Women of Excellence guests that witnessed the slow and graceful file of the six nominees to the event ballroom were moved to tears by the testament of achievement these strides on the lush carpet symbolized.
The space was astir and there was no doubt everyone present was here to celebrate six triumphant individuals. This piece is a recollection of an evening of marvel and gratitude, beautiful columns of energy hewn by the power of recognition.
AWIB’s 5th Women of Excellence was an exceptional display of elegance both in the character of all those present and the ambiance of the space that surrounded it. Stepping in the ballroom was equivalent to stepping through a wormhole into a utopian sisterhood. Each woman was celebrating the woman next to her and this generous appreciation lent an aura of radiance to the night. Emahoy Fekerte Mariam Bekele, Hermella Wondimu, Sabella Belaynesh Abay Kassa, Selome Tadesse, Dr. Senait Fisseha, Tsehay Röshli were the stars of the evening, sans embellishment.
In the mingling and photo session prior to the beginning of the official program, guests were rushing towards the nominees to sneak a picture or steal a brief hug. With a warm welcome, the nominees were escorted to their seats. The MC introduced the program line-up, the order and content of which guaranteed confetti of emotions by the end of the night. AWIB’s documentary perused through the pillars of its missions and what the association aims to accomplish. Strong women were featured in the video, sharing their stories of success following the process of self-realization cultivated within this transformative space. Billene Seyoum gave intermittent succinct highlights on the topics of identity within a cultural setting, individual transformation rippling into societal change, the context in which “yelugnta” is practiced, and freedom of space in the mechanism of communication, all of which are vast concepts discussed in depth among AWIB’s members. The evening continued with the screening of Esua (poetry in motion) a collaborative performance piece by artists Elizabeth H. Wold and Konjit Seyoum. The visually rich video art leaves a heavy trail from the lingering voice that reiterates the sound “ch”, a letter in the Amharic language that signifies female, second person, personal pronoun, at the end of each word. The dominating presence of this letter affirms the presence of a woman’s body within the space. Six videos played celebrating the achievements of the six nominees as they talk about their work in their own words. These short films were accompanied by a soaring background music that stirred the audience to new levels of emotions. These moments of vulnerability allow for a rare passage of communication that allowed the mind to be influenced by the ideas it receives. WOE was a successful event that managed to create and utilize these small windows of higher collective communication to pass on proper and inspirational messages. By the end of the night the stories of these six female extraordinaire had seeped in and settled in each attendant’s mind. Bogalech Gebre, founder and director of KMG Ethiopia, gave a few remarks acknowledging AWIB’s endeavors in organizing Women of Excellence as a great stride towards gender equality with effects extending far into the future. She spoke wonderfully and praised each nominee in a unique and informed manner. Accompanied by a slowly building music the representative of the judges, Nebil Kellow, went down the list of criteria that made AWIB’s Women of Excellence nominees formidable. A surreal moment was created as the audience was confronted by the exceptional description of character that left us dumbfounded and panning over the nervous and hopeful demeanors of our nominees. A teasing instance, as the evening culminated to the moment of naming a winner. With a cheerful standing ovation the audience exchanged smiling glances of concurrence when Tsehay Röshli was named the 5th “Titleholder of AWiB Women of Excellence”. Kellow followed this celebration with a recap of the judges’ long deliberation whether to recognize track record or potential in the nominees present. Unable to give precedence to one or the other, in the 5th WOE celebration the judges went beyond their mandate and selected another winner under a new category, “Young Women of Excellence 2016 (YWOE). Dubbed as a young well of potential, Hermella Wondimu was the deserving award winner for this new title and honor.