Desta was born in the town of Harrar, the son of a clergyman, Aleka Desta Nego. As a boy he played soccer and volleyball. Gebre Kristos also spent a lot of time copying and illustrating religious manuscripts while assisting his father as an apprentice. His early influence and introduction to art was the traditional religious art of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Desta worked as an independent artist in Addis Ababa, creating paintings representing poverty-stricken people in that city. In 1957 he earned a scholarship, and studied art at Werschule fur Bildende Kunste und Gestaltung in Cologne, West Germany. After graduation he continued painting in Ethiopia, and held his first solo exhibition at the School of Fine Arts in Addis Ababa.
Desta later joined the faculty of the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts.His art was displayed in many further exhibitions, both in Ethiopoia and abroad.Wikipedia