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The French connection in Addis

| Uncategorized | December 10, 2016


For more than 100 years, two Alliances, one in Addis Ababa and one in Dire Dawa celebrate the great friendship between Ethiopia, France and French speaking countries, through two missions: teaching French and organizing cultural events.

In Addis, more than 3500 students register for French classes at all levels, every year. Moreover, nearly 200 events are organized for all audiences (exhibitions, concerts, cinema, conference, festivals etc.). Fifteen classrooms, a cinema hall, a main gallery, an independent restaurant and a very nice garden to welcome you!

In Dire Dawa, the Alliance is the only cultural centre, settled in the most “’francophone” city of Ethiopia, through a common railway history!

An original History of friendship

On the 30th of October 1907, the St Gabriel brother, Félix de Nole, arrived in Addis Ababa, in order to create the first Franco-Ethiopian primary school aimed at preparing Foreign and Ethiopian boys for the primary school leaving certificate. Run by the St Gabriel Brothers, the school was however placed under the patronage of the Alliance committee established in 1883, for the dissemination of the French language in both the colonies and other foreign countries. It was a beginning of a long history of teaching.

The Alliance was the place to study all subjects, a complete school. Not only did it have French language classes but following the opening of the Lycée Guebre Mariam in 1948, the Alliance started diversifying its activities.

In 1960, the Alliance school was temporarily turned into a technical school that was then supervised by the Lycée Guebre Mariam. The Alliance became a real association following the general assembly of the 1966 which was in fact a constitutional assembly, consisting of a committee being elected annually by members of the general assembly. Volunteers had in fact a much more important role in running the institution. In 1967, the Alliance moved gradually towards the spread of culture. The first example of this was a cine-club as well as a library for children.

In 1968, the Alliance started providing language courses for adults and it then had 222 students in the evening classes; the resulting success was undeniable. In the meantime, the Alliance actively kept on spreading French culture with its program known as the « French Cinema Week» (1975), and the « European Cinema Week» (1977).

In September 1979, due to the dilapidation of the premises in Wavel Street, the Alliance had to move its location to the former ‘école normale supérieure’, located on Churchill Road.

Major construction works were then undertaken at the Wavel Street (hall, library) facilities. In January 1980, because the Ethiopian authorities put the seals on the door of the school located on Churchill Road, all activities were interrupted. The Alliance, which moved again in 1981 in the restored buildings of Wavel Street, had then 1200 students. In 1982, the Alliance was renamed « Alliance Ethio-Française of Addis Ababa » (AEF)… Until now, it is considered a centre for two cultures!

Ever since the Alliance gave up being a children’s school, the atmosphere has become of course studious but also friendly. The video-library, the library, the garden as well as the cultural and sport programs contribute to the attraction of a diversified audience.

Cultural activities at Alliance

The Alliance is considered one of the leading cultural institutions in the country, with almost 200 cultural events organized every year for a large audience.

Diversity is in place: concerts, ballet dance, contemporary dance, circus, conferences, azmari evenings or fashion shows are regularly organized.

However, the main artistic activity of the AEF remains the promotion of fine arts, through the organization of many exhibitions. The gallery of the Alliance is in fact one of the first and most active ones in Addis Ababa. All the styles are represented there and many exhibitions are still taking place.

Being ‘Française’, the Alliance promotes French culture and art, but also Francophone, especially in the political capital city of Africa!

But being ‘Ethio’, the Alliance has also the privilege to promote Ethiopian culture in all its diversity. How many young and talented artists have been recognized through Alliance!

Another example, in the musical field: the Alliance has organized “9 annual editions of the Festival of Ethiopian Music”. Moreover, the last three festivals have been recorded to make a promotional CD distributed in all the Alliances over the World!

Learn French and Amharic for French speakers at the Alliance

In the friendly place, the 22 French teachers of Alliance welcome, every year, around 3500 students in French, including adults and children. The students learn the French language and culture by interactive and communicative methods.

Each classroom is equipped with video and audio facilities and very soon we will install the interactive whiteboard to improve our teaching. Through this method, we have also the free tutoring for the individual following and the courses adapted to the specific needs especially for the diplomats and the companies. As an official examination center, the Alliance organizes the DELF / DALF and TEFAQ exams.

Learning French at Alliance is a real human and cultural experience!

The Libraries

Last but not least, the Alliance proposes three libraries in its compound.

You should come and discover our modern and various collections, for all, to take home or consult on site. Learn French interactively in our dedicated Learning center: 10 computers, modern software, audio, video and written studying materials are available.

Come to watch movies (more than 1000 DVD’s, most of them with English subtitles). Thrillers, comedy, child animation and much more, for everyone!

Listen to music (800 discs and more to come), from Reggae to Rock through Classical, French Ballads or Electronic Sounds. Thousands of books are available, not only classic literature but also comics and children stories.

And you should not miss our specialized sections such as Art or… Ethiopia!

More than 50 magazines per month to keep in touch with the news: Femme Actuelle, Marianne, Le Point, Jeune Afrique, Courrier international… The only cultural place in Addis for francophone and international culture. Free for on-site reading, starting from 60 ETB a year to borrow!

Just another reason to visit this great place in the heart of the city… Welcome!


The objectives of the Alliance Éthio-Française of Dire Dawa are to diffuse the French culture and French language at the eastern region of Ethiopia, and also develop the relationship between France and Ethiopia. The French language courses are given in different levels for adults in the evening session where as for the young and children every Saturday morning. An Amharic language class for foreigners began in October 2010 which in fact reflects our relationship of the two sisterly countries. The Alliance Éthio-Française of Dire Dawa is really proud to have a kindergarten with a total number of 150 small children everyday learning songs, numbers, color identification and certain simple French expressions.

French speaking students of the Alliance can come to our multimedia library which has over 1000 books; current magazines in French; multiple weekly news papers and magazines in Amharic. Thanks to our 200 DVDs, we present a wide choice of French films and documentaries to our public. The DVD films will be diffused in our cinema program.

The Dire Dawa Alliance Éthio-Française is the only cultural center in Dire Dawa which fully entertains the public almost free of charge by organizing a number of concerts and other activities all the year round. In the month of November 2010 we brought 3 internationally known musical bands and 1 “azmari” group. We offer promising chances for the youth of Dire-Dawa to bring forward their proposals on cultural activities like modeling, poems, drama and theatre. The Alliance Éthio-Française wishes to promote our local artists either in terms of materials or financially. Our “GALLERY’ is often available for photo and art exhibitions.


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