commemorating the award with a deceased distinguished personality were also instructive enough to inform the ‘HOHE Awards’. That will serve as to recognize late personalities who might be eligible for the award, perhaps in compensation had they ever been alive. In addition to that, commemorating the award event elevates the artistic value of the overall prize project. The symbolic significance of commemorating an event can’t be undermined to out rule and to nullify.
‘HOHE Awards’ takes lesson of the long record of H.S.I prize trust, basically by looking forward the possibility of the award may be institutionalized in advance. Unquestionably, sustainable means of fund mobilization is one of the outstanding tasks of ‘HOHE Awards’, which shall be rigorously worked out in progress. Also, the existing auxiliary functions of ‘HOHE Awards’ are also encouraging in light of H.S.I. scholarship and fellowship opportunities.
With a benefit of giving a doubt, the ‘HOHE Awards’ builds one’s confidence towards drawing a new horizon towards unleashing the literary culture from captivity of unrecognized!