Addis Ababa, 1991

Mengistu Haile Mariam was the leader of Ethiopia from 1977 to 1991 and chairman of the military junta that governed the country until his overthrow. During that time, Mengistu pursued an autocratic politics that led to thousands of Ethiopians being killed.

The statue of Vladimir Lenin in Addis Ababa was an important government monument representing Mengistu’s socialist influences. On 24 May 1991 — when Mengistu fled for refuge in Zimbabwe at the threat of rebel advance— the Lenin statue in Addis Ababa was pulled down. While still living in exile in Zimbabwe, Mengistu was tried and convicted between 1994 and 2006 for genocide.

Sam Durant, Addis Ababa, 1991 (2018) Graphite on paper, 117.8 x 172.7 cm. © Sam Durant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo. Photo: Makenzie Goodman