Author Archive for Tadias

Face2face Africa Honors Mimi Alemayehou

Ethiopian-born Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director at Black Rhino Group, was Executive Vice president of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC) under the Obama administration. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

June 21st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Face2Face Africa has officially announced the honorees for the 2017 annual FACE List Award — a prestigious celebration of pan-African achievement in the U.S. — and this year the list includes Ethiopian American Mimi Alemayehou who is the Managing Director at Black Rhino Group, an investment firm focused on the development and acquisitions of energy and infrastructure projects across Africa.

“Ethiopian-born Mimi Alemayehou is one of the most influential and sought-after experts in African Business,” Face2face Africa said in a press release. She is Managing Director at Black Rhino Group, and also serves as an Executive Advisor and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure LP. Previously, she was Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), under the Obama administration, and was one of the architects of the Power Africa initiative to increase energy access across the continent.”

Prior Ethiopian recipients of the Face2Face Africa award include Chef and Entrepreneur Marcus Samuelsson and Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder and CEO of soleRebels.

Mimi is being honored along with Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network; Beverly Bond, Founder of Black Girls Rock!; and Tuma Basa, Global Programming Head of Hip-Hop at Spotify.

“We are very proud of our 2017 honorees for their distinguished careers and achievements,” Face2Face Africa added in their media release. “Their impact and legacy will shape and influence the pan-African community for generations to come.”


If You Go:
2017 Pan-African Weekend
New York City
Thu, July 13 – Sun, July 16
More info at face2faceafrica.com.

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Elsa Nega, Mother of 2 in Canada Needs Life-Saving Marrow Transplant

Because Elsa Nega is an Ethiopian, her chances of finding a donor on the international registry is slim and so her family is appealing to Ethiopians worldwide to help save her life by joining the registry at Match4Elsa.com

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

June 21st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Elsa (Elizabeth) Nega is an Ethiopian-Canadian mother of two children who is currently in urgent need of life-saving marrow transplant. Her family is searching worldwide to find a match for Elsa. “Her brother and sister in Ethiopia were her best hope but are not matches,” states a recent press release. “Of the 29 million people in the International Registry, no matches have been found.”

According to her family Elsa was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia after she suddenly fell ill earlier this year. A statement from the family said she walked into her local ER on February 8 and was rushed into an intensive care unit. The following day she was diagnosed with the acute form of leukemia (or cancer of the white blood cells). “She started on chemo immediately,” the statement said. “Unlike 90% of patients who go into remission after the first round of chemo, Elsa did not. Now, after 3 rounds of chemo, a bone marrow transplant is her only hope of recovery.”


Elsa Nega. (Courtesy photo)

Because Elsa is Ethiopian, her chances of finding a donor on the registry are slim, and so her family is appealing to Ethiopians worldwide to join the registry to help save Elsa and so many others like her. “Specifically, there is a great need for young adults, ages 18-35, of African descent. The younger a person is, the healthier their marrow is, which means more possible matches for patients like Elsa.”


You can learn more and join the match registry as potential marrow donors at Match4Elsa.com.

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Tech Crunch: Interview with Yonas Beshawred, Founder & CEO of Stackshare

Yonas Beshawred — an Ethiopian-American from Maryland -- is the founder and CEO of Stackshare, a developer-only community of engineers, CTOs, VPEs, and developers from some of the world's top startups and companies. (Photo: Techcrunch.com)

Tech Crunch

Why Stackshare is quietly becoming a secret weapon for developers and Silicon Valley CTOs

On Stackshare, Airbnb lists over 50 services in its “stack,” Slack lists 24, and Spotify lists more than 31; these stacks are collections of different pieces of software that each company is using to run their operations, and range from infrastructure tools to communications tools to container tools to email services.

Why are companies beginning to share the specific mix of apps that’s enabling their businesses to grow? Because they know it’s the missing piece of the puzzle for developers, many of whom struggle to learn which tools certain companies use and why, says Stackshare founder and CEO Yonas Beshawred.

In fact, Stackshare is quietly becoming a go-to platform for numerous players in the startup ecosystem for a few reasons, Beshawred argues.

The benefits are clearest for developers. “If you’re trying to build a new on-demand service,” he notes, “you can come to Stackshare and see all the tools that Instacart uses.” Stackshare also benefits companies; when big or small startups volunteer what tools they’re using, they have a better shot at attracting developers who are well-versed in those very same technologies.

Meanwhile, Stackshare is attracting the attention of SaaS vendors, a small but growing number of which are beginning to sponsor sections of the platform and that now have a new place for their communities to evangelize their products.

Certainly, something seems to be clicking. Stackshare, founded in San Francisco in 2014, currently features the “verified” tech stacks of 7,000 companies. More, it claims that more than 150,000 developers are now using the service, where they not only see which companies are using what but they’re also invited to (and do) comment on the tools, helping their peers understand what they should be using and avoiding.

Investors like it, too. At least, today, Stackshare is announcing that it had raised $1.5 million in seed funding late last year, led by Cervin Ventures. Other participants include Precursor Ventures, Square exec Gokul Rajaman, and former VMWare and Facebook exec turned VC Jocelyn Goldfein. The round follows $300,000 in earlier seed funding from 500 Startups; MicroVentures; Airbnb’s first employee, Nick Grandy; Heroku’s former engineering manager Glenn Gillen, and others.

Read more »


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Meklit Releases New Ethio-Jazz Album, Set to Perform in DC and New York

Meklit Hadero's album cover "When the People Move, the Music Moves Too" (courtesy image).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

June 19th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American singer and composer Meklit Hadero will be performing in Washington DC on June 20th and in New York City on June 21st as Six Degrees Records releases her latest album entitled When the People Move, the Music Moves Too. This past May we shared her video single “I Want to Sing For Them All” as featured on Vibe Magazine.

Meklit’s new album was composed after a chance meeting in Addis Ababa with Mulatu Astatke, the legendary Ethio-Jazz musician, composer and vibraphonist. “He was very pointed with me, saying several times ‘You keep innovating!’” she recalls. “He took me to task and.. it took me a while to digest that. It’s a big thing to have someone like that say that to you. I sat with it for a couple of years.”

Having first launched her music career in the mid-2000s, Meklit has since released five records, been named a TED Global Fellow and was an artist-in-residence at De Young Museum, Red Poppy Art House and New York University. She is the Co-Founder of the popular international group, Nile Project, which brings together musicians from 11 countries in the Nile Basin to tour and perform. She is also Founder of the Arba Minch Collective composed of Diaspora-based Ethiopian artists looking to collaborate with colleagues residing in their native homeland. Meklit performed at the concert inaugurating the UN Campaign for Gender Equality in Africa, and currently sits on the Board of the San Francisco Chapter of The Recording Academy, the organization that puts together the annual Grammy awards ceremony.

Meklit’s upcoming album, produced by Grammy-winner Dan Wilson, is also accompanied by the Ethiopian-born pianist Kibrom Birhane who is based in Los Angeles.

“I am an immigrant, so I guess you could say this is immigrant music,” Meklit says, speaking of her new work. “But I would not be who I am without Jazz, and Blues and Hip-Hop and Soul. This music is Ethio-American, just like me. I find joy in the bigness of that space.”


If You Go:
Album Release Concert (When the People Move, the Music Moves Too)
June 20th, 2017
Washington DC
Tropicalia (click here for tickets)
2001 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

June 21st, 2017
New York City
Nublu (click here for tickets)
62 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009

Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz


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Art in NYC This Week: Julie Mehretu ‘Uptown’ at the Wallach Art Gallery

(Courtesy Image: The Wallach Art Gallery and Culture Mag)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

June 14th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Last month Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Academy, which is chartered by the U.S. Congress, was established in 1898 “as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers.” According to the organization’s website: “The Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.”

This week Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin’s art works are also featured at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery. The exhibition, aptly titled “Uptown,” inaugurates the gallery’s new space in Harlem at 125th Street and Broadway.

“Uptown showcases established and mid-career artists alongside emerging talent from Harlem, El Barrio, Washington Heights and all neighborhoods in between,” the gallery announced. “With this initiative, the Wallach Art Gallery joins northern Manhattan’s vibrant art scene. Uptown celebrates these neighborhoods long at the vanguard in nurturing vital, internationally recognized art.”


If You Go:
SPECIAL EVENTS AT THE WALLACH ART GALLERY
615 W. 129th St
(Enter on W. 125th street, just west of Broadway)

Uptown exhibit is open from June 2 – August 20, 2017

All programs are free and open to the public.

More info at columbia.edu.


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Forbes: 5 Ethiopian Multi-Millionaires You Should Know

Tewodros Ashenafi, co-owner of Ambo Mineral Water (top left), Akiko Seyoum Ambaye, founder of Orchid Business Group (pictured center), Buzuayehu T. Bizenu, chairman of East African Holding (top right), Belayneh Kindie, Import And Export BKIEA (bottom left), and Ketema Kebede, founder of KK PLC. (Forbes)

Forbes Magazine

A few Ethiopians have built multi-million and billion dollar empires in industries as diverse as agriculture, food, construction, energy and distribution and earned multi-million dollar fortunes to boot. Their names don’t ring with the African public, and you’ve probably never heard about them before, but they are very successful — and very wealthy. Meet 5 Ethiopian entrepreneurs, who own businesses with annual revenues of $50 million or more.

See the list at Forbes.com »


Related:
Inside The Weeknd’s $92 Million Year–And The New Streaming Economy Behind It (Forbes)

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Inside The Weeknd’s $92 Million Year–And The New Streaming Economy Behind It

This story about The Weeknd (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) an Ethiopian-Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer appears in the June 29, 2017 issue of Forbes Magazine. (Photo: Jamel Toppin)

Forbes Magazine

Inside The Weeknd’s $92 Million Year–And The New Streaming Economy Behind It

Five years ago, Spotify was a fledgling music-streaming service only months removed from its U.S. launch and YouTube had just started its push into original programming; Netflix was a year away from doing the same, starting with House of Cards. For the members of the Celebrity 100–our annual accounting of the top-earning entertainers on the planet–meaningful streaming income was a distant dream.

But sometimes profound change happens quickly. Streaming is now the dominant platform for music consumption, and it’s growing rapidly–up 76% year-over-year, according to Nielsen. YouTube has birthed a whole new breed of celebrity: the YouTube star. And Netflix plans to spend hundreds of millions annually on original content.

“It’s not just about music–it’s about every form of entertainment,” Nielsen’s David Bakula says. “You don’t really have to own anything anymore, because for $10 a month you can do this: You can have everything.”

Full List: The World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities

The indirect spoils of streaming can be even greater. Abel “the Weeknd” Tesfaye parlayed his play count–5.5 billion streams in the past two years–into an estimated $75 million touring advance. To him it’s all part of the model he’s been following throughout his rapid rise, one that applies to all sorts of businesses: Create an excellent product, make it widely available and flip the monetization switch when the timing is right.

“I really wanted people who had no idea who I was to hear my project,” he says. “You don’t do that by asking for money.”

Steve Jobs would have been the logical choice to headline the launch of Apple’s eponymous streaming service, but by the time the tech giant rolled out Apple Music two years ago, he was busy putting dents into faraway universes. In his place was a pair of young musicians who walk the line between hip-hop, pop and R&B: Drake and the Weeknd. The latter stunned the crowd with the first-ever live performance of his new single “I Can’t Feel My Face,” which premiered on Apple Music and has generated more than 1.5 billion spins across all streaming platforms.

The Weeknd knows as well as anyone that streaming isn’t the future of music–it’s the present. As digital downloads and physical sales plummet, streaming is increasing overall music consumption–since their Apple appearances, Drake (No. 4 on our list at $94 million) and The Weeknd (No. 6, $92 million) have clocked a combined 17.5 billion streams–and that creates other kinds of monetization, including touring revenue.

“We live in a world where artists don’t really make the money off the music like we did in the Golden Age,” says the Weeknd, 27. “It’s not really coming in until you hit the stage.


Ready for the Weeknd: Boosted by the ubiquity of his music, he’s now grossing north of
$1.1 million per stop on his Starboy: Legend of the Fall World Tour. (Forbes)

Read more »


Related:
Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard
Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz
Spotlight: Mulatu Astatke’s Landmark Album ‘Mulatu of Ethiopia’ Gets a Reissue

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Ethiopia Warns Emergency Drought Aid to Run Out Next Month

(AP photo by Elias Meseret)

Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

WARDER, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s government is warning it will run out of emergency food aid starting next month as the number of drought victims in the East African country has reached 7.8 million.

An international delegation visited one of the worst-affected areas Friday near the border with Somalia, which suffers from widespread drought as well. Several hundred people lined the dusty road to meet the officials at the remote airstrip, while rail-thin camels and goats roamed in the bushes. Animal carcasses littered the ground.

“I came to this area after losing nearly all my goats and camels due to lack of rain,” 75-year-old Ader Ali Yusuf said quietly, wiping her cheek with her headscarf as she sat with other women observing the delegation from afar. The mother of 12 is just one of thousands of Ethiopians who have walked up to three days on foot to displacement camps for aid.

Ethiopia’s disaster relief chief Mitiku Kassa told The Associated Press that the country needs more than $1 billion for emergency food assistance. Seasonal rains have been critically small and local cattle are dying. The number of drought victims has risen by two million people in the past four months.

The risk of an acute food and nutritional disaster is “very high,” the disaster relief chief said.

The International Organization for Migration said hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, with the problem compounded as people pour into Ethiopia from Somalia. — (AP)

A United Nations humanitarian envoy said donor fatigue and similar crises elsewhere have hurt aid efforts. Both Somalia and neighboring South Sudan are among four countries recently singled out by the United Nations in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine. Already, famine has been declared for two counties in South Sudan.

Read more »


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Ethiopia’s Civil Society Getting Squeezed

People walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa. Observers say Ethiopian courts frequently use the country's anti-terrorism laws to restrict activities of government critics. (AP file photo)

VOA News

WASHINGTON — From an internet shutdown to convictions of journalists and opposition members, Ethiopia’s civil society has felt like it’s under attack in recent weeks.

On May 24, Getachew Shiferaw, editor of the news website Negere Ethiopia, was convicted of “inciting violence” because of a private Facebook conversation. The Ethiopian Federal Court initially charged Shiferaw under the country’s anti-terrorism law, but later charged him under the criminal code and sentenced him to time served since his arrest in 2015.

On May 25, a court sentenced Ethiopian opposition spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye to six-and-a-half years in prison on charges that he encouraged terrorism with comments on Facebook. Yeshiwas Assefa, newly elected president of the Semayawi (Blue) Party, called the verdict “disappointing and embarrassing.”

“Yonatan is sentenced to six years and six months just because of what he wrote on Facebook as something that encourages terrorism. He was expressing his thoughts freely. This is what we fear would bring people to protest in our country,” he told VOA.

The following day, May 26, two men, Tufa Melka and Kedir Bedasso, were charged with terrorism for their role in a stampede that occurred in October 2016 at a cultural festival in the Oromia region. The men are accused of yelling things into the microphone that led to chaos and the death of 55 people.

Gemeda Wariyo, a protester who grabbed the microphone and admitted to chanting “down, down Woyane” is in exile now and wasn’t mentioned in the court documents. “Woyane” is a colloquial term used to describe the ruling party in Ethiopia.

“I took the microphone in a peaceful protest,” he told VOA Amharic. “I was the one who protested and I don’t know the men blamed for grabbing the microphone.”


FILE – Ethiopian men read newspapers and drink coffee at a cafe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 10, 2016. The Ethiopian government temporarily cut off internet access nationwide in early June, saying it was necessary to prevent students from cheating on final exams.

And in early June, the government cut off internet access nationwide, stating that the measure was needed to prevent high school students from cheating on final exams by sharing answers on social media.

In a press conference, Communications Minister Negeri Lencho denied the move was to control free communication.

“The only reason is to help our students to concentrate on the exams because we know we are fighting poverty,” he said.

As of June 8, internet access including social media sites was restored, according to published reports.

‘Under assault’

In a new report, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international think tank, concluded that the targeting of civil society and restrictions on free speech fit a pattern in Ethiopia. Over the past two decades the space for political opposition has been steadily constricted and civil liberties taken away, the report said.

Two laws in particular, the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-terrorism Proclamation, both passed in 2009, have given the government wide latitude to imprison opposition members and journalists and shut down groups advocating for human rights, Carnegie found.

Saskia Brechenmacher, an associate fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who worked on the report, said anti-terrorism laws have been used across Africa to stifle dissent.

“Those laws have become very effective tools, especially in moments of crisis as we are seeing right now,” she said. “Ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests, [they are used] to target selectively, particularly activists and journalists that are seen as particularly threatening.”


FILE – Security personnel take action against protesters in Bishoftu town in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Oct. 2, 2016. Critics say that ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests the Ethiopian government has been known to resort to a self-serving interpretation of the country’s anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent, selectively targeting activists and journalists.

Brechenmacher said Ethiopia also cracks down on civil society groups through a provision in the charities law, which prevents organizations from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad.

“Many organizations had to switch their mandate and activities and turn more toward developmental and civil liberties because they couldn’t carry out the kind of work they had been doing before,” she said.

Brechenmacher said these restrictions represent an abrupt reversal for a country that was becoming more open prior to the crackdowns that followed the 2005 elections.

“Ethiopia showcases what a dramatic effect this could have on independent civil society and the amount of information that is available in a country,” she said. “And also it really testifies the extent to which this does not really address the grievances that citizens have vis-a-vis the government and therefore those grievances will find another outlet.”


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Congrats to Ezra Yoseph High School Student Offered $6 Million in Scholarships

Ethiopian American high school student Ezra Yoseph of Las Vegas, Nevada was accepted to 24 of the top and prestigious universities in the United States this month with an offer of $6 Million in scholarships. (8 News)

8 News LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS – Later this month, thousands of local high school students will graduate and move on to college, including one spectacularly successful student who’s been offered more than $6 million in scholarships.

[His] name is Ezra Yoseph and attends Clark High School with an impressive academic story.

Ezra was accepted to 24 of the top and prestigious universities in the United States. He started thinking about what to write in his application essay when he was a freshman in a high school.

“It’s amazing to watch him grow into such a fine young man,” says Mrs. Lonie Lim, Clark High School Counselor.

“So, I wrote about a lot of things in my essay but mostly I wrote about something I’m really passionate about [which is] social liberation in Africa, and specifically I talked about literacy rates among Ethiopian women where my family came from; I spoke about basketball, I tied so many things I like and enjoy and passionate about,” says Ezra Yoseph.

He is the first person in his immediate family to go to college and has a 4.73 GPA. Choosing the right school wasn’t easy and he visited several of them after narrowing it down to an impressive final four of Stanford, Yale, Princeton and Columbia Universities. Ezra finally felt more comfortable with Stanford University and plans to attend in the fall of 2017.

Ezara Yoseph, who grew up in a single parent household, has his sights set on becoming a clinical neurosurgeon. He says, “I want to focus on studying Parkinson’s disease that really stems from my grandmother who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago.”

“He is a remarkable kid and I’m telling you, in four years when he graduates, he’s going to do even bigger and better things.”


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Wayna Pays Tribute to Legendary Ethiopian Musician Bezunesh Bekele

Grammy-nominated singer Wayna will perform a tribute to legendary Bezunesh Bekele at Bethesda Blues & Jazz club on June 9th. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

June 8th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Following her performance with the Stevie Wonder as a soloist and supporting vocalist, Ethiopian American singer Wayna is starting this summer with a one-of-a-kind tribute to Ethiopian music legend Bezunesh Bekele. Wayna’s upcoming concert is scheduled to be held at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Maryland on Friday, June 9th.

As a Grammy-nominated musician Wayna has previously performed at the Kennedy Center, the White House, Lincoln Center, and the Blue Note along with a 3-month performance residency in Ethiopia in 2016. Wayna also recently released a music video this past March in honor of Women’s History Month entitled You’re Not Alone, which featured images of Ethiopian women by photographer Aida Muluneh as well as photos of women that she encountered at the historic Women’s March on Washington in January 2017.


If You Go:
Friday, June 9th, 2017
Door open at 6pm
Show at 7:00PM
Tickets $25 (click here to reserve seats)

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Comey Accuses White House of ‘Lies’ and Says Trump Tried to Derail Inquiry

“Those were lies, plain and simple,” James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Jun. 08, 2017 discussing White House explanations for his firing. (New York Times)

The New York Times

WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.

Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.

Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.

Read more »


Related:
Comey says he was fired over Russia probe, blasts ‘lies’ (AP)
Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case (AP)

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Tedros Adhanom Elected Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General-Elect (center), with Dr Veronika Skvortsova, President of the 70th World Health Assembly (left), and Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. (UN photo)

The Associated Press

Published: May 23rd, 2017

GENEVA — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister of health, was elected as the next director-general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, becoming the first non-medical doctor and the first African tapped to lead the U.N. health agency.

Delegates, health ministers and other high-level envoys chose Tedros over Britain’s Dr. David Nabarro, a U.N. veteran, in the third and final round of voting. Tedros had 133 votes to Nabarro’s 50, with two abstentions.

The third candidate, Pakistan’s Dr. Sania Nishtar, was eliminated in the first round.

Ethiopian delegates could be seen hugging and high-fiving each other after their countryman made it to the second round. Tedro succeeds China’s Dr. Margaret Chan, who is ending a 10-year tenure at the U.N. health agency on June 30.

The director-general of WHO wields considerable power in setting medical priorities that affect billions of people and declaring when crises like disease outbreaks evolve into global emergencies.

The agency has stumbled in recent years, most notably in its error-prone response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and all three candidates vowed to overhaul its organization to restore credibility.

Of the U.N. health agency’s 194 member states, 185 were eligible to cast ballots; nine others either were in arrears on their dues or not represented at the gathering.

Jean-Marie Ehouzou, the African Union’s top envoy in Geneva, expressed “happiness, happiness, happiness” at the result.

“It’s not only a question of symbolism,” he said, referring to Tedros’ status as the first African to run WHO. “It shows when we are united, we can do everything.”

Read more »

—-
News Release

United Nations

Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom elected to top UN health post

GENEVA – The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the United Nations health agency, today elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017,” WHO said in a statement following the afternoon vote.

Among his previous positions, Dr. Tedros was Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and, prior, Minister of Health.

He also served as Chair of the Global Fund and of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board (RBM), where he secured “record funding” for the two organizations and created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America, according to the UN agency.

The incoming health chief was chosen from amongst three nominees presented to the World Health Assembly, along with David Nabarro from the UK, and Sania Nishtar from Pakistan, in a process that began before September 2016.

Dr. Tedros will succeed Margaret Chan, who yesterday addressed the World Health Assembly for the final time after serving two consecutive five-year terms.


Related:
Ethiopian wins race to be next leader of UN health agency (The Associated Press)

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Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

Timnit Gebru, a Computer Science PhD Candidate at Stanford University emphasizes inclusion and diversity in the artificial intelligence field. (Photo: Stanford)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 22nd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Forbes Magazine featured Ethiopian-born Timnit Gebru among 21 incredible women behind artificial intelligence research that’s fueling new discoveries in the field. “You already know that artificial intelligence is transforming virtually every industry and function,” the business publication wrote. “But you might not have met the brilliant AI researchers and technologists driving the edge of innovation.”

Timnit Gebru, who came to the United States when she was 16 years old and is currently a PhD candidate at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, states “my main research interest lies in data mining large scale publicly available images to gain sociological insight, and working on computer vision problems that arise as a result,” adding that her “research is supported by the NSF foundation GRFP fellowship and currently the Stanford DARE fellowship.”

Forbes highlights that Timnit also “actively works to boost diversity and inclusion in the field of AI.” After noticing that she was the only black woman at a major AI conference, she co-founded the social community Black In AI to drive connection and participation in AI research. In addition Timnit returned to Ethiopia to co-teach AddisCoder, a programming bootcamp, to a diverse range of young students and to help them gain admissions into top U.S. colleges.

“This is the most diverse/inclusive classroom I have ever been in,” says Timnit regarding her Ethiopia experience. “All regions of Ethiopia were represented with many religions and at least 10 languages (there were 85 students). There were different income levels ranging from students working as shoe shiners to put themselves through school to kids who went to private middle schools. Some kids had never touched a computer before while others have programmed in Java. But all of them currently understand the basics of recursion, dynamic programming, graphs etc. And they only took this class for one month. I hope to one day see a computer science classroom in the U.S. that is this diverse.”

Forbes notes that “since AI affects all aspects of society, even being used to manipulate elections and identify criminals, Gebru cautions that “AI researchers should not be silent regarding the repercussions of their work. Only when technology creators tend to inclusion will the exponential benefits of artificial intelligence positively impact all.”


Related:
The Economist appluads Timnit Gebru’s recent work: A machine-learning census of America’s cities
Spotlight: TADIAS Interview With Solomon Kassa, Host of TechTalk on EBS

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Spotlight: Mulatu Astatke’s Landmark Album ‘Mulatu of Ethiopia’ Gets a Reissue

(Photo: Mulatu Astatke's Facebook page)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 21st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – Mulatu Astatke’s seminal album Mulatu of Ethiopia was officially reissued on Friday, May 19th. The label, Strut Records, announced that the “official reissue of Mulatu Astatke landmark Ethio jazz album from 1972, including new interview and photographs, features previously unheard mono mix and session out-takes.”

The New York Times featured Mulatu’s album this week on their playlist, and noted: “The Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke studied vibraphone and percussion at Berklee College of Music in the mid-1960s, and a small label gave him the chance to record Ethio-jazz fusions. He made his funky, forward-looking, newly reissued 1972 album, “Mulatu of Ethiopia,” in New York City with jazz and Latin musicians, combining his African and American elements differently for each track. The melody of “Mulatu,” named for the composer himself, uses an unmistakably Ethiopian mode, while the track also has a crunchy wah-wah guitar, a steadfastly riffing horn section, a bullish saxophone solo and Mr. Astatke’s own vibraphone shimmering in dark spaces.”

Born in Jimma in 1943 the legendary artist is best known as the father of ethio-jazz. “At 73, Mulatu Astatke is as relevant as ever, and that goes for the music he made 45 years ago,” adds the music website Treble Zine in a recent highlight. “Mulatu of Ethiopia isn’t new, but every spin feels like a fresh discovery.”


Related:
Mahmoud Ahmed & Ali Birra Rock the Stage in Melbourne, Australia
Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard
Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz
Mahmoud Ahmed Brings Down the House at Carnegie Hall Debut Concert – Photos

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Carnegie Endowment Report Outlines Civil Society Under Assault in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia the government has used court proceedings to selectively intimidate and silence high-profile activists, reporters, and civil society leaders. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Carnegie Endowment

Civil Society Under Assault in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia

The closing of civic space has become a defining feature of political life in an ever-increasing number of countries. Civil society organizations worldwide are facing systematic efforts to reduce their legitimacy and effectiveness. Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been at the forefront of this global trend. In all three countries, governments’ sweeping assault on associational life has forced civic groups to reorient their activities, seek out new funding sources, and move toward more resilient organizational models. Competing security and geopolitical interests have muddled U.S. and European responses, with governments divided over the value of aggressive pushback versus continued engagement.

Governments in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have used a wide range of tactics to restrict civil society:

Public vilification. Governments rely on aggressive smear campaigns to discredit independent civil society groups, building on suspicions of foreign political meddling, fears of violent extremism, and anti-elite attitudes within society.

Sweeping legal measures. In addition to restrictive laws controlling nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), sweeping antiterror and antiprotest measures with vague legal definitions enable selective and unpredictable enforcement, which reinforces fear and self-censorship among activists.

Civil society co-optation. Governments purposefully sow divisions between apolitical and politically oriented organizations and selectively disburse rewards to co-opt civic actors and promote pro-government mobilization.

However, there are also differences among the three cases:

In Ethiopia, authorities have pushed NGOs from rights-based efforts to service delivery activities and imposed onerous funding limitations. Targeted repression in the name of counterterrorism has further stifled civic activism, and the government is increasingly relying on emergency powers to suppress growing rural dissent.

Click here to read the full report »


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U.S. Senators Call on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Committee is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs.

Press Release

Cardin, Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Calling on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a Senate resolution Wednesday condemning excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces that led to hundreds of deaths last year, and calling on the Ethiopian government to release all political opposition, dissidents, activists, and journalists and to respect the rights enshrined in its constitution.

The Resolution notes that hundreds of people have been killed and thousands were arrested during the course of the protests. To date, there has not been a credible accounting for the excesses of security forces.

Joining Senators Cardin and Rubio as original cosponsors of the resolution are U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“The Ethiopian government must make progress on respecting human rights and democratic freedoms. I am deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention of a number of prominent opposition political figures. The fact that we have partnered with the Ethiopian government on counterterrorism does not mean that we will stay silent when it abuses its own people,” said Senator Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “On the contrary, our partnership means that we must speak out when innocent people are detained, and laws are used to stifle legitimate political dissent.”

“As the Ethiopian government continues to stall on making progress on human rights and democratic reform, it is critical that the United States remains vocal in condemning Ethiopia’s human rights abuses against its own people,” said Senator Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights and civilian security. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to urge the Ethiopian government to respect the rule of law and prioritize human rights and political reforms.”

The text of the resolution is at this link.


Related:
EU Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths & Detention in Ethiopia
Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia

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EU Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths & Detention in Ethiopia

European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings. (Photo: Reuters)

Human Rights Watch

May 18, 2017

New York — Today, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-led independent investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia. Between November 2015 and October 2016, Ethiopian security forces killed hundreds of protesters, and detained tens of thousands. An overly restrictive state of emergency has been in place for the past seven months, and tens of thousands more people have been detained under it. Today’s resolution echoes a previous European Union parliamentary resolution, resolutions by other countries, and last month’s request by the UN’s top human rights chief for access to investigate the abuses.

Ethiopia’s government has always rejected outside scrutiny of its horrific rights record, insisting that it can investigate itself. Yet it has conspicuously failed to do so. Past investigations by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have not met basic standards of impartiality, including its June 2016 report into abuses during the protests’ first six months. In April 2017, the EHRC acknowledged that 669 people were killed in an oral report to parliament, but found that security forces had used excessive force in just a few situations. This stands in stark contrast to what Human Rights Watch and other organizations have found, drawing on evidence that includes a wealth of video and photographic material. The EHRC hasn’t publicly released a version of their findings, so it’s impossible to assess their methodology or learn how they reached their conclusions.

International experts having access to areas where protests occurred and to people still in detention are important first steps towards meaningful investigations. But there are other obstacles too, like victims and witnesses being too afraid to speak out about government abuses. Thousands of Ethiopians have fled the country since the protests, seeking asylum in bordering countries. They too should be part of investigations into what happened, from locations where they may be more free to speak without fear.

Today’s resolution specifically calls on Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, to “mobilise EU Member States” to urgently pursue the setting up of the UN-led international inquiry, and they can take the first step towards this at the upcoming Human Rights Council session next month in Geneva.

It’s hoped that implementing today’s timely resolution can help address the pervasive culture of impunity in Ethiopia. The resolution also reiterates the EU’s recognition of the importance of justice to ensure Ethiopia’s long-term stability. To the many victims of Ethiopia’s brutality, a UN-led inquiry could at least begin to answer pleas for justice that too often have gone unheard.


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In Ethiopia Blue Party Leader Faces 20 Years in Jail for a Facebook Post

Yonatan Tesfaye, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years' imprisonment. (BBC News)

BBC News

Ethiopian opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism for comments he made on Facebook.

He was arrested in December 2015 as a wave of anti-government protests in the Oromia region was gathering momentum.

The authorities objected to several posts including one in which he said the government used “force against the people instead of peaceful discussion”.

Ethiopia has been criticised for using anti-terror laws to silence dissent.

Amnesty International described the charges as “trumped up”, when they were confirmed in May 2016.

A section of Ethiopia’s anti-terror law says that anyone who makes a statement that could be seen as encouraging people to commit an act of terror can be prosecuted.

In a translation of the charge sheet by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project that details the Facebook comments, Mr Yonatan allegedly said: “I am telling you to destroy [the ruling party's] oppressive materials… Now is the time to make our killers lame.”

Mr Yonatan, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Read more »


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Mahmoud Ahmed & Ali Birra Rock the Stage in Melbourne, Australia

Mahmoud Ahmed and Ali Birra played two concerts together to an enthusiastic audience in Melbourne, Australia on May 14th, 2017. (Photographer – Mario De Bari)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 16th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – This past weekend, Mahmoud Ahmed and Ali Birra shared the stage for a rare and memorable concert held in front of a jubilant audience in Melbourne, Australia.

The Ethiopian legends played two shows accompanied by a local band, The JAzmaris, “to ecstatically exuberant audiences” reported the website Australian Stage.

And there was plenty of eskista and sing-along from Ethiopian concertgoers at the performance, which took place on Sunday, May 14th inside the Playhouse concert hall at Melbourne’s Arts Centre. According to the review by the Australian Stage: “the two most revered jazz singers of Ethiopia sang with the band at high voltage – the love in the room was immense with members of the audience leaping on stage to plaster money on the white-suited singers’ heads and in their pockets, sharing a moment of song with them.”

The concert featured Mahmoud and Ali’s most popular songs, but Ali Birra also sang a few songs in Somali, along with the song that originally made him famous: Birraa dhaa Barihe.

Both musicians who are in their seventies are considered Ethiopia’s cultural icons and two of the earliest voices of Ethio-Jazz.


Related:
Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard
Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz
Mahmoud Ahmed Brings Down the House at Carnegie Hall Debut Concert – Photos

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UPDATE: Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case

The U.S. Justice Dept. appointed former prosecutor and FBI director Robert Mueller to lead an investigation into the Trump-Russia case. The decision fulfilled lawmakers' demands for an independently probe. (AP)

Associated Press

Updated: May 17th, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department abruptly appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday night as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that Donald Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election that put him in the White House. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Trump’s Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor. It immediately escalated the legal stakes — and the potential political damage — for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a “hoax.”

The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The White House counsel’s office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed, said a senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.

In a written statement, Trump insisted anew there were no nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia.

“A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” he declared. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

Mueller’s broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That would surely include Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

Mueller, a former federal prosecutor at the Justice Department, was confirmed as FBI director days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that would ultimately shape his tenure. The FBI’s counterterror mission was elevated in those years, as the U.S. intelligence agencies adjusted to better position America to prevent another attack of such magnitude. He was so valued that President Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.

Comey succeeded him, appointed by Obama.

Rosenstein said the appointment was “necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”

Read more »


Related:
Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation (The New York Times)
U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians (The Washington Post)
Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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G7 & Africa: Dr. Lemma Senbet on Why Growth Should be More Inclusive

Prof. Lemma W Senbet is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium. (Photo: ISPI)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 15th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American financial economist Dr. Lemma Senbet, who is the Executive Director of the Pan African economic policy organization African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, was one of the presenters during a high–level panel held in Rome, Italy last week comprising of representatives and experts from the G7 and selected African think tanks. According to the announcement the conference “focused on Africa and addressed three key issues related to Agenda 2030: food security, innovation and mobility,” in preparation for the upcoming meeting of the G-7 Heads of State in Italy.

Prof. Lemma Senbet Says Africa’s Economic Renaissance Should Be More Inclusive and Sustainable

In the past few years “Africa has actually witnessed a growth syndrome,” says Prof. Lemma Senbet, who is currently on leave from the University of Maryland, College Park where he holds the William E. Mayer Chaired Professorship of Finance. “Some people call that growth renaissance and so moving forward growth has to be inclusive… and agents of those inclusivity are small farmers, women, youth and medium enterprises.”

Prof. Lemma added: “Technology and innovation is really key to leapfrogging and empowering these individuals and institutions. You need innovation not only in agriculture but also in finance. For instance in the area of agricultural innovation, which is actually linked to finance, is the idea of making our small farmers insurable and bankable so they will have access to credit because that’s a big constraint.”

Below is the full video of Prof. Lemma Senbet explaining his presentation at the G7 & Africa panel held in Rome on May 5th:


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Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

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Report: Trump Gave Top Secrets to Russia

President Trump with the Russian foreign minister, left, and the Russian ambassador at the White House on May 10th 2017. (The photo was taken by a Russian photographer. American journalists were not allowed)

The Washington Post

Updated: May 16th, 2017

U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians

A growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Trump to hand over the transcript of the White House meeting last week in which he revealed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Members of Congress — primarily Democrats — have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested, while defending his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, that he records his conversations.

But the calls intensified Tuesday morning after Trump seemed to acknowledge on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians.

“We want to know what took place in that meeting, and my understanding is there may be recordings or transcripts,” Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “Obviously, we’d like to see that with appropriate redactions.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump should release the alleged transcript “if [he] has nothing to hide.”

“Until the administration fully explains the facts of this case, the American people will rightly doubt if their president can handle our nation’s most closely kept secrets,” Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor. And a former Marine intelligence officer now serving in the House said transparency demands the release of the transcript, if it exists.

Read more »


Related:
Hill Republicans alarmed by Trump disclosure to Russians (Politico)
Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard

Teddy Afro performing at SummerStage festival in New York on July 5th, 2014. (Photo by Tsedey Aragie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 13th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – Teddy Afro’s new album, Ethiopia, made the number one spot on Billboard’s World Albums chart this week as “the highest ranking debut” based on Nielsen Music’s tabulation of sales that measure weekly popularity of singles or albums worldwide.

I am “overwhelmed with your response,” Teddy Afro said on Facebook following Billboard magazine’s announcement. “Grateful for all the love and support.”

The 40-year-old pop star’s latest release, which so far has sold over half a million copies, builds on his previous record smashing albums including Tikur Sew (2012) as well as Abugida (2001), Yasteseryal (2005) and Yasteseryal Edition 2 (2005).

Teddy who has dominated the Ethiopian music scene for over fifteen years produces socially conscious lyrics emphasizing “reconciliation, unity, history, justice, and equality,” notes the online independent music distributor CD Baby. “These subjects have gained him the hearts and ears of millions of adoring fans.”

Later this month the iconic singer will also be honored with an award by the Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) in Maryland. The the non-profit organization recognizes that Teddy Afro (Tewodros Kassahun) “is an accomplished and distinguished singer and songwriter who has endeared himself to the Global Ethiopian Community in general and to the Diaspora Ethiopians in particular.” The 2017 SEED award will be given to Teddy Afro on May 28th “in appreciation of his tireless efforts to preserve our history and culture through his thoughtful and meaningful musical composition and lyrics that make us feel proud as Ethiopians and inspire the new generation of Ethiopians around the world, in acknowledgement of his inspiring humanitarian support to the less fortunate among us as well as in recognition of his talent as a rising star that is loved and admired by countless Ethiopians.”


Related:
Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness (AP)

Watch: Teddy Afro Rocks New York’s SummerStage and B.B. King Blues Club — 2014 (TADIAS Video)

Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

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Ethiopian American Designer Jomo Tariku Presents at Venice Design 2017

Jomo Design's 'The Birth Chair II.' (Photos by Bemnet Yemesgen @Elasticreative)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 11th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Designer Jomo Tariku’s latest work, The Birth Chair II, was featured at Venice Design 2017 in Venice, Italy this week as as part of Venice Design’s Time, Space Existence exhibition. In addition, the exhibit highlighted four new designs by Jomo Furniture including “the incorporation of African textiles into modular backrests.”

According to Jomo “The Birth Chair II is inspired by African birthing chairs, which are still used in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Like most home furnishings in African countries, it is both utilitarian and decorative as well as a functional furniture that is also a work of art. Jomo original model is modular, with swappable backrests featuring various designs. Spare backrests can be displayed as decor. The ultimate design is modern, though rooted in African history.”

The press release adds: “Jomo’s unique exhibition ushers in a new era of mainstreaming African design. Africa has been severely underrepresented in events such as Venice Biennale due in part to the ethnic, rather than nation-based identity among many in African countries. Mainstream events are typically organized around national representation.”

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Related:
Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

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US Announces Success of USAID-DuPont Partnership in Ethiopia Farm Project

The Trump administration announced a successful public-private partnership in Ethiopia between USAID and DuPont to advance the agricultural development and food security goals set by Ethiopia. (U.S. Embassy Addis)

Press release

U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

USAID-DuPont Partnership helps hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian farmers transform production and livelihoods

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and DuPont announced that the Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (AMSAP), a public-private partnership between USAID, DuPont and the Government of Ethiopia, exceeded its goal by 150 percent to boost maize productivity among smallholder farmers and increase food production for Ethiopian communities.

As part of America’s Feed the Future initiative, the program’s objective was to sustainably increase more than 100,000 smallholder farmers’ yields and enhance income potential, while also improving nutrition outcomes in 16 districts over three regions across Ethiopia. The program has already helped 250,000 smallholder farmers in 53 districts to adopt new technology and implement smarter agricultural practices, far surpassing its 2018 target goal.

This public-private partnership was made possible through a dollar for dollar matching program that runs from 2015 to 2018 and leveraged a $2 million contribution from DuPont. Prior to this program, farmers were harvesting 2.2 metric tons per hectare. In districts where AMSAP was administered, they now harvest 7.5 metric tons per hectare. Since its launch four years ago, participating farmers have achieved an almost 300 percent increase, on average, in their maize yield productivity. They are also more efficiently connected to markets, which has helped boost incomes as much as $1500 per farmer, per year.

“We’re thrilled to see that we have more than doubled our goal with nearly two years left in our partnership,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, Deputy Coordinator for Feed the Future and USAID Assistant Administrator for Food Security. “It’s these kinds of partnerships that demonstrate the outsized impact we can have when the U.S. development community teams up with America’s leading companies.”

AMSAP provides increased access to training, improved inputs such as hybrid seeds, and provides other technical support.

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Feed the Future is America’s initiative to combat global hunger and poverty. It brings partners together to help some of the world’s poorest countries harness the power of agriculture and entrepreneurship to jumpstart their economies and create new opportunities. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov

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Tibeb Girls Children’s Animated Series

From the creators of the award-winning Ethiopian educational children's series Tsehai Loves Learning comes a new action-drama about three young girls who use their superpowers to tackle big issues. (VOA News)

VOA News

ADDIS ABABA — Three young Ethiopian girls use their superpowers to stop harmful practices against girls in rural areas and to promote access to school. That is the story behind “Tibeb Girls,” a new animated series developed in Ethiopia.

“Tibeb Girls” is the first animated cartoon in which Ethiopian girls play not only the lead characters, but are also portrayed as superheroes. “Tibeb” means wisdom in Amharic.

“For me, it was very important to have girls who look like me and who look like my child to be on the screen playing very good role models,” said Bruktawit Tigabu, who created “Tibeb Girls.”


(Screenshot from ‘Tibeb Girls’)

Representing and empowering girls is a big responsibility. Therefore the writers, such as Mahlet Haileyesus, put a lot of preparation into an episode.

“We try to include everybody, like the relevant stakeholders, government bureaus, specific target groups,” said Mahlet Haileyesus, one of the show’s writers. “And then once the synopsis is developed, we do prototyping, which means we go to the field and test it.”


Meaza Takele reads the ‘Tibeb Girls’ comis strip to her young children. (VOA photo)

“Tibeb Girls” is also published as a comic strip that Meaza Takele reads to her young children each night before they go to bed.

“When I ask my children why they love the cartoon, they say it’s because now they have a cartoon that is Ethiopian and where their own language is spoken,” she said.

Creator Bruktawit hopes to raise funds to further develop the TV show, as she tries to sell the first season to broadcasters in Ethiopia and other African countries where young girls face the same issues.


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Spotlight: Interview With Solomon Kassa, Host of TechTalk on EBS

Solomon Mulugeta Kassa is the Producer and Host of the 'TechTalk with Solomon' television show on Ethiopia Broadcasting Services (EBS). (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 8th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Long before Solomon Mulugeta Kassa launched his popular TechTalk televised show on Ethiopia Broadcasting Services (EBS) highlighting Ethiopian scientists, his friends used to tease him about his nonstop enthusiasm for the newest robot, space exploration, or digital gadgets. “I am always excited about the most recent human innovations in science and technology that impact our lives,” Solomon said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, noting that it was one of his buddies who suggested that he become a TV personality so he can free them from his constant obsession. “It was a jokester friend of mine who inspired me to do it,” Solomon recalled with laughter. “So I eventually contacted EBS and made a proposal for the show. They loved it. They said when can you start? That was in 2012.”

Fast forward five years later and Solomon — who works full time as a Senior Technology Consultant for Deloitte — has so far taped over 130 episodes of his show featuring fascinating guests including NASA scientist Dr. Brook Lakew, who is an Associate Director for Planning, Research and Development, Solar System Exploration Division at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as Ethiopian American scientist Sossina M. Haile who is Professor of Materials Science & Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University and one of the leading green energy researchers in the world.

Solomon said his only requirement for the show was that the DC-based program conducted interviews in Amharic so as to avoid “any language barrier” for his target audience especially in Ethiopia. “We know that even in this age of the Internet there is a huge information gap that exists in Ethiopia,” Solomon said. “That knowledge gap has always felt like a burden to me, so this is my way of sharing a little bit of what I know with people who are both younger, older and much smarter than I am.” Over the years Solomon has won an enthusiastic following both in Ethiopia and abroad. He has even appeared as a guest on various national Ethiopian TV shows, and last year received the SEED award from the US-based Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora.

SEED said they recognized Solomon for “his extraordinary commitment in promoting the use and teaching of technology through his “Tech Talk” initiative on EBS, reaching millions in the Ethiopian community and doing so in our native language.” And his alma mater, The George Washington University, where he received his Master of Science degree in Information Systems Technology Management in 2011, was equally enthusiastic in a recent feature on their website profiling their former student as trailblazer in the Ethiopian community. In his episodes, “Solomon interviews subject matter experts who enlighten viewers on recent science and technology developments, applications, and uncharted areas of exploration,” the university wrote. “The more than 100 weekly sessions have covered such diverse topics as robotics, space exploration, industrial design, transportation technology, construction engineering, aviation, and futuristic innovations.”


TechTalk with Solomon on EBS. (Courtesy photo)

Like many immigrants Solomon shared that adjusting to life in the United States wasn’t necessarily a smooth ride for him. “It was more like a roller coaster,” he said. “I arrived in Washington in late 2003 (on December 31st to be exact) on a scholarship to attend the University of Jamestown, a private liberal arts college, located in Jamestown, North Dakota.” Solomon, however, never made it past the D.C. area. “When I came here I had only $120 in my pocket,” he recalled. “The scholarship I had was not 100%. It covered about 65% of my expenses. So it became immediately clear to me that I had to find a way to support myself and get my papers straight in order to finish school.” That included crashing at a friend’s studio and working for a while at a convenience store “shelving beers and mopping the floor.” After a while he found a job at a hotel as a front desk supervisor from 3:00pm to 11:00pm, which he said allowed him to attend school during the day, starting at Northern Virginia Community College where he earned another technology associate degree (his first associate degree equivalency was from a private software engineering school in Ethiopia). He also briefly attended George Mason University, but had to withdraw because “working full time, supporting family and going to school was not working out.” At the end Solomon, who is a father of one, graduated from DC’s Strayer University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2008. Soon he landed a new professional job as a software developer working at the American Society of Clinical Oncology for five years prior to continuing his graduate studies at George Washington University and moving on to join his current position at Deloitte in 2011. And less than a year later Tech-talk with Solomon’ was born on EBS.

In addition, Solomon announced that he is putting the final touches on an upcoming new book aptly titled Science and Technology: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, which he says is “the first Amharic publication of its kind both in content and detail. “It will cover major science moments in history, its effect on the world and its relations to Ethiopia from the industrial revolution to the information age.” Solomon says. “The book will also contain a reflection about the future. Where are we headed? And what is our role? I am talking here about Africans in general and Ethiopians in particular. The fact of the matter is that we started civilization, but when it comes to modern technology we are still playing catch up.”

Asked about the ongoing debate on social media about Ethiopia’s fledgling space program Solomon said he is not as skeptical as some people although he has his own cautious opinions about what the priorities of the orbiters should be such as to “improve agriculture or provide useful weather data as opposed to focusing solely on communication,” he said. “Actually right now technology is the only solution to leapfrog and address some of our most pressing issues.”

“For example in the 1990′s people used to mock our entire continent saying what good is the Internet for Africa?” Solomon emphasized. “Well, look where we are now. So it’s not a luxury. Why should we be the last adopters? Why?”


You can learn more about the show at www.techtalkwithsolomon.com.

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McCain Blasts Trump on Human Rights

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain published an op-ed for the New York Times on Monday, May 8th 2017 criticizing Trump on lack of human rights focus in his foreign policy. (AP photo)

VOA News

Senator McCain Blasts Trump on Lack of Human Rights Focus

U.S. Senator John McCain is criticizing the foreign policy of the Trump administration, saying it is not focused enough on human rights abuses around the world.

In an op-ed article for the New York Times, the Republican senator said the United States has an obligation to speak out for human rights as a country that was created from “an ideal that liberty is the inalienable right of mankind.”

He criticized recent comments made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said conditioning U.S. foreign policy too heavily on values creates obstacles to advance U.S. national interests.

“With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope … We make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values,” McCain wrote.

McCain said some will credit Tillerson’s point of view with realism, but he said “if by realism they mean policy that is rooted in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be, they couldn’t be more wrong.” He said it is foolish to view realism and idealism as incompatible. McCain said the demand by people for human rights is reality, and said that by denying them these rights, we “invite their enduring resentment.”

“To view foreign policy as simply transactional is more dangerous than its proponents realize,” he wrote. “Our values are our greatest strength and treasure.”

McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, has criticized the Trump administration on a range of issues, including the president’s immigration orders and wish to have better relations with Russia. McCain has also sparred with the president about comments he made on the possible legality of torture and gave only a lukewarm endorsement of Tillerson during his confirmation process.


Related:
John McCain: Why We Must Support Human Rights (NYT)
Donald Trump’s dangerous flattery of foreign dictators shows how little he cares about human rights
How Trump’s Uncertainty on Africa Could be China’s Gain
George W. Bush: PEPFAR Saves Millions of Lives in Africa. Keep it Fully Funded.
Ethiopia: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation
Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz

Meklit pays homage to her Ethiopian influences on “I Want to Sing For Them All.” (Image: Meklit H. video)

VIBE

Ethiopian Jazz musician Meklit Hadero gives us an amazing tune that shows love to her musical roots, titled “I Want to Sing for Them All,” it features violinist and whistler Andrew Bird. The track is the latest single from her forthcoming album, When The People Move, The Music Moves Too.

“I Want to Sing for Them All” is a beautiful medley of lush and rich sounds from the African diaspora that inspired the song…Meklit’s beautiful visuals pay homage to every sound and artist that crossed her path since she was a child. Her soulful melody shows all of her cultural influences — from hip-hop, soul, and American pop music to Ethiopian jazz music, which shapes her stylistic range. The former TED fellow explains how “I Want to Sing For Them All” is her musical manifesto, and how she intertwines both of the music of American and Ethiopian heritages

She adds, “We came to this country when I was about two. I am an immigrant, so I guess you could say this is immigrant music. But I would not be who I am without Jazz, and Blues and Hip-Hop and Soul. This music is Ethio-American, just like me. I find joy in the bigness of that space.”

Read the full article at Vibe.com »


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U.N. Human Rights Chief Pushes for Inquiry into Ethiopia Unrest

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein requested that UN officials be given access to affected regions: "We may then perhaps provide a list for specific releases," he said. (UN)

Reuters | ADDIS ABABA

The United Nations human rights chief said on Thursday he would push Ethiopia to allow his agency to investigate rights abuses during months of unrest in 2015 and 2016 in which hundreds of people were killed.

The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule in October after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya and Amhara regions. Demonstrators in the areas say the government has trampled on their political rights. The state of emergency has since been extended by four months.

Last month, a government-sanctioned investigation said 669 people had been killed in the violence.

Speaking to journalists during a three-day visit, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said there was a “clear need for a much wider and freer civic space” in Ethiopia.

“Although I benefited greatly from the briefings provided to me by the Attorney General’s office, the extremely large number of arrests – over 26,000 – suggests it is unlikely rule of law guarantees have been observed in every case,” he said.

“I believe my staff ought to be given access to the affected areas, and I renew my request, so we can assess the situation and ascertain what further support can be given to the authorities, including justice officials.”

Read more »


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Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu Among 2017 Most Influential Africans Worldwide

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu named Most Influential Person of African Descent. (Twitter@BethlehemAlemu)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 4th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) -- Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu has been named one of the 2017 Most Influential People of African Descent -- in recognition of the International Decade for People of African Descent proclaimed by United Nation’s General Assembly resolution 68/237 to be observed from 2015 to 2024.

The awards dinner for ‘MIPAD Class of 2017’ will take place on September 26th, 2017 in New York City subsequently after the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly closes. The press statement notes that "former U.S. President Barack Obama and current UN Secretary-General António Guterres are expected to attend as keynote speakers."

The 2017 honorees were announced during the World Economic Forum on Africa, which is being held in South Africa this week. The individuals are selected from the following categories: Politics & Governance; Business & Entrepreneurship; Media & Culture; as well as Religious & Humanitarian. Bethlehem joins Beyonce, Usain Bolt, Trevor Noah, Didier Drogba, Tiger Woods and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the 2017 list.

"It is with great honor we unveil the 2017 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) global list to recognize the positive contributions made by people of African descent in public and private sectors worldwide," the press release stated. "MIPAD is a unique global list that identifies, in total, 200 outstanding individuals under 40, with 100 inside Africa, 100 outside Africa in the Diaspora."

MIPAD described their mission as aiming "to build a progressive network of civil society actors to join together and support the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015 – 2024, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/237."

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Related:
Spotlight: SoleRebels Founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu's New Coffee Brand

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Icons of Ethiopia US Exhibit at Museum of Russian Icons in Massachusetts

Ethiopia's ancient and storied history is explored in this exhibition at the Museum of Russian Icons, a non-profit art US museum located in Clinton, Massachusetts. (Image: Courtesy of Museum of Russian Icons)

Press release

The Museum of Russian Icons

The Museum of Russian Icons is opening a new mini-exhibit, From the Vault: Icons of Ethiopia, on Saturday, May 20, with a special members-only reception on Thursday, May 18. This exhibit, which will run through August 13, features a mix of Ethiopian icons, silver hand crosses, and artifacts from the Museum’s collection dating from the 19th and 20th century. Many of the icons were purchased from Ikon Gallery in Berlin, Germany between 2011 and 2014 including a Mother of God fresco, from the late 18th century that had been removed from the wall and transferred to canvas. “This very rare icon is one of the great treasures of the Museum’s collection,” notes Museum Curator Kent Russell.

Ethiopian iconography, which didn’t appear until the 16th century, is easily recognized by the stylized and graphically bold figures with large, almond-shaped eyes painted in bright and vivid colors. These icons could be found in monasteries, churches, and the homes of the wealthy.

A newly acquired “magic scroll” will also be on view in the exhibit. This traditional Ethiopian art form is based on ancient beliefs that illnesses and other crises were the work of demons. A cleric of the Ethiopian Church would create the scroll, customized to the height of the patron and inscribed with healing prayers, and stories of saints and angels triumphing over Satan. They were written in Ge’ez, the liturgical language of Ethiopia. The scrolls were believed to have protective and healing powers, and were always carried by the owner. Russell says, “The practice of creating and using magic scrolls continues today, despite attempts by Church officials to eliminate what they see as a superstitious tradition.”


If You Go:
Thursday, May 18, 7:00-9:00PM
Free for members and their guests.
Please RSVP by May 12 to (978) 598-5000 x121
http://www.museumofrussianicons.org

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US Budget Pays for Security in Ethiopia

The $1 trillion U.S. spending package for the rest of 2017 that was approved this week by the U.S. congress includes money to cover "border security and counterterrorism programs" in Ethiopia. (Photo: Townhall)

Townhall

Bill Funds Border Security — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt…

The 1,665-page spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress is planning to pass this week includes multiple measures that seemingly demonstrate a commitment to securing the border — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

It does not include the $1.4 billion President Donald Trump requested to begin building the wall he promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border…

Under the terms of the funding bill, U.S. taxpayer money will also go to Ethiopia “for border security and counterterrorism programs.”

Read the full article at Townhall.com »


Related:
Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia
Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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Family of Ethiopia’s Late Emperor Gives $700k to Haile Selassie School in Jamaica

Mel Tewahade and Gabe Christian, Emissaries of Prince Ermias S. Haile Selassie, presented a check in the sum of $700,000 to Haile Selassie High School in Jamaica, April 27th, 2017. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 2nd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) -- Family of the late Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie has made a donation of $700,000 to a high school in Kingston, Jamaica. The school was established by Haile Selassie as a gift to the people of Jamaica during his historic trip to the island nation more than fifty years ago. The financial contribution to Haile Selassie High School last week fulfilled a commitment announced last year by the former Emperor's grandson, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, during his official visit to the country that included a stop at the institution.

The $700K donation was presented on April 27th to the school's administration through representatives of Prince Ermias led by Gabe Christian and Mel Tewahade.

Prince Ermias described his visit to Haile Selassie High School a year ago as the highlight of his trip and personally moving. "It was emotional and overwhelming to visit the school that was donated by my grandfather," Prince Ermias told Tadias in an interview following his travel to Jamaica. "The school has been in existence since the late sixties," he said. "Many have graduated and many have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, government leaders, pastors. Some have migrated abroad and are serving their adopted home well." Ermias added: "My grandfather believed in education. Education enlightens and enriches one’s life and for society there is no better security than to educate its citizens."


Haile Selassie High School in Kingston, Jamaica. (Courtesy photo)

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Related:
In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie's Historic Visit to Jamaica

Haile Selassie’s visit was a momentous occasion (Jamaica Observer)
Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch
New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie (TADIAS)

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Millions Hope to Win What Could Be the Last U.S. Green-card Lottery

The days of the U.S. green-card lottery program, which has been around for 30-years, may be numbered as it appears to conflict with Trump’s immigration policy. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

On Tuesday, more than 14 million people around the world, including anxious applicants in the Washington area, will begin checking computers and smartphones in one of the strangest rituals of the U.S. immigration system. When the clock strikes noon in the nation’s capital, they will be able to visit a State Department website, enter their names, years of birth and 16-digit identification numbers. Then they will press “submit” to learn whether they have won one of the world’s most coveted contests: the U.S. green-card lottery.

Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery, as it is officially known, provides up to 50,000 randomly selected foreigners — fewer than 1 percent of those who enter the drawing — with permanent residency in the United States.

The current lottery coincides with an intense debate over immigration and comes amid policy changes that have made the country less welcoming to new arrivals. President Trump has cracked down on illegal immigration and pressed forward with plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico. He has issued executive orders targeting foreign workers, refugees and travelers from certain majority-Muslim countries.

But he hasn’t said a word about the green-card lottery.

Its days may be numbered, nonetheless. The lottery appears to conflict with the president’s call for a “merit-based” immigration system. And at least two bills in the Republican-controlled Congress seek to eliminate the program.

Read more at the Washington Post »


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Feyisa Lilesa: A Runner In Exile (ESPN)

After his dramatic protest at the Rio Olympics, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa didn't feel safe returning home. But even in his new life in America, he can't be sure what waits for him around the corner. (ESPN)

ESPN

He runs on a slender dirt road the color of rust. His legs churn with an easy rhythm as he passes clumps of snow, then thorn trees and sage swaying in the winter wind. Out here on the Arizona desert, he is easy prey.

It’s January, and there’s a stillness about Feyisa Lilesa, even in the 12th mile of a workout. He is with another runner because it’s riskier to train alone. With every compact stride, Lilesa lands on the balls of his feet and then flicks his size 9 Nikes, creating a soft shushing sound. The stillness surrounding him belies the feelings in his heart.

Until late last summer, the 27-year-old called Ethiopia, not Arizona, home. But since the Rio Olympics, when he won a silver medal in the marathon and engaged in a dramatic finish-line protest against the Ethiopian government, Lilesa has been in exile and does not dare go home again.


At the Rio Olympics, Feyisa Lilesa won a silver medal in the marathon and engaged in a dramatic, finish-line protest against the Ethiopian government. (GETTY IMAGES)

Read more at ESPN.com »


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Addis Fine Art US Show Preview

Abiy Solomon, Primordial Modernity: The Raw Spirit of Lalibela I, 2014. (Courtesy of Addis Fine Art Gallery)

Press release

Addis Fine Art

Ethiopia — Addis Fine Art is pleased to present Girma Berta, Leikun Nahusenay and Abiy Solomon at the 19th edition of Salon Zurcher, New York.

Girma Berta is an award winning young artist based in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, whose work fuses street photography with fine art. Born in 1990, Berta is a self-taught photographer. In his Moving Shadows series, solitary figures are juxtaposed against vibrant backgrounds, creating truly unique artworks which exemplify the contrasting colours and personalities on the street of his home town

Leikun Nahusenay’s multidiscipline practice is based in Addis Ababa, where he works from the Nas Gedame studio creating exquisite mixed media works.

Abiy Solomon’s photography series, Primordial Modernity: The Raw Spirit of Lalibela, offers a meditation on spirituality and the profound interiority of faith, as he photographs monks in Lalibela exiting and entering the hushed, dark spaces within the ancient rock-hewn churches.

Full selection of artworks can be previewed here.


If You Go:
Zurcher Gallery
33 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10012
www.galeriezurcher.com

Tuesday 2 May: Preview Day
Wednesday 3 May: 12 – 8pm
Thursday 4 May: 12 – 8pm
Friday 5 May: 12 – 8pm
Saturday 6 May: 12 – 8pm
Sunday 7 May: 2 – 5pm

Related:
Girma Berta’s new series, Moving Shadows II, at Red Hook Labs, New York | 4 – 14 May 2017


Girma Berta, Moving Shadow Series II, II 2017

Addis Fine Art is pleased to announce the launch of Girma Berta’s new series, Moving Shadows II, at Red Hook Labs and Nataal’s second co-organized group exhibition: New African Photography II.

Girma will be joined by seven contemporary artists, whose work engages with present-day Africa. The selected artists are both emerging and internationally recognized, and will be showing new, personal bodies of work addressing issues of representation and celebrating fresh perspectives on the continent. Spanning documentary, fashion and portrait photography, as well as video and performance, the exhibition hopes to tell modern narratives that surprise, captivate and inspire.

New African Photography II follows the success of the inaugural curatorial collaboration between Red Hook Labs and Nataal in 2016. US Vogue called the exhibition “a journey into the rich visual culture of Africa” while i-D hailed the line-up as “the new generation of talent changing the face of African photography.” This latest show hopes to build upon these achievements by supporting a larger and more diverse roll call of exceptional image-makers.

Opening of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be held concurrently, and open to the public from May 5 – 7, 2017

Full selection of artworks can be previewed here.


If You Go:
Red Hook Labs
133-135 Imlay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
https://redhooklabs.com
http://nataal.com

Thursday 4 May: Preview 6-9pm
Friday 5 May: 12 – 8pm
Saturday 6 May: 12 – 8pm – Artists’ talk moderated by Sara Jennings: 2-4pm
Sunday 7 May: 12 – 8pm
Mon 8 – Sun 14 May: 10am-6pm (daily)


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UN Human Rights Chief to Visit Ethiopia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. (UN Photo)

By Associated Press

UN rights chief to visit Ethiopia after deadly protests

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The United Nations says the U.N. human rights chief will visit Ethiopia next month at the invitation of the government, which has rejected U.N. and other outside offers to investigate months of deadly protests.

Ethiopia remains under a state of emergency declared in October after hundreds were killed amid anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms.

A U.N. statement Friday says Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will visit the East African nation on May 2-4 and meet the prime minister and other officials along with civil society groups.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn this month rejected U.N. and European Union requests to investigate the protests in which the government says at least 669 people died.

Zeid also will meet with officials from the African Union continental body, which is based in Ethiopia’s capital.


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Controversy Brews Over British Designer’s Velvet Jacket Almost Identical to ‘Kaba’

British fashion designer Alexander McQueen's £4,895 black velvet jacket looks very similar to Kaba. (DM)

Daily Mail

Alexander McQueen has been accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ for designing a jacket that looks remarkably similar to a ceremonial gown from the Horn of Africa.

Hundreds of people from the Habesha community – who come from Eritrea and northern Ethiopia – have reacted in fury on social media after the fashion house posted a picture of a £4,895 black velvet jacket covered in gold embroidery on Instagram.


An Ethiopian priests wearing the ceremonial kaba gown. (Flickr)

Read more at the Daily Mail »


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Editing Tadias While Pursuing Her Doctorate Degree: Meet Dr. Tseday Alehegn

Dr. Tseday Alehegn is the Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April, 27th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Most readers of Tadias Magazine know Tseday Alehegn for her profiles of inspiring Ethiopians from around the world. But very few people knew that in addition to her tasks at Tadias she was simultaneously juggling many other responsibilities, one of which was pursuing her doctorate degree in Health Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, which she successfully defended this week. In addition, Tseday also holds a Master’s degree in Neuroscience from Columbia as well as her BA and MA from Stanford University in Human Biology and Education respectively.

Dr. Tseday Alehegn’s research topic for the Doctor of Education focused on mobile-health best practices and an analysis of programs using mobile technologies for chronic disease management, disease prevention and health promotion that she hopes will become a book some time soon.

Tseday who also gave birth only a few weeks ago to her first daughter (Naomi Liben-Eabisa), says she will continue to edit Tadias for the foreseeable future “motivating the younger generation to follow their own dreams.”

We congratulate Tseday on her accomplishments.


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Elias Sime Returns for Second Solo Exhibition at James Cohan Gallery In NYC

Elias Sime lives and works in Addis Ababa. . (Photos: James Cohan Gallery, NYC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April, 26th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist Elias Sime’s second solo exhibition at James Cohan Gallery In New York opens this week. The exhibition entitled Twisted & Hidden features Elias’ latest works of “large-scale artworks constructed from a grid-like arrangement of panels encrusted with electronic parts.” The show will be on view from April 28 through June 17 at James Cohan’s Chelsea location.

Similar to his previous show in Fall 2015 Elias’ new works also employ components of scrapped modern gadgets most of which he buys from Merkato. The press release adds that his “work is a meditation on connectivity and transformation. His unorthodox materials include reclaimed cell phone bodies, Soviet-era transistors, computer motherboards, brightly colored electrical wires, sections of plastic keyboards with other e-waste that has been discarded and sent to trash heaps across the African continent. This technological flotsam eventually washes up in the open-air markets of Addis Ababa, where Sime repurposes it into artworks.”

The New York Times described Elias’ work as being “culturally specific,” and “universalist” adding that “although never without critical thrust — no one knows better the horrors visited on Africa by shipments of toxic Western e-waste — it is utopian.”

According to James Cohan Gallery the current exhibition is “part of an ongoing series entitled “Tightrope,” which refers to the contemporary balancing act between technology and tradition, humanity and the environment. Elias Sime achieves effects from dense narrative to austere modernist abstraction. Some works recall pure color-field painting while others refer to architectonic geometries, textile patterns and information flows. Figurative moments emerge in some – a human face, a bird wing, a frog leaping from a tree branch. The artist resists the collagist’s shorthand of using discarded objects as poetic stand-ins for individual lives and instead finds renewal everywhere, taking the greatest interest in new ways that objects and ideas connect. The emphasis is on the transformative power of human creativity.”

About Elias Sime

Elias Sime (b. 1968, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is a prominent name both in Africa and internationally. With the full cooperation of curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued, Sime founded and designed the Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa, an international art center described by the New York Times in 2014 as “a voluptuous dream, a swirl of ancient technique and ecstatic imagination.” His work has been shown internationally at the Dak’Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal; the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Austria; and in the United States at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and a survey exhibition that traveled from Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, to North Dakota Museum of Art. Sime designed various costumes, props and set-pieces for Peter Sellars’ production of Stravinsky’s opera Oedipus Rex, performed at the Sydney Opera House as well as in Los Angeles, Aix-en-Provence and London. An upcoming performance of the opera will be staged in Stockholm.

Elias Sime’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Perez Museum of Art, Miami; North Dakota Museum of Art; Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville; Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, NH; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, and Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, NY.

Elias Sime lives and works in Addis Ababa.

—-
If You Go:
Elias Sime
April 28 through June 17, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, April 28th, 6 – 8 PM
JAMES COHAN GALLERY
533 WEST 26TH STREET NEW YORK NY 10001
TEL 212.714.9500 FAX 212.714.9510
HOURS TUESDAY – SATURDAY, 10 – 6PM
www.jamescohan.com

Elias Sime Eye of the Needle, Eye of the Heart at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) from James Cohan Gallery on Vimeo.

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Chicago Man Raises $11.7K for Michelle Obama Mural He Copied from Ethiopian Art Student Gelila Mesfin

This portrait of Michelle Obama as an Egyptian queen was painted by Gelila Mesfin, an Ethiopian art student in New York. (@thick_east_african_girl/Instagram)

CBC Radio

When Gelila Mesfin first saw that her portrait of Michelle Obama had been made into a mural on Chicago’s south side, she was flattered.

“I thought it was pretty cool. I didn’t know anyone had taken credit for it. I figured someone was just inspired and put it up there,” Mesfin, a New York art student from Ethiopia, told As It Happens host Carol Off. “It was kinda cool to see your art work displayed in such a huge manner.”

The mural of Obama decked out as an Egyptian queen was unveiled Friday two blocks from the former first lady’s childhood home.

It bears a striking resemblance to a digital portrait that Mesfin made and shared on her own Instagram account in October 2016, based on a photograph by the New York Times’ Collier Schorr, whom Mesfin credits in her post.

“I just wanted to portray her as a queen,” Mesfin said. “She was just such a class act and she inspired a lot of black women, black girls, and women in general to be strong, be educated and to stand their ground, and you know, to fight for what they love.”

But her feelings of flattery quickly wore off when she read an article about the mural on the website DNA Info, in which the man who painted it appears to take credit for the concept.

“I wanted to present her as what I think she is, so she’s clothed as an Egyptian queen. I thought that was appropriate,” Chris Devins, a city planner known for his Chicago portrait-style murals, told DNA Info on Friday.

What’s more, she learned Devins had crowdfunded more than $11,700 US to make the mural, and offered up signed prints to donors.

“I realized that, ‘Wait a minute, this person is not giving me credit,’” Mesfin said. “I was very disheartened and I just felt like it was disrespectful.”

So Mesfin went back on Instagram to call Devins out. “How can you just steal someone’s artwork,” she wrote in a post that has since been liked more than 5,000 times.


Portrait of Michelle Obama by Gelila Mesfin. (Instagram)

Read more »


Related:
‘So, What’s Been Going On While I’ve Been Gone?’ Jokes Obama at 1st Public Event as Former President

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Eskinder Nega: 2017 Press Freedom Hero

IPI, which is a global network of journalists, editors and media executives, has named Ethiopia’s Eskinder Nega the 2017 World Press Freedom Hero. (Image: IPI)

International Press Institute

Eskinder Nega named IPI Press Freedom Hero

Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who has been imprisoned since 2011 after criticising his country’s abuse of anti-terror laws to silence the press, has been named the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 69th World Press Freedom Hero.

IPI also announced today the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee as the recipient of the 2017 Free Media Pioneer Award in recognition of the group’s courageous and trailblazing work to prevent, combat and monitor attacks on journalists in one of the world’s most dangerous media environments.

Both awards, which for the past three years have been given in partnership with Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS), will be presented during a special ceremony on May 18 in Hamburg, Germany during IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly.

Press Freedom Hero

IPI’s World Press Freedom Hero Award honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk.

Nega has spent over 2,000 days behind bars since his arrest on Sept. 14, 2011, when Ethiopian authorities accused him of “leading a plan to throw the country into serious political chaos through a series of terrorist acts” and linked him to a banned opposition group. His jailing came shortly after Nega, a persistent critic of Ethiopia’s former long-time ruler and then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, published a column questioning the government’s abuse of anti-terror laws to punish journalistic scrutiny.

Nega’s comments were preceded by a wave of detentions under Ethiopia’s broad 2009 anti-terror law, including those of journalists Woubshet Taye and Reeyot Alemu – the 2013 recipient of the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize – as well as Swedish correspondents Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

An Ethiopian court convicted Nega in June 2012 of “participation in a terrorist organization” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act”. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison the following month, a decision the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later said violated international law.

IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said the award was a recognition of Nega’s “unflinching dedication to the free exchange of ideas and information and his determination – at the expense of his freedom and separation from his family – not to remain silent in the face of the Ethiopian government’s cynical attempt to use the fight against terrorism to crush legitimate dissent”.

She continued: “This award sends the message that Eskinder Nega’s bravery in relentlessly scrutinising power despite years of intense retaliation has not been forgotten. We renew our call on Ethiopia to free Eskinder and all journalists jailed for doing their jobs or expressing their opinions, and we urge the international community not to ignore Ethiopia’s continued flouting of its international human rights obligations”.

Nega faced frequent official pressure and harassment due to his writing beginning in the early 1990s. In 2005, he and his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil, were jailed on treason charges for their coverage of a mass government crackdown on popular protests following disputed parliamentary elections won by Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Fasil would later give birth to a son behind bars. Authorities released the couple in April 2007 but shuttered their publishing company and banned Nega from practicing journalism.

Fasil, who now lives in exile in the United States with their son, said of IPI and IMS’ recognition of her husband that it was “absolutely heart-warming to know that all his sacrifices and valuable contribution to press freedom are not wasted in vain, but continue to shine a spotlight [on his plight] on the global stage”.

She added: ”Although, it remains a bittersweet moment for me (knowing where he is now), it is important to uphold such recognition for the tremendous impact it’s having to those who aspire to follow in his footsteps. … I truly hope it also expedites his release from imprisonment and brings an end to his suffering.”

IPI and its members have previously called for Nega’s release, including during a November 2013 joint mission to Ethiopia with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The Ethiopian government on that occasion denied IPI and WAN-IFRA’s requests to visit Nega and other jailed journalists.

The following year, WAN-IFRA honoured Nega with its Golden Pen of Freedom Award. In 2012, he also received the PEN American Center/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

In early September 2011, commenting on the arrests of Taye and Alemu, and just days before his own detention, Nega wrote to IPI: “Their arrest has more to do with calculated cultivation of fear. Fear is what dictatorships ultimately rely on to survive.”

Free Media Pioneer

The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was established by IPI in 1996 to recognise news or media organisations that have made innovations that have promoted news access or quality, or benefitted journalists and the media community, thereby ensuring freer and more independent media in their country or region.

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Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora Announces 2017 Honorees

From top: Mahamoud Ahmed, Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro), Ted Alemayehu, Dr. Zaki Sherif, Lemn Sissay, Abba Kefyalew Abera, Dr. Ambachew Woreta and Dr. Maigenet Shiferaw. (Photos courtesy of SEED)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 24th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) marks its 25th anniversary this year with its annual awards dinners ceremony scheduled to take place in Hyattsville, Maryland on May 28th. The line-up of the 2017 honorees include social entrepreneurs, physicians and celebrity artists.

The U.S.-based non-profit organization, which aims to empower the Ethiopian American Diaspora in the areas of “academic excellence, professional development, and community service,” announced that its 25th anniversary award recipients include Ted Alemayehu, Founder and Chairman of U.S Doctors for Africa (USDFA); physicians Dr. Ambachew Woreta and Dr. Zaki Sherif, author and poet Lemn Sissay, as well as the founder of Sewasewe Genet Charity and Development Organization (SGCDO), Abba Kefyalew Abera, and musicians Mahamoud Ahmed and Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro).

In addition SEED said it will posthumously recognize the late Dr. Maigenet Shiferaw, founder of the Ethiopian women for Peace, Democracy and Development (EWPD) and co-founder and President of the Center for The Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), “as a distinguished scholar, author and our venerated teacher; in appreciation of her lifelong dedication and struggle for human rights and women’s rights; in acknowledgement of the rich and positive contributions she has made in the Diaspora Community and legacy she has left behind by exemplifying the highest ideals and standards of our community; in recognition of her inspiring academic excellence and many other positive attributes.”

The 2017 SEED Student Honorees are Kirubel Aklilu, Rackeb D. Mered, Teferi D. Tadesse, Yeabesiera D. Tadesse and Ms. Rahel Boghossian (Harvard Law School, Harvard University, Class of 2017).


If You Go:
25th ANNUAL SEED AWARDS DINNER
Date: May 28, 2017
College Park Marriot Hotel
3501 University Blvd. E.
Hyattsville, MD 20783
​301-985-7300
www.ethioseed.com

Video: Tilahun Gessesse SEED Award Acceptance Speech — May 28, 2000

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Spotlight: NYC Designer Hana Getachew

Hana Getachew, whose family left Addis Ababa when she was three years old, had an inspiring homecoming 18 years later. (Photo by Steve Koepp)

The Bridge

Bolé Road Textiles weaves modern ideas with traditional craftsmanship, to vibrant effect

After more than a decade at a major architectural firm, designer Hana Getachew knew that she wanted to break out on her own. The turning point came in planning her wedding in 2014. “I wanted to have an element of Ethiopian design for my table linens” to reflect the vibrant patterns and colors of her native land. Her family had left Ethiopia when she was a child, but she still felt intensely connected to the culture. Her journey back home to source her table linens became the spark for a new business.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s sprawling capital, Getachew went looking for weavers. “I went to one location where one of my family friends sent me. I showed them my designs. It was kind of hilarious because I didn’t know about weaving, and they said it couldn’t be done. It took me a while to understand,” she said, that their traditional looms had their limitations. But the weavers offered their own version of her design that was even more pleasing, in such colors as pink, red, and fuchsia. The linens were a success. “The napkins were beige, with fuchsia and red diamond-shape patterning all around.”

What started with wedding planning is now Getachew’s own housewares firm, Bolé Road Textiles, based in Brooklyn and named after a bustling thoroughfare near her childhood home in Addis Ababa. Getachew designs the patterns in her home studio, then turns them into textiles for pillows, rugs, curtains, towels, and other products in a running conversation with master artisans in Addis Ababa. She sells about half her merchandise through e-commerce on her website and the rest through retailers, including Home of the Brave in Greenpoint and Collyer’s Mansion in Brooklyn Heights.

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Africa’s House of Cards: Ethiopia Enters Its Seventh Month of Emergency Rule

(Getty Images)

The Economist

The old model persists: development now, democracy later

AMBO — THE three-hour bus-ride to Ambo from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, offers a glimpse into the country’s future. The road is well paved; irrigation ditches and polytunnels criss-cross commercial farmland; electricity lines leap over forested hills. The signal granting access to mobile internet is clear and constant. As the bus pulls into Ambo, a trading centre in Oromia, the largest and most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions, the street is bustling.

But there are signs, too, that not all is well. An army truck rolls down the main road. Federal police surround the entrance to the local university. Unemployed young men playing snooker in bar point at a building across the road: it used to be a bank, but it was burnt down. Three years ago 17 local boys were shot dead by security guards as they protested on the doorstep, the young men say.

Ambo has a reputation for dissent. It was on these streets that protests against authoritarian rule started in 2014 before sweeping across the country. They culminated in the declaration of a six-month state of emergency on October 9th last year.

Students from Ambo University led the charge in opposing a since-shelved plan to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland. Oromo identity is especially powerful here: locals speak angrily about being pushed aside by ethnic Tigrayans, who they say dominate the government despite making up less than 6% of the population.

The country’s leading opposition politician, Merera Gudina—who was charged with inciting terrorism in February and was scheduled to appear in the dock on April 24th—comes from this area. When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) extended the emergency law for another four months (albeit after watering down its most draconian provisions) on March 30th, it was because of places like Ambo. Hundreds of its citizens have been arrested and subjected to months of “re-education” in military camps. Although stability has more or less returned to Ethiopia there are still young men across Oromia and Amhara, the second-largest region, who talk of protesting once more when the state of emergency is eventually lifted.

Not everyone feels this way. There may have been plenty of raised eyebrows when the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told Parliament on March 15th that 82% of Ethiopians wanted the state of emergency extended.

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‘So, What’s Been Going On?’ Jokes Obama at 1st Public Event as Former President

In his first public event since leaving the White House former President Barack Obama held a conversation with young leaders at the University of Chicago on Monday, April 24th, 2017. (Photo: CNN video)

The Hill

Former President Barack Obama on Monday kicked off his first public appearance since leaving office by jokingly asking if he’s missed anything important.

“So uh, what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?” Obama asked with a smile.

“It is wonderful to be home, it is wonderful to be at the University of Chicago, it is wonderful to be on the South Side of Chicago and it is wonderful to be with these young people here.”

Obama has kept a low profile since leaving office earlier this year. His appearance Monday comes as President Trump approaches his 100th day in office.

On Sunday, the former president met with at-risk youth in Chicago ahead of his first post-presidency speech.

He joined a group of young men and boys for a discussion sponsored by the Cred program in the same South Side Chicago neighborhood where he started as a community organizer.

Obama “listened to the young men’s stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up,” spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a release.

“He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program.”

Watch: Obama ‘What’s been going on while I’ve been gone’


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Meklit to Release New Album ‘When The People Move, The Music Moves Too’

Meklit Hadero. (Photo: @meklitmusic/Twitter) )

Broadway Music world

Ethiopian-American artist Meklit will release her new album When the People Move, the Music Moves Too on June 23rd with Six Degrees Records. The record was produced by Dan Wilson, whose previous work with artists including Adele, Taylor Swift and John Legend – as well as fronting the band Semisonic – has earned multiple Grammy awards. The album also includes Andrew Bird on violin and whistling, as well as New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band horns. A vibrant and inspired mix of Ethio-Jazz roots along with American pop, R&B and folk influences, Meklit’s upcoming record crosses both musical and generational borders to create a unified artistic vision, united behind her unique and unmistakable voice.

When the People Move, the Music Moves Too is the result of a fateful encounter Meklit experienced in Addis Ababa with the legendary vibraphonist/composer Mulatu Astatke, who helped spark Ethiopia’s 1960s musical renaissance. She was deeply engaged with his music at the time, but he pushed her to think about how to bring her own experiences into her songs. “He was very pointed with me, saying several times ‘You keep innovating!’” she recalls. “He took me to task and he tasked me. It took me a while to digest that. It’s a big thing to have someone like that say that to you. I sat with it for a couple of years.”

Meklit has embodied multiplicity since she first started performing at San Francisco’s Red Poppy Art House in the mid-2000′s. Born in Ethiopia, she moved with her family to Iowa at the age of two, and spent much of her adolescence in Brooklyn, soaking up the sounds of hip hop on the street. After studying political science at Yale she spent several years in Seattle before moving to San Francisco, looking to immerse herself in the city’s thriving arts scene.

“I’m always thinking about America and Ethiopia, about how the hybridization is going to work in both places,” she observes. The lapidary orchestrations on her new record were created by Meklit herself, with the help of her bassist Sam Bevan. But Meklit is quick to credit Dan Wilson’s lithe musical mind with a major role in shaping the ultimate sound of the record, in addition to his contribution of co-writing two songs. A prolific songwriter, arranger and producer, Wilson seemed to know exactly which player to place where to accentuate Meklit’s sound. He brought in Ethio-Cali’s tenor saxophonist Randall Fisher, who plays a perfectly calibrated Ethio-jazz intro on “You Got Me.” And Ethiopian-born, LA-based keyboardist Kibrome Birhane’s spare piano work levitates “Yesterday is a Tizita.” Meklit describes how Wilson’s songwriting precision, and razor sharp, generous feedback helped to weave a remarkable clarity into the music, enhancing Meklit’s already vivid hues.

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Family Seeks Answers in Police Shooting of Young Ethiopian Engineer in LA

Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu, who was shot and killed by police in LA last week, came to the US 8-years-ago on a scholarship to University of Idaho, and worked as an engineer for the California Public Utilities Commission.

OkayAfrica

Last Wednesday, 28-year-old Ethiopian engineer, Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu was shot and killed by police in Los Angeles, California.

The details of his death are conveniently murky. According to the LAPD, officers were responding to a burglary when they found Ewnetu sitting in his car. Officers approached him after smelling marijuana coming from his vehicle. He reportedly refused to exit his car when asked. Authorities say that when they tried to remove him from the car, Ewnetu brandished a gun and aimed it at the officers.

The deputies then fired at Ewentu, shooting him in the torso and killing him on-site.

A statement from the victim’s family, says that the initial account of the incident varied from what’s been reported by authorities. Following the shooting, the detective on the case, mentioned that they gun was found in the back seat, says the press statement. A photo of the vehicle, published in the LA Times, shows what appears to be two bullet holes in the back windshield.

Cases like this are, sadly, all too familiar and the varying accounts of what took place, certainly raise suspicion. Ewentu’s family is currently seeking answer and have started a Gofundme to help with funeral and attorney costs.

Ewnetu came to the United States eight years ago on a scholarship to the University of Idaho, and worked as an engineer for the California Public Utilities Commission.


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Ethiopia Unrest Killed 669: Report

(Photo: Reuters)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA — A total of 669 people were killed in unrest that gripped Ethiopia for several months until authorities imposed a state of emergency last October, according to an investigation report presented to parliament on Tuesday.

The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya, Amhara and SNNP regions. Demonstrators in the three areas say the government has trampled on their political rights.

Ethiopia has faced criticism from abroad as well as at home over its authoritarian approach to economic development, though the government has also presided over stellar rates of growth.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – a body mandated by parliament to investigate the violence – presented its findings on Tuesday and acknowledged that security forces had taken disproportionate measures in some areas.

The report said 462 protesters and 33 security personnel had been killed in the unrest that engulfed 91 towns in the Oromiya region alone. The protesters opposed having their land incorporated into the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.

Commission head Addisu Gebregziabher told parliament that security forces had been “negligent” when firing teargas at protesters during a religious festival, triggering a stampede that killed scores.

In the Amhara region, 110 demonstrators and 30 security officials were killed in clashes sparked by the arrest of activists campaigning over disputed territory, the report said.

Tensions there have simmered for around 25 years over the status of Wolkayt district, which the protesters say was illegally incorporated into the neighboring Tigray region to the north.

That dispute is particularly sensitive because it runs counter to a division of Ethiopia along ethnic and linguistic lines, imposed by the core of the current ruling EPRDF coalition when it came to power in 1991.

The report said another 34 people died in the SNNP region which lies to the south of Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is an important Western ally against Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia as well as an increasingly important economic player in a fragile region.

In October Ethiopia accused “elements” in neighboring Eritrea, in Egypt and elsewhere of being behind the wave of disturbances. It has since extended the nationwide state of emergency by four months.


Related:
Ethiopia rejects UN investigation over protest deaths (BBC)

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Ethiopia’s 93-year-old Singing Nun

She sang for Haile Selassie then retreated from the world, living barefoot in a hilltop monastery, perfecting her bluesy, freewheeling sound. (Photograph: Gali Tibbon)

The Guardian

The Extraordinary Life of Ethiopia’s 93-year-old Singing Nun

I’m no great singer, but Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou only really trusted me after I had sung to her. “Something from your country,” she instructed. So I found myself in the tiny bedroom of this 93-year-old Ethiopian composer-pianist-nun, croaking my way through the verses of a Robert Burns song.

Given she does not agree to most interviews, I felt I should do what I was told. The room, at the Ethiopian Orthodox church in Jerusalem, was cramped and sweltering. In it was a small bed, an upright piano draped in Ethiopian flags, stacks of reel-to-reel and cassette tapes, and a jumble of handwritten manuscripts. On the walls were portraits of Emperor Haile Selassie – Emahoy knew him in the 1930s – and her own paintings of religious icons. The door was propped open and, from the courtyard, came smells of food and the sound of monks chanting.

Emahoy is fluent in seven languages, but when I finished the Burns song (Ae Fond Kiss) she admitted the old Scots lyrics had been tricky to decipher. I gave her a potted translation – lovers meet, lovers part, lovers feel brokenhearted – and she gripped my arm and fixed me with one of her deep stares. “We can’t always choose what life brings,” she said. “But we can choose how to respond.”

If anyone is qualified to dish out such wisdom, it’s a woman whose choices were determined by religious self-exile, maverick gender struggles and Ethiopia’s dramatic 20th-century political history – and who became a singular artist in the process.

Most people familiar with Emahoy’s music come across it via her solo piano album released in 2006, as part of the Éthiopiques collection. That series put her poised, bluesy, freewheeling waltzes together with the Ethio-jazz that emerged out of Addis Ababa in the 1960s – and although she smiles fondly at the mention of fellow Éthiopiques musicians such as Mulatu Astatke and Alemayehu Eshete, she insists she’s not a jazz artist. Her training is purely western classical; her inspiration comes from the ancient modal chants of the Orthodox church. It’s a unique fusion and it sounds like nothing else.

Read more »


Related:
TADIAS Interview With Hanna M. Kebbede, CEO of Emahoy Music Foundation
From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

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Watch: Ethiopian Food Truck Helps Adopted Ethiopian-Americans to Give Back

Pay it Forward Ethiopia food truck in Green Bay, Wisconsin is run by adopted Ethiopian-Americans. (WBAY)

WBAY

GREEN BAY, Wis. – A food truck that makes stops around the Green Bay area is on a mission to help kids in Ethiopia.

A dad, his kids, and some friends pair Ethiopian slow cooking and exotic spices with familiar American dishes for a Taste of Ethiopia. The food has rave reviews on Facebook.

Tesfaye Joyce lived in Ethiopia most of his life. While in an orphanage, he met some people involved in the project called Pay It Forward Ethiopia.

“My hope for this to collect, especially Ethiopian Americans that came in through adoption, to be able to come together and pretty much give back the help the people back home, they need,” Joyce says.

Joyce say he’s grateful for his life in Wisconsin.

“We’re here because someone helped us, and we want to give back,” Joyce says.

Tesfaye, his brother, and his sister live with their adoptive father, Pat Joyce.

“As they are growing up, they’re–we’re realizing how important it is to keep their cultural connection, so they’re starting to go back to Ethiopia, and rekindle some of the long-lost relationships they’ve had,” says Pat Joyce.

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Watch: Taste of Ethiopia Food Truck funding mission to help kids


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Instead of a Wall, an Open Door: Why Ethiopia Welcomes an Enemy’s Refugees

Cultural similarities have helped Ethiopia absorb more than 160,000 refugees from Eritrea, despite a still-bitter border dispute. But it's also a strategy at a time when other countries are doing the opposite. (CSM)

CS Monitor

BADME, ALONG THE ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN BORDER —When Yordanos and her two young children slipped safely across the Mereb riverbed between Eritrea and Ethiopia late one recent night, they thought the worst of their journey into exile was over. The smuggler had done his job, and they were safely over the border.

Then they heard the hyenas.

Yordanos and her children began to yell for help, their panicked calls fading into the solid darkness. Suddenly, she saw a group of Ethiopian soldiers coming towards them. The men comforted the young families, and then escorted them to the nearby town of Badme. “They were like brothers to us,” says Yordanos, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of reprisals from the Eritrean government against her relatives at home.

In some regards, Ethiopia – and in particular this sliver of Ethiopia’s arid north – is the last place you might expect an Eritrean refugee like Yordanos to receive a warm welcome. In 1998, after all, an Eritrean invasion of this sleepy border town touched off a two-year war between the two countries that cost tens of thousands of lives and more than $4.5 billion, along with destroying most of the then-flourishing network of trade between the two countries. And before that conflict, Eritreans fought a 30-year civil war for independence from Ethiopia, which ended only in 1991.

Even today, the ashes of those conflicts still smolder. The internationally-brokered peace settlement ending the 1998-2000 war decreed that Ethiopia should give this region of the country back to Eritrea, which claims it as historical land. But Ethiopia never did, and border clashes between the two countries’ militaries continue into the present.

Still, Yordanos’ story is not uncommon. Fleeing enforced, indefinite military service, illegal imprisonment, and torture, about 165,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers currently live in Ethiopia, according to the United Nations. Upon arrival and registration, they are automatically granted refugee status, and the country continues to welcome more. In February of this year alone, 3,367 new Eritrean refugees arrived in the country, according to Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).

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Buzunesh Deba Inherits 2014 Boston Win, But Not the Prize

Buzunesh Deba during a Boston Marathon media availability Friday, April 14, 2017. (AP Photo)

AP

BOSTON – Buzunesh Deba will leave the Boston Marathon with one champion’s medal this week.
She would like to make it two.

The 29-year-old Ethiopian inherited the 2014 title this December when Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo was stripped of her victory for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Jeptoo joins Rosie Ruiz, who was caught cutting the course in 1980, as the only people to be disqualified from the Boston Marathon after breaking the tape on Boylston Street.

“She took my chance,” Deba said this week after returning to Boston, where she has also finished third and seventh. “I lost so many things.”

When Ruiz took a shortcut to the finish line, she deprived Jacqueline Gareau of the thrill of breaking the tape , being crowned with the traditional olive wreath and hearing the Canadian national anthem waft over Copley Square. Race officials, who were immediately skeptical of the unknown and unseen Ruiz, made it up to Gareau with a substitute victory ceremony and even had her cross the finish line again – this time in street clothes.

But Gareau’s victory was in the race’s amateur era, so there was no cash to recover.

Jeptoo, whose 2006 and 2013 victories remain unchallenged, claimed $150,000 for the victory and an additional $25,000 for setting a course record. Both legally belong to Deba, whose time of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 59 seconds remains the fastest in Boston Marathon history, but the Boston Athletic Association would have to claw it back from Jeptoo.

“We are trying,” CEO Tom Grilk said.

In the year after the finish line explosions that killed three people and wounded hundreds more, Jeptoo herself was already an afterthought, coming in just minutes before Meb Keflezighi claimed the first American victory in the men’s race since 1983 . As “The Star-Spangled Banner” played over Boylston Street, Jeptoo’s third win – even in a course-record time – drew less attention than normal.

But for Deba, it was costly. All the after-the-fact ceremonies, medals and even the prize money – if she ever gets it – wouldn’t make up for the opportunities lost when she wasn’t able to capitalize on being a returning champion.

“When you are the champion, the next year, the appearance fees, the contracts, everything” is more lucrative, the two-time New York City Marathon runner-up said this week. “My happiness is that day. But she took it from me.”

Deba’s husband and coach, Worku Beyi, said they are talking to B.A.A. officials about the prize money, “but it is not 100 percent.” They are hoping Jeptoo will return the money.

“She knows herself she is not champion,” Beyi said.

Deba has a chance to steal back the spotlight on Monday, when she joins a field of more than 30,000 in Hopkinton for the 121st edition of the race. Among them are defending champion Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia; Kenya’s Gladys Cherono, who has the fastest time in the field; and two-time Olympian Desi Linden, who is trying to become the first American woman to win in Boston since 1985.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu Hayle Seeks a Boston Marathon Repeat

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Ethiopia’s Berhanu Hayle Seeks a Boston Marathon Repeat

Berhanu Hayle of Ethiopia pictured during the 2016 Rio Olympics final Men's Marathon in Brazil. (REUTERS)

Reuters

BOSTON — Ethiopian runner Lemi Berhanu Hayle will defend his Boston Marathon title in a wide open race on Monday against a men’s field that includes the first American champion in three decades and no clear favorite.

Berhanu Hayle won last year’s race in two hours 12 minutes 44 seconds after pulling away from twice champion and countryman Lelisa Desisa, who is not competing this year.

The last men’s repeat winner was five-time champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya, who completed a triple in 2008.

An Ethiopian woman, Atsede Baysa, will also be defending her title after winning in 2:29:19.

Berhanu Hayle’s main challengers will include countryman Sisay Lemma, who ran 2:05:16 in Dubai last year, and Kenyans Geoffrey Kirui who ran 2:06:27 in Amsterdam last year and Emmanuel Mutai, who was second in New York and Chicago, and has the field’s fastest personal best of 2:03:13.

The hilly Boston course usually leads to slower times than other major marathons.

“Any move (Berhanu Hayle) makes will be taken seriously by the others,” said Scott Douglas, a contributing editor at Runner’s World. “With no clear standouts this year, Boston will be a very interesting race to watch.”

Read more »


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Spotlight: Genet Lakew Sets Up Scholarship for Diaspora Students

Meet Genet Lakew, founder of the Mekonnen Family Scholarship for Diaspora students. (Photo: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 14th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Genet Lakew knows first hand the value of scholarships when it comes to completing your higher education in the United States. The Ethiopian-American student finished her undergraduate studies at Howard University in Journalism and a master’s degree from New York University focusing on Africana-Studies without incurring any debt. The 27-year-old who now works for the National Urban League as a digital communications professional has launched a personal initiative to establish the Mekonnen Family Scholarship that she says “will benefit college-bound students at Washington-Lee High School (W-L), a public high school in Arlington, Virginia,” her alma mater.

“I’m an Ethiopian American millennial woman passionate about empowering the next generation of changemakers,” Genet says on her online campaign page, explaining the purpose of the funds. “The scholarship is named in honor of the humble, hardworking immigrant family I come from, who poured their hopes and dreams into me. I want the names and memories of the souls who are no longer on earth to live on through this scholarship.”

Genet adds: “My working class Ethiopian immigrant mother emphasized education as a gateway to opportunity and success. But she did not have the economic and social access to help me apply to colleges, visit campuses, pay for application fees, tuition, and housing. And that’s where my community stepped in. The Minority Achievement Coordinator at W-L (Mr. James Sample) sent scholarships my way and I was able to start my freshman year at Howard University with a total of $8,000 in scholarships.”

Genet’s efforts are also attracting national media attention. In a recent interview with Vibe magazine Genet explained what inspired her to set up the scholarship. “I actually had this idea for a few years now. I’ve been out of college for six years this May,” she said. “So I’m kind of going through these milestones; I’m in my late twenties, and I was reflecting on my educational journey.” She added: “But it wasn’t something I really thought I could pursue. I just realized how lucky I am to not have that financial burden. So I kind of felt it was my responsibility to give back in any way that I can. I felt this was a great time to offer something that shows support to immigrant students, and their families — to let them know not only do you belong in this country, but there is support out there for you to make sure that you have a good quality of life.”

Click here to learn more and support the Mekonnen Family Scholarship »


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Curated by Henone Girma Art in FLUX Harlem Exhibition Opens April 19th

Liberty on Ice, Ben Ponté, Oil and mixed media on paper, 2015, 25” x 30”. (Courtesy of Art in FLUX Harlem)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 13th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Next week an Art in FLUX exhibition, curated by Henone Girma, will open at ALOFT Harlem as part of the New York organization’s mentoring initiative. The exhibition entitled Woe-nderland features five NYC-based artists including emerging Ethiopian American artist Tariku Shiferaw whose work we highlighted here last year. Additional participants include Belinda James, Ben Ponté, Elan Ferguson and JaSon Auguste. Tariku’s work is currently part of the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

The show, which opens on Wednesday, April 19th, “presents works that evoke a collective feeling of world-weariness that saturates the current climate and paints an honest picture of lamentation apt for recent events,” states Art in FLUX.

According to the press release “the title Woe-nderland takes as its point of departure the 1996 single ‘If I Ruled the World’ by recording artist Nas that begins with “Life, I wonder, will it take me under, I don’t know” – a simultaneous testimony to the ills of society and contemplation of its potentials.”

The press release adds: The exhibition offers a rather satirical lens through which we may reimagine our current social construct – this perhaps creating a timely opportunity for relating and purging.

About the Curator:

Henone Girma has been a gallery assistant at Art in FLUX since September 2016. She also works as a Research Associate for the Arts of Global Africa department at Newark Museum in New Jersey. She is a recent graduate from New York University with an MA in Visual Arts Administration. Henone wrote her final thesis on contemporary Ethiopian art as it relates to the art market. She hopes Woe-nderland will be the first of many exhibitions she will have the opportunity to curate as she continues her career as an arts advocate and professional.


If You Go:
Exhibition: Woe-nderland
Artists: Tariku Shiferaw, Belinda James, Ben Ponté, Elan Ferguson, and JaSon Auguste
Opening: Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Dates: April 19 through August 31, 2017
Location: Aloft Harlem, 2296 Frederick Douglass Blvd. between 123 and 124th Streets, NYC
Hours: Daily 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Info: www.artinfluxharlem.com

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He Took Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Photos, Now Awol Erizku Takes on Trump Era

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Awol Erizku grew up in the South Bronx, New York. (The New York Times)

The New York Times

Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Photographer Is Opening an ‘Anti-Trump’ Art Show

LOS ANGELES — By one measure of success, the 28-year-old artist Awol Erizku has possibly already peaked. In February he was revealed to be the photographer behind Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement, which quickly became the most popular Instagram post ever with over 10 million likes.

The image shows her kneeling in front of a floral wreath so large it looks like a throne.

But Mr. Erizku, who landed his first New York gallery show before he earned his M.F.A. from Yale, said that sort of record-breaking is not the attention he craves.

“It would have meant so much more if I had gotten recognition from the Whitney this year,” he said, speaking of the Whitney Biennial — “this thing that every great artist I admire has had.”

This is just one sign of how thoroughly the artist operates within the traditional biennial-obsessed art world, even as he manages through social media and other platforms to reach a much broader public. He D.J.s here and there and makes mixtapes to play during gallery shows to “make my peers feel welcome.” At his Los Angeles studio recently, Mr. Erizku showed his new artwork while listening to Jim James, Future and Kodak Black.

That new work is heading to Europe for his first gallery exhibitions there: His defiantly anti-Trump show “Make America Great Again,” at Ben Brown Fine Arts in London, opens on April 20, and his more playful “Purple Reign,” at Stems in Brussels, opens a day later…

You can also see a Trump-era development: the image of a black panther, which he has lifted straight from the logo of the Black Panther Party, now roams throughout his work, climbing an American flag or clawing a bed of roses. It also appears atop the slogan “Make America Great Again” on a red baseball cap that the artist is selling “to have something affordable in the show.”


Works for Awol Erizku’s coming exhibitions in his studio. (The New York Times)

As for the use of the panther image, “I don’t want to take something so powerful and cheapen it by using it too much, like wallpaper. I want to give it more power,” said Mr. Erizku, who speaks rapidly, enthusiastically. “I’m putting it out there because I’m black and I’m Muslim and this is everything Trump has tried to stand against.”

“I don’t think this show is anti-American, but it is definitely anti-Trump,” he added. “All the people he’s hating on do make America great.”

Read more at NYTimes.com »


Related:
Shaken & Stirred by Beauty: Review of Awol Erizku’s New Flower (Addis Ababa) Exhibit (TADIAS)

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Zekarias Mesfin’s New Film Tells His Refugee Journey From Ethiopia to Canada

Zekarias Mesfin's biographical documentary "Ewir Amora Kelabi" will premieres at the 2017 African Film Festival in New York City next month. (Photo: Metro News Canada)

Metro News

Like many new immigrants, Zekarias Mesfin came to Canada with hope for a better life.

But the road to get here was long, and included violence, hunger, but hope too, he said. So this year he travelled back to his native Ethiopia, where he partnered with a film company to create Ewir Amora Kelabi, a new film getting some high profile attention.

Mesfin wrote, produced and stared the film, which premieres next month at the African Film Festival in New York City.

Mesfin’s story of resilience is not that uncommon among fellow refugees—he left Ethopia as an orphaned 14 year-old boy, he said, and crossed the Sahara Desert to Sudan on foot. He eventually made it to Egypt, where he said spent two years in prison for illegal border crossing.

Finally, he made it to Canada nearly a decade ago, arriving in Vancouver first become moving to Edmonton.

But what is unique is Mesfin’s determination to archive his journey, along with the struggle for survival faced by thousands of fellow African migrants.

“My dream has come true, and now the cup is overflowing,” said 32-year-old Mesfin, now married with two young sons, Christian, 2, and Yeab, four months, and working at a barber shop on 118 Ave.

The entire family will attend the prestigious U.S. festival, “with hotel, limousine, meals—it’s unbelievable,” he said.

“I made this film because it’s important for the new generation of Africans to know what is happening, and for my children and the world to know too.

Read more at Metronews.ca »


Related
Watch: Ethiopian Canadian Movie Ewir Amora Kelabi Trailer
Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Short Film ‘Hairat’ and 2 New Releases

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Spotlight on Ethiopia’s Jano Band

The Jano band -- a rare rock band in Ethiopia -- has been playing locally and touring in Europe for the past five years. (Photo: AFP)

AFP

Ethiopian band wins fans by melding rock with African sounds

At a hotel in Addis Ababa well-known for hosting jazz greats, thousands of fans lined up on a Saturday night to headbang along with what is still a rarity in Ethiopia’s diverse music scene — a rock band.

Jano, named after a popular item of traditional clothing, has made a name for itself in Africa’s second most populous country, as well as abroad, by blending local styles of music with Western rock and roll.

“We’re trying to make something very, very different,” said Hailu Amerga, one of four vocalists in the eight-piece, mixed ensemble, that also features a drummer, keyboard player, guitarist and bassist.

Read more »


Related:
Watch: JANO Band performing at Howard Theatre in DC on July 4th, 2013 (TADIAS Interview)

Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS)

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Ethiopian Hero Gen. Jagama Kello Who Fought Fascism Dies at 96

Jagama Kello, middle, left home at just 15 to fight Italian invaders. (Photo via BBC News)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 8th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – General Jagama Kello, who passed away this week at the age of 96, was among the Ethiopian heroes whose unimaginable bravery and resistance helped to defeat the second Italian invasion of Ethiopia during World War II.

His daughter Yetmwork Jagema Kello made the announcement on Facebook Friday noting that her father will be laid to rest at the Kidist Selassie Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo cathedral in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Jagama Kello’s remarkable story, which has been shared by various Ethiopian media outlets as well as through national literary works, was also featured in the 2009 BBC documentary entitled Africa’s Forgotten Soldiers highlighting “firsthand account of African troops including the Ethiopian guerrilla forces, known as the Patriots (Arbegnoch).”

“Jagama Kello, was at that time no more than a young man. He was the son of a wealthy landlord, who owned 900 acres of farms with his uncle, in [Ginchi], not far from Addis Ababa,” writes Journalist Martin Plaut who worked on the documentary. “Jagama had heard tales of his brave ancestors as a boy and hoped to emulate them. When the Italian invasion took place Jagama saw his chance. With his elder brother and uncle, he took to the bush, determined to resist. At first he had no gun – only his elder brother had one. But they ambushed Italian troops and gradually armed themselves. Peasants joined the struggle and by the end of the war they had over 3,000 fighters under their command.”

Jagama remembers the battle at Seyoum Mariam in the outskirts of Addis Ababa as the biggest of his many deadly encounters with Mussolini’s ‘blackshirts,’ as they were called. Jagama told Plaut “they were told by a woman fighter where to find the Italians and in a surprise attack broke through their lines. They killed 72 Italians in the engagement, capturing some 3,000 rifles.”


Jagama Kello as a Colonel (left) and Jagama and his brother. (Martinplaut.files.wordpress)


General Jagama Kello. (Photo: Facebook)

According to Plaut: “On 5th May 1941, after years in exile in Britain, the Emperor Haile Selassie returned to his capital. Jagama, who had received no British help during the 5 years of the war, refused to go to Addis Ababa for the ceremony. In the end the Emperor came to [Ginchi]. Jagama says he put his 3,500 troops on parade, to greet Haile Selassie. He was then driven in the Emperor’s own car to his palace, where he was awarded a gabardine coat and a gold watch. But the war was not yet over. Jimma was still under Italian control. The Emperor asked Jagama for help and he says he led his forces into battle. Reports suggest the area was ‘swarming with Patriots’ – many of whom may have been loyal to Jagama. He told the BBC that his forces captured some 500 Italian soldiers, whom he handed over to the British.”


Related:
Book Review: ‘Prevail’: Personal Stories From Mussolini’s Invasion of Ethiopia

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George W. Bush: PEPFAR Saves Millions of Lives in Africa. Keep it Fully Funded.

Former president George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana. (Reuters)

The Washington Post

By George W. Bush

George W. Bush served as 43rd president of the United States and founded the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

Last week in Gaborone, Botswana, Laura and I sat in a small room in Tlokweng Main Clinic, a facility that recently started screening and treating women for cervical cancer. Seated with us was Leithailwe Wale, a 40-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the disease. Thanks to early detection and access to treatment, she told us, today she is alive, healthy and able to raise her son.

Good news like Leithailwe’s is becoming increasingly common in five African countries where Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is operating. Since leaving the White House, Laura and I have been heartbroken to learn that because women with HIV are more likely to have cervical cancer, people who had been saved from AIDS were needlessly dying from another treatable, preventable disease. So at the Bush Institute, we formed this global public-private partnership to fight women’s cancers.

In the past six years, more than 370,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer and 24,000 for breast cancer through Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. More than 119,000 girls have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical and other cancers. Nearly 1,000 health workers have been trained. With the proper resources and international commitment, we could end cervical cancer deaths on the continent in 30 years.

Critical to this effort is our Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partner, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). My administration launched PEPFAR in 2003 to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic that threatened to wipe out an entire generation on the continent of Africa…As the executive and legislative branches review the federal budget, they will have vigorous debates about how best to spend taxpayers’ money — and they should. Some will argue that we have enough problems at home and shouldn’t spend money overseas. I argue that we shouldn’t spend money on programs that don’t work, whether at home or abroad. But they should fully fund programs that have proven to be efficient, effective and results-oriented. Saving nearly 12 million lives is proof that PEPFAR works, and I urge our government to fully fund it. We are on the verge of an AIDS-free generation, but the people of Africa still need our help. The American people deserve credit for this tremendous success and should keep going until the job is done.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


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Ethiopia: Do the Right Thing, Drop All Prosecution of Zone 9 Bloggers (CPJ)

(Photo: Zoneniners.com)

CPJ

Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges

New York — Ethiopia’s Supreme Court today ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective, previously acquitted of terrorism charges, should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnail Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to the Addis Standard newspaper.

The court upheld the lower court’s acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella. Today’s actions by the Supreme Court were a response to prosecutors’ appeal of the October 2015 acquittal of all four.

“We urge Ethiopian authorities to do the right thing and drop any further prosecution of Atnaf Behane and Natnail Feleke on charges relating to their work,” said Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “Today’s acquittal of two Zone 9 bloggers is a positive step, but there can be no celebration until this exhibition of legal harassment ends once and for all.”

Ethiopia ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries and is the fifth worst jailer of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ’s 2016 prison census. CPJ awarded Zone 9 an International Press Freedom Award in 2015.

For more data and analysis on Ethiopia, visit CPJ’s Ethiopia page.


Related:
Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards

Audio: Interview With Zone 9 Bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael & Endalk Chala

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The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago Marks 33 Years of Service

(Photo: Courtesy of the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago - ECAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 5th, 2017

Chicago (TADIAS) — The Chicago area is home to one of the earliest Ethiopian immigrant communities in North America. And so is the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago (ECAC), which marks its 33rd anniversary next month, as one of the oldest Ethiopian American organizations in the country “serving as a cultural anchor of the Chicago-area Ethiopian community” for more than three decades.

The non-profit was established after “the tragedy of a car accident in 1984 which took the life of an Ethiopian immigrant in Chicago,” which “sparked ECAC’s founding members to establish the association.”


(Photo: Courtesy of ECAC)

Since 1984 ECAC has also served as an “open door for refugee populations” including from Asia, Middle East, and Eastern European nations “seeking its services in areas of advocacy, education, employment, healthcare, and community outreach.” Today ECAC is also home to the only Ethiopian museum in North America “with more than two thousand Ethiopian artifacts in its collection – made possible by the generous donation of the late musician, composer, choreographer, conductor and cultural expert, Tesfaye Lemma. This one-of-a-kind collection has not only impressed but educated hundreds of visitors on Ethiopian culture, history, and tradition.”

The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago will host its 33rd Anniversary Benefit Dinner on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at ECAC’s Community Center (1730 E Greenleaf Ave). Organizers share that the festivities will feature guest speakers, live entertainment and an Ethiopian dinner.


If You Go:

More info at www.ecachicago.org

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Is it Worth the Money? The Economist Looks at Ethiopia’s Space Program

Reaching for the sky: Why Ethiopia is building a space program and why critics think it an odd use of scarce resources. (Getty Images)

The Economist

THE ancient holy town of Lalibela, perched some 2,500 metres above sea-level in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, boasts some of the clearest night skies imaginable. Ethiopian stargazers dream that the mountains around Lalibela may one day host a world-class observatory to rival the big ones in Chile and Hawaii. And in time Ethiopia hopes to do more than just gaze at the stars. It would like to launch its own satellites, too.

In January the government said it would launch a Chinese-built civilian satellite from an overseas rocket pad within the next five years. It would be designed to Ethiopian specifications and used to monitor crops and the weather, and doubtless to spy on neighbours, too. The government also wants to reduce reliance on foreign telecoms by launching its own communications satellite.

In putting its own satellites into orbit Ethiopia would join the select club of African nations that have already done so. Nigeria has paid for the launch of five since 2003, some of which it says have helped fight terrorism. South Africa has also put several home-built satellites into space. Egypt launched two earth-observation ones, both of which have since failed; a private company, Nilesat, successfully operates communications ones. Kenya, Angola and Ghana are eager to join them.

Being able to beam communications or take photos from space offers some economic benefits. Ethiopia’s government hopes that mapping the country to help resolve land disputes, for instance, could boost agricultural productivity. And it could help with planning cities better. Investment in space science might also help speed up industrialisation, the government hopes.

Read more at Economist.com »


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Attempt to Escape: Sadly Ethiopian Maid’s Horrifying Kuwait Video is Not the First

A female employer and her children are accompanied by their domestic worker, back right, as they walk through The Avenues, an indoor luxury shopping center in Kuwait City. (Magnum Photos)

HRW

Last week, a horrifying video of an Ethiopian domestic worker falling from what media report as the seventh floor of an apartment building in Kuwait went viral. The video appears to have been filmed by the worker’s employer inside the flat with the woman dangling outside the window. The employer tells the woman to come back inside. The panicked woman calls out for her to grab her, but within 12 seconds of the recording starting, the dangling woman loses her grip and falls.

The Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah reported that the domestic worker is being treated at a hospital for a broken hand, as well as nose and ear bleeding. Al-Seyassah also reported that the authorities arrested her employer, on Wednesday, and charged her for failing to assist her worker. The employer contends she tried to help. Another daily, Kuwait Times, reported on Saturday that members of the Ethiopian embassy visited the worker at the hospital.

This is not the first time a domestic worker – someone hired to clean, cook, and care for a household – attempted a dangerous escape or suicide. The Kuwaiti press often report such stories as “attempted suicides,” as with this recent incident. They don’t usually question whether these were suicide attempts or, rather, attempts to escape. In 2009, Human Rights Watch spoke to eight women who were reported as having “attempted suicide,” but who said they had really fallen from buildings trying to escape abuse or were pushed by their employers. No one has suggested that the employer in this incident was responsible for such abuse.

I have interviewed hundreds of domestic workers in the Gulf region. Many said their employers locked them inside, forced them to work excessive hours, and beat them. Some scrambled down or jumped off buildings to escape.

In 2015, Kuwait took steps to provide migrant domestic workers with labor rights, but it has not reformed the notorious kafala system, under which migrant workers cannot leave or change their employer without the employer’s permission. As a result, while domestic workers now have rights to a weekly day off, daily limits to their working hours, and overtime compensation – they can still be arrested for “absconding” if they escape from their employers, even abusive ones.

Kuwaiti authorities should investigate the working conditions that lead to all such attempted escapes or suicides and refrain from charging employees with “absconding.” No one should have to resort to climbing out of tall buildings to escape their workplace.


Related:
Kuwaiti woman ‘investigated over Ethiopian maid’s window fall’ (BBC)

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In Rome, Ethiopian Runners Rule Marathon

The 2017 Rome marathon was won by Ethiopia's Shura Kitata Tola on Sunday in record time, while the women's race was also won by his compatriot Rahma Tusa who finished in 2hr 27min 21sec. (Photos: IAAF)

International Association of Athletics Federations

Shura Kitata clocks second-fastest time in Rome while Rahma Tusa retains title

Shura Kitata recorded the second-fastest time ever witnessed at the Acea Rome Marathon while fellow Ethiopian and training partner Rahma Tusa successfully defended her title at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Sunday (2).

With rain falling heavily in the Italian capital, the men’s race set off at a quick pace. A quartet of pacemakers led the field through 5km in 14:49, 10km in 29:39 and 15km in 44:47 with the splits suggesting a sub-2:06 finishing time.

Seven men, not including the pacemakers, went through the half-way point in 1:03:25 and it appeared as though they still had a good chance of breaking the course record of 2:07:17 set in 2009 by Benjamin Kiptoo.

But the pace slipped after the last of the pacemakers dropped out at 30km. Four men – Kitata, fellow Ethiopians Werkunesh Seyoum and Solomon Lema, plus Kenya’s Dominic Ruto – were left in the lead pack at that point.

Lema was the next to drop behind while the three other men ran together for another five kilometres and reached 35km in 1:46:03, 2:07:51 pace. Kitata knew that if he was to break the course record, he couldn’t hang around any longer.

The 21-year-old Ethiopian pushed the pace and dropped his two remaining rivals, opening a gap of almost one minute over the course of five kilometres. Kitata saw the course record figures come and go on the clock before he reached the finish line but he still finished strongly to win in 2:07:30, taking more than a minute off the PB he set on his marathon debut in Shanghai in 2015.

“I am very happy with this victory, I was well trained and confident,” said Kitata, who trains alongside world marathon champion Mare Dibaba. “My coach Haji Adilo had told me that I could even run under 2:07, but my manager Hussein Makke told me that it was important to win…The pace was very fast until after the first half, then it is a bit slow,” he added. “At one point I decided to accelerate and it went well. In the end I tried to run as fast as possible to achieve the best time. It was not easy running in the rain.”

Read more at IAAF.org »


Related:

LEADING RESULTS
Men
1 Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:07:30
2 Dominic Ruto (KEN) 2:09:10
3 Benjamin Bitok (KEN) 2:09:16
4 Mathew Kisaat (KEN) 2:09:19
5 Werkunesh Seyoum (ETH) 2:09:27
6 Solomon Lema (ETH) 2:12:18
7 Ahmed Nasef (ITA) 2:16:42
8 Carmine Buccilli (ITA) 2:19:35

Women
1 Rahma Tusa (ETH) 2:27:23
2 Mestawot Tadesse (ETH) 2:31:41
3 Abebe Tekulu (ETH) 2:32:08
4 Beatrice Cherop (KEN) 2:32:21
5 Halima Hussen (ETH) 2:35:01
6 Konjit Tilahun (ETH) 2:35:38
7 Wude Ayalew (ETH) 2:36:04
8 Meskerem Abera (ETH) 2:37:56


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BBC Radio on Haile Selassie’s Life & Legacy With Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate

BBC interviews political analyst and author Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate about the life and legacy of his great-uncle Haile Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

BBC

Sun 2 Apr 2017

Emperor Haile Selassie was the last in the line of Ethiopia’s ancient monarchy. During his long rule he was revered as an international statesman and reformer, demonised as a dictator, and even worshipped as a God incarnate by the Rastafarians of Jamaica. He was without doubt a controversial figure, but achieved a status in the global arena previously unheard of for an African ruler.

Bridget Kendall discusses Haile Selassie’s life and legacy with Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate, political analyst and author of ‘King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia’, who is also the great-nephew of Haile Selassie; Gerard Prunier, Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs, and former Director of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa; and Laura Hammond, an anthropologist specialising in Ethiopia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Read more and listen to the program at BBC.com »


Related:
New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie
Interview With Prince Ermias S. Selassie
In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Historic Visit to Jamaica
Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch

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Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia

The letter was written by U.S. Representative Mike Coffman of Denver, Colorado on behalf of his Ethiopian American constituents to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. (Photo: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 2nd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — This week in a letter to the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Program, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, whose district includes the vibrant Denver-area Ethiopian community, urged his colleagues to review the more than $500 million American taxpayers dollars for Fiscal Year 2017 in US aid program to Ethiopia. The letter comes the same week as the Ethiopian government announced the four-month extension of its strict emergency ban.

“I write to you today at the request of many of the Ethiopian-Americans whom I represent in Congress,” Coffman said in the March 30th, 2017 letter addressed to the subcommittee’s Chairman and Ranking member, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Rep. Nita Lowey of New York. “These constituents have brought to my attention what they view as an ongoing campaign of human rights violations in their homeland of Ethiopia.” The Congressman continued: “They are convinced that these serious human rights violations are the result of an organized and concerted effort perpetrated by the Ethiopian government.”

The letter, which was shared with us by members of the Ethiopian American community, goes on to highlight the arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists and political leaders. Congressman Coffman noted that currently the amount of money that the United States gives to Ethiopia annually totals $514 million most of it allocated for “economic development, humanitarian assistance, health, education and social services.” Congressman Coffman pointed out: “While the goal of this aid is noble, numerous constituents and experts on the Sub-Saharan region tell me that this assistance may not be reaching those in Ethiopia who needed most, and maybe providing support and legitimacy to this regime”

“In light of these abuses and the United States’ stated strategy of strengthening democratic institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, I believe it is important for you to review the current aid program to Ethiopia to ensure that the aid provided is not subsidizing a government apparently committed to the systematic abuse of its own citizens and reduction of the democratic space within its borders,” the letter said. “I respectfully request that the subcommittee include language ensuring the suspension of appropriations FY2018 foreign assistance for Ethiopia pending its government’s implementation of real, concrete and measurable humanitarian reforms as outlined in H.Res. 128.” Rep. Coffman added: I believe that doing so will communicate to the Ethiopian government how seriously the United States views these human rights violations.”

Click here to read the letter »


Related:
Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Short Film ‘Hairat’ and 2 New Releases

Directed by Jessica Beshir the film 'Hairat" documents one man's nightly ritual in Harar. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 1st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — In her short film Hairat, Jessica Beshir goes back to Ethiopia to the city of her childhood “to tell the story of one man’s extraordinary ritual that unfolds nightly in the outskirts of the walled city of Harar.”

Hairat, which was screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival this past January, will make its NYC premiere at the Lincoln Center as part of this year’s New York African Film Festival in May. The film was also shown this month at the Dallas International film Festival in Texas and the Rincon International film Festival in Puerto Rico. Hairat will premiere at the upcoming Arizona International Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival in Cannes, France later this month.

“An Imam in Harar spoke to me about the meaning of Hairat at length, but in short it means, ‘You are where you need to be,’” Jessica says.

Trailer | HAIRAT from Jessica Beshir on Vimeo.

In addition to Hairat Jessica also has two additional short films, Heroin and He Who Dances on Wood , premiering at various festivals across the U.S.

In Heroin, which make its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 20th & 21st, Jessica grapples with the question of free will as she “explores the creative process, inspiration and alternative reality of an artist.”

The short film He Who Dances on Wood highlights tap dancer Fred Nelson. BRIC TV describes it as “one man’s search for joy..culminated in a constant experience of rhythm in the world around him. Something so simple, yet beautiful, found its way into Fred’s life in the form of dancing on an old piece of wood.” He Who Dances on Wood will make its NY premiere at BAM’s New Voices in Black Cinema series on April 30th, and its international premiere at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto taking place in early May.

Watch: ‘He Who Dances on Woods’ — A short film by Jessica Beshir trailer

He Who Dances on Wood (TRAILER) from BRIC TV on Vimeo.


Related:
Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

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Ethiopia Tribute Concert and Photo Exhibition Honors Getatchew Mekuria

Getatchew Mekuria. (Photo: The Ex Band)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 30th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — It was almost a year ago that the legendary Ethiopian jazz saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria passed away at the age of 81 leaving behind a jewel of more than six decades of musical legacy.

The memories of Getatchew Mekuria’s life and work will come alive next week in Ethiopia’s capital during a tribute concert by Ethiopian and international musicians as well as a photo exhibition and a presentation of a 170-page photography book dedicated to his career.

The tribute to Getachew — organized by his longtime music partners, The Ex band from the Netherlands — is scheduled to take place on April 4th at the Alliance Francaise in Addis Ababa, which also features a performance by the Norwegian big band Large Unit.


The book is entitled ‘Getatchew Mekuria (1935 – 2016) – A Lifelong History in Photos.’

“The photobook is the result of what appears to be an unlikely collaboration between Dutch ‘underground’ band The Ex and Ethiopian saxophone legend Getatchew Mekuria,” the press release said. “The Ex fell in love with an old Getatchew cassette from 1972, and in 2004 they wanted to invite him for their 25th Anniversary Festival. The result was a fruitful 10-year collaboration with more than a 100 concerts worldwide, plenty of enthusiastic press and two beautiful CD/LP’s.”

According to the Ex band, “In 2014, because of diabetes, he developed serious problems with his legs and couldn’t travel anymore. The Ex at that point decided to organize a ‘Celebration of Getatchew Mekuria’ concert series in Ethiopia, at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa. It was sold out. 1500 people came and there was a standing ovation. A truly honorable farewell to a great musician. Getatchew passed away on April 4, 2016 at the age of 81 after a musical career of more than 68 years.”

Audio: Getatchew Mekuria – “Almaz Yèharèwa”


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Tsion & Zoma Bring Taste of Ethiopia to Harlem EatUp Festival

(Photo of Tsion Cafe in New York via Taste Africa USA website)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 29th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Tsion Cafe and Zoma restaurant are set to showcase their delicious Ethiopian cuisine at the 2017 Harlem EatUp Food Festival.

Co-founded by Marcus Samuelsson three years ago the popular annual fair highlights the eclectic mix of dining places found in New York City’s uptown neighborhood. The 2017 Harlem EatUp Food Festival is scheduled to take place from May 15th to 21st.

This week Tsion Cafe won the qualifier contest sponsored by Citi Bank (@citi Market Challenge) to participate in this year’s Harlem EatUp Festival “offering an exciting sampling of Harlem’s sights, flavors and sounds, from artists of the kitchen, canvas, stage and streets.”

“Today we came to showcase our rich Ethiopian food and we made a good representation of our cuisine and we won the challenge,” said Beejhy Barhany, owner of Tsion cafe, in an interview with the local Fox5 TV station following the contest on Tuesday, March 28th.

Zoma restaurant:

Also featured at the 3rd annual Harlem EatUp Festival is Zoma restaurant, which has been around for more than a decade. “Henock Kejela is an Ethiopian-born restaurateur,” notes the announcement. “His restaurant Zoma was opened in 2006 in Harlem, New York.”


Zoma is located at 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Ave) Corner of 113th st. New York. (ZomaNYC.com)

In addition, this year the festival includes an homage to Billie Holiday at the Apollo kick-off concert, as well as The Harlem Stroll – an outdoor event described as a “feast of a tasting presenting a collection of Harlem’s favorite restaurants in an all-you-can-eat format.” The EatUp! Main Stage, sponsored by Macy’s, will also feature “live culinary demos and performances featuring Harlem’s chefs, musicians and dancers alongside guests from NYC and beyond.”

Watch: Welcome to Harlem EatUp


If You Go:
More info and tickets at harlemeatup.com.

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Exploring Ethiopia’s Past and Future Through Body Painting

(Photos by Aida Muluneh)

New York Times (blog)

Aida Muluneh spent a peripatetic childhood in Yemen, England, Cyprus, Canada and the United States before settling in the States to study and become a photojournalist. She returned to Ethiopia, the land of her birth, about a decade ago, where her work addresses issues of women, African identity and the connection between heritage and homeland. Her photos feature decorative body paintings that reflect Ethiopian culture or traditional fabrics and baskets and reflect her own life’s journey.

“We exist between the anxiety of the unknown future and the nostalgia of the familiar past,” Ms. Muluneh said. “We bear the burden of our duality.”

She is among the artists in “Afriques Capitales,” which is on view from March 29 to May 28 in Paris, before it travels to Lille, near the French boarder with Belgium. The show — a subset of the “100% Afriques” festival — is a sampler of the continent’s contemporary artists, from Akinbode Akinbiyi to Hassan Hajjaj to William Kentridge. The works are exhibited within the iron-and-glass cultural center in the Parc de la Villette — once the site of a slaughterhouse — and outside, in the park itself.

Ms. Muluneh was born in in Ethiopia in 1974, but her mother soon took them out of the country after the ouster of Emperor Haile Selassie. They moved often in search of a beter place to live to provide a good education for Ms. Muluneh. At 18 years of age, Ms. Muluneh moved to the U.S. to study film at Howard University and, later, worked at The Washington Post. She moved to Addis Ababa a decade ago – fulfilling a wish of her mother’s – and led the biennial Addis Foto Fest in 2010. She is currently the managing director at Developing and Educating Society Through Art for Africa, which fosters cultural partnerships.

“It took me a long time to understand that culture is soft power,” she said. “Looking at activities in my city, the same issues that we deal with here echo across the continent, and at times across the world.”

Read more at NYTimes.com »


Related:

Video: TADIAS Interview with Aida Muluneh

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Ethiopia: Politics Aside, Spotlight on the Amazing Almaz Ayana

Almaz Ayana Eba holds the 10,000 metres world athletics record, which she set when winning gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro breaking the previous time set in the event in 1993. (Photo: IAAF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 28th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Almaz Ayana, who was named “Female World Athlete of the Year” this past December for her spectacular performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, is featured in the current episode of IAAF’s Inside Athletics exclusive interview series released this week.

The 25-year-old long distance runner won gold in the 10,000 metres during the Olympics setting a new international record and earning Ethiopia its only gold medal at the competition.

“Last year the Ethiopian distance runner broke the long-standing world record in the 10,000m on her way to winning the Olympic title in her event,” IAAF notes. “She went on to take the bronze medal in Rio over 5000m, the event at which she is also the world champion.”

“IAAF Inside Athletics is hosted by Trinidad and Tobago’s 1997 world 200m champion Ato Boldon. To watch episodes of IAAF Inside Athletics as soon as they are released, follow the IAAF World Athletics Club Facebook page.

Click here to watch the interview with Almaz Ayana »


Related:
In Pictures: Almaz Ayana 2016 Female World Athlete of the Year

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Ethiopian Community & Nurses Group Hosts Healthcare Conference in San Jose

(Photo: Courtesy of Ethiopian Community Services in San Jose, California)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 27th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Next week two Ethiopian American organizations are collaborating to host a timely healthcare conference in San Jose, California focusing on the prevention of diabetes, one of the top chronic diseases in the United States, which also affects many individuals in our community.

Presented by Ethiopian Community Services and the Ethiopian Nurses Association of California, the 3rd Annual Health & Wellness Conference features speakers from Stanford Health Care, Kaiser Permanente and Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center.

The Ethiopian Nurses Association of California (ENAC) is a non-profit organization that “aims to provide health education and awareness to the Ethiopian Community in the greater San Francisco Bay Area,” while Ethiopian Community Services (ECS) is a 20-year-old non-profit organization that is “committed to providing culturally-based adjustment and long-term services that enhance productivity and self-sufficiency within the Ethiopian Community in Santa Clara County (SCC).”

“Please join us as we come together to learn about diabetes prevention and management, and how we can empower ourselves to live happier, healthier lives,” organizers announced.

Sponsored by Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager & The Health Trust the event is scheduled to be held on April 8th at the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium in San Jose.


If You Go:
Free admission! Food! Giveaways! Health Fair!
Saturday, April 8, 2017 from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM (PDT)
Please RSVP by 4/1/17
For more information:
Phone: 408-681-8910
Email: info@ecssanjose.org

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In US African Summit Held Without Africans is Baffling Everyone

Organizers said participants from Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and Sierra Leone were denied visa to the U.S. to attend the summit at the University of Southern California.

NPR

The African Global Economic and Development Summit took place at the University of Southern California from March 16th to 18th.

None of the approximately 60 invited guests from Africa were able to attend.

The problem was that none of the African delegates were able to get U.S. visas…

The conference was first held in 2013 and seeks to strengthen business ties between U.S. investors and African companies, says summit chairwoman Mary Flowers.

Visa problems have been an issue before, she says. In the past, she says roughly 40 percent of African invitees are unable to get the papers they need to attend, mainly due to a combination of red tape and bureaucracy.

“This year we were thinking there are going to be some rejections but some will still come,” she says. “But it was 100 percent blocked across the board.”

It’s hard to find out exactly why…A State Department official on background tells NPR that they can’t comment on any individual visa applications but says all applications are screened on a case-by-case basis. And the eligibility requirements for getting a visa haven’t changed.

Some of the African delegates to the summit say their visa applications were denied because they didn’t show a compelling reason why they would return home after the event.

Audio: What If You Held An African Summit And No Africans Could Come? (NPR)

Read the full article at NPR.org »


Related:
Highly Cited – No African citizens granted visas for African trade summit in California (The Guardian)

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Women’s History Month Spotlight: Abaynesh Asrat’s Vision for Ethiopia Solar Energy

Abaynesh Asrat, Founder & President of NNN, speaking at a training on solar energy at the College of Natural and Computational Sciences at Addis Ababa University on February 21st, 2017. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 24th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — What better place is there than Ethiopia, which advertises itself as the land of 13 months of sunshine, to utilize solar energy for basic household needs including cooking, boiling water and even charging your cellphone? A workshop held last month in Ethiopia — hosted by the U.S.-based organization Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) in collaboration with Addis Ababa University — demonstrated this untapped potential of abundant, clean energy with a long term goal of decreasing women’s backbreaking daily task of fetching firewood and coal for fuel. The solar energy program was led by NNN founder Abaynesh Asrat whose prior work included working to eradicate fistula, promoting youth ambassadors for health, and providing diversity leadership training programs.

“Themed ‘The way Ahead with Renewable Energy: A Role for Ethiopia,’ the recent training focused on the utilization of solar energy, solar cooking and water pasteurization,” Addis Ababa University shared on its website. “Nation to Nation Networking organized the training in collaboration with the College of Natural & Computational sciences of the AAU.”

In an interview with the Ethiopian Herald, Abaynesh noted that “solar energy helps families preserve food, saving scarce resources and keeping them healthy” adding the potential of dramatic improvements for the majority of the rural population in her native homeland.

“Young Ethiopians are working diligently to change their fate. Their enthusiasms tells me that Ethiopians have entrepreneurial acumen,” Abaynesh tells the Ethiopian Herald, stressing her hope that the training provided could be expanded as young engineers in the country join the effort and assist in the assembly of the necessary materials.


NNN’s Solar Energy workshop put together in partnership with Addis Ababa University was held from February 21-27th, 2017 at the College of Natural and Computational Sciences of the AAU. (Courtesy photo)

Abaynesh, who was among the 2014 honorees of the People of Distinction Humanitarian Awards, knows a thing or two about positively impacting disadvantaged populations. As a long-time board member of Hamlin Fistula USA foundation Abaynesh was at the forefront of the campaign to treat and prevent fistula, which is a childbirth-related injury affecting thousands of women in Ethiopia as well as various countries around the world. As the National Fundraiser Chair for the ‘Tesfa Ineste’ campaign Abaynesh successfully mobilized the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States to contribute toward the building of a regional hospital, the Harar Hamlin Fistula Center, in 2009.

Likewise during her latest visit to Ethiopia in February, 2017 Abaynesh challenged Ethiopian scientists to think out of the box about solar energy and empower the new generation to improve their lives.

Abaynesh says she appreciates the assistance she received from Dr. Shibiru Temesgen, Dean of the College of Natural and Computational Sciences at AAU as well as the director of Office of External Relations, Partnerships and Communication of Addis Ababa University, Dr. Zenebe Beyene, in setting up the week-long joint workshop.

“I have lived in the USA for about 48 years,” Abaynesh told the program participants hailing from across Ethiopia. “I decided to come to Ethiopia to do something,” she added. “Moving beyond the rhetoric, improving the health of society supported by science and technology thereby creating jobs.. I hope fellow citizens second this.”


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The Unlikely Winner of the Trump Presidency? Art Supply Stores

Protesters outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Washington, DC, Women’s March. (Artnet)

News Artnet

Depending on how you see it, there is one silver lining that comes with Donald Trump’s still-nascent presidency: “Setting political views aside, the women’s movement has positively influenced the sales of office supplies,” wrote the market research firm NPD Group in a recent blog post.

Of the estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million protesters who took to the streets around the country on the Women’s March on January 21, many carried handmade signs denouncing the new administration and its policies. But just how much have sales for poster board and other related art supplies gone up since Trump took office?

According to NPD Group, 2.7 million poster and foam boards were sold in the US in the week leading up to the post-Inauguration march. That’s 33 percent more poster board that was sold during the same time period in 2016!

For foam board, sales were up 42 percent.

Altogether, a total of $4.1 million in poster and foam board sales were logged in that week alone. For the entire month of January, more than 6.5 million poster boards were sold. Poster-hungry protests continued on International Women’s Day on March 8.

There were also considerable increases in sales of various types of markers and glue/adhesives, as well as scissors and fabric paint, used to personalize t-shirts for the march.

Read more »


Related:
Trump Proposes to End All Arts Funding

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Update: Friends in Nashville Mourn Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant Owner’s Death

Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot about midnight last Saturday as he was preparing to close his business. (Photo: News Channel5)

AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of Nashville’s Ethiopian community remain puzzled as to why someone would kill a beloved restaurant owner who was shot to death last weekend.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/2nLCR5B ) that friends of Gitem Demissie were still grappling with his violent death. Those who knew him described him as a good man and a hardworking immigrant.

Demissie was the owner of Ibex Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant in south Nashville.

Authorities have said that the 41-year-old was preparing to close his restaurant about midnight Saturday night when he was shot. Police say a masked gunman wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and black jeans approached Demissie and shot him multiple times. Investigators have called it a targeted killing but are still searching for a motive as well as the gunman.


Related:
In Nashville, Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed In Targeted Shooting

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WSJ on Trump’s Dishonest Presidency

"If he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President," say editors of Wall Street Journal arguing that Trump’s lies are eroding public trust at home and abroad. (Getty)

The Hill

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board on Tuesday harshly criticized President Trump for damaging his own credibility and undermining his presidency with “his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.”

The conservative editorial board said Trump’s repeated accusations that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower will make people second-guess whether he is speaking the truth if something serious happens during his administration.

“If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him?” the editorial stated.

“We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.”
The attack from the Journal’s editorial board is notable at a time when Trump is struggling to win over voters for legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare. While it is far from unusual for the conservative page to criticize a Republican, the attack on Trump was notable for its language.

“Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President,” it said.

It criticized Trump for refusing to apologize for the accusation about Obama, which lawmakers in both parties and the director of the FBI have said is baseless.

The publication also knocked Trump for repeating an unsubstantiated assertion by a Fox News commentator that a British intelligence agency had helped Obama with wiretaps, while expressing wonder that he would stick to his position.

“Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims,” the editors write. “[White House press secretary] Sean Spicer — who doesn’t deserve this treatment — was dispatched last week to repeat an assertion by a Fox News commentator that perhaps the Obama Administration had subcontracted the wiretap to British intelligence.”


Related:
FBI Debunks Trump’s Fake Claims Against Obama, Confirms Russia-Trump Probe

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Addis Trash Disaster: Survivors Ask Why

A funeral service last week for victims of a garbage landslide in Addis Ababa. At least 113 people were killed in the March 11 collapse, according to the government. (Photo: Associated Press)

The New York Times

As Trash Avalanche Toll Rises in Ethiopia, Survivors Ask Why

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — At the moment when she lost her home and family, Hanna Tsegaye was spending her Saturday night with a neighborhood friend.

Around 8 p.m. on March 11, Ms. Hanna, 16, heard a strange sound, like rushing wind, and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. She rushed outside and saw that an enormous pile of garbage at a nearby landfill had collapsed.

Her home, which had been a couple of hundred yards from the trash heap, was buried. So were her parents and two siblings.

At least 113 people, according to the latest government estimate, were killed when part of the Repi landfill, in the southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, collapsed. In the days since, grieving survivors have been tormented by a pressing question: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

“We don’t know how such a thing could happen,” a weeping Ms. Hanna said. “Hopefully, someone can tell us and find a solution for the future. I hope this can be a lesson for the government, and that they remember us.”

Read more »


Related:
Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die
What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? It’s Land, Stupid
In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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Between Yosef Salamsa & Martin Luther King: The Ethiopian Jewish Struggle in Comparative Perspective

Talk and Q&A at American Jewish Historical Society: The Ethiopian Jewish Struggle in Comparative Perspective featuring Ethiopian-Israeli writer, scholar, editor and activist Efrat Yerday. (Photo by Gideon Agaza)

American Jewish Historical Society

Press release

Talk and Q&A with Efrat Yerday in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace

New York — Join us for a talk by Efrat Yerday on the contemporary parallel struggles of Ethiopian Jews in Israel/Palestine and Black Lives Matter in the US and on the struggles of black people against racism from a transnational perspective. In recent years, Ethiopian Jewish activists have begun to gradually perceive their struggle in universal terms, adopting global anti-racist strategies on the one hand, but often without giving up their precarious privilege as Jews. More specifically, they have drawn from the Black Lives Matter movement, invoking practices and language that transcend the local so as to garner universal legitimation. African American leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King are quoted frequently in demonstrations and on social media by Ethiopian activists; the clashes in Baltimore, Fergusson and Missouri are linked to the clashes in Rabin square in Tel Aviv. Efrat Yerday is a writer, scholar, editor, and activist. In 2010–2011 she served as the spokesperson for the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews and published opinion pieces on racism in general and institutionalized racism in particular. Over the years she has also published reviews of nonfiction dealing with Ethiopian history and the absorption of Ethiopians in Israel. In 2010 she established the Young Ethiopian Students blog, inviting critical thinking and challenging the establishment and academic narrative of the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian Jews. Yerday teaches at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev and writes regularly for Hamakom hakhi kham begehinom (The Hottest Place in Hell) and for other media outlets.


If You Go:
Mar 27 2017 7:00PM
Center for Jewish History Chapel
15 West 16th Street
New York , New York 10011
Between 5th & 6th Aves.
Click here to buy Tickets

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Tale of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor

A garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa killed hundreds of people last week. (Photo: AFP)

AFP

Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die

Addis Ababa – One minute, Zemed Derib stood negotiating with her precocious siblings who had locked themselves inside their uncle’s home as a prank.

The next, the playful scene gave way to horror as the hillside of the rubbish dump above them collapsed.

With terrified screams of neighbours filling the air, Zemed abandoned her doomed sisters and took to her heels, outrunning the torrent of fetid dirt that swallowed homes and killed at least 113 people in Africa’s second most-populous country, Ethiopia.

“I ran away, but finally, when I turn my face, nothing was there. Everything changed into black,” Zemed said as she sat clutching a portrait of her mother Yeshi Beyene, one of the victims of the disaster at Koshe, the country’s largest rubbish dump situated on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa.

On Saturday, a week after the tragedy, men in face masks and rubber aprons waited for excavators to move aside the waste to carry out their search for the dead.

Zemed, wearing all black, is mourning the loss of seven relatives, including her three younger sisters and a baby girl born days earlier who had not yet been named.

Zemed’s family lived among a community of hundreds who had built homes on the side of Koshe’s main slope and spent their days scavenging for valuable rubbish trucked in from neighbourhoods around this city of about four million people.

- Accident waiting to happen? -

The settlement is now buried under a wall of black muck and the landslide left a jagged, crescent-shaped cut in the side of the landfill’s rise.

Read more »


Related:
What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? It’s Land, Stupid
In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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FBI Debunks Trump’s Fake Claims Against Obama, Confirms Russia-Trump Probe

The Director of the FBI James B. Comey told the U.S. Congress on Monday that his agency is investigating possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 US election. (Photo: Reuters)

The Associated Press

Comey Says FBI probing Trump-Russia links, wiretap claims bogus

WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating whether Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, Director James Comey said Monday in an extraordinary public confirmation of a probe the president has refused to acknowledge, dismissed as fake news and blamed on Democrats.

In a bruising five-hour session, the FBI director also knocked down Trump’s claim that his predecessor had wiretapped his New York skyscraper, an assertion that has distracted White House officials and frustrated fellow Republicans who acknowledge they’ve seen no evidence to support it.

Read more »

WATCH: FBI says no evidence to backup Trump’s wiretapping tweets


(Photo: Reuters)

The Washington Post

FBI Director confirms probe of Russian meddling in election, possible links to Trump associates

FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”

The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

Read more at The Washington Post »


Related:
FBI Sees No Evidence of Trump Wiretap, Director Confirms Inquiry Into Russian Election Meddling (NY Times)
FBI Says Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found (CNN)

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Antu Yacob’s Play “In the Gray” Featured at 2017 United Solo Theatre Festival

Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 21st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Antu Yacob has been selected to perform her one-person Ethiopian-American play entitled In the Gray next Fall at the 2017 United Solo, which is the world’s largest solo theatre festival annually held in New York City.

“It’s hard to put Antu into words. It’s even harder to put her in a box,” states the announcement. “Quirky, awkward, sometimes hot, sometimes lukewarm, this Ethiopian American woman, actor, daughter and mother explores her experience of being an outsider from deep within.”

Antu, who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Rutgers University in New Jersey, grew up in San Francisco and Minnesota. Her acting career includes roles in NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and the soon to be released Netflix series Gypsy. She played the lead roles in films Eminent Domain (DeepFreeze Media) and Walking In Circles (NYU Film/Elegance Bratton) and supporting roles in Conjure (TerraLuke Media) and Fine Art (Shannon Ousley/Zoe Munlyn). Her play entitled Mourning Sun, set in Ethiopia and New York, was performed at the West End Theatre in Manhattan in 2015 and at the 2016 Kampala International Theatre Festival in Uganda this past Winter.

“I knew that I wanted to write about my experience not only as an actor, but also as an Ethio-American professional in the entertainment industry,” Antu told Tadias in an interview last Summer. “It’s a point of view that I don’t see reflected in mainstream media, but it is something that I live with.”

Antu’s parents immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia when she was about five years old. “I constantly have this experience of being between two cultures,” Antu shared. “That’s why I call it In The Gray, because a lot of things are not black and white for me. I wrote it so that people who watch it and relate to it can feel they are not alone.”

As a playwright Antu says “she tries to experiment with social and political activism in an entertaining way” noting that “America is made up of so many different cultures, and there is room to honor that diversity without sacrificing the beauty of who we are as a people. As Ethiopian Americans we make up a part of the larger American experience.” She adds: “The best thing about In the Gray is that you don’t necessarily have to be Ethiopian to appreciate the play because it’s an American story. It’s for everyone.”

Antu’s show is directed by Celestine Rae with lighting & set design by Matthew Fick, show image by Anthony Artis and executive produced by Tadias Magazine.


If You Go
IN THE GRAY BUY TICKETS

Performed by Antu Yacob, ETHIOPIA
Sun 9/17 2:00pm
drama, comedy, storytelling, movement, performance art, 75 min.

All shows are staged at Theatre Row: 410 West 42nd Street, New York City. TICKETS, with a price of $35 (plus a $2.25 Theatre Restoration Charge) are available at the Theatre Row Box Office and online through Telecharge at www.telecharge.com. You may also call Telecharge at 212-239-6200. When placing your reservation, please provide: the FESTIVAL name (United Solo Theatre Festival), the name of THEATRE (Theatre Row – The Studio Theatre), and the specific DAY and TIME of SHOW you would like to see.

Click here to buy tickets

Related:
In the Gray: A One Person Ethio-American Show by Playwright Antu Yacob

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US: Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed

Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot this past weekend as he was preparing to close his business. (Photo: News Channel5)

News Channel5

In Nashville, Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed In Targeted Shooting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Family and friends gathered to mourn the loss of their loved one after he was killed in a targeted shooting inside a business he owned.

South Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot overnight as he was preparing to close his business.

Metro Police responded to Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant in the 2500 block of Murfreesboro Pike after midnight, early Sunday morning, where they discovered Demissie who had been shot multiple times.

First responders transported him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

“We were really broken,” said Father Mesfin Tesemma, who leads the Ethiopian church where Demissie was an active member. “We didn’t expect this to happen to him. He doesn’t deserve to die like this. He is a very nice person.”

Tesemma said Demissie was a hard-working businessman who was well-known in the area. Tesemma said he sometimes put in 16 or 17 hours a day at his businesses.

Demissie had lived in Nashville for more than ten years. He first opened Ibex Mart on Bell Road, selling Ethiopian groceries, including spices, fresh meat, and vegetables.

According to Tesemma, Ibex Mart was the only Ethiopian grocery store in Nashville, meaning a lot of people knew Demissie and relied on his business.

In January 2015, Demissie opened a second business, the restaurant and bar, where he was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

Friends said Demissie had been working hard to sell his bar in hopes of taking time to travel home to Ethiopia to see his parents. His death has left many in the Ethiopian community fearing for their safety.

“What happened to him means a lot for everybody. So are we safe here?” Tesemma said. “Those are the kinds of questions it raises in the minds of a lot of Ethiopians.”

Detectives remained on scene until sunrise collecting interviews and evidence.

The shooter was described as a masked gunman wearing a black long sleeve shirt and black jeans. A witness said the suspect went up to Demissie, shot him multiple times, and fled from the building. The witness added the man had light skin and a thin build, and he stood around 5’7’’ tall.

Anyone with information on this fatal shooting has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.

Read more and watch video at News Channel5 »


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Ethiopia: Time to End Mass Detentions

President Mulatu Teshome addresses Parliament about the declaration of the state of emergency, in Addis Ababa, October 10, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

HRW

Ethiopia Lifts Some State of Emergency Restrictions: Time to End Mass Arbitrary Detentions

Ethiopia announced this week that some of the restrictions around its five-month-old state of emergency have been lifted. The government announced that the command post, charged with enforcing the country’s state of emergency in the wake of unprecedented mass protests against government policies, would no longer be able to arbitrarily arrest people or conduct property searches without warrants. Further, curfews and some restrictions on media reporting will end.

The government says that it has detained more than 20,000 people in “rehabilitation camps” – one of its long-standing approaches to obstructing protests and expressions of dissent – during the state of emergency. Detaining tens of thousands of people without charge in horrible conditions in order to indoctrinate them on government polices is not only unlawful, but unlikely to deter future protests. Human Rights Watch has interviewed many people who were detained in these camps, and they all say the experience only served to increase their anger and frustration with the government.

The announcement that arbitrary detentions – long a significant and underreported problem in rural Ethiopia – are no longer permissible under the state of emergency is welcome news. The government hasn’t permitted the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to investigate allegations despite requests from the UN body in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015.

Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented the Ethiopian government’s use of arbitrary detention, especially outside of Addis Ababa, over many years – in police stations, prisons, military camps, and unknown places of detention. There is a lack of due process, mistreatment and torture are common, and most detainees never face trial. A Human Rights Watch report last year detailing the brutal crackdown against protesters in Oromia region highlighted the problem of mass arbitrary detention. Just two of the 46 people we interviewed who had been detained outside of Addis Ababa had been brought to court.

As part of Ethiopia’s “deep reform” process, it should send a clear message to its security forces that they cannot arrest people for lawfully protesting government policies, for being members of legal opposition parties, or for other peaceful forms of dissent. Now is the time for Ethiopia to give the UN Working Group access, and stop hiding its rights record from scrutiny.


Related:
Ethiopia Lifts Some Restrictions Imposed During State of Emergency (Reuters)
Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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Trump Proposes to End All Arts Funding

(Image: National Endowment for the Arts website)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 16th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — It’s unfortunate that the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018, submitted for approval to the U.S. Congress this week, eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from the entire US federal spending. The Washington Post points out, however that “many of Trump’s budget proposals are likely to run into stiff resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, whose support is crucial because they must vote to authorize government appropriations.”

The Post adds: “Trump’s first budget proposal, which he named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II.”

The arts news site, Artnet, likewise notes that Trump’s budget cuts would “have a serious impact on cultural production, and the artists, musicians, writers, and scholars who rely on it.”

Trump’s budget proposal, which was presented to Capitol Hill on Thursday (March 16th), is part of the White House expenditure goals for next year that seeks large cutback in spending for science, culture, diplomacy, and much more. Budget cuts can also affect the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds national public radio stations.


Related:
Ethiopia: US Top Diplomat Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation
Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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Addis Calling II: Ethiopia Exhibition Featuring Contemporary Artists

Artwork by Addis Gezahegn, 2017 Floating City I , Acrylic on Cavas. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 15th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — The second installment of the Addis Calling group exhibition curated by Addis Fine Art Gallery will open in Ethiopia’s capital city on March 25th. The exhibition promotes the works of contemporary Ethiopian artists and will remain on display until May 20th, 2017.

“Representing a new selection of local talent engaged in a diverse range of artistic expression, the exhibition is an exciting mix of painting, glass mono-prints and photography,” the gallery announced in a press release.

Artists featured in Addis Calling II include Addis Gezahegn, Mulugeta Kassa, Abiy Solomon and Bezawit Wondwossen.

Below are bios of each artist courtesy of Addis Fine Art gallery:

Addis Gezahegn

Addis Gezahegn (b.1978), a long-time artistic presence in Addis Ababa, is known for portraying the multifaceted characteristics of the city’s residents by detailing the external facades of their homes,” His signature piece in the exhibition, from his series Floating City, features a vast, dramatic night sky—a black expanse that towers above a shimmering horizon of urban homes that mostly appear rootless, blurred, and ephemeral. Over the years, he has taken an increasingly reductive approach to his work, rendering entire cityscapes as a flat patchwork of colorful doors and gates. Gezahegn is a 2011 graduate of Addis Ababa University’s Alle School of Fine Art and Design.

Mulugeta Kassa


Paintings by Mulugeta Kassa, UNTITLED III, 2012, Glass Mono Print, 40 × 30 cm and UNTITLED I, 2012
Glass Mono Print 40 × 30 cm. (Courtesy photos)

Mulugeta Kassa (b.1973), co-founder of the experimental collective Netsa Art Village, considers the singular nature of conception and fertility through his glass mono-prints. Embryo and phallus-like structures float by in a sea of neutral grays, greens, and browns. One of these is tweaked to reveal the outline of a woman carrying a mountain-like bundle of sticks on her back. Kassa graduated from the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts and Design in 2003.

Photographer Abiy Solomon


Photo by Abiy Solomon, LALIBELA IV, 2014, Digital Archival Print, 47 x 70.5cm, Edition of 7 + 1AP.

Abiy Solomon (b.1983), is a photographer and one of the most prominent graphic designers in Addis Ababa. In his photography series, Primordial Modernity: The Raw Spirit of Lalibela, he offers a meditation on spirituality and the profound interiority of faith, as he photographs monks in Lalibela exiting and entering the hushed, dark spaces within the ancient rock-hewn churches. Offset by the bright sunlight that pours in through the open windows and doorways, the images are imbued with a reverent feeling: a contemplation of light and darkness, as well as the inner and outer manifestations of religiosity. Solomon holds a degree in Animation and Visual Effects from Maac University in India (2008). He is the founder and Creative Director at Orangeswitch, a design company, and Partner at Africology Media.

Bezawit Wondwossen


Painting by By Bezawit Wondwosen, Untitled X, 2016. (Courtesy photograph)

Bezawit Wondwossen (b.1987) uses bold, thick strokes of blues, oranges, and browns to create an abstract yet vigorous cityscape, against which splashes of black silhouette. The black forms a meditative core—seemingly haphazard, yet controlled; ornamental, yet integral to the logic of the works. It pulls viewers in to contemplate its various weights, and the sense of angst it evokes—a feeling Bezawit, a 2003 graduate of the Abyssinia School of Fine Arts, ascribes to the travails of womanhood.


If You Go:
Addis Calling II Exhibit
March 25th through May 20th, 2017.
Addis Fine Art gallery
(3rd Floor, Red Building Behind Mafi City Mall)
Bole Medhane Alem
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 913 426553
www.addisfineart.com

Related:
Addis Fine Art Opens New Gallery With Inaugural Exhibition

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What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? Land, Stupid

In Ethiopia land dispute led to protests and many deaths outside Addis Ababa last year. (Getty Images)

ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE – LONDON

FAILING TO SPOT THAT THE PROBLEM WITH ETHIOPIA IS…[LAND]

Things are not going well in Ethiopia, this we know. Riots and protests erupt. This is not a good sign for a society. It’s also very much a pity – not just for the usual reasons that violence is a pity – because Ethiopia is one of those places discovering the joys of the early stages of a lift off into the Industrial Revolution. They’re taking those first baby steps to getting rich, that thing that we’ve all done and which has escaped all too much of the world until very recently.

What’s happening is that those living on a piece of land, working it perhaps, are being thrown off it in favour of those doing something else with it. But why?

The Guardian tells us what is happening but doesn’t quite manage to grasp that cause, even though they mention it:

All land is theoretically owned by the government, merely leased by tenants, and when the government says go, you have to go.

This is the problem that private property solves. OK, sure, you can construct a very rickety indeed case that all land is still owned by the Crown (it isn’t, but) and that compulsory purchase equates to this. But that’s not so – compulsory purchase means that you get paid at the market rate for having to move and then only in favour of a project which contributes to the public, not private, good.

But in a system where the government really does own all the land, and can allocate usage without reference to current occupiers, the end result is what we see in Ethiopia. Who gets to use the land depends upon access to the political system and those excluded riot as a result.

It might even be true that no one made the land so there’s no reason why anyone should own it exclusively. Except that, as with democracy, all other systems are worse.

Read more »


Related:
In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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Reuters: Ethiopia Lifts Some Restrictions Imposed During State of Emergency

Demonstrators during a march in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, October 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA — The Ethiopian government has lifted some restrictions imposed during a state of emergency declared last year following deadly protests, state-run media quoted the defence minister as saying on Wednesday.

Minister Siraj Fegessa ended powers granted to security services to stop and search suspects and to search homes without court authorisation.

Siraj, who chairs the government’s body overseeing the state of emergency, also revoked a dusk-to-dawn curfew on access to economic installations, some infrastructure and factories for unauthorised people.

“These measures were lifted because it is our belief that the ordinary security arrangements are sufficient enough to maintain calm,” the state-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted Siraj as saying in a news conference for local journalists.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in October following months of deadly protests that killed around 500 people. Anger over a development scheme for the capital sparked broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.

Read more »


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Father Imprisoned for Genital Cutting Is Deported to Ethiopia

Khalid Adem in 2006. (Photo: GWINNETT DAILY POST via The Associated Press)

The New York Times

A man who in 2006 became the first person in the United States to be convicted of female genital cutting was deported on Monday to his home country, Ethiopia, after serving 10 years in prison, federal authorities said.

The man, Khalid Adem, 41, used scissors to remove the clitoris of his 2-year-old daughter in his family’s Atlanta-area apartment in 2001, prosecutors in Gwinnett County, Ga., said. He was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children.

The case led to a state law prohibiting the practice, which was already prohibited by a federal law and is a common social ritual in parts of the world but is broadly condemned.

“A young girl’s life has been forever scarred by this horrible crime,” Sean W. Gallagher, a field office director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The elimination of female genital mutilation/cutting has broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large.”

The World Health Organization has estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The procedure, which involves the removal of parts of the genitalia, is typically performed on girls before they turn 15 and leads to a wide range of lifelong health consequences, including chronic infection, childbirth complications, psychological trauma and pain during urination, menstruation and intercourse.

The practice is far from unheard-of in the United States. Though it is illegal under federal law, about half a million women have undergone the procedure or are likely to be subjected to it, according to a 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more »


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Spotlight: Wayna’s Facebook Video in Honor of Women’s History Month

Wayna (full name Woyneab Miraf Wondwossen) is a grammy nominated R&B/soul singer and songwriter who was born in Ethiopia and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 14th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — As Wayna prepares a public tribute to Ethiopian music legend Bezunesh Bekele this coming summer, the Grammy nominated Ethiopian American singer and songwriter has just released a new music video on Facebook in honor of Women’s History Month. The video entitled You’re Not Alone (Live) features images of Ethiopian women by photographer Aida Muluneh as well as photos of women that she encountered at the Women’s March on Washington this past January.

The new song shows solidarity with “women and girls in my native Ethiopia, for reproductive rights, for equal pay, and to put an end to violence against women and girls everywhere” says Wayna via Facebook. “Today, I say to all my sisters, mothers and daughters: You are NOT alone.”

You’re Not Alone (Live) is performed by Wayna and Eli Staples; Written by Nicholas Zork, Mixed by Awthentik, and Directed by E-hab Abasaeed. Photos in Ethiopia were taken by Aida Muluneh and Photos of the Women’s March are by E-hab Abasaeed. Styling done by Alison Carney.

Click here to watch the video on Facebook


Wayna Releases New Music Video ‘Amazing’ Filmed in Ethiopia

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Ethiopia: Journalist Anania Sorri Freed

Journalist Anania Sorri. (Image: Fana TV via Youtube)

CPJ

March 13, 2017

New York — Authorities responsible for overseeing implementation of Ethiopian’s state of emergency today released Ethiopian commentator Anania Sorri.

Anania told CPJ he was released unconditionally today, four months after his November 17, 2016, detention without charge under a state of emergency the government declared the month prior. He told CPJ that he planned to continue writing. Anania posts critical commentary on a public Facebook page followed by some 11,000 people.

“Today’s release of Anania Sorri is welcome news,” CPJ Africa Coordinator Angela Quintal said. “We urge Ethiopian authorities to free all other journalists and bloggers still imprisoned simply for doing their jobs.”

After Seyoum Teshome and Befekadu Hailu, Anania was the third Ethiopian journalist to be released since December 1, 2016, when CPJ last conducted its annual census of journalists jailed around the world.

—-
Related:
Wife of Ethio Reporter Anania Sorri Says US & UK Could Help Free Her Husband
Audio: NPR on the brave Ethiopian reporter Anania Sorri


NPR’s East Africa correspondent, tells the story of a brave Ethiopian reporter, Anania Sorri,
who asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry one very serious question that was seriously misunderstood.

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In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

Police officers secured the perimeter around a garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday as excavators helped the rescue efforts. (Photo: Elias Meseret/AP)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

46 killed, dozens missing in Ethiopia garbage dump landslide

ADDIS ABABA — A mountain of trash gave way in a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, killing at least 46 people and leaving several dozen missing, residents said, as officials vowed to relocate those who called the landfill home.

Addis Ababa city spokeswoman Dagmawit Moges said most of the 46 dead were women and children, and more bodies were expected to be found in the coming hours.

It was not immediately clear what caused Saturday night’s collapse at the Koshe Garbage Landfill, which buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings. The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital’s garbage for more than 50 years.

About 150 people were there when the landslide occurred, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot told The Associated Press. Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment. Dagmawit said two had serious injuries.

Many people at the landfill had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live there because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive.

An AP reporter saw four bodies taken away by ambulances after being pulled from the debris. Elderly women cried, and others stood anxiously waiting for news of loved ones. Six excavators dug through the ruins.

“My house was right inside there,” said a shaken Tebeju Asres, pointing to where one of the excavators was digging in deep, black mud. “My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.”

The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months likely caused the landslide, Assefa said. The dumping had stopped in recent years, but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new garbage landfill complex was being built blocked dumping in their area.

Smaller collapses have occurred at Koshe — or “dirty” in the local Amharic language — in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, Assefa said.

“In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” the Addis Ababa mayor said.

Around 500 waste-pickers are believed to work at the landfill every day, sorting through the debris from the capital’s estimated 4 million residents. City officials say close to 300,000 tons of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill.

Since 2010, city officials have warned that the landfill was running out of room and was being closed in by nearby housing and schools.

City officials in recent years have been trying to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy with a $120 million investment. The Koshe waste-to-energy facility, which has been under construction since 2013, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, is under a state of emergency imposed in October after several months of sometimes deadly protests demanding wider political freedoms.


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Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

On Thursday March 9, 2017, in front of a large crowd of Ethiopians, US congressman Chris Smith convened a hearing on the current situation in Ethiopia entitled 'Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia.' (AP file photo)

US House Foreign Affairs Committee

Excerpts from Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04)

Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations

March 9, 2017

As we begin today’s hearing to examine the troubling conditions for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, let us stipulate that this East Africa government is a prime U.S. ally on the continent. Ethiopia is the primary troop contributor to peacekeeping operations such as UNISFA along the Sudan-South Sudan border, UNMISS in South Sudan and AMISOM in Somalia. Ethiopia joined the UN Security Council in January and is one of three African members on the Council, along with Senegal and Egypt.

During a series of private negotiations in the last months of the previous Administration, Ethiopian officials acknowledged that the tense situation in their country is at least partly their government’s fault. There have been discussions with opposition parties and consideration of changing the electoral system to use proportional representation, which could increase the chances of opposition parties winning Parliamentary and local races. Late last year, the government released an estimated 10,000 prisoners despite maintaining a state of emergency.

However, there are at least 10,000 more people held in jail who are considered political prisoners, and the government continues to arrest and imprison critics of its actions. In January, two journalists from the faith-based station Radio Bilal, Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori, were sentenced to 5 and 4 year prison terms respectively for inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government through their coverage of Muslim protests about government interference in religious affairs. The journalists were arrested in February 2015 and convicted in December under the 2009 anti-terrorism law alongside 18 other defendants.

In late February, Ethiopian prosecutors charged Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (a registered opposition party) with rendering support to terrorism and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.” Merera had been arrested upon his return to Ethiopia after testifying in November at a European parliament hearing about the crisis in his country, Dr. Merera had testified alongside exiled opposition leader Prof. Berhanu Nega (sentenced to death on terrorism charges in 2009) and Olympic medal winner Feyisa Lilesa. Other senior OFC leaders, including OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba, have been imprisoned on terrorism charges for more than a year. Both are viewed by many as moderate voices among Ethiopia’s opposition.

According to the State Department’s newly released Human Rights Report on Ethiopia, security forces killed “hundreds” in the context of using excessive force against protestors in 2016. “At year’s end more than 10,000 persons were believed still to be detained,” according to the report. Many have not been provided due process. The government has denied the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights access to the Oromia and Amhara regions.

The lack of due process in Ethiopian courts also affects foreigners. Israeli businessman Menasche Levy has been in jail for nearly a year and a half on financial crimes charges. The government officials accused of being involved with Levy in illegal activities have had their charges dropped and have been released from jail. Yet Levy’s next court proceeding won’t be for several more months. We cannot determine his guilt or innocence of the charges, but it is clear that he has been denied a trial in a reasonable time frame and has been beaten in jail by other prisoners and denied proper medical care. These circumstances unfortunately apply to all-too-many people who come in contact with the Ethiopian court system.

My staff and I have discussed with the Government of Ethiopia the possibility of working cooperatively to find ways to end the repression without creating a chaotic transition. Officials in Addis and Ambassador to the U.S. Girma Birru have been very positive in their response. The previous Administration found the Ethiopian government similarly willing to be cooperative.

Unfortunately, there is a significant variance in how that government sees its actions and how the rest of the world sees them. That is why I and several of my colleagues have introduced House Resolution 128 – to present as true a picture of the situation in Ethiopia as possible. It is also why we have convened today’s hearing.

In our first panel, we have witnesses who will provide an overview of the current state of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. They will present the facts as the rest of the world sees them. Our second panel consists of four Ethiopians representing various ethnic groups and organizations created to help the Ethiopian people. We have no opposition parties appearing before us today, despite the tendency of the government and its supporters to see anyone who disagrees with them and their actions as supporting terrorists seeking to overthrow the government.

It is my belief that, until the Government of Ethiopia can squarely face the consequences of its actions, there will not be the genuine reform it has promised. Forexample, government officials say we are mistaken to state that the ruling coalition holds 100 percent of the legislative seats. We have said the coalition holds all the seats, whether in the name of the coalition itself or as affiliate parties. If the government cannot be honest with us or itself in such an obvious matter, it is unlikely that the conditions for reform can exist.

The government does appear to realize its precarious position. We have discussed the frustrations it creates by not fully allowing its citizens to exercise their rights of speech, assembly and association. In a June 20, 2013, hearing of this subcommittee, Berhanu Nega said the government has created a situation in which there is no legitimate means of redress of grievances. Although the government jailed him after he won the 2005 race to become Mayor of Addis Ababa, he was not known to have begun his campaign of armed resistance until after that time.

The recent increased protests in Oromo and Amhara regions have alarmed the government, but if it can’t find a way to relent in its refusal to allow genuine competition for political power and to respond to the cries of its people for the services they deserve, there will be more Berhanu Negas.

But this is preventable. Rather than spend hundreds of thousands on consultants to try to mislead Members of Congress on the facts and inciting e-mail form letter campaigns by supporters, the Government of Ethiopia can acknowledge their challenges and work with the U.S. government and others in the international community to seek reasonable solutions. We are prepared to help once they are ready to face the ugly truth of what has happened and what continues to happen in Ethiopia today.

Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Ethiopia has long been an important ally, providing effective peacekeepers and collaborating in the War on Terror. However, increasingly repressive policies have diminished political space and threaten to radicalize not only the political opposition but also civil society by frustrating their ability to exercise their rights under law. This hearing will examine the current situation in Ethiopia with an eye toward developing policies to help this nation to reverse an increasingly tense situation in the troubled Horn of Africa.”

Witnesses
Panel I
Terrence Lyons, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
George Mason University
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Felix Horne
Senior Researcher
Horn of Africa
Human Rights Watch
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Panel II
Ms. Seenaa Jimjimo
President
Coalition of Oromo Advocates for Human Rights and Democracy
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Tewodrose Tirfe
Co-Founder
Amhara Association of America
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Guya Abaguya Deki
Representative
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Yoseph Tafari
Co-Founder
Ethiopian Drought Relief Aid of Colorado
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]


Related:
Ethiopia: US Top Diplomat Misses Human Rights Presentation
Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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The Story of American Immigrants from An Ethiopian Perspective

Ethiopian American heart surgeon and entrepreneur Dr. Lishan Aklog, with his wife (R) as well as his mother, son and sister (L) rings the opening bell for his company's Nasdaq IPO, April 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 9th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Who knew that when Dr. Lishan Aklog, CEO and co-founder of the publicly traded company PAVmed Inc., fled a brutal communist regime at age 13 and immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia nearly four decades ago along with his teenage sister he would one day become the youngest heart surgeon ever to join the faculty at Harvard University (his alma mater), or ring the opening bell in honor of his company’s Nasdaq initial public offering (IPO).

Like many of their peers in our community Lishan and his sister sought refuge as they ran away from a government sponsored deadly campaign called “red terror” in Ethiopia. Their father Dr. Aklog Habte-Michael was the first Ethiopian cardiologist serving in Ethiopia, while their mother Professor Almaz Eshete, who also attended Harvard, was Ethiopia’s first woman to receive a graduate degree.

Reflecting on his mother’s journey as a foreign graduate student in 1956 Lishan tells the women’s health website EmpowHER.com that “you can imagine what some of the issues in this country were to have this petite little African woman from the small, poor country in Boston and at Harvard to get a graduate eduction.” He adds: “I think about that and I am just absolutely amazed at what she has accomplished over the years, going back home and being again, the first woman to have her graduate education and to be one of the first professors at the university. She really became an international figure in child development..It’s an amazing inspiration for us.”

Regarding his father Dr. Lishan said: He “came from a very humble background. Earned his way through western school..just sheer work and brains and ended up getting a medical degree..and then he did his residency in the U.S. and then went back [to Ethiopia] and became one of the leading physicians for, you know, 40 years.”

In an article published this week in the Wall Street Journal, Lishan reflected on his immigrant experience in the United States amid the current backlash against refugees and immigrants in the Trump era. “Among the torrent of images in January after President Trump signed his first executive order on immigration, one photo resonated with me. It was a joyful scene: volunteers from a synagogue in Glencoe, Ill., cheerily welcoming a family of Syrian refugees — one of the last to be accepted — at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport,” Lishan wrote. “Thirty-eight years ago, a nearly identical scene played out at the same airport, perhaps in the same terminal. Pastor Gerald Nelson and congregants of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill., welcomed two teenagers fleeing violence: my sister and me.”

Lishan added: “Two days earlier in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, dozens of members of a proud extended family had gathered at the airport as our parents, Prof. Almaz Eshete and Dr. Aklog Habte-Michael, tearfully told us farewell. Our family had suffered greatly under the Red Terror of the Soviet-backed tyrant, Mengistu Haile-Mariam. Fathers were imprisoned, sons were ‘disappeared’ or summarily executed, and children were roused from their bed by soldiers. Our parents had found a way to send us to a life of freedom in America… we arrived to a joyful welcome at O’Hare. Soon we were enjoying apple pie at Poppin’ Fresh Pies on the way to our new families. That’s how my American journey began — with a slice of apple pie.”

“After a rewarding career as an academic heart surgeon, I caught the entrepreneurial bug,” Lishan explained. “Two friends (descendants of Irish, East European and Filipino immigrants) and I founded five medical-device companies. Last April, that immigrant boy who peered out of the jet rang the Nasdaq opening bell with his immigrant family and colleagues at his side. Minutes later, we stood in Times Square, filled with awe and humility as images of our new company streamed on the sides of skyscrapers. I had just one thought: “This is our America.”


Dr. Lishan Aklog is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PAVmed Inc. (Nasdaq: PAVMU), a multi-product medical device company bringing innovative medical technologies from concept to commercialization with unprecedented speed and capital efficiency. (Courtesy photo)


Dr. Lishan poses for a photo with his family and colleagues in Times Square, NYC, after he rang the opening bell in honor of his company’s Nasdaq initial public offering (IPO) on April 28, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

In addition to Dr. Lishan, PAVmed was founded and is led by two other successful medical device entrepreneurs: Dr. Brian deGuzman, a prominent Harvard-trained cardiothoracic surgeon and a leader in medical device innovation, and Michael Glennon a medical device industry veteran and former senior executive in outsourced medical device manufacturing.

Per Bloomberg: “Dr. Aklog has received numerous awards and is a perennial honoree in Castle Connolly’s, America’s Top Doctors. Dr. Aklog has taken a keen interest in health care policy and medical device innovation. As a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee and Speaker Pelosi’s Speaker’s Cabinet, he has the opportunity to advise members of Congress on health care policy, focusing on cost effective, quality delivery of high-cost, high-technology therapies.”

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Yohannes Abraham Named Senior Adviser to the Obama Foundation

Former President Barack Obama has named Yohannes Abraham as a senior adviser to the Obama Foundation. (Photo via Medium)

Politico

Obama adds former White House staffer Yohannes Abraham as foundation adviser

Barack Obama is continuing to staff his post-presidency with top aides from his presidency, adding Yohannes Abraham as a senior adviser to the Obama Foundation.

He’s coming on for what’s expected to be an at least six-month stint as the top deputy to foundation chief executive officer David Simas, Obama’s former White House political director.

According to a foundation official, Abraham will help run day-to-day operations, focusing on building the structure and then recruiting and managing the staff. He’ll also work closely with foundation executive director Robbin Cohen, who previously worked for former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s private real estate interests.

Abraham was chief of staff to top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett running the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. He also served as a senior adviser to the National Economic Council.

“We always asked Yohannes to take on our toughest, most important projects, and he always always exceeded our expectations,” said Jarrett. “That’s why it’s no surprise that President Obama asked him to help lay the groundwork for his foundation. I have no doubt Yohannes will tackle this with his characteristic intellect, work ethic, sound judgment, and commitment to excellence.”

Abraham’s time with Obama goes back to the 2008 campaign.

Read more »


Related:
Tadias Interview with Yohannes Abraham
Overview of White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing
White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing and Civic Engagement

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Ethiopia: US Top Diplomat Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skips annual U.S. human rights presentation, while possible budget cuts to foreign aid faces bipartisan opposition in Congress. (Photo: © Greg Nash/The Hill)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 4th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — The new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson failed to attend the State Department’s yearly release of its human rights report on Friday drawing condemnation from lawmakers and activists alike.

Regarding Ethiopia the U.S. “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” highlights that “security forces used excessive force against protesters throughout the year, killing hundreds and injuring many more. The protests were mainly in Oromia and Amhara regions. At year’s end more than 10,000 persons were believed still to be detained. This included persons detained under the government-declared state of emergency, effective October 8. Many were never brought before a court, provided access to legal counsel, or formally charged with a crime.” The report adds: “The most significant human rights problems were security forces’ use of excessive force and arbitrary arrest in response to the protests, politically motivated prosecutions, and continued restrictions on activities of civil society and NGOs…Impunity was a problem. The government generally did not take steps to prosecute or otherwise punish officials who committed abuses other than corruption.”

For his absence the top U.S. Diplomat “drew fire from some members of Congress and advocates who said his decision not to personally unveil the report suggested the Trump administration places a low priority on advancing human rights,” The Washington Post reported. Human Rights Watch Washington Director, Sarah Margon, adds that Tillerson’s non-involvement “makes it much easier for other governments to ignore its findings.”

Meanwhile, in a related story, U.S. lawmakers from both parties say any proposal to cut funding for the State Department and foreign aid will not see the day of light in Congress. “It’s dead on arrival,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview with NBC. “It’s not gonna happen. It would be a disaster.”

“If you take soft power off the table then you’re never going to win the war,” Graham continued in the NBC interview. “What’s most disturbing about the cut in the State Department’s budget is it shows a lack of understanding of what it takes to win the war.”

New York Senator and Minority Leader Charles Schumer added: “Democrats and Republicans are both going to run away,” from the Trump budget proposal. “His proposals are falling apart everywhere,” Schumer said.


Related:
Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
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