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Addis Abeba’s Vision of New City Library

Addis Ababa. (Photo via CNN)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 23rd, 2019

Addis Abeba’s City Administration Shares Vision of New City Library

New York (TADIAS) — Addis Abeba’s City Administration just shared its new vision for a city library and it’s impressive. In a recent tweet by Addis Standard, a brief video of the library plan reveals the project as scheduled to be built across from the Parliament building and situated on approximately 38,000 square meters of land. The city library is slated to have theater halls and meeting spaces as well as include an adult and children’s library sections.

Currently there are several children’s library initiatives including through the non-profit organizations Ethiopia Reads and Whiz Kids Workshop. To date Ethiopia Reads has launched over 80 public school and mobile libraries across the country, which serves over 100,000 children per year. Ethiopia Reads has also trained 150 librarians to date. The award-winning television series, Tsehai Loves Learning, launched by Whiz Kids Workshop has also expanded to include a classroom library project that provides children’s story books, flash cards, and 32 episodes of the TV series on DVD to enhance early childhood literacy skills.

For adult readers, a brief compilation of public and academic libraries in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abeba, which was published in Against the Grain (Vol 20, Issue 1) by Marie Paiva lists Addis Ababa University as housing a multi-branch academic library with over 500,000 items as well as the Addis Ababa Public Library that is accessible for all residents, which holds mostly text collections in English. There is still a great need for more libraries and related resources in the city as well as greater opportunities for librarian training. Addis Abeba’s new city library project is a positive step in the right direction, and we hope will include texts and content that are multi-lingual and extensively diverse in subject matters.

Spotlight: Ahmedin Mohamed Nasser’s Library Foundation For Ethiopia

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Tadias TV: Dr. Abeba Fekade at Women’s Day Event in Maryland

Dr. Abeba Fekade, Founder of the International Ethiopian Women’s Organization, was one of the guest speakers at the Women’s Day Event in Maryland hosted by Miss Africa USA 2011 at Nectar Lounge in Silver Spring on March 24th, 2012. (Image: Tadias video screen shot)

Tadias Magazine
By Tsedey Aragie

Updated: Monday, April 2, 2012

Washington, DC (TADIAS) – Last week’s Women’s Day Celebration in Silver Spring, Maryland hosted by Miss Africa USA 2011, Ghysaline Tchouga of Cameroon, featured various speakers including author Sonya Jackson Myles and Founder of the International Ethiopian Women’s Organization Dr. Abeba Fekade. The event was designed to highlight various current topics affecting women worldwide. Many of the speakers presented individual projects, which they said were intended to address issues concerning woman suffrage especially in Africa.

Dr. Abeba Fekade, who is also a psychologist and an adjunct professor at George Mason University, offered strong views about the continuing plight of female migrant domestic workers in the Middle East. Her opinions reflected the larger mood among Ethiopian women in the Diaspora following last month’s widely-publicized, videotaped beating and apparent suicide of Alem Dechassa, the young woman that was abused outside the Ethiopian embassy in Lebanon. I sat down with Dr. Abeba for an interview following her talk.


Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia

Ethiopia jumped 40 places in last year's press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders, which noted that over 250 previously banned websites and blogs are now running. And for the first time in 15 years no journalists are being held in connection with their work. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

June 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Below is a recent video from Reuters highlighting the growing free media environment in Ethiopia as well as the new challenges facing journalists and other professionals in the field including the public’s right to receive factual, timely and balanced news information.

As reuters reports: “Ethiopia was once ranked as one of the worst places in Africa to work as a journalist. It’s now trying to become a model for press freedom in the region.”

Addis Abeba resident Benega Teene spoke to Reuters and shared that “it’s good to have two sides of a story we should encourage that,” and noting “there are those who publish unrealistic stories and photographs.” Benega adds: “Since the transition we now have a platform to entertain all sides of ideas whether good or bad.”

Tolera Fikru, Managing Director of OMN tells Reuters: “Most of the people who work in lower ranks of government have limited understanding of media. We encounter lots of public outcry and when we try to take up these issues with them they either tend to avoid us or fail to respond properly.” He added: “This is one of the emerging challenges we’re facing.”


Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

Spotlight: VOA’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

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New Generation Leads Ethiopia’s Ambitious Reform Drive (Financial Times)

New generation with international experience appointed to turn around tightly controlled, state-led economy. (Photo: © AFP)


Ethiopia looks to young technocrats to lead ambitious reform drive

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has broken with tradition in Ethiopia by appointing young technocrats with international experience to important economic jobs as he seeks to turn the country’s tightly controlled, state-led economy into a competitive free market powered by private capital. 

The officials, including Eyob Tolina at the finance ministry, Abebe Abebayehu at the investment commission and Mamo Mihretu in the prime minister’s office, are leading the most ambitious aspects of Mr Abiy’s promised reforms, investors said. 

Since taking office a year ago, the reformist leader has promised to overhaul the Ethiopian economy and open previously blocked sectors, such as telecommunications and energy, to foreign investment. 

To succeed, his youthful disciples need to push reforms through Ethiopia’s sprawling bureaucracy and navigate conservative political officials in the ruling coalition, many of whom remain suspicious of relinquishing too much control of the economy after 28 years of state-led growth. 

For Mr Eyob, a former private equity executive and now state minister at the ministry of finance, the ruling party has no choice but to evolve. 

“We had public-led economic growth and it did run its course, it was obvious,” Mr Eyob told the Financial Times in an interview in Addis Ababa. “If you didn’t make some pragmatic decisions and shift the course, it would have been a full-blown crisis so you needed to avert that.” 

Read more »

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Ethiopia- Eritrea Filmmaker Refugee Stuck in Libya Amid Raging Civil War

At a refugee detention centre in Tripoli, Libya last month. (Photo: © UNHCR)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 15th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Abraha Taeme, who is in a refugee camp near Tripoli in Libya, has a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from a university in Ethiopia, and he has been sending out desperate calls for help through Facebook to whoever may listen to his plea. His heart-wrenching messages was recently forwarded to Tadias by an American filmmaker in California who happened to be researching human trafficking in the region and befriended Abraha through Facebook messenger.

Abraha says he was staying in Qasir bin Gashir detention center along with several hundred East African refugees, which he described as including “children, women and sick people among us” before he was transferred into another camp.

“Yesterday UNHCR transfer 140 refugees from Zahawia to the GDF and I am one of them,” he wrote last week. “Zahawia is dang near a death camp due to disease and IF they’re taken there ….they won’t get them because of fear of spreading infection.” He also mentioned that a local charity organization is helping to supply one meal a day as well as access to electricity. “These are the good news so far,” he adds. “About the war, still it is close to our center. Restless heavy weapons bursts close to our ears. We can’t get sleep. When we see the children and our sisters our hearts sunken in a deep grief. Literary they are shocked.”

According to AP: “The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive on Tripoli last month. His force, based in eastern Libya, is battling rival militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported government in the capital.”

Caught in the middle are foreign refugees like Abraha. Last month around 146 asylum-seekers arrived in Italy as part of a U.N.-backed humanitarian evacuation from Libya. The Associated Press notes that “the U.N. refugee agency says it’s the fifth such evacuation since 2017, though previous airlifts have taken migrants to Niger and elsewhere. Dozens of the asylum-seekers are minors, many of whom are unaccompanied. They hail from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Ethiopia.”

But Abraha was not among them and his Facebook friend Flip Webster of Jurupa Valley, California hopes that Ethiopian or the Eritrean government will step in to help or international media agencies like Voice of America could try to locate him.

Webster said Abraha is originally from Eritrea. “I am a refuge from Ethiopia (Addis Abeba) I was a film maker, I have BA Degree in Theater Arts,” Abraha wrote to Webster. “I was working with a lot of governmental and non-governmental organizations during my stay in Ethiopia.” He added: “I had my own theater and film company. Unfortunately right now I am here. What are my hopes? I spent two solid years here in Libya in a warehouses owned by smugglers. They hit us, gave us small portion of meal two times a day, no medication, even sun light was luxury.”

If you are able to assist Abraha to leave Libya you can contact Flip Webster at

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Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid

According to a new study released this week by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights "Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide," AP reports. (Photo: Global Apparel Forum)

The Associated Press

Correction: Ethiopia-Garment Workers’ Pay story

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — In a story May 7 about (topic), The Associated Press reported erroneously that the apparel retailer Gap sources clothing made in Ethiopia. Gap does not source clothing made in Ethiopia and the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights regrets its error in identifying Gap in its report about labor in Ethiopia.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid

Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are the world’s lowest paid at $26 a month


Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide, a new report says.

The report by the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, pursues a bold economic experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in its mushrooming industrial parks.

“The government’s eagerness to attract foreign investment led it to promote the lowest base wage in any garment-producing country — now set at the equivalent of $26 a month,” according to the authors of the report, Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly.

In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month, those in Kenya earn $207 and those in Bangladesh earn $95.

Drawn by the newly built industrial parks and a range of financial incentives, manufacturers for many international brands employ tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers in a sector the government predicts will one day have billions of dollars in sales.

The new report is based on a visit earlier this year to the flagship Hawassa Industrial Park that opened in June 2017 in southern Ethiopia and currently employs 25,000 people. Ethiopian leaders often show off the industrial park, 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Addis Ababa, to visiting foreign dignitaries.

According to the report, most young Ethiopian workers are hardly able to get by to the end of the month and are not able to support family members. “I’m left with nothing at the end of the month,” one factory worker, Ayelech Geletu, 21, told The Associated Press last year.

The minimum monthly living wage in Ethiopia is about $110), according to Ayele Gelan, a research economist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.

“Given relatively little training, restive employees have protested by stopping work or quitting altogether. Productivity in the Hawassa factories typically is low, while worker disillusionment and attrition are high,” the report says.

Ethiopian politics are also unexpectedly disrupting factory operations. “The Ethiopian government should address ethnic tension in Hawassa and elsewhere,” the report says.

It calls on the government to implement a long-term economic plan for strengthening the apparel industry and establish a minimum wage that ensures decent living conditions.

Abebe Abebayehu, head of Ethiopia’s Investment Commission, told the AP that most garment and apparel factories prefer to locate in places with low labor costs.

“If that was not the case, Chinese companies wouldn’t have come to Ethiopia,” Abebe said. He also questioned the report’s monthly pay figure of $26 per month: “That is a basic salary but in Ethiopia the factories also provide a workplace meal and other services.”

Follow Africa news at

Made in Ethiopia: Changes in Garment Industry’s New Frontier (NYU)

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Ethiopia to Extradite U.S. Murder Suspect

22-year-olds Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh were killed in Fairfax County, Virginia in December 2016. The suspect Yohannes Nesibu who fled to Ethiopia soon after the incident is set to be extradited to face murder charges in the U.S. (Image:

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 26th, 2019

The Story Behind Yohannes Nesibu’s Imminent Extradition From Ethiopia to U.S.

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember this shocking and disturbing story of a brutal double murder in Virginia two and half years ago involving Ethiopian victims Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh, both 22, of Fairfax County. The suspect Yohannes Nesibu had escaped to Ethiopia and was seen roaming around Addis Abeba, freely club-hopping and sharing his adventures on social media.

As The Washington Post put it succinctly at the time: “After a young couple was killed, the alleged gunman fled to Ethiopia. He may never face trial.”

That’s about to change as Ethiopia prepares to extradite Yohannes Nesibu, who is currently under detention, to the U.S. According to the spokesperson for the office of Ethiopia’s Attorney General who spoke with the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting the decision to extradite Yohannes was made following “the request of the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division for his extradition.”

Henok Yohannes (left) and Kedest Simeneh. (fox5dc)

“Authorities are confident they know who carried out the brutal double slaying in Northern Virginia last December. A witness places an aspiring rapper at the scenes of the killings,” The Washington Post had noted in its October 2017 article. “A Fairfax grand jury indicted him for murder. Detectives know where he lives. Nessibu is out of reach because he boarded a flight to his native Ethi­o­pia, just before police closed in on him…Kedest’s family said detectives told them Nessibu paid about $3,000 in cash for a one-way plane ticket from Dulles International Airport to Addis Ababa, leaving the same day Kedest’s body was found.”

Fana added: “His extradition also took into account his nationality, the pledge made by the U.S. to treat him properly and the positive cooperation currently existed between the two countries in the justice sector.”

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Music: Dexter Story’s ‘Bahir’ Featuring Hamelmal Abate is Tribute to Ethiopia

Dexter Story's new album features mesmerizing collaborations with diverse artists including Kibrom Birhane, Sudan Archives, Haile Supreme, Hamelmal Abate and Endeguena Mulu. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 22nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — One of the most captivating songs on Dexter Story’s latest album Bahir is called Shuruba, which is performed by the award-winning Ethiopian singer Hamelmal Abate.

“The songs are informed by my recent graduate studies on Africa and Ethnomusicology, and they feature vocalists and musicians whom I deeply respect and admire,” says Dexter who is a student at UCLA. In a recent interview with Afropunk the American musician also named Tilahun Gessesse, Bezunesh Bekele, Asnaketch Worku and Mahmoud Ahmed as some of his artistic influences.

“In light of the recent plane fatalities in Ethiopia and our nation’s focus building walls as opposed to bridges, I hope that Bahir touches hearts and brings a small measure of peace and healing to these challenging times,” Dexter added. “I am humbled by the positive response it has gotten and am grateful to everyone who has taken a moment to listen.”

In his interview with Afropunk Dexter shared that he initially saw Hamelmal perform live in L.A. during an Enkutatash celebration a few years back. “I watched her work the band and the audience into an incredibly high energy, while maintaining her poise and intonation to perfection,” he said. “She is from the beautiful multi-ethnic Eastern city of Harar and is considered one of the queens of Ethiopian music. I feel incredibly lucky that she is on Bahir.”

The other songs on Dexter’s new album include Techawit, Bila (featuring Kibrom Birhane), Gold (Sudan Archives), Ras (Haile Supreme), Mamdooh, Buna Be Chow (Jimetta Rose), Electric Gurage, Jijiga Jijiya (Marie Daulne), Chemin De Fer, Desta’s Groove, Shuruba Song (Hamelmal Abate), Bahir (Endeguena Mulu),
Abebaye (Marie Daulne).

As Afropunk notes: “Since beginning to record under his own name in 2012, Story has favored a kind of pan-African jazz/funk sound, drawing upon both the great LA music community and his ethnographic studies for inspiration and musical muscle. And the one sound that he’s taken to more than others, is the music of Ethiopia.”

You can learn more about Dexter Story and his new powerful album at

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Spotlight: Afetarik (አፈታሪክ), A Digital Archive Collects Voices of Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa. (Photo by Dawit Tibebu)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 14th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – A new online digital archive is being launched to collect and share an oral history of Addis Ababa as told through people from around the world who consider Ethiopia’s capital city to be their hometown.

The community-sharing site, which is aptly named Afetarik (አፈታሪክ), Amharic for oral history, notes that Addis Ababa like many other major metropolitan cities has many neighborhoods with their own distinct flavors and cultures.

“Since its establishment in 1886, and its progress from a town to the capital city of Ethiopia between 1889 and 1891, Addis Abeba continues to flourish and accommodate its growing population,” states the portal founded by Meareg Tesfazghi. “As Addis Abeba’s quarters and neighborhoods have expanded over the years their names have evolved as well, taking on the stories of those who inhabit them.” The event organizers note that the website “is an opportunity for Addis-Abebawians to participate in the documentation of their own oral history.”

The official launch event for the new site will take place on Saturday, March 16th in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“Guest will discover a number of interactive exhibits that are synonymous with life in Addis. Take a ride on the Lion Bus (አነበሳ፡አወቶቡስ) or taxi(ላዳ), get some groceries at the pop-up shop (ጉልተ or ሱቅ፡በደረቴ), get your shoes shined (ልሰተሮ), or just have a glass of honey wine (ጠጅ፡ቤት).”

If You Go:
Afetarik (አፈታሪክ) Launch Event
Date: March 16, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Location: Silver Spring Civic Building
Address: 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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Spotlight: Ethiopian Sirak Seyoum Ready to Climb Mount Everest

High altitude climber Sirak Seyoum, photographed in Peru three years ago, is scheduled to climb Mount Everest from April to June 2019. What’s more Sirak’s fundraising will also help Addis Abeba City Administration’s new trust fund to assist street children. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 5th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – His goal is to climb to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth, and plant an Ethiopian flag to exemplify this new era of optimism and change in Ethiopia. If he succeeds Sirak Seyoum, an Electrical Engineer from Nevada and an elite high altitude climber, will become the first Ethiopian to conquer the world’s tallest mountain, which has been in his sights for the past ten years.

Sirak first shared his adventures as an avid mountain climber with Tadias in August 2009. “I knew after climbing my first peak, I have found my passion,” he told us then. “A passion similar to life itself, life doesn’t stop if the going gets hard, we simply rise up and keep moving.”

Reflecting on his aspirations to climb Everest Sirak had vowed: “Practice will be my top priority until the day comes for me to do this mission.”

And practice he has for more than a decade, trekking faraway peaks from Mt. Chopicalqui and Mt. Pisco in South America to White Pinnacle in Nevada, USA. “He is the only Ethiopian who has already conquered so many mountain peaks in some of the remotest parts of the world, where the Ethiopian flag was quietly raised at the highest points of continental regions,” states Sirak’s fundraising page. “He is taking 11 years worth of extreme mountain climbing experience, to the top of the world April-June 2019.”

What’s more Sirak’s fundraising will also help Addis Abeba City Administration’s new trust fund to assist street children.

“As part of the recent socio-political change sweeping through Ethiopia, Addis Abeba City Administration has launched a trust fund that began the work of caring for 2865 street children (as of March 1, 2019) who flood in from regional states with no means for survival,” the announcement said. “Sirak has arranged with the city government to donate 10% of all funds raised to support this initiative.”

You can learn more and support Sirak at

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Regarding The History of Ethiopic Computing by Fesseha Atlaw (Op-Ed)

In the following OP-Ed Ethiopian-American engineer Fesseha Atlaw responds to readers questions and highlights some important points regarding the history of Ethiopic computing. (Courtesy Photo: Fesseha Atlaw hosting the first Ethiopic software workshop at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa in the mid 1980s.)

Tadias Magazine

By Fesseha Atlaw

February 19th, 2019

The History of Ethiopic Computing: The process of Development; The Key Players; The Patent Process

Santa Rosa, California (TADIAS) — Many individuals have contacted me after the Tadias article on the genesis of Ethiopic computing have been published in 2018.

The majority of the e-mails I received were congratulatory and “Thank you” and some even referred to me as “our hero”. Just to note a few , :

I was a member of the delegation that visited you at Stanford way back in 1987(?) and the follow up of your demonstration at Hilton Hotel in Addis Abeba. So many claimant innovators have popped up since then claiming discovery of an update Geez Script for Computer. As far as I remember I think you are one of the earliest pioneers to introduce the Ethiopian/ethiopic script …. “

Another heart warming e-mail I received from a totally blind reader in Ethiopia who was able to use the Unicode supported technology that allowed him for the computer to read the Amharic text and also allowed him to dictate to the computer to write in Amharic… He said :

ለታዲያስ መጽሄት የሰጠኸውን ስለEthiopic software የተመለከተ ቃለምልልስ አንብቤ በጣም ደስ አለኝ። በተለይ ኢትዮጵያውያን እንደ አንተ ያሉ ታሪካችን እና ባህላችን በቋንቋችን ተጽፎ በDigital ዘመን ተመዝግቦ እንዲቀመጥ ያስቻሉ ለአስርት አመታት የታገሉ ሰዎች መኖራቸውን ሳውቅ እድለኞች ነን አልኩ።እኔ ማየት የተሳነኝ ኢትዮጵያዊ ስለሆንኩ በአማርኛ እየጻፍኩ ኮምፒውተሩ በአማርኛ እያነበበልኝ፤ ስልኬ በአማርኛ ማን እንደደወለ እየነገረኝ ወዘተርፈ የቴክኖሎጂው ትሩፋት ዋነኛ ተጠቃሚ ሆኛለሁ።

I am thankful and humbled by these kinds of words and generous comments. However, I still feel there is a need to clarify and to accurately chronicle the history of digitization of Ethiopic computing. Unfortunately other news media (print and video) have a tendency to exaggerate and write about some technical matter without careful investigation. There were some who seem to be confused about the actual history and as to what exactly was done and who were the players. Some have asked me, if I had secured a “PATENT” or “Copyright”.

Here are some of the questions I received and my reply:

What was the process of developing “Ethiopic/Amharic” software in the 1980’s?

In the 1980’s I was working as an engineer for Hewlett-Packard, the largest technology company to this day. We didn’t have graphical User interface like WINDOWS or a mouse. The main use of computers at that time was to do word processing. (Writing a letter, a report or books etc) The operating system was called DOS (Disk operating system) programs come on a floppy disk and loaded onto a computer thru a disk drive.

The technical process of developing Ethiopic font-sets to work with computers is not as difficult as one thinks. Many talk about “inventions” or “discovery” etc … I have always discouraged people from referring the accomplishment and the development process as “Invention”. Unfortunately many in the general public don’t understand the detail process and see it that way. This has been made worse by some mass media hype and exaggeration and some claimant using the term “invention.” I also understand what digitizing Ethiopic meant for our language and the preservation of our collective heritage. I am proud of the fact I had any part in pioneering and contributing to such a project that will impact the Ethiopian society for generations.

To describe the process in brief, what we have done is to design Ethiopic fonts and insert them in computer programs as one of the fonts. Of course in the 1980’s that was not an easy task because the accessibility of computer programs, upload and download processes were very limited. (It was called load a program—- There was hardly any internet connection— no e-mails; no social media)

The biggest challenge was designing fonts for the limited character space (8X8) of computers at that time. All English alphabets can fit on a 8 by 8 grid, but the limited space was not suited for some Ethiopic characters. So, for example, fitting wide alphabets like ጬ was difficult.

Another challenge was the number of Ethiopic characters. At that time Latin alphabet (English and others) enjoyed the luxury of having only 26 characters —while Ethiopian alphabet was about 270). The manual Amharic type shown in the picture made up almost the entire alphabet using vowel marks.

Fortunately I was involved in the Unicode Technical Symposium early enough where I was part of the discussion of expanding computer encoding system from Ascii to Unicode and changing the name of the script from “Amharic” to its original name as Ethiopic so as to represent all language groups in Ethiopia.

Unicode is an international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts, by which each letter, digit, or symbol is assigned a unique numeric value that applies across different platforms and programs. Or Unicode is a digital code for computers that lets them show text in different languages. Unicode standards are promoted by the Unicode Consortium and based on ISO standards.

I worked with Joe Becker, the founder of the Unicode Technical Consortium, to provide the first Ethiopic Proposal to the consortium representing both Dashen Engineering and Hewlett Packard. The consortium participants were computer scientists from all major high tech companies like Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook etc as well as participants from governments like India, Malaysia, etc. Here is the membership list: In 2018 I was nominated to get the title of “LIFE TIME Unicode Member” I am grateful and proud to represent Ethiopian script being the only African member of the Unicode in its history.

If there is anything that took a lot of push and stamina, it was calling the script “ETHIOPIC” rather than Amharic. I am most proud of that more than any of my contributions and starting a process to add more non-Amharic fronts to the unicode such as ቐ (Tigrigna) ፤ ዸ (For Afaan Oromo), etc. As the Unicode consortium member and owner of Dashen Engineering I received recommendations from many non-Amharic users in Ethiopia and adding new characters.

So here is the Unicode encoding scheme permanently embedded in all computers (new or old):

Basic Latin Range: 0000–007F
Greek and Coptic Range: 0370–03FF
Katakana (Japanese) Range: 30A0–30FF
Ethiopic Range: 1200–137F

So “ሀ” is represented by 1200 and ሁ 1201 ሂ 1203 etc all the
Reserved for about 384 characters for Ethiopian languages :
አማርኛ ፤ ትግርኛ ፤ አፋን ኦሮሞ ፤ ከፋ፤ ጋሞ Gamo-Gofa-Dawro Basketo
Gumuz have been included : New Characters that were not part
of the Amharic typing system (Amharic Type writer ) have been
added Examples of the new Characters are : ቐ ዸ ꬁ ꬖ ጜ ጛ)

Were there others who were working on digitizing Ethiopic at that time? If so who were the key players? What makes your unique and why is your name mentioned at the forefront? How about others? Did you patent the software?

The short answer is, YES there were many others who were working on “Amharic Word Processor” about the same time as me or later-on. I started my research around 1982 and had the first usable Amharic word processor in 1985 that has been released to the general public. But others were released to the market soon afterwards.

The Ethiopian Science and Technology commission, under the late commissioner Ato Abebe Muluneh, had been tasked with developing an Amharic word processor by the Mengistu government and and they had demonstrated a working model around 1989 shortly after my demonstration at Addis Abeba Hilton. Others who worked on Ethiopic/Amharic word processor and should be recognized include: Dr. Yitna Firdyiwoq (Virginia), Daniel Admassie (Ethiopia Science & Technology), the late Feqade Mesfin (Los Angeles), Abass Alemneh (Texas) and Yemane Russom (Texas).

There are many more names of developers that came later and who have contributed to the Ethiopic digitization, but the above names stand out as early researchers and each of them had complete usable products.

I am also aware there are people who claim being early pioneers and writing their own Wikipedia pages. Unfortunately the ever growing Ethiopia media grab such claimants and mislead the general public (much the same way as they have done with rampant stories and interviews of the Dr. Engineer ZeMichael did). I wish our media develops the culture of due diligence and doing their homework of what exactly happened and when and report it accordingly.

I like to focus on the many positive achievements of Ethiopians and some non-Ethiopian that are working hard developing applications for our script. I am impressed by many new and young Ethiopic Digital application developers who are doing amazing and creative work but shy away from the media limelight and
don’t even want their names to be mentioned.

Some ask “Do you have patent or copyright protection for your early work?

The original MLS Ethiopic Word Processor I (as a founder of Dashen Engineering) had developed has been Copyrighted since 1985. Software is not generally patentable as such. However some typing mechanisms/schemes are patentable. There are several individuals who hold “Amharic/Ethiopic” typing method or KEYBOARDING patents. While these are legitimate patents they are easily misunderstood on what they mean. I have helped few young people apply for Ethiopic Keyboarding Patents on new method of typing. In fact any new scheme of typing/Keyboarding can be submitted for a patent in the US quite easily. There is a free software tool available from Keyman and others that allows anyone to come up with new Ethiopic (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, etc) Keyboarding method and submit that to PATENT office. I know some people who developed a new Keyboarding method to meet a certain needs in less than a week and submitted it for patent. There are many people who still are working to come up with a new “keyboarding scheme for Amharic and other languages. The tools are available to allow any non-technical person to design a unique keyboarding method and can easily patent it. These tools are listed on website. I like to emphasize that these patents should Not prevent from coming up with new application of Ethiopic.

The patents are given for a unique method of keyboarding (typing) for example using (“ha” or “H” or “h” to type “ሀ”). The Ethiopic Unicode assignment is FREE to anyone who wants to develop an app or use Ethiopic in anyway. In fact I have heard stories that new developers were being harassed and attempts were made to discourage them from using Ethiopic in new apps.

On the other hand those who design fonts can legitimately claim ownership of their artistic efforts in designing fonts and assign them to the Unicode. The two major font designers are Ato Abass Alemneh of EthioSystems ( and Ato Solomon Hailu ( have done a great work in designing creative Ethiopic fonts.

Recently, you were quoted, in one Ethiopian magazine, as making a call to the Oromo Intellectuals to use Ethiopic/Geez . “ …..የኦሮሞ ምሁራን የግዕዝ ፊደላትን እንዲጠቀሙ ጥሪ አቀርባለሁ….” What is your opinion on the Afaan Oromo writing system using Latin?

Yes, the magazine in Ethiopia extracted some of the Tadias interview and reprinted it in Amharic. However I want to clarify some issues. I never gave an interview to this particular magazine. Most of what they printed was correct but there were lots of exaggerations and some factual errors. All in all what they wrote was mostly correct and reflects my views also.

Some people call the alphabet – Amharic. The correct term is Ethiopic or “Ethiopian Alphabet.” 30 years ago during my participation in the UNICODE committee, I helped push for the adoption of the name “ETHIOPIC” as a name to be recognized for all computer systems. The computer knows the alphabet as Ethiopic not as “Amarigna”. In doing so, it was important we include special characters that were left out in the old Amharic type writer (such as: for “ ቐ” Tigrigna and for “ዸ”Afaan Oromo). So using the term Ethiopic is correct in that the alphabet belongs to all Ethiopians. Because of the Unicode there are many new software applications are developed in Ethiopic (such as Google Translate; Web Translate; text to speech and speech to text applications, etc). We now have computer languages and Operation systems in Amharic and other languages that use Ethiopic characters.

In the 1970’s the concern of many Oromo intellectuals about the growth and development of Afaan Oromo with computer technology was legitimate. Selecting the use of an already existing Latin alphabet was an advantage. Yes, in the 70’s most of computing was done in the English language- using Latin alphabet. Now that is no longer the case— thanks to the Unicode organization, almost all world languages that have a well develop script system have been included in all computers. From technical point of view, using Ethiopic to write Afaan Oromo is much more efficient and will ensure the rich language and literature of the Oromo develop faster. I give this advice as a technical person and do not get involved in political reasons. It is my strong belief that the decision rests entirely on the Oromo speaking people and no one else.

How Ethiopic Script Was Introduced to Modern Computers: Interview with Fesseha Atlaw

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Spotlight: Generation ‘Anbessa’ New Ethiopia Movie at Berlin Film Festival

'Anbessa' is making its world premier at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 11th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The 2019 Berlin Film Festival is underway this week and the Generation section of the program features a new film from Ethiopia titled Anbessa, which is executive produced by model and humanitarian Gelila Bekele. In the film a young boy from the Ethiopian countryside named Abisef recreates himself as a lionheart hero in response to the unsettling modernization and construction that is altering his life and community forever.

“You know, hyenas aren’t the bad ones,” his mother tells Abisef in one poignant conversation referring to the people from the city who want to buy her home so they can develop condos. “These days it’s humans you should fear.”

In a review titled ‘Anbessa’ Critiques a Country through the Eyes of a Child,’ Redmond Bacon points out that : Anbessa is the Ethiopian word for “Lion” — a creature accorded symbolic status in the country’s mythology. The Lion of Judah, for example, was used on their old imperial flags and currency, and can still be found around the streets of Addis Abeba today. It is also strongly related to Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s defining figure that Abisef often swears by. Thus, by dressing up as a lion and pretending to banish the hyenas — a metaphor for the land dealers who want to take his house — Abisef stands strong as a symbol of the country’s pride under such hardship.”

The website for the 2019 Berlin Film Festival adds: “Abisef and his mother defy the newly-built housing estate which is like all the other ones springing up all over Ethiopia and continue their life within the traditional village community: grazing their animals, tending their gardens and picking fruit off the trees. Abisef’s hut lacks electricity, but the windows of the surrounding high-rises outshine the moon at night. Abisef scours the new city’s streets for electro-junk and builds a spaceship with an engine. His mother recounts ancient legends. Real estate developers buy up more land. Abisef feels increasingly threatened, stalked by the invisible hyena that haunts the area. With a sensitive grasp of her protagonist’s emotional reality, the documentary filmmaker and camerawoman Mo Scarpelli traces Abisef’s transformation into Anbessa, the lion.”

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Edelawit Hussien’s New Film Reflects on Her Generation in Ethiopia & Diaspora

Filmmaker Edelawit Hussien. (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Edelawit Hussien, a 23-year-old Ethiopian filmmaker who is living between New York and Berlin recently shared her upcoming short film with Tadias, which follows three Addis Abeba-based teenagers on a road trip to Lake Langano.

“My work aims to explore dual identity and global exchange motivated by my Ethiopian upbringing within an American context,” Edelawit tells Tadias.

“After graduating from New York University where I studied politics, film, and African studies, I worked within the commercial and branded film sphere before relocating to Berlin to exclusively work on independent filmmaking.”

The film tilted Wallahi, I Will Be Somebody “takes inspiration from the energy of Ethiopia today, a time of excitement and change,” Edelawit adds. “With its growing art community, young people are looking to connect the traditional with the modern as well as build a bridge between Ethiopians within the nation and in the Diaspora. These endeavors have manifested into music, art, fashion, culture and cinema.”

In the short film the three teenagers — Tefera, Omar and Miki — are in an uncertain stage of their lives, “that youth all over the world experience,” explains Edelawit. The film’s Indiegogo page describes how “this uncertainty ranges from how they will make a living, and what kind of life they see for themselves, to how to maintain the joys of their youth.”

According to the project’s website, as the audience, we will also “see how their surrounding affects them as the city evolves and as do the residents. Through a series of vignettes, we are transported in time and space from an elderly couple drinking macchiatos at a Piazza cafe to kids selling toys at a busy roundabout. With poetic moving image chopped throughout the work, the film carries an experimental twist in its meditation on the changing notions of culture, city landscape and societal expectation through an honest look at the youth experience in this evolving time.”

Edelawit shares that the film’s producer is 28-year-old Ethiopian-Swedish Adelia Shiffraw who is currently working in commercial and film production sector in New York City. The filmmaker describes Adelia as an artist who “supports the amplification of minority voices and the preservation of their stories and experiences through film with particular interest in narratives exploring race and representation in a global context.”

Why are they making this particular film?

Edelawit quotes from a play by Suzan-Lori Parks’ noting: “You should write it down because if you don’t write it down then they will come along and tell the future that we did not exist.”

You can learn more about Edelawit Hussien’s new film and support her fundraising campaign at

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Spotlight: Emahoy Tsegue Mariam Guebru’s New CD and Last Recordings

(Photo courtesy of The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation) )

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 11th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — The renowned classical pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru has released her last recordings, a CD of new compositions called The Visionary.

The Ethiopian nun, who turns 95 years old this year, lives inside the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem. She gained international following after her solo compositions were published in the Ethiopiques 21 CD series by the French label Buda Musique ten years ago.

The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation announced that her latest album, which was issued in February, is self published in limited edition and only a few hundred copies are available via the foundation’s website.

Born as Yewubdar Gebru in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923 Emahoy Tsege Mariam fled communist Ethiopia in the 1980′s for a solitary life in Jerusalem playing piano everyday, seven days a week. Her greatest compositions include the “Homeless Wanderer,” a beautiful and pensive piece that is reflective of all her other works.

Some of the tracks in her new CD, “The Visionary,” include: Have you seen Assayehegn?, Extract from Rainbow Sonata, Woigaye, don’t cry anymore, Farewell Eve, Famine Disaster 1974 , Homage to Ludwig Beethoven, Jerusalem, The Phantom, Reverie, Quo Vadis, Ave Maria and Quand la Mer Furieuse.

Regarding her fascinating life story it is fair to say that Emahoy has seen it all when it comes to the ups and downs of the turbulent history of modern Ethiopia in the past nine decades. As a teenager in the late 1930′s her family “was taken as prisoners of war by the Italians and deported to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples,” shares The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation. “After the war, Yewubdar resumed her musical studies in Cairo, under a Polish violinist named Alexander Kontorowicz. Yewubdar returned to Ethiopia accompanied by Kontorowicz and she served as an administrative assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later in the Imperial Body Guard where Kontorowicz was appointed by Emperor Haile Selassie as music director of the band.”

Later, young Yewubdar, who grew up in a privileged family (her father was Kentiba Gebru) and studied violin in Switzerland as a young girl, “secretly fled Addis Abeba at the age of 19 to enter the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wello region where she had once before visited with her mother,” the foundation adds. “She served two years in the monastery and was ordained a nun at the age of 21. She took on the title Emahoy and her name was changed to Tsege Mariam.”

Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam – The Homeless Wanderer from aloido on Vimeo.

In the 1960s Emahoy had studied Saint Yared’s 6th-century music in Gondar. And barely a decade later she would survive the mayhem following the 1970′s communist revolution. Emahoy’s first record was released in 1967 in Germany through the assistance of Emperor Haile Selassie with subsequent piano compositions released in 1973, the proceeds of which were used to assist orphanages.

At Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s request both her published and unpublished compositions have been donated to her foundation to continue to provide disadvantaged children with the opportunities to study classical and jazz musical genres.

“Her life is full of teaching moments for young people, artists and students,” said her niece Hanna M. Kebbede, who resides in Falls Church, Virginia. “She has endured a lot. It is a uniquely Ethiopian story, but at the same time the lessons are universal.”

You can learn more and buy the new CD at

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

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Book Review of ‘Struggle From Afar’: Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw Interviews Ethiopian Women Activists

Cover of the new book 'Struggle From Afar' by Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw. (Courtesy of Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

January 22nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — In her newly published book Struggle From Afar the late educator and social justice activist Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, who passed way two years ago, left behind a gem for future researchers by meticulously documenting the history of Ethiopian women grassroots activism in the Diaspora.

In Struggle From Afar Dr. Maigenet also debunks the myth that Ethiopian female millennials are not as passionate about human rights issues as their parents’ generation or their male counterparts. “It would be unfair to say that, unlike our generation, all young Ethiopians are disinterested in social justice movements,” she writes, emphasizing that as one young Ethiopian woman told her that today they simply follow a “different platform.” Dr. Maigenet explains that a “different platform” meant “focus on the humanitarian component of social activism.”

Women activists interviewed and featured in the book include former opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa as well as the acclaimed actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo. In addition, Dr. Maigenet also highlights intimate conversations with several women across various fields including Abeba Fekade, Berhane Ras-Work, Fekerte Gebremariam, Lemlem Tsegaw, Mary Tadesse, Meqdes Mesfin, Meron Ahadu, Tsehai Berhane-Selassie and Wessenyelesh Debela.

“When I interviewed the women activists for this book their political views was not my primary interest,” Dr. Maigenet states. “I was only interested in what motivated them to become activists to work on peace, democracy and human rights issues.” She adds: “I was also interested, for those who were political activists, what challenges they had in participating in the male-dominated arena of political activism.”

Moreover, Dr. Maigenet cites American civil rights hero Rosa Parks as an international role model of the power of nonviolent noncooperation and resistance by individual citizens that changed the course of history in their own countries and beyond.

Another remarkable person mentioned in the book is British suffragette leader Sylvia Pankurst (1882-1960), who became a lifelong advocate for Ethiopia because of her strong opposition to fascism during World War II. “She marched, spoke in conferences, and argued with members of the British Parliament against Italian fascism and the invasion of Ethiopia,” Dr. Maigenet points out. “She founded the New Times and Ethiopia News, which was published in London in the 1930′s. She later turned the paper into the Ethiopia Observer, published in Addis Ababa, after the end of the Italian occupation.” Sylvia Pankurst eventually moved to Ethiopia where she lived until her death on September 27th, 1960 and was buried in Addis Ababa with great honor. Dr. Maigenet noted: “This is an exemplary example of disciplined and sustained peaceful resistance.”

Dr. Maigenet passed away at the age of 68 on February 24th 2016. She was an Associate Professor in adult education at the University of the District of Columbia for 20 years. She also worked as an education consultant at the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Education.

The book Struggle From Afar is published by Fanos Books (a TSEHAI imprint) for the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), which Dr. Maigenet helped establish and served as its President at the time of her passing, and with a foreword by her husband Professor Getachew Metaferia.

CREW will be hosting a book release event this coming weekend in Silver Spring, Maryland.

If You Go:
Book release: ‘Struggle From Afar’
Saturday, January 27th, 2018
Doors open at 4PM
Silver Spring Civic Center
Silver Spring, Maryland

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UPDATED: Conversation on Decolonization of Ethiopian Knowledge — Addis Standard

This opinion article has been updated with links to new comments at the bottom. (Photo from the Addis Abeba Ethnographic Museum)

Addis Standard

By Abadir Ibrahim


Addis Abeba – In an opinion piece published on a previous issue of Addis Standard, Hewan Semon proposed a conversation on the decolonization of Ethiopian studies. As much as I would have liked to take this conversation into my areas of interest (human rights, democracy and the modern Ethiopian/African state) I will stay closer to Hewan’s framing for now. I will only ask further questions, raise some concerns and bring up one critique hoping to spur conversations into my fields of interest.

Colonialism: in the Rearview Mirror?

As an outsider to Ethiopian studies reading a critical take on the field, my first question was whether we needed the field in the first place. Hewan’s call for decolonization suggests that Ethiopian studies, or African studies in general, have and still are growing on colonial roots. Rather than grafting Ethiopian branches on the field, wouldn’t it make sense to simply find other, for example thematic, ways of organizing the study of Ethiopia?

The author’s protest against colonial scholarship is that it constructs Africans in simplified and caricatured ways that make colonization palatable or even necessary. One could assume that such a gross misrepresentation of Africans/Ethiopians did not occur merely due to methodological errors. The colonial roots of Ethiopian/African studies, in all probability, emerged from a complex set of corporate, military, academic and bureaucratic interests that found, sustain and benefit from the systematic and by no means inexpensive study of Ethiopia/Africa. Given how the author expresses frustration over Ethiopian studies taking place in English and French, because scholars would not find (foreign!) funding if they used local languages, the question remains as to whether the field is still a foreign endeavor to study Ethiopia.

More follow-up questions arise when you open up the topic of decolonization beyond the humanities and social sciences. The article alludes to how Ethiopians uncritically jumped on the [colonial] bandwagons of modernization, human rights, ethnicity, development and nationalism. One could ask whether, or to what extent, any of these should also be decolonized.

Read more »


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Update on Deadly Ethiopia Prison Fire

Officials in Ethiopia have confirmed that twenty-three people died when a fire broke out at Qilinto maximum security prison near Addis Abeba on Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 (Photo: Addis Fortune)

BBC News

Updated: September 5th, 2016

Ethiopia’s government has confirmed that 23 people died when fire broke out in a prison where prominent anti-government protesters are reportedly being held.

A statement from the government affairs communications team says 21 inmates died due to stampede and suffocation while two others were killed as they tried to escape Qilinto prison, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa on Saturday.

But some local media have disputed the account citing unnamed witnesses who claim to have seen prisoners being shot by prison wardens.

Read more at BBC News »

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Deadly fires are being reported in several high-security prisons across Ethiopia including in Addis Ababa and Debre Tabor towns. Ethiopia-based Addis Fortune reported: “The Qilinto maximum security prison [which holds high profile prisoners including opposition leader Bekele Gerba], located in southern Addis Abeba, caught fire this morning. Intensive gunfire ensued following the fire accident, creating a tense situation among local residents in the area.”

Other social media reports on Facebook and Twitter say an “unknown number of inmates are feared dead during a fire at Debre Tabor prison” in Gondar.

Debre Tabor prison house is on fire! #Ethiopia. (Picture via Twitter)

Footage: Fire broke out at Debre Tabor Prison

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Ethiopia Charges Opposition Leader Professor Bekele Gerba With Terrorism

55-year-old foreign language professor and Ethiopian opposition leader Professor Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

Addis Standard

By Mahlet Fasil

Prosecutors have today charged 22 individuals, including prominent opposition member Bekele Gerba, first secretary general of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), with various articles of Ethiopia’s much criticized Anti Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Addis Standard could not obtain details of the charges as of yet.

However, charges include, but not limited to, alleged membership of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), public incitement, encouraging violence, as well as causing the death of innocent civilians and property destructions in cities such as Ambo and Adama, 120km west and 100km east of Addis Abeba during the recent Oromo protests in Ethiopia.

As per the decision during the last hearing, defendants were expected to appear at the Arada First Instance Court this afternoon, but were instead taken to the Federal High Court 19th criminal bench this morning. The court adjourned the next hearing until Tuesday April 26th…

Although Bekele Gerba were represented by lawyer Wondmu Ebbissa during the last five court appearances that took place at the Arada First Instance Court, today’s hearing in which the charges were read to the defendants happened with neither Wondmu nor any public defendant present, the reason why the court adjourned the next appearance until Tuesday April 26th. The next hearing is also scheduled to help six of the 22 defendants who spoke only in Afaan Oromo to come up with interpreters.

Read more »

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Interview With Hanna M. Kebbede, CEO of Emahoy Music Foundation

Hanna M. Kebbede, CEO of Emahoy Music Foundation, with her aunt Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, April 10th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In 1998 the renowned Israel-based Ethiopian nun, composer, and pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, who was then 75, wrote a pleading letter to her niece in the United States imploring her for assistance in promoting her music. Since then, thanks in large part to the determination of Hanna M. Kebbede — her niece who resides in Falls Church, Virginia — Emahoy’s music has reached an international audience. A compilation of her work was released on the Éthiopiques (Volume 21) CD series in 2006. And now Hanna, who also heads the Emahoy Music Foundation, is preparing to produce a documentary film about her aunt’s fascinating life, spanning more than nine decades and three continents.

“At the time that Emahoy had requested my help she had just lost two of her three surviving sisters, including my mother, within a 6-month period,” Hanna recalled speaking about the letter she received 18 years ago that inspired her to assist her aunt. “She was worried that she may not have much time left of her own and wanted me to distribute her music before she died. She had saved her stipend from the monastery to pay for it and used the proceeds to rebuild a church in Jericho,” Hanna told Tadias.

It would take Hanna another three years before she got in touch with Francis Falceto from the French label Buda Musique — producers of the extensive éthiopiques CD collection. The label agreed to issue Emahoy’s Piano Solo in its 21st volume, and since then Hanna has established the Emahoy Music Foundation, that runs an annual music camp in the summer for children aged 6-12 as well as provide scholarships for low-income kids to receive private music lessons.

“We also invite musicians to play Emahoy’s music to keep her legacy alive,” Hanna added. “We collaborate with other organizations and fund projects related to young people and education. For example, in 2014 we made a financial contribution to a youth program in Ethiopia through the Wegene Foundation.”

In addition, the foundation fields numerous requests for music licensing (Emahoy has over 150 compositions) and calls from filmmakers to do a documentary about Emahoy. “Every time I have conversation with these filmmakers, I think to myself that her story has to be set in the context of her upbringing in Ethiopia,” Hanna said. “There are two sides to her life — one is her music and the other is her religious life.”

How did she navigate the conflict between these two worlds? That’s the central question that Hanna hopes to explore in her upcoming documentary. She plans to start shooting the film in late May both in Ethiopia and Israel.

(Cover of Ethiopiques, Vol. 21 CD)

In many ways Emahoy’s long life mirrors that of the tumultuous history of Ethiopia in the past 90 years. She was taken prisoner of war, along with her family, during the fascist occupation of Ethiopia in the late 1930s. She lived to witness the defeat of the Italians, and became a student of religion in Gondar in the 1960s (studying Saint Yared’s 6th-century music). And barely a decade later she would survive the mayhem following the 1970′s communist revolution. It was not until 1984 that she fled Ethiopia’s Derg era to her current residence at the Ethiopian Monastery of Jerusalem.

According her bio on the foundation’s website, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, was born “Yewubdar Gebru” on December 12, 1923 in Addis Abeba and at the age of six was sent to boarding school in Switzerland where she studied violin and piano. Returning to Ethiopia in 1933 she was taken prisoner along with other family members in 1937 by Italians who sent them to the isalnd of Asinara and later Mercogliana. Following the end of the war Yewubdar resumed her music studies in Cairo, and returned once more to Ethiopia to briefly work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before secretly fleeing Addis Ababa to enter the Guishen Mariam Monastery in Wello at the age of 19. At the age of 21 she was ordained as a nun and received the title of Emahoy Tsege Mariam where she continued her music and wrote compositions for violin, piano and organ concerto. Emahoy’s first record was released in 1967 in Germany through the assistance of Emperor Haile Selassie with subsequent piano compositions released in 1973, the proceeds of which were used to assist orphanages.

At Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s request both her published and unpublished compositions have been donated to her foundation to continue to provide disadvantaged children with the opportunities to study classical and jazz musical genres.

“Her life is full of teaching moments for young people, artists and students,” Hanna said. “She has endured a lot. It is a uniquely Ethiopian story, but at the same time the lessons are universal.”

You can learn more and support the film project at

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

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Getatchew Mekurya Passed Away at Age 81

Getatchew Mekurya (March 14th, 1935 - April 4th, 2016). Photo: World Music Network.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Legendary Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya passed away this week at the age of 81.

Getatchew, who began his musical career in Addis Ababa in the 1940′s, was a member of Ethiopia’s famous Police Orchestra. However, Getatchew gained international exposure mostly in the past decade through his world tours in collaboration with the Dutch avant-garde band, the Ex, and the release of his album Negus of Ethiopian Sax as part of the Ethiopiques CD series. Getatchew Mekurya was also part of the historic outdoor Ethiopian concert at Lincoln Center here in New York City in 2008 that included Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete.

In a statement the EX band said Getatchew started playing with them in 2004, but recently he had been in failing health. “He recognized something in our music which reminded him of the early groups he was in, like the Fetan Band (Speed Band),” the group said in a Facebook post. “For us it was also an incredible experience. He was always totally himself, full-on intense and dedicated. We played more than 100 concerts and made two beautiful albums together.”

The EX band added: “The last few years, his health was not very good. He couldn’t really go on tour anymore. As a kind of farewell concert for his fans, we organized a big event in the National Theatre in Addis Abeba. He got lots of attention and respect that night: 1500 people in the audience, three TV stations and a legendary concert. Getatchew was playing while sitting on a chair, but his playing was stronger than ever. His whole life was music. With his unique sound and approach he leaves behind an eternal inspiration! We will miss him.”

According to wiki: “Mekurya began his musical studies on traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the krar and the masenqo, and later moved on to the saxophone and clarinet. In 1955 he joined the house band at Addis’ Haile Selassie I Theatre, and in 1965 joined the famous Police Orchestra. He was also one of the first musicians to record an instrumental version of shellela, a genre of traditional Ethiopian vocal music sung by warriors before going into battle. Mekurya took the shellela tradition seriously, often appearing onstage in a warrior’s animal-skin tunic and lion’s mane headdress. He continued to refine his instrumental shellela style, recording an entire album in 1970, Negus of Ethiopian Sax, released on Philips Ethiopia during the heyday of the Ethiojazz movement. Mekurya continued to work alongside many of the biggest orchestras in the Ethiopian capital, accompanying renowned singers Alemayehu Eshete, Hirut Beqele, and Ayalew Mesfin. Mekurya reached an international audience when his album Negus of Ethiopian Sax was re-released as part of the Ethiopiques CD series.”

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Anti-Doping Agency Targets Ethiopia

World Anti-Doping Agency headquarters in Montreal, Canada. (Photo: Reuters)


March 10, 2016

Ethiopia moves into the doping spotlight

MONACO — This year Olympic Games could feature an athletics program without two of the sport’s most powerful nations – Russia and Kenya – while a third, Ethiopia, is under immense pressure to show it has adequate anti-doping measures.

Ethiopia is the latest to have its credibility questioned after it was announced last month that six athletes, some of them elite performers, are under investigation for doping.

In addition, former middle-distance world champion Abeba Aregawi, an Ethiopian-turned-Swede, has tested positive.

Russia is currently banned from all athletics following discovery of a state-sponsored doping regime and revelations of corruption.

Kenya, having missed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deadline last month, has now been given until May 12 to show it has adequate systems in place after a series of high-profile positive tests by athletes and the suspension of several leading athletics officials.

That is the backdrop to a meeting of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council on Thursday and Friday where President Sebastian Coe will be fighting to restore the credibility of the sport he graced on the track…

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Ethiopia Confirms 9 Athletes Under Investigation

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Ethiopia: What If People Were Really Free?

(Photo: Reuters)

The Economist | From the print edition

Ethiopia is poised to take off. But to fly, the government must set the people free

ADDIS ABABA AND LALIBELA — THE Ben Abeba restaurant is a spiral-shaped concrete confection perched on a mountain ridge near Lalibela, an Ethiopian town known for its labyrinth of 12th-century churches hewn out of solid rock. The view is breathtaking: as the sun goes down, a spur of the Great Rift Valley stretches out seemingly miles below in subtly changing hues of green and brown, rolling away, fold after fold, as far as the eye can see. An immense lammergeyer, or bearded vulture, floats past, showing off its russet trousers.

The staff, chivvied jovially along by an intrepid retired Scottish schoolmarm who created the restaurant a few years ago with an Ethiopian business partner, wrap yellow and white shawls around the guests against the sudden evening chill. The most popular dish is a spicy Ethiopian version of that old British staple, shepherd’s pie, with minced goat’s meat sometimes replacing lamb. Ben Abeba, whose name is a fusion of Scots and Amharic, Ethiopia’s main language, is widely considered the best eatery in the highlands surrounding Lalibela, nearly 700km (435 miles) north of Addis Ababa, the capital, by bumpy road.

Yet the obstacles faced by its owners illustrate what go-ahead locals and foreign investors must overcome if Ethiopia is to take off. Electricity is sporadic. Refrigeration is ropey, so fish is off the menu. So are butter and cheese; Susan Aitchison, the restaurant’s resilient co-owner, won’t use the local milk, as it is unpasteurised. Honey, mangoes, guava, papaya and avocados, grown on farmland leased to the enterprising pair, who have planted 30,000 trees, are delicious. All land belongs to the state, so it cannot be used as collateral for borrowing, which is one reason why commercial farming has yet to reach Lalibela. Consequently supplies of culinary basics are spotty. Local chickens are too scrawny. The government will not yet allow retailers such as South Africa’s Shoprite or Kenya’s Nakumatt to set up in Ethiopia, let alone in Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Read more at The Economist »

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Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests

Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, December 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian opposition leader and former political prisoner Professor Bekele Gerba — who visited Washington, D.C. this past summer to raise human rights concerns with U.S. officials — has been arrested again, this time in connection with the massive student-led protests rocking Ethiopia’s Oromia region.

OFC chairman Merera Gudina told Reuters that police arrested Bekele on Thursday, December 24th along with the OFC’s Assistant Secretary Dejene Tafa. “They suspect that our party and some of our members are part of the protest movement, that we have been inciting the demonstrations,” Merera told Reuters. “We do not know when Bekele and Dejene will be released or be charged for anything.”

In 2011, after his meeting with researchers from Amnesty International, he was arrested on what Gerba believed were “trumped-up terrorism charges, often used in Ethiopia against political dissidents.” NPR states. “In court he made remarks that have been widely circulated in Ethiopia and beyond: “I am honored to learn that my non-violent struggles and humble sacrifices for the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people, to whom I was born without a wish on my part but due to the will of the Almighty, have been considered a crime and to be unjustly convicted.”

“Bekele Gerba was languishing in a high security Ethiopian jail, hearing the cries of fellow prisoners being beaten and tortured,” NPR noted in a recent profile of Bekele Gerba.

Addis Standard published a bio of Bekele Gerba in May 2015 highlighting that the father of four “graduated with a BA degree in foreign language and literature from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) and taught in Dembi Dolo and Nejo high schools in western Ethiopia..and went to Adama Teachers’ College, 98kms south of Addis Abeba, where he taught English and Afaan Oromo. Suspected of allegedly supporting students’ riot that took place a year before, Bekele was dismissed in 2005 by the college. He then came to Addis Abeba where he taught in two private universities for two years until he was employed in 2007 as a full time lecturer by the AUU where he continued teaching English. Bekele’s political career began in 2009 when he joined the opposition party, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), as a member of the executive committee and head of the public relations department. Bekele participated and lost in the 2010 parliamentary elections in which the ruling EPRDF claimed more than 99% of the seats in parliament.”

Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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New Album ‘Out Of Addis’ Celebrates Ethiopia’s Diverse Musical Traditions

Album cover for "Out of Addis." (Image: Sheba Sound and Paradise Bangkok)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In complement to the more famous “Ethio-Funk” and “Swinging-Addis” sounds of an earlier era, popularized by the Éthiopiques CD series, a new album called Out Of Addis was released last week by the Ethiopian label Sheba Sound in collaboration with Anglo-Thai company Paradise Bangkok bringing forth an eclectic collection of traditional Ethiopian recordings hailing from the country’s vast rural areas.

“This album is the product of more than six years of music digging, road trips, recordings and events, from the northern rocky expanses of Tigray to the central forested highlands of Oromia to the western sweltering grasslands of Gambella,” Paradise Bangkok said in a press release.

“Ethiopia has over 80 ethnic groups, each with its own deep-rooted language and culture. Contemporary musicians living outside Addis Abeba, the capital, have had few opportunities to record or play their mesmerising sounds for visitors,” the press release stated. “Sheba Sound, a label and sound system collective based in Addis, wanted to redress this by recording and releasing little-known classics to Ethiopian and foreign audiences.”

According to the label: “This album showcases northern-based rhythms such as the Tigray, Amhara and Gurage beat. The song ‘Mal Ameni’ distinguishes itself by coming from the Oromo people.”

“This music touches the tip of the iceberg,” the Thai record company said. “There are so many more unique, intoxicating sounds to be shared, testifying to the diversity that lives on.”

Video: Out Of Addis (Official Teaser)

Learn more at Paradise Bangkok’s website.

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Attitude About Child Marriage Slowly Changing in Ethiopia

Children participate in a running event that's part of an awareness campaign to change attitudes and prevent child marriages, in Gondor, Ethiopia, September 2015. (M. van der Wolfe / VOA)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

September 21, 2015

GONDOR, ETHIOPIA — Thousands of girls in the Horn of Africa are forced to marry although they are underage. The local government in Gondor, Ethiopia, and UNICEF are organizing large awareness campaigns to change the attitude of rural communities.

Sixteen-year-old Hibste Abebayehu, from the town of Gondor, was about to be married to a 28-year-old man when she was just 13. Last year, her parents tried again to marry her to another man.

Hibist said her parents did not even tell her about the marriage, but her friends overheard the arrangements and informed her.

She said when she heard, she immediately reported it to the school principal and to the lead teacher of the girls’ club. They spoke to the police. After they negotiated with her parents, they managed to cancel the marriage arrangements.

Sixteen-year-old Hibste Abebayehu has battled against being married to older men since she was just 13, and she is continuing her education, in Gondor, Ethiopia, Septmber 2015. (M. van der Wolfe / VOA)

Awareness interventions

The girls club that Hibste joined in school is a place where information is provided to girls about child marriage through awareness interventions. Especially for rural communities, child marriage is the social norm. The local government says that raising awareness and changing the attitude of the community is the biggest challenge.

The police, religious leaders and development partners such as the United Nations Children’s Fund are involved in trying to change the mindset about child marriage and eliminate all forms of child marriage by 2025.

UNICEF program worker Zemzem Shikur said child marriage has several consequences for the girl’s life.

“The first one is, easily they are forced to drop out from school, which shapes their destiny to be a housewife or to be in a very vulnerable situation,” said Shikur. “The other one is the health consequence. They do not get treatment easily, and they may not have information on where to get services.”

One in five girls in Ethiopia are married before the age of 18. In Gondor, a northern region, almost half of the underage girls are married, even though the legal age is set at 18.

Changing attitudes

Hibste feels lucky to have been rescued. She said many of her friends already are married. She said the thinking in the community is to marry off children at a very early age, since they do not see why girls should get an education or how they can become somebody.

One of the awareness campaigns in Gondor features an afternoon of musical performances on the main square. The event attracts large crowds and the message appears to get through to the audience of mostly boys. They say they agree girls should not get married before the age of 18.

Solomon Assefa is one of them. He said girls first need to be physically ready to get married, and that they then have to be educated so they can work toward what they want to become.

Hibste is now in 8th grade. She hopes her parents will allow her to attend university if she keeps receiving good grades.

Fourteen-year-old Abebe Ayele was less fortunate. She lives in a village an hour outside Gondor, was forced into a marriage last year and now has a six-month-old baby. She said it is difficult to deal with the new attitude from her peers.

She said everyone was gossiping about her when she was pregnant and it gave her psychological problems.

Abebe has registered for school again, but is not sure she can attend, as she does not have the funds to look after herself and her baby.

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US Ambassador to OECD Daniel Yohannes Reflects on Addis Financing Conference

(Image: Third Financing for Development Conference, Addis Ababa, July 2015. Photo credit: UNECA/Flickr)

U.S. Department of State

By Daniel Yohannes

Daniel Yohannes is the United States Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Born in Addis Ababa, Ambassador Yohannes has worked in banking and economic development for over thirty years. In the following article he reflects on the 2015 Financing for Development Conference held in Addis Ababa last month.

Washington, DC — This July, the world came together in Addis Ababa to agree on a financing framework for the sustainable development agenda.

It was a key moment that gave new impetus to development cooperation and laid a solid foundation for the adoption of the post-2015 agenda later this year. But the Addis conference was also significant because it signaled a paradigm shift in the way we think about development. Addis built off of previous Financing for Development conferences but went further in emphasizing that private investment and domestic resource mobilization are just as critical to development cooperation as foreign assistance.

Private investment is already dwarfing Official Development Assistance (ODA). Forty years ago, ODA represented 70% of funding from developed to developing countries; today it makes up only 13%. According to the OECD, developing countries attract more than 50% of foreign direct investment worldwide, up from less than 20% in 1990. And there is potential for much, much more.

Africa in particular is ripe for additional private investment. Home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies, the continent has become the second most attractive investment destination in the world according to the World Bank. But adequate infrastructure is essential to unlocking the full potential of private investment flows and ensuring that resilient global value chains are spread across the continent, rather than concentrated in a few countries.

In Addis, the international community agreed, among a number of initiatives, to establish a Global Infrastructure Forum in order to identify and address infrastructure gaps. The United States will support this initiative through the G20′s Working Group on Infrastructure and the OECD’s work on transportation and telecoms infrastructure, as well as through innovative projects such as Power Africa. Announced by President Obama in 2013, Power Africa is mobilizing public and private partners with the aim of doubling electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa. Already, it has succeeded in attracting nearly $32 billion in public and private sector commitments.

The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is also leveraging public-private partnerships to expand infrastructure in Africa. During my time as CEO of MCC, I saw first-hand how effective these partnerships are at facilitating trade, attracting investment, and driving economic growth and development. I inaugurated highways paved through MCC partnerships in Ghana and Tanzania that are roadways to regional commerce and a lifeline for farmers and entrepreneurs. MCC’s port expansion project in Benin attracted $256 million in private investment. Its electricity project in Ghana led General Electric to build a $1.5 billion power park.

Of course, inadequate infrastructure isn’t the only impediment to private investment. The OECD Policy Framework on Investment, updated this year, reflects the reality that the investment climate is affected by a number of factors, including public governance, ease of doing business, property rights, rule of law, and political stability. Using this tool, the United States is working with the OECD to help a number of African countries improve their investment climates.

Just as private investment is necessary to produce economic growth, domestic public resources are needed to ensure that this growth is sustainable and that its benefits are shared broadly across all levels of society. Tax revenues help countries finance their own development and invest in public services such as health care, education and infrastructure. Today, half of sub-Saharan African countries mobilize less than 15% of their GDP in tax revenues, compared to an average of 34% in OECD member countries.

That’s why we launched the Addis Tax Initiative, which promises to help developing countries improve tax administration. Donor countries will provide funding and technical assistance to help developing countries broaden their tax bases, develop stronger tax institutions, and redouble efforts to stem tax evasion and avoidance. These efforts can also be supported through greater participation by developing countries in the OECD-led Global Forum on Tax Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum).

The OECD’s research shows that international cooperation in this area can have a major impact. Thanks to a capacity-building program, Colombia was able to increase its tax revenue from transfer-pricing ten-fold, from $3.3 million in 2011 to over $33 million in 2014. Support from the Global Forum helped South Africa collect $62.3 million through a settlement with one taxpayer.

As a member of the Addis Tax Initiative, the United States will be increasing tax support and assistance while doubling the base resources for the Department of Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance by 2020.

To help tackle illicit financial flows, which cost African economies billions of dollars each year, we will also be stepping up the Partnership on Illicit Finance, announced by President Obama last year at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Of course, ODA remains a precious resource, particularly for Least Developed Countries and fragile states. The United States is proud to be the world’s top contributor of ODA, with nearly $33 billion committed in 2014. But what Addis recognized is that assistance is most powerful when it is used as a transformative tool — one that can catalyze investment and support domestic resource mobilization.

While much progress has been made since the first Financing for Development conference in 2002, we still have a long way to go towards eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring that economic growth everywhere is inclusive and sustainable. What is clear is that we will need to maximize all three sources of development finance — assistance, investment and domestic resources — if we are to meet the challenges ahead.

This article was originally published in Jeune Afrique.

US Hopes AGOA 10-Year Extension Helps Africa’s Trade Supply Side Gaps (TADIAS)
With the OECD, the United States Can Lead Against Inequality (The Huffington Post)

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Born HIV Free: Mothers Role in Ethiopia

Regular antiretroviral treatment coupled with improved diagnosis is helping to reduce the number of babies being born with HIV in Ethiopia. (Photograph: At Modjo health clinic. Credit Gelise McCullough/Unitaid)

Born HIV Free: Mothers of Wisdom in Ethiopia

The Guardian

By Carla Kweifio-Okai in Modjo

Thursday 18 June 2015

Modjo, Ethiopia — Abeba sits in the consultation room at Modjo health clinic in central Ethiopia, her seven-month-old daughter, Aster, cooing playfully on her lap.

Abeba is HIV-positive, and has travelled 20 minutes by bus to collect the antiretroviral treatment she needs. She is part of a programme at the clinic to prevent mother-to-child transmission, which involves a regimen of medications for mothers and babies during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Tests so far indicate that Aster has not contracted HIV, much to her mother’s relief. “Now I know my daughter doesn’t have it while I have it, I’m very happy,” says Abeba, who does not want her real name used. “It changes everything for me.”

Despite global efforts to achieve an AIDS-free generation, in Ethiopia only 24% of pregnant women who are eligible for HIV services receive them. One out of three children born to an HIV-positive mother is infected with the virus.

Abeba has three other children at home, all sons, who are also HIV-negative. She says she feels blessed that her second youngest son did not contract the virus, since she did not receive treatment while pregnant with him. “I found out I had this four years ago, but I think my son, who is five years old, was born when I was positive but without me knowing,” she says.

The eldest of Abeba’s sons is 12, and she says she will wait until he is 18 to tell him she has HIV. “I do not mind talking about it, but I want to protect my children. In the village they talk about it like it’s something very severe and something very bad to have,” she says. “But even though I don’t tell people I have it, I do tell them that we are all human beings and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Next to the consultation room where Abeba makes her fortnightly visits, Sisay Dinku offers counselling to HIV-positive women. The 33-year-old learned she had HIV 10 years ago, and has worked at health clinics for the past nine. She says things have changed for people living with HIV in Ethiopia.

Read more at The Guardian »

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Sexual Violence Against Women in Ethiopia

A social media campaign was started in Ethiopia after 16-year-old Hanna Lalango died after being sexually attacked on the streets. (Photograph: Facebook)

The Guardian

By Rediet Wegayehu

Kidnapped, Raped and Left for Dead: Who Will Protect Ethiopia’s Girls?

One day in early October, Hanna Lalango, 16, did not return from school to her home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the usual time. Her father Lalongo Hayesso was worried about his youngest daughter.

“We waited for her at her usual time … but we had to wait for 11 days to hear that she had been abandoned on the street. She was incapacitated and couldn’t even get up,” said Hayesso. His daughter had been abducted, gang-raped and left for dead. Hanna was not able to get to hospital until 12 days after her attack, where she was treated for traumatic gynaecological fistula and other injuries. She died on 1 November.

Sexual violence against women in Ethiopia is relatively common. Research from 2012 found that “rape is undoubtedly one of the rampant crimes in Ethiopia”, and linked its prevalence to male chauvinist culture, legal loopholes, the inefficiency of different agencies in the criminal justice system, and “a deep-seated culture of silence”. In October 2011, an Ethiopian Airlines flight attendant named Aberash Hailay lost her eyesight after her ex-husband, Fisseha, stabbed her in both eyes with a sharp knife. And there’s the story of Frehiwot Tadesse, a mother of two, who was shot several times by her ex-husband in a broad daylight in Addis. Since the first reported case involving Kamilat Mehdi and her ex-boyfriend, acid attacks against women have also shown a disturbing increase.

Read more at The Guardian »

Teen’s Death After Kidnapping and Gang Rape Causes Scrutiny of Ethiopia’s Anti-NGO Law

16-year-old student Hanna Lalango died last month after being abducted and gang-raped by five men in Addis Abeba. (Photo: Ethiopian TV)

Vice News

By Johnny Magdaleno

December 7, 2014

The brutal kidnapping and gang rape of a teenage student in Addis Ababa has spurred a movement against gender-based violence in Ethiopia and throughout the country’s diaspora communities.

Sixteen-year-old Hanna Lalango was abducted by a taxi driver and a group of passengers in Ethiopia’s capital on October 1 after she boarded the driver’s vehicle on her way home from school, according to local media reports, activists, and other sources who spoke with VICE News about the incident. A few days later, Lalango’s sisters received a call from the kidnappers, who offered to arrange a meeting to negotiate the release of their hostage.

When the sisters arrived at the meeting, they were asked to board the same taxi used for Hanna’s kidnapping in order to be taken to the house where she was held. The sisters refused, and the assailants drove off, shouting that Lalango would not be released. On October 11, Lalango called her father and directed him to the Kolfe Keraneo district in western Addis Ababa, where the kidnappers had abandoned her. She revealed that multiple men raped her repeatedly over a period of at least five days, and was reportedly able to identify three out of five suspects from her hospital bed. She received treatment at several hospitals in Addis Ababa, but died November 1 from wounds sustained during the attacks.

The incident galvanized activists on social media, and the hashtag #JusticeForHanna became a top trending topic on Twitter in Ethiopia. A “Justice for Hanna” page on Facebook has received more than 20,000 likes. Activists are now demanding that national press outlets in Ethiopia devote extensive coverage to Lalango’s case and the issues that surround it. The UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was observed Tuesday, November 25, has also helped raise awareness of Lalango’s case.

Read more at »

The Yellow Movement at A.A. University Update on Abduction of Hanna Lalango

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Gash Wondimu: Excerpt From Short Story by Agazit Abate

LA-based Agazit Abate is the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants. "Gash Wondimu" is inspired by the men and women who raised her, the country they left behind and the lives they built with their memories.

Warscapes Magazine

By Agazit Abate

The resting place of the dead is respected here. Straight lines, manicured grass, clean concrete and untouched graves. Everything has its place. There is an order to things here. People die and are buried after careful planning. Death lays neat, it doesn’t pile up here.

You know, I hear that they even keep bodies in walls. I can’t imagine that. Bodies should go back into the soil, but what do I know.

You remember when Seifu told us that they were removing bodies from Yosef to build roads in Addis. His family had to collect the bones of his mother, father, and two brothers. The dead are overwhelming the new city there.


You always did have bad timing. Looking back on things, I think we both did. Maybe our whole generation had bad timing, maybe that was our problem.

You slipped into this earth the same way you slipped out, unexpected and displaced. I remember when you told me that your mother didn’t know she was pregnant with you until you began kicking. According to her calculations, you were supposed to arrive during the bright yellow blooms of adey abeba. She believed that you were a boy and that you would be born on new years’ day. She was only half right. You came early, during the rains. She was in a neighbors’ house across town and had to rush home to have you.

It was 1940. Your mother believed that even though the Italians occupied Ethiopia, her home was free. She wanted to make sure that you were born on your grandfathers’ land, that your umbilical cord would be buried on that piece of earth. She didn’t make it home, but she kept the umbilical cord and buried it where she believed you belong. She said that the soil was soft, that she didn’t have to dig, and that the earth swallowed it. She knew that the land accepted you, that the resistance would succeed, and that the Italians would be leaving Ethiopia.

We spent decades talking, and you die six months before things start getting interesting. Before protests and revolutions, before leaders fled, were overthrown, and killed. You died before our own two months of silence. Before change took place on our land and before everything stayed the same.

I had to have conversations without you, sometimes with other people and sometimes with myself, sometimes at this spot, wondering what you would say.

It’s cyclical. Now is the time for fire. It will burn out and we will deal only with what is left behind. Nothing is new.

There was so much that we could have spoken about. The world was anxious for a time and you missed it.


I’m an old man now. I’m older than I was when you died four years ago. You know what I mean by that. It feels like yesterday, but somehow my body remembers it differently.

Walking up this hill to see you is getting harder and harder each time I come here. The landscape is crisp and unrelenting and you are resting at the top of what might as well be Entoto. This is a place for young people to come visit old people who have died. Thank God, Tsion decided to give you an upright tomb. Some of them lay flat in the ground. If yours was like that, where would I rest my back? There is no tree to give you shade, no base to give my body comfort. I would have to bring a chair up here. Imagine, carrying a chair all the way up here.

I look older too. I get senior citizen discounts without even asking. I went on the bus last week and paid the full fare. The bus driver looked at me and said, “You know you only have to pay fifty cents.” I didn’t understand until I sat down and a man whose body has been lived in longer than the emperor, looked at me and nodded his head as if to say, welcome.

But, I don’t mind getting old. I like it when people call me Gash Wondimu.

Read more at Warscapes Magazine »

About the Author:
Agazit Abate received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Development Studies and Masters Degree in African Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She works on projects related to cultural production and environmental sustainability.

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Rising Ethio-Jazz Singer Yeshi Demelash Prepares for U.S. Tour

(Photo: Cover image from Yeshi Demelash's album "Qene.")

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday February 26th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Musician Yeshi Demelash has been called “arguably the most talented contemporary female Ethiopian jazz singer.” Yeshi, who was born in 1984 in Gojam, is a former Ethiopian Idol judge and a graduate of Addis Abeba University’s Yared School of Arts where she majored in flute and minored in piano. She established her reputation as an Ethio-jazz singer two years ago with the release of her debut album entitled Qene, an ode to Ethiopia’s ancient literary and oral traditions.

Now Yeshi’s voice has captured the attention of New York-based producer Bill Laswell — the person behind the records of Jano and Gigi — and he is currently remixing one of her songs entitled Fano. Yeshi plans to work on a new album with Laswell when she arrives here this Spring to begin her first American tour.

Organizers say Yeshi will perform at SOB’s in New York on April 26th accompanied by her band, also named ‘Qene.’ Stay tuned for updates.

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Genzebe Dibaba Smashes World Indoor 1500M Record

Genzebe Dibaba. (Photo: Athletics weekly)


Her big sister Tirunesh has twice been a world record breaker indoors and it was the turn Genzebe Dibaba to make her own mark on the under cover record books when she smashed the women’s world indoor 1500m record * by more than three seconds with a run of 3:55.17 at the IAAF Indoor Permit meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Saturday (1).

The previous best had been 3:58.28, set by Russia’s Yelena Soboleva in 2006, and Dibaba’s own previous indoor best was 4:00.13. Her time was also more than a second faster than Abeba Aregawi’s Ethiopian outdoor record of 3:56.54 and the outdoor African record of 3:55.30, set by Hassiba Boulmerka.

Slovenia’s Sonja Roman took Dibaba through 400m in 1:02.39 and then 800m in 2:08.96, just under a second faster than Soboleva at this stage in proceedings on her world-record run with the Russian having clocked 2:09.7 after four laps of the track. But soon afterwards the Ethiopian hit the front and then it was just a race between her and the clock.

Dibaba, still only 22, went through 1200m in a sizzling 3:10.47, compared to Soboleva’s 3:13.1. After a third 400m of just over 61 seconds, she kept up the tempo all the way to the line.

“I felt I was ready for a world record,” said the world indoor 1500m champion who is set to defend her title at this year’s edition in the Polish city of Sopot next month. “But I didn’t think I would run 3:55. I was well prepared for tonight, though. I’m extremely happy.”

Read more at IAAF.

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Helina Teklu: 15-year-old In Need of $40,000 For Kidney Transplant (OP-ED)

Helina Teklu, 15, is diagnosed with end stage kidney disease. (Image credit: Screen shot from EBS Video)

Tadias Magazine

By Meron Abebe

Published: Sunday, August 18, 2013

Washington, DC – Like many girls her age around the world 15-year-old Helina Teklu has big dreams for her future. The teen, who is a tenth-grader and an “A” student, hopes to become a doctor one day in Axum, Ethiopia, where she was born and raised. At the moment, however, Helina is more focused on staying alive. She is suffering from kidney failure, and her doctors have determined that she can only be assisted with specialized medical care abroad. Her family cannot afford to pay for treatment.

I came across Helina’s touching story through a recent video that is circulating among Ethiopians on social media. Her condition epitomizes the long road ahead to improving the dire shortages of health professionals and up-to-date medical facilities in Ethiopia. Helina Teklu is the exact citizen Ethiopia needs today — someone with the ambition to be educated so she can be useful to her community and country.

For Helina’s working class parents (both teachers) the knowledge that their daughter may die soon aware that she could have been saved, is more than they can handle on their own. Her care outside the country, if made possible, is expected to cost upwards of $40,000 for the transplant operation and other related healthcare services. That’s why I am getting involved reaching out to readers with a strong belief that we can make a difference if we can pull our minds and resources together to give Helina the second chance she so deserves.

From a personal standpoint, Helina’s will to survive by itself is inspiring enough for me to act, but her goal is likewise beneficial for all of us. At least, it’s clear to me that her aspirations are not just a lofty child-like dream, but one that has been her life’s journey until abruptly interrupted by this illness. After all, she was a stellar student who is admired by her friends, teachers and neighbors.

You can watch the video here. Let’s give Helina a hand.

Meron Abebe is the founder of the non-profit organization Thankful Soul. She lives in Washington,D.C.

If You Want to Help:
You can contact Helina’s parents directly in Ethiopia:
Teklu Hagos (0914766051) and Mantegbosh Fissha (0921886921)

Funds can be sent to the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia
Account number 1000022462133.

In the U.S.: Wells Fargo, Recipient Abeba Yehdego
For transfer or an Electronic deposit:
Routing # (102000076) and Account # ( 1250106620)
Wire : Routing # (121000248) and Account # (1250106620)
Walk-in: Routing # (516306502) and Account # (1250106620)

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Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar to Contest One Event Each at 2013 World Championships in Moscow

Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar. (Photo: Creative Commons/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013

Moscow (TADIAS) – Ethiopia’s London Olympic champions Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar will contest just one event each at the 2013 athletics world championships in Moscow, with Tirunesh running only the 10,000-meter final on Sunday August 11, team officials confirmed on Wednesday. Meseret will run the 5000-meter elimination round next Wednesday morning before the final takes place three days later, on the evening of Saturday, August 17.

The two women had been entered in both of those events and were considered favorites to medal twice, while the double gold medal feat that Tirunesh achieved at the 2005 world championships and 2008 Beijing Olympics has served as a tantalizing prospect.

“It’s very difficult for athletes to run three races in one week,” said the Ethiopian athletic federation’s head coach Dr. Yilma Berta in Moscow on Wednesday. “It’s better for them to contest one event each, and take one event each.” The team believes the strategy would set up two golds for the nation.

For the 2004 and 2012 Olympic 5000 champion Meseret, who has medaled repeatedly over that distance, but never yet over 10,000, running the longer event first could jeopardize her chances for the shorter event. It appears to have done so in the 2009 and 2011 world championships, where she ran both events but took just one bronze medal in the 5000m. In 2009, as in 2013, she had run one of the year’s two fastest 10,000m in the world before the championships, but that did not guarantee a medal.

Tirunesh, though, would have already contested her main event, the 10,000, by the time the Moscow 5000 begins. However, even if she were to win the 10,000 and still wish to start in the 5000, she would not be able to do so, said Dr. Yilma. “It’s already been decided,” he said. “Everyone is running one race each. There are also other younger athletes who deserve the opportunity.”

Meseret will be joined in the 5000 by Almaz Ayana, who in July ran the second-fastest time any woman has run this year. That race, in Paris, was won by Tirunesh, who at the time was looking forward to racing over the distance in Moscow in addition to the 10,000.

“She wanted to run both and she had been preparing for both,” said her sister Genzebe Dibaba on Wednesday in Moscow, where she arrived ahead of her sibling. “She’s in better shape than she was last year,” added Genzebe.

The 5000 world record-holder Tirunesh did run both events in London last year, and finished the 5000 in third place after losing a final sprint to her track arch-rival Meseret, who was coming into the race with fresh legs and a fierce determination to regain the Olympic 5000 crown.

No such double attempt is in the federation’s plans for 2013, and Ethiopia’s only Moscow 10,000 and 5000 double gold that will be in the history books when these championships are over will be the legendary Miruts Yifter’s from the 1980 Olympics.

Genzebe also qualified for two events in Moscow, the 5000 and the 1500, in which she is the fastest Ethiopian of the year and the only one to have run under four minutes. “The federation wants me to contest the 1500, since there’s a shortage of athletes in it,” said Genzebe, who will run the event’s first round on Sunday morning, August 11.

The overwhelming favorite to win that event’s final is Ethiopian-born Abeba Aregawi, who represented the nation at last year’s Olympics, but had established ties with Sweden previously and now represents the Scandinavian nation.

Ethiopia does have a favored athlete in the Moscow middle distance events, as Mohammed Aman runs the men’s 800m, which starts its first round of races this Saturday morning in the absence of Olympic champion and world record-holder David Rudisha of Kenya.

Olympic champion Tiki Gelana and former world track and cross country medalist and 2012 Frankfurt marathon champion Meselech Melkamu run the Moscow women’s marathon Saturday afternoon, after which London women’s steeplechase bronze medalist Sofia Assefa competes in the first round of that event.

The 2008 Olympic and 2009 world championship double gold medalist in the 10,000 and 5000, Kenenisa Bekele, is entered as a reserve in the men’s 10,000 final, which takes place Saturday evening. Kenenisa was the fourth-fastest Ethiopian this year in both of his events, after winning the 10,000m in Eugene, Oregon in May.

That race was initially scheduled to serve as a trials race for the Moscow 10,000m, where the first three Ethiopians would automatically make the team, but that plan was abandoned before the Eugene Prefontaine Classic meeting, and Moscow selections were made based on athletes’ fastest times for the season.

“There was a plan to hold a trials race there, and then there was another plan to hold it somewhere else, but neither plan worked out,” said Dr. Yilma. Ethiopia ordinarily selects athletes for track championships based primarily on fastest times, and Kenenisa, who is gradually coming back from injury-plagued years, ran several races this season in search of fast times.

The fastest man in the world over 10,000 this year is the London Olympic 5000m silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel, who won his first race ever over the distance in Sweden in June, leading his compatriots Abera Kuma and the 2011 world 10,000m bronze-medalist Imane Merga to similarly fast times. The three men will be joined in Moscow by the surprise 2011 world champion, Ibrahim Jeilan, whose role as defending champion allows him automatic entry into the event.

Ibrahim beat Britain’s Mo Farah in 2011, but the Somali-born Farah enters the 2013 race as the reigning 10,000 and 5000 Olympic champion, and is even more heavily favored this season – not that that will stop the 5000m bronze medalist from 2011, Dejen, and his teammates from aiming for another upset victory.

Ethiopian team members receive a warm welcome at Moscow airport

Most of the Ethiopian athletes running in the first few days of the championships arrived in Moscow on Wednesday along with team coaches and officials. They were greeted by Ethiopia’s ambassador to Russia, Kasahun Dender Melese, who met the delegation inside the arrival area at Domodedovo airport.

Members of Moscow’s Ethiopian community gathered in the waiting area of the terminal holding Ethiopian flags and wearing wrist bands and scarves in the flag’s green, yellow and red colors, while some women were decked in traditional outfits from head to toe. Ululations and cheers arose when the delegation appeared, and later, flowers were presented to the London Olympic medalists in the squad.

“We want to support them all,” said Moscow businessman Gezu Gebru. “But to tell you the truth, we also wanted to meet them up close. We always watch them race on television, but this was an opportunity to see them in person.” Gezu and others in his community will also get to see the star athletes racing live in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium and on the streets of the city during the marathons, starting Saturday morning. The championships end on August 18.

Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba Face Each Other in Zurich (TADIAS)
Steeplechaser Sofia Assefa Follows in Olympian Eshetu Tura’s Footsteps (TADIAS)
Meseret Defar Hoping to Take Back 5000m Gold in Moscow on Saturday Night (TADIAS)

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Poet-Playwright Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin

Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin. (Cover Illustration: Ezra Wube/Tsehai Publishers)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Washington D.C (TADIAS) – The life and accomplishments of Ethiopian poet and playwright, Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, was celebrated last Friday in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The event highlighted Fasil Yitbarek’s book entitled Soaring on Winged Verse, which is the official biography of Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin — one of Africa’s most important literary figures. The gathering, which was hosted by Taitu Cultural Center during its popular monthly poetry night YeWeru Gitm Mishit on July 26th, was attended by a large number of people from the Ethiopian community including families and friends of the late Poet Laureate who would have marked his 77th birthday this August.

The biography was printed by Tsehai Publishers in 2011 and is dedicated “to those whose creative inspirations springs from their love of Ethiopia.” In his book, Fasil chronicles the remarkable story of Mr. Tsegaye’s humble beginnings in rural Ethiopia from the town of Boda, near Ambo, to become one of the most recognized men of letters in the country as well as one of the most prolific and acclaimed writers of his generation. The poet’s distinguished resume spans luminary works of more than 45 plays and an influential collection of Amharic poetry entitled Isat Woy Abeba (Blaze or Bloom).

Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin passed away in February 2006 at the age of 69 while receiving medical treatment in New York. His body was flown back to Ethiopia and buried at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.

In a Q&A with Tadias Magazine, Fasil said Soaring on Winged Verse is based on several interviews, which he conducted in New York with the late Tsegaye some ten years ago at the poet-playwright’s request.

“We used to meet once a week for a couple of hours and I was able to record about 30 cassettes on various occasions,” Fasil said. However, Tsegaye passed away before they completed the interviews for the book, and he fondly recalled their weekly sessions as “unforgettable moments in my life.” Fasil said he was able to fill the gap through further research of both published and unpublished sources.

“I was lucky to be chosen by Tsegaye to write this book.” Fasil added.

Yodit Tsegaye, one of Tsegaye’s daughters agreed, “We really appreciate Fasil’s determination to finish the memoir,” she said. “This book tells us what we didn’t know about our father.”

Below are photos from the event.

You can learn more about the book and order your own copy at “Soaring on Winged Verse” is also in the process of being translated into Amharic.

Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, Ethiopian Poet Laureate, Dies at 69 (The New York Times)
Tadias Interview: Samuel Wolde-Yohannes on his Book ‘Ethiopia: Culture of Progress

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In Australia, A Star of Ethiopia Shines Anew

After leaving Ethiopia and her music career, Bitsat Seyoum has found her voice again with the help of the Emerge Festival in Australia. (Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui)

Sydney Morning Herald

By Kylie Northover

With headlines increasingly dominated by disheartening stories about asylum seekers, Multicultural Arts Victoria’s annual Emerge Festival acts as a hopeful counterpoint, celebrating the diversity refugees create here.

Now in its 10th year the festival, which officially launched last month in Footscray, runs over 10 weeks and commemorates the United Nations’ World Refugee Day and Refugee Week while celebrating the talents of new refugees and emerging artists who have recently settled in Australia. The festival also aims to help artists and musicians break into the local industry.

Bitsat Seyoum is well known in the local Ethiopian community and to fans of her renowned Footscray restaurant Addis Abeba. But before settling in Australia five years ago, she was a famous performer in the Ethiopian capital. Singing traditional Ethiopian popular songs, she has performed and recorded with some of the country’s biggest names: Ethio-jazz king Mulatu Astatke (arguably the country’s most famous musical export) arranged her first album, and she has teamed up with singer Tilahun Gessesse, composers Teddy Afro and Moges Teka, and lyricist Mulugeta Tesfaye.

Read more at Sydney Morning Herald.

Emahoy Sheet Music Project Launched

Mary Sutton and Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou in Jerusalem, April 2013. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Mary Sutton who studies piano performance at Portland State University in Oregon came across the work of the legendary pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, having listened to volume 21 of the Ethiopiques CD series released in 2006, which featured 16 of the Jerusalem-based Ethiopian nun’s original pieces.

Mary grew up playing piano and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. She recently told Tadias that she was immediately drawn to Emahoy’s “unique” sounds before realizing that there was no published sheet music of her compositions available for other pianists to play. That was prior to her trip to Israel in April to meet with Emahoy, who gave her the permission to create one.

“Initially I tried to get in touch with Emahoy by email,” Mary recalled. “She wrote me back, but at the time she was having computer problems so her reply came back blank.” She added: “I followed up with a letter without knowing she would receive them.” Eventually the two were able to connect via Skype and meet in person. “I was introduced to her by an Israeli journalist,” Mary said.

Returning to Jerusalem this summer to begin the process of readying the manuscripts for publication, Mary shared that she is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the project. “This Kickstarter is just the beginning of a lifetime of a work which has fallen into my hands,” she noted via the online platform. “And as all of Emahoy’s music serves a charitable purpose, I will not be getting paid.”

Emahoy, who was ordained a nun at the age of 21 at the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wollo region, moved to Jerusalem in 1984 at the height of the military Derg regime in Ethiopia. However, that was not her first forced exile from her country. According to the Emahoy Music Foundation, she was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italians in 1937 and deported along with her family “to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.”

Emahoy was born “Yewubdar Gebru” in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923 to a privileged family; her father was Kentiba Gebru, mayor of Gonder and vice president of Ethiopia’s first parliament under Emperor Haile Selassie. Her mother was Kassaye Yelemtu. “Yewubdar was sent to Switzerland at the age of six along with her sister Senedu Gebru,” the foundation notes on its website. “Both attended a girls’ boarding school where Yewubdar studied the violin and then the piano. She gave her first violin recital at the age of ten. She returned to Ethiopia in 1933 to continue her studies at the Empress Menen Secondary School.”

After the war she resumed her musical studies in Cairo, under a Polish violinist named Alexander Kontorowicz. Later she returned to Ethiopia accompanied by Kontorowicz and she served as administrative assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Imperial Body Guard where Kontorowicz worked as the director of the band. Her first record was released in Germany in 1967.

It was five years ago this summer, on July 12, 2008, that Emahoy, then 85-years-old, gave a rare public presentation at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C., playing live for the first time in 35 years. “Her extraordinary performance was viscerally and emotionally moving,” wrote Makeda Amha, her great niece, in an article published in Tadias Magazine following the concert. “Her astounding ability as a classical pianist and her skill to warmly express “Reverie,” was a pleasure to listen to, as was “Presentiment,” a sweet, poetic Sonata in B-Flat Major.”

Below is a video of Emahoy playing Presentiment filmed by Omer Gefen in April 2013 at the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem where she currently lives.

To learn more and support Mary Sutton’s project, please visit:

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist (TADIAS)
Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guebrù: Jersualem’s Best Kept Musical Secret for 30 Years

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Ethiopia: Lalibela Price Hike Angers Some Visitors and Local Business

(Photo: Flickr)

Addis Fortune via


Foreign visitors to Lalibela were in for a nasty surprise on January 8, 2013, when they arrived at the holy churches and were told entrance fees had gone up by 160 percent overnight.

The fee went up from 350 Br to 910 Br to visit the Lalibela churches in the Amhara Regional State, an hour’s flight from Addis Abeba.

The town of Lalibela was buzzing, with numerous people making a living from the tourism industry bracing themselves for the impact of the price increase, amidst concerns over how foreign visitors would react. Over 56,000 foreign visitors were reported to have arrived in the town, 636Km north of the capital, in 2011/12.

Lieuwe Bos, 24, a medical student who has just finished his studies and was travelling across Ethiopia with his girlfriend, was unable to pay the fees last week and did not go in.

“This is a rip-off,” said Bos, a visitor from the Netherlands. “How can they increase it just like this? This is more than three times what you pay at the Louvre in Paris, and that is the best museum in the world.”

Read more.

Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela – UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Ethiopia’s Squad for Africa Cup Include 3 Foreign-based Players

Saladin Said, pictured above scoring against Nigeria, who plays in the Egyptian Premier League, is one of three foreign-based players that are part of Ethiopia's 23-man squad for this month's African Nations Cup in South Africa. (Flickr)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, January 4, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The Walya Antelopes, Ethiopia’s national soccer team, have enlisted a trio of foreign-based Ethiopian players as part of the line-up for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations 2013, which is set to commence on January 19th in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Coach Sewnet Bishaw has chosen 28-year-old Swedish-born midfielder Yussuf Saleh and 21-year-old Ethiopian-American footballer Fuad Ibrahim, in addition to the team’s star striker Saladin Said who plays abroad for Wadi Degla in Egypt. Yussuf comes from the Swedish football club Syrianska, while Fuad is currently playing for the Minnesota Stars in the North American Soccer League.

The head coach Seyoum Kebede told Star Africa that he “has high hopes his youthful team have a bright future.”

Ethiopia is scheduled in group “C” and faces Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. The Walya’s opening match is against the defending champions Zambia on January 21st.

Here is the team:

Goalkeepers: Jemal Tassew (Coffee FC), Sisay Bancha (Dedebit), Zerihun Tadelle (Saint George)

Defenders: Degu Debebe, Biyadglign Eliase, Abebaw Butako, Alula Girma (all Saint George), Seyum Tesfaye, Birhanu Bogale, Aynalem Hailu (all Dedebit)

Midfielders: Asrat Megersa (EEPCO), Addis Hintsa, Behailu Asefa, Minyahel Teshome (all Dedebit), Yared Zinabu, Shimelese Bekele (both Saint George), Dawit Estifanose (Coffee FC), Yusuf Salah (Syrianska)

Forwards: Saladin Said (Wadi Degla), Adane Girma, Umed Ukuri (both Saint George), Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit), Fuad Ibrahim (Minnesota Stars).
FEATURE-Soccer-Ethiopia’s ‘Walyas’ look to make up for lost time (Reuters)
Three Foreign-based Players Named in Ethiopia Squad (Reuters)
Nations Cup 2013: Ethiopia name squad (BBC)
Ethiopia Gearing up for Africa Cup 2013 (TADIAS)

In Pictures: Photographs of the Walya Antelopes – Ethiopia’s National Soccer Team

Video: Swedish-born midfielder Yussuf Saleh’s goal highlight – October 2012

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Stronger America Needs Stronger Ethiopia

Emperor Haile Selassie Chatting with President Franklin Roosevelt. (Photo: Corbis Images)

Addis Fortune via


On his return voyage from the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the then United States president, Franklin Roosevelt, held a successive one hour port-side chat with three kings. Aboard the heavy cruiser, USS Quincy, docked off the Great Bitter Lake of the Egyptian coast, the President discussed with King Farouk of Egypt, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the king of kings, Emperor Haileselassie of Ethiopia. This was the first face to face encounter between the leaders of Ethiopia and the United States.

Subsequently, the Emperor was able to meet with four US presidents in his six official visits to the United States, making him the leader with the highest number of official visits to Washington in the 20th century.

Of course, the Ethio-American relation goes way back to the time of Emperor Menelik and President Theodore Roosevelt. The United States was one of the pioneer countries to send a mission to Addis Abeba, after the victory of Adwa. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has seen highs and lows.


Update: Uganda Beat Ethiopia to Reach Cecafa Cup Quarter-finals

Uganda became the first nation to qualify for the 2012 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup after a 1-0 triumph over Ethiopia. (BBC)

By Andrew Jackson Oryada
BBC Sport, Kampala

The defending champions and hosts of the tournament scored early through Brian Umony in the ninth minute.

A heavy afternoon downpour made for a wet surface and difficult conditions but Uganda played with a lot of purpose to pin the Ethiopians back for long spells of the match.

Fikru Teferra Lemessa, the only player who featured prominently for the senior team that qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, gave a captain’s performance for Ethiopia but was kept in check well by the Cranes.

Read more at BBC News.

Ethiopia Wins Opening Game at East & Central African Cup (BBC Sport),

Ethiopia won its opening game at the East and Central African championship, the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala on Saturday. (BBC)

By Andrew Jackson Oryada

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

In the first Group A game of the day Ethiopia, who are heading to the Africa Cup of Nations finals in South Africa in January, edged out newcomers South Sudan 1-0.

Striker Yonathan Kebede scored in the 60th minute with a clever tap-in after the South Sudan defence was caught off guard.

Captain Leon Khamis had the two best chances for South Sudan, who were playing just their second ever international match after their 1-1 draw in a friendly against Uganda in July.

Assistant coach Seyoum Kebede, who is in charge of Ethiopia at the tournament rather than Sewnet Bishaw, admitted his side would have to improve.

“It is good to win the opening match in such a tournament, but we need to improve,” he said.

Read more at BBC News.

FIFA: Ethiopia Hosts Centre Workshop

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil draws closer, memories are not the only thing that remain of the first-ever World Cup on African soil two years ago in South Africa. For thousands of children in different African countries, the 2010 World Cup has had a real and positive impact on their lives through the Football for Hope Centres. (FIFA)

Friday 23 November 2012

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil draws closer, memories are not the only thing that remain of the first-ever World Cup on African soil two years ago in South Africa. For thousands of children in different African countries, the 2010 World Cup has had a real and positive impact on their lives through the Football for Hope Centres.

In November, delegates from all 20 Football for Hope Centres met in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abeba for the fifth Football for Hope Centre Host Workshop. “This is the first time that all the 20 Host Centre representatives have met for a roundtable workshop to share their experiences in establishing the centres,” said Cornelia Genoni, FIFA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme Manager.

Ian Mills, who is the Programme Manager of the Football for Hope Centres team, explained the project’s place as the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “FIFA wanted to leave a lasting legacy, not only in South Africa, but throughout the continent and 20 Centres for 2010 does just that.”


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New Coffee-table Book Highlights Ethiopian Diaspora Success

Image credit: Tsehai Publishers.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu, winner of the 2012 MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant,” is one of several Ethiopian-Americans highlighted in an upcoming coffee table book by California-based Tsehai Publishers. The publication documents the professional success of first and second generation Ethiopians in the United States and the Diaspora.

Additional features include entrepreneurs, artists, authors, musicians, and scientists such as Dr. Sossina M. Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology and an expert in materials science and fuel cells; Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged, Director and Curator of the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences and the paleoanthropologist who discovered the 3-year-old Selam (nicknamed Lucy’s baby), which lived 3.3 million years ago in Ethiopia and is considered the earliest known such fossil excavated in the history of Paleontology; Dr. Dagmawi Woubshet, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Cornell University; as well as chef Marcus Samuelsson, artist Julie Mehretu, Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Wayna (Woyneab Miraf Wondwossen), and Grammy-nominated musician and philanthropist Kenna (né Kenna Zemedkun), who in 2010 led a group of celebrity friends to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise awareness about the international clean water crisis.

“The book is an attempt to change global perception of Ethiopia by focusing on the many accomplishments of successful younger Ethiopians living throughout North America and Ethiopia today,” said Elias Wondimu, the book’s Publisher and Editorial Director. “These individuals are the sons and daughters, and younger siblings of those who lived through the 1970s Ethiopian political turmoil. By focusing on these individuals, we want to tell their parents’ story of resilience and share with the world the proud heritage that they commonly inherit as Ethiopians.”

Elias said the book’s working title, Yezare Abebawoch: Yenege Frewoch, is borrowed from the famous line by the former Ethiopian television children show host Tesfaye Sahlu. “In his infinite wisdom each time before telling a story, Ababa Tesfaye used to address his captive television audience — the children of yesteryear’s — as ‘flowers of today, seeds of tomorrow,’” he said. “The book focuses on these individuals who are doing beautiful work today, creating seeds for an even more wonderful future. It is the flowers of today that create the seeds of tomorrow. We are also trying to inspire Ethiopian children with these stories.”

Tsehai Publishers is seeking public funding for the book via Kickstarter, an online funding platform. Click here to learn more and support the project.

Image credit: Tsehai Publishers.

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Running News: Mohammed Aman Wins in Berlin After Key Victory in Zurich

Ethiopian Mohammed Aman celebrates his victory over Kenyan David Rudisha in the 800m in Zurich on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes | Running News

Published: Sunday, September 2, 2012

New York (TADIAS) World indoor champion Mohammed Aman ended an impressive 2012 season by winning the Berlin 800 meters on Sunday, three days after beating Olympic champion David Rudisha and setting an Ethiopian national record that ties the mark of the tenth-fastest 800m runner in history.

On Sunday, Aman ran one minute, 43.62 seconds to take the ISTAF Berlin 800 ahead of Kenya’s world junior silver medalist Edwin Kiplagat Melly, who finished in 1:44.36, and European championships silver medalist Andreas Bube of Denmark, who ran 1:45.12. Kenyan 2011 world youth champion Leonard Kosencha was fourth.

“This was a good race but I am not satisfied with the time,” said Aman, “I wanted to run a 1:42 time but the pacemaker was too slow. With this 400m time, I could not achieve a 1:42 time.”

On Thursday, Aman ran a personal best 1:42.53 in Zurich to defeat the world champion Rudisha of Kenya and improve the 1:43.20 Ethiopian record he had clocked at the London Olympics in sixth place. Aman also gathered the most points in the season-long IAAF Diamond League to lift the series title in the 800m in the Swiss city.

“It was the final Diamond League race and it featured the world record holder Rudisha, so it was a tough race,” Aman, who was well behind the tall Kenyan at the bell in Zurich but overtook him on the final straight, said in a telephone interview. “The pace was high so I was hanging back. My plan was to try to pull level with him with 100m remaining. I was feeling very good at that point, and the weather felt comfortable, even though it was raining.”

It was in similar rainy conditions in Milan that Aman became the only man to defeat Rudisha in the two-lap race last year, after becoming Ethiopia’s first ever 800m finalist at the world championships in Daegu. Aman also chased Rudisha hard in the last lap of the London Olympic final, running out of steam as the Kenyan went on to break his own world record and clock 1:40.91, with almost the entire field running personal bests in his wake.

Aman first broke the Ethiopian national record (Berhanu Alemu’s 2004 1:45.28) when he clocked 1:44.68 to take silver at the July 2011 world youth championships. He gradually lowered the mark to 1:43.37 by year’s end before improving it in 2012 in London and Zurich.

“This year, I was hoping to maybe break into the 1:41 range,” said Aman after the Swiss race. “My coach told me he thinks I can run a 1:41 or 1:42 time. I’m very happy I ran a fast time.” Aman is currently coached by Ethiopian national team trainer Negussie Gechamo.

In Zurich, where Ethiopian athletes ran with black armbands marking the passing of the nation’s prime minister Meles Zenawi the previous week, Aman’s finish equalled the time clocked in London by the bronze medalist Timothy Kitum of Kenya. The two athletes are now tied in third place on the 2012 world list and in tenth place on the list of history’s fastest 800m runners. The all-time list boasts luminaries past and present like Denmark’s Kenyan-born Wilson Kipketer, London 2012 Games chief Seb Coe of Great Britain, Abubaker Kaki of Sudan, Wilfred Bungei of Kenya and Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia.

“I was thinking that I had to win the race because it was the final Diamond League race and whoever wins it gets the trophy,” said Aman, who triumphantly punched the air with his right fist repeatedly on his approach to the finish line at the Weltklasse Zurich meet. “My victory delighted me. I knew I had beaten Rudisha twice, and I had taken first place in the Diamond League.”

The Diamond Trophy comes with a $40,000 prize, and as of 2012, the title also guarantees the winner entry into the subsequent world championships as a “wild card” entrant, in the same way that being a defending world champion does. A country can only enter one wild card entrant — either the defending champion or the Diamond race winner — in addition to three selected athletes, for a maximum of four in one event.

As Aman pointed out, that particular perk of the Diamond Trophy is potentially wasted on him.

“It’s great for events with three athletes, to allow a fourth,” he said. “Since I know I have the qualifying times, I am already confident of entry.”

In both Daegu and London, Aman was the solitary Ethiopian entrant in the men’s 800m, where there is a shortage of Ethiopian athletes at world class level, rather than a shortage of available slots on the championships team.

Ethiopia’s Abeba Aregawi also became a 2012 Diamond Trophy winner in Zurich in the women’s 1500, while in the inaugural 2010 and 2011 Diamond Leagues, Imane Merga won the 5000m title.

“It’s the first time the trophy has gone to Ethiopia in the 800, so I’m happy for my country and it’s a big deal for me too,” said Aman, who earned two 2012 Diamond League race wins, in Stockholm and Zurich, and one runner-up finish in Eugene – the same number of podium finishes in the league as Rudisha.

Along with Ethiopia’s Daegu women’s semi-finalist Fantu Magiso, who was a London contender before pulling out with injury, Aman has been an 800m trail-blazer in a land of long distance runners with lesser regard for the shorter distances.

“When you talk to people, they expect you to tell them you’re running 10,000m,” said Aman. “But I’ve accomplished good things, and as better results are achieved, people’s mindsets are also changing.”

Aman ends on a high note the year that began with victory at the indoor world championships in Istanbul in March. “My season is finished and I will fly home tomorrow,” he said in Berlin on Sunday. “I will celebrate our [Ethiopian] New Year in about 15 days.”

But he has his eyes set on continued 800m success at the 2013 world championships in Moscow and beyond. “I hope to accomplish better things still,” he said.

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Ethiopian Olympic Athletes Feted

Ethiopian Olympic Athletes Feted

Seated from left to right: Yanet Seyoum Gebremedhin, Tirunesh Dibaba, Werknesh Kidane, at an event in London on Monday evening celebrating their success at the 2012 London games. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Yohannes.)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Updated: Friday, August 17, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian athletes at the 2012 Olympics received a hero’s welcome even before they left London when the Ethiopian embassy there hosted a gala dinner in their honor Monday night.

Ethiopia earned seven medals, three of them gold, in athletics in London. The nation’s largest haul ever was in Sydney in 2000, where four out of a total of eight medals were gold; while in Beijing, four out of seven medals were gold.

Ethiopia’s ambassor to the UK, Berhanu Kebede, praised the London team.

“They are first in Africa in athletics and 24th overall and achieved excellent results, and are capable of doing even better,” he said. “They have tremendous potential. … We feel great pride. They have changed the image of Ethiopia and many people have come to know about Ethiopia.”

The nation leads the continent and trails just the United States, Russia, Jamaica and the United Kingdom on the athletics medal table, in which the order of countries is based on number of golds followed by number of silvers and then bronzes.

Kenya follows Ethiopia with two golds, though the country’s overall medal count in athletics, 11, is greater than its East African neighbor’s.

Out of 33 countries that medaled in athletics, only those six took more than one gold, with the rest of the table consisting of those with just one title or only lesser medals.

After a poet referred to the athletes as jewels and another speaker told them they had left Ethiopians abroad “awash in feelings of joy,” gold medalists Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba and silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel briefly took to the stage and addressed the gathering at London’s Porchester Hall on Monday night. Wood paneling and red velvet drapes covered the walls and chandeliers hung from the ceiling in the room, which was filled to capacity by a 450-strong crowd decked out in traditional Ethiopian and formal wear.

“You have contributed to our success,” the 5000m Olympic champion Defar told the gathering, citing the reception given to members of the Olympic delegation upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport among other displays of support London-based Ethiopians had provided.

Defar went on to point out the greater success at the London Olympiad of Ethiopia’s female athletes. Five of the seven medals and all three golds were earned by women.

Her comments received general cheers and applause and ululations from some women in the audience, and prompted London 5000m silver medalist Gebremeskel to draw laughter when he felt the need to begin his remarks by stating that he was not necessarily speaking on behalf of the male athletes, but rather the whole team. The London women’s 10,000m champion and 5000m bronze medalist Dibaba echoed Defar’s comments.

The two women and former world cross country champion Werknesh Kidane were resplendent in traditional white Ethiopian dresses, while a wider array of national costumes was on display on members of the audience, a troupe that performed traditional dances, and models taking part in a fashion show of clothes inspired by traditional designs.

“We wished to express the respect we have for [the athletes],” said the ambassador, explaining the goal of the event. “And secondly, to celebrate Ethiopia as a nation of great athletes, past and present. Furthermore, we feel this allows those who don’t know Ethiopia to experience our culture, our dress, our way of life.”

The evening included many non-Ethiopian guests, some having some connection to Ethiopia, and a buffet dinner of Ethiopian and Western fare. The highlight for most in the room, however, was clearly the proximity to the star athletes, who untiringly obliged their requests for photographs and occasional autographs.

Seated from left to right: Werknesh Kidane and Meseret Defar. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Yohannes)

Steeplechaser Nahom Mesfin (at right) and 1500m runner Dawit Wolde (not pictured) spontaneously escort London double medalist Tirunesh Dibaba, holding a banner Ethiopian flag behind her. (Photo by Sabrina Yohannes)

“I’ve run in London many times,” said Dibaba. “Many Ethiopians live here and they are always by our side, encouraging us. They left their work behind and came to the stadium to support us and their support means a lot to us. It gives me a morale boost and motivates me to run harder to please them.”

She also expressed pride in the female athletes’ performance in London, where Tiki Gelana won the women’s marathon and Sofia Assefa took bronze in the women’s steeplechase.

“It happens that way sometimes,” said national track coach Hussein Shibo on Tuesday. “The women’s performance has risen over the years.” He went on to enumerate the nine gold medals won by Ethiopian women at recent Olympiads since Barcelona in 1992 when Derartu Tulu became the first black African woman to win gold, and he compared that to the seven Ethiopian men’s golds in that time frame. (Ethiopia boycotted the 1984 and 1988 Games.)

“The numbers are close,” he said. “However, the women have shown growth and we are happy that they have come from behind and reached this level. In the 1500, if Abeba’s race hadn’t gone wrong and if Genzebe hadn’t been injured; and if [800m runner] Fantu hadn’t been injured, the women might have totally dominated the results. So perhaps we can say this time belongs to the women.”

Abeba Aregawi and Dibaba’s sister Genzebe were top contenders in the women’s 1500, but while Aregawi finished outside the medals, Dibaba was injured during the qualifying rounds. Injury also kept Fantu Magiso out of the women’s 800.

In many events, the competition is more fierce on the men’s side, while some countries’ cultures keep women out of sports. Ethiopian women have had the example of Tulu and 1996 Atlanta marathon champion Fatuma Roba to follow, augmented by the successes of Tirunesh Dibaba and Defar.

Injuries affected the men’s results in London too, with Beijing double champion Kenenisa Bekele making his way back from injury-filled years and the year’s second-fastest 5000m runner in the world, Hagos Gebrhiwet, having been injured in the lead-up to London, while Athens Olympics fourth-placer Gebregziabher Gebremariam suffered an injury while in London before the 10,000m race.

Bekele, who was fourth in that race, left London and headed back to Ethiopia a couple of days after it. His brother Tariku took bronze.

“The overall results are very good,” said London Olympic team leader Nega Gebregziabher on Monday, adding however, “We had expected a lot, and of those, we have achieved a few.”

“With some of the younger athletes, for example, in the 1500, the 800 and also the men’s 5000, in which we could have won, due to their youth and inexperience, we suffered losses,” he said. “We will assess our performance and guage what we must do going forward.”

Mohammed Aman was also widely expected to medal in the men’s 800.

“We have the world championships coming up [next year] and these youth are fully capable of being successful,” added Gebregziabher. “Ethiopians everywhere greatly encourage our athletes, and admire our athletes, and it’s important that they boost their morale and provide encouragement, and we are confident that they will.”

Meanwhile, an even younger athlete was taking in the proceedings at Porchester Hall with special appreciation. Ethiopia’s first ever female Olympic swimmer Yanet Seyoum Gebremedhin, 18, was seated next to Dibaba at the dinner.

“She’s a very strong athlete and a role model for us,” said Gebremedhin. “I’m so happy to be representing my country alongside her. I’ve always wanted to meet her.”

Her wish was granted when the athletics team arrived in London and Gebremedhin found herself staying on the same floor in the Olympic Village, and receiving words of encouragement from her and Defar and other team members.

“They all advised me to work hard and not give up hope,” said Gebremedhin, who watched their races with interest. “Swimming and running are very different, but I’ve learned many lessons,” she said. “They fight til the very end.”

Though not expected to medal, Gebremedhin had encouraging results of her own and hopes to inspire those who are younger still. “I improved my personal record, which is Ethiopia’s record,” she said. “I hope others will learn from my experience. I’ve competed for six years and to reach the Olympics in six years is very good, but I don’t have a coach and I work on my own. If we had coaches, we could do better and not just improve our own personal bests, but, I believe, make history.”

At the 2012 Olympics, Dibaba and Defar did make history. Tulu lost and then regained the 10,000 crown in 2000, but in London, the Beijing 2008 champion Dibaba became the first to successfully defend the title, while Defar became the only woman to win the 5000m twice, after she first won in Athens in 2004.

“It’s very pleasing that at this critical competition, at the Olympics, the whole team has performed this well,” said Defar.

Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar to Contest One Event Each at 2013 World Championships in Moscow

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Ethiopian Athletics Team Set to Begin Departures for London Olympics

Double Olympic champions Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele are among the elite Ethiopian athletes expected to arrive in London this week. (Photo: File / agencies)

Tadias Magazine
Running News | London 2012

By Sabrina Yohannes

London (TADIAS) – The 2012 London Olympic Games are officially open as of the declaration during the July 28 opening ceremony, but the bulk of Ethiopia’s star athletics team will arrive in the English capital during the subsequent week, ahead of the athletics program that starts Friday, August 3rd.

Ethiopia’s opening ceremony flag bearer is swimmer Yanet Seyoum Gebremedhin, one of two swimmers making history as the nation’s first at the Olympics.

Of the athletics team led by 2008 double Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, the first wave will leave Addis Ababa on Monday July 30; while the final batch, the men’s marathon runners, will depart a few days prior to that race, which is being held on the last day of the Olympics, August 12.


Dibaba’s 10,000-meter race is the first track final of the Games and takes place on the evening of Friday, August 3, when she will be joined by Belaynesh Oljira and former world cross country champion Werknesh Kidane.

Unlike at the athletics world championships, Olympic team reserve members will, for the most part, not travel to London, unless replacing an already-injured athlete, and only three athletes per race can be accredited to stay in the Olympic Village at any time. In the 5000m, though, the announced reserves are themselves members of the 10,000m team — and they are in fact the Beijing Olympic champions in both events.

In addition to leading the men’s and women’s 10,000 teams, Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba were named as reserves in the shorter event, so the possibility of both of them, Dibaba in particular, defending both titles remains.

Of the women on the 5000m team, the young Genet Yalew is significantly less accomplished than the runners she joined there, 2004 Olympic champion Meseret Defar and former world indoor 1500 champion Gelete Burka; and indeed, some athletes have referred to Yalew as the 5000m reserve.

If she contests the 5000, the former double world champion Dibaba will be tackling the first round heat in that event four days after her 10,000 final.


Contrary to media reports that referred to races in various European cities this summer as Ethiopian Olympic trials, selection to the nation’s Olympic team is based primarily on the fastest times run by athletes in their event this season, with their ongoing fitness also being taken into consideration. Typically, the year’s four fastest athletes in a given Olympic track event make up its roster of three runners and a reserve.

Dibaba contested just one 5000m track race this season, winning at the New York Diamond League in 14 minutes, 50.80 seconds, which is the fourth fastest among Ethiopian women this season, after the clockings of Defar, Burka and Yalew in Rome.

Similarly, Bekele ran the fifth-fastest Ethiopian men’s 5000m time of the year, 12:55.79, in Paris (while the fourth-fastest athlete, his brother Tariku, is contesting just the 10,000m). The fastest times in the entire world this year were those of Ethiopia’s 2011 world bronze medalist Dejen Gebremeskel and his compatriots Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yenew Alamirew, who all ran under 12:50 in the same Paris race.


The first round of the men’s 1500m, with Mekonnen Gebremedhin tackling the favorites, also takes place on the first day of athletics in London, followed the next morning by the 3000m steeplechase heats with Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew.

The night of Saturday August 4 features the men’s 10,000m final, an event in which Ethiopia has taken gold at every Olympics since 1996, courtesy of Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele. Former New York marathon champion Gebregziabher (Gebre) Gebremariam joins the Bekele brothers in London.

The women’s marathon final with 2009 world bronze medalist Aselefech Mergia and the women’s 1500m heats, featuring Dibaba’s world indoor champion sister Genzebe and newcomer Abeba Aregawi as contenders, round out the Ethiopian action in the first weekend of athletics.

While Ethiopia, historically a nation of long distance runners, has genuine 800m medal hopes this year in Fantu Magiso and especially Mohammed Aman, Bereket Desta is entered in the 400m having met the lower “B” standard of entry for the sprint event.

Dates of London 2012 athletics finals with Ethiopian finalists anticipated:

Friday August 3rd:  9:25pm – Women’s 10,000m.
Saturday August 4th:  9:15pm – Men’s 10,000m.
Sunday August 5th:  11am – Women’s marathon; 9:25pm – Men’s 3000m steeplechase.
Monday August 6th:  9:05pm – Women’s 3000m steeplechase.
Tuesday August 7th:  9:15pm – Men’s 1500m.
Thursday August 9th:  8pm – Men’s 800m.
Friday August 10th:  8:05pm – Women’s 5,000m; 8:55pm – Women’s 1500m.
Saturday August 11th:  7:30pm – Men’s 5000m; 8pm – Women’s 800m.
Sunday August 12th:  11am – Men’s marathon.

Ethiopian athletes entered in London 2012 athletics events
(as previously announced, including, in italics, those reserves who will likely not travel to London):

Men: Bereket Desta

Men: Mohammed Aman
Women: Fantu Magiso

Men: Mekonnen Gebremedhin, Dawit Wolde, Teshome Dirirsa; Aman Wote (reserve)
Women: Abeba Aregawi, Genzebe Dibaba, Meskerem Assefa

Men: Dejen Gebremeskel, Hagos Gebrhiwet, Yenew Alamirew; Kenenisa Bekele (reserve)
Women: Meseret Defar, Gelete Burka, Genet Yalew; Tirunesh Dibaba (reserve)

Men: Kenenisa Bekele, Tariku Bekele, Gebregziabher Gebremariam;
Lelisa Desisa (reserve)
Women: Tirunesh Dibaba, Belaynesh (sometimes spelled Beleynesh) Oljira, Werknesh Kidane;
Aberu Kebede (reserve)

Men: Ayele Abshero, Dino Sefer, Getu Feleke;
Tadesse Tola (reserve)
Women: Tiki Gelana, Aselefech Mergia, Mare Dibaba;
Bezunesh Bekele (reserve)

3000m Steeplechase
Men: Roba Gari, Birhan Getahun, Nahom Mesfin
Women: Sofia Assefa, Hiwot Ayalew, Etenesh Diro;
Zemzem Ahmed (reserve)

Ethiopia at Summer Stage NYC: Q & A With Guitarist Selam Woldemariam

Guitarist Selam Seyoum Woldemariam, former member of legendary Ethiopian bands, Ibex and Roha, will be featured in Tomás Doncker's upcoming performance at NYC's SummerStage Theater presented by Time Warner. (Photo: Selam at Howard Theatre in D.C. on May 26th, 2012 / by tsedey foto)

Tadias Magazine
By Tsedey Aragie

Updated: Monday, July 2, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Guitarist Selam Woldemariam is scheduled to take part in this month’s Summer Stage concert in New York, paying a musical tribute to Ethiopia’s storied resistance against Italian occupation during world war II. The show entitled The Power of the Trinity is an adaptation of a play by American writer, the late Roland Wolf. The stage production is directed by Alfred Preisser and the music is scored by New York-based musician Tomás Doncker.

According to City Parks Foundation NYC’s annual “SummerStage” concerts, sponsored by AT&T, brings over 100 performances to eighteen parks throughout New York City. Selections range from pop, latin and world music to dance, spoken word and theater. Selam will perform at Springfield Park in Queens on July 27th and 28th, as well as at Central Park in Manhattan on July 31st. The show will conclude at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem on August 5th.

Below is our recent interview with Selam Woldemariam:

But first, here are video clips from Selam’s recent appearance at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. during a Memorial Day weekend concert featuring Mahmoud Ahmed and Gosaye Tesfaye.


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Q & A With Guitarist Selam Woldemariam:

TADIAS: Please tell us about your upcoming NYC show. How did you get involved with the project?

Selam Woldemariam: I got involved with the project 3 years ago, when I met Tomás Doncker. At the time the sons of the playwright Roland Wolf were working to continue their father’s work. They were setting out to complete the play he wrote about the second Italian invasion and Haile Selassie’s leadership role. Roland Wolf’s sons met with Tomás Doncker about doing the score for the play. This was the driving force behind the Power of the Trinity project. Doncker was interested in creating a fusion of Ethiopian music and was particularly inspired by the Ethiopiques CD series number seven. Doncker did not expect to find the musicians from the Ibex band still doing the music thing. So this led to the meeting between Tomás Doncker and I in Washington D.C. one afternoon. I served as a production consultant in the play and co-wrote 3 to 4 songs on the album. The play will feature an all-American cast and I have been working with the cast so that they deliver their lines with an Ethiopian twist.

TADIAS: Tomás says you are the Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia.

SW: (Laughter). I call him ‘Gash Tomás.’ I’m happy to have worked with him; he is a man of his word. He is an inspiring individual that really brought out the best part of me. He was so enthusiastic about learning how to play Tizita. It was one of those unique situations that allowed us to really have an open meeting of the minds that doesn’t come around often.

We also played together at the Blue Note Jazz club in New York — where one of our sets was completely sold out. Tomás Doncker is also an incredible songwriter he composed an album of 11 to 12 songs it was great to work with him. My job was to maintain the authenticity and infuse commonly known melodies like Tizita, Anchi Hoye, Bati, and Ambassel; translating important highlighted words from the songs. I chose Tsegaye Selassie from Lasta Band for his unique voice that is most known for the ancient, raw folk sounds that are heard throughout the old city of Roha, which is known as Lalibella. Commonly known as Lalibeloch, they would go out into the city and sing spiritual songs early in the morning. We added 3 to 4 new compositions, which included Mahmoud Ahmed’s newest Guragigna song.

TADIAS: How would you describe the music and what are your expectations for SummerStage?

SW: The genre is classified as global soul, because it connects the world with the sounds of Africa, specifically traditional Ethiopian melodies, which is classified as pentatonic. I am excited about playing on some of the most prestigious stages in NY. I expect a large turnout with people from all over the globe, because it is a transient and global sound. It is very different. I believe that this is a great opportunity for people to experience Ethiopian music.

TADIAS: Please tell our readers more about yourself. (where you were born, grew up, and how you developed your passion for music?)

SW: I was born in Addis Abeba where my father was the Director of one of the first school that was established for the vision impaired. I grew up in Kazanchis on the compound of the school. The Missionaries from the Protestant Church were the teachers at the school, and this is where I was first exposed to music and singing. My father was later commissioned to be the director of the second school in Asmara. That’s when I started to get involved with music. In Asmara we put a quintet band together, which was a church group that I formed at the age of 11. We were very popular; we had so many supporters and were highly encouraged. Right after I finished high school I joined the Black Soul Band with members Alemayehu Eshete, and Slim Jones, and toured with Orchestra Ethiopia in 1973. Orchestra Ethiopia is mostly known for Tesfaye Lemma and his group, who did their first and last tour in 1969 when they traveled to the U.S. with Charles Sutton. The band broke up so Hailemariam G. Giorgis the keyboard player and I went to play at the Venus club. Months after, the Zimbabwean guitarist left Ibex Band and so they were looking for a guitarist. This is when I joined the Ibex band and shortly after brought Hailemariam with me. This is when it all began. The first recording was Ere Mela Mela by Mahmoud, which later became Ethiopiques number seven. That’s when people began to recognize me as a guitar player. We produced most of Mahmoud’s music, and an album for Tilahun Gessese, and one for Aster Aweke, these recordings spanned from 1975 to 1978. The most important recording at that time was the Ibex Instrumental where musicians like Abegaz, Henock, and Fasil started their humble beginnings. They all have mentioned this music during their interviews. During this time in 1979, is when the vinyl era began to decline and the cassette tapes appeared in the market. Then, three members of the Ibex Band: Giovanni Rico, Fekadu Amdemeskel, and I, formed the Roha Band. During this time Roha band recorded close to 250 albums. Most of the Roha recordings were done in the basement of Ghion Hotel that was our Motown.

TADIAS: We understand that you are also writing a book. Can you tell us about it?

SW: Yes, this will be a book about my reflection on Ethiopian music. It’s a subject that not many people write about. I have kept a memoir of the events and concerts that took place when we were on tour. I studied History at Addis Abeba University where I graduated in 1988; my senior essay was titled “Origin and development of Zemenawi music in Ethiopia (1896-1974)”. I prefer to say Zemenawi and not “Modern” because the word “modern” implies that the music is somehow better in terms of quality, which I don’t believe it is. I have pictures and of course a database of music that was produced during the era of what is known as the ‘Golden Years of Ethiopian Music.’ I’m currently looking for a grant to finish the work.

TADIAS: Regarding your guitar, why are you so in love with Gibson 335 ES?

SW: (Laughter). When I joined Ibex band at the end of 1974, my guitar was a Yamaha and then I started to listen to Crusaders and the guitar player Larry Carlton. And he plays the Gibson 335 ES and I have been greatly influenced by Carlton who is known for his elements of Blues. I had a good friend of mine who brought me the guitar back in 1979 from NYC. During the communist regime it was not so easy to get things into the country. Some time after I received the guitar, I heard through the grapevine that someone was selling the same guitar. Come to find out my friend had bought two and was trying to sell the other. So I caught up with him and took the guitar for half the price because he tried to sell my style guitar behind my back. So I have two Gibsons, which I refer to as the twins.

TADIAS: Thank you, Selam, and best wishes from all of us at TADIAS!
If You Go:
SummerStage Theater Presented By Time Warner
Written by: Roland Wolf
Adapted & Directed By: Alfred Preisser
Original Music Composition by Tomás Doncker
7.31.2012 | 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm | Central Park
Live global-soul music sets the backdrop for SummerStage’s world premiere of The Power of the Trinity.

Click here for complete schedule.

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2012: Tadias Interview with Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is the Founder & Managing Director of SoleRebels — a fair trade certified green footwear company based in Ethiopia. (Photo: Courtesy of SoleRebels)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Monday, March 19, 2012

New York (TADIAS)- Our third highlight for Women’s History Month series is Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder & Managing Director of SoleRebels, the internationally recognized green footwear company based in Addis Ababa. Bethlehem was born, raised and educated in Ethiopia. Since she launched her company in 2005, allowing for the creation of hundreds of local jobs, she has garnered international recognition. Last year she was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. And most recently Forbes Magazine declared her one of Africa’s Most Successful Women. She is currently an NYC Venture Fellow, a program established by Mayor Michael Bloomberg two years ago that is designed to connect promising entrepreneurs from around the world with mentors and investors from leading companies in New York City.

Below is our Q&A with Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu.

TADIAS: What do you most enjoy about your work?

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu: I really love sharing Ethiopia’s artisan heritages with the world and combining our cultural products with modern design sensibilities. For example, our sandals and shoes are lined with fabric produced from organic cotton, which we hand-spin and loom. So working in this manner not only preserves local assets, but also provides our customers with stylish and comfortable footwear. And we are constantly taking our idea further and pushing the boundaries.

TADIAS: Who are your female role models?

BTA: My mother is my role model. A simple hardworking woman who taught me the value of hard, honest work, encouraged me to get a good education and supported my desire to dream! I am also surrounded by strong, talented creative women in my company, who put in a full day of honest work in order to both elevate this company and provide for their families. Their work ethic inspires me daily.

TADIAS: What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur and business executive?

BTA: Any entrepreneur building something from scratch is bound to face obstacles and a myriad of challenges. Its been interesting because my experience in running my company has been a very positive one. I don’t feel limitations because of my gender nor allowed myself to be limited by others’ perceptions of my gender. However, I am well aware that there have been many times when people attempted to limit me because of my gender. My belief has been in never allowing those limitations to take hold. It always carried me through and let me transcend those obstacles placed in front of me. Such experiences have made me aware of the challenges faced by women, and has made me passionate about ensuring that women around me are given all the tools they need to not simply cope with these challenges, but to flourish in spite of them. At the end of the day, the best weapon for success is performance.

TADIAS: What are some practical tips you can give for young Ethiopian women who want to follow in your footsteps?

BTA: First and foremost, I would say get a good education. That’s critical. And never be afraid of hard work. Believe me there is no such thing as “overnight success.” So get ready for reality. And never ever be afraid to dream big.

TADIAS: Please tell us briefly about yourself (where you were born, grew up, school and how you developed your passion for your work?)

BTA: I was born and raised in the Zenabwork/Total area of Addis Abeba, which is one of the most impoverished and marginalized communities in Ethiopia. When I was growing up, Ethiopia had plenty of charity “brands” but not enough grassroots effort for development. I was fresh out of college in 2005 when I embarked to shift the discourse on development from one of dependecy only on foreign aid and NGOs to maximizing local talent and resources. Our vision was to provide solid community-based jobs while creating a world class brand, which we have done.

TADIAS: Is there anything else you would like to share with Tadias readers that we have not asked you about?

BTA: We are aiming to open at least fifteen stores outside of Ethiopia by 2015. we have already implemented franchise agreements in Taiwan and are currently finalizing retail proposals in China, US, UK, Australia, Italy, Canada, Spain and Japan. We have many more exciting initiatives in the pipeline so stay tuned!

TADIAS: Thank you so much, Bethlehem, and Happy Women’s History month from all of us at Tadias!

Stay tuned for more highlights celebrating Ethiopian women role models and change agents.

Watch: Bethlehem Tells SoleRebels’ History (2011 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship)

Interview with Birtukan Midekssa
Interview with Artist Julie Mehretu
Interview With Model Maya Gate Haile
Interview with Nini Legesse
Interview with Sahra Mellesse
Interview with Lydia Gobena
Interview with Maaza Mengiste
Interview with Grammy-nominated singer Wayna
Interview with Journalist Fanna Haile-Selassie
Interview with Dr. Mehret Mandefro
New Book Highlights Stories of 70 Accomplished Ethiopian Women

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Outstanding Women in Science: Interview with Professor Sossina Haile

Dr. Sossina Haile is an expert in materials science and fuel cells, new technology that converts chemical energy to electricity. (Photo courtesy of Sossina Haile. Cover image via Addis Ababa Online)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – The scientific quest to find alternative sources of fuel is an expensive endeavor. And when Dr. Sossina Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology, prodded fuel cell makers in the late ’90s to come up with a cheaper prototype, they hesitated. She decided to work on a solution and created the world’s first solid-acid fuel cell at her laboratory. By 2008, two of her former students had taken the lab idea and created a start-up to develop a commercial prototype. Dr. Sossina Haile’s work has been praised for helping to push the green energy revolution, and last October she was invited to give an ‘Outstanding Women in Science’ lecture at Indiana University.

We asked Dr. Sossina Haile a few questions:

Tadias: When did you first discover your love of science? What was the catalyst?

SH: I have enjoyed science as far back as I can remember. I have always loved the fact that it makes sense and as I child I discovered I was good at it. We have a tendency to gravitate towards things in which we excel.

Tadias: Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up? The influential individuals and role models in your life?

SH: I was born in Addis Abeba, and we moved permanently to the US when I was almost ten. In all honesty, there was not a particular individual who served as a role model for me in the pursuit of a scientific career. I was extremely fortunate in that my parents supported my choices. This was particularly important since many of my classmates were, shall I say, uncomfortable, with a girl in the industrial arts class rather than home economics.

Tadias: As a Professor and Researcher at Caltech you created a new type of fuel cell. Can you tell us more about the new material discovery and the implications of its real world application?

SH: The new material allows fuel cells to operate at temperatures that are hot enough so that the fuel cell is efficient, but not so hot that the fuel cell is too expensive. Fuel cells convert chemical energy, like hydrogen or natural gas, into electricity. There are many, many reasons why a consumer can’t go out and buy a fuel cell from the hardware store today. Our fuel cells take an entirely fresh approach at trying to solve those problems.

Tadias: Last October you were invited to give the Outstanding Women in Science lecture at Indiana University on the topic of “Creating a Sustainable Energy Future.” You note that “the challenge modern society faces is not one of identifying a sustainable energy source, but rather one of capitalizing on the vast, yet intermittent, solar resource base.” Can you tell us some of the additional ways that you envision capitalizing on clean energy sources?

SH: If we are to use the sun as our primary energy source, then we definitely need to develop ways to store its energy for use on demand. In my lab we have started to do this by converting the sunlight to heat, and then using the heat to drive reactions that create fuels like hydrogen and methane from water and carbon dioxide.

Tadias: In 2008 you served as Advisor for Superprotonic, a start-up founded by a few of your former Caltech students who wanted to develop commercial prototypes of the world’s first solid-acid fuel cells created in your lab. Can you elaborate on this venture? What are the future prospects for the commercialization of your work?

SH: Superprotonic, Inc. has as its mission the commercialization of fuel cells based on the materials, the solid-acids, developed in my laboratory. Due to the economic upheavals the work has transferred to a new company, SAFCell, but the mission and the key participants are unchanged. We remain hopeful that the company will be able to manufacture fuel cells that are ultimately more efficient and less costly than others being developed today.

Tadias: What aspects of teaching and research do you enjoy the most?

SH: I delight in the discovery. When results make sense and we are able to explain something, I am thrilled. When that discovery has potential to solve critical societal problems, I am ecstatic.

Tadias: What words would you share with other young, aspiring scientists?

SH: I am asked this frequently and I find myself repeating the advice “follow your passions.” I think the corollary is that you should not be constrained by what others think of you. The beauty of pursuing scientific endeavors is that really the only thing that matters is what your brain can deliver, not all of the superficial things that can so easily distract us.

Tadias: What is your favorite way (or activity) to unwind and relax from a busy, challenging schedule?

SH: The wonderful thing about what I do is that generally I have no desire to ‘get away from it.’ But I confess that occasionally I will indulge in a good book to keep me company on the long flight back from a meeting or conference. I recently finished Chains of Heaven by Philip Marsden. It was fantastic.

Tadias: Thank you for taking the time to share your outstanding work with our readers, and best wishes in your research endeavors.

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Melkam Addis Amet! (Happy Ethiopian New Year!)

Above: We wish our readers Melkam Addis Amet! (Happy New
Year!). Enjoy Teddy Afro’s Abebayehosh via YouTube – (Yoniii)

Dispute Leaves Miss Ethiopia Without Prize

Above: Contestants at the 2010 Miss Ethiopia Pageant in July
were promised that the winner will be awarded a brand new car.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New York (Tadias) – The winner of the 2010 Miss Ethiopia pageant was to receive a brand new ride, the Chinese made Lifan 320, except the car dealership Yangfan Motors in Addis Ababa, who is the announced sponsor of the event, says it never made a written agreement to deliver the prize.

According to Addis Fortune, “Ethiopian Village Adventure Playground (EVAP) is to wait until Thursday, August 12, 2010, to see whether Yangfan will award a Lifan 320 to the newest Miss Ethiopia. Failing to deliver the prize may result in being taken to court while Yangfan, in turn, threatened to sue EVAP for defamation.”

Melkam Michael, a sophomore at Addis Abeba University Law School, was named winner of the prize last month at a ceremony held at the Hilton Addis, featuring celebrity judges including Mulatu Astatke and Meseret Mebrate.

The pageant organizers, who had publicized the award in advance, accused Yangfan Motors of canceling its commitment at the last minute and stealing their copy of the written agreement. According to Murad Mohammed, director of EVAP, Yangfan Motors took his copy of the written document without his knowledge, and he has been unable to regain possession of it. “It is not the 18th or 19th century where people only agree on something orally,” he told Fortune.

Yangfan Motors’ local Marketing Manager William Wong rejected the claims, denying the existence of such a binding contract. “There was no agreement to cancel,” he said. “We did not agree to give them a car and because EVAP did not carry out its responsibilities, we are not going to give them any discount.”

The report, however, points to another document that indicates the existence of a prior understanding. “Yangfan Motors had sent EVAP a letter on April 23, 2010, complaining that they had failed to promote the company on public media and billboards. The company demanded that the problems be corrected within one week or it would be ‘forced to cancel our entitled agreement of cooperation,’ according to the letter. ”

Meanwhile, Melkam says although she is happy to be named Miss Ethiopia 2010, she would not mind to sit behind the wheel. “I would be happy if I get the promised car,” she said.

Cover image: Group photo of Miss Ethiopia 2010 contestants (

Spotlight on Photographer Aida Muluneh – Video

Aida Muluneh has been named the winner of the 2010 CRAF International Award of Photography in Italy. (Photo from Tadias video)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, July 25, 2010

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh has been named the recipient of the 2010 CRAF’s International Award of Photography at a ceremony in Italy.

The 2010 prize, which was given to Aida by the scientific commission of CRAF, has previously been awarded to notable figures of the international photographic scene, including Charles Henri Favrod, Erich Hartmann, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peter Galassi, Paolo Gasparini, Josef Koudelka, Joan Fontcuberta, Anne Cartier-Bresson, Naomie Walter Rosenblum, Alain Sayag, Margit Zuckriegl, Erich Lessing and Bernard Plossu.

“Aida Muluneh directs her attention as a photographer in particular towards the women of the African diaspora, concentrating on the bonds and the disagreements between the generations, the joys and the pains of life,” the organization said in explaining its reasons why it chose to honor the Ethiopian photographer. “Her subjects transmit, with a mixture of grace and power, the vicissitudes related to the phenomenon of the dispersion of the African people.”

The prize committee said the accolade is also a recognition of Aida’s continued efforts to establish a photography educational-institution in her native country. “In the year that CRAF has dedicated to Africa with the exhibit ‘Glimpses of Africa’, the International Award of Photography awarded to this young and very accomplished photographer – who is what’s more socially committed to the creation of a school of photography dedicated to young people, in Addis Abeba – is also intended to be in recognition of all of the young and emerging African photographers,” the group said.

In the following interview with, Aida talks about photography, working in Ethiopia, and her new book entitled Ethiopia: Past/Forward.

We note that photos displayed during her discussion of the book are not necessarily included in the book. The film clips and music, which accompany her interview, are part of the artist’s recent documentary movie also entitled Ethiopia: Past/Forward.


The interview with Aida Muluneh was taped in New York prior to her most recent award. ( Kidane Films)

Obama: Breach Was Potentially ‘Catastrophic’

Above: An undated photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,
the suspect in the thwarted bombing, was made available
by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Wall Street Journal
HONOLULU — President Barack Obama on Tuesday said a -
“potential catastrophic breach” of security led to the x-mas
Day attempted bombing on a Detroit-bound airplane.

Video: Obama on System Failures CBS

Man claims fellow passenger videotaped attempted bombing
The Detroit News
Paul Egan
The person was returning from Ethiopia with two adopted children
A Wisconsin man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day says his daughter saw a man videotape the entire flight, including an attempt by a passenger to blow up the aircraft. Charlie Keepman of Oconomowoc said he and his wife and daughter, Ricki, were aboard the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit Metropolitan Airport as the family returned from Ethiopia with two children they had just adopted. “This person actually was videotaping it,” said Keepman, adding that several passengers saw the man, who was seated a few rows in front of them aboard the aircraft. Finding him and his videotape was of great interest to FBI officials who questioned passengers following the flight, Keepman said. Federal officials had no immediate comment. Read more.

Obama Seeks to Assure U.S.; Qaeda Group Stakes Claim
The New York Times
HONOLULU — President Obama emerged from Hawaiian seclusion on Monday to try to quell gathering criticism of his administration’s handling of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner as a branch of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility. Read more

Obama vows to ‘keep up the pressure’ on terrorists

Above: Former bank official Alhaji Umaru Mutallab,
father of the suspected terrorist. ( FirstBankNigeria)

Press Statement by the Mutallab Family

Our family, like the rest of the world, were woken up in the early hours of Saturday, 26th December, 2009 to the news of an attempt to blow up a plane by a young Nigerian man, who was later identified as Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab is the son of Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru AbdulMutallab, the head of this Family.

Prior to this incident, his father, having become concerned about his disappearance and stoppage of communication while schooling abroad, reported the matter to the Nigerian security agencies about two months ago, and to some foreign security agencies about a month and a half ago, then sought their assistance to find and return him home. We provided them with all the information required of us to enable them do this. We were hopeful that they would find and return him home. It was while we were waiting for the outcome of their investigation that we arose to the shocking news of that day.

The disappearance and cessation of communication which got his mother and father concerned to report to the security agencies are completely out of character and a very recent development, as before then, from very early childhood, Farouk, to the best of parental monitoring, had never shown any attitude, conduct or association that would give concern. As soon as concern arose, very recently, his parents, reported it and sought help.

The family will continue to fully cooperate with local and international security agencies towards the investigation of this matter, while we await results of the full investigation.

We, along with the whole world, are thankful to Al-Mighty God that there were no lives lost in the incident. May God continue to protect us all, amen.

Finally, as the matter is being investigated by the various agencies, and has already been mentioned in a US court, the family requests that the press should regard this as the only statement it will make for now.

Thank you.

The Mutallab Family

Abuja, Nigeria

Nigerian Charged with Trying to Blow Up Airliner
Voice of America
Nico Colombant | Washington 26 December 2009
U.S. authorities have charged a Nigerian man with trying to blow up a plane on its descent into the city of Detroit on Friday. The man, who comes from a prominent Nigerian family, was read the charges in a hospital Saturday, where he is being treated for burns. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman read the 23-year-old his charges in a room at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. Read More.

Watch Video: Man charged in US plane bomb plot – 27 Dec 09

Wisconsin family battled fear on targeted flight
Associated Press
By CARRIE ANTLFINGER | 5:32 p.m. CST, December 26, 2009
MILWAUKEE – Richelle Keepman and her parents were flying home from Ethiopia where her parents just adopted two children when they heard a pop and saw two terrified flight attendants run for fire extinguishers. The 24-year-old, her parents, Charles and Patricia Keepman, and her new 6-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother were sitting near the back of the plane. They were about 20 rows behind the 23-year-old man who is accused of trying detonate an explosive device as the Northwest flight was preparing to land in Detroit. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria was charged Saturday in the Christmas Day attempt that only sparked a fire on the flight from Amsterdam. The family was flying from Addis Abeba. Read more.

Father of Terror Suspect Reportedly Warned U.S.

Above: Former bank official Alhaji Umaru Mutallab,
father of the suspected terrorist. ( FirstBankNigeria)

FOX News | Saturday, December 26, 2009
The alleged father of a Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day reportedly warned the U.S. about his son’s fanatical religious views and activities, the New York Post reported. Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, believed to be the suspected terrorist’s father, told a Nigerian news outlet that six months ago he alerted the U.S. Embassy to his son’s fanatical religious views, the Post reported. He allegedly told Nigerian newspaper This Day that he had informed both the U.S. Embassy and the Nigerian security services of his 23-year-old son Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s activities, the Post reported. Read more.

Baalu Girma Foundation Launched in Michigan

Photos Courtesy of

Addis Abeba — Baalu Girma Foundation has been founded by the daughter of the prominent author and journalist Baalu Girma twenty five years after he went missing during the Dergue Marxist regime.

According to Meskerem Bealu Girma, the Foundation will be based in Michigan in the US and would strive to empower creative writers and journalists underrepresented in East Africa.

She said the foundation-a non-profit organisation established to promote learning- intends to achieve its mission through long-term and short-term projects, workshops, and talent-based academic awards. Read More.

On Thursday, February 14, 1984, Ethiopia lost one of its most acclaimed journalists and influential novelists. Baalu Girma left his home around 5:30 p.m. that evening – not knowing that it was to be the last time he would ever see his family. A devoted father, loved for his kindness and gentle demeanor, and widely respected for his professional work, his vanishing from the scene has left a big void in the hearts of many.

Baalu’s disappearance came seven months after his last novel, Oromay (The End), was abruptly removed from bookstores and banned from the market. Shortly thereafter, Baalu was dismissed from his permanent secretary position at the Ministry of Information and was accused of jeopardizing the revolution.

Oromay is Baalu’s masterpiece in which he playfully disguises and portrays flawed fictional characters to present a controversial view of one of Africa’s protracted and harsh political realities: Mengistu H. Mariam’s all out campaign to attempt to resolve the long standing conflict between Ethiopia and Eretria. In the work, he exposes the cruelty and the recklessness of top government officials and generals. In this captivating plot, Baalu shows the shortcomings of the government’s large-scale operations and foresees its eventual downfall. Oromay naturally angered members of the ruling party, including the dictatorial chairman Mengistu H. Mariam. The outcome of the book, however, did not disappoint Baalu – he had decided to accept great personal risk at the outset to tell the truth as a journalist and writer. Despite the continued surveillance of his whereabouts by the security officers, Baalu refused to go into hiding; in fact he had started working on another fiction when he was abducted by the military junta and begun reported missing.
The Early Years

Baalu Girma was born on September 22, 1939, in the province of Illiubabor, Ethiopia. His father was an Indian businessman, and his mother a local woman born to a wealthy family. His parents’ marriage ended when his father decided to move his family to Addis Ababa, and his mother’s family refused to permit them to leave. After the separation, Baalu’s father continued to provide for his son; but Baalu never managed to develop a strong relationship with his father. In college, he changed his last name to Girma, after a family who took him in as their own and gave him love and care throughout his childhood in Addis.

Aside from being very close to his maternal grandfather and having some loving memories of one particular teacher, Baalu rarely talked about his childhood in Illiubabor. After he completed traditional Ethiopian schooling as a child, Baalu moved to Addis Ababa and became a boarding student at the Zeneb Worq Elementary School.

Although he was academically very bright, as a youngster, he was also known for being a bit of a troublemaker. In fact, he was known to organize a school-wide protest in order to get his wishes.

Baalu’s excellent grades earned him a scholarship at General Wingate Secondary School. In 1951, he entered General Wingate, and it was there that he found his calling in journalism and creative writing. He often thanked his English teacher, Miss Marshall, for inspiring him and teaching him the technique of writing short sentences.
College Life

In 1962, Baalu earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism from Addis Ababa University. As an undergraduate, Baalu mixed academic excellence with the practice of journalism. He served as a news correspondent for the Ethiopian Herald (a prominent English-language newspaper) and as Editor-in-Chief of News and Views, a well-known university newspaper. As a young editor, Baalu was often critical of the emperor’s administration and his government’s policies, which at times forced Baalu to interrupt his school and go into hiding.

Despite these challenges, Baalu earned a full scholarship and obtained a master’s degree in Political Science and Journalism from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Professional Life

Late in 1963, Baalu returned to Ethiopia and began his career in the Ministry of Information as Editor-in- Chief of Ye’Zareyitu Ethiopia, a weekly newspaper published in the Amharic language.

In 1965, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Addis Reporter, a weekly magazine published in the English language. After three years of outstanding service, Baalu left the Addis Reporter and became Editor-in-Chief of the Ethiopian Herald, a daily English-language newspaper.

The early stage of his professional life did not go without incidents. Once he was suspended from his editorship role over a controversial editorial he had written in Addis Reporter, a weekly magazine published in the English language. Later, when returned to work, he had to accept a salary cut.

From 1970 to 1974, Baalu served as Editor-in-Chief of Addis Zemen, a mainstream daily newspaper published in the Amharic language. During the country-wide violence and profound political change in 1974, Addis Zemen, under the editorship of Baalu, remained the only unbiased and trusted source of information.

While he was the Editor-in-Chief of Addis Zemen, Baalu also wrote two of his most popular novels, Kadmas Basahger (Beyond the Horizon) and Ye’hillina Dewel (The Bell of Conscience).

In 1974, Baalu left Addis Zemen and became Deputy General Manager of the Ethiopian News Agency. Within a year, he was promoted to the General Manager position and remained in that post until 1977. At the end of 1977, Baalu became the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information.

In addition to being a journalist and writer, Baalu served as guest lecturer of creative writing at Addis Ababa University.

Throughout his career, Baalu was known for his passion for his work, integrity, and willingness to defy the powerful. He was never afraid to challenge himself and others around him. Baalu was very much liked and respected by his co-workers. Many who had the privilege to work with him considered his leadership exemplary.
Final Days

As Baalu’s responsibilities increased, so did his frustration with the absolute dictatorship and lack of freedom of expression. With his passionate and skillful writing, Baalu continued to criticize the government and expose the widespread human rights abuses in the country. The vigorous novelist presented six acclaimed novels, four of which – Ye’kei Kokeb Teri (Call of the Red Star), Haddis (titled after the main character of the book), Derasiw (The Writer), and Oromay (The End) – were written while the military junta was in power and human right abuses in the country were at their peak.

Oromay, like his previous novels, captured the social and political affairs of the time. Although no names were mentioned, Baalu depicted high-ranking government officials in the book and characterized them so as to make their similarities to the contemporary leaders apparent to his readers. Of course, the courage that he had shown in Oromay made him increasingly popular, but it also created quite a number of powerful adversaries. Baalu was abducted by the military junta security forces while trying to exercise his right to freedom of expression.

After his shocking disappearance, the military junta classified Baalu as a missing person and circulated a leaflet asking everyone to cooperate in the fake search. A week later, family members found Baalu’s car outside of Addis Ababa on the way to Debre-Zeit, but no one has heard from Baalu since. He vanished into thin air, with a big dream and an unfinished manuscript.

Baalu’s books are his legacy, and they remain relevant and powerful. Even long after his short life on this earth, his literary work continues to inspire many.

Along with his wife, Almaz Aberra, Baalu is survived by his daughter, Meskerem, his sons, Zelalem and Kibre, and his granddaughter, Naomi-Baalu Gizaw.

The ‘peculiar’ city of Addis Ababa , the Capital of Ethiopia

Above: Tourists view the a replica of hominid “Lucy” at a
Museum in Addis Ababa recently.

The Daily Nation, Kenya
By HENRY OWUOR in Addis Ababa
Tuesday, February 3 2009

Why Ethiopian capital is unique

Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba or “new flower’’ in Amharic is what one can rightly call, in some well known parlance, a “peculiar’’ city.

There are many factors that make this city very unique. One of these is the fact that the city was never planned by Europeans since Ethiopia was never colonised.

Given its unique history, in Addis, street names hardly exist and the few that exist have their local names that are not the ones that are displayed.

In Addis, if you tell a taxi driver to take you to Ethio-China Street, he will have no idea what you are talking about. But, if you say the street is known as Wollo Sefer, he will have no problem getting there. Or if you say, take me to Nigeria Street, no response, but if you say Posta Bet, you will soon be there.

In this city, hardly any violent crime exists and carjackings are very rare.

Addis is a place where shops just leave used soda bottles on the verandah and no one steals the crates or the bottles.

Says Mr Jason McLure, the Ethiopia Correspondent for Bloomberg news agency: “Addis Ababa is the safest city in Africa. If someone tries to pick your pocket, you just shove them away, they won’t pull a gun or a knife on on you.’’

But, Addis is actually a very cold place, especially at this time of the year and as such malaria is not a problem here.

As a city that was created by a king, Addis is very hierarchical and residents hardly question any government policy.

Since Ethiopia was among the first places on earth to be christened, it has its own alphabet, its own church and its own calendar which currently says the year is “2001” and last year, they celebrated the millennium.

In the Ethiopian calendar, there are 13 months in a year hence the delay of their millennium. Tourism brochures talk of ”13 months of sunshine.”

In Ethiopia, the word “Queen of Sheba’’ is very common. This originates from the fact that one of the Israeli kings, Solomon had an Ethiopian wife known as Sheba and the city Addis was created by one of the direct descendants of Solomon, Emperor Menelik who was taking orders from his wife who insisted that he must move his palace to Addis Abeba, the new flower.

Another peculiar fact about Ethiopia is that unlike most of Africa, here, people dance with their shoulders, not the hips but this applies mostly among the northerners.

And in Ethiopia, if you order a drink, the drink can never be opened if you are away because there are beliefs about magic being applied on the drink.

There is also what is called Injera which is the Ethiopian standard food. Here, only the very poor eat maize and as such the price of maize meal is much lower than ‘’injera,’’ even under famine conditions, Ethiopians stick to injera.

Raw beef

What will also strike foreigners as very strange is that Ethiopians eat raw beef right in the heart of the capital city. This is a meal that is served to the most respected guests.

In terms of holidays, the most important festival is not Christmas. The most important holiday in Ethiopia is “Timkat’’ which marks the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist, marked on January 19.

The second most important holiday in Ethiopia after “Timkat” is Meskel which celebrates the finding of the “true cross’’ that Jesus was crucified on. Legend has it that an Ethiopian found it and brought it here but ask, where is the cross? No one seems to have an idea.

The third most important holiday in Ethiopia is Christmas which comes nine days after the Christian Christmas under the Orthodox calendar.

And, there is another unique event in Ethiopia. This involves large groups of worshippers outside any Orthodox church in Addis Ababa on any Sunday.

The reason here is that under church rules, anyone who has had sex in the last 48 hours or any woman who is on her periods should not enter church.

This rule extends to holy islands on Ethiopia’s Lake Tana where monks live and where no woman is allowed, the monks are not supposed to interact with any woman or even set eyes on any woman.

More from Daily Nation

Ethiopians Hopeful as They Raise Their Cups at Cafe Obama

Above: A man sits outside a cafe named after the 44th
President of the United States Barack Obama in the streets of
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Reuters Irada Humbatova)

National (UAE)
January 21. 2009

BAHIR DAR, ETHIOPIA // Alelegn Abebaw was expecting 500 people to pack into his Obama Restaurant, Bar and Cafe yesterday.

The 30-year-old businessman said he believes his was the first Obama cafe in the world to open, having launched in May when the new president was still battling Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination.

Mr Abebaw insists that even if Mr Obama had failed to secure the presidency his cafe’s name would have stayed, such is the pride the former Illinois senator generates in Africans.

The waiters and waitresses wear Obama T-shirts and there are pictures of Mr Obama, whose father came from neighbouring Kenya, on the walls. Read more.

Ethiopia’s Less Known Runners Rake-In Millions

Addis Fortune

When Bezunesh Bekele won the 2009 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 9, 2009, chances are the average Ethiopian athletics fans will have never heard of her or the previous achievements she has under her belt. But, the diminutive runner is now a quarter of a million dollars richer subsequent to the huge prize money purse of the race. Elshadai Negash reports on Ethiopia’s virtually unknown runners who are reaping benefits for choosing careers on the road.

Bezunesh Bekele is quickly confused with the famous Ethiopian folk singer of the 1970s and 1980s; seldom does the image of a 1.46-metre diminutive runner come to mind. After all, she has only raced once in Ethiopian colours over distances 10Km and up – at the 2007 IAAF World Road Running Championships where she finished an obscure, but encouraging fourth in a new Ethiopian half marathon record.

The 26-year old from Addis Abeba finished second in the corresponding race last year in a personal best time of 2:23.07. This year she won the contest in 2:24.01 pocketing 250,000 dollars in prize money. Read more.

Photo Journalists Association in Ethiopia looks for ways to boost profession

Above: Image from “Invisible Children”, a documentary
inspired by photojournalist Dan Eldon, who died in 1993
covering the violence in Somalia.
(courtesy of Invisible Children, Inc.)

Source: Ethiopia – Daily Monitor

By Fikremariam Tesfaye

2 January 2009

Addis Abeba — The National Photo Journalists Association (NPJA) said on Wednesday it was looking for ways to boost photo journalism as a profession in the country.

Photographers do exist in state as well as independent media, but the lack the know how and the skills to be photo journalists, required Binyam Mengesha, founder and director of NPJA said.

The photo journalists have the ability to document society and to preserve its history through images,” he said at a half day panel discussion organized at the Bole Dashen building hall..

“Professionals should also abide by the code of ethics.” Beniam explained that photo journalism was not just about taking photos, but it is beyond that.

“Being accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects; resisting manipulated by staged photo opportunities; avoiding stereotyping and individuals and group and treating all subjects with respect and dignity are among the most ethical code of conducts exercises by professionals,” he said.

On the other hand, most of the times don’t seen in most of photo journalists, he added.

According to Binyam, the association encourages and supports members to work together to make sure that the profession is developed in reference to its level of development worldwide for which he said “relentless” efforts would be required.

Relentless efforts will be exerted to make sure that the people in the profession get opportunities to exchange experiences among themselves in the country and with professionals and their associations abroad as well as benefit from short-term trainings.

NPJA has also plan to organize exhibitions annually and the best photo journalist could show their works and are duly credited. The professionals as well as reminded that they bear double responsibility as a citizen in promoting positive image of Ethiopia worldwide and support them to realize.

The NPJA was established by few professionals ten months ago who thinks that the professionals have to work under the umbrella of an association to develop the profession of photo journalism; to create strong links between the professionals and to facilitate experience sharing forums among the professionals and arrange trainings for them within and outside the country.

Beniam said the establishment of the association would play a pivotal role in propagating the standard of the profession.

He says however that for the moment, it is possible to say no ” there is no professional in photo journalism.”

Tadias’ 20 Favorite People of 2008

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 29, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Here are our 20 favorite people of the year that we interviewed and/or featured their work in 2008. The numbers are not rankings of their achievements. We look forward to 2009. Happy New Year!

20) Selam Mulugeta (Former Obama Campaign Staffer)

Ethiopian-American Selam Mulugeta worked as a staff member for President-Elect Obama’s successful 2008 campaign for the White House. Ms. Mulugeta, who formerly served as a Congressional staffer and Special Assistant to Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), founder and Chair of the Congressional Ethiopia and Ethiopian American Caucus, served as a Field Organizer for the Obama/Biden campaign in Northern Virginia. Obama won the state on November 4th, 2008, becoming the first Presidential candidate from the Democratic party to do so in more than 40 years. Read more about Selam Mulugeta.

19) Bekele Geleta (The New Boss at Red Cross)

Ethiopian-born Bekele Geleta, 64, was appointed Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 2008. Mr. Geleta previously served as General Manager of International Operations for the Canadian Red Cross. He spent five years in prison in Ethiopia, but later served as a Cabinet Minister and the Ethiopian Ambassador to Japan. He went to Canada as a refugee in 1992 with his wife, Tsehay Mulugeta, and their four sons. He started a new career in humanitarian work in Ottawa , serving with Care Canada, Red Cross and other organizations, which eventually led to this current prestigious post. Read our interview with Bekele Geleta.

18) Beejhy Barhany (Founder, BINA Cultural Foundation)

Beejhy Barhany (pictured above with her husband at the Ethiopian Millennium celebration concert at Joe’s Pub. on Saturday, May 31, 2008), is the Director of BINA Cultural Foundation and the chief coordinator of the 2008 Ethiopian Millennium Events Series in New York, which included a concert, an art exhibition, a film festival and an interfaith panel discussion. Tadias Magazine congratulates Mrs. Barhany on a successful series of events.

17) Chef and Author Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, is best known as the co-owner of New York’s finest Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit. After having excelled at the Swedish side of his culinary heritage, Mr. Samuelson traveled extensively throughout the African continent, and shared with us some of the most profound lessons that he learned about Pan-African cuisine. He culminated his journey with his award-winning book, The Soul of a New Cuisine, and a new African Restaurant. Read our interview with Marcus Samuelsson.

16) Haile Gerima (Award Wining Director)

Ethiopian-born director Haile Gerima (pictured above left with Tunisian Culture Minister Abderraouf Basti) scooped several international awards in 2008 for his new film “Teza”. Tadias Magazine congratulates Mr. Gerima on his well deserved recognition. Read More.

15) Yohannes Gebregeorgis (CNN Hero)

Yohannes Gebregeorgis, one of the Top Ten CNN Heroes of 2008, was recognized by CNN for his remarkable efforts to bring free public libraries and literacy programs to thousands of children in Ethiopia, including the country’s first Donkey Mobile Library. Mr. Gebregeorgis, 59, was born in Ethiopia and came to the United States as a political refugee in 1981. He eventually put himself through college, earning a graduate degree in library science and worked as a Librarian in San Francisco for nearly two decades before embarking on his current project. He currently lives in Ethiopia. Read our interview with Yohannes Gebregeorgis.

14) Getatchew Mekurya (king of Ethiopian saxophone)

The legendary saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya stole the show at a historic concert on August 20, 2008, at Damrosch’s Park in NYC. “The concert closed with a gripping performance by Mr. Mekurya, the king of Ethiopian saxophone…” noted a columnist for The New York Times, and we couldn’t agree more. We likewise salute Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete, who both performed at the show. Read more.

13) Aida Muluneh (Photographer)

Photographer Aida Muluneh, whose current exhibition is being hosted by Berlin’s Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (through November 1st, 2009), established an NGO in 2008 to train a new generation of African photographers to compete in the global media industry while reshaping the image of Africa to reflect their personal experiences. Read More.

12) Dr. Ebba Ebba (Founder, Gemini Health Care Group)

Dr. Ebba Ebba (above left), founder of Gemini Health Care Group, a non-profit established to provide health care to Ethiopian children, hosted two notable events in 2008: a health care forum in July at George Washington University and a fundraiser in Atlanta to benefit the building of a children’s hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Read more.

11) Philipos & Sara (Queen of Sheba Restaurant in New York)

Philipos & Sara of the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant in New York demonstrated why crowds are flocking to their midtown Manhattan eatery at the first Annual Choice Eats tasting event organized by The Village Voice in 2008. Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant was one of thirty-three favorite restaurants of Voice food critic Robert Sietsema, author of Secret New York. Sietsema has reviewed more than 2,000 restaurants in the last 14 years and this year’s Choice Eats covered samples from all corners of the world. Read more about this event.

10) Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru (The Ethiopian Nun Pianist)

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, the 85-year-old Ethiopian nun and renowned classical pianist and composer, performed at a sold out benefit concert for the first time in 35 years in June, 2008, in Washington, DC. She captured an eager audience, along with seven young performers who shared the stage with her. Read more.

9) Artist Assegid Gessesse (“Memory Tourist”)

Assegid Gessesse exhibited his spirited mixed media prints in 2008. “I am a memory tourist,” Gessesse says referring to our favorite print entitled ‘Addis Abeba’ – a vivid collage reflecting architecture, the urban/rural dichotomy, and use of space. Read More.

8. Teodross “Teo” Avery

What does Teodross “Teo” Avery have in common with jazz giants Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, and Arturo Sandoval? They all have graced the stage of The Blue Note, one of New York’s legendary jazz clubs. Teo, a talented Ethiopian-American musician is carving his own niche in hip-hop jazz. He has recorded and collaborated with powerhouse musicians including: Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Shakira, Wu Tang Clan, Ethiopian artists Abegaz Shiota and Henok Temesgen, and Amy Winehouse. Films such as Love Jones, Brown Sugar and Beauty Shop also carry songs he has either written or produced. His own lyrics entitled New Day New Groove and My Generation capture the proactive, idealistic and determined energy of his generation. Read the interview with Teo Avery.

7) Zelela Menker

Zelela Menker’s OP-ED pieces on Tadias in 2008 advocating for the election of Barack Obama generated a healthy discussion. We first met Zelela Menker while covering an Obama rally in New York on Feb 2, 2008. Zelela was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College (MHC) in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she majored in Critical Social Thought with a concentration on Health Disparities and Healthcare Policy. Read More.

6) Kedist Geremaw (Obama Organizing Fellow)

Kedist Geremaw, a health care administrator in Washington, D.C., was one of the 3,600 individuals who were selected and trained as an Obama Organizing Fellow during the summer of 2008. Mrs. Geremew has accomplished much as an Obama Organizing Fellow, and the creativity, dedication, and optimism that she and her colleagues displayed was inspiring, commendable, contagious, and has our respect and recognition. Read more about Mrs. Geremaw.

5) Abaynesh Asrat, Founder & CEO of NNN

Ethiopian-born Abaynesh Asrat was recognized with “The Sojourner Truth Award” in 2008, which is given each year by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. Abaynesh is a member of Harlem’s legendary Abyssinian Baptist Church delegation to Ethiopia in 2007, which took place as part of the church’s bicentennial celebration and in honor of the Ethiopian Millennium.

4) Professor Donald Levine

Professor Donald Levine’s thoughtful and insightful opinion articles during the Presidential Campaign of 2008 was much needed and appreciated by our readers. He is a colleague of President-Elect Barack Obama from their teaching days at the University of Chicago. He is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology and his research and teaching interests focus on classical social theory, modernization theory, Ethiopian studies, conflict theory and aikido, and philosophies of liberal education. Read More.

3) Professor Ayele Bekerie

Dr. Ayele Bekerie ‘s scholarly papers on historical topics, such as the story of St. Yared, the great Ethiopian composer, choreographer and poet, who lived in Aksum almost 1500 years ago, was one of the most popular articles among our readers. Ayele Bekerie, an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center of Cornell University, is the author of the award-winning book “Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles” (The Red Sea Press, 1997). Bekerie’s papers have been published in scholarly journals, such as ANKH: Journal of Egyptology and African Civilizations, Journal of the Horn of Africa, Journal of Black Studies, the International Journal of Africana Studies, and the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. Bekerie is also the creator of the African Writing System web site and a contributing author in the highly acclaimed book, “ONE HOUSE: The Battle of Adwa 1896-100 Years.” Bekerie’s most recent published work includes “The Idea of Ethiopia: Ancient Roots, Modern African Diaspora Thoughts,” in Power and Nationalism in Modern Africa, published by Carolina Academic Press in 2008 and “The Ancient African Past and Africana Studies” in the Journal of Black Studies in 2007. Bekerie appears frequently on the Amharic Service of Voice of America and Radio Germany. He is a regular contributor to Tadias Magazine and other Ethiopian American electronic publications. His current book project is on the “Idea of Ethiopia.” Read More.

2) Ted Alemayuhu (Founder & Chairman of USDFA)

Ethiopian-born Ted Alemayuhu (pictured above right with friends – Russell Simmons left – at Cipriani Wall Street on October 17th, 2007), is the Founder & Chairman of U.S. Doctors for Africa (USDFA). He was one of the featured keynote speakers at the 2008 Health Disparities Conference at Columbia University. Mr. Alemayuhu is preparing to host the gathering of over 20 African First Ladies for their first-ever U.S.-based health summit on April 20-21, 2009, at the RAND Corporation in Los Angeles. Read More.

1) Tibarek (Tadias’ Favorite Person of the Year!)

Eight year old Tibarek, who traveled with her adoptive mother from their home in New York to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to knock on doors for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, is our favorite person of the year! We choose Tibarek not only because we love her charismatic personality, but also because she symbolizes the diversity and vibrancy of the Diaspora’s next generation. Read more.

Editor’s Note: The numbers are not rankings of their achievements. We honor each person listed. Happy 2009!

Assegid Gessesse’s mixed media prints

Above: Assegid Gessesse at Green Desk in Brooklyn’s
DUMBO neighborhood, Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, November 21, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The Green Desk Wall Space, in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood recently exhibited Assegid Gessesse’s spirited mixed media prints. “Working in a style that is both abstracted and photographic, Assegid, creates works of atmospheric beauty and emotional poignancy,” writes Gabriel Abraham, Production Designer and Art Director, in his short review of the artist’s work. “His work uses graphics, drawings, photographs and news clippings to create layers of images that evoke history, mythology, mystery and beauty along with conflict of dislocation and alienation.”

“I am a memory tourist,” Gessesse says referring to our favorite print entitled ‘Addis Abeba’ – a vivid collage reflecting architecture, the urban/rural dichotomy, and use of space.

Addis Abeba by Assegid Gessesse

“All the iconic images, including the Volkswagen, that are incorporated in that work are what I remember as a child. The woman represents the city. ‘Addis Abeba’ for me is a women. And the spelling is intentional, that’s the way I think Addis Abeba should be spelled. ”

Born in 1964 in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and trained in Canada as an Artist and Designer, Gessesse draws from both African and Western influences – a blend of classical, secessionist, and contemporary. He has exhibited his work extensively in North America and Africa, and was recently commissioned by the Open Society Institute’s East Africa branch to create a series of images under the theme “Freedom Now.” Gessesse currently resides in New York City.

Reviewing Gessesse’s current exhibit, Abraham notes: “By definition, ephemeral, the quality of Assegid’s prints recalls the fleeting nature of life, and most importantly, memory. His prints eloquently capture the transience of diaspora, recollections of the past, preserving only hints of a moment in time, while allowing all but the scene’s essence to fade into abstraction. Assegid gives a particularly touching commentary on the passing of time and life.”

If you missed the Brooklyn show, you have another chance to view or purchase the art work at Settepanni’s in Harlem (196 Lenox Ave at 120th street, 917.492.4806). The show will be on display for one more week.

Ethio Jazz in Addis Attracts Diverse Audience

Addis Fortune

A Thursday night at Club Alize represents Addis Abeba’s successful, prosperous side. Classy and civilized, with lights dimmed and maroon drapes floating overhead, the atmosphere is completed, rather than created, by the elegant live music.

A long L-shaped bar takes up one side of the room with booths on the opposite side, two of them featuring large murals by noted Ethiopian artist, Daniel Taye. Art is a theme at Alize, with paintings by other well-known artists Tibebe Terffa, Behailu Bezabih and Dawit Abebe serving as further decoration.

But the attractive interior is not why the club is standing room only most Thursday nights. Instead, the seven strong group playing the fusion of pop, jazz and folk music is very much the focus of the well-heeled audience’s attention.

The Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group is led by Girum Mezmur on guitar and is made up of Henock Temesgen on double bass; Natnael Tessema on drums; Ayele Mamo playing the Mandolin, as he has done for the last 50 years; Shaleka Melaku Tegegn on accordion; clarinet player Dawit Ferew; and another percussionist, Mesale Legesse.

The group’s reinventions of Ethiopian songs from the fifties and sixties by artists such as Buzenesh Bekele are short and melodious, with the different components complementing each other and never competing for centre song. A rustic, folksy edge is added to the performance by the presence of the clarinet and accordion, producing a lilting sound and a mood that is uplifting and never mournful.

The set lacks the self indulgence of jazz, but does contain that genre’s dedication to serious musicianship. Clearly, the performers enjoy themselves, but their pleasure comes from playing as an intense, technically accomplished unit to an appreciative crowd, not through showmanship, or audience interaction.

While the Renaissance Group may not turn Club Alize into the writhing mass of bodies that can be found at other nightspots around town, each of their innovative instrumental interpretations receives an enthusiastic response from the audience – although for the members of Addis’ foreign community present, the most familiar adaptation was possibly of the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune.

Girzum, 34, has been around a while on the Addis music scene and started off one of the first jazz clubs in the city ten years ago at the Coffee House in Siddist Kilo. The jam session has been going strong ever since, although for the last few months it has not taken place as the venue is being renovated.

The musician used this opportunity to create the Renaissance Group, which in its first couple of months of performances at Alize has been similarly successful.

The organizer explained the concept behind the group: “The mandolin, accordion and clarinet were much more extensively used back in the 50s and 60s. A big part of pop music recorded then had that sound.”

Read the whole story here.

Painting between Addis Ababa and Paris

Spotlight on Artist Fikru G/Mariam

Born in 1973, Fikru G/Mariam has been practicing art ever since his parents enrolled him at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts children’s program at the age of eleven.

In 1986, he takes part in the children’s competition organized by the International Children’s Painting Exhibition in Beijing, wins a reward and what was at the beginning just a hobby became a real passion.

In 1995, he graduates from the School of Fine Arts and decides to dedicate his life to full-time painting. At that time, most of his works were concentrated on religious and traditional african themes.

Fikru in his Paris Studio – 2005

After traveling in the Harrar region and in Northern Ethiopia, Fikru finds new sources of inspiration, especially in Harari women. According to him, those women are “highly decorative in the way they dress and do their craft” (The Reporter, 03/10/1999).
The Dream – 120×120 cm – Oil on canvas – 2004. Upcoming shows – 2007: solo exhibition National Museum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 2007: May 1-30: solo exhibition, Galerie François 1er, Aubigny sur Nère (18700), France. Opening on May 5th at 5pm. 2008: summer: Galerie Alternance Guy Lignier, Hardelot, France.

Blue dream 100×81 cm Oil on canvas 2004. Painting by Fikru G/Mariam (Addis Ababa & Paris).

Over time, his style has diversified: some depict stylized, elongated African masks, richly decorated.

Between 1995 and 2003, he has exhibited 13 times in Addis Abeba, the last one was at the National Museum of Addis Abeba in February 2003. Fikru also showed his works abroad. In 1999, he exhibited for one month in Dublin (Ireland) and between 2002 and 2005 he exhibited 9 times in Paris and in different parts of France. In 2003, he participated in a group exhibition in Maryland (USA) and in November 2004 he will exhibit in Washington DC. In 2005, he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.

Now, Fikru shares his time between Addis Abeba and Paris. His works are displayed in many private collections in Ethiopia, France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, England, United States, Canada, Cap Verde, South Africa, Italy, and the Netherlands. Leran More about Fikru .

Related Stories:

London – In pictures: Ethiopia’s forgotten archive (BBC)
An exhibition of previously unseen photographs from Ethiopia between 1963 and 1982 is opening in London as the country marks its millennium celebrations. They were taken by Shemelis Desta who was the official court photographer for Emperor Haile Selassie. See More Photos, Click Here

Teddy Afro’s Lawyer Jailed

Source: Addis Fortune

By Tesfalem Waldyes

5 August 2008

The highly disputed charges against Ethiopia’s sensational singer Tewodros Kassahun, fondly called by his fans Teddy Afro, appears to take a different twist this week.

His attorney, Million Assefa, and Mesfin Negash, editor-in-chief of the Amharic weekly Addis Neger, are under custody after they are accused of contempt of court.

Million, who is also an attorney to the national electoral board, and one of the architects of the recently passed press law, represents the singer against charges of homicide involving hit and run. He is now under police custody, first arrested late Monday afternoon, after spending his day inside the Federal High Court in Lideta area, on Smut Street.

He has appeared before Judge Leul Gebremariam, presiding over the Federal High Court’s Eighth Criminal Bench, this morning before he was sent back to jail at the Addis Abeba Police Commission.

The presiding judge took an offense after a local Amharic weekly, Addis Neger, run a front page news story two weeks ago, reporting that Teddy Afro’s attorney decided to lodge complaints against Judge Leul at the country’s Judicial Administration Council.

The council was formed under constitutional mandate to recruit judges to the Prime Minister so that the latter nominates them to Parliament; and review their ethical and disciplinary conducts. Should it find judges guilty of breach of conducts, it advises parliament to remove them.

A verdict by Judge Leul two weeks ago, ruling for the singer to defend himself against prosecutors’ charge that he was involved in the death of Degu Yibeltal, a homeless young man killed in a car accident more than a year and half ago, promoted the attorney to contemplate lodging his complaints against the presiding judge.

Attorney Million is not alone to spend days in jail accused of contempt of court. The weekly’s Editor-in-Chief, Mesfin Negash, was called by police on Monday, August 4, 2008, to give his statement and remained under custody since then. He appeared before the court on Monday, and submitted a recording of the interview conducted by Addis Neger’s reporter, Abraham Begizew with Million; the newspaper run the story under the byline of the reporter.

Judge Leul asked Million this morning to look at the newspaper, and if he had anything to say. Million admitted to the court that the story was sourced to him, that he was rightly quoted by the newspaper. His attorney, Abebe Asamere, argued that his client has the right to express his views on a newspaper and it should not be taken as contempt to the court.

Abebe argued on three points: The right to appeal; the right to lodge complaints against a judge to a judicial review body; and the right to free expression guaranteed under the constitution.

“For a defending lawyer, the right to appeal is allowed,” Abebe told the court. “It is not a crime to explain this.”

Abebe said that if one has a complaint against the court’s procedure, he ought to appeal to the Council asking for a disciplinary inquiry. Reviewing a complaint against a judge is one of the three duties the council is given, according to Abebe. He also said that an individual has a basic right to express his views with a narrow limitation. If such view is deemed untrue or a threat, it would fall on the limitation; however, his client’s plans to lodge complaints against the Judge should not be taken as a threat or as prejudicial influence. Abebe also mentioned the act was done outside of the court, and pleaded for the release of his client.

The revised Criminal Code of Ethiopia, issued in 2005, states that if a contempt of court is not committed in an open court but while the judge carrying out his duties, the punishment would be imprisonment not exceeding six months or fine not more than one thousand Birr.

Judge Leul asked whether the defendant and his lawyer thought that they could give any comment on a case under litigation.

Interestingly, this question has brought a critical question the media in Ethiopia faces when covering court related matters. It has yet to be clear what constitutes outside the bounds of media coverage when cases are under litigation.

“This case is not yet finalized,” Judge Leul said. “However, you took it as a final verdict.”

The Judge demands an explanation from Million on his statement in the newspaper that the court replaced the job of that of the prosecutor. He also asked whether or not the court denied any opportunity of presenting witnesses. Million said all the things raised in the story were part of his planned appeals against the Judge.

“I said those are my reasons for appeal,” Million told the court. “The appellate court is the one that may or may not accept this appeal.”

Related: Jailed Singer Teddy Afro: ‘A Political Symbol’ (LA Times)

Judiciary, Press Freedom in Ethiopia Questioned over Teddy Afro’s Trial

Hot Shots from the Teddy Afro Concert in San Jose, CA (Tadias)

Teddy Afro told to return to court next year

Editor Jailed Over Teddy Afro’s Case

Historic Concert by Ethiopian Nun Pianist & Composer in D.C.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, a world renowned classical pianist and composer will perform on Saturday, July 12, 2008; 6pm - 8pm; at The Washington DC Jewish Community Center; located on 16th & Q streets NW. (Photo: The Nun celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem. Source:

Historic Concert by Ethiopian Nun Pianist & Composer in D.C.

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Washington, DC (TADIAS) – A benefit concert featuring a live performance for the first time in 35 years by the Ethiopian Nun Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, a world reknowned classical pianist and composer, is taking place on Saturday, July 12, 2008, at The Washington DC Jewish Community Center (16th & Q streets NW).

Emahoy’s first record was released in Germany in 1967 with the help of Emperor Haile Selassie. Other recordings followed with the help of her sister Desta Gebru; the proceeds were used to help an orphanage for children of soldiers who died fighting at the Italo-Ethiopian war.

From left: Yobdar Gebru (circa 1940), Yobdar Gebru (circa 1940s), Yobdar Gebru
(2nd left in back row).

Emahoy left Ethiopia following her mother’s death in 1984 and fled to Jerusalem, Israel because socialist doctrine in Ethiopia during the reign of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam attacked her religious beliefs. Emahoy is now 85 years old and she plays the piano at the monastery nearly seven hours a day, she continues to write new solo piano compositions. Emahoy has been recognized by many music critics around the world and there is a growing interest in her life and her music by international media including Le Monde, BBC, and Canada TV.

Emahoy was born as Yewubdar Gebru in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923 to a privileged family. Her father Kentiba Gebru and her mother Kassaye Yelemtu both had a place in high society. Yewubdar was sent to Switzerland at the age of six along with her sister Senedu Gebru. Both attended a girls’ boarding school where Yewubdar studied the violin and then the piano. She gave her first violin recital at the age of ten. She returned to Ethiopia in 1933 to continue her studies at the Empress Menen Secondary School. In 1937 young Yewubdar and her family were taken prisoners of war by the Italians and deported to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.

Prisoner of War on the Island of Azinara

After the war, Yewubdar resumed her musical studies in Cairo, under a Polish violinist named Alexander Kontorowicz. Yewubdar returned to Ethiopia accompanied by Kontorowicz and she served as administrative assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later in the Imperial Body Guard where Kontorowicz was appointed by the Emperor Haile Selassie as music director of the band.

Young Yewubdar Gebru first right

Young Yewubdar secretly fled Addis Abeba at the age of 19 to enter the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wello region where she had once before visited with her mother. She served two years in the monastery and was ordained a nun at the age of 21. She took on the title Emahoy and her name was changed to Tsege Mariam. Despite the difficult life in religious order and the limited appreciation for her music in traditional Ethiopian culture, Emahoy worked fervently day and night. Often she played up to nine hours a day and went on to write many compositions for violin, piano and organ concerto.

In early 1960s Emahoy lived in Gondar studying the religious music of St Yared, composer and father of Mahlet, the early Ethiopian religious music. On her daily trips to and from the church, she came across young students in Liturgy known as “yekolo temari” One day she asked why these young people sleep outdoor by the church gate. She was told they beg for food and lodging and are homeless while they pursue their education with the church. Emahoy was deeply moved by the sacrifices these young people made to study the Mahlet. Although I did not have money to give them, I was determined to use my music to help these and other young people to get an education, Emahoy told Alula Kebede in her interview on his Amharic radio program on the Voice of America.


Israel’s Ethiopians Forced to Give Up Injera

Above: An undated photo shows teff grain being processed
near Adis Abeba (Addis Ababa), Ethiopia. Rising food prices
around the world combined with drought have caused Ethiopia
to clamp down on teff exports, forcing many expatriate Jews now
living in Israel to go without the injera bread that traditionally
accompanies their meals. Photograph by Michael S. Lewis/NGS

Israel’s Ethiopians Forced to Give Up Traditional Bread (National Geographic News)

Mati Milstein in Bat Yam, Israel
for National Geographic News

June 5, 2008

Part seven of a special series that explores the local faces of the world’s worst food crisis in decades.

The crisis that has sent food costs spiraling upward around the globe is causing Ethiopian Jews now living in Israel to give up something priceless: a piece of their culture.

Tens of thousands of the expatriates are being forced to abandon their traditional diets because of the skyrocketing cost of teff grain.

Teff, a nutritious and hardy cereal domesticated in Ethiopia thousands of years ago, is the primary ingredient in injera, a round flatbread that accompanies most Ethiopian meals.

A drastic shortage has caused the price of teff to jump by some 300 percent over the past year.

A 110-pound (50-kilogram) sack now runs at least 600 New Israeli shekels (about U.S. $179).

The price increases hit Israel’s Ethiopian community particularly hard, as it is a struggling group with about three-quarters living below the poverty line, according to official figures. Read More.

Ethiopian Millennium Concert at Joe’s Pub

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, May 26, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The Millennium extravaganza will kicks-off with a concert at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, May 31, 2008. The show features Abebe Teka and rising star Mimi (Asresash Meshesha), Washington, D.C.’s newest sensation; have you been to Dukem lately? The event also highlights New York’s own DJ Sirak, who will spin World Music in between performances.

The celebration is organized by BINA with the support of several organizations and businesses, including The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The NYC Council Manhattan Delegation (State Senator Bill Perkins, Council member Inez E. Dickens), The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Russell Berrie Foundation, The Jewish Community Relations Council, Bikkurim, Artimus, and Tadias Magazine (media sponsor).

“The Ethiopian Millennium Celebration is a series of works to encourage Ethiopians and others to celebrate our rich history and culture through music, film and the arts”, said Beejhy Barhany, the millennium events coordinator. “We believe the enormity of the third Millennium requires a celebration like no other, bringing together a variety of people that have been inspired by Ethiopia.”

frontpage3_insde1.jpg abebe2_new4.jpg
Above: Left- Mimi (Asresash Meshesha), is a talented vocalist who began singing professionally at 16. She has performed in many venues around the United States and has gained increasing popularity in the Ethiopian community. She is working on her debut album. Right – Artist Abebe Teka was introduced to music at an early age. Born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia, Teka’s career began in the mid ‘80s with the Army Band. As a budding artist he left the countryside to tour in the capital city, Addis Abeba, with the famous Medina and Savanes bands. His first recording ‘Sew’ was released in 1996. Three years later, he settled in Washington DC and quickly connected with the Ethiopian music scene playing at Dukem, Roha, Dynasty, 2K9 and other local venues. He has toured extensively in Europe with several other noted Ethiopian singers including Abonesh, Hana Shenkute, and Hibist. He is working on a new album due to be released in 2009.

In a related news, the Lincoln Center announced its free Out Of Doors program for summer 2008 (from Aug 7th -24th), which includes an evening featuring some of Ethiopia’s most celebrated musicians in collaboration with western Jazz and Rock artists. Alèmayèhu Eshèté and Mahmoud Ahmed with The Either/Orchestra, and saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya in his New York debut with Dutch avant-punks The Ex.

Ethiopians inaugurated the third millennium in September 2007, according to the nation’s unique and ancient calendar. The Ethiopian calendar is seven years behind the Gregorian Calendar.

Ethiopian Millennium Celebration Concert, Saturday, May 31, 2008, 11:30 PM (doors open at 11pm ). Ticket Price: $25 in advance, $30 at door. Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street between East 4th and Astor Place in New York’s East Village). Tickets can be purchased online at Or call 212-284-6942. More info at:

New York to Celebrate Ethiopian Millennium

Above: Teshome Denek on Sax will accompany the vocalists
at the Millennium Celebration kick-off concert at Joe’s Pub on
Saturday, May 31, 2008.

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, May 12, 2008

New York (Tadias) – New Yorkers will mark the Ethiopian Millennium in the city this summer with a series of high profile events that include a concert, a photography exhibition, a film festival and a panel discussion.

The Millennium extravaganza, which kicks-off with a concert at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, May 31, 2008, is organized by The Beta Israel of North America (BINA) cultural foundation, in collaboration with several organizations and businesses, including Tadias (media sponsor). The concert features Abebe Teka and rising star Mimi (Asresash Meshesha), Washington, D.C.’s newest sensation; have you been to Dukem lately? The show also highlights New York’s own DJ Sirak, who will spin World Music in between performances.

“The Ethiopian Millennium Celebration is a series of works to encourage Ethiopians and others to celebrate our rich history and culture through music, film and the arts”, said Beejhy Barhany, director of BINA. “We believe the enormity of the third Millennium requires a celebration like no other, bringing together a variety of people that have been inspired by Ethiopia.”

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Above: Left- Mimi (Asresash Meshesha), is a talented vocalist who began singing professionally at 16. She has performed in many venues around the United States and has gained increasing popularity in the Ethiopian community. She is working on her debut album. Right – Artist Abebe Teka was introduced to music at an early age. Born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia, Teka’s career began in the mid ‘80s with the Army Band. As a budding artist he left the countryside to tour in the capital city, Addis Abeba, with the famous Medina and Savanes bands. His first recording ‘Sew’ was released in 1996. Three years later, he settled in Washington DC and quickly connected with the Ethiopian music scene playing at Dukem, Roha, Dynasty, 2K9 and other local venues. He has toured extensively in Europe with several other noted Ethiopian singers including Abonesh, Hana Shenkute, and Hibist. He is working on a new album due to be released in 2009.

The occasion will highlight not only the diversity of Ethiopians, but also showcase the role of artists, filmmakers and scholars in preserving and disseminating the Ethiopian diaspora’s culture and history.

“Our celebration will include film screenings of Caravan 841, A Walk to Beautiful and Live and Become on June 15th at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Manhattan. We will then present a conference and panel discussion, to be held at the Schomburg Center for Black Research, located in Harlem, on June 22nd, on Ethiopia and the Three Faiths, which focuses on the historical role that Ethiopia played in the development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam”, Beejhy said. “We see this as a small tribute to a great time in our history, and to encourage artists and musicians to continue inspiring us and to invite everyone to come celebrate with us.”

In a related news, the Lincoln Center announced its free Out Of Doors program for summer 2008 (from Aug 7th -24th), which includes an evening featuring some of Ethiopia’s most celebrated musicians in collaboration with western Jazz and Rock artists. Alèmayèhu Eshèté and Mahmoud Ahmed with The Either/Orchestra, and saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya in his New York debut with Dutch avant-punks The Ex.

Ethiopians inaugurated the third millennium in September 2007, according to the nation’s unique and ancient calendar. The Ethiopian calendar is seven years behind the Gregorian Calendar.

Ethiopian Millennium Celebration Concert, Saturday, May 31, 2008, 11:30 PM (doors open at 11pm ). Ticket Price: $25 in advance, $30 at door. Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street between East 4th and Astor Place in New York’s East Village). Tickets can be purchased online at Or call 212-284-6942. More info at:

Opinion: Honesty Starts with Me

Unity Starts with Honesty, Honesty Starts with Me (Opinion)
By Teddy Fikre
Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Watching Barack Obama’s historic speech about race and it’s omnipresence in the lives of all Americans had a profound impact on me. I was inspired by his honesty and his blunt assessment of our collective and individual deeds that perpetuates the divides within communities all across this nation and throughout the world. It was this powerful moment that led me to some introspection into my actions and how I perpetuate the intangible, yet real, walls that separates neighbor from neighbor, co-worker from co-worker–and in some instances–friend from friend.

I was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to America at the age of seven. Though I always kept my Ethiopian identity, I also grew up as an American. The experiences that construct my life narrative are those of being an Ethiopian who grew up in the United States from an African-American perspective. This duality of roles has given me the ability to view the gap that divides the African Diaspora by straddling that very chasm. I am a member of a proud black Fraternity–Omega Psi Phi. Yet the memories of Addis Ababa –memories of my neighborhood, school, and my grandmother in Ethiopia –keep me tethered to my Ethiopian identity. Sometimes I feel blessed because I have a connection to many cultures; at other times, I feel as though I walk an invisible line–vacillating between my Ethiopian culture and my African-American culture.

Above: Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island (right) posed for a
photo with Teddy Fikre during a rally at American University in Washington,
DC, on January 28th, 2008.

It is this binary life–this distinction between two “cultures”–that challenges the notion that I have transcended the divide between the African-American culture and my Ethiopian culture. I often get asked by my African-American friends why it that Ethiopians don’t embrace non-Ethiopians. At the same time, I see in the African-American community a hesitation to fully accept Ethiopians and those that have emigrated from Africa . If we are honest with ourselves, the divides between Africans and African-Americans are real. There are those few in both cultures who either view African-Americans as deserving of their plight or view Ethiopians–and Africans as a whole–as free-loaders who benefit in America at the cost of African-Americans. There are those on both sides who denigrate and deride others simply because they were not born in the right country or are not of the same ethnicity.

The racial divide that Barack Obama spoke about is not constrained by the quarters of black and white Americans; it is an undercurrent that exists within people of the same color and, in some cases, of the same country. It reaches out beyond black and white, extending the reaches of division on the microscopic basis of dark and light, African and African-American. Moreover, this very virus of division infects countries in every corner of the world. The division between Serbs and Croats, Hutus and Tutsis, Aborigines and Aussies, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, Pakistani and Indian to name a few reveals a world where communities who have similarities are often rife with soft-apartheid on the basis of ethnicity, complexion, or religion.

I assumed that my experience walking the line between my Ethiopian and African-American identities had cauterized this discordant mindset. I figured that I was enlightened, that I transcended the ethnic divides simply because I have many friends of many cultures–Ethiopians, African-Americans, whites, Latino, Asian and those from countries from every continent. However, this weekend, I planned a trip to Pennsylvania to galvanize the Ethiopian community and to volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign. I reached out to the Ethiopian community to make the trip up to Philadelphia to register voters. Concurrently, I reached out to my fraternity brothers to volunteer and do additional work once the outreach to the Ethiopian community was accomplished.

While I did not realize it at the time, my honest effort to galvanize voters to register perpetuated–subconsciously–the very divides which I thought I transcended. Why is it that I segregated the two efforts? Why is it that I sent out one email to the Ethiopian supporters while sending out another email to my fraternity brothers? At the time, my aim was to have the most impact by focusing varying constituencies to various efforts. I failed to see that my well-intentioned plans served to further the very divide which I sought to narrow. This contradiction did not crystallize until I arrived in Philadelphia and entered the beautiful Ethiopian church of Kidus Ammanuel (St. Emmanuel). I listened to the moving words of Abba Danachew and felt connected to the congregation that welcomed me into their church as one of their own. However, the most moving part of my experience occurred after the sermon, when one of the church elders stood up to congratulate a Jamaican couple who baptized their child in that very church. He went on to tell them that he was brimming with pride that they chose Kidus Ammanuel as their church and that they are a part of a family that will always welcome them–a church that will always be there for them. The congregation clapped effusively; I paused to ponder my own failings.

It was at that moment that my fraternity brother called me, and I told him to come meet me in the church to help me register voters. Instantly, I realized that I, at times, stand just as guilty of the myopic thinking that I repudiate. To one degree or another, we are all guilty of the practices that keep us divided; the very victims of discrimination can often be the perpetrators of it. The hatred that has taken centuries to fester claims as victims those who preach it and those who are its target. Discrimination does not reside in the narrow confines black and white, it permeates all societies–the impacts of which are felt trans-racially and trans-ethnically.

I love my Ethiopian heritage, I love my African-American experience, and I love my American journey; however, my own journey towards true inclusion and unity is far from achieved. That is the power of Barack Obama’s message, that in our own ways we all have our failings which contribute to the divides that exists between our communities. Nonetheless, these failings do not define us–we are not static–and we can grow beyond the walls that have defined our experiences to attain the true meaning of unity; to achieve the essence of E Pluribus Unum–out of many one.

About the Author: Teddy Fikre is a business consultant. He resides in Virgina. Teddy was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and immigrated to America at the age of 7. He is a volunteer and a member of Ethiopian Americans for Barack Obama. Teddy believes that Barack Obama is the one candidate who can move us past the political rancor of the past 20 years and deliver a broad and diverse coalition that can tackle the tough issues that face all Americans in the 21st century. (The photo below shows Teddy Fikre at the Barack Obama Headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 15th, 2008).

Painting between Addis Ababa and Paris

Spotlight on Artist Fikru G/Mariam

Born in 1973, Fikru G/Mariam has been practicing art ever since his parents enrolled him at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts children’s program at the age of eleven.

In 1986, he takes part in the children’s competition organized by the International Children’s Painting Exhibition in Beijing, wins a reward and what was at the beginning just a hobby became a real passion.

In 1995, he graduates from the School of Fine Arts and decides to dedicate his life to full-time painting. At that time, most of his works were concentrated on religious and traditional african themes.

Fikru in his Paris Studio – 2005

After traveling in the Harrar region and in Northern Ethiopia, Fikru finds new sources of inspiration, especially in Harari women. According to him, those women are “highly decorative in the way they dress and do their craft” (The Reporter, 03/10/1999).
The Dream – 120×120 cm – Oil on canvas – 2004. Upcoming shows – 2007: solo exhibition National Museum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 2007: May 1-30: solo exhibition, Galerie François 1er, Aubigny sur Nère (18700), France. Opening on May 5th at 5pm. 2008: summer: Galerie Alternance Guy Lignier, Hardelot, France.

Blue dream 100×81 cm Oil on canvas 2004. Painting by Fikru G/Mariam (Addis Ababa & Paris).

Over time, his style has diversified: some depict stylized, elongated African masks, richly decorated.

Between 1995 and 2003, he has exhibited 13 times in Addis Abeba, the last one was at the National Museum of Addis Abeba in February 2003. Fikru also showed his works abroad. In 1999, he exhibited for one month in Dublin (Ireland) and between 2002 and 2005 he exhibited 9 times in Paris and in different parts of France. In 2003, he participated in a group exhibition in Maryland (USA) and in November 2004 he will exhibit in Washington DC. In 2005, he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.

Now, Fikru shares his time between Addis Abeba and Paris. His works are displayed in many private collections in Ethiopia, France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, England, United States, Canada, Cap Verde, South Africa, Italy, and the Netherlands. Leran More about Fikru .

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London – In pictures: Ethiopia’s forgotten archive (BBC)
An exhibition of previously unseen photographs from Ethiopia between 1963 and 1982 is opening in London as the country marks its millennium celebrations. They were taken by Shemelis Desta who was the official court photographer for Emperor Haile Selassie. See More Photos, Click Here

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Fregenet Foundation: Creating a Future for Our Children Through Education

By Azeb Tadesse

The Fregenet Foundation works with a most vulnerable, often overlooked population: children. The foundation is named for a girl’s dream of returning to Ethiopia and working with disadvantaged children.

Fregenet was exceptional, and touched lives of many around her. Her friends remember her as “…friendly, good-natured, and showed good sense.” To her family she was a “symbol of all happiness, love and warmth.” She had decided on completion of her education to work for a non-profit. Her dedication brings to mind the saying, “Upon our children – how they are taught – rests the fate – or fortune – of tomorrow’s world.” The day before her tragic accident, she interviewed for a children’s non-profit, graduating from Metropolitan State University, with a degree in accounting, a month earlier. On that faithful day, she was blocks from home when a car fleeing police clipped her SUV causing it to roll, and fatally injuring Fregenet.

Above: Fregenet Tafesse, 1974-2003

Rather than let her dream die, Fregenet’s family resolved to keep her alive by picking up where she left off, and realizing her vision of working with children. A friend eulogized her by saying, “If we talk today about Fregenet’s smile, her warmth, her love, her generosity, her compassion, her humility, or her courage, it’s not just to praise her, but to speak to you, the people left behind, the people who have to live in this world. Gifts like her, granted to us from heaven, come few and far between. Do not let her go without deep contemplation on what you have learned from her.”

What her family learned was the importance of caring for the less fortunate, and for the future generation. They established a foundation dedicated to providing education to children from low-income families in Ethiopia. The first Fregenet School (Fregenet Kidan Lehitsanat) opened its doors in the fall of 2004, and enrolled children between the ages 4 to 6 from a small, impoverished community in Addis Abeba.

Above: Students at Fregenet Kidan Lehitsanat

Importance of early education

Nelson Mandela said that, “Education is the great engine to personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that the child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation.” Early education is when a child’s emotional, physical, and intellectual environment has profoundest impact on their future. In the West, the importance of early childhood education have been documented and integrated into public education. In Ethiopia, kindergartens are not part of the public school system, therefore only available to a few children. It is up to private institutions and individuals to invest in pre-school and kindergarten. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, in 2003, only 2 percent of kindergarten age children are in school.

In the US, research indicates students who had early scholastic exposure are employed sooner, less likely to be on welfare, and less likely to have a punitive experience courtesy of the criminal justice system. Programs such as Head Start illustrated the impact of early childhood stimulation. A study by the Abecedarian Project, which provided pre-school for 111 African-American families in Chapel Hill, North Carolina found:

35 percent attended a four-year college before age 21
By 21, 65 percent were either still in school, or gainfully employed.
At age 3, I.Q. scores were 17 points above average.

Importance of early education in Ethiopia


Ameliorating the plethora of Ethiopian problems in the future requires an investment in high-quality education today. Studies imply preschool and kindergarten education can decrease early pregnancy and the consequent female dropout from basic education, help overcome economic barriers, and increase aspiration for higher education. Within the national education plan, preschool and kindergarten are not a priority. Most resources are directed towards grades one to eight, and to vocational education. Provisions for early education are provided by non governmental organizations a nominal fee, and for a significant fee by private institutions.

Fregenet Kidan Lehitsanat (an NGO) is attempting provide children in one neighborhood in Addis Ababa with the elements for a successful life. Children learn academically: math, English and art, as well as hygiene and social IQ. Many are from extremely disadvantaged households where often times there is just one parent struggling to make ends meet. If not for the school, many of the children would be left to their own devices and spend the day on the streets. Instead, they are nurtured and cared for by dedicated staff and their families in turn have a peace of mind knowing their child is safe.


As Fregenet foundation celebrates its third anniversary this September, it would seem that Fregenet’s promise to the children is being fulfilled through the foundation. In the years since its opening, the school has increased enrollment from 31 to 100 students, it has moved to a larger location and has even added a first grade class to accommodate its first graduates. Future plans include programs for the children’s parents such as computer labs, library and even a clinic. These new programs are intended to improve the home and family lives of the students and extend their learning and growth from school to home. Most importantly, the expansion of the programs to include parents acknowledges that children’s environment plays a big part in their education and future development and to be effective one must also work with their larger environment for “[E]ducation commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within the hearing of little children tends towards the formation of character.”


To find out more about Fregenet and the Fregenet Foundation please visit:







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