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Hot Blog: Obama and Ethiopia: From Gloom to Leadership

Opinion
By Donald N. Levine
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Published: Monday, August 18, 2008

New York (Tadias) – What a season! In Ethiopia and in the United States, we hear similar laments: inflation brings miseries; rich/poor gap widens; sick people lack care; environments worsen; human rights burn; energy grows scarce; media cave in; schools are inadequate. And we face baneful consequences of invading another country in an ill-conceived quest to stamp out perceived security threats. It’s enough to make you feel gloomy.

So whence the mood of buoyancy, fresh determination, breakthrough ideas, and enlarged visions in the U.S.? It’s through a leader who works to bring folks together to address crippling problems in a forthright, competent, and consensual manner. Not a power-mongering demagogue, Barack Obama projected a vision when he told his followers: “This election victory is not about me. It’s about you!” It is about seeing how much good can come from harnessing the free proactive power of millions. In the words of Common Cause president Bob Edgar, “We are the leaders we have been waiting for.”

Barack Obama’s power stems also from identifying with figures who inspired us in dire times–Franklin Roosevelt, for calming a torrent of paralyzing fear; John F. Kennedy, for fostering idealism while facing down threats; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for incandescent dreams; even Ronald Reagan who, despite regressive economic policies, raised a dispirited public’s morale.

Ethiopians, too, recall many who brought inspiration in times of peril: Emperor Yohannes who fell fighting against invaders; Emperor Haile Selassie who stood tall at the League of Nations; and, among many who opposed Italian Fascism, heroes like Lorenzo Taezaz, Abuna Petros, and Mulugeta Buli. They remember Kifle Wodajo, who promoted democracy under a regime unschooled in its ways. They admire innovators, such as General Siye Abraha, who renounced ethnic chauvinism for multiethnic inclusiveness; Elias Wondimu, who built a publishing program of high standards and an institute for nonviolent solutions; Judge Bertukan Midekesa, who survived a horrendous prison with great forward-looking spirit; and Pastor Daniel Gebreselassie, who helped many thousands of prisoners and resolve Ethiopia’s political paralysis.

Barack Obama draws on his appeal to an empowered citizenry and his stock of inspiring figures to energize an audacious search for fresh solutions to current dilemmas. I’ll name but three.

Transforming energy use
In stunning contrast to a regime that denies global warming, reduces environmental protections, dismisses science, and favors expanded use of oil, Barack Obama vigorously promotes conservation, respect for science, and search for alternative energy sources. His bold new energy plans include ways to slash oil consumption, cut greenhouse gas emissions 80%, create five million green energy jobs, and expand renewable energy sources.

Transforming foreign policy
Invading Iraq, Americans now believe, was a disaster on every count: politics; ethics; economics; security. That invasion stemmed from a mindset that reduces international issues to a divide between good guys and evil guys, eager to use force against the latter. Already when campaigning in January 2000, Bush proclaimed: “When I was coming up, it was us vs. them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they’re there.” Obama’s early rejection of the Iraqi war option as leading inexorably to “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences” reflects a mindset committed to analyzing what makes the U.S. truly secure. This includes promoting an international context in which we say, “to those yearning faces beyond our shores: ‘You matter to us. Your future is our future.’”

Reconfiguring political energy
The Bush administration has shown its blatant disregard of American citizens in so many ways. These include ignoring danger signals and providing pitiful relief for the Katrina disaster; squandering an opportunity to mobilize Americans for public service after 9/11 by asking Americans only to go shopping; and undermining democratic institutions by abrogating provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In sharp contrast, Barack Obama’s fidelity to the Constitution was shown abundantly in his years of teaching Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, and his commitment to reversing the politicization of the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice. Obama plans to expand opportunities for Americans to engage in national and community service and the Peace Corps, and to engage retiring Americans in service on a large scale. He has a stunning track record of listening to the voice of citizens, and understands that in democracy the press needs to censure government, rather than the government to censoring the press.

The Appeal to Ethiopians
Ethiopian Americans tell me they find the Obama candidacy worth supporting for one or more of three different reasons. Like other Americans, Ethiopian Americans find hope in a wide range of his policy proposals, like the sample listed above (and others; see barackobama.com). They also see how the directions Obama promises for the U.S. may offer a model for Ethiopia. And many hope that an Obama administration might reorient American policy toward Ethiopia and the Horn in more constructive directions.

Forward-looking Ethiopians, including many in the Ethiopian Government, see promise in adapting advanced green energy technologies and thereby enabling Ethiopia to leap-frog the stage of industrialization that the West and East Asian countries have undergone. For the U.S. and other donor nations, this implies a shift from stopgap relief mentality and old-scale types of capital investment to technologies that harness solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, compact water turbines, and better waste management.

Forward-looking Ethiopians, including many in the Ethiopian Government, see the pitfalls of the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and even more so the consequences of the scorched earth policy in the Ogaden. They prefer the sort of policy that Germame Neway pursued, working to integrate Ogaden inhabitants into the Ethiopian nation by offering them abundant life-enhancing services.

For the U.S., an Obama approach would avoid the shortcomings of basing African engagements so much on a trigger-happy counter-terrorist disposition, a change that former Ambassador David Shinn and former Chargé d’Affaires Vicki Huddleston have advocated.

Finally, Obama’s commitment to mobilizing citizens for public service and respecting human rights has conspicuous relevance to changing Ethiopia. It would imply support for empowering “the bottom of the pyramid.”

Regarding U.S. policies, it might expectably lead to more effective support for Ethiopians who want to promote a free press, including local radio that gives voice to people, and capacity-building for the advancement of nonviolent solutions and protection of human rights.”

Ethiopians can experience the same turn-around, in ye-bet agar as well as in ye-wutch agar, that Obama’s campaign for change promises. Awo Inchilallen!

For now, what better way than to join forces with Ethiopians for Obama? Or even join with neighbors from the larger Horn of Africa to set up a new support group: why not SEEDS [Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia]-Americans for Obama?”

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About the Author:
Donald N. Levine served as the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. His research and teaching interests focus on classical social theory, modernization theory, Ethiopian studies, conflict theory and aikido, and philosophies of liberal education. He is a colleague of Senator Barack Obama from their teaching days at the University of Chicago.

Cover image: From a photo booth with Obama wearing a traditional Ethiopian shawl at D.C. Soccer Tournament 2008 (Tadias)

Kenenisa Bekele Reigns Supreme, Wins Gold

The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

August 18

(BEIJING) — World record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia confirmed his supremacy in distance running by successfully defending his Olympic gold medal in the Men’s 10000m at the National Stadium on Sunday, August 17.

Bekele sliced almost four seconds off the Olympic record he set at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, finishing in 27:01.17. The silver medalist was perennial minor medalist Sileshi Sihine of Ethiopia, who clocked 27:02.77, while Micah Kogo of Kenya won bronze in 27:04.11.

The caliber of the race was so high that the first four finishers all beat the old Olympic record of 27:05.10.

Kidane Tadesse of Eritrea controlled the pace for most of the early stages of the race, with Bekele content to sit in third position.

The pace picked up when former world record holder and two-time Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia took control at the 6000m mark. With seven laps to go, Athens bronze medalist Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea regained the lead before Koso went to the front after 8000m.

Seven runners were in the front pack with two laps remaining, but at the final lap bell Bekele pulled away from Sihine, eventually winning by 20m.

Bekele is the sixth man to have won back-to-back Olympic titles in the Men’s 10000m.

The Imperious Kenenisa Bekele
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Kenenisa Bekele celebrates winning the gold. (Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Athletes compete in Men’s 10000m final. (Photo credit: Xinhua)

The Imperious Kenenisa Bekele

Reuters
Photo: Kenenisa Bekele celebrates winning the men’s 10,000m final.
(Reuters: Gary Hershorn)

August 17th, 2008

World record holder Kenenisa Bekele has secured what he hopes will be the first leg of the long-distance double, retaining his Olympic 10,000 metres title with a devastating last lap.

After tracking the lead for most of the race, Bekele let rip over the last 400m to finish well clear of team-mate Sileshi Sihine, who also got silver behind him in Athens.

Micah Kogo snatched bronze for Kenya. Read More.

Ethiopia’s Best in New York, Aug 20th

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2008

New York (Tadias) — Among some of the most exciting out-door music events scheduled in New York this summer, is a concert on August 20th, featuring Ethiopia’s most noted musical artists: Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete and the legendary saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya.

The artists burst forth into the Ethiopian music scence in the 1960s, during a time of prolific music recording in Addis Ababa, where the nightlife and club scene was buzzing with live Afro-pop, Swing and Blues riviling those in Paris and New York.

But the fun was short lived. In the mid 1970′s the rise to power of Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam ushered in a dark age, which halted Addis Ababa’s flourishing music scene and severly curtailed the record music industry.

“Mengistu was well-versed in the Ethiopian tradition of song lyrics that are double entendres speaking to romantic and political themes, so he set about silencing the Ethiopian Swing”, penned writer Michael A. Edwards in an article entiltled Nubian Sunrise in Jazz Times Magazine, the world’s leading Jazz publication. “Curfew brought the Capital to a viritual stand still…jailed, discredited and otherwise harrased, many of the musicians went into exile and the sun set on swinging Addis.”

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The Swinging Sixties: The Police Band strut their stuff in 1965/6. (Time.com)

The sun has risen again for Ethiopian music and it has re-emerged in the international scene under a new name: Ethiopiques, which refres to a stunning CD series containing a treasure trove of Ethipian sounds from the 1960′s and ’70s.

And on August 20th, beginning at 6 p.m, at the 38th season of the Lincoln Center’s out of
doors concert, one of the longest-running free summer festivals in the U.S, New Yorkers will
be treated to the groove of “Nubian Sunrise”.


You can learn more about the event at Lincolncenter.org

Related: Legendary Punks The Ex Find New Inspiration in Ethiopia (Chicago Tribune)

Phelps is the Man, Wins 8th Gold

ABC News

August 16, 2008

Michael Phelps wins 8th gold medal in a single Olympics, breaking tie with Mark Spitz

Michael Phelps won his record eighth gold medal Sunday at the Beijing Olympics as a member of the victorious U.S. 400-meter medley relay team, breaking a tie with Mark Spitz for most golds in a single games.

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(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Phelps and Jason Lezak won in a world-record of 3 minutes, 29.34 seconds, lowering the old mark of 3:30.68 set four years ago in Athens. Read More.

All the World is Bill Clinton’s Stage

The Sydney Morning Herald

August 17, 2008

US voters may be tiring of the name Clinton, but the rest of the world has embraced the former president’s efforts to save the planet, writes Sarah Boseley.

He took off and left, an hour or so later, the same way he’d arrived – helicopter rotor blades driving a gritty dust storm from the dirt playing field into the faces of hundreds of Ethiopian hill villagers. They had waved and clapped and shaken the hand of a white-haired man who used to hold the most powerful office on the planet and who has just failed to help his wife secure it in her turn. Yet the people of Rema had no idea who William Jefferson Clinton was or what he was doing in their village.

One man knew the name, though his wife looked blank. “Clinton,” said Awke Tiruneh, whose hut the president had been due to visit but didn’t, because of the tight schedule powerful men run to. “He is from Germany.” It is the only foreign country Tiruneh has heard of. The outside world is the village on top of the next hill, a long, rocky walk down one mountain and up another.

Yet Clinton came to put Rema on the map, hailing it as a model for the developing world and a place that could teach the US a thing or two. Rema, in the northern highlands, is now the first solar-powered village in Ethiopia – a cluster of 1100 homes that shine in the dark evenings like white beads on a string. Every home has electric light from an energy-efficient LED bulb hanging from the straw ceiling.

Children can do schoolwork after 6pm while women weave the gabi – a white cotton head-to-toe wrap that is worn in church and in the evenings to keep out the cold (now Clinton has one, too). Read More.

Last Wave of Ethiopian Immigrants to Israel?

The Lompoc Record
Photo by Ricki Rosen (The Jewish Journal)

By ARON HELLER

GONDAR, Ethiopia — Sitting in a leaky, flyblown hut, a few dozen Ethiopian villagers are anxiously waiting to be transported to another world.

They have just been given word that their years of waiting are over, and that soon they will make a 2,000-mile journey by land and air with what is probably the last wave of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel.

In doing so, they join generations of Jews who have immigrated to the Promised Land. But they are flying into the teeth of a dilemma that touches the heart of Israel’s founding philosophy.

For people like 48-year-old Abe Damamo, his wife and eight children, wrenching change awaits.

Like most Ethiopians with Jewish roots, they have come from the Gondar region of northern Ethiopia. Their remote village uses donkeys for transportation and has no bathrooms. Damamo has no formal education and speaks no language but his own.

He is moving to an industrialized democracy where he will have to learn Hebrew, master a cell phone, commute to work and find his place in a nation of immigrants from dozens of countries ranging from Argentina to Yemen, Australia to the United States. Read More.

Good News for Students on F-1 Visa

By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, August 16, 2008

New York (Tadias) – A federal judge in New Jersey has declined to stop the new immigration rule that extends the optional practical training duration from 12 to 29 months for students with F-1 visas.

This is good news for foreign students. Opponents of the new rule had argued that extending the duration of the optional practical training (OPT), the period in which international students are allowed to work in the U.S., was another tactic to give foreign workers entry into the United States.

Annually more than 560,000 international students enroll in U.S. universities and about 40,000 are from sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia ranks sixth from the continent with 1,129 F-1 visas issued to Ethiopian students up until 2005. According to Paul Cantrell, Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, the number of F-1 visas issued to Ethiopian students has increased in recent years. Last year, over 50% of Ethiopian applicants were approved and 500 students came to the U.S.

In comparison, there are approximately 1,00,000 Indian students on F-1 visas in this country.

According to the U.S. census bureau, 18 million students were enrolled in the nation’s colleges and universities last fall. This is up from 12.8 million 20 years ago.

Continental Solidarity Behind Dibaba

BBC
BY Adnan Nawaz
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16 Aug 08

Africa had to wait until day seven of competition to win its first gold medal of the 2008 Olympics.

The entire continent celebrated as Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia won the women’s 10,000m in the Bird’s Nest Stadium, and then, on day eight, there was more glory for Africa to enjoy as Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry took gold while setting a new world record in the women’s 200m backstroke.

It had been a long wait for Africa, but when triumph was finally achieved there was great evidence of continental solidarity among the African media here in Beijing. Read More.

Ethiopia’s Golden Girl: Dibaba Wins Women’s 10000m
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From the Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

(BEIJING, August 15) — Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia has won gold and set a new Olympic record in the Women’s 10000m at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 15.

Dibaba’s time of 29:54.66 was enough to break the old record of 30:17.49 set by fellow Ethiopian Derartu Tulu and hold off silver medalist Elvan Abeylegess of Turkey (also born in Ethiopia) who ran a time of 29:56.34. Bronze went to Shalane Flanagan of the United States in a time of 30:22:22.

The world record of 29:31.78 seconds in this event is held by China’s Wang Junxia China, set in 1993. Read More.

The Golden Girl
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Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene celebrates after crossing the line.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey (born in Ethiopia) and Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene celebrates. (Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Dibaba planning long-distance double
Reuters

By Sabrina Yohannes

Thursday, August 14, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – World 10,000-metre champion Tirunesh Dibaba says she expects to run both the 10,000 and 5,000m events in Beijing, hoping to become the first woman to scoop the Olympic distance double.

In 2005 Dibaba became the first woman to win both races at a world championships when she led an Ethiopian podium sweep in both events in Helsinki.

She retained the 10,000 title in Osaka last year after suffering from abdominal pain mid-race but skipped the 5,000 days later.

“My expectation is that I will run both,” she told Reuters after arriving in Beijing. “It’s being said that it’s a little hot here, so the final decision will be made after the 10,000.” Read more at Guardian.

Ethiopian-born Abeylegesse Makes Turkish Olympic History

TODAY’S ZAMAN

Ethiopian-born Elvan Abeylegesse made double Turkish history on Friday by becoming the first-ever Turk to win an Olympic silver medal in athletics.

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This medal in the women’s 10,000-meter final also made her the first ever Turkish woman to win an Olympic medal in this discipline.

Elvan, who had led for much of the latter part of the race, ran home in second with a time of 29:56.34 minutes. American Shalane Flanagan took bronze in 30:22.22. Ethiopia’s world champion Tirunesh Dibaba won the gold in 29:54.66 — an Olympic record.

During a fast race Elvan and Dibaba were neck and neck going into the final six laps. But at the sound of the bell, Dibaba kicked out and held on to win.

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Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey and Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Dibaba and Elvan now become only the second and third women to run under 30 minutes in the 10,000 after Chinese world record holder Wang Junxia, who set her mark in Beijing in 1993.

It is worthy to note that Eşref Apak, the bronze medalist in the men’s hammer throw in the 2004 Athens Games, was the first Turk to win an Olympic medal. Read More.

History of Ethiopian Church Presence in Jerusalem

Above photo: Ethiopian monks on the roof of Christianity’s
holiest shrine in Jerusalem
(Creative Commons Attribution).

Publisher’s Note:

Updated: August 16th, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The following piece first appeared in the context of the July 2002 brawl that erupted on the roof of Christianity’s most holy place between Ethiopian and Egyptian monks.

“Eleven monks were treated in hospital after a fight broke out for control of the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the traditional site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection”, wrote Alan Philps, a Jerusalem based reporter for the Daily Telegraph.

“The fracas involved monks from the Ethiopian Orthodox church and the Coptic church of Egypt, who have been vying for control of the rooftop for centuries.”

As part of our Ethiopian Millennium series on the relationship between Ethiopia and the African Diaspora, we have selected part of the original article from our archives with a hope that it may generate a healthy discussion on the subject.

Deir Sultan, Ethiopia and the Black World
By Negussay Ayele for Tadias Magazine

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Above: Main entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (27/03/2005),
Easter Sunday. This image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.

Unknown by much of the world, monks and nuns of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, have for centuries quietly maintained the only presence by black people in one of Christianity’s holiest sites—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

Through the vagaries and vicissitudes of millennial history and landlord changes in Jerusalem and the Middle East region, Ethiopian monks have retained their monastic convent in what has come to be known as Deir Sultan or the Monastery of the Sultan for more than a thousand years.

Likewise, others that have their respective presences in the area at different periods include Armenian, Russian, Syrian, Egyptian and Greek Orthodox/Coptic Churches as well as the Holy See.

As one writer put it recently, “For more than 1500 years, the Church of Ethiopia survived in Jerusalem. Its survival has not, in the last resort, been dependent on politics, but on the faith of individual monks that we should look for the vindication of the Church’s presence in Jerusalem…. They are attracted in Jerusalem not by a hope for material gain or comfort, but by faith.”

It is hoped that public discussion on this all-important subject will be joined by individuals and groups from all over the world. We hope that others with more detailed and/or first hand knowledge about the subject will join in the discussion.

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Above: Painting on the wall of the Ethiopian part of the church of the Holy
Sepulcher. Photo by Iweze Davidson.

Accounts of Ethiopian presence in Jerusalem invoke the Bible to establish the origin of Ethiopian presence in Jerusalem.

Accordingly, some Ethiopians refer to the story of the encounter in Jerusalem between Queen of Sheba–believed to have been a ruler in Ethiopia and environs–and King Solomon, cited, for instance, in I Kings 10: 1-13.

According to this version, Ethiopia’s presence in the region was already established about 1000 B.C. possibly through land grant to the visiting Queen, and that later transformation into Ethiopian Orthodox Christian monastery is an extension of that same property.

Others refer to the New Testament account of Acts 8: 26-40 which relates the conversion to Christianity of the envoy of Ethiopia’s Queen Candace (Hendeke) to Jerusalem in the first century A.D., thereby signaling the early phase of Ethiopia’s adoption of Christianity. This event may have led to the probable establishment of a center of worship in Jerusalem for Ethiopian pilgrims, priests, monks and nuns.

Keeping these renditions as a backdrop, what can be said for certain is the following: Ethiopian monastic activities in Jerusalem were observed and reported by contemporary residents and sojourners during the early years of the Christian era.

By the time of the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and the region (634-644 A.D.) khalif Omar is said to have confirmed Ethiopian physical presence in Jerusalem’s Christian holy places, including the Church of St. Helena, which encompasses the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His firman or directive of 636 declared “the Iberian and Abyssinian communities remain there” while also recognizing the rights of other Christian communities to make pilgrimages in the Christian holy places of Jerusalem.

Because Jerusalem and the region around it, has been subjected to frequent invasions and changing landlords, stakes in the holy places were often part of the political whims of respective powers that be.

Subsequently, upon their conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, the Crusaders had kicked out Orthodox/Coptic monks from the monasteries and installed Augustine monks instead. However, when in 1187 Salaheddin wrested Jerusalem from the Crusaders, he restored the presence of the Ethiopian and other Orthodox/Coptic monks in the holy places.

When political powers were not playing havoc with their claims to the holy places, the different Christian sects would often carry on their own internecine conflicts among themselves, at times with violent results.

Contemporary records and reports indicate that the Ethiopian presence in the holy places in Jerusalem was rather much more substantial throughout much of the period up to the 18th and 19th centuries.

For example, an Italian pilgrim, Barbore Morsini, is cited as having written in 1614 that “the Chapels of St. Mary of Golgotha and of St. Paul…the grotto of David on Mount Sion and an altar at Bethlehem…” among others were in the possession of the Ethiopians.

From the 16th to the middle of the 19th centuries, virtually the whole of the Middle East was under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. When one of the Zagwe kings in Ethiopia, King Lalibela (1190-1225), had trouble maintaining unhampered contacts with the monks in Jerusalem, he decided to build a new Jerusalem in his land. In the process he left behind one of the true architectural wonders known as the Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela.

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Above: Lalibela. This image is licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution.

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Above: Lalibela. This image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.

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Above: Lalibela. This image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.

The Ottomans also controlled Egypt and much of the Red Sea littoral and thereby circumscribed Christian Ethiopia’s communication with the outside world, including Jerusalem.

Besides, they had also tried but failed to subdue Ethiopia altogether. Though Ethiopia’s independent existence was continuously under duress not only from the Ottomans but also their colonial surrogate, Egypt as well as from the dervishes in the Sudan, the Ethiopian monastery somehow survived during this period. Whenever they could, Ethiopian rulers and other personages as well as church establishments sent subsidies and even bought plots of land where in time churches and residential buildings for Ethiopian pilgrims were built in and around Jerusalem. Church leaders in Jerusalem often represented the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in ecumenical councils and meetings in Florence and other fora.

During the 16th and 17th centuries the Ottoman rulers of the region including Palestine and, of course, Jerusalem, tried to stabilize the continuing clamor and bickering among the Christian sects claiming sites in the Christian holy places. To that effect, Ottoman rulers including Sultan Selim I (1512-1520) and Suleiman “the Magnificent” (1520-1566) as well as later ones in the 19th century, issued edicts or firmans regulating and detailing by name which group of monks would be housed where and the protocol governing their respective religious ceremonies. These edicts are called firmans of the Status Quo for all Christian claimants in Jerusalem’s holy places including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which came to be called Deir Sultan or the monastery (place) of the Sultan.

Ethiopians referred to it endearingly as Debre Sultan. Most observers of the scene in the latter part of the 19th Century as well as honest spokesmen for some of the sects attest to the fact that from time immemorial the Ethiopian monks had pride of place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Deir Sultan). Despite their meager existence and pressures from fellow monks from other countries, the Ethiopian monks survived through the difficult periods their country was going through such as the period of feudal autarchy (1769-1855).

Still, in every document or reference since the opening of the Christian era, Ethiopia and Ethiopian monks have been mentioned in connection with Christian holy places in Jerusalem, by all alternating landlords and powers that be in the region.

As surrogates of the weakening Ottomans, the Egyptians were temporarily in control of Jerusalem (1831-1840). It was at this time, in 1838, that a plague is said to have occurred in the holy places, which in some mysterious ways of Byzantine proportions, claimed the lives of all Ethiopian monks.

The Ethiopians at this time were ensconced in a chapel of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Deir Sultan) as well as in other locales nearby. Immediately thereafter, the Egyptian authorities gave the keys of the Church to the Egyptian Coptic monks.

The Egyptian ruler, Ibrahim Pasha, then ordered that all thousands of very precious Ethiopian holy books and documents, including historical and ecclesiastical materials related to property deeds and rights, be burned—alleging conveniently that the plague was spawned by the Ethiopian parchments.

Monasteries are traditionally important hubs of learning and, given its location and its opportunity for interaction with the wider family of Christendom, the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem was even more so than others. That is how Ethiopians lost their choice possession in Deir Sultan.

By the time other monks arrived in Jerusalem, the Copts claimed their squatter’s rights, the new Ethiopian arrivals were eventually pushed off onto the open rooftop of the church, thanks largely to the machinations of the Egyptian Coptic church.

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Above: The roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem, where Ethiopians maintain the only presence
by black people in Christianity’s holiest shrine. This image
is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.

Although efforts on behalf of Ethiopian monks in Jerusalem started in mid-19th Century with Ras Ali and Dejach Wube, it was the rise of Emperor Tewodros in 1855 in Ethiopia that put the Jerusalem monastery issue back onto international focus.

When Ethiopian monks numbering a hundred or so congregated in Jerusalem at the time, the Armenians had assumed superiority in the holy places. The Anglican bishop in Jerusalem then, Bishop Samuel Gobat witnessed the unholy attitude and behavior of the Armenians and the Copts towards their fellow Christian Ethiopians who were trying to reclaim their rights to the holy places in Jerusalem.

He wrote that the Ethiopian monks, nuns and pilgrims “were both intelligent and respectable, yet they were treated like slaves, or rather like beasts by the Copts and the Armenians combined…(the Ethiopians) could never enter their own chapel but when it pleased the Armenians to open it. …On one occasion, they could not get their chapel opened to perform funeral service for one of their members. The key to their convent being in the hands of their oppressors, they were locked up in their convent in the evening until it pleased their Coptic jailer to open it in the morning, so that in any severe attacks of illness, which are frequent there, they had no means of going out to call a physician.’’

It was awareness of such indignities suffered by Ethiopian monks in Jerusalem that is said to have impelled Emperor Tewodros to have visions of clearing the path between his domain and Jerusalem from Turkish/Egyptian control, and establishing something more than monastic presence there. In the event, one of the issues that contributed to the clash with British colonialists that consumed his life 1868, was the quest for adequate protection of the Ethiopian monks and their monastery in Jerusalem.

Emperor Yohannes IV (1872-1889), the priestly warrior king, used his relatively cordial relations with the British who were holding sway in the region then, to make representations on behalf of the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem.

He carried on regular pen-pal communications with the monks even before he became Emperor. He sent them money, he counseled them and he always asked them to pray for him and the country, saying, “For the prayers of the righteous help and serve in all matters. By the prayers of the righteous a country is saved.”

He used some war booty from his battles with Ottomans and their Egyptian surrogates, to buy land and started to build a church in Jerusalem. As he died fighting Sudanese/Dervish expansionists in 1889, his successor, Emperor Menelik completed the construction of the Church named Debre Gennet located on what was called “Ethiopian Street.”

During this period more monasteries, churches and residences were also built by Empresses Tayitu, Zewditu, Menen as well as by several other personages including Afe Negus Nessibu, Dejazmach Balcha, Woizeros Amarech Walelu, Beyenech Gebru, Altayeworq.

As of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century the numbers of Ethiopian monks and nuns increased and so did overall Ethiopian pilgrimage and presence in Jerusalem.

In 1903, Emperor Menelik put $200, 000 thalers in a (Credileone) Bank in the region and ordained that interests from that savings be used exclusively as subsidy for the sustenance of the Ethiopian monks and nuns and the upkeep of Deir Sultan. Emperor Menelik’s 6-point edict also ordained that no one be allowed to draw from the capital in whole or in part.

Land was also purchased at various localities and a number of personalities including Empress Tayitu, and later Empress Menen, built churches there. British authorities supported a study on the history of the issue since at least the time of kalifa (Calif) Omar ((636) and correspondences and firmans and reaffirmations of Ethiopian rights in 1852, in an effort to resolve the chronic problems of conflicting claims to the holy sites in Jerusalem.

The 1925 study concluded that ”the Abyssinian (Ethiopian ) community in Palestine ought to be considered the only possessor of the convent Deir Es Sultan at Jerusalem with the Chapels which are there and the free and exclusive use of the doors which give entrance to the convent, the free use of the keys being understood.”

Until the Fascist invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930’s when Mussolini confiscated Ethiopian accounts and possessions everywhere, including in Jerusalem, the Ethiopian presence in Jerusalem had shown some semblance of stability and security, despite continuing intrigues by Copts, Armenians and their overlords in the region.

This was a most difficult and trying time for the Ethiopian monks in Jerusalem who were confronted with a situation never experienced in the country’s history, namely its occupation by a foreign power. And, just like some of their compatriots including Church leaders at home, some paid allegiance to the Fascist rulers albeit for the brief (1936-1941) interregnum.

Emperor Haile Sellassie was also a notable patron of the monastery cause, and the only monarch to have made several trips to Jerusalem, including en route to his self-exile to London in May, 1936.

Since at least the 1950s there was an Ethiopian Association for Jerusalem in Addis Ababa that coordinated annual Easter pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Hundreds of Ethiopians and other persons from Ethiopia and the Diaspora took advantage of its good offices to go there for absolution, supplication or felicitation, and the practice continues today.

Against all odds, historical, ecclesiastical and cultural bonding between Ethiopia and Jerusalem waxed over the years. The Ethiopian presence expanded beyond Deir Sultan including also numerous Ethiopian Churches, chapels, convents and properties. This condition required that the Patriarchate of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church designate Jerusalem as a major diocese to be administered under its own Archbishop.

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Above: Timket (epiphany) celebration by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Church on the Jordan River, considered to be the place where Jesus was
baptized. Jan. 1999. Photo by Iweze Davidson.

Ethiopia and Black Heritage In Jerusalem

For hundreds of years, the name or concept of Ethiopia has been a beacon for black/African identity liberty and dignity throughout the diaspora. The Biblical (Psalm 68:31) verse , “…Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God” has been universally taken to mean African people, black people at large, stretch out their hands to God (and only to God) in supplication, in felicitation or in absolution.

As Daniel Thwaite put it, for the Black man Ethiopia was always “…an incarnation of African independence.”

And today, Ethiopian monastic presence in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Deir Sultan in Jerusalem, is the only Black presence in the holiest place on earth for Christians. For much of its history, Ethiopian Christianity was largely hemmed in by alternating powers in the region. Likewise, Ethiopia used its own indigenous Ethiopic languages for liturgical and other purposes within its own territorial confines, instead of colonial or other lingua franca used in extended geographical spaces of the globe.

For these and other reasons, Ethiopia was not able to communicate effectively with the wider Black world in the past. Given the fact that until recently, most of the Black world within Africa and in the diaspora was also under colonial tutelage or under slavery, it was not easy to appreciate the significance of Ethiopian presence in Jerusalem. Consequently, even though Ethiopian/Black presence in Jerusalem has been maintained through untold sacrifices for centuries, the rest of the Black world outside of Ethiopia has not taken part in its blessings through pilgrimages to the holy sites and thereby develop concomitant bonding with the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem.

For nearly two millennia now, the Ethiopian Church and its adherent monks and priests have miraculously maintained custodianship of Deir Sultan, suffering through and surviving all the struggles we have glanced at in these pages. In fact, the survival of Ethiopian/Black presence in Christianity’s holy places in Jerusalem is matched only by the “Survival Ethiopian Independence” itself.

Indeed, Ethiopian presence in Deir Sultan represents not just Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity but all African/black Christians of all denominations who value the sacred legacy that the holy places of Jerusalem represent for Christians everywhere. It represents also the affirmation of the fact that Jerusalem is the birthplace of Christianity, just as adherents of Judaism and Islam claim it also.

The Ethiopian foothold at the rooftop of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the only form of Black presence in Christianity’s holy places of Jerusalem. It ought to be secure, hallowed and sanctified ground by and for all Black folks everywhere who value it. The saga of Deir Sultan also represents part of Ethiopian history and culture. And that too is part of African/black history and culture regardless of religious orientation.

When a few years ago, an Ethiopian monk was asked by a writer why he had come to Jerusalem to face all the daily vicissitudes and indignities, he answered, “because it is Jerusalem.”


About the Author:
Dr. Negussay Ayele is a noted Ethiopian scholar. He is the author of the book Ethiopia and the United States, Volume I, the Season of Courtship, among many other publications. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Phelps Has The Touch, Wins Seventh Gold

The Washington Post

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Photo by Jonathan Newton — The Washington Post

Saturday, August 16, 2008; Page E01

BEIJING, Aug. 16 — There was no way, given how much ground Michael Phelps had to make up and how the pool was slipping away from him. He was involved in a 100-meter swimming race, this one in the butterfly stroke. Of eight swimmers at the midway point, he was seventh. The dream was about to die.

But over a beautiful, stunning final 25 meters, Phelps — the 23-year-old from Baltimore County who simply can’t lose — tracked down Serbia’s Milorad Cavic. History lived, Mark Spitz had company, by the slimmest of margins. Phelps touched in 50.58 seconds, winning his sevnth gold medal of these Beijing Olympics. The margin of victory over Cavic? One one hundredth of a second. Read More.

New York: African-flavored Events Calendar

By Sirak Getachew
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Updated: August 15th, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Here are but a few of the African-flavored summer festivals in New York.

AUG. 16TH, UNIVERSAL HIP-HOP PARADE, BROOKLYN, NY
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All roads lead to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, on Saturday, August 16th, for the annual Universal Hip-Hop Parade held in honor of Marcus Garvey’s birthday. This year’s theme: “The Message, The Movement, The Progress! Hip-Hop for Social Change”. Photos:universalhiphopparade.com. Learn more about the event at the same website

AUG. 17TH, THE BLACK STAR BOAT RIDE, NEW YORK, NY
The promoters of Rooftop and Forward Reggae Fridays and others in between – Bintou with Stakamusic and Stateside Revolution – has brought nothing short of fun and flare back to the dance floor. Conscious Music will host the 1st Annual Black Star Liner Boat Ride on board the Paddlewheel Queen (at 23rd and FDR), and will be serving a great complimentary selection of quality Caribbean and African cuisines. The artist roster includes Sirius Radio host DJ Gringo of Jamaica Stateside Revolutions and DJ Sirak from Ethiopia (via the The Bronx), slated to blend African Vibes ranging from Fela Kuti to conscious hip-hop. And on the rooftop, Live African Drumming. Plus free after party with ticket stub at Revival Reggae Sundays at Lox Lounge. Sponsored by: Moshood,Nicholas/Nubian Heritage, Tadias Magazine, Eastside Pleasure, VP Records, Those Brothers, Fusicology, Brooklyn Moon Cafe, Harriets Alter Ego, Strictly Roots Restaurant. Admission: $40 Tickets

AUG. 20TH, THE ETHIOPIQUES REUNION, NEW YORK, NY
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Enjoy a historical night of the grooves of Ethiopia. The vibes of Extra Golden include performances by Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete with The Either/Orchestra, and Gétatchèw Mèkurya with The Ex. August 20th, beginning at 6 p.m (Damrosch Park Bandshell), at the 38th season of the Lincoln Center’s out of doors concert, one of the longest-running free summer festivals in the U.S, New Yorkers will be treated to the groove of “Nubian Sunrise”. Read More.

AUG. 24TH, THE AFRICAN DAY PARADE, HARLEM, NY
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The African Day Parade, Inc., announces The 2nd Annual African Day Parade (ADP), which will be held on Sunday August 24, 2008, in Harlem, NYC. The theme for this year: “Family & Tradition.” This event is signed to celebrate and unify the Beauty and Richness of Black & African Culture. Parade route begins at 126th Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard ( 7 Ave) to 116th street and 8th Avenue. Time: 1pm. Gathering starts at 10am. To sponsor this event please call: 646.316.7644.

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Events Calendar brought to you by Sirak Getachew, Creative Director of Eastside Pleasures.

Related: Ethiopia’s Best in New York, August 20th (Tadias)

Phelps Picks up Sixth Gold Medal

NYT
By KAREN CROUSE
Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times
Published: August 14, 2008

BEIJING — One of the few remaining men standing between Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz at the Beijing Olympics looks as if he should be working behind the counter of a video store, not racing to ruin Phelps’s cinematic ending. Read More.

40 Million Tune in to Watch Phelps on NBC (Variety)
By RICK KISSELL
Wed., Aug. 13, 2008

Auds stayed up late to watch history Tuesday night, as NBC drew its biggest crowd since the Opening Ceremony for the night’s primetime action, driven by Michael Phelps’ record-setting performance.

An average estimated aud of roughly 40 million were tuned in during the 10 o’clock hour to watch Phelps capture the 200-meter butterfly and his 10th career Olympic gold medal. And that aud swelled post-primetime, hitting 41.2 million in the 11 o’clock half-hour, which featured women’s gymnastics and another Phelps gold medal, this one as part of a relay team.

For the duration of its coverage Tuesday (8 p.m. to 12:19 a.m.), NBC averaged a 12.4 rating/34 share in adults 18-49 — the best for any night in these Games thus far, including the Opening Ceremony. In total viewers, it came in a bit below the 34.89 million for the opening-night event. Read more.

Bigger Fires Bring California to the Brink (MSNBC)
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Photo: Gary Kazanjian / AP file

Aug. 13, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Faced with hundreds of big, hard-to-control blazes, California is struggling with what could be its most expensive firefighting season ever, burning through $285 million in the last six weeks alone and up to $13 million a day.

With the worst of the fire season still ahead, lawmakers are scrambling to find a way to pay for it all and are considering slapping homeowners with a disaster surcharge that asks those in fire-prone areas to pay the most.

“There is no more fire season as we know it — the fire season is now all year-round,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said while touring wildfires last month in Northern California. “That means that we don’t have enough resources.” Read More.

TV Schedule for Ethiopian Athletes at Beijing 2008

From The Addis Connexion

If you have been getting a headache trying to figure out when and where you can catch your Ethiopian athletes going for the gold in Beijing, you’re not alone. Between the time differences in the U.S., and NBC’s delayed coverage of most events and their confusing non-specific schedule listings, we’ve had the same problem.

But now that we’ve got it figured out, we thought we would share it with you. And happily, it appears that U.S. viewers will get to see at least the medal rounds for all of the events Ethiopian athletes are participating in. Read more.

Ethiopia’s Golden Girl: Dibaba Wins Women’s 10000m
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From the Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

(BEIJING, August 15) — Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia has won gold and set a new Olympic record in the Women’s 10000m at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 15.

Dibaba’s time of 29:54.66 was enough to break the old record of 30:17.49 set by fellow Ethiopian Derartu Tulu and hold off silver medalist Elvan Abeylegess of Turkey (also born in Ethiopia) who ran a time of 29:56.34. Bronze went to Shalane Flanagan of the United States in a time of 30:22:22.

The world record of 29:31.78 seconds in this event is held by China’s Wang Junxia China, set in 1993. Read More.

The Golden Girl
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Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene celebrates after crossing the line.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey (born in Ethiopia) and Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene celebrates. (Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Dibaba planning long-distance double
Reuters

By Sabrina Yohannes

Thursday, August 14, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – World 10,000-metre champion Tirunesh Dibaba says she expects to run both the 10,000 and 5,000m events in Beijing, hoping to become the first woman to scoop the Olympic distance double.

In 2005 Dibaba became the first woman to win both races at a world championships when she led an Ethiopian podium sweep in both events in Helsinki.

She retained the 10,000 title in Osaka last year after suffering from abdominal pain mid-race but skipped the 5,000 days later.

“My expectation is that I will run both,” she told Reuters after arriving in Beijing. “It’s being said that it’s a little hot here, so the final decision will be made after the 10,000.” Read more at Guardian.

Ethiopia’s Golden Girl: Dibaba Wins Women’s 10000m

From the Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

(BEIJING, August 15) — Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia has won gold and set a new Olympic record in the Women’s 10000m at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 15.

Dibaba’s time of 29:54.66 was enough to break the old record of 30:17.49 set by fellow Ethiopian Derartu Tulu and hold off silver medalist Elvan Abeylegess of Turkey (also born in Ethiopia) who ran a time of 29:56.34. Bronze went to Shalane Flanagan of the United States in a time of 30:22:22.

The world record of 29:31.78 seconds in this event is held by China’s Wang Junxia China, set in 1993. Read More.

The Golden Girl
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Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene celebrates after crossing the line.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey (born in Ethiopia) and Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene.
(Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene celebrates. (Photo credit: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Dibaba planning long-distance double
Reuters

By Sabrina Yohannes

Thursday, August 14, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – World 10,000-metre champion Tirunesh Dibaba says she expects to run both the 10,000 and 5,000m events in Beijing, hoping to become the first woman to scoop the Olympic distance double.

In 2005 Dibaba became the first woman to win both races at a world championships when she led an Ethiopian podium sweep in both events in Helsinki.

She retained the 10,000 title in Osaka last year after suffering from abdominal pain mid-race but skipped the 5,000 days later.

“My expectation is that I will run both,” she told Reuters after arriving in Beijing. “It’s being said that it’s a little hot here, so the final decision will be made after the 10,000.” Read more at Guardian.

Africa’s unique cultures, ancient faith coexist in Ethiopia

The Dallas Morning News

By ERIK HEINRICH
Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Photo: A woman weaves baskets near Axum’s Park of the Stelae in Ethiopia.
(Mark Sissons/Special Contributor)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

LOWER OMO VALLEY, Ethiopia – “Remember, take only what you need,” says Johnny, our driver from Addis Ababa whose real name is Yohanes Tsegaye.

As soon as I step out of the Toyota Land Cruiser, parked in the shade of flat-topped acacia, all hell breaks lose. A crowd of Mursi – a tribe best known for the giant lip plates worn by its women – comes charging at me from the village compound.

The Mursi are in a frenzy, not because they want to welcome me to their homes. Instead, they are after lucrative photo fees demanded of picture-taking tourists who have trekked to the village of Hail Wuha, on the edge of an escarpment in one of the most isolated and inaccessible regions of Africa.

“You! You! You!” they yell at me. I am surrounded by Mursi who appear as a blur of floppy lip plates, painted faces, naked breasts and animal skins. Read More.

Ethiopian Ceramicists: Mamo Tessema & Sofia T. Gobena

Above: “Porcelain bowl,” teapot, and vase, ceramic.
By Tessema, Mamo (Photo credit – National Archives,
Contemporary African Art from the Harmon Foundation, select
list number 236).

By Lydia Gobena
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Conversations Between Generations

Updated: August 14th, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Pottery has traditionally played a functional role in Ethiopian society, and ceramists have generally been seen in a less than favorable light. In fact, in certain areas, ceramics was even associated with witchcraft. Ato Mamo Tessema impacted Ethiopians’ perceptions of ceramics and ceramicist. His work became seen and continues to be seen as an art form rather than a product with a utilitarian function. Ato Mamo’s artwork and career as the founder and curator of the National Museum of Ethiopia has also had a lasting legacy on Ethiopian artists, including Sofia Temesgien Gobena.

This article will discuss Ato Mamo’s influence on changing the perception of ceramists and ceramic art in Ethiopia, as well as his influence on the career of his cousin Sofia T. Gobena, who passed away in 2003. This article will further discuss how Sofia’s family is seeking to promote the notion of ceramics as an art form in Ethiopia.

Mamo Tessema
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Mamo Tessema. Photo by Harold Dorwin

Mamo Tessema was born on August 24, 1935 in Nekemet, Wollega, Ethiopia. He graduated from Teacher’s Training School at His Imperial Majesty’s Handicraft School in Addis Ababa. After studying in Ethiopia, he went to the U.S., where he attended the Alfred University, and the New York College of Ceramics. He received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and Masters of Fine Arts from Alfred. At Alfred, Ato Mamo’s studies were not limited to ceramic design, he also studied wood carving, painting, sculpture, welding, graphics, lithography, photography, furniture design, and history of art, among other things. Thus, Ato Mamo’s studies provided him with a well-rounded background in art, which is reflected by his artwork.

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Above Left: “Warrior,” welded steel sculpture by Mamo Tessema (Photo credit –
National Archives, Contemporary African Art from the Harmon Foundation, select list
number 239).

Above Right: “Welded Bird,” welded steel sculpture by Mamo Tessema
(Photo credit – National Archives,Contemporary African Art from the Harmon
Foundation, select list number 240).

Ato Mamo’s work has been exhibited in a number of locations including at the: Alfred Guild at the State College of Ceramics; 1961 UNESCO exhibit; Temple Emanu-El in Yonkers, New York; Washington Heights branch of the New York Public Library; Hampton Institute and Commercial Museum in Philadelphia. The latter five exhibitions were done through the assistance and/or sponsorship of Harmon Foundation, which during its existence from 1922 to 1967, played an instrumental role in promoting the awareness of African art in the U.S. Ato Mamo has also exhibited his work in other countries, including in Ethiopia.

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“The Capture,” woodcut. By Tessema, Mamo (Photo credit – National
Archives,
Contemporary African Art from the Harmon Foundation, select
list number 237.

After returning from studying in the U.S., Ato Mamo became well-known as a ceramist. This resulted in Ethiopians beginning to appreciate ceramics as an art form. To this day, when Ethiopians think of ceramics as an art form, Ato Mamo immediately comes to mind.

Ato Mamo also taught at the Handicraft School after his return to Ethiopia. Ato Mamo further embarked on the ambitious and worthy project of establishing the Ethiopian National Museum, the first museum in the country. Among the purposes of the Museum were to demonstrate the illustrious art and culture of Ethiopia to visitors, and to educate Ethiopian children about their rich history. As the founder and curator of the museum, Ato Mamo traveled throughout the globe, presenting Ethiopian artifacts to the world.

It can be said that his influence is felt by many now, when one travels through the bustling art scene in Ethiopia. There seems to be a greater appreciation of artwork as new private galleries are opened. Ato Mamo saw the importance of Ethiopian art and history, and the need to archive it. For this Ethiopians should be grateful.

Sofia T. Gobena
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Sofia at her Masters of Arts Show

Sofia Temesgien Gobena was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 18, 1964. She came to the United States of America in July 1972 with her parents, Abebetch B. and Temesgien Gobena. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Antioch College in Ohio, and a Master of Arts in ceramics and glass from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She also completed her work for her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin. Sofia unexpectedly passed away at the age of 38, though in her short life she was a prolific creator. Here are but few samples of her work.

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Photos: The Sofia T. Gobena Foundation for Promotion of Education in Ceramics and Fine
Arts

To learn about ceramics in Ethiopia, Sofia visited one of the traditional ceramics producing stations. Sofia’s art professors and colleagues described her artistic abilities as transcendent and the kind of talent that comes around perhaps once a decade.

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During Sofia’s visit to a traditional ceramics station
in Ethiopia.

Although Sofia’s life was brief, she was a prodigious artist, leaving behind numerous paintings, sculptures, glasswork, and ceramic pieces that are testaments to the beauty of her creative spirit. While some of this work had previously been seen during her Master of Arts show that was held in Madison, Wisconsin, her artwork received greater exposure at an art show that was held on June 18-20, 2004, in Washington, D.C. at the WorldSpace Corporation. The art show was put together by her family, with the assistance of Mamo Tessema.

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More samples of Sofia’s work (Photos: The Sofia T. Gobena Foundation)

Sofia’s influences in ceramics were the well-known U.S. ceramicists Peter Voulkos and Daniel Rhodes. Mamo Tessema was also an important influence in Sofia’s art. The Sofia T. Gobena Foundation was established in Sofia’s memory. The purpose of the foundation is to distribute funds to educational institutions in the United States and abroad that support and encourage the promotion of ceramic arts. Contributions have already been made to the Addis Ababa University Art Department to develop a ceramics department.

In sum, Mamo Tessema’s art work and legacy as the founder of the Ethiopian National Museum has had a significant influence on Ethiopia and artists. One such artist was Sofi a T. Gobena, in whose name a foundation was established to promote the ceramic arts.


About the Author:
Lydia Gobena, sister of Sofia T. Gobena and a cousin to Ato Mamo Tessema, is a trademark attorney and partner at Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, one of the top intellectual property law firms in the world. She is also a jewelry artist based in New York City.

Rastas go ‘home’, but the locals worry if it’s gonna be all right

Above: Members of the Jamaican community in Shashemene,
Ethiopia.

The Scotsman

By Tim Albone

Published Date: 14 August 2008

Shashemene, Ethiopia – WITH their flowing dreadlocks and blaring reggae music the Rastafarians in Shashemene look slightly out of place.

The beaches and rum bars of the Caribbean are just a distant memory, swapped for the dusty, landlocked streets of southern Ethiopia. Despite the town being crippled by a massive famine, the Rastas, as they are commonly known, insist they are home and happy.

Teddy Dan, 54, who is originally from Oxford and father to 16 children, told The Scotsman: “We are African. It’s eight years now, going on nine, since I returned home.”

Mr Dan is typical of many of the Rastas who call Shashemene home. A former reggae singer, he became disillusioned with life on the road and the materialistic lifestyle.

He said: “I went to school in England in the Seventies, we were taught all about the slave ships, but I thought there had to be more to this history than they taught in school.

“Coming home (to Shashemene] you see good people stay silent. We need good people to agitate for Africa, in Africa people are suffering more than all.”

Another Rasta, Papa Rocky, who has lived in Ethiopia for 30 years, holds a similar view.

He said: “I speak for the oppressed. I’ve been oppressed all my life, I’ve been beaten across my loins … I want to be what I am, an African.”

In 1947, in reward for their worship, Emperor Selassie gave the Rastas 500 hectares of prime land , 250km south of the capital Addis Ababa.

The first 12 families arrived in 1963, but after the overthrow of the emperor by Mengistu Haile Mariam, a Marxist military leader, the land was whittled down to 11 hectares.

However, the number of families has increased and today there are about 500 families, mainly migrants from the Caribbean, who all call Shashemene home.

The majority of Rastas live a holistic lifestyle, eating only vegetarian food and eschewing alcohol. Controversially, they also believe that marijuana is a gift from God. And their substantial intake of the drug has led to some suspicion from locals in Shashemene, many of whom believe that they have introduced it to their young. Read More.

Legendary Punks The Ex Find New Inspiration in Ethiopia

Chicago Tribune

August 14, 2008

The Ex made their Chicago debut in 1994, and I’ll never forget it. Guitarists Terrie and Andy (most of the band doesn’t bother using last names) bounced around the stage like wayward pinballs. G.W. Sok sang like he wanted to strangle somebody. Drummer Katrin emerged from behind the kit to mesmerize with finger cymbals and a feral voice. The Dutch agit-punks had been recording steadily since 1979, but on this night at the late, great Lounge Ax, they sounded like a new band with something to prove.

The Ex has long been celebrated for its do-it-yourself approach to music-making, its political idealism and self-directed, corporate-free business approach. But at Lounge Ax, none of that mattered. The band simply pinned the audience’s ears back. And that’s just the way Andy the guitarist says it should be.

“The drive behind everything has been musical curiosity,” he says. “We’re typecast as this principled political band, but the first impulse for being a band and continuing to be a band is the music. We go into the rehearsal room to make new songs, and we feel like we redefine the band every time. That’s exciting. So how we measure success isn’t about whether we have hits or we’re famous or accepted by the right people, but about whether the music moves us.”

That passion has led the band to constantly seek out new avenues of expression. At their inaugural Chicago show, the Ex performed with avant-garde cellist Tom Cora – a combination that shouldn’t have worked, but somehow did. Recently the band forged another unlikely collaboration, this time with 73-year-old Ethiopian jazz saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria on a terrific CD, “Moa Anbessa” (Terp). The band’s rolling rhythms mesh brilliantly with Mekuria’s virile soloing, and the songs push both the punk band and the jazz giant into new territory.

“We’d been listening to Ethiopian music for years, and Terrie and I went over a few years ago because we wanted to make a plan to play there,” Andy says. “We found a really old cassette of Getatchew’s music in a market, and we contacted him through his label and invited him to play with us at our 25th anniversary show four years ago. It was fantastic. He told a friend, ‘I want to play with the Ex band.’ It was his idea to get together and record. It was a different tradition than he was used to, but he loved the energy we have.”

The Ex had a similar reaction to the saxophonist’s music and Ethiopian music in general. Though Western audiences have been exposed to an extent to West African music from Mali, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria, which has a lighter tone, the music from the eastern side of the continent where Ethiopia lies is less widely known.

“It’s very hypnotic, and it shares some similarities with Rasta and Asian music,” Andy says. “It’s sweet, but there’s something snaky about the rhythms. We feel at home playing this music because, without realizing it, we have a similar approach. We create simple parts that interlock and build up to become quite complex and rich, which is similar to the way Ethiopian music works.” Read More.

Ethiopia Recap From The Zombie Chronicles

The Zombie Chronicles

So after 24 hours of non-stop travel and almost 48 hours from a bed, I made it back to the land of safe vegetables and Diet Coke on Saturday afternoon. It was a long trip, but let’s recap the fun we had in Ethiopia.

One of things I like about travel is the unexpected things that you have to deal with in your new daily routine. Some are good, some are not so good.

The Good
An awesome alarm clock, probably the best in all of Ethiopia, that not only was a breeze to set each night, but also woke me up to “rousing” Ethiopian music each morning and I was able to hook my mp3 player up to it to use it as a stereo!

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The best alarm clock in Ethiopia

Each night I got free treats in my room that rotated on a three night basis. One night was fruit, one was the dreaded veggies, and the other was dessert night! Some nights these desserts were so good that I would almost forget I was in the 3rd world.
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Free dessert

A third thing, which is often common on these trips, is the lack of quality tv channels in my room, thus being forced to watch and enjoy stuff I might never take the time to watch. One such jewel was Black Adder! I had seen snippets of this show on BBC America or something every now and then, but since one of the four channels I watched was BBC Prime, I got to watch this show almost every night at 8:30. As a fan of most British tv shows, I must say this is one of the best. Plus, it stars the guy who would later go on to invent Mr. Bean, but talks a lot in this!

The Bad
Not everything at the Hilton was in “The Good” category. For instance, check out this nightmare inducing Children’s Menu! Is it just me or does this dog seem slightly sinister?!?!
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Evil-childrens-menu

And then there was this in the bathroom… Is it a blow dryer or vacuum? Care to make any wagers?

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Suck or blow

All in all, the trip was alright. If you or I ever end up in Ethiopia again, I’d highly recommend taking many trips outside of the capital Addis Ababa. The day I spent in the countryside was definitely one of my favorites and the stories and pictures from friends that took flights out to the regions made me jealous.

Man to walk from Accra to Ethiopia

Ghana web

August 12th, 2008

Tamale (GNA) – Africa Welfare and Care Foundation (AWCF), a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) that assist the needy in society, is organising a 10-day health and peace walk to raise funds for the victims of war and other unfortunate crisis in Africa.

The walk, which started from Tamale on Tuesday, would end in Accra under the theme: “Africa Millennium Health and Peace Walk.” It aimed at raising one million dollars in support of peace, good health, infrastructure and the provision of potable water for war victims.

The AWCF on Tuesday also embarked on a clean-up exercise in the Tamale West Hospital with a fundraising function at the Jubilee Park. Mr Richard Mosiah Ababba Allen, 41 year-old Master of Civil Law, told the media that he would walk from Tamale to Accra and then proceed to Ethiopia.

He said he had undertaken similar walks over the past 20 years soliciting for funds to support education and peace. Mr Mosiah dedicated his walk to President Kufour for his contribution to the Ghanaian economy nearly eight years in office and his role when he was the President of the African Union. He also dedicated his walk to Mr Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General.

Mr Mosiah called on Ghanaians not to dampen the adventurous spirit of the youth but rather encourage them to come up with innovative ideas that would contribute to the nation’s development. “It is time Ghanaians realized their wealth and excellence, which should go beyond the borders of Africa,” He said. Mr Mosiah said his walk would take him from Ghana through Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Sudan then to Ethiopia to present a White Flag to the AU President at the AU summit.

Source: GNA

Foreign policy lures ‘Obamacans’

Above: Senator Obama chats with his sister Maya
(Photo: Hawaii for Obama)

Financial Times

By Edward Luce in Washington

Published: August 13 2008

Barack Obama yesterday netted the endorsement of three prominent Republicans, including Jim Leach and Lincoln Chafee, both of whom lost their congressional seats to Democratic opponents in the 2006 mid-term elections.

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Jim Leach and Lincoln Chafee

The announcement boosts the ranks of so-called “Obamacans” and is likely to fuel speculation about the possibility of bigger names – such as Colin Powell, former secretary of state, and Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska – also endorsing the presumptive Democratic nominee.

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Colin Powell and Chuck Hagel

Describing Mr Obama’s call for change as “more renewal than departure” and thus in line with traditional conservative principles, Mr Leach said: “This is simply not a time for politics as usual . . . I have no doubt that a lot of Republicans will be attracted to Obama in spite of the flaws in this year’s primary process.” Read More.

The Lives of Two Ethiopian Ceramicists: Mamo Tessema & Sofia T. Gobena

Above: “Porcelain bowl,” teapot, and vase, ceramic.
By Tessema, Mamo (Photo credit – National Archives,
Contemporary African Art from the Harmon Foundation, select
list number 236).

By Lydia Gobena
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Conversations Between Generations

Updated: August 14th, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Pottery has traditionally played a functional role in Ethiopian society, and ceramists have generally been seen in a less than favorable light. In fact, in certain areas, ceramics was even associated with witchcraft. Ato Mamo Tessema impacted Ethiopians’ perceptions of ceramics and ceramicist. His work became seen and continues to be seen as an art form rather than a product with a utilitarian function. Ato Mamo’s artwork and career as the founder and curator of the National Museum of Ethiopia has also had a lasting legacy on Ethiopian artists, including Sofia Temesgien Gobena.

This article will discuss Ato Mamo’s influence on changing the perception of ceramists and ceramic art in Ethiopia, as well as his influence on the career of his cousin Sofia T. Gobena, who passed away in 2003. This article will further discuss how Sofia’s family is seeking to promote the notion of ceramics as an art form in Ethiopia.

Mamo Tessema
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Mamo Tessema. Photo by Harold Dorwin

Mamo Tessema was born on August 24, 1935 in Nekemet, Wollega, Ethiopia. He graduated from Teacher’s Training School at His Imperial Majesty’s Handicraft School in Addis Ababa. After studying in Ethiopia, he went to the U.S., where he attended the Alfred University, and the New York College of Ceramics. He received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and Masters of Fine Arts from Alfred. At Alfred, Ato Mamo’s studies were not limited to ceramic design, he also studied wood carving, painting, sculpture, welding, graphics, lithography, photography, furniture design, and history of art, among other things. Thus, Ato Mamo’s studies provided him with a well-rounded background in art, which is reflected by his artwork.

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Above Left: “Warrior,” welded steel sculpture by Mamo Tessema (Photo credit –
National Archives, Contemporary African Art from the Harmon Foundation, select list
number 239).

Above Right: “Welded Bird,” welded steel sculpture by Mamo Tessema
(Photo credit – National Archives,Contemporary African Art from the Harmon
Foundation, select list number 240).

Ato Mamo’s work has been exhibited in a number of locations including at the: Alfred Guild at the State College of Ceramics; 1961 UNESCO exhibit; Temple Emanu-El in Yonkers, New York; Washington Heights branch of the New York Public Library; Hampton Institute and Commercial Museum in Philadelphia. The latter five exhibitions were done through the assistance and/or sponsorship of Harmon Foundation, which during its existence from 1922 to 1967, played an instrumental role in promoting the awareness of African art in the U.S. Ato Mamo has also exhibited his work in other countries, including in Ethiopia.

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“The Capture,” woodcut. By Tessema, Mamo (Photo credit – National
Archives,
Contemporary African Art from the Harmon Foundation, select
list number 237.

After returning from studying in the U.S., Ato Mamo became well-known as a ceramist. This resulted in Ethiopians beginning to appreciate ceramics as an art form. To this day, when Ethiopians think of ceramics as an art form, Ato Mamo immediately comes to mind.

Ato Mamo also taught at the Handicraft School after his return to Ethiopia. Ato Mamo further embarked on the ambitious and worthy project of establishing the Ethiopian National Museum, the first museum in the country. Among the purposes of the Museum were to demonstrate the illustrious art and culture of Ethiopia to visitors, and to educate Ethiopian children about their rich history. As the founder and curator of the museum, Ato Mamo traveled throughout the globe, presenting Ethiopian artifacts to the world.

It can be said that his influence is felt by many now, when one travels through the bustling art scene in Ethiopia. There seems to be a greater appreciation of artwork as new private galleries are opened. Ato Mamo saw the importance of Ethiopian art and history, and the need to archive it. For this Ethiopians should be grateful.

Sofia T. Gobena
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Sofia at her Masters of Arts Show

Sofia Temesgien Gobena was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 18, 1964. She came to the United States of America in July 1972 with her parents, Abebetch B. and Temesgien Gobena. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Antioch College in Ohio, and a Master of Arts in ceramics and glass from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She also completed her work for her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin. Sofia unexpectedly passed away at the age of 38, though in her short life she was a prolific creator. Here are but few samples of her work.

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Photos: The Sofia T. Gobena Foundation for Promotion of Education in Ceramics and Fine
Arts

To learn about ceramics in Ethiopia, Sofia visited one of the traditional ceramics producing stations. Sofia’s art professors and colleagues described her artistic abilities as transcendent and the kind of talent that comes around perhaps once a decade.

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During Sofia’s visit to a traditional ceramics station
in Ethiopia.

Although Sofia’s life was brief, she was a prodigious artist, leaving behind numerous paintings, sculptures, glasswork, and ceramic pieces that are testaments to the beauty of her creative spirit. While some of this work had previously been seen during her Master of Arts show that was held in Madison, Wisconsin, her artwork received greater exposure at an art show that was held on June 18-20, 2004, in Washington, D.C. at the WorldSpace Corporation. The art show was put together by her family, with the assistance of Mamo Tessema.

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More samples of Sofia’s work (Photos: The Sofia T. Gobena Foundation)

Sofia’s influences in ceramics were the well-known U.S. ceramicists Peter Voulkos and Daniel Rhodes. Mamo Tessema was also an important influence in Sofia’s art. The Sofia T. Gobena Foundation was established in Sofia’s memory. The purpose of the foundation is to distribute funds to educational institutions in the United States and abroad that support and encourage the promotion of ceramic arts. Contributions have already been made to the Addis Ababa University Art Department to develop a ceramics department.

In sum, Mamo Tessema’s art work and legacy as the founder of the Ethiopian National Museum has had a significant influence on Ethiopia and artists. One such artist was Sofi a T. Gobena, in whose name a foundation was established to promote the ceramic arts.


About the Author:
Lydia Gobena, sister of Sofia T. Gobena and a cousin to Ato Mamo Tessema, is a trademark attorney and partner at Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, one of the top intellectual property law firms in the world. She is also a jewelry artist based in New York City.

Embracing Ethiopia: NYT Photographer Chester Higgins

Publisher’s Note:

New York (Tadias) Chester Higgins, Jr. is one of the most significant photographers of his generation. He has been a staff photographer at The New York Times since 1975. One of the most indelible images of Emperor Haile Selassie was captured by him in 1973 at Addis Ababa airport during the tenth anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now called the African Union (AU).

His photographs have appeared in ArtNews, The New York Times Magazine, Look, Life, Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Tadias, Essence, Black Enterprise, GEO, The Village Voice, The New Yorker and Archaeology.

Higgins’ body of work is a fluid, sensitive and in-depth diary of his explorations of the human Diaspora; they reflect his concern with his own humanity. Through his portraits and studies of living rituals, traditional ceremonies, and ancient civilizations, his viewers gain rare insight into cultural behavior — a window to another place and time.

In this piece for Tadias Magazine (Embracing Ethiopia), Higgins shares with us some stunning photographs of Ethiopia, as well as the story of his journey to this ancient nation.

Embracing Ethiopia
By CHESTER HIGGINS

Updated: August 13th, 2008

Long before I set foot in Ethiopia, the name itself summoned images of Biblical proportion for me and, I believe, for many other African Americans as well. In the Bible, ‘Ethiopia’ is a place of refuge, an amazing mystical land.

Then with the advent of Marcus Garvey and African nationalists, who rallied against the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during the Second World War, Ethiopia became a symbol of resistance to Colonialism. In the 1960s, when Emperor Haile Selassie appeared on national TV during a state visit to the US, millions more African American imaginations burned with the knowledge of an independent African people.

Not until the 1970s did the image and concept of Ethiopia, inspired by the reggae music of Bob Marley, gain extraordinary prominence in the minds of a young generation of African Americans. The Rastafarian Movement’s efforts to re-define the sanctity of Ethiopia and re-cast Emperor Selassie in a sacred light caught the imagination of young people as they swayed to reggae music. A new light had come out of Africa, but the beam started in the diaspora, this time in Jamaica.

In 1969 I had the good fortune to make a portrait of the renowned Harlem historian and teacher Dr. John Henrik Clarke. He was deeply committed to Africa and African people. My young mind was a parched field, and the many hours I spent with him, asking questions and hearing his answers, fertilized and watered that dry soil. Through him, my knowledge and understanding of Ethiopia grew. Dr. Clarke had this effect on thousands of Harlem residents and on students at Hunter College and Cornell University.

In 1973, on my first journey to Ethiopia, I attended the tenth anniversary conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now called the African Union (AU). That year the conference was held in Addis Ababa. I came to photograph African heads of state; I wanted to share with African Americans my view of rulers responsible for African people.

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Above: Emperor Haile Selassie (1973).
Photo by Chester Higgins.

For me the most significant ruler, the most interesting leader, turned out to be Emperor Haile Selassie. In my new book, Echo of the Spirit: A Photographer’s Journey (Doubleday 2004), I write: “…As I waited at the Addis Ababa airport for a glimpse of arriving dignitaries, my attention was pulled from the action around the arriving airplanes to a group of men making their way across the tarmac. I could sense the power of one man in particular before I could even see him.” Although he was of such small stature that he was dwarfed by the others alongside him, something about his aura so profoundly moved me that I lowered the camera so I could see him with both eyes. Only after he passed me did I learn that I had been in the presence of His Majesty Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia.

Returning from that trip, I began to seek out Ethiopian students at Ethiopian restaurants and conferences to discuss my experience, encountering a mixed reception and political discontent. The students were receptive to my interest in their country, although none shared my enthusiasm for the emperor. Through the many students I have met over the years, I have discovered informative books and begun attending the Horn of Africa Conference, held annually at the City College of New York.

In July 1992, I returned to Ethiopia with my son Damani as my photography assistant. As I wrote in my book Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa (1994), “The memory of being in his [Emperor Haile Selassie I] presence has remained an inspiration in my personal life. Damani, who has locked his hair, shares my love of His Majesty and reggae, the music of the Rastafarians who worship Selassie.”

So far I have been to Ethiopia about a dozen times. On each visit, I use my camera to make a record of contemporary and ancient Ethiopia. Spending weeks at a time, I have traveled in the North to the cities of Mekele, Gondar, Lalibela, Aksum, Bahir Dar, Dessie and Yeha. In the South, I have recorded sites and ceremonies in Nazareth, Debra Ziet, Awassa, Tiya and Tutafella.

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Above: Fasilides Castle. Photo by Chester Higgins.

Ethiopia is indeed home to the earliest humans. In the National Museum in Addis are the bones of Dinquinesh, or Lucy, dating back almost 4 million years. In Aksum, I have seen the monumental mains of tombs and obelisks from earliest kingdoms. Also in Aksum, in 1000 BCE, Makeda, Queen of Sheba, turned away from the old faith of the Nile River cultures — the worship of the Sun that climaxed as the ancient Egyptian religion — and embraced the faith of the Hebrews. Here, too, Emperor Ezana converted to Christianity in 324 CE. The richness of the historic and photographic appeal of Ethiopia is revealed for me especially in the ancient monolithic stone churches of Lalibela and the more ancient Moon Temple in Yeha.

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Above: Yeha Temple. Photo by Chester Higgins.

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Above: Axum Tomb. Photo by Chester Higgins.

Today, Ethiopian people stand tall and proud, their feet planted securely on the land of their fathers and under the sky of their mothers. Ethiopians work hard, believe hard, and are driven hard to persevere by the vicissitudes of nature and life.

It has been a pleasure getting to know Ethiopia and her people.


Learn more about Chester Higgins at:chesterhiggins.com



Are Ethiopians Racist?

Photo by Gabriella Muttone

Publisher’s Note: Steven Ivory has been a music and culture journalist for more than twenty-five years. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Essence, Vibe, and The Source, among other publications. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

This article had been published on the Electronic Urban Report (EURweb.com) and the African-American Village prior to its publication here with the author’s permission in January 2003.

Steven told Tadias that Ethiopians who have read the essay have responded to him with warm words and expressions of regret.

“So many Ethiopian people have written in kindness and apology”, he said. “There is no need for this, I know that the actions of a few don’t speak for a whole race.”

We have selected this piece from our archive with a hope that it might spark a healthy debate on the issue.

My Own Kind
By Steven Ivory

Updated: August 13th, 2008

For several years, I’d passed the restaurant while driving through that side of town. It looked like an interesting spot; I said I’d stick my head in there one day.

But when that day finally came, it reminded me of the scene in the movie “48 Hours,” where Eddie Murphy ventures into a bar that happens to be a white country & western joint. My arrival was not nearly as spectacular, but I did elicit my share of curious glances.

A bartender can set the mood for a patron, and the man pouring my drink was pleasant. However, our good-natured chat about the weather and the day’s headlines wasn’t enough to take the chill off this room. I casually looked around the place and couldn’t find one face that appeared to hold much love for a newcomer.

Taking another sip of my beer, I told myself that maybe it was just me. What did I expect, a welcoming committee? I reminded myself that many social establishments often react a little coolly to non-regulars. Maybe what I was feeling didn’t have a damned thing to do with anything but familiarity.

The restaurant was more than half full, but I had the tiny bar all to myself, so I was glad that two men and a woman in the mood for libations joined me. For all the acknowledgment made, though, I might as well have been invisible. When another man moseyed in and took a seat at the end of the bar, he somehow ended up in the trio’s jovial conversation. So they weren’t blind or anti-social, after all. I deduced that it had to be my cologne.

Or, just maybe, it really WAS me. And maybe I really DIDN’T come in here for just a drink and cordial camaraderie. Maybe, deep, deep down inside, I’d come in here to make some kind of point. I certainly was open to conceding as much to myself.

And so, with very little chance of my self-examination being interrupted, I sat there and gave it all serious, honest consideration – and confirmed that I truly did have honorable intentions. I figured I’d come in here, have a drink, dig the atmosphere and thus add it to my list of places to go. For reasons that evaded me, it wasn’t working out that way.

I couldn’t ignore the irony, of course – the very notion that hundreds of years later, there’d be the issue of us getting along. For many years, I’ve heard all the reasons. Inevitably mentioned are issues of culture and the idea that any problems among us are, ultimately, the residual affect of slavery in America. Did that sinister deed, besides everything else, somehow drive a wedge between brothers under God’s sun, a division that, after all these years, still remains?

And who says that we, in particular, must get along, anyway?

But we SHOULD … shouldn’t we?

Once again alone at the bar, I was pondering it all when the bartender spoke.

“My friend, may I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Why did you come here tonight?”

I explained that I’d never been here before and I thought it adventurous to try something new.

“Just a drink? Or did you also hope to meet some of our women?”

It all sounds so offensive now, but you had to be there. His words came sincerely – out of curiosity more than anything else and, I suppose, concern. I thought about his question.

Maybe, I replied, I ventured in here hoping, perhaps, to discover some measure of kinship. Or, as corny as it might sound, just a little bit of myself.

“But it’s Friday night, my friend,” he said.

“There are many other places in this city for you to be. Would you not want to be with … your own kind?”

I know – it all could have made for some compelling banter. However, after seeking conversation over the course of two beers, all I wanted to do now was leave. I tried to pay my tab, but the bartender simply smiled.

“It is on the house, my friend,” he said.

Translation: Just leave, my friend. Please.

As a Black man born and raised in America, I’ve dealt with prejudice, racism and mistrust in many configurations. Sometimes it is subtle and other times not so subtle, and you can encounter it anywhere, from anybody. Still, it never occurred to me that I’d face any of those things on a Friday night in an Ethiopian restaurant.

From the tiny bar I gathered up my pride and headed out in search of “my own kind” – and hoped that I’d know them when I saw them.

African-Flavored Summer Festivals

By Sirak Getachew
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Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Here are but a few of the African-flavored summer festivals in New York.

AUG. 16TH, UNIVERSAL HIP-HOP PARADE, BROOKLYN, NY
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All roads lead to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, on Saturday, August 16th, for the annual Universal Hip-Hop Parade held in honor of Marcus Garvey’s birthday. This year’s theme: “The Message, The Movement, The Progress! Hip-Hop for Social Change”. Learn more at: universalhiphopparade.com.

AUG. 17TH, THE BLACK STAR BOAT RIDE, NEW YORK, NY
The promoters of Rooftop and Forward Reggae Fridays and others in between – Bintou with Stakamusic and Stateside Revolution – has brought nothing short of fun and flare back to the dance floor. Conscious Music will host the 1st Annual Black Star Liner Boat Ride on board the Paddlewheel Queen (at 23rd and FDR), and will be serving a great complimentary selection of quality Caribbean and African cuisines. The artist roster includes Sirius Radio host DJ Gringo of Jamaica Stateside Revolutions and DJ Sirak from Ethiopia (via the The Bronx), slated to blend African Vibes ranging from Fela Kuti to conscious hip-hop. And on the rooftop, Live African Drumming. Plus free after party with ticket stub at Revival Reggae Sundays at Lox Lounge. Sponsored by: Moshood,Nicholas/Nubian Heritage, Tadias Magazine, Eastside Pleasure, VP Records, Those Brothers, Fusicology, Brooklyn Moon Cafe, Harriets Alter Ego, Strictly Roots Restaurant. Admission: $40 Tickets

AUG. 20TH, THE ETHIOPIQUES REUNION, NEW YORK, NY
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Enjoy a historical night of the grooves of Ethiopia. The vibes of Extra Golden include performances by Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete with The Either/Orchestra, and Gétatchèw Mèkurya with The Ex. August 20th, beginning at 6 p.m (Damrosch Park Bandshell), at the 38th season of the Lincoln Center’s out of doors concert, one of the longest-running free summer festivals in the U.S, New Yorkers will be treated to the groove of “Nubian Sunrise”. Read More.

AUG. 24TH, THE AFRICAN DAY PARADE, HARLEM, NY
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The African Day Parade, Inc., announces The 2nd Annual African Day Parade (ADP), which will be held on Sunday August 24, 2008, in Harlem, NYC. The theme for this year: “Family & Tradition.” This event is signed to celebrate and unify the Beauty and Richness of Black & African Culture. Parade route begins at 126th Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard ( 7 Ave) to 116th street and 8th Avenue. Time: 1pm. Gathering starts at 10am. To sponsor this event please call: 646.316.7644.

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Events Calendar brought to you by Sirak Getachew, Creative Director of Eastside Pleasures.

Eyob Mekonnen: Emerging Ethiopian Reggae Star

By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Massinko Entertainment, the promotional group that introduced Teddy Afro to the Ethiopian American audience, has collaborated with Nahom Records and released the debut CD of emerging Ethiopian reggae star Eyob Mekonnen.

Eyob Mekonen

Ethiopian Music: ‘hidden gem of Africa’

Real World Records

The first taste of an extraordinary collaboration between contemporary Ethiopian artists and Dubulah (aka Nick Page), bringing hidden gems from Addis Ababa back to England. Dub meets dreamy blues, hypnotic grooves, jazz piano and driving funk brass. Flavours of traditional Azmari singing, 70s reggae and Ethio-pop infuse one of the most alluring and soulful genres of African music.

This project brings together an extraordinary but little known African musical heritage, a labour of love recording in a makeshift studio in down-town Addis Ababa and then a journey back to Real World to capture for the first time ever in the UK some of Ethiopia’s finest performers.

This project is the vision of Dub Colossus – Dubulah – aka Nick Page. Composer, guitarist, bass player and programmer Nick started his music career with Michael Riley (Steel Pulse) and in 1990 formed Transglobal Underground with Tim and Hammi, produced-wrote-played six albums before leaving in 1997 to form Temple of Sound with Neil Sparkes.

Ethiopian music is the hidden gem of Africa. At the end of the Sixties and the early Seventies, Ethiopia was in the dying years of the imperial decline of Haile Selassie and the early years of a brutally repressive junta led by Mengistu. Within the confines of this stifling and constrictive environment there flowered some astonishing music. At times showing Fela Kuti’s influences, in the big band sax flavour and other times a different take on regional music, this is a music that is accessible to all and has been championed by the likes of Robert Plant, Brian Eno and Elvis Costello. The style of contemporary Ethiopia music captured by Dub Colossus ranges from dreamy blues, hypnotic grooves, jazz piano and driving funk brass.

“A Town Called Addis” was inspired by meeting , writing and working with singers and musicians in Addis Ababa in August 2006,and is a collaboration between Dub Colossus (Nick Page) and these amazing musicians covering Azmari and traditional styles as well as the popular singing styles of the 60s and 70s. It seeks to combine the golden years of ethiopique beats (popular again thanks to the release of the critically acclaimed ‘Ethiopique’ compliation ) and ethiojazz with the dub reggae styles of early 70s reggae groups like the Abyssinians, Mighty Diamonds and so on. along with a hint of Sun Ra…” (Dub Colossus/aka Nick Page)

The first sessions took place in a breeze block hut under corrugated iron roof bombarded by the sounds of the rainy season high up on the mountain plateau where Addis is built. “…the sound of children playing, dogs barking and women washing all permeate the sessions and help the flavour of the record, albeit as ambient smoke…..Although a howling cat chasing a rat under the roof destroyed one vocal take completely…!”

We brought these unique urban field recordings home to Real World to complete the picture. In March 2008 we invited a group of outstanding performers from Addis to travel to the UK. Some of these artists are unknown talents who have never traveled outside of their country before now, while others such as singer Sintayehu ‘Mimi’ Zenebe (Addis Ababa night club owner and know as the Ethiopian Edith Piaf ) and master saxophonist Feleke Hailu (a classical composer, lecturer and head of music at the Yared Music School and part of a dynastic tradition that stretches back far beyond the classic hits his father arranged for Mahmoud Ahmad in the late 1960s) have a huge reputation. They are joined by Teremag Weretow who, with his plaintive voice, playing his messenqo ( one-string fiddle) is a youthful carrier of an ancient tradition; extraordinary pianist Samuel Yirga is an exciting new discovery – a young prodigy of classical and Ethiojazz and finally the glamourous star Tsedenia Gebremarkos, winner of a Kora award as the best female singer in East Africa in 2004,

From the most primitive recording context to one of the best in the world, this project is an audio journey – and discovery of one of the most alluring, funky and seductive genres of African music.

R&B Legend, Isaac Hayes, Dies at Age 65

From Entertainment weekly

Oscar winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Isaac Hayes has died at the age of 65, according to CNN.

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Hayes, best known for his pop/R&B classic ”Theme From Shaft” and more recently as the voice of Chef on South Park, was found next to an active treadmill by relatives, according to reports from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department in Memphis, Tennessee. Attempts to revive the singer were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead in Memphis shortly after 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Read More.

‘Don’t leave me,’ Bernie Mac’s wife begged (NY Daily News)
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BY CARRIE MELAGO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Sunday, August 10th 2008

Bernie Mac’s wife pleaded with him not to die during his final moments, but the comedian signaled that he was too exhausted to go on, her sister said.

“Don’t leave me….I’m waiting for you to come back,” Mac’s wife of 30 years begged the 50-year-old entertainer as he lay dying in a Chicago hospital early Saturday, Mary Ann Grossett told People.com. Read More.

After a visit to Ethiopia, I left richer than I arrived

Guelph Mercury

By Brianne Bovell
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August 11, 2008

I have just returned from my first visit to continental Africa — to Ethiopia to be exact — and I have been trying to collect my thoughts, experiences, observations and reflections.

Although Ethiopia is quite different from Canada, it is not on another planet. The response of people when I announced that I was going to Ethiopia to visit my boyfriend (who is there on a law internship) revealed the impression, nonetheless, that I was leaving the galaxy.

These discussions exposed less about Ethiopia and more about the ways in which we learn about “other” countries — namely, through news clips.

But similar to the way in which one CBC headline cannot accurately capture Canada, no news headline could ever capture the incredible nation I just visited.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s oldest countries. The traditional dynastic reign began with King Menelik in 1000 B.C although the vicinity of Addis Ababa is where scientists believed humans first migrated from.

“Lucy,” as the fossils are named, represents the oldest remains of humans ever found, estimated to be 3.4 million years old. These fossils were found in the Ethiopia’s Rift Valley.

I cannot begin to describe the awe-inspiring sensations I felt as I toured Ethiopia’s National Museum and Addis Ababa Museum. I saw “ancient” as I had never seen it before. In the West, history is often taught as if the world “really” began with the Enlightenment — as if the “world that matters” is only 400 years old. Ethiopia was like historical kryptonite to this false notion.

The strength and the beauty of the African countryside really gripped me. Rolling mountains. Picturesque trees. Beautiful flowers. Patches of farmland between vast fields.

In between the rural cities and towns were small little collections of homes. Some straw. Some clay. Some stone. Most were small and circular in shape. Most of the people seemed to be involved in farming. It was all manual.

Donkeys were being used to till the fields. People were on their hands and knees picking crops. Everywhere, children were playing and working.

Like the capital Addis Ababa, the rural towns also had a heartbeat.

Road lanes were shared by minivans, mopeds, donkeys, street vendors, and kids playing soccer. A lot of the towns were largely dominated by open air markets, selling everything from gold to leather goods to clothes to freshly killed meat strung upside down.

And in true Ethiopian fashion there were coffee shops and caf?s everywhere. Coffee is so integrated into the culture and socializing that you cannot help but desire to stop at all of these places. And so I did.

Macchiato after macchiato. Coffee after coffee. In almost every restaurant or caf? there was a woman who roasted the coffee freshly over coals, straight from the raw green beans.

She would bring the coffee over to the table to allow the aroma to be sensed first. I relished the way incense would be placed on the table as part of the coffee ceremony as a way to enhance the sensory experience. One thing I noticed was there was no “take away” option anywhere. Coffee was meant to be enjoyed. Savoured. Shared with friends and family.

The poverty in Ethiopia was not the way it is often represented on television, where Africa is presented as some sort of never-ending desperation. Instead, it seemed to be woven into the society like a bright cloth, that never disappears, but isn’t always central.

Not everyone is poor.

The difference between here and there, however, is that there, poverty is never more than a few minutes away. You are never more than five-minutes walk away from a child who wants to wash shoes for any spare change you can give him. You are never more than five minutes away from a bone-thin pregnant woman who is begging for change for food. You are never more than five minutes away from a reminder of the inequality that cuts through this world.

But there is more to Ethiopia that its struggle with poverty. We think when we go to poorer nations we are “giving” to them in terms of aid money, medical donations, and aid workers. But this short-sightedness places us on a self-congratulatory pedestal that we do not need to be on.

Those in the non-Western world have just as much to give.

I know I left Ethiopia richer than when I arrived.

Ethiopians shared their culture, their history, their politics and their geography with me in ways that money cannot begin to measure. To reduce these nations to mere regions of poverty strips the people of their dignity and their equality to us.

We must celebrate this world, rather than divide it. We must learn about this world, rather than make assumptions about it.

And most importantly, we must keep an open mind and be willing to listen.

Everybody has a story to tell.


Brianne Bovell is a member of the Mercury’s Community Editorial Board.

Queens, Spies, and Servants: A History of Ethiopian Women in Military Affairs

Above: These female war veterans are pictured in Addis
Ababa’s Menelik Square in 1973 at a ceremony to commemorate
an early victory against the Italians. Photo by Shemelis Desta
(BBC)

By Tseday Alehegn

Chronicles of war and military prowess are plentiful in Ethiopia’s historical literature. Growing up we are effortlessly taught the virtues of honor and duty, which have bestowed sovereignty to generation after generation of Ethiopians. Countless retelling of tales depicting the early and decisive victory at the battle of Adwa remain ever fresh in our proud minds and hearts; the feeling only to be outdone by the resoluteness of heroes who ended the Italian occupation of Ethiopia during the Second World War. Indeed, it is as the 17th century writer Almeida wrote of us: “In war they are reared as children, in war they grow old, or the life of all who are not farmers is war.”

The emphasis on military virtues becomes more palpable when we recognize the unique manner in which Ethiopians chose to fight off their external enemies. From earliest times, both women and men were encouraged to participate in mobilization and preparation efforts. Depicting the atmosphere during the battle of Adwa in 1896, historian G.F. Berkeley observes how the Ethiopian army was not merely organized as a segment of the population, but rather as an entire collective that had integrated the occurrence of war into its normal day-to-day activities. He points out, “It’s not an army [it is] an invasion, the transplanting of the whole people.” No one was left behind. While men served as soldiers they brought along with them their wives who in turn became involved either as civilian participants or as military combatants. What rights, titles, honors men claimed for their valor women were able to do the same.

Females were traditionally not allowed to inherit land unless the father died before the daughter married or there were no sons in the family. However, women would be able to claim property after serving in military mobilization efforts. In an uncommon way, the ability of women to participate on the warfront initiated change to their otherwise lower societal status. Not all participation in war, however, was voluntary as is clearly depicted in the following 19th century edict by the leader Ras Gugsa: “One who does not join the army of Gugsa, man and woman, will lose his genital and her breast respectively.”

Historians have estimated that an average of 20,000 to 30,000 women have participated in the campaign of Adwa alone. While the majority served in non-violent chores such as food preparation and nursing of the wounded, a significant portion served as soldiers, strategists, advisors, translators, and intelligence officers. Women from the aristocracy worked alongside maids and servants thereby breaking norms in class separation.

Female Military Strategists & Combatants:

At a time when women in most parts of the world were relegated to household chores, the number of Ethiopian women in the late 17th century participating in war expeditions against foreign aggressors was on the rise. Whereas most war decrees at this time encouraged all Ethiopians to fight occupation attempts, in 1691 Emperor Iyasu issued one of the first proclamations to curtail the rapid growth of women soldiers. The chronicles report:

“The king had the herald proclaim that the girls of the country must not ride
astride mules, because at this time these girls had adopted the practice of doing
so, tightening the belts of their shirts, covering their heads with their shammas and holding a long spear in their hand..marching in expeditions like men.”

Queen Yodit is one of the earliest-mentioned Ethiopian female leaders who fought spiritedly in battles. She successfully overthrew the powerful Aksumite kingdom, but because many churches and historically important sites were destroyed in the process her reign is infamously described as the dark era. Between 1464 and 1468, under the leadership of King Zere Yaqob, women’s expansion into political positions became more evident. Historian Richard Pankhurst notes how Zere Yaqob “established a women’s administration by appointing his daughters and relatives to key provinces.”

King Zere Yaqob’s wife, Queen Eleni, was an equally formidable and astute military strategist, and was largely responsible for the arrival in 1520 of the Portuguese as one of the first diplomatic missions. Predicting the appetite of Turks in invading Ethiopia’s coastline she proposed a joint attack strategy to the Portuguese leadership against the Egyptians and the Ottoman Turks. Sylvia Pankhurst records her letter to the Portuguese summoning a coalition. Queen Eleni is to have written:

“We have heard that the Sultan of Cairo assembles a great army to attack
your forces…against the assault of such enemies we are prepared to send
a good number of men-at-arms who will give assistance in the sea bound
areas…If you wish to arm a thousand warship we will provide the necessary
food and furnish you with everything for such a force in very great abundance.”

The Turks were soundly defeated. Years later Queen Seble Wongel was able to draw on the help of the Portuguese in defeating Ahmed Gragn’s muslim expansion into Ethiopia. In February 1543 her army fought at the battle of Woina Dega where Gragn succumbed to his death.

Harold Marcus documents Queen Worqitu’s history as the warrior queen who helped Menelik gain his crown. In 1865 Queen Worqitu of Wollo granted Menelik a safe route through her territory as the future monarch successfully escaped from King Tewodros’ prison.

The effect of her support in aiding Menelik to power is recorded in Ethiopia’s ensuing transformation from a ‘land of kings’ to a nation ruled by a ‘king of kings.’

Perhaps the most famous queen involved in military affairs is Empress Taitu, wife of Emperor Menelik II. In the battle of Adwa Empress Taitu is said to have commanded an infantry of no less than 5,000 along with 600 cavalry men and accompanied by thousands of Ethiopian women. Her strategy to cut off the invading Italian army’s water supply led to the weakening of the enemies warfront.

Following her example, Itege Menen avidly participated in battles taking places during the ‘Era of the Princes.’ Fighting against the incursion of the Egyptians, she is said to have had 20,000 soldiers under her command. Likewise, during the Italo-Ethiopian occupation, Princess Romanworq Haile Selassie upheld the tradition of women going to the battlefront and she fought alongside her husband.

Intelligence Officers, Advisors, and Translators:

Intelligence work was key in Ethiopia’s gaining the upper hand against fascist Italy and here too women played a significant role in information gathering. Through the establishment of the Central Committee of ‘Wust Arbegnoch’ (Inner Patriots) women members helped provide soldiers with intelligence information as well as arms, ammunition, food, clothing, and medicine. Sylvia Pankhurst also records how the female patriot Shewa Regged had organized an elite Ethiopian intelligence service to gather more arms while leading the Ethiopian guerilla fighters to the locale of Addis Alem to defeat an Italian fortification. Pankhurst recounts Shewa Regged’s resilience in her biography as follows:

“She was captured by the Italians and tortured by them with electricity to compel her to disclose her accomplices; despite all their cruelties, she preserved silence.”

Queen Taitu’s role as advisor is also well known. In depicting the wariness and foresight of Queen Taitu, historian R. Greenfield records her advise to Emperor Menelik and his cabinet regarding the Italian encroachment. She warns:

“Yield nothing. What you give away today will be a future ladder against your
fortress and tomorrow the Italians will come up it into your domains. If you
must lose lands lose them at least with your strong right arms.”

Her dedication and subsequent victory in preserving Ethiopia’s sovereignty won her the title “Berhane ZeEthiopia” (Light of Ethiopia). Her official seal bore this distinguished title.

In the role of translator, Princess Tsehay Haile Selassie served her country by accompanying the Emperor to the League of Nations and aiding in Ethiopia’s call for support from the International Community. The Plea falling on deaf ears the League soon dissolved as the Italians persisted on invading the last free African stronghold. Plunged into war, Empress Menen is to have asserted “Women of the world unite. Demand with one voice that we may be spared the honor of this useless bloodshed!”

Non-Combatant Efforts:

The role of women in Ethiopian military history will remain largely untold if their work as non-combatants is not recalled. It is in this position that the majority of women of the lower class contributed in strengthening Ethiopia’s defense. While some uplifted the morale of the fighting contingent through popular battle songs and poetry, others labored for the daily nourishment and overall well-being of the soldiers. The record of Ethiopia’s long-standing independence will be incomplete without the recognition of thousands of women servants who accompanied women and menfolk of the aristocracy in battle after battle. Maids and servants were responsible for the gathering and preparation of food and other administrative roles. The traveler and writer James Bruce stresses the diligence of these women during war expeditions. He writes in earnest:

“I know of no country where the female works so hard… seldom resting
till late at night, even at midnight grinding, and frequently up before
cockcrow. Tired from the march, no matter how late, water must be brought,
fuel collected, supper prepared by the soldiers’ wife…and before daylight, with
a huge load, she must march again.”

When not involved in presiding over day-to-day affairs women helped out in the clearing of roads, digging of trenches, and nursing of the wounded. In the same spirit, during the Italo-Ethiopian war, Princess Tsehay Haile Selassie helped mobilize women of all classes in efforts to provide gas masks, clothes, rations and bandages to the civilian population to protect against frequent Italian air raids and mustard gas attacks.

In commemoration of the anniversary of the Battle of Adwa, it is appropriate to recognize the achievements of Ethiopia’s women who helped in the creation of a one-of-a-kind defense system, which has successfully deterred foreign aggression not for a few years, but for thousands.

Publisher’s Note: This article is well-referenced and those who seek the references should contact Tseday Alehegn directly at: tseday@tadias.com

About the Author:
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Tseday Alehegn is the Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine. Tseday is a graduate of Stanford University (both B.A. & M.A.). In addition to her responsibilities at Tadias, she is also a Doctoral student at Columbia University.

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.

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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).
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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.

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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)
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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

Photography: Ethiopia From The Heart

By Andarge Asfaw

I left Ethiopia at the age of thirteen. After a 29-year absence, I returned to my native land as a photographer eager to capture the vibrant memories of my youth. I arrived to find an unfamiliar Ethiopia. The trees had disappeared. Wildlife that had crossed the roads not far from the region where I grew up was absent. Many of the ancient religious sites were crumbling away. Unemployment, relocation, political differences and health concerns had reshaped the lives of the population. Devastated, I didn’t know where to begin documenting my dreams.

I traveled farther away from urban areas into the countryside. I thought about those who had given their lives for Ethiopia through wars, poverty and sickness. Gradually, I rediscovered my purpose and created a body of work that expressed my feelings. There were times when the photographs seemed to find me. I became attached to the images and realized that it was my responsibility as an Ethiopian photographer to honor the beauty that remains. Unfortunately, time did not allow me to capture every region of the country.

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Above: Roadside market in the fog, kombolcha

Ethiopia is in crisis and needs alternatives to burning wood for fuel. A country once covered by trees has only a small percentage of forest left. In each region, new, indigenous trees must be planted to replenish the land. Deforestation continues to cause flooding and soil erosion. In a couple of decades, Ethiopia will become a desert incapable of rejuvenating itself. The animals and vegetation will be gone. The Ethiopian people will not be able to sustain themselves.

I want my images to inspire a call to action. We can still save this extraordinary habitat. I hope these photographs of Ethiopia allow you to hear with your eyes and see with your ears.

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Above: Inside Abune Aron Church

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Above: Gate keeper of Zege Kidane Mihiret monastery

—–
About the Author:
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Ethiopian-Born Andarge Asfaw, a graduate of the Hallmark Institute of Photography, is an award-winning commercial and fine art photographer based in Washington, D.C. His New Book, Ethiopia From The Heart, is available at: www.ethiopiafromtheheart.com

Interview With Marcus Samuelsson at Merkato 55

By Liben Eabisa
Photos by Jeffrey Phipps

Updated: August 11th, 2008

New York (Tadias) – This past spring, I ventured to Gansevoort Street, the heart of the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, to interview Marcus Samuelsson at Merkato 55, his new restaurant venture named after the largest open-air market in Africa. Samuelsson’s dishes, a sundry assortment of appetizers and entrees hailing from all four corners of the African continent are paving the way for Pan-African fusion to be the next big thing for New York foodies.

Certainly, traditional African cuisine has long been around in this city, teeming with immigrants, and we have had our share of authentic Senegalese, Moroccan, or Ethiopian dishes, but what Samuelsson’s Merkato 55 aspires to provide to our palates is a distinct culinary adventure. It is as much a subtle re-introduction of traditional African flavors to the western taste as it is an advertisement for the continent’s food contribution to the world.

Simulating the architectural hues, warm brown colors and landscapes across the African continent, Merkato 55′s interior, designed by Dutch architect Menno Schmitz, is a two-story restaurant and bar, capable of holding approximately 150 people. It is the largest African restaurant in New York. It’s menu is equally daunting in its extensive offerings.

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Above: Upstairs dining area . Photo by Jeffrey Phipps for Tadias.

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Above: The bar downstairs. Photo by Jeffrey Phipps for Tadias.

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, Samuelson travelled extensively throughout the African continent, culminating his trips by sharing with us some of the most profound lessons that he learned about food and the sharing of food within African cultures, in his award-winning book aptly entitled The Soul of a New Cuisine.

Merkato 55 offers this new cuisine – a fusion of the old and new tastes, flavors, colors, and even sights of the scintillating diverse heritage of Africans.

“This is about adding something new to the New York landscape of restaurants”, Samuelsson says to me. “It’s an ambitious and grand New York African restaurant”.

It is indeed daring to launch the largest African restaurant in New York, bound not to one region or ethnic food, but rather infusing Africa’s indigenous foods with Samuelsson’s own chef-inspired artistic experiments.

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Above: Marcus Samuelsson sat down for an interview with Tadias
on Monday, April 14, 2008 at Merkato 55. Photo by Jeffrey Phipps for Tadias.

Samuelsson is unpretentious about the fact that his African-inspired dishes might not have the same authentic taste as those dishes that he watched being prepared, and which he tasted on his travels. He points out that what most New Yorkers consider as African restaurants mainly consist of Ethiopian, Moroccan and Senegalese ethnic eats. He mentions to me some of the great ones such as Ghenet, Queen of Sheba, and uptown Senegalese eateries.

Merkato 55, however, is very much an effort to introduce the flavors of various African cultures not only to Westerners but also to each other as Africans. Samuelsson points out, “We are very proud of our own food, but we know very little about each other’s food. We know pan-African music, but we don’t know pan-African cuisine. An Ethiopian might know music from Mali, but not food from Mozambique”.

I can recall, in my case, not hesitating to mix an occasional meal of Mexican black beans and rice alongside Caribbean-inspired deep fried plantains, all in one sitting. But when it comes to Ethiopian food, I usually wouldn’t venture to use our kibe (spiced butter) or the fiery mitmita pepper on anything more than my favorite kitfo (beef tartar) or our traditional stews.

In true fashion, I had carried this same cautious tradition when I dined at Merkato 55 with Tseday Alehegn, editor of Tadias, and our friend Assefa, an Ethiopian New Yorker from Brooklyn. After scouring through the menu for something ‘Ethiopian’, and hence familiar, we settled on a main entree of Dorot Wot (chicken stew) and Dulet (spiced tripe) preceded by an appetizer of Plantain Chips and Spicy Shrimp Chili. The Doro Wot was familiar enough with the traditional injera bread and cottage cheese in the pot, but the Dulet took us all by surprise. It tasted nothing like the tripe we grew up eating in our parents’ and grandparents’ homes so we spent a few minutes debating whether it was really Dulet or not. Yet, it was the dish that we unanimously voted was the best tasting one. Needless to say, the only thing that mattered is that it was simply delicious. Now, of course, we know that we can eat Dulet in more ways than one.

This is the genius of Marcus Samuelsson’s fusion of African cuisine that brings creative “unity and harmony through food.” Samuelsson’s Merkato menu plainly asks us to be more assertive in our choices: How about a Berbere rack of Lamb with Grains of Paradise and Spring Garlic instead of the traditional Berbere with Injera? Perhaps even Grilled Shrimp Piri Piri as a side dish?

Beyond the borders that we place on what is or is not authentically African, there is a space, where Africa’s culinary gifts are not left relegated to basement ‘mom & pop’ stores – segregated into national and ethnic enclaves.

Samuelsson puts it more succinctly, “We are trying to show Africa in a different light, without the masks.”

How many of us know, for example, that the peanut butter that we fondly call ‘All-American’ was introduced to us straight from West African traditional cuisine? Rice, now a necessary global staple, has been part of the traditional West African diet since the 1500s and was successfully cultivated in the New World by the first Africans in the Carolinas. Spices such as coriander, grains of paradise and tamarind, and vegetables such as cucumbers and okra originated in Africa. Grains such as millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff, now popularly re-introduced in natural food stores as alternatives to wheat, have a long tradition of being served alongside spicy currys, breads or beans in East and West African cuisines. Even the beans for our daily fix of coffee are said to have originated in the Ethiopian highlands.

When we pause to reflect, we are already familiar with many of the ingredients commonly found in African-inspired menus. But Merkato 55 is bold – not only for mixing East and West, North and South, but also for unveiling the depth of African variety, the richness of the flavors, both those which are indigenous and those brought over to the continent through historical and colonial trade routes.

“I do know food and I have deep knowledge and love for African food” Samuelsson says.

And indeed it’s time for a true connoisseur of food to give Pan-African cuisine its limelight and to break down our self-imposed restrictions of how to savor African cuisine.

I have learned my lesson. After my interview, Samuelsson prepared for us Grilled Shrimp Piri Piri Baby Romaine, inspired by a dish from Mozambique. I also had a taste of North African Hummus and Baba Ghanoush, Spicy Shrimp Chili and Apricot Blatjang with Mint from the Kidogo Sample, which includes an assortment of African Breads.

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Above: The Kidogo Sample. Photo by Jeffrey Phipps.

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Above: Marcus Samuelsson prepared for us this Grilled Shrimp Piri Piri.
Monday, April 14, 2008. Photo by Jeffrey Phipps for Tadias.

Next time I am in the Meatpacking District, I may just as well try the Steak Dakar with Coriander Butter and Merkato Fries, and a glass of South African Wine.

——
Liben Eabisa is Founder and Publisher of Tadias Magazine.
Additional reporting by Tseday Alehegn

First Ethiopian Delegation to the U.S. in 1919 Made Headlines

Above: A headline by the Chicago Defender announcing the
arrival of the first Abyssinian diplomatic delegation to the United
States on July 11, 1919.

By Liben Eabisa

New York (Tadias) – The arrival of the first Ethiopian diplomatic delegation to the United States on July 11, 1919 made headlines in Chicago, where journalists eagerly awaited their opportunity to meet and interview the delegation.

At the time Woodrow Wilson was serving as the 28th President of the United States. In Ethiopia, Empress Zawditu, the eldest daughter of Emperor Menelik, was the reigning monarch.

Dejasmatch Nadew, Empress Zawdituís nephew and Commander of the Imperial Army, along with Ato Belaten-ghetta Hiruy Wolde Sellassie, Mayor of Addis Ababa, Kentiba Gebru, Mayor of Gonder, and Ato Sinkas, Dejamatch Nadew’s secretary, comprised the first official Ethiopian delegation to the United States in the summer of 1919.

The main purpose of their trip was to renew the 1904 Treaty of Amity (Friendship) between the United States and Ethiopia (brokered when President Theodore Roosevelt authorized 37-year-old Robert P. Skinner to negotiate a commercial treaty with Emperor Menelik).

The treaty had expired in 1917. This four-man delegation to the United States became known as the Abyssinian mission.

The distinguished delegation headed to the White House in Washington D.C. after staying at the elegant Waldorf-Astoria in Chicago.

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Above: Left, Empress Zawditu (In office: 1916 to 1930),
Right, President Woodrow Wilson (In office: March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921).

The group visited the U.S. at a time when blacks were by law second-class citizens and the most common crime against American blacks was lynching. Before leaving Chicago, a reporter for the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, asked the delegation what they thought about lynching in the U.S. The representatives responded “[We] dislike brutality… lynching of any nature, and other outrages heaped upon your people.”

African-Americans were inspired to see a proud African delegation being treated with so much respect by U.S. officials. Newspapers reported that in honor of the delegation’s visit “the flag of Abyssinia, which is of green, yellow, and red horizontal stripes, flew over the national capitol.”

The Chicago Defender reported that the delegation expressed their support for the struggle of American blacks and gave them words of encouragement. A member of the press had inquired if the group had advice to African-Americans. Ato Hiruy Wolde Sellassie, who spoke fluent English, replied: “Fight on. Don’t Stop.”

The Ethiopian presence at the Waldorf Astoria, dressed in their traditional white robe and pant attire attracted large attention.

Upon arriving in Washington D.C. they took up residence at Hotel Lafayette and awaited their formal presentation at the White House.

“It perhaps is of much interest to know that the Abyssinian religion is the oldest Christian religion in the world”, Captain Morris, the delegation’s chaperon, told reporters. “The queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon was once their queen, and the present ruler is descended from the queen of Sheba.”

The Abyssinian Mission enjoyed an overall warm welcome and before returning to Ethiopia, they toured the cities of New York and San Francisco. They also visited an Irish Catholic cathedral, a Jewish synagogue, the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Harlem, and Yellowstone National Park.
—-

About the Author:
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Liben Eabisa is the Founder & Publisher of Tadias Magazine. He is also the publisher of the book: Abyssinia of Today – Reissue of Robert P. Skinner’s memoir, a narrative of the first American diplomatic mission to black Africa. Liben Eabisa lives in New York City.

Olympic Update: Ethiopian Boxer Dropped From Competition

By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 10, 2008

New York (Tadias) – According to the Los Angeles Times, flyweight Molla Getachew Ambaw of Ethiopia has been dropped from the competition for failing to make weight.

Two other boxers, American bantamweight medal contender Gary Russell Jr and 2007 lightweight world champion Frankie Gavin of Great Britain were also disqualified.

Ethiopian ‘Baby Rute’ To Undergo Life Saving Heart Treatment At Wolfson

First Coast News

By: Kyle Meenan

Friday, August 8, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Doctors at Wolfson Children’s Hospital are working to save the life of an infant girl from Ethiopia.

Baby ‘Rute’ arrived in Jacksonville Thursday night after a 17-hour flight from Africa into New York, followed by the flight to the First Coast.

She was accompanied by Hilda Ettedgui, the wife of Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon Jose Ettedgui, and co-founder of the children’s foundation, “Patrons of the Hearts.”

Baby Rute has a heart condition that would likely take her life in the coming months or years. Despite her 15-month age, the child weighs just 15-pounds. Read More.

Olympic Moment in History: “And what’s this Ethiopian called?”

Above: Legendary Abebe Bikila returns home with Africa’s first
Olympic Gold Medal. Bikila returned to Ethiopia as a hero.
Emperor Haile Selassie promoted him to the rank of corporal
position in the Imperial Bodyguard, where he served, and
awarded him the Star of Ethiopia. (tessemas.net)

Abebe Bikila: Barefoot in Rome (Time)
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FOOT SOLDIER: Running without shoes, Bikila, an
Imperial Guardsman in Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie’s court,
pulls ahead in the 1960 Rome marathon (Popperfoto/Getty)

By SIMON ROBINSON

Wednesday, Aug. 06, 2008

A few of the other runners sniggered when they saw Abebe Bikila turn up at the start of the Olympic marathon with no shoes. As a television camera scanned the scrum of athletes readying themselves for the starter’s gun, a commentator asked: “And what’s this Ethiopian called?” It was 1960, Rome. Africa was just shrugging off the weight of colonial rule and some sporting officials still doubted Africans were ready for the big time. A little over 2 hr. 15 min. later that myth lay shattered by the slight man wearing number 11, a member of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie’s Imperial Guard and a proud African whose gliding, barefoot run through Rome’s cobblestone streets announced his continent’s emergence as a running powerhouse. Read More.

Games in Beijing Open With a Lavish Ceremony

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Games in Beijing Open With a Lavish Ceremony (NYT)

By JIM YARDLEY and DAVID BARBOZA

Published: August 8, 2008

BEIJING — An ecstatic China, an ancient nation so determined to be a modern power, finally got its Olympic moment on Friday night.

With world leaders watching from inside the latticed shell of the National Stadium, the 2008 Beijing Olympics began with an opening ceremony of soaring fireworks, lavish spectacle and a celebration of Chinese culture and international good will. Read More.


All Eyes on Beijing on Eve of Olympics (Video)

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

By Henok Semaegzer Fente

06 August 2008

Washington, D.C. (VOA) – In Ethiopia, the trial of a controversial pop star is raising questions about the independence of the judiciary and of the press. The government has arrested a journalist covering the court hearings and a defense attorney. Both men are expected to appear in court today (Wednesday).

teddyafro_05_11.jpg
Teddy Afro

Ethiopia’s rising pop and reggae singer Teddy Afro has been in jail since April. He was charged with a hit and run road accident and remains in jail after being denied bail. Teddy has pleaded non-guilty, and his attorney argues that prosecutors have not presented enough evidence to detain his client.

But as of Monday, the defense attorney, as well as a journalist covering the trial joined the pop singer behind bars.

Mesfin Negash, the editor of a weekly newspaper in the Ethiopian capital could be sentenced to up to six months in prison, if found guilty of contempt of court. Facing the same charges and also in police custody is Teddy Afro’s defense attorney Million Assefa, who was quoted in an article published by the paper. Listen to the Report at VOA News.

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

Analyze This: Last Ethiopian Immigrants to Israel?

By CALEV BEN-DAVID
Photo by Ricki Rosen (The Jewish Journal)

The Jerusalem Post – Aug 6, 2008

The announcement by the Jewish Agency that the age of Ethiopian aliya is now ended with the last official airlift of olim from that nation on Tuesday should not be taken too literally.

Even the JA admits that among the some 9,000 remaining Falash Mura still hoping to immigrate, about 1,500 might yet qualify on grounds of family reunification or for other reasons.

As to the rest, fierce debate still rages between the Ethiopian advocacy organizations and their political supporters calling for their transfer here, and opponents such as Housing Minister Zev Boim, who two weeks ago charged that American Jewish groups, “who knew how to bring other Jews to their communities [in the US] and spent a lot of money doing so, don’t behave that way with Ethiopian Jews. So they shouldn’t come here and tell us what to do and how to act on this issue.”

This issue will probably work itself out in the coming years with some kind of compromise over the last Falash Mura in Ethiopia, possibly with final passage of a Knesset bill designed to ease their immigration here. Read more at The Jerusalem Post.

Jolie to Build Daughter Zahara a Clinic in Ethiopia

By Tadias Staff
Photo – Jolie with daughter Zahara, NYC, 2007 (Purseblog.com)

Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie is reportedly planning to build an AIDS clinic in Ethiopia, her adopted daughter Zahara’s country of birth.

“We will be building a Tuberculosis/AIDS clinic in Ethiopia. The one we plan for Zahara to take over when she is older,” Jolie told Hello magazine, which printed its world exclusive pictures of her newborn twins Knox and Vivienne earlier this week.

Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt already have a daughter, Shiloh Nouvel, who was born in Namibia in 2006. In addition to Zahara (aged three from Ethiopia), they are also adopted parents to Maddox (six-year-old) from Cambodia, and Pax (four-year-old) from Vietnam.

According to Contactmusic.com, the clinic in Ethiopia is an initiative of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, a charity the celebrity couple established in 2006 for international humanitarian aid.

Jolie also has plans for her Asian children. “The next trip for our foundation will most likely be Asia to follow up on the situation in Burma and our work in Cambodia. The boys have been asking to go there, so we will take them when Knox and Vivienne are a bit older,” she added.

Related: Hello Magazine Wins Bid for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Twins Pics (Tadias)

Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad

Source: Access Hollywood

Paris Hilton has finally responded to Republican presidential hopeful John McCain’s campaign ad of last week, which pitted his opponent, Democrat Barack Obama, as a super-celebrity in between footage of the heiress and Britney Spears.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Today’s Headlines:
Morgan Freeman injured in car wreck (Reuters)
freeman.jpg

Ethiopia faces a new food crisis (Los Angeles Times)

Plane crashes into Oregon house, kills 3 children (Reuters)

Pakistani Suspected of Qaeda Ties Is Held (NYT)

Obama backs some drilling, tapping oil stockpile (AP)

Twin Cities to Host Pan-African Festival

Above: M.anifest will perform at the festival

“There are singers and musicians that include Wegegta, with their fusion of Ethiopian pop and jazz”

By Justin Schell ,
TC Daily Planet

August 05, 2008

The Twin Cities’ inaugural Pan-African Festival, which runs from August 6-11, will highlight the Twin Cities’ prominent place as home to thousands of immigrants from all parts of Africa. Bringing together artists from Minneapolis to Mogadishu, Nairobi to Kingston, Monrovia to Madison, and many other places throughout the African diaspora, the Festival will celebrate not only the artistic expression of the African diaspora, but also the possibilities for collaboration and alliance in the land of 10,000 lakes.

Organized by the Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO), a Twin Cities non-profit organization dedicated to fostering new musical talent, as well as the Twin Cities music community as a whole, this year’s Festival builds on last year’s AfriFest, held in August 2007 at Currie Park. Organized by a number of the same people organizing the Pan African Festival, AfriFest brought together not only a number of Twin Cities-based musicians from throughout the African diaspora, but also the late reggae superstar Lucky Dube.

“We really wanted to build on AfriFest, but it was important for us that we keep it community-based and non-profit,” says Rachel Joyce, one of the main organizers of the Festival. Unlike AfriFest, which was a for-profit venture, Joyce believes that “we have the freedom to deal with our aesthetic and philosophical goals when you take money out of it.”

In addition to Joyce, the core organizational group of the Festival—all volunteer—consists of long-time First Avenue manager Steve McClellan (who in the past booked both Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade to the Mainroom), George Ndege, originally from Kenya and owner of Kilimanjaro Entertainment, and Neo Rowan, who’s originally from Lesotho.

The Festival is not just about bringing peoples of the African diaspora together, though. As the organizers began planning the festival last year, numerous Twin Cities arts organizations, venues, and institutions, including the Parkway Theater, Sound Unseen, the Cedar Cultural Center (where DEMO held its Pan African Showcase last year) and many others, were eager to join in the Festival’s organization.

“It just all came together,” Joyce says with a smile.

The festival opens at the Cedar Cultural Center, at the heart of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, home to many of the immigrants from all over Africa who have made the Twin Cities their home. Renowned Malian singer and guitarist Habib Koité, with his band, Bamada, will take the Cedar’s stage for a night of musical fusion of Malian folk and popular musics. On Thursday night, The Rake is organizing an exhibition at the Altered Esthetics Gallery in conjunction with the opening of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” exhibit, featuring music by the Wallace Hill Art & Drum Ensemble, as well as featuring art by Rabi Sanfo, who hails from Burkina Faso.

On Friday night, Mezesha Entertainment, which recently brought Kenyan singer and rapper Nonini to the Twin Cities, will be organizing “Safari: An Afro-Caribbean Experience,” as well as a reggae dance night on Sunday night. The riddims of Sunday night will follow the screening of three documentaries at the Parkway Theater: Hip-Hop Colony, which chronicles the rise of hip-hop in Kenya; Africa Unite, which follows the musical and familial progeny of Bob Marley in a celebration of what would have been his 60th birthday; and Music is A Weapon, the outstanding portrait of Fela Kuti, with rare interviews with the Afro-Beat pioneer and musical legend, as well as concert footage from inside his political and musical headquarters the Shrine and the Kalakuta Republic.

The majority of the music, however, will take place on Saturday. A slew of artists from across the artistic and geographic map will perform both inside and outside the Nomad World Pub. In addition to two dance groups, Diaspora and KUT Dance, there are singers and musicians that include Wegegta, with their fusion of Ethiopian pop and jazz, the Liberian singers F.A. and Munnah Myers, guitarist and singer Wain McFarlane, and the Liberian MC Z-Plus and headliner MC M.anifest, the dazzling wordsmith who calls both Accra, Ghana and Minneapolis home.

Just as Saturday closes with hip-hop, the festival itself will close with K’naan at First Avenue. The Somali-by-way-of-Toronto MC, who doesn’t shy away from the topics of violence and death in his native Somalia, is possessed with inventive wordplay that could stand its ground against any MC, is quickly becoming an icon of rap’s circuitous global proliferation. Black Blondie and The Usual Suspects will open. The latter group features their own Somali MC, Free One, who grew up a mere five blocks from K’naan while living in Toronto’s Dixon housing projects.

In the end, the organizers of the Festival, as well as many of the artists performing, see the as making a social statement for long after the festival’s over. Joyce says that the Festival is an attempt to use music as an agent for social change and social dialogue. “The Twin Cities are in a really interesting position globally to show how you do this right,” she said, “how you accept new neighbors and make them a meaningful part of your community.”

Similarly, McClellan, one of the founders of DEMO, sees the Festival as part of a larger motivation by the group to engaging with social issues. In his words, instead of just booking shows, he wants to DEMO “to make music a conduit to the bigger issues involved in both our local community and overall social change.

“I want people to come together and realize that other people they live next door to are NOT as scary or abnormal as they thought. I want people to come away with the realization that this community has changed and putting up fences and barriers only stalls the inevitable.”


Pan African Festival and AfriFest
Pan African Festival includes music, movies, dance, spoken word and hip hop and more, August 6-11. AfriFest, August 14-17, includes business expo, soccer tournament and performances
612.281.6318. Read more at: TC Daily Planet

Ethiopian Orthodox Congregation Thrives in Detroit

BY ALEX P. KELLOGG
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

August 6, 2008

If it seems like you’re traveling to a world thousands of miles away — and millennia old — in a way, you are.

But when you enter the Debre Guenet Abune Teklehaimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, you happen to be in Commerce Township.

And not only are you in Commerce Township — one of the most homogeneous communities in metro Detroit — you’re on a quaint little road within view of the township’s offices at 2840 Fisher Ave. The church is at 2800 Fisher.

If, as neighbors, they sound like strange bedfellows, they are. Even members of the church admit it.

“When we opened, we had a few neighbors come,” said Begashaw Deneke, chairman of the church’s governing board. Read more at Detroit Free Press.

Ben-Gurion University Begins Project to Eliminate Intestinal Worms in Ethiopia

Source: A. Lavin Communications

August 5, 2008

NEW YORK – A professor at The Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is beginning an intensive program in Ethiopia this August to eradicate intestinal worms which affect as much as 50 percent of the population in Africa.

BGU Professor Zvi Bentwich, who heads the Center for Tropical Diseases and AIDS in Israel (CEMTA), believes there is a possible connection between the AIDS epidemic in Africa and intestinal worms, one of the many Neglected Tropical Diseases which affect nearly one quarter of the world’s population.

Prof. Bentwich believes that intestinal worms can affect the immune system in such a profound way that it has a major impact on one’s susceptibility to HIV and tuberculosis, and in coping with these diseases when they are already there. “As head of the largest AIDS center, I dealt with a large number of Ethiopian HIV and AIDS patients, and through them became aware of the magnitude of this problem in Ethiopia,” he says.

The first stage of the operation to deworm about 30,000 people from three separate locations in Ethiopia begins in August. In the fall, the research project will focus on the town of Mekele in northern Ethiopia with approximately 250,000 inhabitants.

The program combines the provision and administration of antihelminthic medications, a few pills every four to six months, with hygiene education and information on how to protect populations from exposure to the parasites.

“NTDs are one of the most evident hallmark signs of poverty and neglect, significantly contributing to the persistence of this situation in a very large number of countries in Africa, Asia and South America,” Bentwich explains. “They have been largely neglected by the Western developed countries, since they are practically nonexistent there. “It costs much less than what it takes to fight the more recognized epidemics like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”

BGU is partnering with Global Network for the Fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases to help populations across Africa, including Ethiopia. The project is being funded by an international coalition of nonprofit organizations.

The Mobile Donkey Librarian in Ethiopia (Video)

Publisher’s Note:

New York – Ethiopian-American Yohannes Gebregeorgis (a CNN Hero), co-founder and director of Ethiopia Reads, a non-profit organization led by the celebrated children’s author Jane Kurtz, is bringing Books to some rural Ethiopian children on a donkey’s back. Watch the Video.


Today’s Headlines:
Morgan Freeman injured in car wreck (Reuters)
freeman.jpg

Ethiopia faces a new food crisis (Los Angeles Times)

Plane crashes into Oregon house, kills 3 children (Reuters)

Pakistani Suspected of Qaeda Ties Is Held (NYT)

Obama backs some drilling, tapping oil stockpile (AP)

Alaska: Obama Fishing for Votes in the Last Frontier

Alaskans for Obama: A Rare Democratic Push in the Last Frontier (Washington Post)

By Karl Vick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008; Page A04

ANCHORAGE — In what might be the fullest realization of Barack Obama’s pledge to run hard in parts of the country largely untouched by presidential campaigning, the Democrat’s Alaska operation is making plans for organizers to hopscotch the state’s vast and sparsely populated interior by bush plane, knocking on doors in remote outposts for their candidate.

“Go around, put up signs, shake some hands, see some of the important people in the village,” said state representative and professional pilot Woodie Salmon (D), describing his own campaign tactics in a legislative district that includes 94 villages, 70 of which can be reached only by air. “Get things stirred up and leave again.”

Conservative and quirky, Alaska last went for a Democratic presidential candidate 44 years ago. No nominee from either party has even visited since Richard Nixon’s journey to glad-hand in Anchorage on the last weekend of the 1960 campaign, a stop that some argue cost him the razor-thin election.

Obama, who often boasts of having visited the other 49 states, has yet to commit to a stop here. But his vibrant campaign operation here is stoking expectations and mounting the most prodigious presidential effort Alaska has seen. Read More.


Today’s Headlines:
Morgan Freeman injured in car wreck (Reuters)
freeman.jpg

Ethiopia faces a new food crisis (Los Angeles Times)

Plane crashes into Oregon house, kills 3 children (Reuters)

Pakistani Suspected of Qaeda Ties Is Held (NYT)

Obama backs some drilling, tapping oil stockpile (AP)

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)
taf2.jpg

Teddy Afro told to return to court next year

Editor Jailed Over Teddy Afro’s Case

A Rare Treat of Ethio Groove at Lincoln Center

By Tadias Staff

Published: August 5, 2008

New York (Tadias) — Among some of the most exciting out-door music events scheduled in New York this summer, is a concert on August 20th, featuring Ethiopia’s most noted musical artists: Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete and the legendary saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya.

The artists burst forth into the Ethiopian music scence in the 1960s, during a time of prolific music recording in Addis Ababa, where the nightlife and club scene was buzzing with live Afro-pop, Swing and Blues riviling those in Paris and New York.

But the fun was short lived. In the mid 1970′s the rise to power of Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam ushered in a dark age, which halted Addis Ababa’s flourishing music scene and severly curtailed the record music industry.

“Mengistu was well-versed in the Ethiopian tradition of song lyrics that are double entendres speaking to romantic and political themes, so he set about silencing the Ethiopian Swing”, penned writer Michael A. Edwards in an article entiltled Nubian Sunrise in Jazz Times Magazine, the world’s leading Jazz publication. “Curfew brought the Capital to a viritual stand still…jailed, discredited and otherwise harrased, many of the musicians went into exile and the sun set on swinging Addis.”

police_ethiopiques_inside.jpg
The Swinging Sixties: The Police Band strut their stuff in 1965/6. (Time.com)

The sun has risen again for Ethiopian music and it has re-emerged in the international scene under a new name: Ethiopiques, which refres to a stunning CD series containing a treasure trove of Ethipian sounds from the 1960′s and ’70s.

And on August 20th, beginning at 6 p.m, at the 38th season of the Lincoln Center’s out of
doors concert, one of the longest-running free summer festivals in the U.S, New Yorkers will
be treated to the groove of “Nubian Sunrise”.


You can learn more about the event at Lincolncenter.org

Related: Legendary Punks The Ex Find New Inspiration in Ethiopia (Chicago Tribune)

Portland Family Enjoys a Taste of Ethiopia

By Angela Obery

Published: August 5, 2008

Portland, Oregon (Statesman Journal) – Looking back on local family trips, I must admit that many of them revolve around food.

After all, we have to eat; we might as well make the meal an adventure!

Recently while visiting friends in Portland, my husband, sons and I were invited to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant.

I was eager to see my old friend but wary about his ability to choose a child-friendly restaurant. A confirmed bachelor, I was unsure if he understood the intricacies of dining with a 3-year-old.

Holding the printed directions in one hand and a map in another, I navigated while my husband drove into a north Portland neighborhood previously unknown to us.

Parking on a side street and walking past other business, we saw the chosen restaurant — it had an old sign welcoming us to the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Bar.

I momentarily thought our bachelor friend has steered us terribly wrong, however a second look unveiled an additional sign that read: “and Restaurant.’

I silently sighed as my husband and I shared a look of uncertainty.

Slowly stepping through the front door we were greeted by the restaurant owner and immediately shown to a roomy table by the front window.

Glancing around the small room, I saw a few other tables seated with groups including children. The place was a buzz with activity and so the adventure began.

Reading the menu, I was confused. Ordering would not be easy. Although the menu gave short descriptions of the offerings I still had no real sense of what was being offered.

Meats, vegetables, lentils and spices were all clearly named, but where as Japanese, Italian, and French bring certain flavors to mind, I had no background knowledge to consider Ethiopian.

Sensing our general confusion, the waitress was incredibly helpful when ordering. She told us which dishes were favorites with other families with small children and she guided our order to include several items considered mild and two with a bit more spice for the adults in our group.

As she walked away from the table I knew only that, among others, we would be trying dishes #1, #6 and #27.

When the meal arrived, the adventure continued as all the items were served family style on one large platter.

Injera, the traditional flat bread of Ethiopia, was provided and everyone tore off small pieces so as to scoop up the entrée and side dishes. My 3-year-old watched all the adults dig in and shyly asked, “Where are the forks?”

He seemed amused by the idea that no one would use utensils at this meal.

Injera is a flat, spongy bread and after several bites with the meal, my 6-year-old then ate several more bites of the bread alone. Holding up a small piece he commented, “It looks like a pancake, but it doesn’t taste like a pancake.”

I agreed.

Our party continues to scoop, wrap and dip as the meal continued. I found my sons and I most enjoyed the wat, or stew, of potatoes, carrots and beans. My husband favored the chicken and mushroom combination, while our friends ate up most of the spicier dishes.

The time passed quickly between eating and conversation and, before I knew it, the platter before us was almost wiped clean.

Paying our bill and heading out into the pleasant evening air I was pleased to have ventured out of our comfort zone with my family to try this new restaurant.

Time had passed since our last gathering with this old friend, but the feelings of care and loyalty for him are still strong.

Mix that up with two kiddos who are willing to try anything new and you have the perfect recipe for an adventurous Kid Trips to Portland, or to Ethiopia, or to whatever lies ahead.


Angela Obery lives in Salem with her husband and two young sons. Look for the Kid Trips column each Tuesday in this section. Contact Angela at Kid Trips, the Statesman Journal, P.O. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309-3009. Letters can be faxed to (503) 399-6706 or e-mailed to sjkidtrips@yahoo.com.

Hello Magazine Wins Bid for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Twins Pics

By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, August 1, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Hello Magazine has won an exclusive deal for the first photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins, Knox and Vivienne, born on July 13 at the Lenval hospital in southern France.

The celebrity couple are also adopted parents to Ethiopian American Zahara (aged three), Maddox (six-year-old) from Cambodia, and Pax (four-year-old) from Vietnam. They already have a daughter, Shiloh Nouvel, who was born in Namibia in 2006.

An insider for Hello!, which outbid rival magazine OK! for the rights for the photos told ITN: “This is one of the publishing sensations of the decade – Brad and Angelina are the dream couple of the glossy magazine world and we expect to triple our circulation because of the public’s fascination and interest in the couple and their children.”

The magazine will be published on Monday, August 4.

Related: Jolie to Build Daughter Zahara a Clinic in Ethiopia (Tadias)
angelina-jolie-valentino-bag_cover.jpg

Bill Clinton Pledges Support to Fight AIDS in Ethiopia

By Tadias Staff

Friday, August 1st, 2008

New York (Tadias) — AFP is reporting that former President Bill Clinton is in Ethiopia and on Friday “pledged more support to combat HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia, where he started a four-nation African tour.”

The Clinton Foundation announced that Ethiopia will receive five million dollars over three years to help prevent the spread of AIDS, which kills around 370 Ethiopians each day, according to UN figures.

“I want to personally make sure that every baby born here will not be HIV-positive,” Clinton said in Godino Jitu, Ethiopia, 70 kilometres (43 miles) south of Addis Ababa, where he visited a health centre.

“This centre is one of several hundred that have received help from the foundation, but will soon be one of thousands,” Clinton said.

Clinton will also visit Rwanda, Liberia and Senegal, as part of a trip to promote his foundation’s efforts to tackle AIDS and malaria. Read More.

A Rare Treat to Ethiopian Groove at Lincoln Center

By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 3, 2008

New York (Tadias) — Among some of the most exciting out-door music events scheduled in New York this summer, is a concert on August 20th, featuring Ethiopia’s most noted musical artists: Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete and the legendary saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya.

The artists burst forth into the Ethiopian music scence in the 1960s, during a time of prolific music recording in Addis Ababa, where the nightlife and club scene was buzzing with live Afro-pop, Swing and Blues riviling those in Paris and New York.

But the fun was short lived. In the mid 1970′s the rise to power of Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam ushered in a dark age, which halted Addis Ababa’s flourishing music scene and severly curtailed the record music industry.

“Mengistu was well-versed in the Ethiopian tradition of song lyrics that are double entendres speaking to romantic and political themes, so he set about silencing the Ethiopian Swing”, penned writer Michael A. Edwards in an article entiltled Nubian Sunrise in Jazz Times Magazine, the world’s leading Jazz publication. “Curfew brought the Capital to a viritual stand still…jailed, discredited and otherwise harrased, many of the musicians went into exile and the sun set on swinging Addis.”

police_ethiopiques_inside.jpg
The Swinging Sixties: The Police Band strut their stuff in 1965/6. (Time.com)

The sun has risen again for Ethiopian music and it has re-emerged in the international scene under a new name: Ethiopiques, which refres to a stunning CD series containing a treasure trove of Ethipian sounds from the 1960′s and ’70s.

And on August 20th, beginning at 6 p.m, at the 38th season of the Lincoln Center’s out of
doors concert, one of the longest-running free summer festivals in the U.S, New Yorkers will
be treated to the groove of “Nubian Sunrise”.


You can learn more about the event at Lincolncenter.org

Ethiopia to Take FIFA to Court

Above: Ethiopia’s Grum Siyoum (R) fights for the
ball with Morocco’s Benjalloun Abdessalam (C) during their 2010 World
Cup qualifying soccer match in Casablanca May 31, 2008.
REUTERS/Rafael Marchante(MOROCCO)

Ethiopia to go to court over FIFA ban (The Guardian)

ADDIS ABABA, July 31 (Reuters) – Ethiopian soccer authorities said on Thursday a suspension by FIFA was illegal and that they would take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

FIFA suspended the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) on Tuesday after it repeatedly failed to comply with a February 2008 agreement aimed at restoring its officially recognised leaders.

“The ban imposed by FIFA is illegal and EFF will take its case to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport,” the body said in a statement.

Unless the suspension is lifted, Ethiopia will not be able to play their next international match, a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Morocco on Sept. 7.

The statement urged FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to send a delegation to Ethiopia to investigate the problem. (Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Sonia Oxley). Read More.

UN Terminates Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Force

Above photo: undispatch.com

UN council disbands Eritrea-Ethiopia border force (Reuters)

By Louis Charbonneau

Thu 31 Jul 2008

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council voted on Wednesday to disband its peacekeeping mission to the volatile border between Eritrea and Ethiopia after Eritrea forced out most of the U.N. troops.

The mandate for the 1,700-strong force expires on Thursday. The council unanimously approved a resolution drafted by Belgium that calls for the mission to be terminated and all peacekeeping personnel to be withdrawn.

The resolution calls on the two sides “to show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other, and to avoid provocative military activities.” Read More.

African First Ladies Coming Soon to LA

Above: Ted Alemayhu, Founder & CEO of U.S. Doctors for
Africa, hosts the market close at NASDAQ on Thursday, March 23,
2006.

U.S. Doctors for Africa (USDFA) to host African First Ladies Health Summit in Los Angeles

By Tadias Staff

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New York (Tadias) – U.S. Doctors for Africa (USDFA), founded by Ethiopian-American social entrepreneur Ted Alemayuhu, announced earlier this week that it will be hosting the first Annual African First Ladies Health Summit in Los Angeles in April 2009.

USDFA in collaboration with African Synergy, an NGO founded by African First Ladies, has formed a strategic partnership to efficiently mobilize and deliver needed medical resources to African countries. The summit will highlight current and prospective projects to be taken by USDFA and African Synergy.

“This is probably one of the most empowering initiative we have ever been involved in,” says Ted Alemayhu, Executive Chairman and CEO of USDFA. “What is exciting about this particular partnership is that the entire movement is initiated and mobilized by the First Ladies themselves. And it is a great testimony, commitment, and dedication that needs to be encouraged and supported by all stake-holders around the world.”

The summit is held in collaboration with the African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering, an NGO founded by African First Ladies. Mr. Alemayhu described this strategic partnership as a way to re-ignite the dialogue and work on key African health initiatives. “It would help to mobilize women’s strength & commitment to a better Africa” he said.

USDFA seeks to help advance the First Ladies efforts to create an effective and sustainable complementary approach in the fight against public health issues affecting Africa’s development.

The first Annual African First Ladies Health Summit will particularly focus on the threat of HIV/AIDS on children in Africa. “USDFA is prepared to be engaged in the helping the people of Africa with the full support and direct assistance & participation of the First Ladies” Mr. Alemayhu told Tadias. “USDFA and African Synergy share the common belief that healthcare is a basic human right, and recognize that a healthy population is essential for growth, development, and prosperity in every society.”

2005-09-15_usa-pp01.jpg
Above: (Standing, left to right) First Lady of Kenya, Mrs
Lucy Kibaki; Mrs Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba, First Lady of
Gabon; Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director; Mrs
Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of the Republic of
Rwanda and President of the Organization of African
First Ladies against HIV/AIDS; Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa,
First Lady of Zambia; Mrs Toure Lobbo Traore, First
Lady of Mali; (seated, left to right) Madame Denise
Nkurunziza, First Lady of Burundi; Mrs Viviane Wade,
First Lady of Senegal; and UNICEF Deputy Executive
Director Rima Salah together at the launch of the
“Treat every child as your own” campaign, an initiative
of the Organization of African First Ladies against
HIV/AIDS, in New York on 15 September.
Photo credit: UNAIDS/Peter Serling

In addition to the summit, USDFA will mobilize volunteers and other resources from the United States and strategically distribute these resources in regions where they are most needed, in accordance with African Synergy’s recommendations.

Although details for the Summit are still being worked out, the event is currently set for April 20th – 23rd and the planned location is Beverly Hilton. Mr. Alemayhu told us that more information about the Summit schedule will be announced in the upcoming weeks.


Related:
Hot Shots From USDFA’s New York Gala (Tadias)
ted3_cover4.jpg

Photo Journal: Ted’s Keynote at Columbia (Tadias)
ted3_cover.jpg

USDFA to Deploy Mobile Clinics to Ethiopia (Tadias Exclusive)
m_clinic_lg.jpg

The Long Road Home: Photographer Andarge’s Quest to Raise Awareness About Ethiopia’s Deforestation

The Long Road Home (Valley Advocate)

Photographer Andarge Asfaw is raising awareness of Ethiopia’s deforestation with his photography book, Ethiopia From the Heart.

By Kendra Thurlow

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, photographer Andarge Asfaw has lived in the U.S. for almost 40 years. He came here as a young teenager, attending high school in Ithaca, N.Y., then Cornell University and the Hallmark Institute of Photography. After Asfaw completed his studies, he planned to return home to Ethiopia, so his birth country could benefit from his education abroad. That plan was thwarted in 1974: a Soviet-backed military junta deposed Emperor Haile Selassie and established a communist state.

“At the time we had no choice of going back,” said Asfaw in a recent interview with the Advocate. “The generation that came from Ethiopia at the time, we were pretty much expected [after getting an education] to go back and provide service. But once the government changed, everything changed.”

Asfaw’s photography career blossomed as he settled into life in the United States and strove to “live the American Dream.” For over 25 years, Asfaw has maintained, with longtime business partner Donna Jones, F/Stop Studio, a Washington D.C.-based commercial photography studio. His work has been featured in Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Esquire and the Washington Post; he teaches at the Washington School of Photography, the Art League School and the Metropolitan Center for the Visual Arts.

Despite Asfaw’s success in the U.S., the thought of seeing Ethiopia’s breathtaking countryside again was never far from Asfaw’s mind. “As a photographer, I think it’s always your dream to go back and do something about where you came from,” said Asfaw. “I remember such a beautiful country, with animals running around, and people down south running around naked& When I was young and driving with my dad in the countryside, you’d have to watch out for deer, leopards, zebras, giraffes—and the monkeys owned the road.”

In 1994, the first year since the 1974 coup that Ethiopia held multi-party elections, Asfaw returned to his home country. What he found, however, barely resembled the country he had left almost 29 years earlier.

“I arrived to find an unfamiliar Ethiopia,” Asfaw wrote in Tadias, an online magazine for the Ethiopian-American community. “The trees had disappeared. Wildlife that had crossed the roads not far from the region where I grew up was absent… Unemployment, relocation, political differences and health concerns had reshaped the lives of the population. Devastated, I didn’t know where to begin documenting my dreams.” Read More.

Related: Photography: Ethiopia From The Heart By Andarge Asfaw (Tadias)
anddar4.jpg

House Apologizes to African-Americans for Slavery, Era of Jim Crow

Above: Photo – Literacyrules.com

House apologizes for slavery, ‘Jim Crow’ injustices (CNN)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for slavery and the era of Jim Crow.

The nonbinding resolution, which passed on a voice vote, was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, a white lawmaker who represents a majority black district in Memphis, Tennessee.

While many states have apologized for slavery, it is the first time a branch of the federal government has done so, an aide to Cohen said.

In passing the resolution, the House also acknowledged the “injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow.”

“Jim Crow,” or Jim Crow laws, were state and local laws enacted mostly in the Southern and border states of the United States between the 1870s and 1965, when African-Americans were denied the right to vote and other civil liberties and were legally segregated from whites.

The name “Jim Crow” came from a character played by T.D. “Daddy” Rice who portrayed a slave while in blackface during the mid-1800s.

The resolution states that “the vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day.” Read More.

Museum Acquires Ethiopian Book

Getty Museum adds rare Ethiopian book (Los Angeles Times)

By Suzanne Muchnic
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 30, 2008

The J. Paul Getty Museum has added a rare Ethiopian Gospel book to its collection of illuminated manuscripts. Created around 1504-05 with five full-page paintings and many ornamental touches, it is one of the few such volumes to have survived wars and a Muslim purge of early Christian imagery in Ethiopia.

Purchased at an undisclosed price from a private collection in France, the new acquisition will go on view Aug. 12 in “Faces of Power and Piety,” an exhibition of portraiture in illuminated manuscripts at the Getty Center.

“This is a wonderful addition to the collection, visually and culturally,” said Thomas Kren, the Getty’s curator of manuscripts. “It’s a great and beautiful object. And it belongs to the classic tradition of Gospel books, one of the greatest vehicles for Christian art. Within that context, it’s a completely distinctive variation.”

The book — which measures 13 5/8 by 10 1/4 inches — contains full-page illuminations of the Virgin and Child and evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The portraits are painted in a bold style that Kren described as “almost modern.” Ethiopian illuminators favored blocks of vivid color and strong patterns, including zigzag motifs on textiles and clothing. In the Getty’s example, architectural borders enhance an eight-page concordance, or index, of Gospel stories; abstract designs frame other sections. Read More.

FIFA Suspends Ethiopia With Immediate Effect

Above: Morocco’s Benjalloun Abdessalam (C) fights for the
ball with Ethiopia’s Grum Siyoum (R) during their 2010 World
Cup qualifying soccer match in Casablanca May 31, 2008.
REUTERS/Rafael Marchante(MOROCCO)

Ethiopia suspended by Fifa (BBC)

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, has suspended the Ethiopian Football Federation with immediate effect.

The suspension means that Ethiopia could miss their next 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at home to Morocco on the weekend of the 5-7 September.

Fifa’s Emergency Committee made the decision after the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) failed to comply with a roadmap agreed in February 2008 aimed at normalising the situation of the federation.

The EFF problems began in January when its general assembly fired the federation’s president Dr Ashebir Woldegiorgis.

The assembly decided to get rid of the president for what they said was the “dismal” record of Ethiopian football and elected Ahmed Yasin to replace him.

However, the January meeting was not recognised by Fifa who met both parties to find a solution.

Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf) then released a roadmap in February aimed at rectifying the situation. Read More.

Related: Ethiopia Defeated Mauritania in World Cup Qualifier
_44872174_fifalogo203.jpg

Teddy Afro told to return to court next year

Above: Teddy Afro performing at the Rosewater Hall in San Jose,
California on January 20th, 2007. (Photos by D.J. Fitsum)
Click here to see hot shots.

Teddy Afro’s case postponed to next Ethiopian Year (Capital Ethiopia)

By Tedla Yeneakal

The Federal High Court 8th Criminal Bench on Monday, July 11, 2008 adjourned the case of Tewodros Kassahun a.k.a Teddy Afro, for the accused to start defending his case next Ethiopian year.

teddy_afro1.jpg
Teddy Afro

After finishing the previous testimonials of witnesses the prosecution attorney presented to the court, it has decided for the singer to continue defending his case, postponing it for next Ethiopian new year, (October 9, 2008).

Teddy’s Fans
taf21.jpgtaf3.jpg
Above: Teddy’s fans at the Rosewater Hall in San Jose, California
on January 20th, 2007. (Photos by D.J. Fitsum). Click to see hot shots.

Many of his fans and family members who gathered inside and outside the court room, were saddened after the court ordered to hear the case next Ethiopian new year, when it opens following a two- month break.

During the trial accompanied by the usual crowd, federal police around the court room were witnessed trying to disperse crowds protesting against the decision that Judge Leuele G. Mariam passed.

Teddy, who was jailed for over 3 months after being charged with a hit and run incident that occurred in November 2006, was first detained briefly at the time the incident occurred and released on 50,000 birr bail, before being apprehended again and taken to Kaliti prison facility, 25kms out of the capital Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa police arrested Teddy after suspecting him of killing an 18 year old street boy named Degu Yibeltal, who died after he was hit by a car. A taxi driver at the time allegedly tipped off the police to the license number of Teddy’s BMW, which was later found in a ditch on the road towards the CMC residential area, where the singer resides.

Teddy pleaded not guilty to driving without a license and negligent driving.

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

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

No Jail Sentence for Ethiopian Church Deacon in Vehicular Death

No jail sentence in vehicular death (Philadelphia Inquirer)

A man who either fell asleep or unconscious got probation
and a license suspension, angering the widow.

By Maya Rao

Inquirer Staff Writer

Sat, Jul. 26, 2008

Abraha Rutty, a 23-year-old Ethiopian Orthodox Church deacon, was facing three years in a New Jersey state prison after entering into a plea deal in May for killing a moped rider while allegedly asleep behind the wheel.

The soft-spoken Newark, N.J., man bowed and clasped his hands as his parents, his minister and others invoked the name of God and pleas for mercy while they testified to Rutty’s depth of character and compassion in Gloucester County Superior Court yesterday.

Rutty struck down Edward R. Hoffman, 51, of Clayton, last July with his Honda. Out of religious observance, Rutty had been fasting for more than a day, and was exhausted after staying up most of the night before to get his passport in Philadelphia for a missionary trip to Ethiopia.

“I’m asking, truly asking as a mother, to look at us, all of our children, and say it could happen to any of us,” his tearful mother, Janet Rutty, told the judge.

Judge Christine Allen-Jackson listened. Then, calling it the toughest case ever to be on her docket, she sentenced Rutty to five years’ probation, suspended his driver’s license for five years, and ordered him to pay more than $25,000 in fines and restitution. Read More.

Olympic Hero Abebe Bikila

Above: After a tragic accident in 1969 left former
marathon runner and winner of two Olympic gold medals Abebe
Bikila paraplegic, he took up archery as a sport. He is pictured
here practising archery from his wheelchair in preparation for
the International Paraplegic Games being held at the Stoke
Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on 20th July
1970. He suffered a severe spinal injury which ended his running
career. (Photo by Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images)

BOOK
The glory trail (The Guardian)
It was the Rome Olympics of 1960 and an unknown produced the biggest surprise. Abebe Bikila, who’d begun running as a shepherd boy in the hills of Ethiopia, strode barefoot to victory in the marathon. He was the first black African to win Olympic gold. Tim Judah tells his story. Read More.

Abebe Bikila: an athlete par excellence (The Hindu)

V. V. Subrahmanyam

In 13 editions since its debut in Olympics, Ethiopia has scripted some of the most famous feats in track events — winning 14 gold, five silver and 12 bronze medals. But, not many of its athletes can match the aura and greatness of Abebe Bikila — the first black African athlete to win an Olympic gold medal (1960 Rome Games) and the first athlete to win the Olympic marathon gold twice.

It was a unique marathon in Rome — neither did it start nor finish in the main Olympic Stadium. And, the later part of the event was run in the dark, the route lit by the Roman soldiers holding torches. Inspirational sight enough for this Ethiopian to conquer Rome!
001307188_inside.jpg
1960 SUMMER OLYMPICS TRACK FIELD MEN’S MARATHON: ETH BAREFOOTED RUNNER ABEBE
BIKILA IN ACTION APPROACHING THE ARCH OF CONSTANTINE, ON HIS WAY TO WINNING RACE
HELD AT NIGHT DUE TO SWELTERING SUMMER HEAT DURING THE DAY. BIKILA SET A NEW
WORLD REORD AT 2:15:16.2.(Sportsillustrated)

A legend
“I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.” (Abebe Bikila responding to a question after he won the Olympic gold at the 1960 Rome Games on why he ran barefoot.)
image.jpg
Barefoot: Bikila won Olympic gold at the 1960 Rome Games (Britannica.com)

Born to a shepherd, Abebe Bikila was a legend in his own way.

When he could not find shoes which fit comfortably, Bikila decided to run the marathon barefoot, exactly the way he trained. A decision which stunned the fellow competitors but did not affect his grit and determination.

And, the rest is history. Bikila and his nearest challenger Rhadi had created a gap from the rest of the pack.

They stayed together until the last 500m when the Ethiopian changed gears to set a World record time of 2:15:16.2.

rome2.bmp
Rome: 10 September 1960, Rome, Italy. Abebe Bikila (Contrasto.it)

“I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism,” was his reply to a query on why he ran barefoot.

the-new-challenge-2_inside.jpg
Legendary Abebe Bikila returns home with Africa’s first Olympic
Gold Medal. Bikila returned to Ethiopia as a hero. Emperor Haile
Selassie promoted him to the rank of corporal position in the
Imperial Bodyguard, where he served, and awarded him the
Star of Ethiopia. (tessemas.net)

Fate struck a tragic blow when Bikila met with a serious accident in 1969 which left him a paraplegic. He died in 1973 aged 41 due to cerebral haemorrhage. Read the story at Hindu.com

Watch this video about Abebe Bikila

Related: Olympic Moment in History: “And what’s this Ethiopian called?”

Ethiopian Prayer Book Sells for £32k at Auction

Ethiopian prayer book sells for £32k at auction (Advertiser)

AN Auctioneer in Towcester has sold a 14th-Century Ethiopian Prayer Book for 40 times its estimated value.

Auctioneers at JP Humberts are holding their final three-day auction at the Burcote Road sale room before they move to a new home on Silverstone Business Park near Whittlebury.

On Friday morning Mr Humbert told the Advertiser that the 14th century Ethiopian prayer book, with an estimated value of up to £800, sold to an anonymous ‘phone bidder for £32,000.

Mr Humbert said: “We are absolutely delighted. In a world where we hear nothing but financial doom and gloom it’s nice to see items finding their true value.”

Mr Humbert cannot reveal the identity of the bidder but said the purchasers were a private collector and researcher and an institution.

The Psalm book written in Amharic had been put up for auction by a Northamptonshire vendor and was once owned by the headmaster of the Haile Selassie School in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia. Read More.

Vogue Italia’s Black Issue Spurred by Obama

Above: Ethiopian-born Liya Kebede is one of the cover
models on the Vogue Italia’s first-ever “Black Issue”
(“Modern Luxe” by Steven Meisel)

Vogue Italia’s Black Issue spurred by Obama (Reuters)

By Jo Winterbottom

Wed Jul 23, 2008

MILAN (Reuters Life!) – Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani says the spur for July’s first-ever “Black Issue” of the fashion magazine came in part from Barack Obama’s progress en route to becoming Democratic presidential candidate.

And partly because she wasn’t impressed with the current crop of look alike models with no personality.

“America … is ready for a black president, so why are we not ready for a black model?,” Sozzani said in an interview with Reuters.

blackvogueita-0608.jpg
Model Covers: Liya Kebede, Jourdan Dunn, Naomi Campbell & Sessilee Lopez

“I was in America on ‘Super Tuesday.’ Of course it influenced me in a way … it was part of my general idea,” she said.

That general idea became an issue featuring over 20 black models ranging from Naomi Campbell to relative newcomers such as Britain’s Jourdan Dunn who takes pride of place on the cover.

Sozzani, who has been at Vogue Italia for 20 years, said she was also attracted by the strong personalities of the black models.

“At the moment, I really don’t like any girls on the runway. They are all beautiful, amazing, long legs, beautiful eyes, but they all look alike,” she said.

“No girl really impressed me. The only one was Liya Kebede, she’s so elegant, she’s so chic,” Sozzani added, referring to the Ethiopian-born model who is also a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organization. Read More.


200,00 Hear Obama in Berlin
In Berlin, Obama urges fight against terror (MSNBC)
pf_barackobama_cover.jpg
Above: The walls fall down: Obama says countries must
overcome differences (NY Daily News)

The Associated Press

Thursday, July 24th 2008

BERLIN – Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama stood before an enormous crowd in Berlin on Thursday and summoned Europeans and Americans to work together to “defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it.”

Speaking in the Tiergarten, a park not far from where the Berlin Wall once divided the city, the presumptive Democratic nominee urged Americans, Berliners, and people of the world to work together for a better world.

“A new generation, our generation, must make our mark on history,” he said.

He told the tens of thousands who had gathered in front of the Victory Column that “the walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand.” Read More.


Foreign tour is media bonanza for Obama (MSNBC)
obama_in_israel_cover.jpg
Above: Senator Barack Obama in the Hall of Remembrance
at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
(Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times)

obama_media_bonanza_cover.jpg
Above: Sen. Barack Obama walks with King Abdullah of Jordan
as he arrives at Beit al Urdun in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday. (AP)

The Associated Press

Tues., July. 22, 2008

AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan, Israel and Germany aren’t normally known as swing states in a presidential campaign. But Barack Obama’s off to a fast start in his attempt to change that with an election-season tour designed to show him as a potential commander in chief, equally comfortable sitting down — presidential style — with kings and other foreign leaders.

“The objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people … who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years,” he said recently, evidently looking beyond this fall’s election to a second term in the White House.

That was in one of a string of network interviews he’s lined up on his trip, a journey that arguably will net him more media exposure in the real swing states — Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and elsewhere — than he’ll get even during the week of the Democratic National Convention later this summer. Read More.

—-
Iraq appears to share Obama’s pullout hope (MSNBC)
obama_iraq1_cover.jpg
Above: Senator Barack Obama with Gen. David H. Petraeus,
the top American military commander in Iraq, in a helicopter above
Baghdad. (Ssg. Lorie Jewell/U.S. Army, via Associated Press)

Statement on U.S. troop withdrawal by 2010 follows meeting with al-Maliki

Obama arrives in Iraq with exit plans at the fore (MSNBC)
obama_iraq_cover.jpg
Above: Sen. Barack Obama speaks with a U.S soldier in
Afghanistan during breakfast at Camp Eggers in Kabul Sunday.
(AP)

He’s pledging to end combat operations within 16 months of taking office

The Associated Press

Monday, July 21, 2008

BAGHDAD – Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama arrived in Iraq on Monday, a U.S. Embassy official said, to meet with commanders and troops in a war he has long opposed.

Obama was expected to meet Gen. David Petraeus as well as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, although aides provided few details, citing security concerns.

Obama arrived as part of a congressional delegation that also included Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., following stops in Kuwait and Afghanistan. The delegation met Sunday in Kuwait City with Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and other senior officials, the Kuwait News Agency reported. Read More.


Obama on Ground in Afghanistan | See Video Below.
obama_karzai_cover.jpg
Above: Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, talks with
Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama during a
meeting Sunday at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
(Ho / AFP – Getty Images)

VIDEO: Obama on Ground in Afghanistan (MSNBC)


Obama kicks off Middle East tour with stop in Afghanistan (NY Daily News)
obama_in_the_zone_cover.jpg

BY MICHAEL MCAULIFF
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

Updated Saturday, July 19th 2008

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama landed in Afghanistan early Saturday morning, bringing presidential politics to the battleground and answering criticism he’s never even visited the country he calls the central front in the war on terror.

The presumptive Democratic nominee left his hometown of Chicago on Thursday under a veil of secrecy, then took off from Washington for Kabul, where he landed at just after 3 a.m. New York time Saturday.

obama_in_the_zone1.jpg
Barack Obama (l.) poses with an
unidentified Afghan official in Nangarhar
province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on
Saturday. (Hong/AP)

Obama declared earlier this week that Iraq was a “dangerous distraction” from hunting down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and that neither Iraqis nor the White House was doing enough to wrap things up there to focus on Afghanistan.

But he told reporters as he left Washington that he was not planning on making any demands on his swing through the war zones.

“I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking,” Obama said. “And I think it is very important to recognize that I’m going over there as a U.S. senator. We have one President at a time, so it’s the President’s job to deliver those messages.” Read More.

Obama Opens a Foreign Tour in Afghanistan (NYT)
obama_in_afgan_inside.jpg
Senator Barack Obama at Bagram air base in Afghanistan with, from left: William
B. Wood, the American ambassador to Afghanistan; Senator Chuck Hagel; Sgt. Maj.
Vincent Camacho; Senator Jack Reed; and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser.
(U.S. Military, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

U.S. Doctors for Africa to Host African First Ladies Health Summit

African First Ladies Coming Soon to LA

By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, July 25, 2008

New York (Tadias) – U.S. Doctors for Africa (USDFA) announced earlier this week that it will be hosting the first Annual African First Ladies Health Summit in Los Angeles in April 2009.

USDFA in collaboration with African Synergy, an NGO founded by African First Ladies, has formed a strategic partnership to efficiently mobilize and deliver needed medical resources to African countries. The summit will highlight current and prospective projects to be taken by USDFA and African Synergy.

“This is probably one of the most empowering initiative we have ever been involved in,” says Ted Alemayhu (pictured above), Executive Chairman and CEO of USDFA. “What is exciting about this particular partnership is that the entire movement is initiated and mobilized by the First Ladies themselves. And it is a great testimony, commitment, and dedication that needs to be encouraged and supported by all stake-holders around the world.”

The summit is held in collaboration with the African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering, an NGO founded by African First Ladies. Mr. Alemayhu described this strategic partnership as a way to re-ignite the dialogue and work on key African health initiatives. “It would help to mobilize women’s strength & commitment to a better Africa” he said.

USDFA seeks to help advance the First Ladies efforts to create an effective and sustainable complementary approach in the fight against public health issues affecting Africa’s development.

The first Annual African First Ladies Health Summit will particularly focus on the threat of HIV/AIDS on children in Africa. “USDFA is prepared to be engaged in the helping the people of Africa with the full support and direct assistant & participation of the First Ladies” Mr. Alemayhu told Tadias. “USDFA and African Synergy share the common belief that healthcare is a basic human right, and recognize that a healthy population is essential for growth, development, and prosperity in every society.”

2005-09-15_usa-pp01.jpg
Above: (Standing, left to right) First Lady of Kenya, Mrs
Lucy Kibaki; Mrs Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba, First Lady of
Gabon; Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director; Mrs
Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of the Republic of
Rwanda and President of the Organization of African
First Ladies against HIV/AIDS; Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa,
First Lady of Zambia; Mrs Toure Lobbo Traore, First
Lady of Mali; (seated, left to right) Madame Denise
Nkurunziza, First Lady of Burundi; Mrs Viviane Wade,
First Lady of Senegal; and UNICEF Deputy Executive
Director Rima Salah together at the launch of the
“Treat every child as your own” campaign, an initiative
of the Organization of African First Ladies against
HIV/AIDS, in New York on 15 September.
Photo credit: UNAIDS/Peter Serling

In addition to the summit, USDFA will mobilize volunteers and other resources from the United States and strategically distribute these resources in regions where they are most needed, in accordance with African Synergy’s recommendations.

African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering is a non-profit, non governmental organization that is recognized under the laws of all 22 African member countries. It’s strategic objectives include: mobilizing African societies and the International Community; Contributing to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals in Africa; contributing to the curbing of maternal, neonatal, infant and child mortality in Africa; establishing a solidarity fund to support the different efforts being deployed against HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases; contributing to the quest for peace and the alleviation of the suffering of victims of conflict and crisis in Africa; and participating in the fight against poverty and malnutrition.

US Doctors For Africa (USDFA) is a humanitarian organization committed to increasing access to medical care for diseases and conditions affecting the people of Africa. By mobilizing and distributing medical manpower, mobile clinics, supplies, and equipment to medical institutions throughout the continent of Africa. USDFA is dedicated to providing medical and preventative healthcare and capacity-building to regions of Africa without available medical services.


Additional information about the Summit schedule will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Related:
Hot Shots From USDFA’s New York Gala (Tadias)
ted3_cover4.jpg

Photo Journal: Ted’s Keynote at Columbia (Tadias)
ted3_cover.jpg

USDFA to Deploy Mobile Clinics to Ethiopia (Tadias Exclusive)
m_clinic_lg.jpg

Ethiopian sues Xerox for £8million after bullying led to suicide bid

Above: Canary Wharf at twilight. (This work is licensed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)

Ethiopian sues Xerox for £8million after bullying led to suicide bid (Daily Mail)

By Daily Mail Reporter

22nd July 2008

A Canary Wharf worker is claiming £8 million in compensation at an industrial tribunal today for the racist ordeal he claims he suffered while working for giant photocopying firm Xerox.

Engineer Nardos Mulugeta, 40, from Ethiopia, told how he was driven to attempt suicide twice after being routinely abused by a colleague who openly expressed racist views about ‘foreigners’ and support for the British National Party.

The bully wrote the word ‘Go’ in signing-in and job request books against Mr Mulugeta’s name and said he was ‘lucky he’s working with us – his grandfather used to work as a servant’, it was claimed.

Mr Mulugeta said bosses refused to let him attend a counselling appointment when he was referred by his GP. Read More.

Three Young Immigrants Make a Fashion Statement

Three young immigrants make a fashion statement (Medill Reports)

by Alysia Patterson
Jul 17, 2008

WASHINGTON — In the world of African affairs, Ethiopia and Eritrea are historically unfriendly neighbors. But in the fashion world style transcends geopolitical tussles. Three young African immigrants — one from Eritrea and two from Ethiopia — joined forces to create a t-shirt line that fuses together their old and new cultures. And they’ve just found out it’s a winning combination. Click here to watch a video clip.

Related: Bernos Tees Blend Hip and Culture (Tadias)

Meditations – The Dream Deferred: Re-conceptualizing Class and Politics in America

Tadias OP-ED

By Zelela Menker

Published: Monday, July 21, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Patrick Brennan is a 33 year old White male from Kansas City, Missouri. Although he grew up in the Midwest he currently lives in New York City and has developed a strong affinity for diversity. Patrick moved to New York approximately three years ago because, “[he] was tired of being around people who shared the same views and wanted to really be exposed to diverse people and cultures”. Ironically, however, Patrick does not have any significant interactions with the “diverse people” that initially attracted him to the city. In fact, the extents of his cross-cultural engagements are mostly limited to business transactions, and the daily hellos and goodbyes exchanged with his door man who he suspects to be Polish.

At first glance, Patrick’s overpriced and beautifully decorated loft is impressive; his life appears to be void of the tensions associated with every day life. Nevertheless, the truth is there is more than what meets the eye. Patrick’s lifestyle is in fact symptomatic of some of the same deprivations that plague the lives of the poor and the working poor throughout America. Patrick’s workdays are long, he wakes up at 5 A.M. in order to commute work, he suffers from stress and feels overworked, he rarely has time for family and friends, when he eats he has a majority of his meals away from home, and he has not been able to get the exercise he needs.

The irony in Patrick’s “deprivation” of course is that it has not been caused by a shortage of social and material resources, but rather his desire to attain more. He informs me that although he is financially fit to retire he chooses to work and that he is extremely proud of his accomplishments. As a successful trader at a top financial firm Patrick states, “it is has been hard to find time for the things that matter most”. He elaborates how he has had to consistently sacrifice personal relationships, hobbies, and even his health to achieve financial success stating, “I have come a long way …I have had to sacrifice a lot …but my choices have paid off”.

The belief that one’s social and economic status is consistent with one’s personal drive and hard work has been a dominant ideology in contemporary American society. Thus, inequalities in education, income, and healthcare are often perceived to result from individual victories and failures. Concurrently, political arguments and decisions pertaining to social and distributive justice have been formulated in relation to ideals of individualism, equal opportunity, and free choice.

In the United States, advocates of free choice have synonymously been considered to be true lovers of justice. Historically, a majority of Americans revere and are intoxicated with the promise of freedom—and I like Patrick Brenan am no exception. However, I also believe that there is a particular fundamental problem in developing understandings of poverty from the premise of “to each his due”: in matters of survival, life and death, there is no fixed line that distinguishes between coercion and free choice.

In my opinion developing political based arguments and understandings of wealth and poverty from individualistic ideals are extremely flawed and problematic. Within the romantic ideals of individualism, equal opportunity, and free choice co-exist an assortment of problems regarding public conceptions of hard work and free will. Inequalities cannot be understood merely within the context of personal desert and merit because individual choices are made within the context of dynamic and complex relationships.

Taking an individualistic perspective to understanding the vast disparities that exist in the United States today is inaccurate and incomplete because it does not consider the restrictions that social structures and political institutions place on the lives of the poor. I would argue that for a majority of people in the United States, life opportunities and “deviant lifestyle choices” are pushed upon individuals as a result of social, political, and economic circumstances. Within the context of poverty, the lack of adequate employment, safe housing, education, and access to health care all take a negative toll on the capacity of individuals to make free choices if and/or when they are able to act at all.

Currently the face of poverty in America continues to be portrayed to mirror problematic stereotypes of the social welfare queen and Juan Does. However, a closer analysis of class structures in the United States suggest otherwise. Despite popular notions, it’s important to note that an estimated two-thirds of the poor in the United States are White. This misrepresentation highlights an important issue that is often times entirely overlooked if not insufficiently explored.

While minorities are disproportionately negatively impacted by poverty, “The Poor” is not a homogenous or static group; it is not a class that has inherently been raced, sexed and (hyper)sexualized, it does not share a distinctive set of characteristics, and the individuals that make up this group have not somehow inherited and internalized dysfunctional values that have claimed and marked their future generations for suffering. The individuals currently accessing the limited social welfare programs in America are not aspiring free riders, but rather encompass many hardworking individuals and families coming from diverse backgrounds struggling to survive in a nation with a political system that is highly defective because it depends on preserving gross inequalities in the distribution and play of economic and political power. Capitalism being the foundation if not at the core of the American Dream has played an integral role in shaping social and political structures. The problem with this is that the success of the western political capitalist culture in the United States, and the validation of that American Dream, both heavily depend on the continued exploitation of marginalized groups.

It is important to remember that flawed public policies are not informed by a fixed or divinely inspired doctrine, but rather have been formulated and negotiated within the context of our misguided perceptions and representations of social, political, and economic realities. In order to change current living conditions it will not merely require that we critically assess and reassess flawed socio-economic infrastructures and amend labor laws, but also that we take look at ourselves to change our visions and aspirations of and for America. Some of the revolutionaries of the Civil Rights movement stated that justice can never be secured as long as American society ceases to exist – and I agree. This is not to say that there is something inherently wrong with America or Americans, but rather to highlight that for most America is not merely a dream deferred, but a nation desperately waiting and in need of collectively being re-considered, re-conceptualized, and re-imagined.

A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

—-
About the Author: Zelela Menker was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved to the United States to attend Mount Holyoke College (MHC) in South Hadley, MA where she majored in Critical Social Thought (CST). She lives and works in New York City.

By the same author: OP-ED: Why I’m supporting Obama (Tadias)

Ethiopian Sounds to Be Served With Ribs

Above: Hit Me with your Rhythm StickMulatu Astatqe on
vibes at the Ethiopiques concert in London. (Time.com)

Ethiopian sounds to be served with ribs (The Columbus Dispatch)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

By Gary Budzak

Music from the “horn of Africa” will be among the sounds heard at the Jazz & Rib Fest next weekend.

The Either/Orchestra, a 10-piece jazz band from Cambridge, Mass., which last performed in Columbus in 1991, will return with four musicians originally from Ethiopia.

The band’s guests will be Mulatu Astatke (vibes, keyboards), Setegn Atanaw (masinko, a one-string violin), Minale Dagnew (krar, a five-string lyre) and Hana Shenkute (vocals). The band will play on the Bicentennial Park Stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

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Above Left: The Either/Orchestra with leader Russ Gershon at center, in striped shirt.
(Photo:Eric Antoniou).
Middle: Mulatu Astatke. Right: David Sanborn

“Most people hearing Ethiopian music blindfolded, so to speak, think that it’s some sort of combination between African and Arabic music,” said Russ Gershon, the orchestra’s saxophonist and leader, in a recent interview.

“When you think of Ethiopian music and have the Either/Orchestra play it, you have the African rhythms, the (Amharic-language) singing, jazzy horn solos and Latin grooves,” Gershon said.

“Both Latin and jazz music come from Africa to begin with. So American musicians, we’re heirs to African music. But on the other hand, Ethiopians have been very strongly influenced by American music, so it really mixes together very well.” Read More.

Ethiopia’s Unlikely Boxer Fights For Gold

Above: 24-year-old Ethiopian boxer Molla Getachew is preparing
for the Beijing summer Olympics and faces the biggest challenge
of his career. (Photo: Euro Sport)

Ethiopia’s unlikely boxer fights for gold (NBC)

Friday, July 18, 2008

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – Ethiopia’s runners have won at least one gold medal at almost every Olympics since 1960. The country’s other athletes have been shut out.

Now a member of the Ethiopian team for the Beijing Games intends to fight his way onto the podium, against overwhelming odds.

Molla Getachew is Ethiopia’s only Olympic boxer, an anomaly in a country known for its superstar distance runners. His opponents are the last in a long line of problems standing between him and a gold, including a lack of equipment, no professionals to train against and a disapproving mother.

But when the Beijing Games open in August, he will represent Ethiopia in the 112-lb. flyweight division, a weight class dominated by well-equipped fighters from Mexico, Thailand and Japan.

“I feel sad because I’m the only boxer representing my country at the Olympics,” said the 22-year-old, who spends four hours a day training at an airless, grimy gym in the Ethiopian capital.
Read More.

Commentary: Obama Cover Has Bite, Benefits

Obama Cover Has Bite, Benefits (Cagle Post)

by Clarence Page
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I winced. I’m sure that’s what the New Yorker’s esteemed editor David Remnick expected me to do when I saw the Barack and Michelle Obama caricature cover that everybody’s talking about.

Every so often the quiet little liberal-leaning literary and cultural magazine presents a cover that is intended like a high-class editorial cartoon to startle us. Back in 1993, for example, during a time of high tensions between blacks and Jews, cartoonist Art Spiegelman raised hackles from some and heartfelt praise from others with a cover that depicted a black woman kissing an Orthodox Jewish man.

The controversial Obama cover by artist Barry Blitt is just as startling as that earlier cover, but not nearly as clear in its meaning. If a casual observer didn’t know that the New Yorker was a liberal literary and cultural magazine, they might easily believe Blitt’s drawing was trying to promote the right-wing smears that it intended to lampoon.

It shows Obama in the Oval Office dressed in Arabic robes. He is exchanging a congratulatory fist bump with his wife Michelle, who is dressed like a 1960s-style militant with a huge Afro, combat boots, camouflage pants, assault rifle and a bandolier of bullets. Osama bin Laden looks on placidly from a picture frame over the presidential fireplace in which an American flag burns like a yule log.

Editor Remnick told the New York Times that, “The cover takes a lot of distortions, lies and misconceptions about the Obamas and puts a mirror up to them to show them for what they are.”

He compared Blitt’s drawing to Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert who lampoons the worldview of conservative talk show hosts like Fox News… READ MORE

Ethiopia: Another Nation Under a Groove

Above: With backing from the Either/Orchestra, Alemayehu
Eshete performs on the London stage. (Photo:TIME.com)

Ethiopia: Another Nation Under a Groove (Time.com)

By MICHAEL BRUNTON / LONDON

Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2008

The term ‘world music’ suggests sounds that are esoteric and unfamiliar — neither of which applies to Ethiopiques, one of the hippest acts of the summer of 08 that recently played both London’s high-tone Barbican theater and the rather more déclassé Glastonbury Festival. And even though the music is certainly not from round these parts, its hooks and grooves are ones any veteran soul-boy or jazzer can relate to: funky brass, swirling organ, growling sax, rippling congas, ecstatic vocals — this is not the sound of a national culture struggling to make itself heard over the global noise of pop. Rather, these are artists who 40 years ago itched to be part of it, who dressed like doo-wop boys, played funk, jazz and RnB in Ethiopia’s hotel bars and nightclubs and were stars of a scene that, for a while, was known as “Swinging Addis.”

Onstage, the natty-tailored, balding guy on vibes is jazz arranger Mulatu Astatqé, who once played with Duke Ellington. The priest-like one in the robes is Mahmoud Ahmed, who became Ethiopia’s most popular singer, and was once the spitting image of the young Sam Cooke. Alèmayèhu Eshèté still has the yelp (if not quite the glorious pompadour) of his James Brown days. And, draped in his colorful military cape and now somewhat mangey, lion’s mane crown, the shamanic Gétatchèw Mèkurya would catch the eye in any age, a Sun Ra for the Horn of Africa and beyond.

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Above: Singers Mahmoud Ahmed, Tlahoun Gessesse, Tefera Kassa, Essatu Tessemma,
and Tezera Hayle-Michael were stars of Ethiopia’s club scene.

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The Swinging Sixties: The Police Band strut their stuff in 1965/6.

Performing together for the very first time, these four artists, backed by the Boston-based Either/Orchestra, are playing a series of gigs this summer under the banner of Ethiopiques, the title of a growing catalogue of recordings from the Swinging Addis days unearthed by Francis Falceto, a French promoter of avant-garde and world music for whom this music has been a passion since he first heard Ahmed’s record Erh Mhla Mhla played at a party in 1984. “I sent tapes of it to all my radio and DJ friends and they all replied ‘What is that? Where is it from?’ Nobody knew it, not even those specializing in African music.” Starting at Paris’s only Ethiopian restaurant, Falceto set out to find Ahmed and to rescue as many recordings of the music he could lay hands on. Along the way he has come to understand the remarkable story of its creation.

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Above Left: Supremely Talented – The style and sound of singer Feqerte Dessalegn
(1966/67). Photographs: Coll.Ethiopiques, from the book Abyssinie Swing — A Pictorial
History of Modern Ethiopian Music by Francis Falceto.
Right: Wowing the Crowd – Singer
Mahmoud Ahmed in his soul-man days.

Falceto’s first trip to Ethiopia in 1985 was not encouraging. Eleven years of military dictatorship under Colonel Mengistu and a dusk-to-dawn curfew had all but extinguished Addis Ababa’s nightlife. The few hotels in the capital offering live entertainment were mostly the haunt of business and diplomatic flotsam and hookers, while the music was desultory generic pop, played on cheap synthesizers. “It took several trips and several more years before I understood what had happened,” says Falceto. “These big bands were dead. They just didn’t exist any more.” Incredibly, the vibrancy of Addis’s musical life in the 60′s and 70′s owed its all to the municipal and military bands that were sponsored by the emperor Haile Selassie until his overthrow in 1974. Read More.
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Related: Golden Era: Éthiopiques Coming to America (Tadias)
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Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke

Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke (NYT)

By BILL CARTER
Published: July 15, 2008

What’s so funny about Barack Obama? Apparently not very much, at least not yet.

On Monday, The New Yorker magazine tried dipping its toe into broad satire involving Senator Obama with a cover image depicting the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and his wife, Michelle, as fist-bumping, flag-burning, bin Laden-loving terrorists in the Oval Office. The response from both Democrats and Republicans was explosive.

Comedy has been no easier for the phalanx of late-night television hosts who depend on skewering political leaders for a healthy quotient of their nightly monologues. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and others have delivered a nightly stream of jokes about the Republican running for president — each one a variant on the same theme: John McCain is old.

But there has been little humor about Mr. Obama: about his age, his speaking ability, his intelligence, his family, his physique. And within a late-night landscape dominated by white hosts, white writers, and overwhelmingly white audiences, there has been almost none about his race.

“We’re doing jokes about people in his orbit, not really about him,” said Mike Sweeney, the head writer for Mr. O’Brien on “Late Night.” The jokes will come, representatives of the late-night shows said, when Mr. Obama does or says something that defines him — in comedy terms.

“We’re carrion birds,” said Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” on the Comedy Central channel. “We’re sitting up there saying ‘Does he seem weak? Is he dehydrated yet? Let’s attack.’ ”

But so far, no true punch lines have landed.

Why? The reason cited by most of those involved in the shows is that a fundamental factor is so far missing in Mr. Obama: There is no comedic “take” on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton’s womanizing, or President Bush’s goofy bumbling or Al Gore’s robotic persona.

“The thing is, he’s not buffoonish in any way,” said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson’s monologues in the waning days of the Johnson administration and has lambasted every presidential candidate since, most recently for Mr. Letterman. “He’s not a comical figure,” Mr. Barry said. Read More.

VIDEO | Third Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum

By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, July 16, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The third Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum, organized by The Ethiopian American (an online Diaspora magazine) and Precise Consult International (a consulting firm specializing in trade promotion, business management, and private sector development in Ethiopia), was held at George Washington University on Saturday, July 12, 2008. Here is the event video.

Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum – Invest in Ethiopia


Third Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum

By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The third Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum, organized by The Ethiopian American (an online Diaspora magazine) and Precise Consult International (a consulting firm specializing in trade promotion, business management, and private sector development in Ethiopia), will be held at George Washington University on Saturday, July 12, 2008.

The event, which aims to attract Diaspora investors by making a business case for investing in Ethiopia, will be closed to the public and attendance is by invitation only.

“Since the overall objective is to attract serious potential investors and help convert their interest into tangible projects in Ethiopia, the conference will be by invitation only and targeting specific groups of the Diaspora with the most inclination to invest in Ethiopia”, said the program literature sent to Tadias Magazine.

“These groups include Diaspora entrepreneurs in the U.S and working professionals skilled in industry, the services sectors, and information technology, among others.”

The forum is sponsored by George Washigton University, USAID and VEGA (Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance)’s AGOA + project in Ethiopia.

A VEGA newsletter earlier this year cited Victor and Lily Bag Factory, the first joint American and Ethiopian owned factory, as one of their prominent projects in Ethiopia. American businessman Victor Ozeri has extensive investment experience in factories in China, which supply the U.S. market with bags and sports uniforms. (See the VEGA newsletter at vegaalliance.org)

The forum’s first panel topic seeks to address how best to integrate government and Diaspora developmental organizations to boost Ethiopian economy. Featured panelists include: Dr. Liesl Riddle from The George Washington University School of Business; Dr. Elizabeth Chakao from the George Washington University Department of Geography; Mr. Thomas Debass, Senior Advisor for Remittances & Diaspora; and Mr. Henok Assefa, Managing Partner, Precise Consult International PLC.

The second panel topic will consist of discussions regarding how to start and operate a business in Ethiopia. Featured panelists include: Mr. Yemiru Chanyalew, CEO, eVentive LLC; Mr. Michael Gizaw, Managing Director for Africa, New Frontier Capital; Mr. Bob Rabatsky, Fintrac (USAID Agribusiness Trade Expansion in Ethiopia); and Mr. Addis Alemayehu, Chief of Party, USAID VEGA Ethiopia AGOA+.


Third Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum. At George Washington University, Jack Morton Auditorium (2121 Eye Street NW, Washington DC, USA). July 12, 2008. For details of the business forum or to RSVP, contact Yohannes Assefa at defar@att.net.

African Immigrants Among Obama’s Enthusiastic Backers

Above: African immigrants who live here and back Obama
include Mike Endale, left, and Teddy Fikre, right, with
youngsters, left to right, Ye-Amlak Zegeye, Leyu
Negussie and Yared Zegeye. In the background are
Yemiserach Endale, left, and Mistella Mekonnen.
Photo Credit: By Richard A. Lipski — The Washington Post Photo

African Immigrants Among Obama’s Enthusiastic Backers (Washington Post)

By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 6, 2008; Page A08

A catered fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama was held recently at Duke’s City, an upscale restaurant and bar nestled amid the hip new condominiums in the District’s U Street corridor, where up-and-coming white professionals are slowly taking over an area that was once mostly black.

But the owner of Duke’s City, Donato Sinaci, is not one of Obama’s many young, white supporters. And the host of the event, Michael Endale, is not a native-born black American. They are members of Ethiopians for Obama, one of several campaign groups made up of African immigrants who are rallying around the first black American to win a major party’s presidential primary, and the son of a Kenyan immigrant.

From coast to coast, Somali, Ethiopian, Nigerian and Kenyan Americans are knocking on the doors of their fellow African immigrants, registering new citizens to vote, raising money and preaching Obama’s mantra of hope and change. They hope that his prominence will change their status as one of the nation’s least-recognized immigrant groups, and that he will one day provide aid to help ease the turmoil and poverty in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

At a Caribou Coffee shop on East West Highway in Silver Spring, where Somalis and Ethiopians often gather, Ahmed Eyow, a Somali, said supporting Obama is a no-brainer.

“Obama is one generation away from Africa,” said Eyow, who immigrated to the United States nearly 30 years ago. “I have nothing against my brothers and sisters, black people who were born here, but his father is like me. His father was an immigrant. I can relate to him the way I can relate to my own children. He’s almost like my son.”

Eyow and five friends who joined him said Somalis who were unconcerned with past presidential elections are now deeply engaged, following every development on cable news channels.

At the Ghana Cafe in Adams Morgan, owner Anthony Opare said enthusiastic customers are urging that a brewer in Kenya change the name of its popular beer from Tusker to Obama. “The fact that he’s been able to come this far has opened doors for Africans and African descents,” Opare said. “To the African, it tells us that . . . one can work hard and get whatever you want. This is the land of opportunity.” Read More.

Tourists flock to Ethiopia to see Ark of Covenant’s home

Above: Ethiopians beleive that the true Arc of the Covenant
is housed in this building at Saint Mary’s of Zion in Axum.

Tourists flock to Ethiopia to see Ark of Covenant’s home (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

By Ron Csillag
RELIGION NEWS SERVICE

July 5, 2008

AXUM, Ethiopia – “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.”

Such was God’s commandment to Moses in the book of Exodus after delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Along with the Holy Grail (said to be the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper), the fabled Ark of the Covenant has become not only an icon of modern culture, thanks mainly to Indiana Jones, but the most revered religious relic of all time.
And in Ethiopia, people really believe it’s here, resting in the Chapel of the Tablet in this northern town just miles from the troubled border with Eritrea.

Ark lore runs deep in this country. Copies of a 1993 book by British journalist Graham Hancock, “The Sign and the Seal,” are displayed everywhere. And every church in Ethiopia has a set of tabots, replicas of the Ten Commandments that were once housed in the Ark.

For one of the poorest countries on Earth to lay claim to the Ark does much to boost its image, not to mention its tourism.

The Ark was the portable wooden chest, gilded inside and out, adorned with cherubs and topped with a throne, that was constructed by the Israelites to house the Ten Commandments during their 40 years of desert wanderings to the Promised Land.

But it was also a kind of supercharged electric capacitor – a telephone line directly to God, who instructed that if the device was set up just right, “There, I will meet with thee.”

Whoever possessed the Ark was invincible. “Biblical and other sources speak of the Ark blazing with fire and light . . . stopping rivers, blasting whole armies,” Hancock writes in his book.

The Bible says the Philistines had it for a while but were smitten by “swellings” for their troubles.

Taken to King Solomon’s first Jewish temple, it lay in the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. But according to Jewish tradition, it vanished during (or after) the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C., creating one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

Except in Ethiopia, where many educated people believe the real Ark rests in the Chapel of the Tablet, where it was moved from an adjacent 10th-century cathedral because divine “heat” from the relic had cracked the stones of its previous sanctum.

As the story goes, the Queen of Sheba, one of Ethiopia’s first rulers, traveled to Jerusalem to partake of King Solomon’s wisdom. On her way home, she bore the king’s son, Menelik.

After Menelik went to Jerusalem to visit his father, Solomon gave him a copy of the Ark and commanded that officials of his kingdom travel back to Ethiopia to settle there.

But the royal entourage that was traveling to Ethiopia could not bear to be away from the Ark, so they switched the copy with the original and smuggled the real thing out of the country. Menelik learned of this only on his way home and reasoned that since the Ark’s powers hadn’t destroyed his entourage, it must be God’s will that it remain in Ethiopia. Read More.

Hot Blog & Hot Shots: D.C. Soccer Tournament

Hot Shots: D.C. Soccer Tournament

By Tadias Staff
Photos by TF & Tadias

(Updated Monday, July 7, 2008)

Washington, DC (Tadias) – North America’s largest African soccer tournament, hosted by the Ethiopian Sport Federation of North America (ESFNA) was held in the nation’s capital this year. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan area is home to the second largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia, and tens of thousands of Ethiopian immigrants attended the event on July 4th weekend.

This year’s vendors were particularly enthusiastic about Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Products sold in booths at the tournament site ranged from Obama t-shirts, a photo booth with Obama wearing a traditional Ethiopian shawl, and even Obama juice.

Other vendors used their booth to host traditional coffee ceremonies, sell children’s books, and food while music blasted simultaneously from competing vendor booths. A large tent had been set up at the center of the vendors area where people would flock to take cover from occasional rain.

Friday nights line-up of music artists at RKF stadium included Tilahoun Gesesse, Mahmoud Ahmed, Kuku Sebsibe, Gossaye, and Mike-E.

Here are hot shots.

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Above: Ababa Tesafye attended the event as guest of honor. He celebrated his
birthday on July 4th. The announcer did not mention the beloved children’s television
entertainer’s age. People familiar with Ababa Tesfaye say he does not know the year
he was born.

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At the Ethiopians for Obama booth. We even spotted a vendor selling Obama Juice.
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At the international Ethiopian Women Association booth.
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From Left: Meron, Asse, Tseday (Tadias), Liben (Tadias)
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Related: D.C. Soccer Tournament to Offer Family Friendly Celebration

Opinion: Ethiopia’s Joshua Generation

Above: Kids with Yichalal sign at the current soccer
tournament in D.C. North America’s largest African soccer
tournament is underway. Photo/TF

Opinion: Ethiopia’s Joshua Generation

By Teddy Fikre

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2008

Washington, DC (Tadias) – During the most trying times, when hope is a glimmer that seems too distant to be tangible, it is our children that serve as our bridge to hope. We—Ethiopian-Americans—immigrated to the United States for this very purpose. As the generation who benefited from the toil of our parents, we often don’t fully appreciate the tremendous sacrifices our parents have made so that we could attain the American dream. Not only should we never forget the sacrifices of our parents, we should extend every effort ourselves so that the our future generations can ascend higher. This will be our legacy as a people; this will be our legacy as Ethiopian-Americans.

Individually, we have some of the brightest minds; we have attended some of the finest universities and amassed a wealth of intellectual capital. However, if we do not come together and work for the common good, we will continue to be lone men and women on an island. Solidarity—one that transcends gender, ethnicity and religion—should be the clarion call for all Ethiopians. There are untold hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians in the United States ; yet, our inability to coalesce and work together for the common good from coast to coast in America has prevented us from building a coalition for the betterment of all. Whether it is socially, economically, or politically, our inability to unite is a detriment for us; more importantly, it can be a detriment for our children and generations yet to be born.

I was reminded of this paradigm when Ethiopians for Obama deployed to Lideta Mariam and Kidus Gabriel Church to register Ethiopian-Americans to vote. Once the registration drive was completed at Lideta Mariam, I headed over to the Kidus Gabriel Church for the second registration drive. After the registration table was set up inside the church, I noticed how many Ethiopian children were there. One particular girl, 4 year – old , Hanna, came over and asked me what I was doing. Here was a child–barely old enough to count to 10– asking me what a registration was. After I explained what we were doing, she said “I want to help” and proceeded to bring over more of her friends. Another amazing girl, 7 year old Merekat and 5 year old Leah, came over to the table. They asked me what they could do to help, and I told them I needed people to come over and register to vote.

In one of the most amazing scenes I have ever witnessed, each one of these girls started pulling random men and women by the hands and bringing them to the table to register as the church was letting out!! It was touching; there they were–Hanna, Merekat, and Leah, the Joshua generation—leading men and women by the hand to register. All told, these amazing girls helped register five Ethiopian-Americans and sign up 10 volunteers. The lessons we could learn from these children is beyond words ; sometimes age does not add wisdom but pessimism. If we observe our children, we will see in their spirits the true soul of God. A spirit that does not ask about ethnicity, religion, or any other intangible barrier that serves to separate one from another instead of working for the common good.

We are indeed our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and we should be reaching out to every single man and woman to encourage them to take their rightful place among the ranks of citizenship by registering to vote. Engagement in the American political process is not just our privilege – it is our right. The time is now and the moment is ours to make a difference is this our United States of America . Barack Obama isn’t just asking us to believe in his ability to change Washington ; he’s asking us to believe in our own ability to do so. The time really is now and the moment really is ours – ahun kalohne, meche naw emihonew?

Let us all follow our Joshua Generation, heed this call to action and respond with a resounding “Yechalal .

—-
Please join Ethiopians for Obama: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ethiopiansforobama/

Golden Era: Éthiopiques Coming to America

Above: Getatchew Mekurya. Lincoln Center Out of Doors
presents some of Ethiopia’s most celebrated musicians in collaboration
with western Jazz and Rock artists. Mahmoud Ahmed and Alèmayèhu
Eshèté perform with The Either/Orchestra. Wednesday, August 20, 6-10PM.
Damrosch Park Bandshell. © Photos col. ETHIOPIQU Amicalement.

Extra Golden: Mahmoud Ahmed and Alèmayèhu Eshèté with The Either/Orchestra
Getatchew Mekurya with The Ex

alemayehu_eshete_cover1.jpg
Alèmayèhu Eshèté

Published: Friday, June 27, 2008

New York —The 38th season of Lincoln Center Out of Doors—one of the longest-running free summer festivals in the U.S.—opens on August 7 and will run until August 24 in Damrosch Park and the South Plaza of Lincoln Center. Among the exciting events scheduled is a concert on August 20, beginning at 6 p.m., featuring some of Africa’s most noted musical artists: Ethiopia’s Mahmoud Ahmed and Alèmayèhu Eshèté with The Either/Orchestra and legendary saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya joining forces with Dutch band The Ex.

Mahmoud Ahmed and Alèmayèhu Eshèté with The Either/Orchestra (New York debut)
One of the most beloved singers of Ethiopia’s “golden era” of the late 60s and early 70s, Mahmoud Ahmed’s brassy, electric urban pop is swinging and hypnotic, heart-rending and funky.

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Mahmoud Ahmed. © Photos col. ETHIOPIQU Amicalement

A true Ethiopian legend, Alèmayèhu Eshèté is often described as the “Ethiopian James Brown,” or “Abyssinian Elvis,” thanks to his wild and electrifying stage performances. The ten-piece Either/Orchestra, founded in 1985 by saxophonist/composer Russ Gershon, has earned a reputation for its fearless repertoire, top-shelf ensemble play, highly talented soloists and boundless desire to connect with audiences. In 2004 the E/O became the first US big band to perform in Ethiopia since Duke Ellington’s in 1973. Their Ethiopiques: Live in Addis concert and CD began a series of collaborations with the top names in Ethiopian music, reviving and updating the classic Ethiopian groove of the 60s and 70s, most recently featured on a new DVD of a collaboration with Mahmoud Ahmed.

Gétatchèw Mèkurya with The Ex (New York debut)
1214635197_6238-300.jpg
Celebrated Ethiopian saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya makes his New York debut
with Dutch avant-punk band The Ex on Wednesday, August 20, 6-10 PM. Damrosch
Park Bandshell.

Gétatchèw Mèkurya, the King of Ethiopian saxophone, is a real giant, both physically and musically. Seventy three years old, but still in full voice, with his own powerfully distinctive style of playing, he is the inventor of a musical style called the Shellela, which originates from a heroic war chant, translated to the saxophone.

The Ex, Holland’s legendary avant-improv-world-punkband, has been crossing borders for more than 28 years. Discordant, highly rhythmic guitars and the rolling, almost African drumming style give The Ex’s music its special character. After touring Ethiopia twice, in 2004 The Ex celebrated their 25th musical anniversary and invited Gétatchèw to join them in the Netherlands. The resultant pairing, featured on their new DVD, is both thrilling and unique: Gétatchèw’s melodies and solos mesh with The Ex’s rhythm, noise and vocals, supported by a guest horn section, like they were made for each other.

—-
THE CONCERT IS FREE and TAKES PLACE AT LINCOLN CENTER’S DAMROSCH PARK BANDSHELL, West 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue; easy access via the No. 1 IRT (66th Street Station) and A, B, C, D and No. 1 trains at 59th St/Columbus Circle.

Ethiopia Bans Exhibition of Nude Photography

Ethiopia bans nude pics (News24, South Africa)

June 27, 2008

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia has slapped a ban on what had been billed as the Horn of Africa nation’s first exhibition of nude photography, the photographer behind the show said on Wednesday.

Biniam Mengesha, 28, told AFP he had been planning to show 45 photos at the unprecedented exhibition – titled “Black Diamonds” – in the capital Addis Ababa from Friday through to July 4.

“Authorities from the ministry of culture asked me to submit my photos before the exhibition was inaugurated. Afterwards, they said: ‘This isn’t art, it’s pornography’,” Biniam said.

“The photographs are fine art and include partial nudity aided by digital photography. Had it not been censored, it would have been the first in our country.”

Biniam said he is arranging to show his images elsewhere in Africa in two months time. Culture ministry officials declined to comment.

Ethiopia is a largely conservative society, whose 81 million people are mostly Orthodox Christians and Muslims.

Alexandria Police Make Homicide Arrest

Above: Mesfin Hussin, 35, of 3001 Park Center Drive, was
charged with Murder.

Alexandria Police Make Homicide Arrest (ALEXANDRIA POLICE DEPARTMENT)

JUNE 23, 2008

Alexandria police have identified the victim of yesterday’s homicide as Hawlet Mohammed, a 27 year-old Alexandria woman. Police were called to the 3000 block of Park Center Drive around 11:55 p.m. for the report of a deceased female. The victim died at the scene.

The victim suffered trauma to the upper body. An autopsy performed today has determined the manner of death to be homicide.

Alexandria detectives arrested an Alexandria man for the murder of Hawlet Mohammed earlier today. Mesfin Hussin, 35, of 3001 Park Center Drive, was charged with Murder. Mr. Hussin is the husband of Ms. Mohammed.

This is the first homicide in Alexandria this year. There were eight homicides in Alexandria last year.

Ethiopia Defeated Mauritania in World Cup Qualifier

Above: Morocco’s Benjalloun Abdessalam (C) fights for the
ball with Ethiopia’s Grum Siyoum (R) during their 2010 World
Cup qualifying soccer match in Casablanca May 31, 2008.
REUTERS/Rafael Marchante(MOROCCO)

Ethiopia get off the mark (FIFA)

Saturday 14 June 2008

On matchday three of Africa’s second qualifying round for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, Ethiopia defeated Mauritania 1-0 yesterday in the battle of the bottom sides in Group 8.

The win gives the Walyas their first three points of the campaign, although they still have it all to do to catch joint leaders Morocco and Rwanda, who put their 100% record on the line when they go head-to-head on 14 June in Kigali.

The 40,000 crowd at the Olympic stadium in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott witnessed a fiercely fought game between two sides desperate to get their first points on the board. In the end, however, a late lapse in concentration by the locals allowed Ethiopia to steal all three points with a Said Salahddine strike two minutes into added time.

day3_game4_new.jpg
(AFP)

Despite moving into third place in the group, the Walyas still have a negative goal difference of -3. However, it is marginally better than that of the hapless Mauritanians (-7), who remain rooted to the foot of the table with three defeats from three games. Read More.

Related: FIFA Suspends Ethiopia With Immediate Effect
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Surgeon saved an Ethiopian boy who was born ‘inside-out’

Above: Zerihun Muche with his mother Turieh Berihun

Ethiopian boy who was born ‘inside-out’ was saved by late surgeon husband of actress Natascha McElhone (Daily Mail)

By Daily Mail Reporter
19th June 2008

An Ethiopian boy who was born ‘inside-out’ has become the living legacy of actress Natascha McElhone’s plastic surgeon husband, who died of a heart condition last month.

Zerihun Muche, five, was born with his bladder and several other internal organs on the outside of his body and was destined for life as an outcast.

But surgeon Martin Kelly’s intervention led to radical surgery and now Zerihun can look forward to a vastly improved life.

Mr Kelly, 42, met Zerihun while filming a documentary in Ethiopia in 2006 in his role as the founder of Facing The World, a charity dedicated to helping children with complex medical conditions.

baby2.jpg
Above: The late Martin Kelly with
actress wife Natascha McElhone

Mr Kelly made sure the boy received help, referring him to experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Portland Hospital.

Surgeons were so moved by Zerihun’s plight that they treated him for free and have now set up their own charity to help other children from developing countries who suffer from his condition. Read More.

“Ethiopia: The Three Faiths” Panel Discussion at the Schomburg

By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Continuing the celebration of the Ethiopian Millenium, BINA Foundation is hosting an interfaith panel discussion this Sunday in Harlem. Ethiopia has the unique position of being home to three of the world’s largest monotheistic traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Traditional legends trace their Jewish heritage to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and the journey of the Arc of the Covenant from Israel to the highlands of Ethiopia. Surviving copies of the holy Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees were found and preserved in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s ancient practice of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the translations of the Bible into Ge’ez occurred as far back as the 5th century A.D. with the advent of Syrian monks fleeing Byzantine persecution. And before the first Hijra to Medina, the prophet Mohammad sent his family to Ethiopia and they received refuge from a Christian emperor and one of the hadith or sayings of Mohammad urge that Muslims recognize the refuge that they received and that they abstain from war on Ethiopians.

Ethiopia’s distinction as an early sanctuary for the three Abrahamic religions will be discussed by panelists including: Dr. Ephraim Isaac, Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies at Princeton University; Dr. Ayele Bekerie, Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University, Dr. Said Samatar, Professor of African History at Rutgers University; and Dr. Yohannes Zeleke, an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian as well as the former curator of the National Museum of Ethiopia. The panel discussion entitled “Ethiopia: The Three Faiths” will be held on Sunday at 3pm at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


Learn more about the panel discussion at www.binacf.org.

Hamlin Fistula Hospital Opens new Hospital in Harrar

Above: Steve Saunders, Board Member, Anne Ferguson,
FF Operations Director, Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Founder of AAFH,
Abaynesh Asrat, Board Member, Kassahun Kebede, Board Chair,
Kate Grant, Executive Director on Opening Day.
(Photo: fistulafoundation.org)

The Hospital was financed entirely by a grant from the Fistula Foundation and its Tesfa Ineste program lead by Ethiopian and Ethiopian-Americans

Published: Friday, June 13, 2008

Santa Clara, California – The Fistula Foundation announced that the new Fistula Hospital in Harrar, Ethiopia began accepting its first patients on June 1, 2008. The Hospital was financed entirely by a grant from the Fistula Foundation and by the Ethiopian-American community in the United States, through the Tesfa Ineste program.

The new fifty-bed Hospital will provide fistula repair and rehabilitation to women in the entire eastern part of Ethiopia, who previously had no access to such care. It will also provide emergency obstetric services and fistula awareness outreach services in an effort to prevent obstetric fistulas from occurring in the first place. The Harrar Hospital is the fourth of five new regional facilities built by the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to serve women in remote parts of Ethiopia. A fifth hospital in the town of Metu is under construction.

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Opening day of Harrar Hospital. Photo: fistulafoundation.org

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Plaque on the front of the new Hospital, honoring the Fistula Foundation and Tesfa Ineste.
Photo: fistulafoundation.org

The Hospital was inaugurated in a ceremony in Harrar on Friday, May 9, 2008. Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital founder, her son Richard Hamlin, Kassahun Kebede, Chair of the Fistula Foundation Board, and Abaynesh Asrat, Fistula Foundation Board Member and Tesfa Ineste Chair made remarks at the ceremony. Representatives from the Fistula Foundation were honored to participate in the inauguration, along with Ethiopian officials.

—–
Learn more at fistulafoundation.org

D.C. Soccer Tournament to Offer Family Friendly Celebration

Above: The crowd at the 2007 tournament in Dallas.
Photo by Dagnu/ESFNA

By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 13, 2008

Washington, DC (Tadias) – North America’s largest African soccer tournament, hosted by the Ethiopian Sport Federation of North America (ESFNA) is being held in the nation’s capital this year. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan area is home to the second largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia, and tens of thousands of Ethiopian immigrants are expected to attend the D.C. event on July 4th weekend.

The tournament, which usually attracts youth and adults is adding special participatory events for children and families this year.

“In the past, we’ve done our best to accommodate children,” ESFNA PR Officer Fassil Abebe said, “This year, we’ve asked the local organizing committee to keep kids in mind and have some activities for them.” As for kids also being able to participate in sports including soccer, Abebe notes “we have it every year and this year is no exception. In fact there will be an all girls match.” In preparation for the tournament, ESFNA’s press release announced that soccer teams are conducting trial runs to select the 27 final teams that will compete at RFK Stadium between June 29 and July 5.

ESFNA’s annual soccer tournament goes beyond sports entertainment, allowing families and friends in North America’s Ethiopian immigrant population to come together in celebration of both sports and their cultural heritage. The tournament weekend is a popular time for networking, alumni gatherings, small business catering, music performances, and reunion parties. Local D.J. skills are displayed alongside traditional Ethiopian dances, which this year will also be part of a children’s talent show.

“Our entertainment line up is still being worked on as we speak” Abebe says, but it’s “safe to say that we will have famous cultural and contemporary artists accompanied by top notch musicians both at RFK on July 4th and the DC Armory on July 5th.”

final_38_dallas_cover_inside.jpg
The crowd at the 2007 tournament in Dallas. Photo by Dagnu/ESFNA

The breadth of events and services provide an economic boon to local business, and being selected as a host city for the annual event is both a priviledge and a competitive endeavor. The general economic downturn, however, is one topic that the tournament’s organizers have also reflected on.

“We’ve talked about the economy affecting our turn out. But, we’ve confidence in Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia residing in or near D.C. to still come out strong and participate in the tournament.” With a wisp of optimism Abebe adds, “The fact that our event has become a yearly pilgrimage, if you will, for lots of Ethiopian families will also help.”

ESFNA has also announced that this year’s tournament schedule will include a voter registration drive on July 4th as part of the strong Ethiopian-American grassroots campaigning for the November presidential elections. Battleground States such as Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, and Minnesota have large Ethiopian immigrant populations.

Abebe points to ESFNA’s collaboration with Democratic support group Ethiopians for Obama. “We’ve been communicating about logistics for some time now. we’ve also assigned a contact person from our side to facilitate whatever Ethiopians for Obama might need during our tournament such as booth space, tables and chairs.”

“In return,” Abebe says, “Ethiopians for Obama are working very hard to have the Senator make an appearance if at all possible. Keep your fingers crossed.”

The Washington D.C. metropolitan area is home to the nation’s largest African immigrant population and the tournament’s focus on both a children-friendly environment and voter registration drives is sure to add more positive experiences for loyal pilgrims.

——–
Related: Hot Shots: D.C. Soccer Tournament
Learn more about the D.C. Soccer Tournament at ESFNA.ORG

Law Firm Announces “Ethiopian Heritage College Scholarship Fund”

Above: (left to right): Claims Manager Rand Chatman, Partner
Joseph Cammarata, Partner Ira Sherman, Partner Allan Siegel,
Claims Manager Erik McConnell. (Photo: chaikinandsherman.com)

June 11th, 2008

Publisher’s Note: A personal injury law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, has created the Ethiopian Heritage College Scholarship Fund for high school graduating seniors. The deadline to apply is Friday, June 13th, 2008.

Here is the announcement from the Law Office of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel:

In 2008, the Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel Ethiopian Heritage College Scholarship Fund was created in order to help members of the Ethiopian community pay for their college education. The purpose of the fund is to find and then help youngsters with few financial resources obtain a much-desired college degree so that they may then go serve the public. CSCS, P.C. strives to encourage the development of intellect, wisdom, and integrity in those they help, and the firm strongly believes this can be accomplished as can any other goal you long to achieve.

CSCS intends to award one scholarship per year to a resident of the Greater Metropolitan Area who is graduating from high school and has been admitted to, and will be attending, an accredited two or four year college or university on a full-time basis. The scholarship will be in the amount of $1,000 a year, paid in two equal payments on August 1 and February 1. The money must be used to help defer school expenses (i.e. tuition, room and board and books). The Greater Metropolitan Area of Washington D.C. is defined as including the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George´s, Anne Arundel, and Howard and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, Prince Williams and the City of Alexandria.

The scholarship was publicized by contacting guidance counselors at area high schools to urge them to announce the availability of the scholarships to their students and encourage eligible students to apply. Student selection is made from applications submitted, which meet the criteria. No person related by blood or marriage to any member or former member of the selection committee is eligible for an award. Awardees are required to make reports each grading period concerning their grades and academic standing during the scholarship period. Payments will be withheld when a grantee is not performing satisfactorily.

Scholarship recipient will be chosen on the basis of financial need, high school grade point average, the essay submitted, demonstrated community service, and conclusions the selection panel might draw from a personal interview as to the individual´s motivation, character, ability, and potential.

———–
Learn More at chaikinandsherman.com

US to give Ethiopia $70m in food aid

US to give Ethiopia $70m in food aid (RTE News)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The US last night pledged $70m (€45m) in food aid for Ethiopia, where 4.5m people are in need of emergency food aid.

The US Agency for International Development said some 95,000 tonnes of food is expected in the Horn of Africa nation next month.

Ethiopia will receive an additional $10m in medical supplies, water services and other non-food aid.

Britain pledged an additional £10m (€12.6m) for Ethiopia on Monday, and UK officials were due in Ethiopia yesterday to assess the situation.

High food prices and the failure of rains have cast the country into a crisis reminiscent of its devastating 1984-1985 famine, which killed more than 1m.

The government says 75,000 children are severely malnourished in the country of more than 80m, but last week UNICEF gave a higher estimate of 126,000.

The UN World Food Programme has appealed for $147m to tackle the impact of the drought in Ethiopia, while UNICEF is looking for $50m. Read More

Here We Go Again: Hunger and desperation grow in Ethiopia

Desperation as Ethiopia’s hunger grows (BBC)

Gavin Hewitt’s report from south-west Ethiopia

By Gavin Hewitt
BBC News, Ethiopia

Monday, 9 June 2008

It is a strange and unsettling ride west from the Ethiopian town of Shashamene. The fields are vibrant green. There is water in the creeks. The soil is a deep rich burgundy.

However, the people here speak of a “green drought”.

It is the time when the land is full of new shoots but there is no food. It happens because the last rains failed and few crops were planted.

A crowd gathers quickly. Some hold up their children. They want us to see the distended stomachs which are one sign of hunger.

The parents hope that, by seeing, we will take their children to a treatment centre.

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In every village there were vulnerable
children. You can sense the desperation
when you arrive in a village.

This happened in the village of Odo. A local priest had visited last week and had taken the most severely malnourished children for emergency care.

But others had been left behind, including a 12-year-old with shrunken limbs who suffered from malaria. Read More.

Barack Speaks To HQ Staff & Volunteers

Barack Speaks To HQ Staff & Volunteers

Marcus Samuelsson vs. Chef Bobby Flay

Above: Marcus Samuelsson sat down for an interview with Tadias
on Monday, April 14, 2008 at Merkato 55. Photo by Jeffrey Phipps.

Iron Chef America: Flay vs. Samuelsson (Food Network)

Esteemed NYC Chef Marcus Samuelsson enters kitchen stadium for the first time to challenge Chef Bobby Flay. Will the judges favor Chef Samuelsson’s worldly cuisine, or will Chef Flay’s Southwestern flare win them over? Tune in to see whose cuisine reigns supreme. Read More.

Sheba Film Festival 2008

Above: A Walk to Beautiful, a recipient of the Audience Award
for Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Film
Festival in 2007, is one of the films featured at the 5th Annual
Sheba Film Festival.

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 9, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The NYC Ethiopian Millennium Celebration series will continue with the 5th Annual Sheba Film Festival on Saturday, June 15th, at the JCC in Manhattan (Amsterdam and 76th Street).

“The films represent a diverse cross-spectrum of Jewish and Ethiopian life. The festival will begin with Caravan 841, directed by Zion Rubin, about Moshe, an 11 year-old Ethiopian boy who lives in the ‘Atidim’ caravan site located in Western Galilee while he awaits the arrival of his mother from Ethiopia”, said Beejhy Barhany of BINA, the organization that plays host to the annual Sheba Film Festival.

Meanwhile, “A Walk to Beautiful, directed by Mary Olive Smith, tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. The film was a recipient of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2007.”

The press release sent to Tadias also highlights the work of Director Radu Mihaileanu, who will showcase Live and Become, which celebrated its New York premier in February 2008. The film depicts an epic journey of an Ethiopian boy, Shlomo, who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. “Shlomo is plagued by two big secrets: he is neither a Jew nor an orphan. Q&A with survivors of similar journeys will follow the film,” the press release stated.

live_and_become.jpg

BINA adds that “the films depict different aspects of Ethiopia: contemporary urban life, Ethiopian Jewry, and communities, which have been influenced by Ethiopia.”

Next on the list for the NYC Ethiopian Millennium Celebration series is a photography exibition at the State Building in Harlem and a panel discussion at the Schomburg. Stay tuned for more coverage.


Learn more about the 5th Annual Sheba Film Festival at www.binacf.org.

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.

Hot Shots: NYC Ethiopian Millennium Concert

By Tadias Staff
Photos by Rodney Zagury

Published: Friday, June 6, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The NYC Ethiopian Millennium celebration kicked-off with a concert at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, May 31, 2008. Here are hot shots.

event-3.jpg
Rising star Mimi (Asresash Meshesha) from Washington, D.C. perfroms at the
Millennium kick-off concert at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, May 31, 2008.
Photo by Rodney Zagury.

event-2.jpg
Over 200 people attended the the NYC Ethiopian Millennium celebration kick-off
concert at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, May 31, 2008. Photo by Rodney Zagury.

event-4.jpg
The Ethiopian Millennium celebration concert at Joe’s Pub featured Abebe Teka.
Saturday, May 31, 2008. Photo by Rodney Zagury.

event-1.jpg
NYC Ethiopian Millennium celebration concert at Joe’s Pub. Saturday, May 31, 2008.
Photo by Rodney Zagury.

event-10.jpg
New York’s own DJ Sirak (left) entertained the crowd with world music in between
performances at the NYC Ethiopian Millennium celebration concert at Joe’s Pub.
Saturday, May 31, 2008. Photo/Tadias.

event-11.jpg
Beejhy Barhany (left), Director of BINA and the millennium events coordinator with
her husband at the Ethiopian Millennium celebration concert at Joe’s Pub.
Saturday, May 31, 2008. Photo/Tadias.

Backstage at Joe’s Pub
event-8.jpg
Abebe Teke and Assefa Fanta. Joe’s Pub. Sat., May 31, 2008. Photo/Tadias.

event-9.jpg
Abebe Teka, Meron Dagnew, and Assefa Fanta. Joe’s Pub. May 31, 2008. Photo/Tadias.

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Learn more about upcoming Millennium events at: www.binacf.org

Schoolgirl Stabbed to Death in London

Above: Agony in London - Tsehay Dawit on her way to see
her murdered daughter Arsema’s body today. On her right is
her surviving daughter Feruz, 12

‘How could they do this?’
Agony of stabbed schoolgirl’s mother as she sees her daughter’s body (Mail Online)

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:08 PM on 04th June 2008

Stricken with grief, the mother of stabbed schoolgirl Arsema Dawit leaves her London home today as she is taken to see her daughter’s body.

Weeping uncontrollably, Tsehay Dawit was supported by her surviving daughter Feruz, 12, as she made her way to the car taking her to the mortuary.

Before she left, she pointed at the floral tributes laid outside the door to the block of flats where they lived in Lambeth and repeated over and over again: “How could they do this? It was here they left my daughter.”

london1.jpg
Murdered: Arsema Dawit, 15, was stabbed
to death in a frenzied attack just yards from
her own door

Meanwhile a 21-year-old student, Thomas Nugusse, of Ilford, Essex has been charged with Arsema’s murder and will appear at Greenwich Magistrates Court on Thursday, Scotland Yard said tonight. Read More.

Ethiopian Americans React to Obama’s Victory

Above: Victory party by Obama supporters at La Carbonara
in Washington DC. June 3rd, 2008. Photo: Ethiopians for Obama.

By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New York (Tadias) – Ethiopian Americans across the country welcomed Barack Obama’s claim of the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, most of them contacted by Tadias noting the historical significance of the first African American candidate to lead either major party for the White House.

“By his nomination, Obama made history. It is indeed great to be alive and witness such a revolutionary event. I listened to his powerful and eloquent speech last night at St. Paul and when he announced that he is the nominee for the president of the United States, I spontaneously jumped out of my seat and screamed, completely overtaken by the moment, the historic moment”, said Ayele Bekerie, Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University.

“Obama became the first African American to win a nomination for a presidential candidacy from a major party. Obama’s victory is a testimony to America’s greatness. His story and the stories of all those who reach remarkable heights from humble beginnings affirm the possibilities and opportunities of the United States.”

ayele.jpg
Professor Ayele Bekerie. Ithaca,
New York.

“The Ethiopian Americans played, rightly and appropriately, active roles in the campaign and in the political process here in their new country. Many valuable lessons can be drawn from the process: peaceful political participation is a reality and political change can be brought by peaceful means. Furthermore, by participating in the political process here, the Ethiopian Americans will be in a better position to advocate and lobby for desirable change in Ethiopia”, Professor Bekerie added.

“I expect Obama, if elected president, to push for a progressive African agenda. An agenda that seeks transparency and accountability of African leaders. An agenda that empowers the people of Africa. An agenda that promotes genuine economic development. An agenda that emphasizes human rights.”

Bizu, a Business Manager at Rossa Motors in Oakland, California, called Obama’s victory “happiest” moment.

bizu.jpg
Business Manager Bizu, Oakland,
California.

“It was one of the happiest days of my life to see Barak Obama clinching the nomination. I could never have imagined the joy of celebrating this historic moment with my fellow Ethiopians, friends and hard core Obama supporters. No simple thank you expresses my appreciation to the Everett and Jones restaurant for hosting a huge party and for being so generous. They provided free food and drink with all Obama supporters and volunteers. We were chanting and saying the usual slogans throughout the evening”, Bizu said.

“I also met new enthusiastic fellow Ethiopians who want to support in the general election. For the first time in my life, I felt that I am doing something worthwhile. I believe in the American dream and the opportunities and possibilities for a better world. Last night, Obama, proved to all of us how America is indeed a land of possibility for every person who wants to reach higher. His strength and will power made me believe in him more.”

Computer Programmer Mike Endale, 26, from Maryland said it was a dream come true.

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Computer Programmer Mike Endale, 26.
Maryland

“It was realization of a dream I had some 16 months ago when Obama first announced his candidacy. It was moving. It was inspiring. It was one of a night. Last night, for the first time in a long time, I learned to believe again. Senator Obama’s win for the nomination is a true testament for the maturity of this nation. It was one of the most inspiring and rewarding journeys I’ve ever been on. I am excited what tomorrow would bring”, he said.

“But what summed it up for me is what I read on one blog: ‘Tomorrow I will go to the African American cemetery outside of Chicago where my great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, and my mother and father are buried. And I will tell them that they were right — that if we studied hard, worked hard, kept the faith, fought for justice, prayed, that this day would come. And it has.’”

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Stay tuned for more reactions.

History: Obama Claims Nomination

Above: Sen. Barack Obama boards his plane Tuesday with his
wife, Michelle, in Chicago. (Chris Carlson / AP)

First Black Candidate to Lead a Major Party Ticket (NYT)

By JEFF ZELENY
Published: June 4, 2008

Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday evening, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change in Washington.

A last-minute rush of Democratic superdelegates, as well as the results from the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota, pushed Mr. Obama over the threshold of winning the 2,118 delegates needed to be nominated at the party’s convention in August. The victory for Mr. Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and white Kansan mother, broke racial barriers and represented a remarkable rise for a man who just four years ago served in the Illinois state senate.

“Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America,” Mr. Obama told supporters at a rally in St. Paul. “Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America.” Read More.

Video: ‘Defining moment’ (MSNBC)

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