By Dibora Samson

Capturing the moment

Deborah Samson

The annular eclipse in Lalibela

Despite the COVID-19 enforced partial lockdown, the rare annular eclipse that happened 21 June 2020 attracted the attention of many people. Added to the spectacle of the event in itself, the fact that its epicenter would be Lalibela, a place at the summit of Ethiopia’s historical and religious wealth made the day even more anticipated. It was weeks, if not months, before the expected date of the eclipse that it became the reigning topic of discussion both in the mainstream and social media platforms. The anticipated hour finally came on a beautiful Sunday morning turning day to night in several parts of Ethiopia southwest to the northeast as the moon covered the sun almost entirely to form a breathtaking ring of fire.

The glamorous natural beauty of the eclipse was a fantasy-came-true to photo enthusiasts and fanatics many photographers traveling to Lalibela to capture this once-in-18-years marvel. Among the photographers who traveled to Lalibela to capture the story was Fikresilassie Tsegaye, founder of Bored Cell Phone Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s largest social media group for cell phone photographers. 

Although not everyone in the world was able to witness this astronomical event, the eclipse was visible for spectators in few African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries. The eclipse stayed on the sky for three hours in several places of Ethiopia, while on the other hand, it was partially visible in Addis Ababa. “June 21 was different; everyone was hyped sharing their perspective of the eclipse from all over the country,” Says Fikresilassie, founder of BCAA, “Photos of the eclipse were out of hand in the group. It was amazing,” He added.

“Fatefully, people who haven’t got the chance to witness the June 21 solar eclipse have to wait for another 18 years…”

The blessing of traveling to Lalibela also had other blessings as members of the group naturally took to capturing the ancient architectural marvel of Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches and the stunning landscape.

Another event based initiative on the day came from Chimp Events and Promotion. The company ran a photo competition titled Girdosh Photo prompting its audience to take pictures of the eclipse and submit to the contest. “We hosted the virtual photo contest to encourage people to capture their perspectives of this rare happening,” says Mikiyas Zena, founder of Chimp Events. 

“We organized the virtual photo contest with an idea of people would entertain themselves by taking a distinctive photo of this rare happening of nature” Mikias explained. “And we rated the photos based on their composition and the number of Likes and viewers they have on social media platforms,” said Mikias.

Fatefully, people who haven’t got the chance to witness the June 21 solar eclipse have to wait for another 18 years until the next annular solar eclipse in Ethiopia happens in 2038.

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