Fendika Cultural Center was established in 2016, but the original Fendika Azmari Bet opened its door in the early 1990s, when the neighborhood of Kazanchis sported 25 similar places. While the other azmari bets disappeared due to the pressure of Addis Ababa’s rapid development, Fendika has survived until today thanks to Melaku’s passion for Ethiopian music and dance, his belief in the power of art and creativity in building communities, enthusiastic attendance of concerts and events by local and international friends, and many other forms of support we have been blessed with (fundraising, invitations to music festivals, press coverage, etc.).
When Melaku began managing Fendika Azmari Bet in 2008, he pioneered a system where musicians and dancers at Fendika receive monthly salaries, breaking away from the custom where they only earned tips. Melaku had danced for tips only for 12 years and knows the pain of having to dance to please customers. The new compensation system enables artists to focus on creative expressions and to develop their talent.
Since 2009, Ethiocolor Traditional Band has been performing at Fendika Azmari Bet every other Friday, drawing standing-room-only crowds. At the same time, Fendika touring group has been sharing Ethiopian music and dance around the world.