Author Archive for Tadias

Obama to Speak at Mandela’s 100th Birthday Anniversary in South Africa

Former President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote speech at the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth this coming July in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP photo)

The New York Times

Obama Will Speak in South Africa on Tolerance

WASHINGTON — He’s been photographed kite-surfing with Richard Branson off Necker Island, relaxing on David Geffen’s yacht in French Polynesia with Bruce Springsteen and Oprah Winfrey, river-rafting with his family in Bali and posing with a celebrity chef in Tuscany.

To those who have paid only casual attention to former President Barack Obama’s foreign travels since he left the White House in January 2017, it can seem as if Mr. Obama has been on an extended vacation of the kind only the very rich can afford.

But the former president has also met quietly with groups of young people in New Zealand, Brazil, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as paying calls on foreign leaders, including Xi Jinping of China, Emmanuel Macron of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Malcolm Turnbull of Australia.

Now, Mr. Obama is inaugurating his most significant international project as an ex-president, with an announcement on Monday that the Obama Foundation plans to convene 200 young people this July in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training.

At the same time, Mr. Obama will deliver a lecture to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, whom he eulogized after his death five years ago by saying he “makes me want to be a better man.”

“It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former speechwriter for Mr. Obama who still advises him.

Read more »


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In Defense of Ethiopia: New PM is Fixing the Broken System

In the following article published on Sunday by the Lawfare blog, Yale PhD student Hilary Matfess argues that "fixing Ethiopia requires more than a new prime minister." Perhaps. But, in our opinion, electing Dr. Abiy was the first step in the right direction for Ethiopia. Since the charismatic young leader was inaugurated on April 2nd, he has already made a rare outreach to the opposition, has visited towns that were center of anti-government protests, sidelined the military from a civilian development project and ended the internet blackout. In addition, and most importantly, Abiy has embarked on a national peace tour across the country to foster unity and calm ethnic tensions. And we hope PM Abiy will also push to lift the draconian State of Emergency sooner than later. As the proverb goes: "Rome wasn't built in a day." In any case, you may read below Hilary Matfess' foreign policy essay and follow the link for it serves as a reminder of the herculean task that awaits Ethiopia's new leadership with respect to improving the country's dismal human rights record and global standing. (Photo via firstpost.com)

Lawfare

Fixing Ethiopia Requires More Than a New Prime Minister

Ethiopia’s current State of Emergency, implemented on February 16 after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalign stepped down from power, is the second time since October 2016 that the government has declared martial law. According to Human Rights Watch, “some of Ethiopia’s staunch Western allies, fearful of what a destabilized Ethiopia would mean for their interests, have spoken openly of their concerns and urged a change in tactics.” What these allies fail to appreciate is that these tactics are not a bug in the system of governance in Ethiopia—they are a feature. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the hegemonic party that’s been in power since 1991, has tightly controlled the country’s political system, stifling civil society and criminalizing dissent. The selection of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister—marking the first time in 27 years that the EPRDF has had an Oromo has occupied the office, despite the fact that the Oromo is the country’s largest ethnic group—is insufficient to stabilize the country.

Michael O’Hanlon, the co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, has described the country as “one of the most important countries on the continent by almost any measure.” The measure most pressing for U.S. interests, however, is the country’s role as a strategic regional counterterrorism partner. Ethiopia’s contributions to AMISOM, in particular, have endeared it to the U.S. national security community. Terrence Lyons, a professor at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, considers the country an “irreplaceable center of gravity” for the Horn of Africa. As a long-standing U.S. partner in counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, the effects of Ethiopia’s stability extends well beyond the country’s borders. Without legislative overhauls that promote democratic accountability, the country will continue to be beset by instability. Unfortunately, the country’s history suggests that the party will respond to the current crisis with more repression…

Read more »


Related:
PM Abiy Visits Gondar & Bahir Dar as Part of National Tour
PM Abiy Names Cabinet (Reuters)
Ethiopia: Prime Minister Sidelines Military On Development Project (Stratfor)
No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures Heats Up

One of several processional crosses that were among the items looted during the British campaign in Ethiopia in 1868. (Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 22nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.K., Hailemichael Aberra Afework, is renewing his country’s call for the unconditional return of cultural and religious treasures that were looted by British troops at the Battle of Meqdelā in 1868.

More than a decade ago Ethiopia had officially asked for restitution of the country’s looted treasures, that are being held at various locations in England. Unfortunately the request was rejected.

According to Thomas Ofcansky and David Shinn’s book entitled Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia, the British army had employed approximately 15 elephants and 200 mules to transport the bounty seized from the treasury of Emperor Tewodros II and several Ethiopian Orthodox Christian churches.

Speaking on how attitudes about the looted treasures have changed, Ambassador Hailemichael told The Art Newspaper in a recent podcast interview that “many people in Britain — the public at large, media, higher education, [those] interested in culture — are all sympathetic to Ethiopia’s demand for the return of these objects” and further hoped that individuals “would understand, the government would understand, the institutions will understand and accept this demand for the objects to be returned to Ethiopia.”

This month the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in the U.K. helped to reignite a public dialogue on the topic of the Mekdela treasures when it made an offer to loan Ethiopia the items on a long term contract. V&A’s Director Tristram Hunt was quoted as saying: “They would be sent to Ethiopia on long-term loan, so ownership would remain with the museum.”

“My answer is a quick no,” replied the Ethiopian Ambassador, emphasizing that Ethiopia is the rightful owner of the items. “My government is not interested in loans, it is interested in having those objects returned.”

The gesture from V&A was made on the eve of the museum’s current exhibition that opened on April 5th showcasing its Meqdela collection on the 150th anniversary of the battle.

According to The Art Newspaper, among the nearly two dozen objects featured at the V&A show include “a priestly gold crown, a gold chalice (both 1735-40), several processional crosses and imperial jewelry” that were forcefully removed from Ethiopia.

Hailemichael, who attended the opening, indicated that he appreciated the public awareness value of the V&A exhibition. “When you have something that was hidden away and locked in the room displayed, that in itself is something that we appreciate,” said the Ethiopian diplomat.

The Battle of Meqdelā took place in April 1868 between the British army led by General Robert Napier while Emperor Tewodros II led the Ethiopian warriors. The primary goal of the British invasion, which has been called “history’s most expensive hostage rescue operation,” was to free a group of European missionaries who were being held by Emperor Tewodros. The Ethiopian king had become upset after he failed to receive a reply to a letter that he had sent to Queen Victoria proposing to establish diplomatic and military alliance with his European counterpart. In the end, Emperor Tewodros took his own life and avoided being captured alive as the British closed in on him at his mountain fortress in Meḳdelā.

The British rescue operation is estimated to have cost the British military some $9 million sterling, which converts to billion of dollars today.

Given that the issue is bigger than one museum, would Ethiopia bring up the matter with U.K.’s Foreign Office?

The Ethiopian Ambassador did not rule out the possibility. “I hope that the two governments will, down the road, begin to talk about these things,” he stated. “Not only government to government, but institution to institution…so there is quite a lot of understanding among the British public.”

Ambassador Hailemichael also dismissed the long-held myth that Ethiopia does not have the capability to properly store the objects should they be permanently returned. He mentioned the national museum in Addis Ababa along with other modern museums such as the ones in Lalibela, Axum, Gondar, and Harar as well as universities with active programs on cultural heritage management.

“The whole of Ethiopia is a museum of its cultural heritage,” Hailemichael said at one point during the interview.

“The Ethiopian churches have been custodians of such religious objects for centuries,” Hailemichael added. “And therefore the will is there, the capacity is there, the capability is also there, and it should not be an argument at all for not responding positively to the demand of the people of Ethiopia because we can take care of it.”


Photos: Although Tewodros turned the gun on himself in order to avoid being captured alive, the British soldiers took his young son, Prince Alemayehu Tewodros (who died as a teenager while in exile in Britain).


Related:
Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years
150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II
UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?
A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

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PM Abiy Visits Gondar & Bahir Dar as Part of National Tour

Since taking office earlier this month PM Abiy, pictured above in the historic city of Gondar on Friday, has embarked on a national tour across Ethiopia to promote unity. So far he has travelled to Jijiga, Ambo, Mekelle and Gondar. He is expected in Bahir Dar on Saturday. (Photo via Africa News)

Africa News

Updated: April 20th, 2018

Ethiopia Premier Abiy Ahmed on Friday morning arrived in the city of Gondar in the northern Amhara region. The trip forms part of his nationwide tour that started two weeks ago.

The state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting corporate (FBC) reported that Abiy was received by head of the region, Gedu Andargachew and other top officials of the state.

As part of his itinerary, he is expected to address residents at the Gondar stadium. “Today’s meeting is parts of his plan to send messages of unity to the public across the country,” the FBC report added.

He will also deliver an address during the TANA Forum gathering to be held in Bahir Dar on Saturday.

Read more »


Related:
PM Abiy Names Cabinet (Reuters)
Ethiopia: Prime Minister Sidelines Military On Development Project (Stratfor)
No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopian Student in NYC Awarded Prestigious Gates-Cambridge Scholarship

2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar Samuel Kebede. (Photo credit: Adam Sahilu)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 17th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Samuel Kebede, a third year medical student in New York City has been awarded the highly regarded Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, which is the most prestigious scholarship program for international postgraduate students from the University of Cambridge.

“I am proud to be representing my country Ethiopia,” Samuel told Tadias. He is currently enrolled at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

According to Gates-Cambridge: “Funded through a $210 million donation by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the largest ever single donation to a UK university, around 90 scholars are selected each year from a pool of the most academically outstanding applicants to the University. The Scholarship also places an emphasis on selecting those with a proven interest in improving the lives of others by helping address the numerous challenges we face locally, regionally and globally.”

Professor Stephen Toope, Chair of the Trustees of Gates Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of the University, explained in a statement that: “The Gates Cambridge scholarships are a perfect fit with the mission of the University – to make a real and significant contribution to society. They attract some of the best students from all over the world and from the most diverse backgrounds, and sustain a global network of leaders who will integrate the university’s values into everything they do. The class of 2018, including bright scholars from 28 nationalities, is a perfect example of the commitment to excellence and to leadership in the service of society that Gates Cambridge scholars exemplify.”

In his biography posted on the Gates Cambridge website Samuel shared:

I am originally from Ethiopia but also grew up in Zimbabwe and the Congo. Through my experience living in these different settings, the role of diseases, health disparities and environment made a lasting impact. This realization influenced my decision to gain the knowledge and research skills to prevent and control public health challenges in Africa. I came to the U.S. in 10th grade attending Mercersburg Academy before completing my BA in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. As an undergraduate, I devoted much of my time to service in the Baltimore community and was involved in infectious disease projects in Ethiopia, Congo and Baltimore. As a current third-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, I’ve continued to learn more about HIV through a research project in Ethiopia. My time living in the U.S. also peaked my interest in preventable illnesses related to chronic diseases (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease). Delving deeper, I learned more about the growing burden of chronic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, especially as they relate to the double burden of infectious and chronic diseases on the continent. I hope to be part of efforts for continued policy, practice and research development related to chronic diseases in Africa as a public health physician. I will study the MPhil in Public Health at Cambridge and am excited to be part of the diverse and passionate Gates Cambridge community!”

Congratulations Samuel! We wish you all the best in your studies as a Gates-Cambridge scholar!

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No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM

Abiy’s remarks on Monday were his first substantive public comments on the economy since taking office. According to the latest IMF World Economic Outlook data Ethiopia now has surpassed Ghana as the fastest-growing economy in Africa. But as Reuters reports "foreign investors and local businesses complain that the severe hard currency shortages are stifling the private sector." (Reuters photo)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopian foreign exchange shortage will last years: new premier

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s new prime minister said on Monday that a foreign exchange shortage will last for years and more cooperation with the private sector is essential to solve it, state television reported.

Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in on April 2, addressed the local business community at a session of more than two hours in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital. His paraphrased remarks were later broadcast by state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The crisis with hard currency will not be solved today, nor will it in the next 15 or 20 years. There is an urgent need for more cooperation with the private sector to find a solution,” Abiy was reported as saying, adding that remittances from Ethiopia’s diaspora communities had also fallen for political reasons.

Ethiopia has recorded average annual economic growth of about 10 percent for the past decade, the fastest in Africa. But foreign investors and local businesses complain that the severe hard currency shortages are stifling the private sector.

The International Monetary Fund said in January that Ethiopia’s foreign reserves at the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year stood at $3.2 billion, less than what it spends on imports in two months. The government does not regularly release foreign reserves figures.

The IMF flagged inadequate reserves as a downside risk to economic growth for 2017/18, which it forecast at 8.5 percent.

Despite high economic growth, the landlocked country of 100 million people is heavily dependent on imports. The IMF said export revenues last year were largely unchanged despite volume growth as global agricultural commodity prices remained low and exports from manufacturing, following the start of an industrialization push, are just beginning.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)

Ethiopia's new prime minister Abiy Ahmed attends a rally during his visit to Ambo on April 11, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Internet users in Ethiopia said on Monday the government appeared to have ended a three-month online blackout, raising hopes of a relaxation of restrictions after the arrival of a new prime minister who promised reforms.

Mobile and broadband internet services shut down in December in many regions outside the capital that were hit by unrest that threatened the ruling coalition’s tight hold on country.

Rights groups accused the government of trying to stop them spreading news online and organizing rallies calling for land rights and other freedoms – charges the government denied.

But internet users said they had noticed services returning following the April 2 inauguration of Abiy Ahmed.

The communications minister and the state-run telecoms monopoly did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

“We are very happy that it is back to normal,” said Hassan Bulcha, who runs an internet cafe in Shashemene, a town in the state of Oromiya which has seen some of the worst violence since protests erupted in 2015.

Groups that monitor internet usage in Ethiopia – one of the last countries on the continent with a state telecoms monopoly – gave the news a guarded welcome.

“Restoration of Ethiopia’s internet is a short-term win in a long-term struggle,” said Peter Micek of Access Now, a group that said it recorded two large-scale internet shutdowns in Ethiopia in 2017 and three in 2016.

The move was a step forward, but worries remained about the government’s wider commitment to freedoms, said CIPESA (Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa), a Uganda-based body that lists Britain among its funders.

“TOO OPTIMISTIC”

“It would be too optimistic to expect that the new prime minister’s government will overnight dismantle all the layers of authoritarian control that have for decades been at the center of state power in Ethiopia,” said Juliet Nanfuka from CIPESA.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Special Tribute to the Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Runway Show

A special tribute to the legacy of Amsale Aberra, spring 2019 Bridal Runway Show, was held at The Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City on Friday, April 14th, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 14th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Amsale Spring 2019 Runway Show was held on Friday, April 13 at The Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City as a special tribute to the legacy of Amsale Aberra.

The acclaimed Ethiopian-American fashion designer passed away on April 1st surrounded by close friends and family at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital where she was being treated for uterine cancer.

The deeply moving tribute on Friday, which was held on the terrace of Gramercy Park Hotel, featured a new launch of the Nouvelle Amsale collection and closed with a beautiful Ethiopian model wearing Amsale’s first bridal fashion design eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd.

Amsale, who was born in Addis Ababa in 1954, moved to the U.S. in the 1970s, was the Founder and Creative Director of the fashion design house, AMSALE, one of the industry’s leading brands in the United States.

“For over 30 years, Amsale has been an icon for designs that are powerful in their simplicity. Drama, she believed, emerges when a single, striking detail is offset by a clean silhouette,” the company said in a statement.

Photos: Special Tribute to the Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Bridal Runway Show

Regarding the Nouvelle Amsale Spring 2019 Collection the company added: “Designed for the modern and effortless bride who understands fashion but stays true to her personal style, the Spring 2019 NOUVELLE AMSALE collection reflects Amsale’s sense of timeless simplicity and understated glamour. Mikado and crepe fabrics highlight Amsale’s signature tailoring and clean lines. With her remarkable style comes a softer attitude shown in delicate layers of tulle and embroidered lace. Balancing chic and statement-making, the Spring 2019 collection also features dramatic taffeta ball gowns with low backs and ample volume.”

Amsale Spring 2019 Collection

“Inspired by cathedral elegance, this collection is expressed through dresses that are grand yet modern, designed for each individual bride in mind. Femininity is translated in form-fitting silhouettes, open backs and gently scooped necklines. Texture is shown with non-traditional lace and layered fabrication. AMSALE BLUE LABEL makes a statement with upscale ball gowns, pearl and crystal beading and draped bows. Unmistakably AMSALE, the Spring 2019 collection has stunning details, accentuating individuality with effortless elegance.”

A look back at the Tadias interview with Amsale Aberra

We featured a profile of Amsale Aberra on the first print version of Tadias Magazine in 2003. Sharing how she built her fashion house, Amsale reminisced about her days growing up as a teenager in Ethiopia and her love of making clothes. “Trying to make something by hand is always something that I liked…At the time I didn’t know there was such a profession as designer” she told Tadias. Amsale had initially studied commercial art and pursued a degree in political science after she arrived in the United States in the early 70s before she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.

“When I attended FIT that’s when I truly felt like this is what I wanted to do. That’s how I ended up being a designer,” Amsale told Tadias in an interview on July 2011 shortly after her launch of the Amsale Girls Reality TV show.

In 1996 Amsale opened her flagship salon on Madison Avenue in New York and has since launched several lines including the elaborate Kenneth Pool Label (2003) and Nouvelle Amsale (2015).

Speaking about her work as Creative Director Amsale told Tadias that when she “started with AMSALE, which is about simplicity, it just needed to be very clean, and simple and modern. But all brides are not like that. Some brides may want something a little more elaborate.” So she designed and launched the Kenneth Pool collection that she described as having “more shimmer, embroidery, it’s very bold, very dramatic but yet it’s still very sophisticated.”

Watch: Tadias Magazine’s Interview With Bridal-Fashion Designer Amsale Aberra

Numerous celebrities have dressed in AMSALE gowns for the red carpet including Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett, and Salma Hayek. Her bridal and evening wear has been worn by actors in films such as Something Borrowed, When in Rome, and Runaway Bride as well as on TV including in Grey’s Anatomy, Oprah Winfrey Show and The View.

Amsale was a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a Trustee and alum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and served on the international advisory board of the Ethiopian Children’s Fund. Amsale is “survived by her husband and partner, Clarence O’Neill Brown, known as “Neil”, her daughter Rachel Amsale Brown, her father Aberra Moltot and her half-sister Aster Yilma. Amsale was 64 years old.”

In a statement Neill Brown said: “Amsale was not only an inspiration to the company, but someone who inspired and impacted everyone around her with her strength, kindness, and humility. Working side by side we spent 360 degrees of our life together, and I know only too well both her creative genius and her infinite goodness. Words cannot express the personal loss that we feel, but we are comforted by the avalanche of support we’ve received and the commitment of our team to carry on Amsale’s legacy.”

Watch: Tadias TV Exclusive – Inside Amsale Aberra’s Luxury Manhattan Boutique


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Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years

Poet Lemn Sissay has joined the campaign to repatriate Prince Alemayehu’s remains. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

For 150 years, Ethiopians have been asking when Prince Alemayehu will come home. The orphan prince, a descendant of Solomon, was taken to England – some say “stolen” – after British soldiers looted his father’s imperial citadel following the Battle of [Meqdela] in 1868.

He died at the age of 18, after an unhappy childhood, and was buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at the request of Queen Victoria. Now, as discussions take place with the Victoria & Albert Museum about the return of royal treasures taken by British forces during the battle, the Ethiopian government told the Observer it is “redoubling” its efforts to finally bring back the prince’s remains. Last week there were celebrations in Addis Ababa to commemorate the life of the prince’s father, Tewodros II, on the 150th anniversary of his death in the battle. A selection of the objects in the V&A’s possession went on display last week.

Lemn Sissay, the poet and author, has joined the campaign to repatriate the young prince’s remains. Sissay, whose birth mother was Ethiopian, has been invited to speak about Alemayehu by the Ethiopian goverment in June.

“It’s my goal, my sincere hope that in my lifetime [Alemayehu] will go back to Ethiopia,” Sissay told the Observer. “This isn’t going away because I’m not going away.”

Read more »


Related:
150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II
UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?
A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

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At Oklahoma State University Dr. Clyde Kindell Honored for Service to Ethiopia

In this photo taken in the 1960s, Dr. Clyde Kindell, President of Alemaya College [now Haramaya University], hosts Emperor Haile Selassie at the agricultural school in Harar. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 12th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – One of the oldest higher education institutions in Ethiopia, Haramaya University, which used to be called Alemaya College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, was established in collaboration with Oklahoma State University (OSU) in 1954. And this month Dr. Clyde R. Kindell, the last American President of the university, will be honored for his service to Ethiopia.

In 1954, during his much publicized first state visit to the United States, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia “made a singular stop in his 7,000 mile tour of the country to thank the people of Oklahoma for assisting in modernizing agriculture and education in his nation,” wrote Theodore M. Vestal, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at OSU in an OPED article published in Tadias four years ago. “The Emperor was honored with a reception and dinner in Stillwater that was described as ‘the social event of the century’ in Oklahoma.”

Now, the late emperor’s grandson Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie will return the favor by presenting the award to Dr. Kindell at a recognition ceremony on April 17th in Wes Watkins Center at OSU campus. The event, which will be attended by former Congressman Wes Watkins, is being organized in cooperation with the School of Global Studies and Partnerships at Oklahoma State University.

Arriving in Ethiopia as a 31-year-old Dr. Kindell first served as the Director of Instruction and Research at the Jimma Agriculture Technical School for two years before taking the helm at Alemaya in Harar.

“I have fond memories of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people,” Dr. Kindell told Tadias in an interview published in 2013. “My daughter was born in Jimma.”

Dr. Kindell traveled to Ethiopia under Oklahoma State University’s Point Four agricultural program in the late 1950s.

“OSU’s involvement in the Point Four program in Ethiopia remains an important milestone in the university’s emergence as a truly global institution,” said Dr. Randy Kluver, Dean of the School of Global Studies and Partnerships. “The entire OSU Family greatly appreciates Dr. Kindell for his leadership.”

The press release added: “The event will also mark the 64th anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s first visit to Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1954. To date, the former emperor’s visit was the only one of a serving head of state to the OSU campus.”

Photos: Emperor Haile Selassie visiting Oklahoma in 1954:


Professor Ted Vestal notes: “Only one month before the U.S. Supreme Court had handed down its landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, ending racial segregation in public schools. The Emperor and his entourage were honored at a racially integrated event in an officially segregated state. (Photos courtesy OSU)

Following next week’s ceremony there will be a public showing of the fourth documentary in the Point Four series, directed by Filmmaker and Producer Mel Tewahade.


Related:
Photos: Dr. Clyde Kindell Gives Emperor Haile Selassie Tour of Alemaya College

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Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees

Ethiopian-American writer Maaza Mengiste is the author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze and winner of the 2018 NEA Fellowship. Maaza is also a contributor in the newly released collection of essays edited by the Pulitzer-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen -- himself a Vietnamese refugee to America. (Photo: @MaazaMengiste)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste is one of 17 writers featured in a newly released book by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen entitled The Displaced, which presents a collection of essays by fellow refugee writers from around the globe.

Maaza Mengiste who is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. Maaza is also the “writer for the Ethiopia segment of GIRL RISING,” a feature film that tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 developing countries around the world. Maaza’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and Lettre International.

According to the press release The Displaced is “a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee (IRC), brings together writers originally from Mexico, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan, Soviet Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Ethiopia, and others to make their stories heard.”

The announcement describes the contributing writers as being “formidable in their own right — MacArthur Genius grant recipients, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalists, filmmakers, speakers, lawyers, professors, and New Yorker contributors —- and they are all refugees, many as children arriving in London and Toronto, Oklahoma and Minnesota, South Africa and Germany. Their 17 contributions are as diverse as their own lives have been, and yet hold just as many themes in common.”

The press release added: “These essays reveal moments of uncertainty, resilience in the face of trauma, and a re-imagining of identity, forming a compelling look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.”

In a recent book review The Economist praised Maaza’s essay in the book noting: “The outstanding piece is by Maaza Mengiste, an Ethiopian-American who gives a lyrical, erudite and unsettling reflection on refugees as Lazarus figures whose existence is forever defined by a single miracle.”

In 2016 Maaza Mengiste was also one of the featured speakers at PEN World Voices Festival panel discussion in NYC hosted by PEN America highlighting “the responsibility of writers in humanitarian crises” such as what’s taking in many parts of the world today.


Related:
The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (Amazon)
Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste

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Spotlight: The Last Greeks of Addis Ababa

Ethiopia and Greece's relationship dates back to ancient times, and a small community is keeping both cultures alive. (Photo: The Greek Club in Addis Ababa/Al Jazeera)

Aljazeera.com

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – “Did you know that Ethiopia gets its name from the Greek word Aethiopia, first used by Homer?” Greek Ambassador to Ethiopia Nikolaos Patakias says proudly.

Sitting in his office in the capital Addis Ababa, Patakias shows an ancient Greek romantic novel, The Aethiopica. It’s a love story about the relationship between the daughter of the queen of Ethiopia and a Greek descendant of Achilles.

Also in his possession are photographs of relics from the ancient Ethiopian Kingdom of Axum. These include the famous Ezana Stone and some gold coins, both of which have ancient Greek scripture written on them.

“Tradition counts for a lot in Ethiopia and Greece, we follow it by the book,” says businessman Odysseas Parris, 57, sitting in a Greek restaurant close to the ambassador’s residence.

“We’re very lucky because we get to enjoy festivities from both cultures.”

As he sips his frappe – Greek iced coffee – and his wife Anastasia Mitsopoulou smokes and talks expressively with friends, they are unmistakably Mediterranean.

Yet Parris and Mitsopoulou are two of Addis Ababa’s second generation Ethio-Greeks. Both of Parris’ grandfathers were Greek and grandmothers Ethiopian. He, and his parents before him, were born in Ethiopia.

Read more »


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US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing

Rep. Mike Coffman and Rep. Chris Smith along with Ethiopian American activists hold a press conference on H. Res. 128 on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @RepMikeCoffman)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 128 on Tuesday condemning Ethiopia’s human rights and governance record.

The New York-based organization Human Rights Watch welcomed the approval of H. Res. 128 stating that “The non-binding resolution, combined with recent statements from the U.S. Embassy in Addis, sends a strong signal to Ethiopia’s new prime minister that the U.S. expects significant reforms ahead.”

However, some U.S. lawmakers had expressed objection regarding the timing of the vote given that Ethiopia has just inaugurated a new prime minister who has made a commitment to the public to implement democratic reforms.

In an opinion article published on Tuesday in The Hill newspaper the senior Senator from Oklahoma, Republican James Inhofe, wrote: ‘Just one week ago, Dr. Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as Ethiopia’s new prime minister on a mandate to improve these exact issues… We should give Prime Minister Abiy the opportunity to prove himself as a national leader before having the full weight of the United States House of Representatives tossed against him. A heavy-handed, strongly-worded resolution condemning his government, so soon after being sworn in, will severely curtail Abiy’s ability to enact needed reforms.”

The resolution calls on the U.S. government to base its future partnership with Ethiopia on the nation’s “demonstrated commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.” The resolution also calls on the U.S. State Department, in coordination with the Department of the Treasury, “to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”

The Global Magnitsky Act allows the U.S. “to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.”

Tuesday’s vote marked the first time in over 100 years of U.S.-Ethiopia relations that U.S. lawmakers had agreed to take up such a bill regarding Ethiopia.

HRW pointed out: “Resolution 128 was passed in large part because of Ethiopian-American voters concerned with the Ethiopian government’s rights record, who worked together to make themselves an important constituency. Their persistent efforts despite the efforts of the Ethiopian embassy and their Washington lobbyists led to an impressive 108 Congressional representatives from 32 states co-sponsoring this resolution. Hopefully they can build on this success and advocate for binding legislation on Ethiopia.”


Related:
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)

Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II

Emperor Tewodros II who died during the battle of Meqdela in April 1868 [150 years ago this month], was born in 1818, marking his 200th birthday this year. (Image: Mereja.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 9th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This month Ethiopia will commemorate the 200th Birthday of Emperor Tewodros II with planned events in Gondar, Debre Tabor and Addis Ababa.

The government affiliated Fana Broadcasting cited Culture and Tourism Minister Hirut Woldemariam as stating that the program, which is set to take place from April 10th to 16th, will include panel discussions and exhibitions.

Emperor Tewodros has been making international news lately as the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in the UK made an offer last week to loan Ethiopia the treasures that were looted by British troops following the battle of Meqdela in 1868.

The British campaign was waged 150 years ago this month to free a group of missionaries who were being held by Emperor Tewodros at his Meḳdela fortress after he failed to receive a reply for his diplomatic overtures and a letter that he had sent to Queen Victoria requesting military assistance and British experts.

Although Tewodros took his own life in order to avoid being captured alive, the British took his young son, Prince Alemayehu Tewodros (who died as a teenager while in exile in Britain). They also left with a large loot of irreplaceable Ethiopian treasures that are currently housed at various locations in England.

Ethiopia officially asked for restitution of the country’s looted treasures more than ten years ago, but unfortunately the request was rejected.

In 2007 Ethiopia’s president sent Queen Elizabeth II a formal request for the remains of Prince Alemayehu. As the BBC noted at the time: “The young prince was not the only thing the British took from [Meqdela] – they reportedly needed 15 elephants and nearly 200 mules to carry away the treasures that Tewodros had accumulated. Many of them are still in Britain and the Queen has some of them – notably six of the very finest illuminated manuscripts, which are part of the royal collection in Windsor Castle.”

Some of the loot is currently on display at the V&A museum in London including “a priestly gold crown, a gold chalice (both 1735-40), several processional crosses and imperial jewelry,” The Art Newspaper noted quoting V&A’s director Tristram Hunt who said: “They would be sent to Ethiopia on long-term loan, so ownership would remain with the museum.”

According to Fana Broadcasting the Ethiopian government has rejected claims that it is negotiating with the Victoria and Albert Museum of the UK to bring the Meqdela treasures, looted 150 years ago, on long-term loan to the country. “On the contrary we have intensified our efforts for the restitution of all our treasures taken after the battle of Maqdala,” Culture and Tourism Minister Hirut Woldemariam said. Fana adds: “The minister insisted that Ethiopia will further strengthen its demands for the return of treasures from museums and libraries and individuals. There were no discussions about the treasure coming through loan as Ethiopia is the rightful owner of the treasures.”

Regarding the commemoration of the 200th Birthday of Emperor Tewodros Hirut said: “Emperor Tewodros has played significant role in trying to unite the country and modernizing the country as well as establishing and organizing libraries.”


Related:
Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years
UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?
A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

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Miss Ethiopia Becomes Miss Africa

Miss Ethiopia won the maiden Africa Beauty Pageant held in Lagos, Nigeria last week. (Photo: LNN)

Leadership Nigeria Newspaper

Against all odds, tall and gorgeous Miss Ethiopia won the maiden Africa Beauty Pageant defeating Miss Mali, Miss Ghana and Miss Somalia in the Top 5 finalist contest.

The beauty queens are drawn from Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cape Verde, Burundi, Cameroun, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Gambia and Mali. These 15 contestants are the finalists who emerged from the original 54, representing each of the African countries. Alas, Miss Nigeria did not even make it to the top 5.

The soft spoken queen, Zika (her abbreviated name), stated that she was overwhelmed on hearing her name at the event held at the Grand Ball Room of Oriental Hotel last Friday, March 30.

She noted that her greatest rivals were Miss Ghana and Miss Somalia. Speaking at media parley midweek, “Winning this crown has been the most defining moment for me. Winning the Africa Beauty Pageant is my greatest achievement coming from Ethiopia, a country not so known for pageants. It is not about me, it was about my country. I really enjoyed every moment of the two weeks we stayed in Nigeria including the jollof rice. Africa Beauty Pageant is not just about beauty but brains, intelligence as we were groomed on different things,” said the queen. She added that she would use the platform to voice out the plight of the girl child and speak against child abuse and violence against women.

According to the organisers, the winner takes home a brand new Kia Sportage, Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), a fully furnished apartment in Nigeria, because Nigeria is the operating base for this year’s event and cash prize of $5,000. Creative Director of the pageant, Mr. Chike Mordi, noted that the pageant was themed ‘Beauty, Peace and Unity’.

Read more »


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

Ethiopian-American Engineer Fesseha Atlaw, founder of the first Ethiopic software company, Dashen Engineering, and an early pioneer of digitized Ethiopian script. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 6th , 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Just a couple of decades ago it was unthinkable to see Amharic and other Ethiopian languages on our phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Today, however, Ethiopic script is ubiquitous and is used in many applications including in our communication via text messages and on social media.

We were curious to find out when and how Ethiopic Script was introduced to modern computers, so we reached out to Ethiopian-American Engineer Fesseha Atlaw, founder of the first Ethiopic software company, Dashen Engineering, and an early pioneer of digitized Ethiopian script.

Fesseha was among those profiled here some 25 years ago in an article titled “Legends of Ethiopic Computing” for his role as the producer of the first usable Ethiopic word processor. The article noted: “Ato Fesseha is best known in the field of Ethiopic computing for providing the genesis for the concept of computerizing the Ethiopian alphabet.”

“The Ethiopian script has come a long way since it was first applied to a computer program in the early 1980s,” Fesseha says. “We have made a lot of progress in the last three and a half decades, and I get emotional when I think of how far we have come in just 30 years.”

While working with the Unicode Technical Consortium in the early 90s (where he was the only African participant for 30 years) Fesseha was also responsible for proposing and pushing Ethiopic script to be the computer name instead of Geez or Amharic. “This I did consulting with Ethiopian linguists,” Fesseha explains. “The implication for this name selection was huge. It not only permanently codifies the computer reference to the language to be associated with Ethiopia but also correctly credits that the alphabet origination or development belongs to all Ethiopians.”

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

For Fesseha it was his passion for writing in Amharic rather than his profession in the tech industry that initially inspired him to design the first known Ethiopic Script Software. “I loved writing in Amharic as far back as I remember,” recalls Fesseha in an interview with Tadias.

In fact he was barely 15 years old when a high school play that he wrote got the attention of the late Poet Laureate of Ethiopia Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin and was staged at the National Theater garnering him a “thumbs up” review in the Ethiopian Herald and a full page interview on Ethiopia Dimts (የኢትዮጵያ ድምፅ).

Years later, after Fesseha moved to the United States and became an engineer working for Hewlett-Packard (HP) in the heart of Silicon Valley, he still wanted to continue his writing and had contacted people in Ethiopia to send him an Amharic typewriter. But there was one huge problem.

“I discovered that it was a capital crime to smuggle an Amharic typewriter out of Ethiopia,” Fesseha says. “It was a political punishment to discourage free expression and dissemination of pamphlets and other material by opponents of the military government of Mengistu Hailemariam. As the saying goes ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ so they did not want anybody to have this writing machine.” He adds: “I even contacted Olivetti in Italy that manufactured Amharic typewriters for the Ethiopian market. They told me that they had a contractual obligation with the Ethiopian government not to sell the typewriters outside of Ethiopia.”

“Necessity is the mother of invention” Fesseha says, explaining that he decided instead to develop a software using the Ethiopic alphabet. Of course there was no such thing as Windows Operating System at the time and personal computers were at very early development stages — home computers were not even in the radar — and buying one was an expensive endeavor. Fesseha rented the cheapest IBM computer (8086 Micro processor) and a “noisy” DOT Matrix printer for $380 per month.

“It was very crude process,” he recalls. “I had to design screen font and printer font separately for each letter pixel by pixel and grid by grid.”

Fesseha held his first major demonstration at Stanford University in the mid-1980s. “It was a well attended event,” Fesseha shares. “Many people came including the touring Ethiopian delegation to the U.S.” Shortly thereafter in 1986/87 Fesseha gave his first interview to Voice of America’s Amharic service.

The touring Ethiopian delegation eventually extended an invitation to him to do a similar demonstration in Ethiopia, which ended up with him hosting a workshop at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa. “It was a dramatic day because Mengistu showed up unannounced,” Fesseha chuckles remembering the moment. “All of a sudden they cleared out the room and a whole bunch of military people with machine guns came in. I kind of sensed that it might be Mengistu and he was not my favorite guy. I had demonstrated against him, I used to write articles in U.S. newspapers about the atrocities and killings at that time, so I was a bit nervous to meet him face-to-face.”

Just as Fesseha guessed, after a few hours of waiting, Mengistu strolled right into the room with his entourage heading straight to the demo table to meet Fesseha. “So I quickly wrote on the screen his favorite slogan: “Hulum Neger Wede Tor Ginbar,” (“ሁሉም ነገር ወደ ጦር ግንባር”), Fesseha says. “To my relief Mengistu found it humorous and smiled from afar.” Although Mengistu was impressed and asked a lot of questions there “was not much productive follow-up afterwards,” Fesseha notes. He returned to California and continued on improving on it and making it available to the public “without any help from the Ethiopian government.”


Fesseha Atlaw hosting the first Ethiopic software workshop at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa in the mid 1980s. (Courtesy photos)

What were the most significant milestones in digitizing Ethiopic Script?

“The most important development in the history of Ethiopic software came in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Voice of America (VOA) international service gave Xerox a contract to develop multilingual computers and one of the languages they requested was Amharic,” Fesseha says. “Collaborating with Joe Becker from Xerox I pushed for “Ethiopic” to be the unicode name in the Unicode list of languages,” Fesseha emphasizes. “I am proud of that struggle and I consider it to be my biggest contribution. Now the computer knows our alphabet as ‘Ethiopic’ and even a brand new computer will be able to display and allow you to write Ethiopic characters without having to download or install fonts or programs.”

What is Unicode?

“Unicode is an international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts, by which each letter, digit, or symbol is assigned a unique numeric value that applies across different computer platforms and software programs. Ethiopic was included in the Unicode standard in 1990. I feel honored to have had a part in the inclusion of Ethiopic in the Unicode standard working with the founder of the Unicode Consortium himself, Dr. Joe Becker of Xerox Corporation. I have been working with Dr. Becker and others in proposing improvements and additions to the set of Ethiopic characters. Members come from high tech companies including IBM, Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. While I was at Hewlett Packard and Dashen Engineering I participated representing the two companies, now I am an individual member since I no longer work at HP. I am still the only member from Africa.”

What is the state of Ethiopic in 2018?

“The state of Ethiopic is thriving as never before,” says Fisseha enthusiastically. “Now almost all, I would say 90%, of software applications can easily be done in Ethiopic.” Some of these include Amharic Translation such as in Google browser, as well as Amharic OCR and Amharic Natural Language Processing.

“Regarding the Amharic OCR (Optical Character Recognition), it’s a relatively new technology even for English language users,” Fesseha explains. “The way it works is, the computer takes a picture of a character and matches it with a UNICODE equivalent. The implication is huge. We can now search for a sentence or a word in old scanned books or Amharic documents that were written long time ago before the advent of Ethiopic Software. It also means you can now edit old books and scans as the OCR engine converts any written Ethiopic into editable format after it has been scanned as PDF.”

As for Amharic Natural Language Processing, “this is where a computer can actually read a book for you (in a synthesized voice) and one can also give instructions to the computer via natural spoken language,” Fesseha adds. “Again the implication is immense. You can speak to the computer or mobile device in Amharic and it will start writing your words. You can do this within an application or cut and paste the written words into any application like Facebook or Twitter or Excel etc. This natural Language processing AI is also allowing us to have our own robot that takes instructions and provides an answer in Amharic (Much the same way as Alexa of Amazon and Siri of Apple). One young developer has called his robot “Meron.” An actual sample conversation looks like this:

ጤና ይስጥልኝ
ጤና ይስጥልኝ ስሞትን ማን ልበል?
ፍሥሓ እባላለሁ
ሰላም ፍሥሓ እባላለሁ ፣ ሜሮን እባላለሁ
አማርኛ ትችያለሽ ?
አዎ
ጎበዝ

Fesseha points out that modern graphics design and animation can likewise easily be done in Amharic and cites examples such as TV program graphics, neon signs and animated words and phrases.

“The sky is the limit,” Fisseha enthuses. “The basis for all this was the foundation that was set some 30 years ago to include Ethiopic in the globalized world language ranks.” Now many young Ethiopians such as MetaAppz, Ethiocloud, Agerigna and many many more have taken it to the next level and are developing applications at a very fast rate.”

There have been some recent discussions and debates about whether or not Ethiopic should be used to write Afaan Oromo, and Fesseha who also advises the Oromo community in helping to standardize Qube writing system, adds that he does not believe in imposing Ethiopic on anyone.

“That’s a political issue that Oromos must decide on their own as to the value of using Ethiopic script for Afan Oromo” he says. “As you know Oromiffa has several dialects so Qube is not standardized yet and there are some related technical issues that we are working to resolve at the moment.”

“Some 40 years ago, Oromo intellectuals felt that Ethiopic/Geez script was too cumbersome to computerize and developed the Qube system,” shares Fesseha. “Now in 2018, Ethiopic can do everything a Latin script can do and in my humble opinion, if Afaan Oromo started using Ethiopic, it would be easier to have Google translate and other technological advances include Afaan Oromo and the rich Oromo language can benefit from the technology sooner than later. I will continue to do my best to help in this regard. I call on Oromo scholars to consider using Ethiopic to write Afaan Oromo not for political reason but for simple technical reasons. Ethiopic script belongs to all Ethiopians like Adwa belongs to all of us.”


Cover of an old Afaan Oromo Bible መጫፈ ቁልቁሉ reprinted from the 1800′s version.

Ethiopic Unicode has had characters that represent unique Afaan Oromo sounds such as “በዻኔ” “ዻባ” “ዼሬሳ” … These are not new developments but have been incorporated in the Unicode some 30 years ago as shown in this chart.

Fesseha emphasizes that the development of Ethiopic Script incorporated the participation of many individuals over the years in helping to fine-tune the process. He notes: “From the beginning it was a community-based effort and the credit goes to lots of people and especially the young engineers who are continuously refining the use of Ethiopic in various technology platforms.”


You can learn more about the history of Ethiopic Software and contact Fesseha Atlaw at fesseha@optmax.com or through www.ethiopicsoftware.org.

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In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission

Mobile internet service has been restored in Ethiopia, adding to the list of positive news coming out of the country since the inauguration of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on Monday, April 2nd. In addition The Associated Press reports that Ethiopia has now officially closed the notorious Maekelawi prison. And Reuters notes that on Saturday, Abiy arrived in Jijiga - the capital of the Somali region - in a bid to tackle the problems [that displaced nearly a million people]. Below are links to these and other related stories. (Photo: Reuters)

Xinhua

Joyous mood as mobile internet restored in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, April 6 (Xinhua) — Ethiopians residing outside the capital Addis Ababa woke up to find mobile internet back working as the service restored on Friday after five months of blackout.

The East African country on Friday restored mobile internet service after it was terminated across the country for the past five months, leaving majority of the country’s population to search rare wi-fi and broadband internet services.

Ashenafi Yenew, a young Ethiopian in Bahir Dar city, told Xinhua that the reopening of mobile internet service on Friday morning “was a great surprise” for him and residents of the city…

The block on mobile internet service was a major concern since the majority of Ethiopians use their mobile handsets to access the internet.

Ethiopia’s state-owned EthioTelecom recently announced that it has more than 57 million mobile subscribers, accounting to more than half of the country’s total population.

Maereg Sahlu, a tourist guide in Lalibe town, also told Xinhua that the block on mobile internet was a major inconvenience for many tourists.

“Tourists need mobile internet for various purposes mainly to check maps and also communicate with their relatives back home,” Sahlu said.

“Most of the time they were not happy when we tell them to use other options instead of mobile internet service,” Sahlu added.

According to Sahlu, the restoration of mobile internet service is “a great news for us and also tourists who come from different parts of the world.”

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia closes notorious prison as internet service returns (AP)
Ethiopia’s PM seeks end to violence that displaced nearly a million (Reuters)
Ethiopia Closes Infamous Prison, But Activists Await Deeper Reforms (VOA)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia

In his inaugural speech PM Abiy Ahmed called for unity and talks with opposition groups. And he promised to make peace with Eritrea. “He sounded like Obama,” gushes Asrat Abera, a resident of the capital. (EPA)

The Economist

IN ITS three decades of existence, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has gone through only two leaders. Neither came to power through a competitive vote. So it was with a sense of novelty that Ethiopians awaited the outcome of a secret ballot held on March 27th to determine the new chairman of the coalition and, by extension, the country’s prime minister.

The result was also historic. Abiy Ahmed (pictured) won the backing of 108 party bigwigs, while 59 went for Shiferaw Shigute, his closest rival. On April 2nd Mr Abiy was sworn in as prime minister, making the 42-year-old Africa’s youngest leader. He will also be the first in modern Ethiopian history to identify as Oromo—from the largest, and lately the most rebellious, of the country’s ethnic groups…

He takes office on a wave of goodwill. Taxis across Oromia are emblazoned with his photo. Activists abroad tweeted their support. Even in Addis Ababa, the capital, where locals are wary of his ethnic nationalism, there is optimism. In his inaugural speech Mr Abiy apologised for the government’s killing of protesters. He called for unity and talks with opposition groups. And he promised to make peace with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s long-standing enemy. “He sounded like Obama,” gushes Asrat Abera, a resident of the capital.

Read more »


Related:
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)

Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)
Ethiopia chooses new leader from protest-hit region (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia faces new prime minister in bid to calm protests (AP)
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition approves Abiye Ahmed as prime minister (Reuters)

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Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists

Jounalist Eskinder Nega is among those released once again. (Photo: By Yonas Tadesse/Getty Images)

Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

April 5

Ethiopia Releases 11 Journalists, Politicians Once Again

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Eleven journalists, politicians and bloggers in Ethiopia who were detained last month for allegedly displaying an outlawed flag and gathering in violation of a state of emergency have been released, a lawyer said Thursday.

Amha Mekonnen, who represented most of the detained journalists, told The Associated Press that no charges were filed.

Most of the 11 had been released from prison earlier this year with dozens of others as the former prime minister tried to open up political space after months of the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century. They were detained again late last month as they gathered for a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa, with family and friends.

Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was sworn in on Monday, vowing to solve “lots of problems,” amid hopes that he will be able to quell the sustained unrest that has rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Among those now freed again are journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, politician Andualem Aragie and prominent blogger Befekadu Hailu.

Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge. And a proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its center. Those contravening the law could face up to a year and a half in prison.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prominent economies and a key security ally of the West but is often accused by rights groups and opposition groups of stifling dissent and arresting opposition party members, journalists, activists and bloggers.


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UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?

One of several processional crosses that were among the items looted during the British campaign in Ethiopia in 1868. (Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in the UK is offering to loan Ethiopia its own treasures that were looted by British troops at the battle of Meqdelā in 1868.

Ethiopia officially asked for restitution of the country’s looted treasures that are being held at various locations in England more than ten years ago, but unfortunately the request was rejected.

It’s also worth noting that the latest noncommittal gesture from V&A comes on the eve of the Museum’s exhibition due to open on April 5th showcasing its Meqdelā collection on the 150th anniversary of the battle.

“On show will be 20 items, including a priestly gold crown, a gold chalice (both 1735-40), several processional crosses and imperial jewellery,” The Art Newspaper noted. “The formal opening will be attended by Ethiopia’s minister of culture and tourism, Hirut Woldemariam, and the ambassador to the UK, Hailemichael Aberra Afework.”

“They would be sent to Ethiopia on long-term loan, so ownership would remain with the museum,” the publication stated quoting V&A’s director Tristram Hunt. “This offer is likely to put pressure on other UK institutions that hold seized Ethiopian material, including the British Museum and the British Library.”

In a related story The Guardian argued: “The offer is significant given the pledge by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, that the return of African artefacts would be a “top priority” for his administration.”

The Battle of Meqdelā took place in April 1868 between British soldiers led by Robert Napier and Ethiopians led by Emperor Tewodros II. Per Wiki: “In March 1866 a British envoy had been dispatched to secure the release of a group of missionaries who had first been seized when a letter Tewodros II had sent to Queen Victoria requesting munitions and military experts from the British, delivered by an envoy, Captain Cameron, had gone unanswered. They were released; however Tewodros II changed his mind and sent a force after them and they were returned to the fortress and imprisoned again, along with Captain Cameron.” In the end, Tewodros took his own life in order to avoid being captured alive as the British closed in on him at his mountain fortress in Meḳdelā.

The Guardian added: “The loan proposal has been welcomed by the Ethiopian state and campaigners, but Hunt said it was a complex debate and it was important not to extrapolate a “blanket policy”. He told the Guardian: “You have to take it item by item and you have to take it history by history. Once you unpick the histories of the collections it becomes a great deal more complicated and challenging.”

We’re not exactly sure why returning looted property to its rightful owners is complicated and challenging, but you can read both articles at the following links:

V&A opens dialogue on looted Ethiopian treasures (The Art Newspaper)

Looted Ethiopian treasures in UK could be returned on loan (The Guardian)


Related:
Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years
150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II
A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

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The Day Martin Luther King Jr. Died (Video)

Fifty years ago today, the civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. Riots broke out across the country, but in Indianapolis, there was peace. (WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

The Washington Post

After King’s assassination, RFK calmed an angry crowd with an unforgettable speech

As darkness took hold on April 4, 1968, newly declared presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy stepped in front of a microphone atop a flatbed truck in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood in Indianapolis.

Looking out onto the crowd, Kennedy turned and quietly asked a city official, “Do they know about Martin Luther King?”

The civil rights leader had been shot a few hours earlier, though the news that he was dead hadn’t reached everyone yet.

Robert F. Kennedy gave what turned out to be an iconic speech following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Listen: The day Martin Luther King Jr. died (Washington Post Audio)

Read more »


Related:
MLK’s final speech — delivered 50 years ago — was full of timely and timeless teachings.


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MLK’s Final Speech 50 Years Ago: Analysis

MLK’s final speech — delivered 50 years ago [this week] — was full of timely and timeless teachings. (WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

The Washington Post

Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech, delivered 50 years ago tonight [April 3rd] in Memphis, is well remembered for its prophetic musings on mortality. “I’ve seen the Promised Land,” he said on a stormy night at the Mason Temple. “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

The reverend’s declaration that he was not worried about anything and did not fear any man followed more than 40 minutes of reflection on the cause that brought him to Memphis — and martyrdom.

Slain at just 39, the extemporaneous oratory on the eve of his assassination ensured that King would be remembered as a sort of American Moses. But the meat of his larger message is also worth revisiting on this dreadful half-century anniversary. His case for the virtue of nonviolent protest, boycotts and pushing the country to live up to our shared ideals is timely. His paeans to unity, economic justice and the moral obligation to look out for the least among us are timeless.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


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Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed delivered a well-received and hopeful speech after taking the oath of office on Monday appealing for unity, pledging democracy and improved relations with Eritrea. Abiy said: "Democracy cannot be realized in the absence of rights, be it civil or economic rights. We all need to have a platform to voice our concerns." (Getty Images)

Africa News

By Daniel Mumbere

Ethiopia PM appeals for unity, pledges democracy and improved relations with Eritrea

Ethiopia’s parliament swore in Abiy Ahmed as prime minister on Monday with a mandate to implement democratic reforms aimed partly at defusing ethnic tensions in the Oromiya province from which the former army lieutenant general hails.

The ruling coalition picked Abiy last week to replace Hailemariam Desalegn who quit to clear the way for reforms.

Abiy, 42, took the oath of office in a ceremony at the House of People’s Representatives in Addis Ababa.

Addressing a parliament session attended by 478 members of parliament, the new prime minister gave an impassioned speech on the need for unity and reform in the Eastern Africa nation.

“Today is a historic day. We bear witness to a peaceful transfer of power. Today our situation presents us with opportunities and threats. Today we are in the midst of uncertain times,” Abiy said in a speech to parliament.

Read more »


Related:
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)
Ethiopia chooses new leader from protest-hit region (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia faces new prime minister in bid to calm protests (AP)
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition approves Abiye Ahmed as prime minister (Reuters)

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Ethiopian American Fashion Designer Amsale Aberra Passes Away

Acclaimed Ethiopian American wedding fashion designer Amsale Aberra has passed away at the age of 64. Born in Addis Ababa in 1954, Amsale who moved to the U.S. in the 1970s, was the founder and creative director of the bridal label Amsale, one of the industry's leading brands in the United States. (Photo: WE tv)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — We are deeply saddened to report that Amsale Aberra, Ethiopian-American Founder and Creative Director of the bridal and fashion design house, AMSALE, passed away yesterday (April 1st). A statement from the company shares that Amsale “was surrounded by close friends and family at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital” where she was being treated for uterine cancer.

We featured a profile of Amsale Aberra on the first print version of Tadias Magazine in 2003. Sharing how she built her fashion house, Amsale reminisced about her days growing up as a teenager in Ethiopia and her love of making clothes. “Trying to make something by hand is always something that I liked…At the time I didn’t know there was such a profession as designer” she told Tadias. Amsale had initially studied commercial art and pursued a degree in political science after she arrived in the United States in the early 70s before she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.

“When I attended FIT that’s when I truly felt like this is what I wanted to do. That’s how I ended up being a designer,” Amsale told Tadias in an interview on July 2011 shortly after her launch of the Amsale Girls Reality TV show.

In 1996 Amsale opened her flagship salon on Madison Avenue in New York and has since launched several lines including the elaborate Kenneth Pool Label (2003) and Nouvelle Amsale (2015).

Speaking about her work as Creative Director Amsale told Tadias that when she “started with AMSALE, which is about simplicity, it just needed to be very clean, and simple and modern. But all brides are not like that. Some brides may want something a little more elaborate.” So she designed and launched the Kenneth Pool collection that she described as having “more shimmer, embroidery, it’s very bold, very dramatic but yet it’s still very sophisticated.”

Numerous celebrities have dressed in AMSALE gowns for the red carpet including Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett, and Salma Hayek. Her bridal and evening wear has been worn by actors in films such as Something Borrowed, When in Rome, and Runaway Bride as well as on TV including in Grey’s Anatomy, Oprah Winfrey Show and The View.

Amsale had shared the design process that her team undertakes as incorporating inspiration and keeping in mind that everyone won’t fit the same style.

“I really am very practical,” Amsale had said when speaking about her bridal designs. “I mean does it work? Is it something not just only beautiful but is it functional? Brides will look beautiful if they are comfortable. The point of the whole day is for the bride to have fun after she looks amazingly beautiful.”

Amsale, who was born in Addis Ababa in 1954, also shared her enthusiasm and admiration for the current generation of youth who are pursuing their dreams as designers, and offered a few words of wisdom for them: “What I really want to say to anyone is basically believe in yourself and don’t ever think it’s easy. It is hard and you have to keep that passion. You have to find a way to show it without quitting. Eventually things will happen. And that’s what I would say to all designers.”

Amsale was a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a Trustee and alum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and served on the international advisory board of the Ethiopian Children’s Fund. Amsale is “survived by her husband and partner, Clarence O’Neill Brown, known as “Neil”, her daughter Rachel Amsale Brown, her father Aberra Moltot and her half-sister Aster Yilma. Amsale was 64 years old.”

In a statement Neill Brown said: “Amsale was not only an inspiration to the company, but someone who inspired and impacted everyone around her with her strength, kindness, and humility. Working side by side we spent 360 degrees of our life together, and I know only too well both her creative genius and her infinite goodness. Words cannot express the personal loss that we feel, but we are comforted by the avalanche of support we’ve received and the commitment of our team to carry on Amsale’s legacy.”

Watch: Tadias Magazine’s Interview With Bridal-Fashion Designer Amsale Aberra

Watch: Tadias TV Exclusive – Inside Amsale Aberra’s Luxury Manhattan Boutique


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Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia

Ethopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali with the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn after taking his oath of office on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @povonewsafrica)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: APRIL 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia is welcoming a new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, this week to fill the vacated position by the former PM Hailemariam Desalegn. This month, Ethiopia is also facing an unprecedented vote in the United States Congress denouncing its human rights record.

Resolution H. RES. 128, which is scheduled for a vote next week, calls on the U.S. State Department in coordination with the Department of the Treasury “to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”

Whether the measure passes or not, the fact that such a proposal is being debated on the floor of the U.S. Congress should give pause to current Ethiopian government officials of all ranks who may be otherwise inclined to ignore their citizens’ constitutional rights.

According to Human Rights Watch the Global Magnitsky Act allows the U.S. “to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption. The act received widespread bipartisan support. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a version of the bill, and five Republican senators and five Democratic senators signed on as co-sponsors. President Barack Obama signed the law on December 23, 2016.”

“I’m happy to announce that after months of hard work (by all involved) #HRes128 is scheduled for a vote the week of April 9,” announced Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, one of the main backers of the bill via Twitter on March 21st. “The fight for respect of human rights & inclusive governance in #Ethiopia continues.”

Most importantly, we hope Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister shares the vision of the vast majority of Ethiopians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to finally set Ethiopia on a peaceful road to genuinely free and fair elections as well as create the much needed democratic political space for all opposing views, including those who want to organize on the basis of common ideas and not necessarily based on ethnic politics and tribal affiliations.

As the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia stressed in a strongly worded press release in February: “The challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy.”

We hope that Ethiopia’s new PM will have the courage to act swiftly to lift the draconian State of Emergency proclamation and bring an end to this vicious cycle of arrests, pardons and re-arrests of journalists, academics and opposition activists.


Related:
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)

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Model Gelila Bekele on OkayAfrica 100 List

The OkayAfrica website features Ethiopian Model and activist Gelila Bekele on their 00 Women 2018 list—a project highlighting the impactful work done by African women across the globe. (Photo: OkayAfrica)

OkayAfrica

100 Women: Gelila Bekele Is the Ethiopian Activist Building Solutions to Help Her Community Thrive

The Ethiopian model and activist wants to make sure that “Africa isn’t a dumping ground for foreign aid”—here’s how she’s doing it.

Gelila Bekele, is an Ethiopian model, activist, filmmaker and self-proclaimed “village girl” who is fiercely advocating for the people of her community.

Bekele is dedicated to fostering growth and long-term sustainability in Ethiopia’s rural areas—places where she proudly calls home. For her, it’s all about supporting her local community and addressing the barriers that young people face to receiving education, clean water and more. “It all starts from your home,” says Bekele.”

When it comes to seeing her community thrive, Bekele believes that It’s all about intention and follow through. One of her primary goals is to “make sure Africa isn’t a dumping ground for foreign aid, and really making sure that we are apart of the conversation in every level.”

She emphasizes the need for Africans to be in control of our own destinies—this message is wholly reflected in the work she does.

Learn more about Bekele and her work as a community builder in the video below.


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Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country's Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Associated Press

BY ELIAS MESERET

Updated: Monday, April 2, 2018

New prime minister takes office in Ethiopia amid hopes he can quell ongoing protests

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Young and outspoken Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in Monday as Ethiopia’s prime minister, amid hopes he will be able to quell the sustained anti-government protests that have rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s parliament, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in mid-February as a result of widespread protests that have taken the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.

“This is a historic moment,” said Abiy in his inaugural address to Ethiopian lawmakers. “This is high time for us to learn from our past mistakes and make up for all the wrongs done in the past . we understand there are a lots of problems that need to be solved with great urgency.”

Abiy apologized for the deaths of civilians in the violent protests. He said his administration will strive to solve grievances by discussion rather than by force, provide more space for opposition parties, fight corruption and focus on respect for rule of law.

The new leader said he aims to open up a fresh dialogue with arch-foe Eritrea and called upon Ethiopia’s diaspora to more actively take part in the country’s affairs.

Abiy is the first Oromo politician to become Ethiopia’s prime minister since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. It is hoped he will be able to bring an end to the protests that have been raging since late 2015 to press for wider political freedoms and the release of opposition figures. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, have long felt marginalized both politically and economically.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the army and head of Ethiopia’s Science and Technology ministry, Abiy, 42, has a reputation as an effective orator and reformer.

Many welcomed the new leader.

“I think this is a very important step toward the overall democratization and stability of the country,” said Kiya Tsegaye, a lawyer and political analyst. “But he needs the support of the people around him, especially top party officials to implement his reform measures.”

Prominent opposition leader Merara Gudina expressed cautious optimism over Abiy’s election, saying the future of Ethiopia’s peace and stability depends on the policies of the incoming leader and his party.

“What he aims to achieve depends on what his party allows him to do,” Merara said, adding that Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s ruling party and not directly by the population through a general election. “But still it goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation.”

Ethiopia’s Olympic gold medalist runner, Haile Gebrselassie, said the peaceful transfer of power is a win-win situation for all Ethiopians.

“The new leader’s election has answered many Ethiopians’ questions,” Haile told The Associated Press, saying that Abiy should implement his pledges without delay. “His inaugural address today has the ability to bring together not only Ethiopians, but countries in the region as well.”

Abiy will be Ethiopia’s third prime minister since the former military junta, the Derg, was overthrown in 1991.

Ethiopia in February declared its second state of emergency in two years amid the ongoing protests that effectively crippled transportation networks and forced the closure of businesses. On Saturday, Ethiopian officials said that more than 1,000 people have been detained since the latest emergency rule was put in place.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital, Addis Ababa, commended the peaceful transfer of power, saying it is the first time a living leader has handed over power in Ethiopia’s recent history.

“We stand ready to support the government’s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms and look forward to the lifting of the state of emergency,” the U.S. embassy said in an email sent to The Associated Press.


Related:
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)
Ethiopia chooses new leader from protest-hit region (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia faces new prime minister in bid to calm protests (AP)
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition approves Abiye Ahmed as prime minister (Reuters)

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11-year-old Naomi Wadler’s Eloquent Speech at Our Lives Rally in DC

Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old from Alexandria, Va. delivered a speech at the March for Our Lives rally in D.C. on March 24. Naomi was born in Ethiopia. (Reuters)

The Washington Post

The story behind 11-year-old Naomi Wadler and her March for Our Lives speech

The youngest speaker at the March for Our Lives rally Saturday made one of the biggest splashes with an eloquent speech urging the nation not to forget black women, who are disproportionately represented among the victims of gun violence.

Naomi Wadler, an Alexandria fifth-grader, became a hashtag, a meme shared around the world, praised by celebrities who included actress Lupita Nyong’o and comedian Eddie Griffin. The 11-year-old was heralded as future presidential material.

But Wadler hasn’t seen any of that: She’s not on social media.

“I have been accustomed to not Google myself, so I haven’t seen everything,” Wadler said Sunday in a phone interview during her spring break beach trip. “My speech might not have caused a giant impact on society, but I do hope all the black girls and women realize there’s a growing value for them.”

That was the focus of her 3-minute, 30-second speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by roars of applause.

“I am here to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” Wadler said. “I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”

Wadler was born in Ethi­o­pia and attends a school where nearly six in 10 students are white, a third are Hispanic and 6 percent are black. Her mom is white, and her dad, a recreational hunter, is black.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


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Ethiopia Arrests a Dozen Opposition Activists Over Flag Display (Bloomberg)

Jounalist Eskinder Nega. (Photographer: Yonas Tadesse/AFP via Getty Images)

Bloomberg

Ethiopian police arrested 12 opposition activists, including previously freed detainees, after they displayed a flag that differs from the official national banner.

Those arrested include four members of the opposition Blue Party, two journalists including Eskinder Nega, the former vice chairman of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party Andualem Aragie, and three members of the Zone 9 blogging collective, according to the chairmen of the two opposition parties.

The arrests took place Sunday at a private house in Lebu on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, Blue Party Chairman Yeshawas Assefa said by phone. About 70 activists had met separately earlier Sunday at a Blue Party lunch in the city to celebrate the recent release of prisoners from across Ethiopia, Yeshawas and UDJP Chairman Tigistu Awelu said.

“The only thing they tell the prisoners, the comrades, is why are you using this flag?” Yeshawas said. “They said nobody can enter into the police station, and we will tell you after we investigate them.”

Read more »


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Ethiopian Photographer Aida Muluneh Featured in W Magazine

Photographer Aida Muluneh from Ethiopia is featured in the "Being: New Photography 2018" exhibition, which is the current edition of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)'s New Photography series in New York. The group show, which opened on March 18th, will be on display through August 19, 2018. (Photo: By Aida Muluneh, Local Understanding, 2016/Courtesy of the artist via W)

W Magazine

Ethiopian Photographer Aida Muluneh’s Body Painting Pictures Will Stop You In Your Tracks

Aida Muluneh’s photographs are showstoppers—quite literally. Combining the shocks of color and crisp geometries of abstract painters like Frank Stella and the disturbing micro-thrills of Man Ray’s fashion pictures (see: the mysterious extra pair of hands in slide 2, or the unlikely angle and skin color of the model’s reflection in slide 4) with the body painting, materials, and traditions of her native Africa, Muluneh’s pictures are designed to short-circuit your eye. They always stand out in a crowd, even in a group exhibition like “Being: New Photography 2018,” MoMA’s current survey of the photographic landscape where Muluneh’s work is featured. Although she was born in Ethiopia in 1974, as a child Muluneh lived in Yemen, Cyprus, England, Canada, and the U.S.—and therefore, as she has said before, felt like an outsider everywhere. After working as a photojournalist with the Washington Post, she returned to Ethiopia to explore her heritage through her photography. Now, after founding the Addis Foto Fest in 2010, Muluneh creates African images that speak to the world.

Read more and see the pictures at wmagazine.com »


Related:
Tadias Spotlight: Aida Muluneh in MoMA’s Being: New Photography 2018

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Ethiopia Faces US Human Rights Bill Vote

Rep. Mike Coffman (center) is one of the sponsors HR128. (Photo: Ethio-American Civic Council/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 24th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Next month the U.S. Congress is scheduled to vote on a resolution condemning the continuing violations of constitutionally guaranteed human rights in Ethiopia.

Among other issues the resolution denounces “excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces; the arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists, and political leaders who exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression and the abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to stifle political and civil dissent and journalistic freedoms.”

The resolution entitled H. RES. 128 has gained momentum and urgency in recent days picking up nearly 100 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives as Ethiopia has devolved into another round of political turmoil and state of emergency.

Ethio-American Civic Council, a community advocacy group based in Colorado, stated via social media that they “now have 98 co-sponsors in the House and 25 co-sponsors in the Senate.”

“I’m happy to announce that after months of hard work (by all involved) #HRes128 is scheduled for a vote the week of April 9,” Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, one of the main backers of the bill twitted this week. “The fight for respect of human rights & inclusive governance in #Ethiopia continues.”

The resolution calls on the U.S. Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury, “to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act; and stand by the people of Ethiopia and support their peaceful efforts to increase democratic space and to exercise the rights guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution.”


Related:
Diaspora’s Role in Helping to Shape Better U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Ethiopia

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Mulatu Astatke Always in Motion

Mulatu Astatke is revered for being the father of Ethio-jazz. (Music in Africa)

Music in Africa

Mulatu Astatke remains a musician in motion

Ethiopian jazz master Mulatu Astatke will be taking a break from his extensive 2018 European concert tour to play at the 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival in South Africa. This should come as no surprise given that he has been in global motion ever since his parents sent him to study aeronautical engineering in North Wales in 1956.

But Mulatu soon began trumpet lessons instead – he enrolled in London’s Trinity School of Music. While in London he heard performances by Caribbean and West African musicians that evoked his memories of the big bands he had enjoyed back home in Ethiopia. These performances pushed him to consider new a direction.

Mulatu was the first African student to enrol at what would soon become the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1958. There he traded in his trumpet for the vibraphone. In 1960 he lived in New York City, where he spent more than six years taking part in the world of American jazz, interacting with Latin musicians, making records and performing in concerts.

By the time Mulatu returned to Ethiopia later that decade, he had developed the concept of Ethio-jazz and was actively experimenting with this hybrid musical style. Ethio-jazz draws on multiple trends from the American jazz scene, including bebop and modal jazz combined with melodies and harmonies in the Ethiopian modal system.

Melding of sounds

Mulatu’s innovations were anchored by his childhood memories of traditional Ethiopian secular and church music. It was further inflected by harmony classes at the Berklee School and welded by the experience of hearing and playing jazz in London, Boston and New York City.

Mulatu’s pieces over the course of his career retain these early musical influences and a highly original mixture of sounds from places experienced on his lifelong itinerary.

An example is Mulatu’s signature piece ‘Yekermo Sew’ (A Man of Experience and Wisdom) which was featured in the soundtrack of American independent filmmaker and screenwriter Jim Jarmusch‘s 2005 film Broken Flowers and then circulated across the world. Composed following Mulatu’s return to Ethiopia in the late 1960s, ‘Yekermo Sew’ takes its title from a traditional Ethiopian Christian New Year’s blessing in Amharic, the national Ethiopian language.

Read more »


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Spotlight: The Universal Language of Artist Fikru Gebre Mariam’s Ethiopia Paintings

The graphic theme of Fikru Gebre Mariam's art, which he has totally embraced, is a genre of contemporary Ethiopian painting representing a motif of Ethiopian women engaged in daily tasks. (EDGIC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 22th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The first time that we featured Fikru Gebre Mariam in Tadias Magazine in 2009 he was an up-and-coming artist commuting between his studios in Paris and Addis Ababa. The Tadias profile, which was written by the late American sociologist and scholar of Ethiopian culture and history Donald Levine, described Fikru’s works as expressed in geometric abstraction. “They convey a blend of rich hues, emotional intensity, immediacy of impact, and a touch of austerity,” Levine wrote. “Even so, there is no mistaking the deeply Ethiopian flavor of these paintings. They display hints of Ethiopian miniatures and church paintings. They are imbued with African earth tones. They use the colored garments of Harari women. They capture the somber mood of much Ethiopian life.”

Fast forward to 2018, Fikru Gebre who is now based in Ethiopia full time is an internationally acclaimed artist and sought after by art lovers from around the world.

This week, the Arts Division of EDGIC Fine Art, Luxury & Media Corporation that caters to high-end global art collectors highlighted Fikru in a press release as their “STOP Times UP” feature saying: “The vision of selected Ethiopian EDGIC Artist Fikru Gebre Mariam saw the uprising of emotive influences that sought creation as “At the Red Light” original Art. He appreciates that the way of NOW is to subjugate oppression with the voice of what was once the voiceless through the veracity of experiences to power awareness in embracing unity for equality to be the order of the day.”

EDGIC added: “To this end, Fikru Gebre Mariam brings forward the feminine consciousness to stand as a red light against the atrocities of misused male power. EDGIC Art Division recognizes the value that this great artist brings to the table of mankind and the current climate that has seen the upsurge of Times UP movement to accept that the art of this millennium defines people for peace to be the known reality of mankind. International acclaim has followed Fikru Gebre Mariam over the years, yet his humility is ever present as he acknowledges the power of preserving his art for generations of people to follow the integrity of standing tall in the very nature of their truth.”

Fikru is a graduate of the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts — founded by prominent artist Ale Felege Selam — where he was a protégé of instructor Tadesse Mesfin, who Levine said “not only taught him painterly skills but gave him a graphic theme which he would embrace, struggle with, and grow through, ever since.”


You can learn more about Fikru Gebre Mariam and his work at http://fikrugebremariam.edgic.eu/ and you can view some of his paintings at https://www.pinterest.com/fikru-gebremariam-paintings/.

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Solution to Ethiopia’s Population Explosion

Ethiopia's population has tripled over the past few decades [from 30 million to over 100 million since the 1970s]. Millions of farmers are leaving the fields only to end up living in the slums of huge cities. City planners believe they have found a solution -- in the remote countryside. (Photo: Spiegel Online)

Spiegel Online

The Plan to Bridge the Urban-Rural Divide

Stories about people embarking on their future usually start with a departure. But the story of farmer Birhan Abegaz is different. He plans to stay put right where he is in his quest for happiness — a treeless wasteland in northern Ethiopia.

The crooked huts of his village, Bura, are surrounded by solitary thorn bushes and acacias. Birhan is cultivating rice on a patch of leased land behind his hut, at least during the rainy season. A few months have passed since the harvest. The dry season is here, and the earth is dusty. The Shine River, Bura’s lifeblood, is nothing but a trickle.

Married with three children, Birhan is only 28 years old, but the hardness of rural life has taken its toll on him and he looks much older. He fetches the family’s water for drinking, cooking and washing from about a kilometer away. The nearest well is on the other side of the highway leading to the provincial capital of Bahir Dar, a two-hour drive away. In the past, many people from Bura and the nearby villages took this road, turning their backs on the countryside in search of a better life in the city.

What Can Keep the Farmers in the Countryside?

Since the 1970s, Ethiopia’s population has more than tripled, going from 30 million to over 100 million. In the countryside, overpopulation is leading to the overuse and overgrazing of fields and deforestation. More and more people are moving to the big cities, which are growing faster than the rest of the country. The provincial capital of Bahir Dar had about 60,000 inhabitants 30 years ago, but today it has 350,000. “Apartment buildings, streets, the drinking-water supply and the entire infrastructure can’t keep up with this tempo,” says Ethiopian city planner and architect Zegeye Cherenet.

As a result, new arrivals end up living on the streets or in slums. In the early mornings in Bahir Dar, dozens of ragged young men stand at the intersections in the hope of picking up work as day laborers. In the evenings, their sisters and mothers go to the square and wait for johns.

Read more »


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NYC Students Help to Connect Young Ethiopian Professionals

Michael Andeberhan, Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), model and filmmaker Gelila Bekele, fashion designer Tizita Balemlay and attorney Lydia Gobena are speakers at the "Network to Networth" event that will take place in New York City on March 28th, 2018. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 20th, 2018

NYC Students Create Network Event Platform for Young Ethiopian Professionals

New York (TADIAS) — A student-led initiative in New York is helping to create a greater platform for young Ethiopian professionals to network with established business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Diaspora.

This month an event called “Network to Networth” is scheduled in New York City for March 28th at Doux Supper Club in midtown Manhattan featuring panelists from Wall Street, as well as the legal, film and fashion industries.

Noel Daniel, a finance major at Pace University in NYC who is organizing the event, told Tadias that the purpose is “to foster meaningful connections that could lead to mentorships, partnerships, internships and even leads for jobs and career opportunities.” Noel added that they aim to establish “a relaxed and entertaining” environment as an alternative to “clubbing and bar-hopping” that could actually result in “real opportunities and valuable information.” Noel’s team has already held similar gatherings in Washington, D.C. and Addis Ababa with success while highlighting managers of multinational corporations as well as owners of both small, medium and large private companies.

Panelists at the New York event include attorney Lydia Gobena, Partner at the top intellectual property law firm Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu. Lydia is also owner and designer of the jewelry line, Birabiro. Additional panelists include Michael Andeberhan, Executive Director at MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) and a member of the Global Asset Owner and Consultant team; model and filmmaker Gelila Bekele who is featured in several beauty campaigns including those for Diesel, Anna Sui, Michael Kors, Pantene and L’Oreal; as well as Tizita Balemlay, Founder & Creative Director of @pluggednycstore whose merchandise and designs have garnered support from stars like Rihanna, Jhene Aiko & Lil Yachty.

“Our goal is to build efficient networking with long lasting benefits,” Noel shares, promising an inspiring evening for young professionals to network within their Diaspora community. Tadias is proud to be a media sponsor for the March 28th Q&A panel/mixer.


If You Go:
Network to Networth – NYC
Wed, March 28, 2018
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT
Doux Supper Club
59 W 21st Street
New York,
Click here to RSVP and buy tickets

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Watch: The Talented Kiriku Brothers from Ethiopia on NBC’s “Little Big Shots”

The Kiriku Brothers from Ethiopia on NBC's television show "Little Big Shots" on Sunday, March 18th, 2018. (Photo: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 19th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The talented Kiriku Brothers from Ethiopia were featured on NBC’s hit series “Little Big Shots” on Sunday, March 18th, with host Steve Harvey declaring: “This is the greatest act I’ve ever seen on Little Big Shots!”

Little Big Shots is an American variety television show that highlights children demonstrating talents and participating in conversation with Harvey.

“Steve Harvey couldn’t believe what was happening on the Little Big Shots stage when Ethiopian duo, The Kiriku Brothers, brought their high-flying act to the show,” Yahoo News enthused. “The kids, apparently, met at circus camp, as kids do, and practice their routine for four hours every day. Which is necessary if you’re going to be pulling off the crazy stunts these kids were performing.”

The culture editor of the 2Paragraphs website added: “One of the most memorable and unique performances on Season 3 of Little Big Shots is delivered by the Kiriku Brothers. The foot juggling Kiriku Brothers have all kinds of tricks, including where one of the older ones uses his bare feet to juggle a younger brother with nothing else but his feet. (Note: the Kiriku Brothers aren’t all related.) The Kiriku Brothers troupe hails from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This isn’t the Kiriku Brothers first time on television. Two of the brothers were just on Spain’s Got Talent in February. Spanish singer/actress and Spain’s Got Talent judge Edurne Garcia hit her Golden Buzzer for the Kiriku Brothers.”

Watch: Little Big Shots – The Kiriku Brothers (Episode Highlight)


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Children Of Immigrants Are Top U.S. High School Science Performers (Forbes)

An impressive 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants, according to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy. (Photo: Society for Science & the Public)

Forbes

What would we lose if immigrants could no longer come to America? Surprisingly, one of the most important things America would lose is the contributions made by their children.

A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy found a remarkable 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search were the children of immigrants. The competition organized each year by the Society for Science & the Public is the leading science competition for U.S. high school students. In 2017, the talent search competition was renamed the Regeneron Science Talent Search, after its new sponsor Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,and a new group of 40 finalists – America’s next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians – are competing in Washington, D.C., from March 9 to 15, 2017.

Both family-based and employment-based immigrants were parents of finalists in 2016. In fact, 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas and later became green card holders and U.S. citizens. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States.

To put that in perspective, even though former H-1B visa holders represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, they were four times more likely to have a child as a finalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search than were parents who were both born in the United States.

Parents who were international students were more likely to have a child as a finalist than native-born parents. A total of 27 of the 40 children – 68% – had a parent who came to America as an international student. That means if international students cannot remain in America after graduation (through Optional Practical Training and improved visa policies) it will also deprive America of the potentially substantial contributions of their children.

Read more »


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Ethiopia: Diaspora Reacts to Firing of Tillerson and What It Means for Africa

The recently fired US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is greeted by Ethiopia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu as he arrives at Addis Ababa airport on March 7th, 2018. (Photo: EPA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 18th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — It was supposed to be Rex Tillerson’s first trip to Africa as America’s top diplomat, but it turned out to be his last one.

“So what was the point of it all?,” asked a poignant article published by the Washington Post following Trump’s unceremonious firing of Tillerson last week. “Couldn’t he have just stayed home and sent Africa an email?”

From a public relations point of view, as Reuters points out: “Tillerson’s main aim appeared to be clearing up the mess left by President Donald Trump’s reported dismissal of some African nations as ‘shithole countries’ in addition to promising “$533 million in humanitarian aid and some pat remarks about security and not getting too cozy with China.”

The Washington Post piece adds: “the administration no doubt needed to do something to soften the blow of President Trump’s “shithole countries” remarks (though Tillerson sidestepped the issue at news conferences)… Ultimately, many Africans in the countries he visited were unimpressed.”

In a follow-up story featured on Sunday, March 18th titled “In Africa, Trump’s firing of Tillerson a New Sign of Neglect,” The Associated Press highlights the perspective of Africans as well as members of the African Diaspora including Ethiopian Americans.

Befekadu Hailu, a prominent Ethiopian blogger, told The Associated Press that “Africans have nothing to take Trump seriously. He already proved himself ethno-centrist and exclusivist, no friend to Africa.”

Regarding the removal of Tillerson while making his inaugural visit to the continent, Ted Alemayhu, an Ethiopian-born American who is running for Congress to represent California’s 39th District, told AP: “That, in my opinion, is adding insult to injury.”

The Associated Press notes: “While in Africa, Tillerson tried to project a more positive image of the continent, saying its rapid economic growth and fast-growing populations mean its future is increasingly linked to America’s. He visited some of Africa’s most prominent economies in Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia and highlighted U.S. security issues with stops in Chad and Djibouti… Tillerson also sought to reassure African nations that aid would continue even as the Trump administration pursues deep cuts in foreign assistance.”

AP states “unlike Trump, recent U.S. leaders engaged substantially with Africa. Bill Clinton created a signature trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and George W. Bush launched an HIV treatment program, PEPFAR, that has boosted the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients across Africa. Barack Obama enjoyed goodwill throughout the continent, even though some in Africa felt he fell short of expectations as the son of a Kenyan man. Trump has not indicated any possible initiatives for Africa.”

Read the full article at the washingtonpost.com »


Related:
Diaspora’s Role in Helping to Shape Better U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Ethiopia
Trump Fires Tillerson (UPDATE)
In the end, no one was more surprised that Tillerson was fired than Tillerson
Tillerson in Ethiopia Media Round Up
Tillerson Calls Ethiopia ‘A Young Democracy’
A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia
Ethiopia Pictures: Yirgacheffe Coffee for Tillerson, Ethiopic Script Tie for Lavrov
Tillerson, in Africa, Dodges Questions on Vulgarity and Trolling (NYT)
Tillerson and Lavrov Book Same Ethiopian Hotel—and Can’t Agree on a Meeting (Bloomberg)
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Trump’s comments on Africa cast pall over Tillerson’s long-awaited trip (The Washington Post)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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NYT Update on Al Amoudi’s Imprisonment

Al Amoudi’s vast business empire employs some 70,000 people and includes an agriculture venture, a fuel company and a chain of gas stations. (NYT)

The New York Times

He Owns Much of Ethiopia. The Saudis Won’t Say Where They’re Keeping Him.

He supplies coffee to Starbucks. He owns much of Ethiopia. And he is known as “Sheikh Mo” in the Clintons’ circle.

But the gilded life of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi took a sharp turn in November. Mr. Amoudi, the gregarious 71-year-old son of a Yemeni businessman and his Ethiopian wife, was swept up with hundreds of billionaires, princes and other well-connected figures in what the Saudi government says is an anti-corruption campaign that has seized more than $100 billion in assets.

Many other detainees, who were initially kept at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, have been released, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the well-known international investor. Mr. Amoudi’s cousin, Mohammed Aboud Al Amoudi, a property developer, was also let go.

But Mr. Amoudi, once called the world’s richest black person by Forbes, has not been freed, leaving a vast empire that employs more than 70,000 people in limbo. He controls businesses from Ethiopia, where he is the largest private employer and the most prominent backer of the authoritarian government, to Sweden, where he owns a large fuel company, to London, which he has used as a base to set up a number of companies.

“He was in the Ritz-Carlton but we have been told by his family members that he was moved, along with others, to another hotel,” Mr. Amoudi’s press office said in an email responding to questions. “Unfortunately we do not know where. He is in regular contact with his family and is being treated well.”

While Mr. Amoudi lacks a princely pedigree, he is in other ways an archetype of those entangled in the kingdom’s power play: a billionaire with assets stretching across the world who had close ties to previous governments.

The late King Abdullah was a supporter of Mr. Amoudi’s Saudi Star Agricultural Development, a sprawling farming venture in Ethiopia established to supply rice to Saudi Arabia. Such ventures are seen as strategic assets in a desert kingdom keenly aware of its agricultural limitations. While Saudi Star has had a tough time getting going, it is said to be a particular focus of the new government’s interest.

Saudi officials have declined to comment on the charges against individual detainees as well as their status, citing privacy laws.

Read more »


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Ethiopian American Scientist Sossina Haile Creates Another Groundbreaking Fuel Cell

Ethiopian American Scientist Sossina Haile developed the first solid acid fuel cells. Her team's new discovery presents a significant step toward lower fuel cell costs and more sustainable energy, according to a study published last month in the journal Nature Energy. (Photo: (Northwestern University)

Northwestern University

New Fuel Cell has Exceptional Power Density and Stability

A team of researchers led by Northwestern Engineering professor and fuel cell pioneer Sossina Haile has created a new fuel cell offering both exceptional power densities and long-term stability at optimal temperatures, a discovery that heightens the viability of incorporating fuel cells into a sustainable energy future.

“For years, industry has told us that the holy grail is getting fuel cells to work at 500-degrees Celsius and with high power density, which means a longer life and less expensive components,” said Haile, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and professor of applied physics at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. “With this research, we can now envision a path to making cost-effective fuel cells and transforming the energy landscape.”

The study, titled “Exceptional power density and stability at intermediate temperatures in protonic ceramic fuel cells,” was published February 12 in the journal Nature Energy. Sihyuk Choi, a postdoctoral fellow in Haile’s laboratory, served as the paper’s first author.

Though recent research had demonstrated the potential of some protonic ceramic fuel cells to offer environmentally sustainable and cost-effective electric power generation, those cells’ high electrolyte conductivities failed to produce anticipated power outputs.

“While it was known that some electrolytes have high conductivity at 500-degrees Celsius, somehow the electrodes were not working well in the complete fuel cell,” Haile said.

“It’s exciting to think about where we are now and where we can go.”

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: Scientist Sossina Haile Honored With GE Grand Central Video Installation
Outstanding Women in Science: Tadias Interview with Professor Sossina Haile

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FT on Chicken Business in Rural Ethiopia

Rearing chickens with high yields of eggs and meat is giving many Ethiopians the chance to tap into a market with growth potential — the country’s meat consumption is about a quarter of the average for sub-Saharan Africa. (Financial Times)

Financial Times

EthioChicken: Ethiopia’s well-hatched idea

Six months ago Abdurazak Tariku hadn’t heard of EthioChicken. The 24-year-old civil engineering student had expected his career path to involve bridges and roads rather than poultry vaccines and animal feed.

“I’d never really thought about chickens before,” he says. “But a friend explained how [he was] making decent money from rearing and selling chickens, and I could see the birds in my neighbourhood. They were bigger and looked healthier than ordinary chickens.”

Abdurazak convinced his parents to let him take over a shed they owned in Fikadu, a village 160km south-west of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and become an EthioChicken agent. He is rearing his first batch of 1,500 chicks bought from EthioChicken and is busy looking for customers while continuing his studies at the nearby Wolkite University.

“I’m planning to go full-time after I graduate,” he says. “I shall employ some people when I get busier. Three or four friends are already saying they want to do it too.”

Abdurazak’s story sounds like suspiciously positive corporate public relations — the poster boy with well-rehearsed lines brought out to impress foreign visitors. But after random stops at homesteads where EthioChicken poultry can be seen pecking at the dusty ground, his tale and the seven-year story of the company’s evolution from aid worker’s dream to multinational enterprise becomes completely credible. rural

Read more »


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Ethiopia on Capitol Hill’s New Hype Cafe

Samuel Mengistu and Hanna Tesfamikael, owners of Hype Cafe on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Laura Hayes)

Washington City Paper

Ethiopian Traditions Come Alive at Capitol Hill’s New Hype Cafe

The meaning behind the name Hype Cafe doesn’t make itself known until about an hour after you leave the welcoming spot on Capitol Hill that opened this month. That’s when the rush of caffeine from your cup of electrifying Ethiopian coffee practically smacks you.

Hype Cafe is from engaged couple Samuel Mengistu, who is from Ethiopia, and Hanna Tesfamikael, who is from Eritrea but grew up in Ethiopia. “I came up with the name,” Tesfamikael says. “You drink coffee in order to get energy. You get hyper. Let’s just call it hype.”

At their coffee shop in the former Il Capo di Capitol Hill space, the owners will bring traditions from home to D.C., including coffee ceremonies on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Since we were kids, coffee is basically a part of life,” Mengistu says. “I tasted my first coffee when I was six. In Ethiopia there’s a way of doing coffee. There’s a first round, second round, and third round. The third round is very light. The grown-ups don’t drink it, they just taste it and the kids come in. As long as they put a lot of sugar, we can drink it.”

If you’re judging, think about how much caffeine is in childhood elixir Mountain Dew.

Beyond being strong, Ethiopian coffee is well known for its intense smell. Mengistu and Tesfamikael explain that coffee grown at high altitudes, as it is in Ethiopia, releases the best aroma. They exclusively brew Arkibuna coffees.

Right now pastries are served along side coffee and espresso drinks but the couple will debut a menu of sandwiches and Ethiopian veggie sampler platters after the grand opening in early April. There are about 50 seats inside and once the weather warms up, they’ll add tables outside.

For now Hype Cafe is open Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. It may stay open later once it offers food. Tesfamikael points out that there aren’t too many places in the neighborhood that stay open late.

Hype Cafe, 1129 Pennsylvania Ave. SE


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UPDATE: Women & Children Make Up 80% of Displaced People From Moyale, Ethiopia

The Kenya Red Cross says 80 percent of those displaced persons from Ethiopia are women and children. Ethiopia admits that the unrest in the Moyale area following a bungled government military operation last week that killed several civilians has rendered nearly 40,000 people homeless. So far about 9, 000 have crossed the border into neighboring Kenya seeking asylum. The Red Cross warns the number of refugees from Ethiopia is likely to rise in the coming days. The Ethiopian authorities blame "rumors of war" for the displacement. (Photos: Twitter @KenyaRedCross)

Number of Ethiopian refugees in Kenya rises to over 9,000

Humanitarian agencies are warning of refugee crisis in Moyale following an influx of refugees from Ethiopia.

The number which stood at only 8,500 has now almost hit the 10-thousand mark as members of the Oromo community from the neighboring country flee what they claim is a crackdown by the Ethiopian military.

Makeshift camps have been established at Dambala and in Sololo to provide temporary shelter for the displaced.

The influx of refugees from Ethiopia now has area leaders concerned.

The number said to be increasing by the day with average of over 500 people crossing the border to the Kenyan side every day in the last three days.

Read more »

The Associated Press

The Kenya Red Cross says more than 8,500 Ethiopians have crossed the border into Kenyan territory seeking asylum from conflict after government troops mistakenly killed civilians.

The Red Cross said in a statement Wednesday that the number may keep increasing in the coming days.

The civilians fled after Ethiopian security forces mistakenly killed nine civilians in Moyale, located on the country’s southern border with Kenya, according to a command post established to oversee Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Ethiopia imposed the state of emergency following months of unrest in some parts of the country that tarnished the country’s image as one of Africa’s best performing economies.


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Ethiopia Bus Crash Kills 38 Students (AP)

Road accident in south Wollo zone claims 38 lives. (Photo: Twitter @fanatelevision)

The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s state-affiliated broadcaster says that a bus plunged into a ditch, killing 38 people in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region.

Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported on Tuesday that the bus veered off the road and went into the trench. It said an additional 10 people were injured.

The broadcaster reported that most of the victims were university students. It said the accident happened in the south Wollo area.

Ethiopia is upgrading its road system but dilapidated roads, inadequate driving skills and poor conditions of vehicles contribute to road traffic deaths. According to a report in Ethiopia last year, traffic accidents claimed the lives of more than 16,000 people in the country between 2014 and 2017.


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Trump Fires Tillerson (UPDATE)

Trump has fired U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Mike Pompeo. (Photo: Tillerson with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa last week/AP)

Fired via Twitter: How Trump soured on Tillerson as his leading diplomat

When White House Chief of Staff John Kelly warned Rex Tillerson to possibly expect a pejorative tweet from President Trump over the weekend, the secretary of state failed to fully understand that it was a gentle signal to him that he was about to be fired.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asleep in his Nairobi hotel room early Saturday morning fighting a stomach bug when White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly called to wake him around 2 a.m. to relay a terse message from President Trump: The boss was not happy.

The president was so eager to fire Tillerson that he wanted to do so in a tweet on Friday, but Kelly persuaded Trump to wait until his secretary of state was back in the United States from Africa, two people familiar with the conversation said. It was Tillerson’s first trip there since Trump disparaged parts of the continent as “shithole countries.”

But Kelly had also warned Tillerson to possibly expect a pejorative tweet from Trump over the weekend, a State Department official said. Tillerson failed to fully understand that the chief of staff was gently signaling to him that he was about to be fired.

And so, just over four hours after Tillerson’s government plane touched down at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday morning, the secretary of state learned of his dismissal from a tweet Trump issued just minutes after The Washington Post first reported the news.

Read more »

Reuters

Trump ousts Secretary of State Tillerson, taps CIA director Pompeo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had replaced U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, and had tapped Gina Haspel to lead the CIA.

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” Trump said on Twitter.


Related:
In the end, no one was more surprised that Tillerson was fired than Tillerson
Tillerson in Ethiopia Media Round Up
Tillerson Calls Ethiopia ‘A Young Democracy’
A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia
Ethiopia Pictures: Yirgacheffe Coffee for Tillerson, Ethiopic Script Tie for Lavrov
Tillerson, in Africa, Dodges Questions on Vulgarity and Trolling (NYT)
Tillerson and Lavrov Book Same Ethiopian Hotel—and Can’t Agree on a Meeting (Bloomberg)
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Trump’s comments on Africa cast pall over Tillerson’s long-awaited trip (The Washington Post)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Diaspora’s Role in Helping to Shape Better U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Ethiopia

Tadias Magazine is announcing an upcoming opinion series on the role of the Ethiopian Diaspora in helping to shape a better U.S. foreign policy towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — There has never been a better time to start a more constructive dialogue in the Diaspora regarding our role in helping to shape a better informed U.S. policy towards Ethiopia that is based on real data, research and facts.

Tadias Magazine is announcing an upcoming opinion series on the subject and extending invitations to our readers and the general public to help us elevate the discourse to bring about meaningful change by participating in the discussion through a series of Op-ED articles that we plan to publish later this year.

We especially encourage foreign affairs experts, former Ethiopian American government officials, diplomats, academics, journalists as well as students, community leaders and other professionals to contribute to the discourse.

We warmly welcome your submissions and note that articles need not solely be concerned with politics. We are sure that there is a wide range of untapped aspects of Diaspora engagement that is waiting to be explored including people-to-people, business-to-business, investment, education, health, science, technology, arts, culture and historical topics.


You can send your article to info@tadias.com.

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Ethiopian Lawyer Yetnebersh Nigussie Receives Prestigious Helen Keller Award

Ethiopian lawyer Yetnebersh Nigussie is being honored with the Spirit of Helen Keller Award. It's named for an American who promoted the rights of women and people with disabilities. (Photo courtesy of Light for the World)

VOA News

By Salem Solomon

Ethiopian Disability Rights Advocate Champions Opportunities for Women

Yetnebersh Nigussie had opportunities other girls in rural Ethiopia can only dream of.

Unlike her peers growing up in Wollo province, Nigussie wasn’t married off as a young girl or forced to work at home.

Instead, she devoted herself to learning.

Nigussie moved to the capital, Addis Ababa, and pursued an education, eventually earning a law degree and founding the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development, a group that advocates for the rights of disabled people in her home country.

What makes Nigussie’s accomplishments especially noteworthy are the challenges she overcame.

Nigussie lost her sight at age 5 after contracting meningitis. But where some see obstacles, Nigussie, now 36, sees potential.

“I believe challenges are opportunities. So we human beings are created to change challenges into opportunities,” she told VOA’s Amharic Service in a phone interview last week. “That’s why I always tell [people] that, when I turned blind at the age of 5, that brought a new opportunity. I would have never been educated had I not been blind. All my siblings and the children in my area, in my age [group] — none of them have gotten educational opportunities.”

Advocacy

Nigussie has built her career on advocating for people with disabilities. In recognition of her accomplishments, she will receive the prestigious Spirit of Helen Keller Award, presented by the nongovernmental organization Helen Keller International, at a May 2 gala in New York.

First presented in 1959, the award is named for an American activist who was deaf and blind. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Keller gained fame for her lectures, writings and advocacy work promoting the rights of women and the disabled.

“Receiving the Spirit of Helen Keller Award is a great thing because Helen Keller has been my source of inspiration that I am living. We believe in the same thing: telling people not to focus on our disabilities, [but] rather on our abilities,” Nigussie said. “Helen was always saying that ‘I don’t know what darkness is, but I know there is a light.’ So it’s a great thing to be associated with such a fantastic hero who has been always my inspiration in life.”

Recognizing contributions

Now, Nigussie wants to honor women making an impact across the globe with a separate award: Her Abilities, which she will give out annually in partnership with Light for the World. Nigussie is an adviser to the Austria-based organization.

The award will recognize women making an impact in the areas of health and education, rights, and sport and culture. It is open to women with disabilities worldwide.

“The reason we decided to focus on women with disabilities is that we believe they face double, and sometimes triple, discrimination,” Nigussie said. “We need to spotlight their work and make sure that they are visible to the world. … So it’s very much in line with my personal motto: I have one disability and 99 abilities. So we’re not going to focus on the one disability. We’re going to talk about their 99 abilities — or more — and we’re going to celebrate their achievements, their greatness.”

Nominations for the award will open July 2, and winners will be announced in December.

Overcoming barriers

An estimated 15 million people in Ethiopia live with disabilities, and they often lack access to resources and protections while facing stigmatization and a heightened risk of poverty and social isolation. According to the World Health Organization, Africans with disabilities face significant gaps in their access to welfare, education, vocational training and counseling services.

Nigussie’s organization, the Ethiopian Center, has sought to address these barriers through job training and publications. For example, it offers an online guide to Ethiopian hotels, restaurants and offices that are accessible to people with disabilities.

The activist also hopes to continue advocating for legal changes, including overturning a restriction that makes it illegal for deaf people in Ethiopia to drive.

Nigussie said she is humbled by the recognition and motivated to do more.

“I believe all these challenges would lead people with disabilities, in particular in Africa, to make sure that they overcome the challenge,” she said. “No challenges are coming to stop us. They are coming as a puzzle for us to solve.”


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 11th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


You can learn more and buy the new CD at www.emahoymusicfoundation.org.

Related:
From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

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A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

U.S. President Barack Obama gets tour of Lucy's 3.2 million-year-old bones from Ethiopian American paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged in Addis Ababa on Monday, July 27th, 2015. (Getty Images)

In pictures: Obama in Ethiopia July 2015


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Ethiopia Pictures: Yirgacheffe Coffee for Tillerson, Ethiopic Script Tie for Lavrov

Last week Ethiopia attracted global media attention when it simultaneously hosted some of the world's top diplomats including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured right sipping Yirgacheffe Coffee) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (pictured left sporting an Ethiopic script tie). They both stayed at the posh Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa, but officials are quick to note that they neither met nor run into each other in Ethiopia's capital. (Photo: Twitter via Africa News)

Africa News

Ethiopia over the past week hosted three top diplomats to Addis Ababa. Foreign Affairs chiefs of the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates were all in town for meetings.

The visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Serge Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Affairs chief, however, did get some traction on social media for different reasons.

Tillerson who started an African tour in Ethiopia must have heard of Ethiopian coffee and was bent on having his share whiles there. The U.S. Embassy shared a series of photos showing him in “active contact” with coffee.


In Ethiopia Secretary Tillerson met the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, started with USAID assistance 16 years ago. The U.S. assisted 120,000+ smallholders coffee growers in Ethiopia to increase production, sales, & exports worth nearly $28 million @USAIDEthiopia. (@USEmbassyAddis)

In the case of Lavrov, his choice of dressing on arrival at the Bole International airport got Ethiopia’s social media space buzzing, as he chose a more casual outlook. He arrived from Zimbabwe wearing blue jeans.

Long before that could subside, he got into official groove for meetings throughout Friday. His tie apparently was decorated with the ge’ez alphabets unique to Ethiopia, the Addis Standard portal observed.

Lavrov wore the tie during meetings with the African Union Commission chair through his meetings with Ethiopian President and Prime Minister and for a press conference with Foreign Affairs Minister, Workneh Ghebeyehu.

Read more »


Related:
Tillerson in Ethiopia Media Round Up
A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

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Ethiopia Update: Ethiothinktank Editor Arrested, Guardian Journalist Expelled

Publisher of the Ethiothinktank website Seyoum Teshome. (Photo: VOA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 10th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian authorities have arrested the publisher of the Ethiothinktank website Seyoum Teshome. According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia the reason for Seyoum’s arrest and his whereabouts are not known. The Ethiopian blogger was reportedly taken into custody on March 8th by security forces at his home near the Woliso campus of Ambo University, where he lectures, people with knowledge of the incident told Voice of America and Deutsche Welle.

“Seyoum has been critical in his blog of a six-month state of emergency Ethiopia declared in February,” the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement. “Under the state of emergency, authorities can carry out arrests and searches without warrant and close down media stations, according to a report by the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency.” CPJ’S Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney added: “Ethiopia cannot again use the cloak of a national emergency to round up journalists and stifle critical voices. This is the second time that authorities ignored due process to detain Seyoum Teshome. He should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

In a related news, Ethiopia has deported Guardian journalist William Davison because of media accreditation problems. Davison who is a British citizen was a former Bloomberg reporter based in Ethiopia.

The Associated Press reports: “Davison said he was expelled from Ethiopia on Wednesday after being detained at a police station for a day. “Officials from Ethiopia’s Immigration department deported me and I am now back in the U.K,” Davison posted on Facebook, saying the Ethiopian government failed to grant him accreditation to report for The Guardian after he stopped working for Bloomberg. “What my treatment demonstrates once again is a lack of appreciation of professional journalism and a failure of various government institutions and officials to follow established procedure in anything like a transparent manner.”

Per AP: “The journalist, who was chairman of the Ethiopian Foreign Correspondents Association, said he was not given a specific reason for his deportation but an official at the Ethiopian spokesman office said the journalist was deported because had no foreign media affiliation. “We have been treating him like all the other reporters when he was a Bloomberg reporter but now he has no accreditation with any other media outlet or whatsoever so he can’t produce reports from within Ethiopia now,” said Mohammed Seid, an official at the Ethiopian spokesman’s office. “I’m not aware that he has submitted a new accreditation with The Guardian.”


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How Ethiopia Influenced British-Ethiopian Singer Izzy Bizu’s Music

23-years-old, British-Ethiopian singer-songwriter Isobel Beardshaw, better known as Izzy Bizu, tells Okay Africa about the millions of plays on her debut album, A Moment of Madness, and how she's been influenced by her Ethiopian roots. (Image courtesy of RED Music)

Okay Africa

How Ethiopia Influenced Izzy Bizu’s Viral Pop Hits

At just 23-years-old, British-Ethiopian singer-songwriter Isobel Beardshaw, better known as Izzy Bizu, has already shared the stage with music’s finest including Sam Smith and Coldplay.

While her talents behind the mic seemingly fell on her lap, it was through her Ethiopian roots that she fully discovered her unique, acoustic sound. What started as a mere outlet to escape the struggles of boarding school has now become a dream come true.

But music wasn’t always the goal. Izzy Bizu’s career goals first began with animals. Although she wanted to be a vet, she soon learned the difference between hobbies and passions. At the age of 15, she auditioned for a teenage girl-band, singing “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. Just one week later, she was in the recording studio.

Fast forward to 2018, Izzy’s debut album, A Moment of Madness, has clocked in over 225 million global streams and her hit single “Diamonds” sits at the #11 spot at Urban AC radio. If that’s not enough, she still manages to find time to travel back home and give back to the communities in Ethiopia.

How would you describe your sound?

Soulful, raw, rhythmical, reminiscent.

Tell us about your Ethiopian background and how it plays into your music.

My mum is Ethiopian, and we often spent holidays there when I was younger. The country is incredibly beautiful and spending time outside of the city allowed me to escape into another world. And I’m sure this played a part in my love of poetry and writing.

Ethiopians also love to dance. There was always music everywhere, which also had an impact in my love and appreciation of music. I also feel because of my mixed heritage that I am a bit of a world traveler, and this also plays an important part in my lyrics and how I see the world.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Read more »


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Tillerson: Ethiopia is ‘A Young Democracy’

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pictured above with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018, described Ethiopia as "a young democracy" during a press conference on Thursday in Ethiopia's capital. Tillerson explained: "We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power." He added: "As I indicated, democracies are challenging. It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions. (Reuters photo)

U.S. Department of State

Press Availability
Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
March 8, 2018

MODERATOR: Would you join me to welcome the two foreign ministers. May we rise, please? I thank you very much. Ameseginalehu. Your Excellency Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, foreign minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Your Excellency Rex Wayne Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State; ambassadors, ministers, all protocol observed, welcome to Addis Ababa, the political and diplomatic hub of Africa.

As His Excellency Minister Tillerson said during his speech at George Mason University, Africa is part of the future. It’s a continent in which 70 percent of its population is youth. This population, Your Excellency, is an opportunity and, again, a challenge. Ethiopia, as a UN-U.S. partner and longer in the continent, I believe this extraordinary visit will further deepen the ties of Ethiopia and the United States, one of the oldest diplomatic ties.

According to our program, His Excellency Dr. Workneh and His Excellency Rex Tillerson will highlight the gist of their discussions to the media, and that will be followed by questions from media houses. Media houses, make sure that you have one questions. If it is more than one, the two principals will ask – will respond to one question only.

I thank you very much. Excellency Dr. Workneh.

FOREIGN MINISTER WORKNEH: Thank you very much. Thank you. Good afternoon. The house is full. Your Excellency Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State of the United States of America, we are delighted to have you here in your visit to Africa as a first stop here in Addis Ababa. United States and Ethiopia have a century-old relationship, a relationship which, time-tested, always a relationship.

So Your Excellency, your coming here is a testament for this strong relationship. I and Excellency Secretary discussed extensive issues bilaterally. We discussed about our regional issues – the regional security, international issues, international politics – at the same time, how to boost our economic ties and investment between the United States of America and Ethiopia.

We touched about the issue of South Sudan and Somalia, which we are working very closely together. And also, we discussed other very important security concerns that we have in common. And also, I explained to Excellency about our situation, the country’s situation, the transition that we are in the process, and we are very thankful that the United States of America is a close friend, which – working with us in all aspects, especially in economic areas. So it was very cordial, candid, and very fruitful discussion. And thank you so much, Your Excellency.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you as well, Excellency, for the warm welcome and hospitality. And we just had a very enjoyable lunch where we were able to continue our discussion with a number of members of both of our delegations, which is always useful to gain a greater understanding of each other. I also want to welcome both the local press and the foreign media as well to this event. And we do appreciate our partnership, and particularly at such a critical time for Ethiopia. I also look forward to my meeting later today with the prime minister.

And I’m quite excited to be in Ethiopia. This is my first visit, and certainly this was an important place to start my trip as Secretary of State to the continent, in large measure because of the more than 100-year diplomatic relationship between Ethiopia and the United States. And it’s been an enduring relationship; as the foreign minister described it, an all-weather relationship, that even when storm clouds gather we remain friends and have always worked through challenges together.

I also want to acknowledge again today this being International Women’s Day and an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world, and note the role of women in Ethiopia in promoting economic growth as well. It’s quite evident the prominence that women already occupy in government, but in economics as well, strengthening the rule of law, the important role they play in human rights and building and strengthening a civil society that will thrive.

As I indicated, the United States and Ethiopia are longstanding partners. I was glad to have the opportunity to exchange views with the foreign minister on many areas of mutual interest that we share. We recognize and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life. We do firmly believe the answer is greater freedom for people, not less. We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power.

Given recent events, the United States has expressed our concerns with the government’s decision to impose another state of emergency, because it does put restrictions on fundamental rights like assembly and expression. We also discussed in our exchange the importance of ensuring that security forces remain disciplined in maintaining law and order, preventing violence. They have a very difficult challenge on their hand. This is – this tests their own discipline as well.

We firmly believe that democratic reform, economic growth, and lasting stability are best addressed through an inclusive political process, rather than through the imposition of restrictions. And we encourage the Ethiopian people as well to maintain patience, maintain support for your government through this change, through this transition, but also in pursuing this journey of democracy, which takes time and effort. Democracy is not easy. It takes a lot of work. But staying with it, lasting change will come about, and to not resort to violence. Violence is simply never a solution.

I was able to raise these concerns because of this very, very strong relationship that exists between Ethiopia and the United States, and we share so many values as partners. We want Ethiopia as a country to succeed and prosper, and we’re confident that they will succeed and prosper, providing many, many economic benefits not just for the Ethiopian people, but for the neighboring countries in Africa, and ultimately for U.S. business interest as well.

We welcome the proactive steps that have already been taken with the release of thousands of prisoners, including journalists and political leaders, and we encourage additional concrete measures to allow greater political freedom of expression. As the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia plays a critical and significant role in leadership in the region throughout the continent and the world, and we appreciate its efforts for – to further our mutual goals of peace and prosperity on the continent. This is especially true of our shared security interests. As the largest contributor – Ethiopia is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations – they play a vital role in AMISOM in Somalia, as well as peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. We have shared treasure together in trying to advance the cause of peace, and we have shared blood together in this advance for the cause of peace, and we acknowledge that.

Ethiopia’s influence in supporting the security of Somalia and Djibouti are particularly important at this time to keep global commerce routes open. These routes through the Red Sea affect billions of people around the world in terms of their economic stability. And we discussed the United States is eager to help Ethiopia liberalize its economy. We think it’s going to bring great opportunity and attract many business interests as they continue the process of reform and liberalization, strengthen its judicial and commercial institutions, and assist in humanitarian emergencies here and throughout the region, including the almost one million refugees that currently reside in Ethiopia. And we need to reside – recognize Ethiopia’s generosity in hosting those refugees.

The United States is a long-term friend and partner of Ethiopia. We look forward to working with you as the people of Ethiopia seek greater peace, democracy and prosperity, all of which we know you will succeed at achieving. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much, excellencies. Now, back to the media. Tibebu Yared from EBC.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I am Tibebu from EBC. My question goes to Your Excellency Mr. Tillerson. What is the purpose and, of course, the implication of your visit to Ethiopia at this particular time? Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated, this is a very, very longstanding relationship, more than 100 years. Ethiopia is a large-population country, they are an important security partner in areas that I’ve already touched upon, and we also see Ethiopia’s journey towards democracy – I think 27 years now, which is a long time, but it’s a young democracy, and as I indicated, democracies are challenging. It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions.

But importantly, also, to have an exchange on additional steps that could be taken, what else can the U.S. do to be supportive and helpful of Ethiopia’s economic development. Ethiopia has a vibrant economy, but there’s a lot of potential that has yet to be realized in Ethiopia’s economy, and we think there are great opportunities for U.S. private sector engagement in supporting economic growth, creating jobs for these many, many millions of young people who are working hard at getting an education in school; now they want to have their opportunity for a future themselves. And so we would like – we want to be a part of that and hope to be a part of that.

So there are so many touch points where we share a common interest of security, stability for the region, which affects our security but also affects global security, and then opportunities for economic prosperity. And that’s the purpose of the trip, is to – for us to better understand how do we work together as partners to achieve what are really common aspirations.

MODERATOR: Next question, Sisay Woubeshet, Afro FM. I am trying to meet gender parity. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you very much. My question also goes to Secretary Tillerson. You came during the time of the second state of emergency here in Ethiopia, and what is your opinion towards the state of emergency, as many nations are opining on that? And how is the U.S. following the current political situation in Ethiopia and what role does it want to play? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated, first and foremost, I want to acknowledge this voluntary transfer of power. We think that’s a very powerful symbol to the strength of the democratic process here in Ethiopia, and we think it’s important that the parliament, which has been elected by the Ethiopian people, decide who the next leadership be. That’s the way democracies should perform.

So I want to first acknowledge the very positive aspects of what is happening. I know it’s challenging for the country. It creates uncertainty. And that is the hard part of democracy. But we support this peaceful transfer of power.

As to the state of emergency, as I indicated, we believe ultimately giving people greater freedom gives them a greater investment in this democracy as well. And so while we appreciate the government’s responsibility to maintain control and not allow violence to break out and harm innocent people as well who may become victims of violence, it is important that that – that the country move on past the state of emergency as quickly as possible. We hope that that can occur. As I said, we’re encouraged that a number of steps have been taken to release large numbers of people who have been detained. That’s an important step. But the citizens of Ethiopia have a responsibility as well to behave in a nonviolent way, and we hope the government allows that nonviolent expression to take place. This is all part of understanding how to best serve the citizens of Ethiopia.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Girum Chala from CGTN, international correspondent based in Addis.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m from CGTN. Mr. Minister, thank you very much, as well as Mr. Secretary. Ethiopian Airlines over the past few years has spent about $20 billion – that’s Ethiopian money – invested in the United States, in Boeing Company, to be particularly straightforward. Now, when it comes to those – the money spent, 100,000-plus jobs were created in the United States. When it comes to the investments of the United States to Africa, Ethiopia particularly, we don’t see much. Policy-wise, what’s the next move in this country and particularly also in the African continent to expedite investment? And how do you view, Mr. Minister, the expectation from Ethiopia’s side, the U.S. involvement in helping the country industrialize and even more trade internationally? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, we had a very robust discussion of economic opportunities and the potential economic opportunities that we see within Ethiopia. And because you mentioned the aviation connection, Ethiopia is becoming a critical hub for intercontinental traffic for people traveling from the United States, with more and more nonstop connections for Americans to travel to Addis Ababa and then make connections to other parts of the continent. I think this is going to promote a great deal of interest in Africa and in Ethiopia. There are still economic reform measures that are necessary, not just in Ethiopia, but in other parts of Africa as well, to lower some of the barriers to investment, create greater certainty to outside business investors, strong rule of law, good regulatory processes. The more privatization of holdings as possible creates opportunities. But we understand this is all part of governments in transitions, economies in transitions, but that’s what we encourage, is what are the areas of opportunity where we believe there will be strong interest in U.S. companies to participate.

I commented on, in our discussions, the what we understand soon-to-be-completed continental free trade agreement, and we believe stimulating intra-continental economic activity and trade from countries on the continent is actually going to create even more opportunity for inbound foreign investment, and certainly U.S. business interest, in wanting to be a part of the intra-continental trading system as well. Similarly, with the civil aviation agreement that’s being negotiated through the African Union. That once again is going to just tie the continent more closely together, more efficiently.

All of these are very positive conditions for outside businesses to want to participate and be a part of. So I think a number of very positive steps are being taken, and I think it’s really ensuring that American businessmen and investors understand what are the opportunities here. And we had discussions about how to do that as well. Recently creating an American Chamber of Commerce-Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce partnership is going to be very important to exposing American businesses to the opportunities here.

So I think there’s a lot of it in front of us yet to come, and as the conditions are created and some of these pieces come into place, I think American business and private sector interest is going to grow in Ethiopia.

FOREIGN MINISTER WORKNEH: Yeah. As Secretary has said, the issue of investment and trade is also one of the agendas that we have discussed with Secretary Tillerson. Africa is a future continent, as Secretary said, and Africa is a population who have more than 70 percent of users and skilled labor. So coming to Africa is, by all measurements, will benefit the business, the investment of America. So we are expecting more investors to come to Ethiopia and Africa; we are expecting more business from here to United States of America and from America to Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines is one of the largest airline who have the largest passengers from here, from Africa to United States of America and vice versa. This trade relationship will continue, and we hope that this visit also assists a lot to this – boosting this investment in trade.

MODERATOR: Last question. Kylie Atwood, CBS.

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Tillerson, I want to pivot to North Korea for a minute with you. South Korea now says that Kim Jong-un is willing to negotiate with the U.S. on abandoning his nuclear program. You’ve said that you are listening to North Korea, and you said that the message from them will come very explicitly. Is this the message that you needed to hear? And are you worried that the South Koreans are overeager? Can the U.S. now commit to negotiations with North Korea? And I have to ask you one more question about Russia.

MODERATOR: Only one question.

QUESTION: I got cut off last time. Can I ask one more? Thank you. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is said to be here in Ethiopia at the same time as you, and the Russian embassy says he’s actually staying at this same hotel. He says there have been talks of you and he meeting. Do you plan to meet with him while you’re here? And if not, what does that say about U.S. diplomacy, that you refuse an opportunity to meet face to face to express U.S. frustrations over Russia’s continued military campaign in Syria? Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: I think there’s five or six questions in there. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m sorry, but we had to do it.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: First, with respect to North Korea, I think, as President Trump has indicated, potentially positive signals coming from North Korea by way of their intra-Korean dialogue with South Korea. We maintain very, very close communication with President Moon of the Republic of Korea. They are keeping us well informed of their meetings, the content of those meetings and the nature of those meetings, and we’re providing them input as well.

In terms of direct talks with the United States – and you asked negotiations, and we’re a long ways from negotiations. I think it’s – we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it. I think the first step – and I’ve said this before – is to have talks, have some kind of talks about talks, because I don’t know yet, until we are able to meet ourselves face to face with representatives of North Korea, whether the conditions are right to even begin thinking about negotiations. And that’s kind of the current state of play.

With respect to my meeting Foreign Minister Lavrov, I’ve lost track of how many meetings he and I had last year. So any notion of us rejecting diplomatic engagement is really silly. That’s just silly. We have had extensive negotiations, contact, dialogue. We have strategic dialogues. We have a number of mechanisms by which we talk to one another. I was unaware Foreign Minister Lavrov was going to be here at the same time I was until a couple of days ago, and I’m unaware of any outreach to want to meet until I was on my way over here. My schedule’s largely set, so if it doesn’t work out here, he and I see each other often around the world, and we have each other’s telephone numbers, and we do use them.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I thank you, excellencies. Thank you, media houses. Your Excellency Tillerson said that this is his first visit, but I hope this will not be his last visit to Ethiopia. Thank you very much. Thank you.


Related:
Tillerson in Ethiopia: China, Security, Peace Media Round Up
Tillerson, in Africa, Dodges Questions on Vulgarity and Trolling (NYT)
Tillerson and Lavrov Book Same Ethiopian Hotel—and Can’t Agree on a Meeting (Bloomberg)
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Trump’s comments on Africa cast pall over Tillerson’s long-awaited trip (The Washington Post)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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Tillerson in Ethiopia Media Round Up

Ethiopia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu (center R) gives a red carpet welcome to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (center L) at Addis Ababa Airport on March 7, 2018. (Reuters photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 8th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Unfortunately human rights was not center stage as many had hoped this week as U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday at the start of his first diplomatic trip to Africa that will also take him to Chad, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

The major focus of the trip included counterterrorism, building security alliances, institutions, trade and investment, as well as the role of China on the African continent. Reuters noted: “Tillerson is using his first diplomatic trip to the continent to bolster security alliances on a continent increasingly turning to Beijing for aid and trade. The United States is the leading aid donor to Africa but China surpassed it as a trade partner in 2009. Beijing has pumped billions into infrastructure projects, though critics say the use of Chinese firms and labor undermines their value.”

Regarding Ethiopia’s current political turmoil and state of emergency Tillerson reiterated the U.S. position articulated in the U.S. embassy press release last month stating that more freedom is the solution, not less. “We share and recognize concerns over incidents of violence,” he told a news conference in Addis Ababa after meeting Ethiopia’s foreign minister. “We do firmly believe that the answer is greater freedom.”

In addition, Tillerson highlighted the historic relationship between Ethiopia and the United States, which formally began more than a century ago during Emperor Menelik’s time. Ethiopia is America’s oldest African ally. “This is a very, very longstanding relationship, more than 100 years,” Tillerson said. “Ethiopia is a large-population country, they are an important security partner in areas that I’ve already touched upon, and we also see Ethiopia’s journey towards democracy – I think 27 years now, which is a long time, but it’s a young democracy, and as I indicated, democracies are challenging.” He continued: “It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions.”

But Tillerson did not meet with opposition or rival political leaders “the kind of encounters past secretaries of state routinely undertook to emphasize the importance of pluralism, and to hedge against sudden changes in government,” wrote The New York Times.

In Ethiopia Tillerson was dogged by Trump’s ‘shithole’ comment on his first day on the continent. “It didn’t take long for President Donald Trump’s derogatory comment about African nations to come up in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first visit to the continent as top U.S. diplomat,” Bloomberg reported. “At a press conference with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a journalist asked Faki and Tillerson whether the U.S. should apologize for the remark. The reporter said the comment, which Trump has denied, is something that Africa’s still digesting.” Eventually, as Bloomberg adds: Faki assured reporters that the incident was over and his brief discussion with Tillerson on Thursday morning had focused on areas of cooperation, such as the possibility of the U.S. providing financial support for an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. “I believe that this incident is of the past,” Faki said. “This partnership has produced results. It is useful for both parties.”

Yet another topic that is grabbing international headlines relating to Tilerson’s trip to Ethiopia is the fact that his Russian counterpart was also visiting Addis Ababa at the same time. In an article titled “US, Russia Trade Blame as Diplomats Fail to Meet in Africa” The Associated Press pointed out: “They could have run into each other sipping coffee in the lobby, perhaps at the bar at Ethiopia’s finest hotel. But U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov didn’t meet, and now both countries are trading accusations about who’s to blame.”

AP added: “The top American and Russian diplomats warily circled each other in Africa, where both are paying official visits this week. As their two countries trade accusations over Syria, Ukraine and even the Oscars, their governments are trolling each other with barbs on social media. Russia said that both Tillerson and Lavrov were staying at the lush Sheraton Addis resort while in Ethiopia, where Tillerson met Thursday with the country’s outgoing prime minister and with the African Union Commission’s chairman. It was unclear how long the two overlapped in the Ethiopian capital.”


Related:
Tillerson Calls Ethiopia ‘A Young Democracy’
Tillerson and Lavrov Book Same Ethiopian Hotel—and Can’t Agree on a Meeting (Bloomberg)
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Trump’s comments on Africa cast pall over Tillerson’s long-awaited trip (The Washington Post)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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Prince Ermias on Current Ethiopia Situation: ‘Do Not Harm Our Great Country’

Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie speaking at this year's Victory of Adwa Dinner in Washington, DC on March 3rd, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Press Release

Statement on the Current Situation in Our Country

By Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie

Washington, DC — Our beloved Ethiopia is currently beset by challenges and difficulties. It is an historically important time for all Ethiopians. It is a time when we must realize that we can choose a path of unity, hope, and leadership, or we can allow ourselves to fall into mutual antagonisms and thereby choose a path which leads to the break-up of the great experiment which began more than three millennia ago. We can recommit ourselves to being the great, noble, and gracious collection known as Ethiopia, or we can succumb to becoming a mere collection of small, petty, and struggling societies.

We are at a point where we can choose our future, and whether or not we choose to overcome our difficulties and challenges to become again a unified, prosperous example to Africa and the world.

Our forefathers maintained our sovereignty, moving the Solomonic Crown — the historical identity of the peoples of our great collection of societies — to the position where its primary function was to represent and inspire the unity and nobility of our nation and peoples. We reiterate those respective positions of the Crown and the age-old traditions of Ethiopia.

The Crown takes no political role when it calls on all of us to ensure that we do not harm our great country. We understand that there are differences between individuals and between communities, but equally we understand that this is a time when these issues must be approached carefully, judiciously, and not in haste or in anger.

There are many external forces at work on our country, anxious to inflame mutual distrust within Ethiopia, and to promote the forces of secession or irredentism. It is easy to fall into the trap of reaction and indignation, a process which, while addressing short-term challenges and emotions, has long-term consequences. Above all, we must remember the special relationship which our great Ethiopia — and its peoples of several different Abrahamic paths — has with God.

Political frustrations do occur in multi-cultural societies like Ethiopia, but they are best channeled by building and strengthening democratic institutions. But in the meantime, we must remain cognizant of our shared identity, our unity as a gathering of many peoples, and our great and noble purpose as a special society which is destined once again to set an example of tolerance, hospitality, generosity, and learning.

The only beneficiaries of a disunited or dismembered Ethiopia are those who wish to see our great history rendered meaningless and our potential as a society destroyed, and those beneficiaries are not Ethiopians. We have all learned the dangers of times of inflamed emotions, and we trust in our civil society and our institutions of state to act with restraint and kindness.

My fellow Ethiopians: please pause; please offer compassion when provoked to reaction. Let us start to rebuild the greatness of Ethiopia which began with our origins three millennia ago. We pray that calm heads and tolerant hearts prevail, and that together we emphasize and build upon our shared identities and values. What differences exist between our communities must be seen as the shades which exist within a family. Nothing can be as devastating as the destruction of family; but nothing is as worthwhile or productive as the shared pride in the special differences which exist within it.


Related:
In Pictures: Black Tie Adwa Victory Dinner in DC Hosted by Prince Ermias

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Ethiopia Beset by Long-Running Divisions

Cradle of Mankind: Ethiopia. (Photo: Travcoa)

AFP

Ethiopia: Ancient land beset by long-running divisions

Paris – A cradle of mankind, modern-day Ethiopia is riven by ethnic tensions, gripped by anti-government rebellions and now under a state of emergency.

Here are some key facts about Africa’s second most populous nation:

Ancient history

Ethiopia is the oldest independent African state and one of the oldest in the world, dating back more than 2 000 years.

It also has a claim on being the birthplace of mankind. Its Awash Valley has yielded some of the earliest hominid remains, including the fossil of a partial skeleton, dubbed Lucy, which has been dated around 3.2 million years old.

With a population of around 102 million people in 2016, according to the World Bank, Ethiopia counts more than 80 ethnicities.

Around 60% are Christian and more than 30% Muslim.

Ethiopia is a federal state with considerable autonomy granted to regions and most power held by the prime minister.

It hosts the African Union’s headquarters.

Famines and wars

Except for a brief period under Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, Ethiopia was never subjected to European colonisation – a rarity in Africa.

Emperor Haile Selassie dominated between 1916 and 1974, save for a period of exile during the Italian occupation.

After 1974, when he was overthrown in a coup and later executed, Ethiopia underwent a series of military dictatorships, notably under Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam who waged a series of bloody purges dubbed the “Red Terror”. He was ousted in 1991.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a series of devastating famines which caused widespread starvation.

The UN said 1.2 million people died in 1984-85 alone and the tragedy shot to global attention when Band Aid recorded a single to raise money for famine relief.

When Eritrea gained de-facto independence in 1991, Ethiopia was deprived of access to the Red Sea.

War broke out between the neighbours between 1998 to 2000 over a border dispute, which remains a source of tension despite an accord.

Resistance, repression

The regime was confronted in 2015 by anti-government protests originating in the Oromia region, home to the largest ethnic group, that spread in 2016.

The repression left about 940 people dead, according to the government-linked Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Relative calm only returned with the imposition of a state of emergency from 2016 to 2017, resulting in thousands of arrests.

The protests by the Oromo and Amhara people, around 60% of the population combined, were sparked by what they saw as the over-representation of the Tigrayan minority within the ruling regime.

Protesters also denounced constraints on individual freedoms and an imbalance in the sharing of the country’s riches.

In 2018 the authorities released thousands of prisoners, including political opponents.

Mid-February the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned unexpectedly after protracted anti-government protests.

This led to the imposition of a six-month state of emergency and the banning of protests.

Read more »


Related:
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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In Pictures: Black Tie Adwa Victory Dinner in DC Hosted by Prince Ermias

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie hosts the 2018 Victory of Adwa Commemorative Dinner in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 6th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Ethiopians celebrated the 122nd anniversary of the Victory of Adwa. A black tie dinner was hosted by Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, in Washington, D.C. on March 3rd in commemoration of the historic event.

Below are photos from the event:


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Girl Band Yegna Shake Off Spice Girls Tag

A group that supports women’s rights using music influenced by Ethiopian heritage is thriving – despite losing UK aid funding. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

‘By Ethiopians, for Ethiopians’: Girl Band Yegna Shake Off Spice Girls Tag

In the grounds of a school in Bahir Dar, a city in north-west Ethiopia, thousands of young fans have gathered to catch a glimpse of the country’s hottest girl band.

Behind billowing white sheets in a makeshift green room, the four women collectively known as Yegna prepare to take the stage. As the harsh lunchtime sunshine beats down, curious schoolchildren press up against the material to get a glimpse of their idols, who have been dubbed Ethiopia’s Spice Girls by the British press.

More than just a band, Yegna, which means “ours” in Amharic, use music and drama to raise awareness of child marriage, sexual harassment, violence and the importance of education. And it’s making a difference. An estimated 8.5 million people have heard the band’s messages.

Bilen, 14, is at the concert with her sister. “Yegna taught us the motto ‘Yes we can,’” she says. “As we grow up, I think people think less of girls, and that’s what we used to think too. But our perspective has been changed by Yegna.”

But last year, Yegna’s work came under threat when the UK’s Department for International Development, which helped create the band in 2012, abruptly announced it was cutting funding following media criticism. DfID said it took the decision to end its partnership with Girl Effect, which oversees Yegna, after a review of the programme.

A spokesperson said: “There are more effective ways to invest UK aid and to deliver even better results for the world’s poorest and value for taxpayers’ money.”

Girl Effect had received an initial DfID grant of £4m for Yegna, covering the period from 2011 to 2015. They were later given a further £5.2m for 2015-18, although the premature conclusion to the partnership meant not all these funds were drawn down.

The Daily Mail hailed DfID’s decision, but the announcement drew criticism from women’s rights campaigners.

Ripples from the decision ran from Ethiopia to the UK. Yegna drew support from Lemn Sissay, the British poet and broadcaster of Ethiopian heritage, who has performed with the band and chose one of their tracks, Taitu, when he appeared on Desert Island Discs.

Read more »

Watch: Aster Aweke ft Yegna, TAITU Ethiopian Music Video


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Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (AP photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 6th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — On Monday senior officials at U.S. State Department held a private briefing for members of the African Diaspora regarding Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip to Africa this week.

In Ethiopia Tillerson will meet with both the outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu. During his meetings Tillerson will encourage building and strengthening democratic institutions based on protection of human rights, civil rights as well as promoting tolerance.

In addition, the U.S. is also very concerned about the recent ethnic fighting between Oromo and Somali ethnic groups that has displaced nearly one million people, and the subject is certain to come up during the meeting.

Furthermore, the talks will include a discussion about the ongoing climate-induced drought in Ethiopia and possible solutions.

U.S officials emphasized Ethiopia’s complex role in regional security among other areas of interest that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will discuss with Ethiopian officials this week. Ethiopia’s role in the region includes both being a major peacekeeping troop contributor and host of hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan as well as home of the African Union.

The State Department says Tillerson’s mission is “to further our partnerships with the governments and people of Africa. In particular, to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment. During his trip, he will also meet with U.S. Embassy personnel and participate in events related to U.S. government-supported activities.”

This U.S. diplomatic excursion follows the global firestorm sparked in January by President Trump’s reported “shithole” remarks in reference to the African continent and its people. Trump denies making the comment.


Related:
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Spotlight: Influential Women of the Diaspora: YEP Women’s Power Hour

(Photos courtesy of YEP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 5th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — March is women’s history month in the United States and the Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian professional networking organization, YEP, is hosting an upcoming event titled “Women’s Power Hour” featuring influential women of the Diaspora.

“Women are the backbone of our families and communities, and this Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating them in all their glory,” YEP said announcing the event that will be held at Marriott Marquis on Thursday, March 22nd. “Hear from influential women of the Diaspora as they share their unique stories and experiences of navigating life as women of color in America.” YEP adds: “Successful and inspiring leaders in media, tech, health, and more will delve into their struggles and wins in both their personal and professional journeys.”

Panelists include Dr. Lekidelu Taddesse, Director of Hematology Lab and Surgical Pathology at Howard University; Helen Mesfin, Host of the Helen Show on EBS; Hawi Dibaba, Senior Developer at Booz Allen Hamilton; with film producer Mignotae Kebede as the panel moderator.

“Walk away with tips and insight on self-care, becoming your best professional self, and ways to foster sisterhood,” the announcement says. The evening will begin with a panel discussion and move into a structured networking power hour.”


If You Go:
Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)
Marriott Marquis
901 Massachusetts Ave NW
George Washington University Room
Washington, D.C. 20001
Click here to RSVP

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Russia Suggests Tillerson-Lavrov Meeting in Ethiopia This Week

Sergei Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia briefs the media at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 28, 2018. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Russia had suggested a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ethiopia this week, the RIA news agency reported.

Both men are expected to make Africa trips this week and Ryabkov was cited as saying that Moscow had proposed they hold talks in Ethiopia at the end of the week.

Ryabkov also commented on the situation in Syria’s eastern Ghouta rebel-held enclave.

The Interfax news agency cited him as saying that the U.S. assessment of the situation there“did not correspond to reality.”


Related:
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Ethiopia Film at New African Film Festival

Filmmaker Indrias G. Kassaye's new documentary 'Breathe in the Roots' is about a regular guy engaging with regular people on a journey of discovery that few have attempted before. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 4th, 2018

Ethiopia Film ‘Breathe in the Roots’ Screens at New African Film Festival

New York (TADIAS) — This month Ethiopian filmmaker Indrias G. Kassaye’s new movie Breathe in the Roots will be screened at the 2018 New African Film Festival that’s held annually at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The documentary features a young American teacher’s journey of discovery to Ethiopia. Per the announcement: “The film tracks Ty Christen Joseph’s (Chris) journey on horseback from Addis Ababa to Lalibela, one of Ethiopia’s holiest pilgrimage sites, documenting his once-in-a-lifetime experiences and showcasing a side of Ethiopia many rarely get to experience.”

The 14th Annual New African Film Festival is set to take place from March 8th to March 18th, 2018. In a statement the organizers added: “The festival showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent.”

Breathe in the Roots is scheduled to be shown at the festival on Friday, March 9th and will include a Q&A with both the director Indrias G. Kassaye and subject Ty Christen Joseph.

Indrias Kassaye is a producer, photographer, and writer “who believes in the importance of storytelling that champions the voices and experiences of local communities and everyday people.”

Tadias caught up with Indrias, Chris and some audience members following the film’s Washington, D.C. screening at the Anacostia Arts Center last Summer. A video of the conversation is below:

Watch Video:


If You Go:
‘Breathe in the Roots’ (Ethiopia) at New African Film Festival
Friday, March 9, 7:15
Q&A with director Indrias G. Kassaye and subject Ty Christen Joseph
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center,
8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Click here for tickets.

Watch: Breathe in the Roots 3 min sampler (A film Directed & Produced by Indrias G. Kassaye)

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Dispute Over Ethiopia Emergency Vote

Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the Parliament, during the state of emergency vote on March 2, 2018. Abadula was captured on camera announcing that there were 346 yes votes cast for the state of emergency, which is below the required two-thirds number. But Ethiopian TV reported that 395 MPs had supported the proposal. Now the ruling party claims Abadula made a mistake, while the opposition allege vote fraud. Below is an update from Reuters. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

Dispute Over Ethiopia Emergency Rule Vote After Footage Posted Online

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Footage of an Ethiopian parliamentary session posted online on Saturday appeared to contradict official reports of the number of votes cast to validate the state of emergency, though government officials dismissed the discrepancy as a mistake.

On Friday, the House of People’s Representatives held an emergency session on state of emergency legislation imposed on Feb. 16, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise resignation.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Friday that 395 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, putting the government comfortably within the two-thirds majority needed to validate the state of emergency, which bans demonstrations and restricts publications that could incite violence.

But footage made public by the privately-owned Addis Standard news website showed parliamentary speaker Abadula Gemeda stating at the end of the session that 346 parliamentarians had voted in favour.

Abadula also appeared to have made a mathematical mistake, saying 339 was the required two-thirds of 539 seats.

In fact, a vote of 346 would be below the threshold needed if the two-thirds rule applied to the total number of seats, rather than the number of parliamentarians present. It was not clear from the constitution how the two-thirds rule was meant to be applied.

The discrepancies sparked claims of vote fraud from the opposition.

Read more »


Related:
Watch: Did Ethiopian Parliament rig state of emergency vote? (Addis Standard)

Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up
Under a new state of emergency, Ethiopia is on the brink of crisis, again (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia: Social Media, Diaspora & State of Emergency Press Roundup

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Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Reuters photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 3rd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be heading to Addis Ababa next week as part of his first trip to Africa as America’s top diplomat.

Tillerson’s trip to Ethiopia comes as the country’s parliament, which is entirely controlled by the ruling coalition party, approved — in a disputed vote — a controversial state of emergency on Friday and suspending the constitutional rights of all Ethiopians.

Last month the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa released a press statement that strongly disagreed with Ethiopia’s state of emergency declaration, and urged its close African ally to focus instead on encouraging “greater freedom, not less.” The press release added that: “the challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions.”

However, given that the U.S. has other interests and partnerships with Ethiopia regarding regional security and other matters it is highly unlikely that Tillerson’s agenda will be limited to Ethiopia’s domestic political crisis.

The U.S. State Department announced that Tillerson will also travel to Chad, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

The State Department’s press release says that “during his March 6-13 trip, Tillerson plans to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment,” and noting that the U.S. Secretary of State is likewise scheduled to meet with officials of the African Union Commission headquartered in Addis Ababa.

This U.S. diplomatic excursion follows the global firestorm sparked in January by President Trump’s reported “shithole” remarks in reference to the African continent and its people. Trump denies making the comment.

—-
Related:
Under a new state of emergency, Ethiopia is on the brink of crisis, again (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia: Social Media, Diaspora & State of Emergency Press Roundup

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In Historic Move, Israel’s Ethiopian Religious Leaders Gain Official Status

Leaders of the Ethiopian-Israeli community officiating at the Sig'd holiday ceremony in Jerusalem on Nov 16, 2017. (Photo TPS)

The Jewish Voice

The Ministerial Committee for the Integration of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian Descent approved a proposal Monday to grant kessim, Ethiopian religious leaders, official status as part of a move to expand religious services and improve infrastructure in the Ethiopian community.

The Committee said in a statement that the decision also includes an orderly outline for the integration of rabbis of Ethiopian origin into state-sponsored religious councils, in order “to bring about their optimal integration in the network of religious services and to improve religious services available to Israeli citizens of Ethiopian origin” as well as to the general public.

Leaders of the Ethiopian-Israeli community called the decision “historic” and said the move was the culmination of a process that has lasted more than 30 years, since the first wave of Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in 1984, during Operation Moses.

“Justice has been done,” said Kes Shimon Samai Elias, who immigrated to Rishon Lezion in 1989. “Justice for Ethiopian tradition in general, and for Kessim in particular. It is a recognition that we are a community with values, with traditions, with leaders, with religious ceremonies.

Kes Elias said the decision reverses a long-standing affront to the Ethiopian-Israeli community. He said that granting official standing to kessim would allow them to perform a range of religious functions including marriage and divorce.

Michal Avera Samuel, the executive director of the Fidel Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, said the decision was especially meaningful because of its symbolic recognition of Ethiopian Jewry’s place in the Israeli mosaic.

“(The decision) integrates the traditions of Ethiopian Jewry into the Israeli narrative and will contribute a great deal to young people in this community as they solidify their identity. We are hopeful that the government decision will be fully implemented,” Samuel said

Read more »

—-
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Ethiopia: Genzebe Dibaba Does It Again

Gold medalist Genzebe Dibaba during the medals ceremony for the Women's 1500m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships 2018 in Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, Britain - March 3, 2018. She won her second gold in three days at the event. (Photo: Reuters)

Reuters

Updated: MARCH 3, 2018

A night of remarkable drama at Arena Birmingham saw Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba win her second gold in three days in the 1,500 metres…

The peerless Ethiopian Dibaba, who had lifted the 3,000 metres title on Thursday, had her work cut out to achieve the double in the metric mile but produced another solo tour de force.

Stretching her pursuers to breaking point by powering for home with almost a kilometre left, the 27-year-old kept Britain’s silver medallist Laura Muir and Dutch defending champion Sifan Hassan at bay to win convincingly in four minutes 05.27 seconds.

It made her only the fourth athlete ever to win five individual gold medals in the championships.

“Last year I was sick (when finishing out of the medals at the world outdoor championships in London) but this time I was ready to run for my country,” she said.“This is a gold for all the people of Ethiopia.”

Dibaba helped Ethiopia to the second position on the medals table with a total of 5 medlas, with Team USA leading the medal standings with 18.

Read the full article at Reuters.com »


Genzebe Dibaba’s mastery of the indoor oval continues


Genzebe Dibaba won her third consecutive gold in the women’s 3000m competition at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England on Thursday, March 1st, 2018. (Photo: @Trackside2018)

By LetsRun.com

BIRMINGHAM, England — Genzebe Dibaba’s mastery of the indoor oval continues.

Dibaba of Ethiopia, the indoor world record holder at 1500m, the mile, 2000m, 3000m and 5000m, put the hammer down during the final kilometer of the women’s 3000m, the opening track event at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships, to break things open and found just enough over the thrilling final lap to hold off Sifan Hassan and Laura Muir to secure her third world indoor title in 8:45.05 after a 2:37.43 final 1k and 30.44 final lap. Muir gave the home crowd something to cheer about with her first global medal.

This was Dibaba’s 4th indoor world title (3 straight at 3000m, plus a 1500m title from 2012) tying Meseret Defar for the most ever by a long-distance runner (Maria Mutola won seven 800m titles indoors). Dibaba is also entered in the 1500 here, so she’ll have the opportunity to surpass Defar.

Read more »

Threepeat For Genzebe Dibaba At IAAF World Indoor Championships (Flotrack)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND (01-Mar) — Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia became the third athlete to win the women’s 3000m title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships on at least three occasions in an exciting climax to the first day which had a sparse but enthusiastic home crowd cheering the narrow but growing possibility of a home winner in Laura Muir on the last lap.

Dibaba crossed the finish-line in 8:45.05, a finishing time made respectable courtesy of a scintillating final kilometer of 2:37.43. “I’m very happy to be indoor champion for the third time. This is a great competition and the race was fantastic. This day is for me and my country,” said Dibaba, who is due to contest the 1500m heats tomorrow evening.

Read the full article at flotrack.org »

FOR DIBABA, ONE DOWN ONE TO GO (IAAF)

It’s fair to say that Genzebe Dibaba likes racing indoors. The Ethiopian’s first global title was secured at the IAAF World Indoor Championships over 1500m in 2012 and she picked up her third consecutive gold over 3000m following a superb performance in Birmingham.

Content to sit at the back of the field for the first kilometre, the 27-year-old surged with just under 2000m remaining and was never seriously challenged, galloping to victory in 8:45.05. Tomorrow she’s back in the first round of the 1500m.

Read more »


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Watch: CNN African Voices Spotlights Former Ethiopian Model Anna Getaneh

Anna Getaneh is an acclaimed former international model, a humanitarian and social entrepreneur. She is also the founder and Creative Director of African Mosaique, a clothing design, manufacturing and retail company that collaborates with established and emerging African designers. (Photos: Pinterest)

CNN

Anna Getaneh: A model for humanity

Former Ethiopian model Anna Getaneh walked runways for Chanel. She now paves a path for poor children in her country.Source: CNN


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Ethiopia: The Victory of Adwa, An Exemplary Triumph to the Rest of Africa

Painting of Emperor Menelik II at Battle of Adwa in 1896. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

March 1st, 2018

This year marks the 122nd anniversary of Ethiopia’s historic victory of Adwa

Ethiopia (TADIAS) — In 1896, March was a historic month in Ethiopia, which drew the attention of the whole world. It was significant because of Ethiopia’s spectacular victory over the invading European nation – Italy, at the Battle of Adwa. According to the writing of the historian and social researcher Donald Levine, the black African nation, Ethiopia, irreversibly beat a European power ever since the domination of Europe over Africa.

When we think of and remember the Victory of Adwa, we should always recognize that the Ethiopian people, all together, were willing to sacrifice their lives in fighting against the foreign invader and maintain their national unity. Adwa is a common aim and a common future plan. We need to clearly understand the principle Adwa proved to us and express our ownership of the victory in practical terms. If Africa has to write and promote its own history, it will be obligatory to follow the Adwa principle. Adwa has been an icon for the anti-colonization struggle. Adwa has been an inspiration and hope for all the oppressed people.

Zewdie G/Silassie states the importance of the Victory of Adwa as, “this [victory] that covered the European sky with clouds of sadness gave courage and hope of independence for people, in Asia or Africa, who were oppressed by the colonizers.”

The renowned historian, researcher and pan-African scholar W.E.B. DuBois commented on the Victory of Adwa noting that, “other people who are under colonization have to continue to fight for independence by taking Adwa as an example. They need to be determined to fight harder and make clear to the whole world that they don’t have to compromise living in freedom.”

The history of Adwa is a history that inspired African brothers and sisters who were deprived of their freedom by colonizers or racist regimes for a continued struggle. The victory served as a propelling factor for anti-colonial and pan-African movements that started in the 20th century and also helped them to establish institutions, such as the African Union.

Colonization was a power-based racist ruling system. It was a system that was filled with violence, abuse, resource exploitation or looting and was derogatory. When it was initially established, it was meant to keep Europeans superior and Africans inferior at all times. However, this hypocritical goal was dismantled by the determined struggles of Africans for freedom, following the example of Adwa.

The colonizers used to conceal their malevolent aim of coming to Africa by saying that they were coming to Africa to help Africans educate and develop.

The imperialists’ colonization conference took place in 1884-85 in Berlin, Germany. This was a conference to negotiate the scrambling and partitioning of Africa without causing conflicts among the colonial powers themselves.

Africans had struggled against European colonization since its beginning and their struggles have been documented in history. The Algerians had fought against the French colonizers for over 17 years. In their struggle, they had used Islamism as their unifying instrument. Other nations also had similar struggles. Nevertheless, it hadn’t been possible for Africans to overcome their colonizers who had been all equipped with modern weapons, medications, technologies and industrial power.

The Sudan fighters in Omdurman had sacrificed a lot to defeat the British colonizers. In 1898, the Sudan lost 11,000 fighters while the Brits lost only 49 fighters. This was because the fighters of the colonizer led by General Kitchener were equipped with automatic machine guns.

Samori Touré of Mali fought the French colonizers for about 16 years in Guinea and Mali, with 30,000 soldiers and horseback fighters using home-made and imported weapons. This African anti-colonial hero was captured and exiled to Gabon and died there in 1900.

Furthermore, among the different people who resisted and fought against the colonial powers were the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe in 1896, the Asante people of Ghana in 1900, the Herero people of Namibia in 1904, and the Maji Maji anti-colonial forces of Tanzania in 1905-07.

Among the anti-colonial struggles of the 20th century, the Kenyan land and freedom movement, Zimbabwe’s freedom war from 1965-79, the Mozambique struggle from 1961-74, as well as Angola, Guinea Bissau, and Cape Verde’s movements are worth mentioning.

Yet, Ethiopia was the only nation that combated and overcame the colonial power. Ethiopia was able to protect its sovereignty as a result of the preparation for fighting at equal capacity and weapons: gun to gun, artillery to artillery, without being excelled by the technology the enemy had. Moreover, the people’s cooperation and ability to understand one another contributed a great deal towards the victory.

Virginia Lee Jacobs has put the exemplariness of Adwa – hence Ethiopia, for Africans in three ways. Ethiopia was an example for other African nations in their fight for freedom and against colonization. Ethiopia firmly imprinted her pride as a giant immovable mountain by refusing and winning white racist supremacy and served as a light of freedom for others. Finally, Ethiopia is a visible, tangible, living African icon of freedom.

When we also look at the colors of flags, several African countries, upon independence, chose to adopt the basic colors of the Ethiopian green, yellow and red flag as their symbol of freedom and identity, though arrangements vary.

Even out of Africa, if we look at the colorful carnivals celebrated all over the world by Caribbean decedents in Brooklyn, New York; Toronto, Canada; London, England; Miami, Florida; Detroit, Michigan; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the colorfulness comes from the green, yellow and red flags.

The well-known Reggae singers, including Bob Marley, had the three basic colors on their jackets, belts or drums. Thus, the choice of these colors to represent their freedom and identity including flags by about 30 African and Caribbean countries wasn’t accidental, but it was because they viewed Ethiopia as an icon of freedom and associated their historical fight for freedom with that of Ethiopia.

African leaders who led the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles and later who became leaders of their respective free nations witnessed the following about Ethiopia:

Kwame Nkurmah, while he was in school in London, said, “As long as Ethiopia is free, we all believe that Africa will one day be free.”

The first president of Guinea Ahmed Sékou Touré, on his part, said, “The Ethiopian people are great people. They are great Africans; they have bravely fought and preserved their freedom, and they showed the way to freedom to the whole Africa.”

The great anti-apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela also gave an unforgettable description of Ethiopia by saying that Ethiopia is the source of his African identity.

Adwa is a reminder for the current proud generation to fight against any enemy for the sake of their identity, history, culture and religion. Ethiopians were victorious over the invading Italian force by having consciously gathered information, designed strategies, and being well prepared in advance. Further, they were united.

The deep love and knowledge that Adwa instilled in black people had astonishingly re-erupted after 40 years when the enemy invaded Ethiopia again and massacred thousands. Black Harlemites wanted to join the resistance against the Fascist invaders.

The outstanding victory of Adwa showed that African struggles could end colonization. The victory inspired people to fight for their freedom. Adwa is a timeless victory that enabled Africans all over the world to grow and prosper by maintaining their freedom and peace.


About the author:
Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of PhD Program in Heritage Studies and Coordinator of International Affairs at Mekelle University’s Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. Ayele Bekerie is a contributing author in the acclaimed book, “One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years.” He is also the author of the award-winning book “Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles” — among many other published works.

Related:
Adwa: Genesis of Unscrambled Africa
119 Years Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896
Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa
The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Ethiopian Jews Threaten Mass Hunger Strike Over Israel Move

Members of Ethiopia's Jewish community hold pictures of their relatives in Israel, during a solidarity event at the synagogue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews gathered at the synagogue to express concern that Israel's proposed budget removes the funding to help them immigrate to reunite with relatives in that country, as representatives said they will stage a mass hunger strike if Israel eliminates the funding. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By Elias Meseret 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Representatives for thousands of Ethiopian Jews announced Wednesday they will stage a mass hunger strike if Israel eliminates funding to allow them to join their families in that country.

Hundreds gathered at a synagogue in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to express concern that Israel’s proposed budget removes the funding to help them immigrate to reunite with relatives.

Most of the nearly 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in the East African nation are said to have family members already in Israel. Some told The Associated Press they have been separated for well over a decade.

Activists say Israel’s government in 2015 pledged to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In 1991 with Ethiopia in civil war, Israel carried out the dramatic Operation Solomon, successfully airlifting out some 14,500 Ethiopian Jews in less than two days.

Read more »


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Is Ethiopia the Inspiration Behind the Black Panther Movie?

The new movie Black Panther is a big hit in Ethiopia as it is in the U.S. and around the globe. The Washington Post reports "Ethiopian audiences, in particular, have warmed to the movie," because of the similarities between the history of Ethiopia, which has never been colonized, and the film's fictional country of Wakanda, "a hidden mountain kingdom that was the only country in Africa not to be colonized." Ethiopia is Wakanda, “minus the techno-utopia,” says Tsedale Lemma, editor of Addis Standard. (The Washington Post by Paul Schemm)

The Washington Post

Africa’s real Wakanda and the struggle to stay uncolonized

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Marvel Comics movie “Black Panther” has wowed audiences across the United States and around the world, including Africans who have cheered on the African superheroes and their fictional Kingdom of Wakanda.

There is a little something for everyone in Wakanda for Africans. The show’s designers seem to have attempted to incorporate stylistic elements from all over the continent to create the film’s look, as this one impressive Twitter thread has documented.

Ethiopian audiences, in particular, have warmed to the movie, and more than a few have cited their own country as the inspiration for Wakanda, a hidden mountain kingdom in the movie that was the only country in Africa not to be colonized.

Indeed, Ethiopia itself has the distinction of being the sole country on the continent to resist the European scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, when the continent was divided up into colonial possessions.

In fact, a bit like Wakanda, Ethiopia, or Abyssinia as it was once known, was also long shrouded in mystery for Europeans during the Middle Ages, a mythical Christian kingdom of great wealth, surrounded by hostile Muslim states, hidden in the mountains and home to the legendary Prester John.

A number of Ethiopians have noted on social media the similarities between Wakanda and Ethiopia. Among them is Tsedale Lemma, editor of the Addis Standard, one of the few independent media outlets in the country, who took time out of reporting the country’s state of emergency to say that Ethiopia is Wakanda, “minus the techno-utopia.”

How much the legend of Ethiopia influenced “Black Panther” creator Stan Lee is up for debate, but the character first appeared in 1966, three years after Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie visited the United States and President John F. Kennedy, treating the world to the spectacle of African royalty claiming centuries of lineage.

Read more »


Related:
SEED Honors Ethiopia’s Universal Impact on the Pan-African World

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Addis Ababa Among 10 Coolest Cities in the World to Visit in 2018

Addis Ababa. (Photo by Black Tomato via Forbes.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

February 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Forbes magazine has named Ethiopia’s sprawling capital Addis Ababa among its list of the 10 coolest cities around the world to visit in 2018.

Forbes says Addis Ababa represents the very fabric of Ethiopia, which is “home to more than 80 nationalities, it’s a cultural epicenter and gateway to an ancient world.”

The magazine adds: “The fascinating Ethnological Museum is one of Africa’s top museums, but the real hidden highlight of Addis is its late-night scene, which is hosted in atmospheric underground jazz clubs. Close an evening with Ethio-Jazz and discover a fusion of traditional music, Afro-funk and jazz.”

Addis Ababa is one of three African cities highlighted by the business publication as the best international holiday destinations for this year. The 2018 list includes Nagasaki, Japan; Puebla, Mexico; Malacca, Malaysia; Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Arequipa, Peru; Cairo, Egypt; Brazzaville, Congo; Medellin, Colombia; and Leon, Nicaragua.

See the full list at Forbes.com »


Related:
Harar: Ethiopia’s City of Saints the Best Place in the World to Visit in 2018

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How UK Helps Sustain Smallholder Cotton Farmers in Ethiopia: by Tadesse Amera

Tadesse Amera works with smallholder farmers in Arba Minch area to produce organic cotton. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

By Tadesse Amera

These organic cotton farmers would still use pesticides if it weren’t for UK donations. We shouldn’t let the scandals faced by some charities alter our behaviour

Among crops, cotton is notorious for the high volumes of hazardous pesticides used to grow it. Pesticide poisoning of smallholder farmers is all too common and indiscriminate use is a major cause of water pollution and biodiversity loss. For years, the accepted wisdom around the world has been that it is uneconomical to grow cotton in any other way. But today farmers in Ethiopia are proving that it is not only possible, but profitable, to grow cotton without pesticides.

I work with smallholder cotton farmers in the Arba Minch area in the south of the country. In the early 2000s they benefited from some training on sustainable agriculture and, despite having no funding, were very keen to continue. Many had suffered from pesticide poisoning themselves or had witnessed the suffering of family or friends. The high cost of pesticides, coupled with dwindling profits, was having an adverse effect on family incomes. They were motivated to find safer and cheaper methods of cotton production.

While Ethiopia has a number of well-established organic coffee producers, there were then no certified organic cotton farmers in the country, and what happened next was only possible because of international support…The project began with 90 farmers and we have provided practical training to more than 2,000 to date. The successes we have achieved in Ethiopia have only been possible thanks to the generosity of the UK public. That is why, while it is right that sexual abuse and exploitation by aid workers is investigated and uncovered, I hope that the scandals facing Oxfam and Save the Children will not discourage people from supporting the charities that so many projects around the world rely on for support.

Most of the families we work with depend on cotton for income to pay for food, medicine, schooling and other essentials. They are understandably cautious about adopting new approaches, as a failed crop can spell disaster for the family. By first working alongside farmers on test plots, they develop confidence in their skills and experience the pros and cons of new methods first-hand. Close monitoring by our dedicated field agents allows us to measure production costs and yields to determine which techniques work best.

Read more »


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Concert Preview: Kelela, March 1 in DC

Ethiopian-American singer Kelela will performs at 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on March 1, 2018. (The Georgetown Voice)

The Georgetown Voice

Concert Preview: Kelela, March 1, 9:30 Club

Fresh from her critically-acclaimed debut studio album Take Me Apart, Kelela—a D.C. native—will grace the 9:30 Club with her silky vocals and pop-flavored R&B on Thursday, Mar. 1.

A second-generation Ethiopian American and a collaborator of fellow mononymous songstress Solange, Kelela is hailed as one of R&B’s most exciting new envelope-pushers.

Read more »


Related:
Kelela Explains Why ‘Very Personal’ Debut Album Took So Long to Finish

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America: Time to Step Up and Avoid Water War Over Ethiopia Nile Dam

"The United States does not have a dog in the fight, except that it has relatively decent relations with both Egypt and Ethiopia," wrote the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday in an editorial urging the U.S. to help resolve the differences between the two African nations over Ethiopia's almost completed multibillion-dollar hydroelectric power plant. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is regarded in Ethiopia as a flagship infrastructure and economic project even as the country has descended into political turmoil in recent days. In the meantime Egypt is stepping-up its public relations campaign arguing that the dam could reduce its water flow. Below is an excerpt from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial published on February 26th, 2018. (AP Photo)

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Water wars: Tensions build over a Nile dam in Ethiopia

A major drama is building in northeast Africa, among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, as Ethiopia nears completion of work on a large new dam on the Nile River…

Ethiopia has been building for years the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at its border with Sudan. It’s on what is called the Blue Nile, the river’s other major tributary. The Blue Nile accounts for some 85 percent of the water flowing into the main Nile. Ethiopia is at the point of filling the huge reservoir behind the dam, already, in Egypt’s eyes, putting Egypt’s Nile waters at risk. Egypt’s complaint is that the Ethiopians have built the dam without, or with insufficient, consultation with it, as to its impact on Egypt. Egypt itself built the massive Aswan Dam, with financing help from the Soviet Union, completing it in 1970.

Sudan, a very dry country, is happy enough with the new Ethiopian dam, which will make irrigation and thus cultivation in it much more feasible than before, attracting investment, increasing food supplies and bringing other benefits.

The United States does not have a dog in the fight, except that it has relatively decent relations with both Egypt and Ethiopia, would not like to see them descend into warfare with each other, and hopes that trouble over the dam will not generate one more war in northeast Africa. There already continues in that region, with American military involvement, the long war between different elements in Somalia, bordering on Ethiopia. The trouble in Somalia started in 1991, and matters there are no better now than they were when the United States first put troops into the conflict in 1992. That war also serves as the justification for the United States maintaining 4,000 troops, jet fighter-bombers and drones in neighboring Djibouti, the former French Somaliland, an expensive U.S. overseas presence…With the Ethiopian dam issue heating up, it could be a good moment for America to step up to the plate to help resolve a serious problem over water, increasingly the basis for major problems in the world.

Click here to read the full article at post-gazette.com »


Related:
The Nile Belongs to Ethiopia Too (The Guardian)
Egypt Should Welcome Ethiopia’s Nile Dam (Bloomberg Editorial)
Tom Campbell: America Would Be Wrong to Favor Egypt in Water Rift (OC Register)
Visualizing Nile Data – Access to Electricity vs Fresh Water (TADIAS)
Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia: Social Media, Diaspora & State of Emergency Press Roundup

(Image from a study on social media use in Ethiopia and the Diaspora mapping frequency of hate and dangerous speech. Courtesy of the University of Oxford)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

February 25th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The significantly polarized social media environment regarding politics among Ethiopians in the Diaspora is receiving renewed press attention, perhaps as a contributing factor in Ethiopia’s current state of heightened ethnic politics. In a recent article published by the Open Democracy website Rene Lefort points out “a symptom of this odious climate: on websites accessible in Ethiopia, especially in the comments sections, overtly racist interethnic attacks, which would be an offense anywhere else, are flourishing as never before.”

“Social media users in America are stoking Ethiopia’s ethnic violence,” declared the title of another story by Public Radio International (PRI). “The Ethiopian Diaspora in the U.S. uses social media to great effect in shaping coverage of events back home, especially the protest movement that has pummeled Ethiopia for more than two years,” says freelance journalist James Jeffrey, author of the PRI piece. “During that time, social media has proved itself a double-edged sword in Ethiopia: It’s capable of filling a need for more information due to limited press freedom and frequent blanket shutdowns of mobile internet, but also of pushing the country toward even greater calamity.” Jeffrey adds: “Since 1995, Ethiopia has applied a distinct political model of ethnically based federalism to the country’s heterogeneous masses — about 100 million people who speak more than 80 dialects. In a country as diverse as Ethiopia, the cumulative effect of ethnic slander should not be underestimated, observers note, especially where historical grudges exist between main ethic groups.”

Meanwhile Ethiopia is back under another State of Emergency and as The Economist notes that: “the declaration appears at odds with recent signs that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was willing to allow more democracy. In August it lifted a ten-month-long state of emergency, imposed after protests in 2016. The new state of emergency appears to have been triggered by the resignation the day before of Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister. Hailemariam said he was bowing out to allow for “reforms”, but his departure has opened up a succession struggle within the EPRDF, which has governed Ethiopia since it first seized power as a band of rebels in 1991.”

Last week the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia released a press statement that strongly objected to the decision to suspend normal constitutional procedures and urged its oldest Africa ally to instead focus on widening the democratic space by encouraging “greater freedom, not less.” The press release stated: “The challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy.”

The EU has also issued a communiqué saying “only a constructive dialogue among all stakeholders – authorities, opposition, media, civil society – will allow for a peaceful and durable resolution of the crisis.”


Related:
Study on Social Media Use in Ethiopia Maps Frequency of Hate and Dangerous Speech

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A White Wedding During Red Terror (BBC)

The digital photo archive, Vintage Addis Ababa, show how people carry on with life in exceptional circumstances. (Image: Genet and Aynalem exchanging vows in the presence of a priest and guests at her father’s house in 1978 during the height of the Red Terror/Vintage Addis Ababa)

BBC News

By Philipp Schütz & Wongel Abebe

Love can often flourish in the most hopeless of situations.

And so it was for Aynalem and Genet who married each other in 1978 during the height of Ethiopia’s brutal Red Terror.

The bloodshed began a year earlier, when Marxist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam took control of Ethiopia and launched a lethal campaign against his enemies.

Thousands of people died during his crackdown, with hundreds of thousands more forcibly resettled.

But this didn’t stop Aynalem and Genet from exchanging their wedding vows in Sendafa, a small city just outside the capital, Addis Ababa.

Photos from this day have been compiled by the digital archive, Vintage Addis Ababa, to show how people carry on with life in exceptional circumstances.

A long courtship

The couple met in 1973 when they lived in the same neighbourhood.

A year later, the country’s imperial government was overthrown by the Derg communist regime, paving the way for Mengistu’s rule.

The chaos that followed upended their lives in ways they could not have imagined.

Aynalem had hoped to marry Genet early, as soon as she finished high school.

But in 1978 she was arrested for taking part in an opposition protest and jailed for three months.

“Living under the Derg regime was not easy,” Genet says. “The fear in the atmosphere hindered our joy from being complete.”

Read more and see photos at BBC.com »


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Update Regrading the Situation in Ethiopia

Recently freed opposition leaders Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba. (Photo: Twitter)

Bloomberg

Updated: February 27, 2018

Ethiopia Authorities Order Security Forces to Quell Protests

Ethiopian authorities ordered the country’s security forces to “take all the necessary measures” to deal with anti-government agents in the restive Oromia region.

The so-called Command Post, which is administering a state of emergency declared on Feb. 16, must deal with “illegal forces” in Oromia if they “do not refrain from their destructive actions immediately,” according to a statement published Tuesday by the ruling-party funded Fana Broadcasting Corp.

The government has been struggling for more than two years to end sporadic and often deadly anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. The Oromo and Amhara communities together make up more than half of Ethiopia’s population, Africa’s largest after Nigeria. Activists from both groups claim that minority ethnic Tigrayans, who are about 6 percent of the population, dominate an authoritarian government.

One person was killed this week and seven were wounded as protests continue in Nekemte, an Oromia market town about 242 kilometers (151 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa, Oromia spokesman Addisu Arega said in a Facebook post Tuesday, citing reports received by the regional government.

Government forces blocked leaders of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, including Chairman Merera Gudina and Secretary-General Bekele Gerba from entering Nekemte on Sunday, said Beyene Petros, who heads the Medrek coalition of opposition parties that includes the OFC. Merera was freed from prison in January and Bekele this month as part of a mass release of more than 7,000 detainees first announced by the government in January.

Read more »


Related:
NEWS: STANDOFF AS SECURITY FORCES DETAIN RECENTLY RELEASED OPPOSITION POLITICIANS, INCLUDING DR. MERERA GUDINA AND BEKELE GERBA, NEAR NEKEMT IN WESTERN ETHIOPIA (Addis Standard)
Ethiopia releases 1,500 prisoners (REUTERS)
The Economist on Ethiopia’s Current Political Climate
Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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Ethiopia Releases More Prisoners (Reuters)

A crowd welcoming the release of Bekele Gerba in Adama on Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

REUTERS

NAIROBI – Ethiopia has released more than 1,500 prisoners in its eastern Somali region, government officials said on social media, days after the government declared a state of emergency to try to tamp down unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation.

“On Wednesday, over 1,500 prisoners were released following a pardon by President Abdi Mohammed Omer,” the Somali Region’s communications bureau said on Facebook late on Wednesday, referring to the regional president.

“The inmates had been jailed on charges that include anti-peace activities,” it added, without giving details.

Ethiopia has already released more than 6,000 prisoners since January, including some high-profile journalists and opposition leaders. They were charged with a variety of offences, including terrorism.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the releases were designed to increase “political space” in Ethiopia following anti-government protests that began in 2015.

Hundreds of people were killed during two years of protests that convulsed the country’s two most populous provinces, whose ethnic Oromo and Amharic communities complain they are under-represented in the country’s corridors of power.

Friday’s declaration of a six-month-long state of emergency followed Hailemariam’s surprise resignation on Thursday. He remains in office, overseeing the region’s biggest economy, until a new prime minister is appointed.

The government previously imposed a state of emergency in October 2016, which was lifted in August 2017. During that time, curfews were in place, movement was restricted and about 29,000 people were detained. It’s unclear how many remain in prison.


Related:
The Economist on Ethiopia’s Current Political Climate
Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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The Economist on Ethiopia’s Current Political Climate

Adama, Ethiopia, Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

The Economist

Protest, repress, reform, repeat: With nobody in charge, Ethiopia declares a state of emergency

THE well-heeled residents of Legetafo are not used to demonstrations. The town on the eastern edge of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is home to politicians and businessfolk. Although nearby towns in the region of Oromia, which surrounds the capital, have been hit by anti-government protests since late 2014, these streets have remained mostly quiet.

Yet this month demonstrations broke out there too, as people joined a strike to force the ruling coalition to release more political prisoners (in addition to the thousands it has already freed since the start of the year). “Almost everyone” took to the streets, says Zenebe, a local restaurant-owner. Things quickly turned ugly. People set up roadblocks and burned tyres. The army responded with tear gas and bullets. Faced with spreading protests and ethnic attacks on Tigrayans (who are about 6% of the population but dominate politics), the government announced a state of emergency, giving itself wide powers to ban protests and arrest people.

The declaration appears at odds with recent signs that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was willing to allow more democracy. In August it lifted a ten-month-long state of emergency, imposed after protests in 2016. But rather than signalling a retreat from reform, the new state of emergency appears to have been triggered by the resignation the day before of Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister.

Hailemariam said he was bowing out to allow for “reforms”, but his departure has opened up a succession struggle within the EPRDF, which has governed Ethiopia since it first seized power as a band of rebels in 1991.

Read more »


Related:
Another 1,500 Prisoners Released in Ethiopia (VOA)
Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?

The last time the U.S. brokered a political deal in Ethiopia in 1991 under the guardianship of Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, we ended up with the presently failing system of government. Now there is a new Diaspora idea floating around the internet soliciting the Trump administration to referee Ethiopia's current domestic problems. But in fairness the future of Ethiopia is up to Ethiopians not a foreign power, nor should it be. As we have said before instead of declaring state of emergency, "the Ethiopian government along with the people of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Diaspora can help shape a constructive dialogue -- to facilitate and empower the political space being demanded by a new generation of leaders and pro-Ethiopia opposition voices -- while still maintaining the longstanding friendship and the ongoing partnerships between USA and Ethiopia." In the meantime Bloomberg news reports from Addis Ababa that the next PM might actually hail from the protest-hit regions. (Photo: Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC/AP)

Bloomberg

Ethiopia’s Next Leader Could Come From Protest-Hit Region

Ethiopia’s ruling party could choose the leader of the protest-hit Oromia region as its next chairman, a step toward succeeding Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, a party official said.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front will probably decide on a new head within the next two weeks, Getachew Reda, a member of the EPRDF’s executive committee, said in an interview on Tuesday. Lemma Megersa, the leader of the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization, has been touted as a potential successor to Hailemariam.

“There is nothing institutional, moral or legal that stands in the way of Lemma becoming chairman,” Getachew said in the capital, Addis Ababa. “This is not in any way an endorsement of anyone. Technically, anyone can come in.”

Hailemariam resigned Feb. 15 after failing to quell more than two years of sporadic and often deadly anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. The next day, the government declared a state of emergency, the second time since 2016 it’s suspended the constitution to deal with the unrest. The demonstrations occurred amid conflict between the Oromo and Somali regions that has forced more than 900,000 people to flee their homes.

Ethiopia Faces Watershed Moment After Prime Minister Resigns

Ethiopia, Africa’s fastest-growing economy over the past decade, is a key U.S. ally in its battle against al-Qaeda in the Horn of Africa. Home to more than 100 million people, the $72 billion economy has drawn investors including General Electric Co., Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and hundreds of Chinese companies.

The Oromo and Amhara communities together make up more than half of Ethiopia’s population, Africa’s second-largest after Nigeria…Lemma is a member of the EPRDF Council, but isn’t a member of Ethiopia’s parliament, the House of People’s Representatives. That means the council could elect him chairman, but a new prime minister “will have to become a member of parliament,” possibly through a special by-election, Getachew said.

Read more »


Related:
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Hailu Mergia: An African Funk Pioneer Gets a Second Chance on a Global Stage

Hailu Mergia, an Ethiopian piano luminary, has been working as a Washington cabby, but now he’s releasing “Lala Belu,” his first collection of new music in two decades. (Photo: NYT)

The New York Times

FORT WASHINGTON, MD. — When Hailu Mergia releases his album “Lala Belu” on Friday, it will be this Ethiopian piano luminary’s first collection of new music in two decades. And it will be his first ever aimed largely at a worldwide audience.

Until recently, Mr. Mergia, 71, was hardly known outside of his home country, where he is seen as a musical pioneer. For most of the past 20 years, he has lived in the Washington area and driven a taxi, picking up passengers at Dulles Airport and toting an electric keyboard in his trunk. He still drives the cab for extra cash. In idle moments, he hauls out the keyboard and sits alone in the back seat, his eyes closed, improvising.

Mr. Mergia had long given up performing publicly when the 2013 reissue of “Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument,” a mostly forgotten gem from 1985, turned him into a cult celebrity among music obsessives across the globe, and set him off on tours of the United States and Europe. He has kept up a consistent schedule of international performances ever since.

On a recent Saturday, Mr. Mergia sat in an easy chair at his home here, describing how he relates to the audience he’s garnered in the past few years. “The idea of ‘Lala Belu’ is, it’s a composition you can sing with everybody,” he said, referring to the new album’s title track. “It’s simple. No Amharic lyrics, no English lyrics. Just ‘lala.’ Whenever we have a show, we just play that song, and everybody’s singing with us.”


In the 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Mergia, foreground, led the Walias Band, which gave Ethiopian music a more electrified sound. The group held a residency at the Hilton for approximately 10 years.

Read more »


Related:
Vice Magazine Features Hailu Mergia

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LA: The Return of Ayelew Mesfin – Pictures

Ayelew Mesfin with Debo Band at Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA on February 13th, 2018. (Photo Farah Sosa)

Grimy Goods — LA Music Blog

The music of Los Angeles is a reflection of its people. Men and women from all parts of the world reflecting different heritage but coming together in the spirit of music. In this occasion, the Echoplex was packed for Ethiopia to be the center of attention with the return of Ayalew Mesfin.

Ayalew Mesfin is a legendary Ethiopian funk artist from the 70’s. Back then, his music was oppressed by a dictatorship and now, it comes out to light, strong as ever in times of greater freedom. Most of his songs revolve around social issues and political protest. Ayalew is on tour with Debo Band lead by Ethiopian American musicians that blend their traditional scales and vocal styles with American soul and funk rhythms. Although the Ethiopian Funk God could not perform for their entire set due to mourning recent deaths in his country, he shared his political views and performed one song of protest, “Hasabe” (My Worries). This was enough for the very respectful crowd that continued enjoying the night. His music has been released once again by record label Now-Again x Vinyl Me.

The night was strong beginning to end. Los Angeles ethio-jazz bands Wondem and Ethio Cali started up the night with their own magic, exchanging musicians and providing sounds with unique and separate identities. Wondem was joined by the delicately fierce Sudan Archives while Ethio Cali delivered a scorching hot performance, one of the best one of the best ones I have experienced.

Click here to read more and see photos »


Related:
Ayaléw Mèsfin, a lost voice from Ethiopia’s Golden Age (Berkeleyside)
Spotlight: The Revived Ethio-Groove Of Ayalew Mesfin and His U.S. Tour (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Game Over, Or Not, PM’s Resignation Has Altered the Conversation

For those who follow the ins and outs of Ethiopian politics on a regular basis the recent sudden resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on February 15th might have arrived a bit earlier than they had anticipated, and less as a surprise, but for most of the general public it was a shocker and wake-up call that has refocused the conversation on what may await Ethiopia in the near future. Below is the latest news update about the controversial state of emergency and other related links. (Photo: AFP)

BBC News

Why has Ethiopia imposed a state of emergency?

Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa and one which has seen a booming economy recently, has been shaken up in the past week.

First Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned after five years in power.

Then a national state of emergency was declared the next day.

A statement by the state broadcaster said the move was necessary to stem a wave of anti-government protests.

Hundreds of people have died in three years of unrest, and this is the second time since 2016 that a state of emergency has been declared.

What does the state of emergency prevent?

  • Preparing, printing or circulating any information that could cause disturbance or
    suspicion

  • Displaying or publicising signs that could stir up violence
  • Protests and any form of group assembly
  • The halting of public services by anti-government protesters
  • The closing of businesses by anti-government protesters

    The government also retains the freedom to shut down the media and impose a public curfew, details of which have not been released.

    Under the conditions of the state of emergency, any person shutting down businesses or public services will face court action.

    Why was a state of emergency declared?

    The government gave three key reasons:

  • To ensure peace and political stability
  • To respond to the resignation of the prime minister
  • To facilitate a peaceful transition of power

    However, some analysts say the order lacks legal basis and that claims about instability are not true. Instead they view the state of emergency as a warning to those who might try and cause trouble when a new prime minister is appointed.

    Local activists are worried that another government measure might be aimed at further quelling dissent.

    In January, officials released more than 3,000 political activists and journalists from prison including opposition leaders Bekele Gerba, Merera Gudina and Andualem Arage.

    Opposition leader Merera Gudina is the highest profile prisoner to have been released so far
    Activists say that the government might be releasing prisoners now to make space for others later.

    But the authorities say the pardons are part of a move to create a national consensus and widen democratic participation.

    The state of emergency, opponents say, contradicts that.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Mag)

    Will a power struggle within the ruling party lead to reform — or more repression? (Photo: Anti-government protesters demonstrate in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

    Foreign Policy

    DDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On the day that Bekele Gerba, a prominent Ethiopian opposition leader, was released from prison, thousands of people took to the streets in celebration. It was a scene unlike any other in Ethiopia over the last quarter century, during which the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has kept a tight lid on dissent. On Feb. 13, jubilant crowds thronged into the streets and over soccer pitches, waving political flags and chanting Bekele’s name. Two days later, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned. After nearly three years of sporadic anti-government protests, demonstrators in Ethiopia’s disaffected Oromia and Amhara regions finally appeared to have gained the upper hand. Then on Feb. 16, the tide seemed to turn against them once again, as the government announced the imposition of a national state of emergency, the second of its kind in as many years.

    Bekele’s release was the culmination of a three-day standoff between the government, which had previously announced its intention to release some of its many thousands of political prisoners, and the protesters, who had grown impatient with the slow pace of the promised amnesties. For nearly a month, the wind has seemed to be at the protesters’ backs: More than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January, meeting one of the demonstrators’ most central demands. “Within a month, the political environment has completely changed,” says Hallelujah Lulie, a political consultant based in Addis Ababa.

    But a newly announced state of emergency, which will mean federal troops patrolling towns across Oromia and a curfew in parts of the country for the next six months, threatens to stall momentum for reform.

    Behind the drama of the last week lies a radical shift in Ethiopia’s political landscape, one that has the potential to lead to genuine reforms.

    Read more »


    Related:
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia: Hold Early General Elections

    In the wake of last week's bombshell departure announcement by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, there could be no doubt that the movement for political change in Ethiopia has reached the point of no return. But it remains to be seen if the protesters and the leaders (on all sides) will rise to the occasion and channel the popular anger into a more positive energy to bring about lasting peace and democracy through free and fair elections, as soon as possible. Building real democracy, however, also requires shading our culture of zero-sum politics and learning the art of give and take. The following is an excerpt from a thoughtful article on the subject by Rene Lefort published today by the Open Democracy website. (Photo: Xinhua)

    Open Democracy

    Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast!

    Excerpt

    The crisis in Ethiopia has suddenly gained momentum and reached a tipping point. Things could go either way. The country could dig itself even deeper, with consequences that don’t bear thinking about. Or there could be a broad realisation that Ethiopia is “at the precipice”, bringing a surge of realism and pragmatism that would finally start a process of political rebuilding on solid, inclusive and lasting foundations.

    This will require compromise, an attitude that is, to say the least, somewhat unfamiliar in traditional Ethiopian culture. All the actors will have to find a balance between what they would like to get and what they can get, between the short-term and the long-term. But time is short, numbered in weeks, maybe days.

    Capsizing

    The system of government introduced in 1991…is irremediably dead. The snap resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on February 15 marked the serving of the official death certificate…Hailemariam probably did not want to be held responsible in the event that it should capsize. He may also have hoped that his departure would back the ruling coalition into a corner and leave it with no other alternative than to set a course out of the storm and form a new crew capable of following it…

    Ethnic clashes and nationalist hysteria

    “Ethnic clashes” are proliferating. In some cases the regional or local security forces do nothing to stop them. A symptom of this odious climate: on websites accessible in Ethiopia , especially in the comments sections, overtly racist interethnic attacks, which would be an offense anywhere else, are flourishing as never before.

    Early general elections

    First, they would clarify the political landscape. Each force would be required to present voters with its flagship measures for rebuilding the system of political, economic, military or security power. The goal would not simply be a change of regime. It would include the distribution of powers and resources within the federation, hence the famous “nationalities question” that lies at the heart of the current crisis and for almost two centuries has undermined the capacity of Ethiopians to live together.

    Click here to read the full article »


    Related:
    Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    CREW Announces 2018 MSF Research Grant on Topics Affecting Ethiopian Women

    The academic fellowship is dedicated to Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw (right), the former President of Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women. (Photo by Matt Andrea: Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw speaking at a Tadias roundtable event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on December 14, 2013)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    February 19th, 2018

    New York (TADIAS) — The Maigenet Shifferraw Fellowship (MSF) announced that it’s now accepting research proposals from around the world on topics affecting Ethiopia women internationally.

    The annual academic fellowship, which is managed by the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), “provides short-term financial compensation for those conducting research on girls or women [as well as] community organizations striving to empower or improve the situation of Ethiopian girls and women in Ethiopia,” the announcement said.”

    The fellowship was established two years ago to honor the late Ethiopian researcher and activist Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, who was the founding President of CREW. Describing its guiding principles, MSF’s media statement reads: “First, the experience of Ethiopian women and girls, like in other parts of the world, needs to be researched and documented so that we all can gain some knowledge and serve humanity better. Second, those who strive to protect women and girls’ rights and improve their situation need to be recognized and encouraged.”

    CREW states that it encourages applicants to submit their proposal by March 10, 2018.


    Learn more about the fellowship at centerforethiopianwomen.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Global Lessons of Peaceful Change at Crucial Time for Ethiopia

    “Nonviolence is an intensely active force when properly understood and used,” says Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi whose nonviolent civil disobedience inspired many international civil rights movements and leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. Today, as the world watches whether Ethiopians can pull off a major political transformation or not without repeating our tragic history of civil war and the mistakes of the 1970's and 80's, which still reverberate to this day, we share this timely piece from the Global Citizen website highlighting five powerful examples of peaceful protests from around the globe that led to positive social, and political changes. (AP Photo: Students protesting in Addis Ababa, September 1974)

    Global Citizen

    5 Peaceful Protests That Led to Change

    Peaceful stances against unequal civil rights have been successful throughout history and nonviolent movements can lead to meaningful systemic change. Reflecting back on several landmark moments can act as a guide for action in these tumultuous times to gain equality for all lives in society.

    Here are five peaceful protests which led to positive social, and political changes.

    The Salt March

    During the transition between the wet to dry season of 1930 Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi led a peaceful protest against Britain’s imposed law dictating no Indian could collect or sell salt in the country. Followed by dozens, Gandhi walked over 240 miles leading protesters to the Arabian Sea to pick up a small handful of salt out of the muddy waters of the sea. Seventeen years later, after this peaceful yet defiant act, India gained independence from Britain.

    Suffrage Parade

    This message, “To ask for freedom is not a crime,” still holds true today. Peaceful protests like the 1913 Suffrage Parade shared the voices of over 5,000 courageous women speaking out for the right to equal political participation. This protest can remind us peaceful acts have the power to change the system. “We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.” – Emmeline Pankhurst

    Singing Revolution

    Music and social activism have long been “partners in [nonviolent] crime.” During the Singing Revolution, Estonia literally sang its way out of the rule under the Soviet Union. In 1988, more than 100,000 Estonians gathered for five nights to protest Soviet rule. This was known as the Singing Revolution. For Estonians, music and singing acted as a way to preserve culture while the small but fierce country held it’s own during invasion from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and others. In 1991, after decades of Soviet rule, a country with just 1.5 million people regained it’s independence.

    Click here to read the full article at globalcitizen.org »


    Related:
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)

    (AP file photo by Mulugeata Ayene)

    The Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret 

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s defense minister on Saturday ruled out a military takeover a day after the East African nation declared a new state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

    The United States said it “strongly disagrees” with the new declaration that effectively bans protests, with a U.S. Embassy statement saying the answer to Ethiopia’s sometimes violent unrest is “greater freedom, not less.”

    The state of emergency will last for six months with a possible four-month extension, similar to one lifted in August, Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa said.

    He also ruled out a transitional government. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn remains in the post for now after making the surprise announcement Thursday that he had submitted a resignation letter to help planned political reforms in one of Africa’s best-performing economies succeed.

    The state of emergency will be presented for lawmakers’ approval within 15 days, Siraj said. Security forces have been instructed to take “measures” against those disturbing the country’s functioning, with a new special court established to try them.

    Ethiopia’s cabinet on Friday cited deaths, ethnic attacks and mass displacement as reasons for the latest state of emergency. The announcement followed crippling protests in towns across the restive Oromia region on Monday and Tuesday that called for the release of political prisoners and urged the government to carry out rapid reforms.

    Similar protests have taken place across Ethiopia since late 2015, leading the government to declare a state of emergency in October 2016 after hundreds of people reportedly had been killed. A stampede at a religious event southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, that month claimed the lives of several dozen people.

    That state of emergency led to the arrest of more than 22,000 people and severely affected business.

    Read more »


    Related:
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency

    People celebrating Bekele Gerba's release in Adama on February 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    February 17th, 2018

    New York (TADIAS) — The latest suspension of basic rights in Ethiopia came following Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise resignation on Thursday following his decision to release thousands of opposition prisoners. Hailemariam had said: “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”

    The United States is now urging its close ally Ethiopia to reconsider the newly imposed state of emergency, but Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa said on Saturday that the current state of emergency will last for six months and includes “a ban on protests and publications that incite violence.” The U.S. said the state of emergency erodes confidence in “recent positive steps toward creating a more inclusive political space, including the release of thousands of prisoners.”

    “We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression,” the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia said in a press statement. “We recognize and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life, but firmly believe that the answer is greater freedom, not less.”

    The press release added: “The challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy.”


    Related:
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Brief History of Latest Twist in Ethiopia’s Current Political Drama

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced Thursday that he has submitted a resignation letter. (AP)

    The Washington post

    In the latest twist in Ethiopia’s current political dramas, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn formally submitted his resignation from his position as the nation’s premier and as chairman of the ruling EPRDF coalition.

    That’s a dramatic development — and no one knows where it will lead. Dessalegn was elected as a compromise candidate who could balance the interests of various factions within the ruling coalition and maintain the status quo. He appeared to manage this well — until recently.

    So how did autocratic Ethiopia, a U.S. ally and Africa’s second most populous country, end up in its current tumult? Here’s what you need to know.

    Read more »


    Related:
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Back Under State of Emergency

    Demonstrators celebrate the release of political prisoners in Adama. (Photo: Reuters)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 17, 2018

    Ethiopia says state of emergency will last six months

    ADDIS ABABA – A state of emergency imposed in Ethiopia a day after the prime minister resigned will last for six months, the defence minister said on Saturday, as authorities sought to tamp down unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation.

    Outbreaks of violence had continued in parts of the country and the government was banning protests, along with the preparation and dissemination of publications “that could incite and sow discord”, Siraj Fegessa told journalists.

    “The government has previously made several efforts to curtail violence, but lives have continued to be lost, many have been displaced and economic infrastructure has been damaged.”

    Further measures would be announced later in the day, he said.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his surprise resignation in a televised speech on Thursday, the first time in modern Ethiopian history that a sitting prime minister had quit. He said he wanted to smooth the way for reforms.

    A day later, the government imposed the state of emergency. Parliament – where the four-party ruling coalition controls all 547 seats – is expected to ratify it within two weeks.

    Ethiopia is East Africa’s biggest and fastest-growing economy and a Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy. But rights groups have often criticised the government for clamping down on political opponents and the media.

    Since January, Ethiopia has released more than 6,000 prisoners charged with taking part in mass protests and, in some cases, offences against the state. It has also closed down a jail where activists alleged torture took place.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    U.S. Charges 13 Russians With 2016 U.S. Election Tampering

    The office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted more than a dozen Russians for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election campaign with the aim of supporting Donald Trump, the prosecutor charged. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    U.S. charges Russians with 2016 U.S. election tampering to boost Trump

    WASHINGTON – A Russian Internet agency oversaw a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton, said an indictment released on Friday that revealed more details than previously known about Moscow’s purported effort to interfere.

    The office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies. The court document said those accused “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

    The indictment said Russians adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; traveled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans. In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume “portraying Clinton in a prison uniform.”

    The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive U.S. domestic debate over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, undercutting some Republicans who, along with Trump, have attacked Mueller’s probe.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Read the Indictment: PDF

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    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)

    (Photo by Girma Berta/Instagram)

    Tadias Magazine
    Editorial

    Updated: February 16th, 2018

    New York (TADIAS) — On Thursday, February 15th, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his resignation, following his recent promise to release political prisoners, which has set off a historic moment in Ethiopia for a peaceful social and political reform.

    In his televised speech Hailemariam said: “Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many. I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”

    Now, the question is where does the country go from here?

    As Reuters reported: “Hundreds of people have died in violence sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital Addis Ababa. The unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out.”

    While we welcome the release of thousands of prisoners who were unfairly incarcerated including journalists Eskinder Nega, Woubshet Taye, and the dropping of charges against Zone 9 bloggers and other prominent political opposition figures, we also caution that building a true democracy requires transparency, a responsible and free press, and the maturity to think about the common good, beyond our own selves and group interests, both at the grassroots and leadership levels.

    We hope the future of a new Ethiopia will also include a robust participation by existing (and or yet to be formed) political parties that are organized based on ideas and not necessarily by ethnic affiliation.

    For better or worse Ethiopia is at a crossroads and it is high time for this generation to seize the moment and assure the continuity of the country’s long history as well as our shared and sovereign culture.


    Related:
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on Thursday that he is stepping down from his position as Ethiopia's chief executive in order to accelerate the political reform that he set in motion last month when he offered to release political prisoners. (Photo: Reuters)

    Reuters

    Ethiopia’s PM offers resignation to help reforms after mass unrest

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Thursday he had submitted his resignation as both premier and the chairman of the ruling coalition in an effort to facilitate reforms following a period of mass unrest.

    Hundreds of people have died in violence sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital Addis Ababa. The unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out.

    “Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Hailemariam said in a televised address to the nation.

    “… I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said.

    Hailemariam said he would stay on as prime minister in a caretaker capacity until the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the country’s parliament accepted his resignation and named a new premier.

    Click here for updated version of this story »


    Related:
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency After Premier Resigns (Bloomberg)
    Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn in surprise resignation (BBC)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison

    Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was released on February 14, 2018, after serving nearly seven years in prison. (Photo: Befekadu Hailu)

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

    February 14, 2018

    New York — The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes news that Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye are free from prison after each served nearly seven years.

    “We are pleased that Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye are finally free since their arrests and convictions were shameful miscarriages of justice,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “We now urge the Ethiopian government to drop charges against other journalists and to implement the reforms needed for a free press to flourish.”

    Woubshet and Eskinder were both arrested in 2011 and convicted in 2012 in unrelated cases. CPJ research shows that the terror-related charges the journalists faced were fabricated in retaliation for their critical reporting.

    Eskinder, a prominent columnist and editor of now-shuttered newspapers, and Woubshet, a former editor with Awramba Times, were among 746 prisoners that the Ethiopian government last week announced would be pardoned, according to news reports.


    Related:
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Andualem Arage Decline to Sign Prison Release Forms
    Ethiopia to Release Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Exiled Athlete Demssew T. Abebe Reunites With Family in U.S. on Valentine’s Day

    Exiled Ethiopian marathoner Demssew Tsega Abebe, his wife Nigat Teferi Mulat, and their children, Dagmawi, 5, and Soliyana, 2. (Family photo)

    The Washington Post

    Elite runner who was tortured and fled Ethiopia reunites with his family in the U.S. — on Valentine’s Day

    Demssew Tsega Abebe was a famous marathon runner in Ethiopia and was expected to be on his country’s Olympic team. But his career was cut short when he was tortured for peacefully protesting his government’s policies. His heels and feet were so severely lashed he could not run for more than a year.

    He fled to the Washington area in 2016, and he has been trying to bring his wife and two children to the United States ever since, in part to get medical care for his 5-year-old son, Dagmawi, who cannot speak. Until today, Abebe had never met his 2-year-old daughter, Soliyana, as his wife was pregnant with her when he fled.

    Last week, Abebe learned that his family had won a humanitarian immigration petition to join him. Fittingly, they arrived early Valentine’s Day morning at Dulles International Airport. He held his daughter for the first time.

    “Exceptional feeling,” he said in a text from the airport. “So thrilled, so happy.”

    Yesterday, before they arrived, his voice broke with emotion as he thought about the moment he would see them. “I miss my family, my children. My son, he knows he waits a long time, but I am coming back to him.”

    He said Valentine’s Day isn’t much of a holiday in Ethiopia, but he said he is proud to be reuniting with his family on a day that celebrates love, in a nation where he is free to express himself.

    “I am so happy, I thank God,” said Abebe, 29, who lives in Silver Spring.

    Read more »


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    UPDATE: Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Strike

    Bekele Gerba was released from prison on Tuesday after the authorities dismissed all charges against him. Bekele’s release came amid a three-day strike across Oromiya province as well as a mass pardoning of dissidents by the government aimed at reducing unrest that has simmered since 2015. (Photograph: Bekele Gerba at the NPR office in D.C., August 2015/NPR)

    Reuters

    Ethiopia frees opposition leader amid protests

    By Aaron Maasho

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia released a senior opposition leader from prison on Tuesday and dropped all charges against him, a day after demonstrators blocked roads and staged rallies in several towns to protest against his incarceration.

    Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 after mass protests broke out in the Oromiya region over accusations that farmers were being forced to sell land with scant compensation.

    He had been held initially on terrorism charges, which were later reduced to charges of incitement to violence.

    “He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership told Reuters.

    State-affiliated media confirmed that Bekele had been freed along with seven other opposition figures, and that the charges against him had been dropped. Ethiopia’s information minister was not available for comment.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Andualem Arage Decline to Sign Prison Release Forms
    Ethiopia to Release Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Iconic Obama Portraits Unveiled in DC

    This week the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. unveiled the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. President Obama is one of the most important cultural and political icons in U.S. history as America's first and only black president. (National Gallery)

    Slate Magazine

    Why the Obamas’ New Paintings Are a Milestone in Black Portraiture

    At first glance, the recently unveiled portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama appear as their occupancy of the White House did—a dazzling and elegant streak of light and color. President Obama is set against a riot of greenery that, according to the artist, charts “his path on Earth through those plants.” Michelle Obama, famous arms on display, is rendered in grayscale against a backdrop of blue as cool as Obama herself. In aesthetics, if not always in politics, the Obamas presented a bright and lovely contrast to the stately whiteness of the highest office of our country, and the portraits presented Monday by the National Portrait Gallery capture their joint vivacity.

    The portraits are extraordinary for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is both artists the Obamas chose—Kehinde Wiley for the former president and Amy Sherald for the former first lady—are black.

    To place the pieces in their artistic and political context, I spoke to Richard J. Powell, a professor of art and art history at Duke University and an expert in the history of black portraiture.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Two iconic portraits for the iconic Obama presidency

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    US ‘All Hat and No Cattle’ in Ethiopia as Protests Flare Up Again

    As the cowboy saying goes it's "all hat and no cattle" when it comes to the Trump administration's influence on human right in Ethiopia, which seems to be limited to issuing periodic press releases and travel warnings. Below is the most recent travel advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa amid the ongoing strike and deadly protests in Oromia and Amhara regions. (Photo: At least 4 people were killed and 11 others were injured on Sunday February 11, 2018 during fresh demonstrations near the city of Harar/Addis Standard)

    Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Event: A “stay at home” strike is underway throughout the Oromia and Amhara regions and is expected to last through February 15. There have been reports of protestors in both regions engaging public transport buses with rocks and rioting. There are also reports of road blocks along the border between Addis Ababa and Oromia.

    Actions to Take:

  • Postpone travel to these regions until the strike concludes.
  • If you are currently in Oromia or Amhara, you should shelter in place.
  • Employ sound security practices.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings, including local events.
  • Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations; monitor local news stations; and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Remember that the security environment in Ethiopia is fluid and can deteriorate without warning.


    Related:
    AT LEAST FOUR PEOPLE KILLED, SEVERAL INJURED WHEN SECURITY FORCES OPEN FIRE AT IDP CAMP IN EASTERN ETHIOPIA; STAY AT HOME BOYCOTT HAPPENING IN VARIOUS CITIES IN OROMIA (AS)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future

    (Photo: Pixabay)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 12th, 2018

    New York (TADIAS) — A timely and healthy debate appears to be finally emerging online both in Ethiopia and abroad as Ethiopians grapple with the political future of their country.

    In a recent article published by the Washington Post U.S.-based Ethiopian academic Yohannes Y. Gedamu, who teaches political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, asked a fitting question: Ethiopia just pardoned political prisoners. Could that signal a shift to real democracy?

    As Yohannes points out: “Some observers were cautiously optimistic after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprising Jan. 3 announcement that the government would release some political prisoners, including opposition leader Merera Gudina [who has since been freed along with many others]. That release, however, was partial. The government is still holding thousands of other opposition figures and protesters, along with journalists who have reported critically on the regime.”

    Yohannes who is also writing a book called Ethnic Federalism and Authoritarian Survival in Ethiopia adds: “Ethiopia adopted a constitution that established ethnic federalism, in which regions’ boundaries were drawn according to ethnic and linguistic classifications. Implemented in 1995, the new constitution was ostensibly designed to promote group’s rights. But the ethnic federal model hasn’t ended ethnic inequality. Rather, it has created winners and losers.”

    In another piece published by the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) James Jeffrey’s article entitled Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia Stoked by Social Media from U.S. may be pushing inaccurate assertions as the percentage of individuals with access to the Internet in Ethiopia is recorded as low as 4.2 percent by Internet Live Stats and as high as only 15% by Internet World Stats. Nonetheless Jeffrey makes the point that “since 1995, Ethiopia has applied a distinct political model of ethnically based federalism to the country’s heterogeneous masses — about 100 million people speaking more than 80 dialects.”

    These articles follow on the heels of an AFP report released this month, which cites UN data showing that approximately one million people have been displaced in Ethiopia due to ethnic violence.


    Related:
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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