Author Archive for Tadias

Writers Lemn Sissay & Zone 9′s Befeqadu Hailu Share 2019 PEN Pinter Prize

Poet Lemn Sissay (right) has named writer and activist Befeqadu Hailu (left), who is a co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, as this year’s ‘international writer of courage’ (Composite: PR/Hollie Fernando)

The Guardian

The poet Lemn Sissay has won the PEN Pinter award alongside the Ethiopian writer Befeqadu Hailu, who dedicated his award “to all those who use their voices for the voiceless”.

Hailu, a writer, activist and co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, has been jailed four times for his work, although never convicted of the charges brought against him. Under the motto “we blog because we care”, Zone 9 sets out to create a space for freedom of expression, where individuals can speak out against human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Sissay chose Hailu as the PEN Pinter international writer of courage, calling him “a man who stands by his word and whose words stood in the face of prison and arose far, far above to declaim in the name of humanity”.

“When I was considering him, I spoke to many Ethiopians in Ethiopia about him,” Sissay said. “He is loved by his people and the younger generation: He is a 21st-century hero. It was obvious that the writer of courage had to be him. He is my hero.”

Speaking in Amharic at the British Library event, Hailu thanked Sissay for choosing him to share the award. Hailu said he had wasted “596 days of his life in prison as a result of his writing”, as well as being “a victim of surveillance, intimidation, beatings and insults”.

“But I can say confidently that I have gained rather than lost by writing,” he said. “My wish is to use my voice for the service of the suppressed, those who are victimised because of sexual orientation, creed, religion or political opinion. My dream will come true. My wish is to give my voice to the service of the voiceless, who spoke for me when I could not. I pay it back only when I write to become a voice for the voiceless, the unheard.”

The PEN Pinter award goes to a writer who is deemed to, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, cast an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world, and show a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. Sissay, who was announced as recipient in June, was described by judges as “an Orpheus who never stops singing”, who in every work “returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child”, and “from his sorrows … forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love”. Sissay grew up in foster care in Wigan and his childhood was scarred by racist bullying.

The prize is shared with an international writer of courage who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

Read more »


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PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s two-decade border conflict with Eritrea. Nobel Institute director Olav Njoelstad, said he had been in touch by phone with Abiy, who “showed great humility and was overwhelmed.” (AP photo)

The Associated Press

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s two-decade border conflict with Eritrea.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute on Friday also praised the “important reforms” that Abiy, Ethiopia’s leader since April 2018, has launched at home. The prize comes as Abiy faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping.

The Nobel committee said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement.”

The award reflects the committee’s taste for trying to encourage works in progress.

“We are proud as a nation!!!” Abiy’s office said in a tweet.

Nobel Institute director Olav Njoelstad, said he had been in touch by phone with Abiy, who “showed great humility and was overwhelmed.”

Abiy, 43, took office after widespread protests pressured the longtime ruling coalition and hurt one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Africa’s youngest leader quickly announced dramatic reforms and “Abiymania” began.

On taking office, Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal ending a 20-year border war between the two East African nations that saw tens of thousands of people killed. Ethiopia and Eritrea had not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998, with Abiy himself once fighting in a town that remained contested at the time of his announcement last year.

Within weeks, the visibly moved Eritrean president, Isaias Afwerki, visited Addis Ababa and communications and transport links were restored. For the first time in two decades, long-divided families made tearful reunions.

The improving relations led to the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Eritrea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations. But Ethiopia’s reforms do not appear to have inspired any in Eritrea, which has since closed border posts with its neighbor.

The Nobel committee also pointed to Abiy’s other efforts toward reconciliation in the region — between Eritrea and Djibouti, between Kenya and Somalia, and in Sudan.

The Nobel committee acknowledged that “peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone.”

It said that when Abiy “reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalize the peace process between the two countries.”

It added that it “hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

There was no immediate comment on the award from Eritrea, which under its longtime ruler remains one of the world’s most closed-off nations.

At home, Abiy offered one political surprise after another. He released tens of thousands of prisoners, welcomed home once-banned opposition groups and acknowledged past abuses. People expressed themselves freely on social media, and he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020. The country has one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets and a female president, a rarity in Africa.

And for the first time Ethiopia had no journalists in prison, media groups noted last year.

The new prime minister also announced the opening-up of Ethiopia’s tightly controlled economy, saying private investment would be welcome in major state-owned sectors — a process that continues slowly.

But while Abiy became a global darling, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, troubles arose at home.

A grenade was thrown at him during an appearance in the capital. A large group of soldiers confronted him in his office in what he called an attempt to derail his reforms. In a display of the brio that has won Abiy widespread admiration, the former military officer defused the situation by dropping to the floor and joining the troops in pushups.

More troubling these days are Ethiopia’s rising ethnic tensions, as people once stifled by repression now act on long-held grievances. Some 1,200 people have been killed and some 1.2 million displaced in the greatest challenge yet to Abiy’s rule. Some observers warn that the unrest will grow ahead of next year’s election.

The Nobel committee acknowledged that “many challenges remain unresolved.”

Abiy had been among the favorites for this year’s prize in the run-up to Friday’s announcement, though winners are notoriously hard to predict. The Nobel committee doesn’t reveal the names of candidates or nominations for 50 years.

The committee has in the past used its prestigious award to nudge a peace process forward and Friday’s recognition of Abiy falls into that line of thinking.

“The committee want to be actors. They want to make decisive interventions because the world listens to their opinion, Nobel historian Oeivind Stenersen said. “There have been laureates such as (Jose Ramos) Horta in East Timor who have said that the prize was crucial in the process. The committee will hope to emulate that.”

Since 1901, 99 Nobel Peace Prizes have been handed out, to individuals and 24 organizations. While the other prizes are announced in Stockholm, the peace prize is awarded in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

So far this week, 11 Nobel laureates have been named. The others received their awards for their achievements in medicine , physics , chemistry and literature .

With the glory comes a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. Even though the peace prize is awarded in Norway, the amount is denominated in Swedish kronor.

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Related:

Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize is deserved, but he still has work to do (WaPo Editorial)

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Spotlight: Addis Ababa Among Six Dynamic Emerging Art Capitals in Africa

Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life: Market Day (2018). Courtesy Addis Fine Art.

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 9th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — In a feature published this week, highlighting the growing African art scene in the global market, Artnet News website lists Addis Ababa among six dynamic emerging art capitals on the African continent.

Art institutions in Addis Ababa mentioned in the publication as leading this renaissance include “Alle School of Fine Art & Design (Ethiopia’s most important art school..founded in 1958, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, and has educated the country’s preeminent painters, sculptors, printmakers, and designers); Addis Fine Art (The most notable commercial gallery in the capital and its first white-cube art space, Addis regularly showcases graduates from the Alle School, and will open a new location in London’s Cromwell Place gallery hub in 2020); Guramane Art Center (A gallery dedicated to emerging Ethiopian artists, it represents the vanguard of the country’s art scene); and Zoma (this sprawling museum, founded by artist Elias Sime and curator Meskerem Assegued, opened in April 2019 and shows contemporary art from East Africa and abroad).”

The other art capitals featured in the Artnet News article include Accra, Cape Town, Dakar, Lagos, and Marrakech.

“Today, Africa’s art market has plenty of room to grow. Fewer than 1,000 works were sold at auction on the continent in the first six months of 2019, according to the artnet Price Database,” Artnet News notes, and adds: “Unlike Asia, where Hong Kong has emerged as a hub for the trade, Africa lacks a preeminent art-market capital. And while the continent’s local collector base is growing steadily—Sotheby’s fourth dedicated auction of Modern and contemporary African art in April was dominated by African buyers and generated a total of $3 million, above its presale high estimate of $2.7 million— it is still nascent compared with the U.S., China, and Europe.”

Artnet quotes Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s who shares that “we are seeing lots of raw talent, but we need more of a market structure in order to support their careers.’”

Regarding Addis Ababa as an art capital, Artnet states:

Coptic art, shaped by the 1,500-year history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, is one of the country’s major artistic influences and continues to be practiced by numerous artisans. But the 20th century also witnessed three distinct artistic movements that remained popular until the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974: a realistic, or “naïve,” style used to depict glamorous Ethiopian society; abstraction, which incorporated influences from Western Expressionism and Surrealism; and social realism, which was political in subject matter and focused largely on urban scenes and the struggling masses.

Home to more than 112 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous country on the continent. According to the International Monetary Fund, Ethiopia’s economy is expected to grow 8.5 percent this fiscal year, making it the fastest-growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite the difficulty in obtaining art materials, which must be either imported from abroad or made at home, today’s artists work largely in paint, together with photography and sculpture using found objects. “A lot of people use art for commercial or propaganda purposes, and I hope that our government understands the power of supporting our artists and preserving our culture,” says Melaku Belay, founder of the Fendika Cultural Center. “We need to think of the past if we want to go to the future.”

See the full list at news.artnet.com »


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Ethiopia Film ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) Makes International Premiere in London

Written and directed by Moges Tafesse, the film's cast include Zerihun Mulatu as Gobeze, Yimisirach Girma as Aleme and Frehiwot Kelkilew as Queen Zewditu. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 8th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The award-winning new Ethiopian film entitled ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) will make its international premiere in London this month.

According to the film’s synopsis: “In Ethiopia, kolo temari (wandering student) Gobeze is caught red-handed and in bed with Aleme, the wife of the temperamental landlord Gonite. Neighbors halt the ensuing fight and an elder binds together the two men’s clothes, symbolically chaining them together in the traditional judicial process of Atse Sirat, and tells them to stand trial in the queen’s court. Meanwhile, with the sudden death of the Emperor Minilik his daughter Zewditu Minilik, is crowned queen.”

Written and directed by Moges Tafesse, the film’s cast include Zerihun Mulatu as Gobeze, Yimisirach Girma as Aleme and Frehiwot Kelkilew as Queen Zewditu.

The synopsis adds: “Enchained during their long journey, the two men traverse a number of challenges including keeping each other safe so that the experienced litigator Gonite and the inexperienced student Gobeze can stand trial before the new ruler, Queen Zewditu, and be vindicated.”

The film focuses on age-old human behavior when it comes to love, sex, violence and the desire for vigilante justice while also reflecting on Ethiopia’s past traditional justice system that is informed by local customs, and values adjudicating conflict situations in addition to administering punishment fit for a crime.

The filmmakers note that the movie “attempts to illustrate the rift between the old oral all-encompassing system (which includes not just legal process but also social life, culture and politics) and modus operandi of law and the current confusion of law and justice within the current generation.” In other words, understanding the past is the key to shaping the future.

The premiere in London, which is set to open on Saturday, October 19th at Rich Mix Cinema, promises to be a star-studded, red carpet event hosted by Habeshaview TV and includes a Q&A with film Director Moges Tafesse and leading actor Zerihun Mulatu.


If You Go:
International Premiere of ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) a Moges Tafesse Film.
Saturday 19th October 2019
Red Carpet Arrivals: 6:30pm – Drinks Reception, Meet & Greet Stars
Screening: 8:00pm – Followed by Q&A with film Director Moges Tafesse and leading actor Zerihun Mulatu, Drinks & Canape – £20 (18+)

Followed by subsequent screenings

Sunday, 20th October 2019
14:00 – £12.95 Adults | Children £6 + BF (12+)

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019
20:00 – £12.95 Adults | Children £6 + BF (12 +)

WHERE:
Rich Mix Cinema London 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA
Click here to purchase Tickets
More info at: events@habeshaview.com

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Ethiopia Mourns Elias Melka

Musician and composer Elias Melka died on 4 October. (Music in Africa)

Music in Africa

The news of his death was made public by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC)… FBC said Milka was receiving treatment for diabetes and kidney complications at a hospital in the country’s capital.

Several prominent Ethiopians have shared their fondest memories of the musician, while others have spoken about what his music means to them.

“Saddened to learn the passing of renowned lyricist and composer, Elias Melka. We lost a talented and influential figure in the music industry. My condolences to his family and fans,” Addis Ababa mayor Takele Uma Banti said.

Radio and TV journalist Berhane Negussie said: “What heartbreaking news. Elias Melka was a musical genius of our generation This is a loss to the Ethiopian music industry. Not only as a musician, but he was also an amazing and extremely kind as a person. Rest in heaven, my brother.

Ethiopian political analyst Esayas Girmay wrote: “Farewell to a legend! Elias transformed modern Ethiopian music like no other. His influence on traditional Amharic music was also something to remember him by. Tigrigna, Oromifa, Kunama and Guragigna have also benefited from his amazing talent and creativity.”

Melka began his career in the 1990s after graduating from Yared Music School where he majored in cello, piano and the krar.

Melka’s discography includes more than 40 albums, which mainly contain socially conscious songs. His songs touched on topics such as HIV/AIDS, road accidents, African unity and minorities. In 2003, he composed ‘Negarit’ (War Drum), which highlighted the plight of about 13 million people facing starvation in the country.

The award-winning musician composed music for prominent Ethiopian artists, most notably activist Teddy Afro, Gossaye Tesfaye, Zeritu Kebede, Haile Roots, Mikia Behailu, Eyob Mekonnen, Michael Belayneh, Aster Girma, Abush Zeleke, Berry, Gedion Daniel and Dan Admassu.

He will be remembered for being one of the first musicians to introduce the one-man band studio production concept in Ethiopia and for being part of the team that launched the Awtar Music App this year.

Before his death, he was one of the judges on the Fana Lamrot talent show, which airs on FBC.


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Susan Rice Has Spent Her Career Fighting off Detractors: WaPo on Her Memoir

Former national security adviser Susan Rice at her Washington home last month. Her memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” is being published this week. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Susan Rice has spent her career fighting off detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’

She should have listened to her mother.

“Why do you have to go on the shows?” Lois Dickson Rice asked her daughter, Susan, in September 2012 “Where is Hillary?”

Susan Rice was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, equipped with a gold-standard Washington résumé — Stanford, Rhodes scholar, Oxford doctorate, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She explained that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “wiped after a brutal week.” The Obama White House asked Rice to appear “in her stead” on all five Sunday news programs.

It was days after attacks in Libya killed four U.S. officials.

“I smell a rat,” said her mother, a lauded education policy expert. “This is not a good idea. Can’t you get out of it?”

“Mom, don’t be ridiculous,” Rice said. “I’ve done the shows. It will be fine.”

Well, no, it was not.

Benghazi became the millstone in Rice’s stellar career. It stopped her from succeeding Clinton.

Criticism of Rice was relentless… The scrutiny lasted through multiple congressional investigations.

The aftermath took a punishing toll on Rice’s family and professional reputation, she reveals in her frank new memoir, “Tough Love.” The book also explores how, despite Rice’s many accomplishments during two administrations, she attracted criticism for her brusque manner. And Rice faces an extra challenge — she’s been forced to grapple with whether any of this adversity was somehow a result of her race and gender.

“The combination — being a confident black woman who is not seeking permission or affirmation from others — I now suspect accounts for why I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men,” she writes, “and perhaps also why I have long inspired motivated detractors who simply can’t deal with me.”

Read the full article at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

What My Father Thought Me About Race: By Susan Rice


Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” from which this essay is adapted. (Photo: Susan Rice with her father Emmett J. Rice, right, and the Federal Reserve chairman, William Miller, in 1979. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By Susan E. Rice

My father, Emmett Rice, was drafted into military service at the height of World War II and spent four and a half years in uniform, first as an enlisted man and ultimately as an officer with the rank of captain. Called up by the Army Air Force, he was sent to a two-part officer training program, which began in Miami and was completed at Harvard Business School — where he learned “statistical control” and “quantitative management,” a specialized form of accounting in an unusual program designed to build on his business background.

Emmett eventually was deployed to Tuskegee, Ala., where he joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black fighter pilot unit, which distinguished itself in combat in Europe. Though he learned to fly, my father was not a fighter pilot, but a staff officer who ran the newly created Statistics Office, which performed management analyses for commanding officers. He earlier served a stint at Godman Field adjacent to Fort Knox, Ky. There, he was denied access to the white officers’ club. To add insult to injury, he saw German prisoners of war being served at restaurants restricted to blacks. Both in the military and the confines of off-base life, his time in Kentucky was a searing reintroduction to the Southern segregation he had experienced as a child in South Carolina.


Susan and Emmett Rice in 1996. (Credit Ian Cameron)

Still, socially and intellectually, dad’s Tuskegee years were formative. He met an elite cadre of African-American men who would later be disproportionately represented in America’s postwar black professional class, among them my mother’s brothers, Leon and David Dickson. Dad’s Tuskegee friends and acquaintances formed a network he maintained throughout his life. What was it, I have often wondered, about those Tuskegee Airmen and support personnel that seemingly enabled them to become a vanguard of black achievement? Perhaps the military preselected unusually well-educated and capable men for Tuskegee, or some aspect of their service experience propelled them as a group to succeed. To my lasting regret, I failed to take the opportunity to study this topic in depth before almost all those heroes passed away.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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Majority of Americans Support Impeachment Inquiry into Trump (UPDATE)

The survey shows how public sentiment has moved amid the unfolding scandal over Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. (ILLUSTRATION: HUFFPOST; PHOTOS: GETTY)

CNBC

Updated: TUE, OCT 8 2019

Most Americans — including 1 in 5 Republicans — now back an impeachment inquiry or already believe Congress should remove President Donald Trump from office, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

The survey shows how public sentiment has moved amid the unfolding scandal over Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. The share of Americans who say Congress should let Trump complete his term has dipped to 39%, from 50% in July.

At the same time, the proportion who say Congress should move to impeachment and removal has ticked up to 24% from 21%, while those who support an impeachment inquiry have swelled to 31% from 27%. Taken together, that 55% majority backing an impeachment inquiry at minimum is the highest the NBC/WSJ poll has shown this year.

That represents a gradual, not dramatic, shift in opinion. But it shows that, after the political hazards of the Trump-Russia investigation appeared to dissipate during the summer, the president faces new and potentially more-threatening trouble over Ukraine.

“What we’re seeing in this poll is an openness and willingness to listen to new information,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff. His Democratic counterpart Peter Hart added, “There’s not a scintilla of good news for Donald Trump in this survey.”


2nd Whistleblower Adds to Impeachment Peril at White House (AP)


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated an impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent. AP reports that this week a second whistleblower has come forward “adding to the impeachment peril engulfing the White House.” (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: October 7th, 2019

A second whistleblower has come forward with information about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, adding to the impeachment peril engulfing the White House and potentially providing new leads to Democrats in their unfurling investigation of Trump’s conduct.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who represents both whistleblowers, said in a text message to The Associated Press that the second person has spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog and can corroborate information in the original whistleblower complaint. That document alleged that Trump pushed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s family, prompting a White House cover-up. Crucially, the new whistleblower works in the intelligence field and has “firsthand knowledge” of key events, Zaid said.

The emergence of the second whistleblower threatened to undermine arguments from Trump and his allies to discredit the original complaint. They have called it politically motivated, claimed it was filed improperly and dismissed it as unreliable because it was based on secondhand or thirdhand information.

A rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, released by the White House, has already corroborated the complaint’s central claim that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. The push came even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Text messages from State Department officials revealed other details, including that Ukraine was promised a visit with Trump if the government would agree to investigate the 2016 election and Ukrainian gas company Burisma — the outline of a potential quid pro quo.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said word of a second whistleblower indicates a larger shift inside the government.

“The president’s real problem is that his behavior has finally gotten to a place where people are saying, ‘Enough,’” Himes said.

Democrats have zeroed in on the State Department in the opening phase of their impeachment investigation. The Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have already interviewed Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine who provided the text messages. At least two other witnesses are set for depositions this week: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly ousted as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May.

Trump and his supporters deny that he did anything improper, but the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response. No administration officials appeared on the Sunday news shows to defend the president, while other Republicans focused mainly on attacking Democrats. A few Republicans suggested that Trump was only joking this past week when he publicly called on China to investigate the Bidens.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s most vocal backers, provided perhaps the strongest defense of the president. He said there was nothing wrong with Trump’s July conversation with Zelenskiy and that the accusation look like a “political setup.”

As for Trump, rather than visiting his nearby golf course in Sterling, Virginia, for a second day, he stayed at White House, where he tweeted and retweeted, with the Bidens a main target.

“The great Scam is being revealed!” Trump wrote at one point, continuing to paint himself as the victim of a “deep state” and hostile Democrats.

As the president often does when he feels under attack, he trumpeted his strong support among Republican voters. He kept lashing out at Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the few Republicans who has publicly questioned Trump’s conduct.

“The Democrats are lucky that they don’t have any Mitt Romney types,” Trump wrote, painting the 2012 GOP presidential nominee as a traitor to his party. Romney tweeted recently that Trump’s “brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine” for an investigation of Biden is “wrong and appalling.”

The July call raised questions about whether Trump held back near $400 million in critical American military aid to Ukraine as leverage for a Burisma investigation. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

A leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. … Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”

Additional details about the origins of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy emerged over the weekend.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry had encouraged Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader, but on energy and economic issues, according to Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. She said Perry’s interest in Ukraine is part of U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.

Trump, who has repeatedly described his conversation with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” told House Republicans on Friday night that it was Perry who teed up the July call, according to a person familiar with Trump’s comments who was granted anonymity to discuss them. The person said Trump did not suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure to investigate the Bidens.

As the furor over Trump’s phone call and the House’s subsequent impeachment inquiry escalated, two Republicans challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination engaged in a heated on-air debate over what should happen to the president. The exchange between former Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Joe Walsh of Illinois was notable, given the refusal of all but three Republican senators to criticize Trump’s conduct.

Walsh said the president deserves to be impeached. Sanford tried to make the case that moving forward with impeachment in the Democratic-run House if the Republican-controlled Senate doesn’t have the votes to convict would be counter-productive.

“This president needs to be impeached, just based on what he himself has said,” Walsh said. “And Republicans better get behind that.”

Himes appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while Walsh was on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Graham spoke on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

___

Related:

U.S. House Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The dramatic development follows the recent revelation that Trump may have abused his presidential powers by seeking help from a foreign government to undermine his potential 2020 election opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, and help his own reelection campaign. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry, says Trump’s courting of foreign political help is a ‘betrayal of national security’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the extraordinary step Tuesday of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent.

Pelosi’s move came after Trump acknowledged that he urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination who holds a wide lead over Trump, polls show, in a potential general election matchup. The revelation prompted a rush of moderate House Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry into Trump, a step they had resisted for months. On Tuesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) relented as well.

“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a brief statement before a backdrop of American flags, repeatedly invoking the nation’s founders. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

Read more »


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Man Seeking U.S. Asylum Claims Ethiopian Airlines Changed Records After 737 Max Crash

Yonas Yeshanew, a former employee of Ethiopian Airlines who is currently applying for asylum in the U.S., has claimed — in a whistleblower complaint filed with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration — that Ethiopian Airlines changed records on a Boeing 737 Max jet following the tragic crash earlier this year. Investigators had preliminarily ruled that a defective software flight data sensor known as MCAS was to blame for the accident. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Engineer: Ethiopian Airlines went into records after crash

SEATTLE (AP) — Ethiopian Airlines’ former chief engineer says in a whistleblower complaint filed with regulators that the carrier went into the maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year, a breach he contends was part of a pattern of corruption that included fabricating documents, signing off on shoddy repairs and even beating those who got out of line.

Yonas Yeshanew, who resigned this summer and is seeking asylum in the U.S., said that while it is unclear what, if anything, in the records was altered, the decision to go into them at all when they should have been sealed reflects a government-owned airline with few boundaries and plenty to hide.

“The brutal fact shall be exposed … Ethiopian Airlines is pursuing the vision of expansion, growth and profitability by compromising safety,” Yeshanew said in his report, which he gave to The Associated Press after sending it last month to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other international air safety agencies…

Ethiopian Airlines portrayed Yeshanew as a disgruntled former employee and categorically denied his allegations…

Read the full article at apnews.com »


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Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
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Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Lelisa Desisa Wins World Championship Marathon

Lelisa Desisa became just the second Ethiopian man to win a global marathon crown and became the first man in history to win the Boston, New York City and world championships marathons during a career. (Photo: AFP/MUSTAFA ABUMUNES)

LetsRun

Lelisa Desisa Wins World Championship Marathon to Go With His Boston and NY Crowns

Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa ran a flawless marathon tonight on the Corniche in Doha to capture his first global title on the penultimate day of the IAAF World Athletics Championships. The 29 year-old Ethiopian, twice the Boston Marathon winner and the reigning TCS New York City Marathon champion, became just the second Ethiopian man to win a global marathon crown and became the first man in history to win the Boston, New York City and world championships marathons during a career.

“This is a great medal for me and for Ethiopia,” Desisa told IAAF interviewers after crossing the finish line in 2:10:40. “It is the first for us for a long time. I am very happy to bring Ethiopia this title after so long.”

The race played out perfectly for the race-savvy Desisa who performs best in championships-style races where official pacemakers are not permitted. Throughout the race, which began at 11:59 p.m., he carefully assessed his position and his energy stores and didn’t waste a single step while some of his rivals put in needless surges.

For the first half of the race, Desisa ran well behind the unlikely leader, Derlys Ayala of Paraguay, who had run a marathon just 12 days before in Buenos Aires. Running alone in a red and white striped uniform, Ayala built up a 62-second lead through 15 kilometers, but the top players for the medals, including Desisa, hardly cared. A pack of six serious contenders –Desisa, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, Geoffrey Kirui and Amos Kipruto of Kenya, Stephen Mokoka of South Africa, and Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia– ran earnestly behind the South American and bided their time.

By the 20-kilometer point, Ayala’s lead had dwindled to just six seconds, and just before the half-marathon point (1:05:56) Ayala was caught. He would drop out about two minutes later, just one of 18 athletes from the 73-man field who would fail to finish.

Tadese, five times the world road running/half-marathon champion, did most of the leading from there. There were a few surges by Tadese and Mokoka, but through 30 kilometers (1:33:13) the pack of six was still intact. Desisa would sometimes drift back during the surges, but he always regained contact.

“I controlled everybody and I saved my power,” Desisa explained.

Read more »


Related:

In Berlin, Kenenisa Bekele Makes A Comeback With 2nd Fastest Marathon Ever

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How This Ethiopian Entrepreneur Came Up with Idea of Growing Teff in California

Zion Taddese owns the Queen Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento. (Sacramento Business Journal)

Sacramento Business Journal

Restaurateur wants to grow more of this Ethiopian superfood

Lunchtime at the Queen Sheba Ethiopian restaurant on Broadway in Sacramento is filled with flavorful aromas, colors and steaming stews of beans and vegetables…

“We eat injera in Ethiopia every day,” she said. “For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner.”

Lately, however, Taddese has begun making the injera a little differently. She adds barley to the mixture of teff flour, which serves as the basis for the injera dough. Teff, a grain native to Ethiopia, has gotten more and more expensive. Since Taddese opened the restaurant 15 years ago, the price she pays for teff has risen from around $15 per 20 pounds to $60. For comparison, the barley she mixes with the teff to make injera is $10 per 20 pounds.

“There’s not enough supply,” she said. “That’s why it’s so expensive.”

And that’s when she can get it at all. Taddese gets the teff from one of the only U.S. sources — a grower in Idaho.

“You have to order six months in advance because they run out of it so fast,” Taddese said.

So Taddese came up with the idea of growing teff in California. She also wants to expand her restaurant and build a new company, Sheba Farms, which will process, mill and package teff flour.

These are ambitious plans, but Taddese has taken on big challenges before.

She grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. She left for England when she was 16, and while she was in college in London, worked in her aunt’s Ethiopian restaurant.

Read the full article at bizjournals.com »


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Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week

The 2019 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa from October 9-12th. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 4th, 2019

Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week Set to Kick-off on October 9th

New York (TADIAS) – The 2019 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week is set to kick-off on October 9th at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa.

The runway show, which marks its 9th anniversary this year, features both local and international designers from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa.

“The British Council will serve as the facilitator of a “Made in Ethiopia” event, which will feature producers of textile, leather, manufacturing and other sectors of the industry,” Mahlet Teklemariam, Founder of the Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week, announced in a press statement.

The press release notes that “fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry of which Africa only has a minute share,” adding that the annual Fashion Week in Ethiopia’s capital “seeks to remedy this and has worked diligently towards this growth.”

According to the organizers past participants of Hub of Africa Fashion Week have go on to present at New York African Fashion Week as well as Berlin Fashion Week and received international media coverage including on CNN, Vogue Italia, Fashion TV, and BBC.


If You Go:

The 2019 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa from October 9-12th. For full list of programs please visit the event’s website at www.hubfashionweekafrica.com.

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Liya Kebede Among 22 Most Stylish Supermodels of All Time (Harper’s Bazaar)

Liya Kebede. (Harper's Bazaar)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar has named Liya Kebede among 22 most stylish supermodels of all time.

“By and far, models are known for other people’s fashion, not their own,” the monthly publication states. “But, of course, there are those special few who have not only conquered modeling itself but also gained acclaim for their own personal style.” The magazine noted that Liya Kebede is “able to swing from cool-girl athleisure to red-carpet glam,” and added: “Kebede always makes an impact.”

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Liya launched her modeling career in Paris in the late 1990′s soon after graduating from Lycée Guebre Mariam high school, and gained international prominence in 2003 when she was selected by Estée Lauder to become the first black model to represent the global cosmetics brand.

As The Business of Fashion website — that covers the global fashion industry — shared: “Although Kebede still models for the likes of Tom Ford, Donna Karan and Roberto Cavalli , she is now focused on philanthropic ventures. These include Lemlem, a clothing line founded to protect traditional Ethiopian weaving techniques and support women, which is sold at Barney’s, J Crew, Net-a-Porter and numerous boutique shops. Kebede has also been a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health division since 2005. In 2013, Kebede was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year for her philanthropic work through her Liya Kebede Foundation. She has two children and resides in New York.”


Related:

THE 22 MOST STYLISH SUPERMODELS OF ALL TIME (Harper’s Bazaar)

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Spotlight: Mahmoud Ahmed & Eritrean Singer Issac Simon Live in NYC

Mahmoud Ahmed and Issac Simon will perform live in New York City on October 12th, 2019. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian music icon Mahmoud Ahmed will perform live in New York City this month along with Eritrean Singer Issac Simon.

Presented by Queen of Sheba restaurant and Dj Mehari the concert, which is set to take place on October 12th, will mark the first time that Mahmoud Ahmed will perform live in NYC since his historic debut at Carnegie Hall three years ago.

As Carnegie had noted: Mahmoud’s “body of work — including landmark recordings..released on Éthiopiques series — have become an essential benchmark of Ethiopia’s musical history and cultural heritage, earning him the prestigious BBC World Music Award in 2007.”


Poster courtesy of the organizers. (Photo: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)


If You Go:
Mahmoud Ahmed and Isaac Simon Live in NYC
Sat, Oct 12, 2019, 6:00 PM
630 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Entrance: $50
For table service/vip ticket: 347-828-1285
Tickets are available at Queen of Sheba, Abissinia and Massawa restaurants.
More info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mahmoud-ahmed-and-isaac-simon-tickets-74901188471

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Looted Ethiopian Crown Resurfaces in the Netherlands — NYT

Sirak Asfaw, left, and Arthur Brand say they are waiting for the Ethiopian government to get in touch. (BBC)

The New York Times

Oct. 3, 2019

AMSTERDAM — In 1998, Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch civil servant who was born in Ethiopia, noticed something shiny in the suitcase of a guest who was staying at his house. Curious, he opened the case to find a glittering gilded crown inside.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr. Sirak, who moved to the Netherlands a political refugee in the 1970s, said in a recent interview in Amsterdam. “I felt betrayed. Using my house to smuggle cultural heritage from Ethiopia? I knew it had something to do with Ethiopian history, the Ethiopian kingdom. I knew this is not good.”

Mr. Sirak said that he felt he couldn’t return the crown to the Ethiopian authorities, because he suspected that the government might have been complicit in the theft, and he feared that it would be stolen again.

He also didn’t want to hand it over to the Dutch authorities, because he worried that a museum would keep the crown forever rather than returning it when a new Ethiopian government was in place.

So Mr. Sirak locked the visitor out of his house, he said, and removed the crown from the suitcase. He did not identify the smuggler to The New York Times for fear of his safety, and said he didn’t know how his guest had acquired it.

For 21 years, he hid it in his home. “When I saw it, I always felt very emotional,” he said. “I knew it shouldn’t be here, not in my house, not in the Netherlands.”

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopian 18th Century Crown to Return Home From Netherlands (BBC)

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Painter Julie Mehretu’s Intellectual Ambitions — Wall Street Journal

A new retrospective in November at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art traces Julie Mehretu’s career creating epic, lyrical works that are literally ripped from the headlines. (Photo: Julie Mehretu in her Chelsea, New York, studio in front of Of Other Planes of There (S.R.), 2018–2019. PHOTO: CLEMENT PASCAL FOR WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal

There are few artists who follow the news as closely as the painter Julie Mehretu does, and fewer still who directly mine it for their work. But not all viewers of her immense abstract pieces realize it.

“Usually it’ll be something like an earworm—it doesn’t leave you alone,” says Mehretu, 48, of the events that infuse her canvases. The California fires of 2017, for instance, formed the foundation of the bright-orange work Hineni (E. 3:4) (2018), a canvas that, like many of her works, is densely packed with shapes, forms and marks.

Mehretu works with her assistants to digitally manipulate news photos of these scenes. Then an assistant airbrushes the heavily distorted image onto a canvas as a beginning gesture—Mehretu calls it “melting” the image onto the canvas.

Read more »


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PM Abiy Commissions Artist Elias Sime for New Public Garden at National Palace

Elias Sime’s garden under construction. (COURTESY JAMES COHAN GALLERY)

ARTNEWS

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Commissions Artist Elias Sime for New Public Garden at Historically Off-Limits National Palace

Elias Sime, an Ethiopian artist well known at home and ascendant internationally for works involving intricately woven tangles of reclaimed electrical wires and other materials that come to look like paintings from afar, is building a large public garden for the Grand National Palace in Addis Ababa that once served as the home of emperor Haile Selassie. The project came to fruition after Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited Zoma, an ambitious complex of buildings and gardens in the city devoted to exhibitions of contemporary art and indigenous-architectural education as imagined by Sime and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued.

As James Cohan, whose New York–based gallery represents Sime, recalled of the prime minister, “Once he saw it, literally the next day he called Elias up and said, ‘You need to come to the grounds of the royal palace, which I’m going to open to the public for the first time since 1976. It will become our national pride, and you need to build a garden for us.’”

That visit some three months ago led to work that has continued around the clock on a 30,000-square-foot garden expected to be completed in six months. “They’re carving pieces of stone with wavelike rhythmic forms,” Cohan said, “and he’s carving stone for the walls.” More than 300 workers are involved, and “the prime minister visits on a daily basis and has brought numerous visiting international diplomats and dignitaries to see progress,” Cohan added.

In a written statement, Sime—who is working on the project with his partner in Zoma—told ARTnews, “Anyone can be commissioned to build, but being trusted by the Prime Minster, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, with love to build our dream in one of the most prestigious places is special. What Meskerem Assegued and I are building is meant to give love to anyone as much as we loved building it.”

Read more »


Related:

Elias Sime Set for Major U.S. Museum Shows in NY, Ohio and Kansas (TADIAS)

Noiseless: Elias Sime’s New Exhibition Opens in NYC

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In Berlin, Kenenisa Bekele Makes A Comeback With 2nd Fastest Marathon Ever

Former Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele staged a thrilling comeback to win the Berlin marathon on Sunday, recording the second fastest time ever - Reuters. (Photo: Kenenisa Bekele high fives a spectator as he approaches the finish line in the men’s elite race in Berlin on Sunday, September 29, 2019/Reuters)

IAAF

Kenenisa Bekele scorched to a stunning 2:01:41 victory at the BMW Berlin Marathon today (29), the second fastest performance of the all-time.

The victory capped a sensational comeback for the 37-year-old star, who had been struggling with knee and hamstring injuries in recent years. Bekele missed the world record by six seconds when winning at the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2016, and this time came up just two seconds short of the 2:01:39 record set by Eliud Kipchoge last year. But the Ethiopian, who has held the world records over 5000 and 10,000m since 2004 and 2005, respectively, hadn’t finished a marathon since April of last year, suggesting his best days over the distance were already behind him.

Bekele lost ground on compatriots Birhanu Legese and Sisay Lemma after the half, at one stage falling 13 seconds behind. But propelled by a long sustained surge, he began to work on the deficit by the 35th kilometre. He passed Legese in the 38th kilometre as he fought his way back on world record pace, reaching kilometre 40 in 1:55:30, two seconds better than Kipchoge last year. Their furious sprints towards the German capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate proved to be the difference.

Coming so close, Bekele said, is more encouraging that frustrating. “I know I can still run a very good marathon and I won’t give up.” That was amply illustrated by a 1:00:36 second half.

Legesse was second in 2:02:48 to become the third fastest of all-time. Lemma finished third in 2:03:36 to end the day at No. 10 on the all-time list.

The women’s contest was much closer, which came down to a sprint over the final few hundred metres. That was when Ashete Bekere unleashed her sprint to pull away from fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba to win 2:20:14 to 2:20:21.

Kenya’s Sally Chepyego was third, clocking 2:21:06.

Further back, German fans were pleased with Melat Kejeta, who finished sixth in her debut over the distance in 2:23:57.

Three-time winner Gladys Cherono was never a factor, and dropped out at around the 30th kilometre.


Reuters: Bekele wins Berlin marathon, misses record by two seconds


Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele wins the men’s elite race REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) – Former Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele staged a thrilling comeback to win the Berlin marathon on Sunday, dramatically missing out on the world record by two seconds after recording the second fastest time ever.

Ethiopian Bekele, winner in Berlin in 2016 and world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 metres, finished in two hours, one minute and 41 seconds, agonisingly close to Eliud Kipchoge’s world record time despite a full sprint in the final 400 metres.

Kipchoge, who set the world’s best mark in Berlin last year, was absent to prepare for his renewed sub-two hour marathon attempt in Vienna on Oct. 12.

“I felt a little pain in the beginning so I dropped behind,” Bekele told reporters. “After a few kilometres I started relaxing so I tied to push a little bit.

“I am very sorry. I am not lucky. I am very happy running my personal best. But I still can do this (world record). I don’t give up. It is encouraging for the future.”

Bekele was part of a group, including fellow countrymen Birhanu Legese and Sisay Lemma, that quickly broke from the pack with a quick pace.

Read more »


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Ethiopian Day Picnic in NYC This Weekend

Photo courtesy of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) .

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

September 28th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend the annual Ethiopian Day picnic is set to take place at Sakura Park in New York City.

Organized by the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) the family friendly event includes fun outdoor activities and entrainment both for children and adults.

“Bring your favorite games, picnic tables, chairs, mat and music,” the announcement notes. “Refreshments will be served.”

ECMAA was founded in 1981 to serve the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Ethiopian Diaspora community. In addition to regularly hosting social, educational and networking events they also help “individuals to find ways to give back to their community by sharing their skills and experiences or by assisting financially.” Recently launched ECMAA programs also include weekend Amharic classes for children.


You can learn more and contact the organizers at http://www.ecmaany.org.

Related:
In Pictures: Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC
In NYC ECMAA Expands Program to Include Community Soccer Games

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Spotlight: Three Great Reviews of Maaza Mengiste’s New Book by NYT, WSJ & NPR

Maaza Mengiste's latest novel, 'The Shadow King,' has been released. Below is a highlight of three recent reviews of the book by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR. (Photo by Nina Subin)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 26th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Maaza Mengiste’s new book the The Shadow King was released this month to well-deserved praises in national U.S. media. In The New York Times Book Review published today, Namwali Serpell recalls the broader absence of the stories of women warriors and asks “Is that a profound truth or a blind spot?” To her and many of us in the industry Maaza Mengiste’s latest novel breaks the loud silence. “She doesn’t seek a narrow path between the straits of these artistic and ethical questions,” adds Serpell. “Instead, she encompasses them in all their contradiction, laying them out in breathtakingly skillful juxtaposition.”

NPR calls Maaza’s new novel “a gorgeous meditation on memory, war and violence” emphasizing that “the star of the novel, however, is Maaza’s writing, “which makes The Shadow King nearly impossible to put down.”

The idea for the story morphed out of Maaza’s trip to Italy as a Fulbright Fellow where she was able to research documents focusing on the Fascist invasion of Ethiopia during World War II.

Maaza’s book is a “work of reclamation in a number of ways,” notes the Wall Street Journal in their review published last week. “For one thing, the story, which dramatizes the invasion and the tenacious Ethiopian resistance, shines a light on a conflict that has often been forgotten behind the battles of the world war that followed it.” WSJ adds: “Ms. Mengiste furthermore centers on the Ethiopian women who played a vital but almost completely unrecognized role in the insurgency. But most important, “The Shadow King” is not a story about helpless victims of colonial conquest. Against the odds, it is written in a key of pride and exaltation, and its characters have the outsize form of national heroes.”

Maaza’s first novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze was chosen as one of 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian, and her writing has been featured in several publications including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The New Times, Granta and Guernica. In 2018 Maaza won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was a former Fulbright Fellow. She received the Puterbaugh Fellowship in 2013 and was also nominated as a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2011. As a writer Maaza worked on the documentary features Girl Rising and The Invisible City: Kakuma. Maaza currently serves as a Board member for the non-profit organizations Words Without Borders and Warscapes.

The Shadow King starts and ends with Hirut, the book’s main character, at a train station in Addis Ababa carrying a metal box. The year was 1974, four decades after the end of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. “She’s traveled here, the reader is told, ‘to rid herself of the horror that staggers back unbidden,” NPR points out. “She has come to give up the ghosts and drive them away.” She’s awaiting the box’s owner, an Italian photographer she hasn’t seen in decades. “It has taken so long to get here,” Mengiste writes. “It has taken almost forty years of another life to begin to remember who she had once been.”

“Mengiste has a real gift for language; her writing is powerful but never florid, gripping the reader and refusing to let go,” NPR enthused. “And this, combined with her excellent sense of pacing, makes the book one of the most beautiful novels of the year.”

Below are links to the reviews:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/books/review/maaza-mengiste-the-shadow-king.html

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/25/763907282/the-shadow-king-is-a-gorgeous-meditation-on-memory-war-and-violence

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fiction-review-theforgottenwomenwarriors-of-abyssinia-11568990238


IF YOU GO:

Book Talk with Maaza Mengiste and Uzodinma Iweala: The Shadow King
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 at 7:30pm
The Africa Center (1280 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10029)
https://www.theafricacenter.org/event-shadow-king

Maaza Mengiste: The Shadow King (w/ Kate Tuttle)
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 at 7:30pm
Strand Bookstore
828 Broadway at 12th Street, New York, NY 10003
https://www.strandbooks.com/event/the-shadow-king

You can learn more about ‘The Shadow King’ and order your copy at amazon.com.

Related:
Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees
Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste


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Awol Erizku: Ethiopian American Among New Generation of Fashion Photographers

​Awol Erizku. (photo by Jeff Vespa via moca.org)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 25th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Photographer Awol Erizku is one of 15 international artists featured in the upcoming U.S. exhibition titled The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion.

The show, which is set to open at Aperture Foundation Gallery in New York City next month, is based on a new book of the same name highlighting a new generation of artists who are redefining the way the African Diaspora is portrayed through photography. It “presents fifteen artists, whose vibrant portraits and conceptual images fuse the genres of art and fashion photography in ways that break down long-established boundaries,” the Aperture Foundation announced. “Their work has been widely consumed in traditional lifestyle magazines, ad campaigns, and museums, as well as on their individual social-media channels, reinfusing the contemporary visual vocabulary around beauty and the body with new vitality and substance.”

Awol who was born in Ethiopia and grew up in New York City, is a graduate of The Cooper Union and Yale University. Last year Forbes Magazine featured Erizku on their list of up-and-coming young artists noting that “he produced one of his best-known pieces while he was an undergrad at Cooper-Union: “Girl With a Bamboo Earring,” a photo of his sister that recalls the classic portrait by Vermeer. Based in Los Angeles, he’s had solo shows in New York, London, Brussels, L.A. and Miami and his films and photos have screened at MoMA in New York.”

An article published in The Guardian this week previewing the upcoming show, recalls that “when Ethiopian-American photographer Awol Erizku shot Beyoncé displaying her pregnant belly in front of a wall of flowers in 2017, the set of Botticelli-like images were released solely on her Instagram account, circumventing traditional media altogether. The maternity announcement became the most liked image on the site that year.” In The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion Erizku describes his work as “trying to create a new vernacular, black art as universal.”

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/sep/21/beyonce-vogue-indie-magazines-new-generation-black-fashion-photographers


If you Go:

The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, Curated by Antwaun Sargent
October 24, 2019 – January 18, 2020. More info at aperture.org.

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In Oklahoma, Ethiopian Woman Receives OU’s International Water Prize

OU Interim Vice President Jane Irungu, left, presents the hand-blown glass trophy in the shape of a water droplet with a world map overlaid to Martha Gebeyehu, the 2019 International Water Prize winner. The World Health Organization estimates 800 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. (The Transcript)

The Transcript

An Ethiopian woman who helps coordinate government workers and private, self-help groups to promote clean water and sanitation formally received the 2019 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize at a banquet Tuesday evening.

Martha Gebeyehu received the $25,000 cash prize and hand-blown glass trophy shaped like a water droplet at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the end of the OU WaTER Center’s two-day conference.

Gebeyehu, who was chosen the winner by five jurors in 2018, said much of her country does not have access to adequate drinking water. Ninety four percent of the population drinks untreated water and nearly that many do not have access to basic sanitation.

Read more »


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Spotlight: New American Festival in NYC

Marcus Samuelsson is one of the featured speakers at the New American Festival in New York City this weekend highlighting "immigrant contributions to American comedy, art, food, film, fashion and music." (Photo: Marcus Samuelsson)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 14th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Among the headliners at this weekend’s inaugural New American Festival in New York City includes the award winning chef, author and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson. Organized by the bipartisan research and advocacy organization New American Economy ((NAE), the Festival celebrates “immigrant contributions to American comedy, art, food, film, fashion and music.”

NAE’s press release notes that a “recent analysis of the 2017 American Community Survey” shows that “more than 400,000 immigrants are working in creative or artistic occupations, helping support the nearly $1 trillion creative industry sector in the United States.”

As Time Out New York points out: “New York City is the most culturally diverse city in the world, when people say that America is a melting pot they are talking about our fair city. The New American Festival was put together to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy that immigrants bring to our culture. Over the span of two days an extensive lineup of panels, performances and art exhibitions will showcase the importance of immigrants to our society.”

In addition to Marcus the program includes author Min Jin Lee (Pachinko, Free Food for Millionaires); Author, Broadcaster and Chef Yasmin Khan; Big Friendship Co-Author and Call Your Girlfriend Podcaster Aminatou Sow. The announcement notes that Comedy Central is the official partner for the festival’s comedy programming. NAE added: “This festival highlights how so much of American culture is shaped by immigrants, and how diversity has electrified creativity in America — giving the country its cultural breadth, dynamism, and vitality.

The festival is taking place at NeueHouse (Madison Square – 110 East 25th Street) in NYC on September 14th and 15th. NAE plans to take the New American Festival to other U.S. cities in the future including to “Anchorage, Boston, Kansas City, Nashville, Houston, and Oakland, among others.”


If You Go:
Learn more and buy tickets at www.newamericanfestival.com.

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Ethiopia at 2019 World Championships

A team of 37 athletes will represent Ethiopia at this year's IAAF World Athletics Championships, which will be held in Doha, Qatar from September 27th – October 6th, 2019. (Photo: Yomif Kejelcha in action at the IAAF World Championships/Getty Images)

IAAF

Two defending champions and a newly crowned Diamond League champion feature on Ethiopia’s team for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, which will be held from 27 September until 6 October.

Muktar Edris will defend his 5000m title while Almaz Ayana will aim to retain her 10,000m title. Getnet Wale, winner of the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels, also features on the team.

World leaders Samuel Tefera, Selemon Barega, Telahun Haile, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Letesenbet Gidey have also been selected, so too have world record-holders Yomif Kejelcha and Genzebe Dibaba.

ETHIOPIAN TEAM FOR DOHA (INCLUDING RESERVES)

MEN
1500m: Teddese Lemi, Samuel Tefera
5000m: Selemon Barega, Muktar Edris, Hagos Gebrhiwet, Abadi Hadis, Telahun Haile
10,000m: Selemon Barega, Andamlak Belihu, Hagos Gebrhiwet, Yomif Kejelcha
3000m steeplechase: Chala Beyo, Lemecha Girma, Takele Nigate, Getnet Wale
Marathon: Lelisa Desisa, Mosinet Geremew, Shura Kitata, Mule Wasihun

WOMEN
800m: Gudaf Tsegay, Diribe Welteji
1500m: Genzebe Dibaba, Axumawit Embaye, Lemlem Hailu, Gudaf Tsegay
5000m: Hawi Feysa, Tsehay Gemechu, Letesenbet Gidey, Fantu Worku
10,000m: Almaz Ayana, Tsehay Gemechu, Letesenbet Gidey, Netsanet Gudeta, Senbere Teferi
3000m steeplechase: Mekides Abebe, Agrie Belachew, Lomi Tefera, Zerfe Wondemagegn
Marathon: Ruti Aga, Shure Demise, Roza Dereje
20km race walk: Yehualye Beletew


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Spotlight: Meskel Festival in New Jersey

Ethiopia's Meskel Festival is listed by UNESCO as one the world's "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity." (Photo: Flickr)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 10th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Members of the Ethiopian community in New York and New Jersey are preparing this month for what is expected to be the largest ever Meskel (Demera) festival in the area.

According to the announcement, the event that is set to take place on Saturday, September 28th at Bisrate Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Newark will mark the first time that all the Ethiopian churches in and around the two states are gathering to celebrate the holiday together.

The day-long colorful festival, which culminates with the lighting of a bonfire (Demera) before sunset commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by Empress Helena (Eleni) in the fourth century. As the BBC noted in its coverage of Meskel celebrations in Ethiopia last year, “It was in Jerusalem, the story goes, that St Helena was advised to light a fire that would show her where to look. The smoke from that fire pointed to the place where the cross was buried. St Helena is then said to have given pieces of the cross to all the churches, and the Ethiopian Church still claims to have its own piece.”

“This historical event is of great interest, not only for the Ethiopian church, but also for all Christians throughout the world,” said Melakegenet Gezahegn Kristos, General Manager of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Archdiocese of New York in a letter announcing the upcoming festival in New Jersey. “Meskel is one of the holiday festivals recorded in UNESCO and has been declared as one of the intangible heritages of humanity.”

The church program begins in the morning at 8am and will continue with Demera (procession of bonfire) in the afternoon at 3pm.


If You Go:
Meskel celebration
Saturday September 28th, 2019
From 8AM to 6PM
Bisrate Gebrieal E.O.T.C
1046 S. Orange Ave
Newark, NJ 07106
For info: 571-310-7645

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Behailu Wase: Ethiopia’s Cafe Society

Exploring the making of a political satire show offers insight into the growing pains of Ethiopia's new democracy. (Aljazeera)

Aljazeera

Filmmaker: Brian Tilley

In a compound on the edge of Addis Ababa – next to a cluster of houses and a busy primary school – is a large corrugated iron shack.

Inside is a cafe. Not an ordinary cafe, but the set of Ethiopia’s first political satire show to be broadcast on state television – Min Litazez, which translates to “How may I serve you?”.

“This is our mini Ethiopia,” says creator and director Behailu Wase, who grew up in the same compound from where he now airs his popular show. “A lot of ideas are discussed here.”

In the three seasons it has been on air, Min Litazez has built an enthusiastic and loyal audience among a population starved for political commentary and a new kind of comedy after almost 27 years of dictatorship during which such things would have been unthinkable.

We’re not just trying to make people laugh, but raise awareness because we want to create a better country.

But after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, he instituted a number of political and economic reforms, including loosening restrictions on the media and freedom of speech.

The sitcom-satire is set in a cafe, meant to be a metaphor of the country as a whole. In each episode, the cafe owner’s life tries to mirror and reflect the challenges faced by the country’s new leadership.

Past episodes have dealt with issues like government inefficiency, ethnic nationalism and authoritarianism – despite attempts to censor some of the content and, at times, even temporary suspension of the show itself.

“We’re not just trying to make people laugh, but raise awareness because we want to create a better country,” Behailu says.

Read more »


Related:

Watch: Meaza Ashenafi on Restoring Public Trust in Ethiopia’s Justice System

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At Settepani in Harlem, A New Year Celebration with a Purpose

The Medhen Social Center in Ethiopia. Photo courtesy of the Medhen Orphan Relief Effort (M.O.R.E.)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian New Year is fast approaching next week and among the various celebrations taking place here in New York and in the larger Diaspora community across the U.S. includes a timely fundraiser at Settepani in Harlem on September 11th to support the Medhen Orphan Relief Effort. The organization, which is known by its acronym M.O.R.E., is a U.S.-based non-profit at the forefront of battling the orphan crisis in Ethiopia.

According to UNICEF there are over 4 million children in Ethiopia under the age of 18 that are growing into adulthood without a parent, making the country home to one of the largest orphan populations in the world. As the International Journal of Management and Social Sciences Research pointed out in a 2014 study “reliable statistics are difficult to find” and “even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included.”

On its website M.O.R.E. states that the organization is “the primary sponsor of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and Orphans and Vulnerable Youth (OVY) Programs administered by the Medhen Social Center, just outside the Addis Ababa city center. Under the vision and stewardship of Sister Senkenesh, and with M.O.R.E. underwriting the costs, these programs deliver a vast array of essential health, nutritional, and educational related services to those most in need.”

The New Year fundraiser on Wednesday, September 11th is hosted by the owner of Settepani, Leah Abraham, who is an Executive Board member of M.O.R.E. along with Board members Yodit Amaha and Jennifer Baxter.

Organizers share that the event includes live Ethiopian music, an art show and Ethiopia-inspired hors d’oeuvres.


If You Go:
Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
6:00 to 9:00 PM
Settepani
196 LENOX AVENUE,NY, 10026,
$50 per person, $25 for students
www.morechildren.org

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Preview: Ethiopia Day Festival in Texas

Thousands are expected to attend the annual Ethiopian Cultural Festival, also called Ethiopia Day. It’s organized by the Mutual Assistance Association for Ethiopian Community (MAAEC). The North Texas Ethiopian community has grown to around 40,000 people. - KERA News. (Photo: MAAEC)

KERA News

Ethiopian New Year is next week, and the Ethiopian community in North Texas will start celebrating this weekend at a festival in Garland.

Thousands are expected to attend the annual Ethiopian Cultural Festival, also called Ethiopia Day. It’s organized by the Mutual Assistance Association for Ethiopian Community (MAAEC).

The events feature singers from Ethiopia, traditional food and a coffee ceremony — Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of the coffee plant.

The North Texas Ethiopian community has grown to around 40,000 people. And with that, Ethiopians have created spaces for themselves, like restaurants, grocery stores and churches, and this weekend’s festival.

The festival is happening from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday, and from 2 p.m. Sunday to 12 a.m. Monday at the Genesis Event Center in Garland.

Read more and listen to the story at keranews.org »


Related:

At Settepani in Harlem, A New Year Celebration with a Purpose

For Ethiopian New Year, World Music Institute Features Legendary Artist Girma Bèyènè

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For Ethiopian New Year, World Music Institute Features Girma Bèyènè

World Music Institute (WMI) celebrates Ethiopian New Year with a documentary screening of Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul on September 11th at the National Jazz Museum, and an NYC debut show by legendary artist Girma Bèyènè and Akalé Wubé on September 12, 2019 at (Le) Poisson Rouge. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: September 5th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — In celebration of Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) this month the World Music Institute (WMI) in New York City is hosting a special concert on September 12th featuring the NYC debut of legendary artist Girma Bèyènè and French band Akalé Wubé at (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan). Girma is also featured in the documentary film Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul, which will be screened at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on September 11th.

“Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul is a film about the rise, fall and redemption of a group of spectacular Ethiopian jazz musicians who in the swinging 60’s ignited an explosive cultural revolution in Addis Ababa (“Swinging Addis”),” the announcement notes. “Their music was sublime but this golden era was brought to an end by the military regime that took over the country and forced the musicians into exile and jail. Now, after many years, they are back on a world stage, making up for lost time and still swinging.”

Girma Bèyènè’s show on September 12th accompanied by the french band Akalé Wubé, is a segment of WMI’s Masters of African Music series.

“Born in Addis Ababa, Girma Bèyènè is a composer, arranger, performer, bandleader, and a true legend of Ethiopian music,” WMI shared in the press release. “A contemporary of fellow musicians Mulatu Astatke, Mahmoud Ahmed, and Hailu Mergia, Girma is credited for arranging over 60 tracks in the 1960s and 70s in “Swinging Addis” during the Golden Era of Ethiopian music.”

WMI noted that Girma Bèyènè’s collaboration with Akalé Wubé also resulted in “the critically-acclaimed album Ethiopiques 30: Mistakes on Purpose,” which was Girma’s “first recording in 25 years.” This album was produced by Francis Falceto, who is known for creating the timeless Ethiopique album series.


If You Go
World Music Institute Presents:
Girma Bèyènè and Akalé Wubé – Celebrating Ethiopian New Year’s Day
Thursday September 12th, 2019
7:30PM
Doors Open: 6:30PM
Show Time: 7:30PM
Event Ticket: $40 / $30 / $25
Day of Show: $35
Click here to buy tickets

Screening of Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
National Jazz Museum in Harlem
58 W 129th St, Manhattan
(212) 348-8300
Click here to buy tickets

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Watch: Meaza Ashenafi on Restoring Public Trust in Ethiopia’s Justice System

In the following video Aljazeera follows Ethiopia's chief justice Meaza Ashenafi "as she meets judges and government officials to discuss current cases and reform efforts, visits some of Ethiopia's infamous prisons, and shares her dreams and aspirations for the future of her homeland." (Aljazeera)

Aljazeera

Meaza Ashenafi: Judging Ethiopia’s Future

Meaza Ashenafi, Ethiopia’s first female president of the Federal Supreme Court, is determined to restore public trust in her country’s justice system.

Appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in November 2018, the chief justice is tasked to reform her country’s entire judicial system.

“I always believed that promoting justice is my duty … I decided to take up this position to restore public trust in the judiciary,” Meaza says. “I knew it’s going to be a difficult assignment. There is a lot of expectation from the judiciary. The history of the judiciary [in Ethiopia] … has not been beautiful and people expect this to be corrected and they want that change not tomorrow, they want it today.”

Read more »


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Dashen, Only Ethiopian Restaurant in Central NJ, Holds Grand Reopening

Dashen Ethiopian restaurant in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The family owned restaurant is operated by husband and wife team Tsigereda Lemlemayehu and Alemayehu Hailu. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 22nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Dashen Ethiopian Cuisine, which is located in New Brunswick, has been highlighted as one of the “10 hotest restaurants” in New Jersey by NJ.com. It is also the only Ethiopian restaurant in Central New Jersey since the closing of Makeda (the state’s first Ethiopian restaurant) a few years back.

“The void of Ethiopian cuisine in New Brunswick was deliciously filled by Dashen,” NJ.com had noted in a feature published soon after the eatery opened four years ago. Located on Albany Street the restaurant had originally opened under the name Desta. Now re-named as Dashen it is set to hold a grand re-opening this weekend (Saturday, August 24th) to inaugurate its newly expanded space.

The family owned restaurant is operated by husband and wife team Tsigereda Lemlemayehu and Alemayehu Hailu who are long-time residents of Central Jersey and are best known for their homemade injera favored by local Ethiopians.

Below are a few photos of the restaurant:


If You Go:
Dashen’s Grand re-opening in New Brunswick, New Jersey
Saturday, August 24th, 2019
88 Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Phone number (732) 249-0494
www.dashenethiopiannj.com

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Spotlight: Dinaw Mengestu’s Novel on Obama’s 2019 Summer Reading List

President Barack Obama's 2019 summer reading list includes the novel "How to Read the Air” by Ethiopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu. (Photo: President Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop for books at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C./by Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: August 21st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This year President Barack Obama is spending part of his summer holiday reading Dinaw Mengestu’s novel How to Read the Air.

In a recent instagram post the former U.S. President shared his current reading list.

“It’s August, so I wanted to let you know about a few books I’ve been reading this summer,” wrote Obama recommending the collected works of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison along with 10 other selections, one of which was the book entitled “How to Read the Air” by Ethiopian-American author and 2012 MacArthur Fellowship recipient Dinaw Mengestu.

“How to Read the Air” is Dinaw’s second novel published in 2010 featuring an Ethiopian American narrator, Jonas Woldemariam, as he reflects on both his own marriage as well as his parents’ immigration journey from Ethiopia to the U.S. and how they subsequently built to their lives in a new land.

Dinaw’s first novel entitled “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears” was selected earlier this year by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs as part of their 2019 NEA Big Reads Program, which was likewise focused on an Ethiopian immigrant struggling to find his place in Washington D.C. while experiencing the gentrification of a neighborhood he called home.

Read more about Obama’s summer reading list and Dinaw Mengestu’s novels below:

https://time.com/5652277/barack-obama-2019-summer-reading-list/


Related:

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2010/10/28/dinaw-mengestu/

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Helen Show Hosts 3rd Annual Empower the Community Event at DC Convention Center

Empower the Community is hosted by the Helen Show and will take place this weekend on Saturday, August 10th in DC

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 8th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Now in its third year, the annual Empower the Community event hosted by the Helen Show will take place this weekend on Saturday, August 10th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. and includes civic leader speakers Rep. Ilan Omar from the U.S. House of Representatives; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of AFL/CIO; and Tebabu Assefa, Co-Founder of the Annual Ethiopian Festivals.

Bringing together leaders from various sectors including business & finace, health & wellness, and education the annual Empower the Community was launched in 2017 by the producers of the Helen Show as a day-long program that includes panel discussions, entertainment, information on community resources as well as family-friendly events.

As a lifestyle show in its 16th seaon, Helen Show is a top-rated program on ebs tv reaching over 30 million viewers weekly in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian diaspora around the world. The show addresses a wide range of topics from business and health to family and self-help issues.

Below is a summary of the program for August 10th at the DC Convention Center.

POWER PANEL DISCUSSIONS
 
The Power of Civic Engagement:
Representative Ilhan Omar
Tefere Gebere, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO
Tebabu Assefa, Community Leader, Social Entrepreneur

Business Leaders Panel:
Josh Ghaim, Ph.D. is the Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies.
Liben Hailu is the Chief Innovation Officer and Head of New Business Development and Brand Licensing for The Duracell Company
Ambaw Bellet, President, Photocure Inc
Lydia Gobena, Partner Fross Zelnick
 
Creative Panel:
Gelila Bekele, Model, Social Activist and Documentary Film Maker
Kelela Mizanekristos, Singer, Song Writer

Young Trailblazers:
Melat Bekele, Founder Habesha Networks
Dan Gebremedhin, Partner at Flare Capital Partners
Matheos Mesfin, Executive Director IEA Councils
Bofta Yimam , Emmy Award Winning Journalist & Motivational Speaker
 
 
PAVILION INFORMATION
 
Health & Fitness Pavilion:
Free Health Screenings provided by Kaiser Permanente,  Med Star Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles Dental – BMI, Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, Dental Screening, Fitness Consultants, Marshal Arts, Yoga, Resources for Families with Special Needs, Giveaways and much more. Our partner organizations and sponsors are Kaiser Permanente, Ethiopian American Nurses Association, Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles as well as Ethiopian American doctors.

Career Pavilion:
Job Fair
Career Resources in the Community
Hear high energy career motivational speakers
Learn Career Advancement tips
Participate in Informational Interviews
Receive mini career coaching
Assess your career aptitudes
Partner Organizations: 21st Century Community, Five Guys, Alexandria Workforce Development and American Job Center
 
Finance Pavilion:
Workshop for Small Businesses and Personal Finance

Kids’ Corner:
Reading Time/Games/Fun Exercises/ Art

ADDITIONAL SESSIONS

* Immigration and Legal Issues with Attorneys
* Warrior Moms- Special Needs Parenting
* Minding Your Relationships
* Beauty – Trends in Hair & Make Up 

Vendors will also be selling various artisan merchandise

EBS TV is the premiere media sponsor of the event

event-image


If You Go:
Saturday August 10th, 2018
11am – 8pm
Walter E Washington Convention Center
801 Mt. Vernon Place, NW
Washington DC 20001
www.empowercw.com

Tickets can be purchased here

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Ethiopian Taye Gonfa Becomes Doctor in Greensboro After Decade as Refugee

With a stipend of $50 a month as a volunteer at an infirmary in a refugee camp Taye Gonfa spent a decade chasing his dream to become a doctor. (Photo credit: Khadejeh Nikouyeh -AP)

The Herald

By Nancy McLaughlin (Greensboro News & Record)

As a young boy, Taye Gonfa wanted to fly the planes that he often spotted above the family’s hut in Ethiopia.His aspirations were only as far as he could see, which was a world otherwise steeped in poverty. But there was his mom — unschooled and very pregnant with him when her husband drowned in a flooded river trying to get home from work — wanting so much more for him. She would be the first of many whose guidance would eventually lead him down the sterile hallways of Moses Cone Hospital — with “Dr. Taye Gonfa” on his badge.


He’s been very fortunate to have some doors open up for him,” said Dr. Bill Hensel, who was on the selection committee that offered Gonfa a residency at the hospital. “But don’t underestimate the fact that he has made his own luck and run through those doors.”

Gonfa, who arrived in the United States a decade ago and turns 38 this year, hopes he is leaving footprints for his two children and other refugees, especially, to follow. “I got to this point,” he said, “because I did not stop chasing my dream.”

The first time Gonfa would be on one of those planes he had seen as a boy was the flight to New York and then Greensboro as part of the United Nations refugee resettlement program.

The journey getting there began in high school, when he saw classmates signing up for one of the 60 competitive spots for medical school. As in some other foreign countries, medical school is a seven-year track starting in high school.

“I figured, ‘Why not?’” said the quick-witted and affable Gonfa, who speaks English with African and British influences. In 2000, during his second year in the program, he joined hundreds of other students in a massive protest against the government that erupted in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and spread throughout the country.

“The next day,” he said, “I went to my college library and tore the Ethiopian and Kenyan maps out of the world atlas.”Gonfa and some of the other students used them to flee to nearby Kenya where the rebels had settled.

Soon after crossing the border, he was arrested, turned over to a United Nations official and taken to a refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. In the camp, where Gonfa would be confined for the next eight years, he had shelter — and a ration of grain. “There was never enough food,” he said.

One day while taking a friend to the camp’s infirmary, he mentioned to the physician on duty from Doctors Without Borders about having started his second year in medical school before joining the rebellion. As the two continued to talk, the doctor suggested he apply as a volunteer in the infirmary, which came with a stipend of $50 a month.

“That was huge,” Gonfa recalled.

Gonfa was a marvel in the infirmary where most of the medical support staff had elementary or middle school education at best. Soon, he was delivering babies.

“You watch what the doctors do and then you do it,” Gonfa explained. He was just 19.

You can read more about Taye Gonfa’s journey in The Herald article here.


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Spotlight: Maaza Mengiste’s New Novel

Maaza Mengiste at BookExpo in New York City, May 2019. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 23rd, 2019

Spotlight: Maaza Mengiste’s New Novel ‘The Shadow King’

New York (TADIAS) — One of our favorite Ethiopian American writers, Maaza Mengiste, is set to release her latest novel, The Shadow King, in September 2019.

Maaza, who is also the author of the award-winning book Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, “again brings heart and authenticity to a slice of Ethiopian history, this time focusing on the Italian invasion of her birth country in 1935,” notes Publishers Weekly in a recent great review of The Shadow King.

“While Hirut, a servant girl, and her trajectory to becoming a fierce soldier defending her country are the nexus of the story, the author elucidates the landscape of war by focusing on individuals — offering the viewpoints (among others) of Carlo Fucelli, a sadistic colonel in Mussolini’s army; Ettore Navarra, a Jewish Venetian photographer/soldier tasked with documenting war atrocities; and Haile Selassie, the emperor bearing the weight of his country’s devastation at the hand of the Italians.”

The review adds: “In Hirut, Mengiste depicts both a servant girl’s low status and the ferocity of her spirit — inspired by the author’s great-grandmother who sued her father for his gun so she could enlist in the Ethiopian army — which allows her to survive betrayal by the married couple she serves and her eventual imprisonment by Fucelli, captured with horrifying detail by Navarra’s camera. Mengiste breaks new ground in this evocative, mesmerizing account of the role of women during wartime—not just as caregivers, but as bold warriors defending their country.”

Maaza, who is currently a lecturer in Creative Writing at Princeton University, will hold a book talk and signing event here in her hometown of New York City at Strand bookstore on October 3rd.

“In this extraordinary, beautifully told epic, Hirut overcomes rape, violence, and imprisonment, finding the strength to fight for her country’s freedom and her own,” the Strand announcement states. “Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a searing story of ordinary women and the advanced army they courageously opposed. Set against the first real conflict of World War II, The Shadow King is a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.”

The idea for Maaza’s new novel morphed out of her trip to Italy as a Fulbright Fellow where she was able to research documents focusing on the Fascist invasion of Ethiopia during World War II.

“Working with these documents that had been kept through Mussolini’s era, I quickly realized I was reading a history that had been approved by censors,” Maaza recalls. “And all of these things—the newspaper accounts, the photographs that were taken—were part of a propaganda machine.”

As Publishers Weekly noted in a previous highlight:

“Mengiste started combing through journals, letters, and photo albums at flea markets to find personal photographs taken by soldiers and other records of the past not approved by officials. She found a photograph of an Ethiopian woman with a rifle. “I’d heard of these women,” Mengiste says, “but it wasn’t part of my consciousness. I started looking through old newspapers, and I suddenly found a line in an article about an Ethiopian woman who picked up her husband’s gun during battle and led his army. That inspired Mengiste to write about women’s role during wartime against the backdrop of the hardships faced in Ethiopia during WWII. “I want to reshift the masculine perspective on war,” she says, “so that we can begin to reframe women at the center of world history. After Mengiste started writing the novel, she mentioned her discoveries to her mother. “My mother said, ‘Don’t you know about your great-grandmother?’ It turns out that as a young girl, my great-grandmother, who was wed to a man much older than her — she was much too young to be married — sued her father for his rifle so she could go off to war, as opposed to her husband whom she didn’t know very well and didn’t like.” So coincidentally, the very sort of woman who inspired her novel was actually part of her own heritage.

Maaza’s first novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze was chosen as one of 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian, and her writing has been featured in several publications including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The New Times, Granta and Guernica. In 2018 Maaza won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was a former Fulbright Fellow. She received the Puterbaugh Fellowship in 2013 and was also nominated as a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2011. As a writer Maaza worked on the documentary features Girl Rising and The Invisible City: Kakuma. Maaza currently serves as a Board member for the non-profit organizations Words Without Borders and Warscapes.


‘The Shadow King’ will be released on September 24th, 2019. You can learn more and order your copy at amazon.com.

Related:
Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees
Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste

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Olympian Derartu Tulu Joins the Bikila Barefoot Challenge in Toronto

The annual Bikila Barefoot Challenge hosted by the Bikila Award organization in Toronto, Canada is held in support of the establishment of an Ethiopian Studies Program at the University of Toronto.

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 25th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The annual Bikila Barefoot Challenge is set to take place at the University of Toronto in Canada this coming weekend.

Organizers share that the honorary guest is no other than the celebrated long-distance athlete Derartu Tulu, whom like her male counterpart the legendary marathoner Abebe Bikila, is the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Derartu Tulu who is currently visiting the U.S. also took part in the 1st Annual Grand African Run in DC on Sunday.

The annual Bikila Barefoot Challenge hosted by the Bikila Award organization in Toronto, Canada is held in support of the establishment of an Ethiopian Studies Program at the University of Toronto.


If You Go:
Bikila Barefoot Challenge and Family Fun Event at Varsity Stadium (U of T), 299 Bloor Street West (Bloor and St. George) (Map), Saturday, July 27, 2019, starts at 3:00pm.

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UPDATE: Dozens killed in Sidama Clashes

Reports from activists and opposition groups cite a higher death toll with fatalities as high as 60, but the local acting security head, Andinet Ashenafi, warns against what he called exaggerated numbers, reports the BBC's Kalkidan Yibeltal from Addis Ababa. (BBC)

BBC

Updated: July 22nd, 2019

At least 25 people have died in clashes between Ethiopian security forces and activists in southern Ethiopia, hospital officials have told the BBC.

The officials said security forces fired bullets during the protests across the Sidama region.

Activists from the Sidama ethnic group were set to declare their own federal state on Thursday.

They accused the government of failing to hold a promised referendum on the issue.

The Sidama are Ethiopia’s fifth biggest ethnic group, making up 4% of the population and are mainly based in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state.

The four bigger communities all have their own regions within Ethiopia’s ethnically based federal system.

Reports from activists and opposition groups cite a higher death toll with fatalities as high as 60, but the local acting security head, Andinet Ashenafi, warns against what he called exaggerated numbers, reports the BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal from Addis Ababa.

Mr Andinet confirmed to the BBC that four people had been killed in the city of Awassa and 26 others sustained wounds.

Members of other ethnic groups were also killed after being attacked by angry mobs.

Local media reported that protesters had attacked a tourist lodge, leading to 12 tourists being escorted out by troops.

The internet has been blocked in parts of the south of the country since Thursday, including the main city of Awassa.

Read more »


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FAA Has No Timeline for 737 Max Return

The attempt to adapt the software on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been identified as a factor in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has been slower than was initially predicted. (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

FAA Has No Timeline for Lifting Grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max

U.S. aviation regulators have no timeline for returning Boeing Co.’s grounded 737 Max to service and won’t act until they are sure it is safe, the nation’s top transportation official said Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration has to be assured that a fix being developed by Boeing in the wake of two fatal crashes will prevent any future accidents, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a speech in Washington.

“The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so,” Chao said. “That is the bottom line: There is no timeline.”

Chao was speaking before the Air Line Pilots Association’s Air Safety Forum. ALPA is the largest pilot’s union in North America.

Boeing is altering software on the plane that had malfunctioned in both accidents, pushing each plane’s nose down without pilot input. The crews weren’t able to counter the plane and they lost control…

The attempt to adapt the software on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been identified as a factor in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has been slower than was initially predicted.

Read more »


Related:
737 MAX fallout continues as some Ethiopia crash victims refuse to settle
Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa
Boeing’s Mea Culpa Wins Over Ethiopian Airlines
Boeing CEO Calls Handling of 737 Max Crashes a ‘Mistake,’ Vows Improvements (USA Today)
In U.S. Fellowship Being Created in Name of Victim of Ethiopia Crash (AP)
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Hagos Gebrhiwet and Letesenbet Gidey Take 10000m Titles at Ethiopian Trials in Hengelo, Netherlands

Hagos Gebrhiwet celebrates his victory in Hengelo, Netherlands on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019 during the official Ethiopian trial races for the IAAF World Athletics Championships. (Photo: Jean-Pierre Durand)

IAAF

HENGELO, NETHERLANDS

Twelve days after his lap-counting error in the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, Hagos Gebrhiwet made no mistakes in Hengelo on Wednesday (17), winning the men’s 10,000m in a world-leading 26:48.95.

The races doubled as the official Ethiopian trial races for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. And, based on tonight’s results, Ethiopia will field two strong trios for the men’s and women’s 10,000m in Doha.

In a race of staggering quality – the best ever in terms of depth for one nation – the top six men finished inside 27 minutes with the first three finishing inside 26:50.

The women’s 10,000m, won by Letesenbet Gidey, was of a similarly high standard with the first 10 women – nine of whom are from Ethiopia – finishing inside 31:00.

On a still night with temperatures around 19C, the men’s race set off at a steady pace with the first 2000m covered in 5:25 and 3000m reached in 8:07. The large lead pack of about 14 men was strung out but all appeared to be running comfortably.

After passing through half way in 13:31 – just outside 27-minute pace for the full distance – Kenya’s Vincent Kiprotich Kibet moved into the lead, tracked by Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu, Guye Adola and Abadi Hadis.

Belihu and Kiprotich were still at the front through 6000m while Yomif Kejelcha was positioned near the back of the lead pack. Hadis then took a turn at the front and, followed by Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, pushed the pace.

Eight men remained in the leading pack with 2000m remaining as Hadis still led while Kejelcha was still ominously biding his time. Selemon Barega and Gebrhiwet moved closer to Hadis with three laps to go, then Belihu hit the front of the pack – now down to six men – with 800 metres remaining.

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Meet the ‘Squad’: The 4 Female U.S. Lawmakers Shaking Up Old Politics in DC

They were elected to Congress last November with a promise to shake up old politics in Washington, DC. This week they garnered international press attention for doing just that when they rattled the White House with their own unabashed social stand and world view. Below is a Boston Globe profile of the freshman American lawmakers who are pushing back against Trump's ethnocentric politics. (Photo Clockwise from top left: Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar. Photos from the Associated Press/Getty Images)

Boston Globe

Meet the ‘Squad’: Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib

So who exactly are the four trailblazers that comprise the “Squad”?

Pressley posted a photo in November, shortly after her election to the House, of herself, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar at the orientation for new members of Congress.

The four represent among the most progressive districts in the House, according to the Cook Political Report and that profile appeared to be part of the basis for Trump’s weekend attacks, where he referred to them as “ ‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen.”

Pressley replied Monday by saying “our squad is big.”

Here’s a brief refresher on the four Democratic woman challenging the president and facing his ire.

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Medical Education and the Ethiopian Exodus of Talent — Inside Higher Ed

This is the second essay on government policy in Ethiopia directed at developing and retaining talent. Last week's post addressed the challenge of improving research productivity. (Photo: St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa/Facebook)

Inside Higher Ed

By Wondwosen Tamrat

A 2012 study at Addis Ababa University showed that around 53 percent of medical students hoped to emigrate upon graduating, particularly to the United States and Europe.

This is the second essay on government policy in Ethiopia directed at developing and retaining talent. Last week’s post addressed the challenge of improving research productivity.

On May 3rd 2019, the Prime Minister (PM) of Ethiopia held a meeting with 3 thousand health professionals from all over the country to discuss the state of health services and the challenges health workers are facing. Although the Prime Minister declared that the meeting was “key for policymaking” the health professionals appeared to be unsatisfied with the way he addressed their predicament. In spite of the concessions and the many promises made, a wave of strikes continued across the whole country.

While the solution to this particular turmoil might be the immediate concern of the government, there is general recognition that the sector’s challenges extend far beyond the current standoff and need structural and systemic changes. The government vows to make additional efforts and changes with the involvement of relevant stakeholders at national and regional levels. One challenge that needs to be addressed is the migration of health professionals, especially physicians, a tendency that has seen little change over the years.

Healthcare and medical education in Ethiopia

At a global level Sub-Saharan Africa is known for the lowest density of healthcare workers. According to the World Health Organization, Ethiopia has a health workforce ratio of 0.7 against the recommended ratio of 2.3 per 1000 population that is considered to be imperative for health coverage and making meaningful health interventions. Ethiopia’s physician-to-population ratio of 1: 21,000 is also regarded as one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Since 1994 the government’s health development programs have had important impact on the sector’s growth. According to the Ministry of Health (2016) there has been a significant increase in health posts, health centers, hospitals and personnel including officers, nurses, midwives and health extension workers. The number of schools and colleges providing health education training has increased; the graduation output of public and private schools including higher education institutions has also grown more than 16-fold since 1999/2000. According to the Ministry of Education (2018) there are currently more than 80,000 undergraduate students who pursue studies in medicine and health sciences both in public and private higher education institutions.

Despite the efforts towards improving the healthcare system that have produced quantitative gains, many challenges remain. The system is still deficient in infrastructure and resources, quality of education, internal quality assurance systems, performance assessment and retention, skill distribution, regional disparities that result in poor motivation to work in rural areas, little inclination to specialize in disciplines where there are skill shortages and more.

In order to respond to these multi-faceted challenges, the Ministry of Health has devised several strategies including its popular “flood and retain initiative” designed to bring meaningful change to the number of available health workers at all levels. While some improvements have resulted through such interventions, it has not been possible to solve the various challenges of the sector in a fundamental way, including the migration of physicians who continue to leave the public sector and Ethiopia for greener pastures inside the country and elsewhere.

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Ethiopian Israeli Musicians Use Stage to Promote Struggles

Ethiopian Israeli musician Yael Mentesnot gives an interview to The Associated Press, in her house in Tel Aviv, Israel on Sunday, July 7, 2019. A wave of Ethiopian Israeli artists have burst onto Israel's vibrant hip-hop scene, using the stage to promote their community's struggle against discrimination and police violence. (AP)

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — In his song “Handcuffed,” rapper Teddy Neguse addresses police brutality against young Israeli men of Ethiopian descent.

Although the song came out in 2017, it has reached new heights in the wake of street protests across the country following the killing of an Ethiopian Israeli teen by an off-duty police officer last month. This week the 23-year-old artist was invited to perform his song live on the popular news website Ynet.

“They want me trapped with handcuffs on my hands/they watch me with ten thousand eyes/they only see my skin color so they push me to the fringe,” he rapped.

Neguse said the lyrics are relevant all the time, but they carry extra meaning for him in the current circumstances.

“I felt that at that moment in the TV studio, that this is exactly the place for this song, the time for this song.”

Neguse’s appearance on Ynet illustrates the growing Ethiopian Israeli presence in the local music scene. But its theme also reflects the ongoing struggles against alleged racism and discrimination, some three decades after Ethiopian Jews began arriving in Israel.

Neguse and other young Ethiopian artists are using the stage to tell the public about their community’s experiences — in particular what they say is unchecked and widespread police brutality.

Large numbers of Ethiopian Jews began arriving in Israel via secret airlifts in the 1980s. The new arrivals from a rural, developing African country struggled to find their footing in an increasingly high-tech Israel.

Throughout the decades, Ethiopians have suffered discrimination. In the late 1990s, it was discovered that Israel’s health services were throwing out Ethiopian blood donations over fears of diseases contracted in Africa. Accusations have also been raised that Israel has deliberately tried to curb Israeli Ethiopian birth rates.

Today, Israel’s Ethiopian community numbers about 150,000 people, some 2% of its 9 million citizens. While some Israelis of Ethiopian descent have made gains in areas like the military, the police force and politics, the community continues to struggle with a lack of opportunity and high poverty rate.

Against this backdrop, Israeli artists of Ethiopian heritage are breaking out in the entertainment world, especially in the growing hip hop and dancehall scenes.

Adam Rotbard, the owner of Kolot Me Africa, a group that promotes African music in Israel, said a “wave of young Ethiopian musicians” has burst onto the music scene in the last year.

“They are not really in the mainstream so to speak, but they are building substantial fan bases through social media and the internet,” he said. Rotbard said issues like racism and routine police mistreatment are addressed in their music.

In his music video for “Handcuffed,” Neguse is dressed up as a soldier, riding a bicycle, when he encounters two policemen. The officers then, seemingly unprovoked, beat him up. The music video depicts a 2015 incident in which two policemen were filmed beating a uniformed Ethiopian Israeli soldier, sparking mass protests.

The most recent demonstrations erupted after the unarmed Solomon Teka, 18, was fatally shot by a police officer in a Haifa suburb on June 30.

At the height of the unrest, protesters angrily swore at police officers, hurled firebombs, vandalized vehicles and set a car ablaze in the heart of Tel Aviv. Police say over 110 officers were wounded in the protests, and at least 150 protesters were arrested.

The officer in question, who has claimed the youth was accidentally hit by a warning shot he had fired at the ground, is being investigated by internal affairs and remains under protective custody.

“This time the protests feel more spontaneous,” said Efrat Yerday, chairwoman of the Association of Ethiopian Jews.

Yerday said the demonstrators’ anger and despair is long in the making, with a widespread feeling that police violence is not properly investigated.

“All of these people that attacked the youngsters unprovoked, they are exonerated, it’s astonishing,” she said.

The demonstrators are demanding greater police accountability. After the 2015 protests, the government established a committee to tackle racism against Ethiopian Israelis. It recommended that police wear body cameras. Since 2017 Israeli patrol and traffic police in some districts wear them.

But Yerday said the implementation of the body cameras has been slow. “The ones who beat up our kids don’t have them,” she said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that more officers will be equipped with body cameras in the future.

At a meeting called to discuss the matter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Teka’s death a “big tragedy” and said “lessons will be learned.” But he also harshly criticized the demonstrations for turning violent.

Yael Mentesnot, 26, another up-and-coming Ethiopian Israeli musician, said that in the past, the community has been “restrained” and “we end up coming off a bit naive.”

This time, “the community has begun to really feel the despair,” she said.

“All the protests, they are not orchestrated, nothing there was organized,” she said. “Everyone went to the streets frustrated and released their anger.”

While most of Mentesnot’s young solo career has been filled with upbeat party songs, she said the recent events have inspired her to address the Ethiopian Israelis’ struggle.

“Our whole life is a struggle, we face challenges, and we overcome them,” she said. “I want the public to see it. To understand what we feel.”

Neguse said he is pleased that Ethiopian musicians are on the rise, but said the recent protests should be seen as “a call for help, a cry of an entire community.”

“I believe that everyone here has at least one Ethiopian artist on their playlist,” he said. “But there is still racism, so there is a kind of dissonance.”


Related:
Healing Ethiopian Anger – Jerusalem Post

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The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia Report on U.S.-Ethio Business

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia launched its inaugural report on U.S. investment in Ethiopia during an event held at the Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Photo: @AmchamET/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia has released a report featuring how U.S. investments in Ethiopia are having an impact on the ground. The report showcases “the contribution our members are making towards advancing inclusive economic growth in Ethiopia,” the non-profit organization announced in a Twitter post on Friday. “Case studies in the report cover education, skills development, health, and environment.”

It was announced previously that the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia was founded in 2016 “to strengthen the century‐old partnership economic ties that have existed between the United States and Ethiopia,” and counts former Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Fitsum Arega, among its Board members. Mr. Arega is now Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S.

“The AmCham can play an important role in building a conducive environment for private sector growth, share experiences, and facilitate business capacity building in Ethiopia,” the press release adds.

The Twitter announcement notes that the current report was released during a forum held at the Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 11th where “a delegation from US Chamber met with Ethiopian President SahleWork Zewde to discuss linking the private sectors of the two countries & also underscored its long-term commitment to Ethiopia, focusing on deep & sustainable engagement.”

In addition to the forum the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia also hosted a panel discussion focusing on youth employment and featuring the head of Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission Ephrem T. Lemango as well as a representative from Coca Cola Africa, which recently had announced its intention to create 2700 new jobs through a construction of a new factory in Sebeta as their biggest plant in Ethiopia.


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Spotlight: R&B Singer Mélat Kassa

Mélat Kassa. (Photo: The Austin Monthly)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 12th, 2019

In Austin, Texas, R&B singer Mélat Kassa is Homegrown Star

New York (TADIAS) — R&B singer Mélat Kassa loves her hometown, Austin, Texas and Austin loves her back. Her feature in Austin Monthly magazine highlighting her latest album notes that “the homegrown singer’s journey to the forefront of Austin’s burgeoning soul scene is fascinating and personal. Whether on the radio, at South by Southwest, or on the city calendar (Mayor Adler proclaimed December 14, 2017 as Mélat Day), it’s all but impossible to avoid Mélat Kassa’s music around town these days. With stirring vocals that exhibit an alluring dichotomy of vulnerability and confidence, the native Austinite has become a staple on city streets.” The album is scheduled to be released later this month.

Mélat, who is a first-generation Ethiopian American, has also been dubbed “Austin’s Soul Priestess” by the Austin Chronicle. While reflecting on her background the daughter of Ethiopian émigrés told the newspaper: “As a first-generation kid I have to create a brand-new culture.”

Create a culture she did as can be seen in her newest music video titled After All, which was first released exclusively on billboard.com last April. When asked about her artistic influences during her formative years Mélat points out that she grew up listening to a lot of Ethiopian music at home. “We listened to classic artists like Tilahun Gessese and Aster Aweke, but my mom was a big lover of Donna Summer and Diana Ross,” she told Billboard. “When my dad first came to the States in the ‘80s, the first concert he ever went to was Kool & the Gang. I remember he would play their CDs almost every weekend!”

In Mélat’s new video “the summery visuals represents Austin to the core — but not in the way that most people would expect,” Billboard notes. “The singer collaborated with local creatives that she felt deserved more visibility: Ethiopian-Eritrean director B.B. Araya, Austin’s Luxe Apothetique that contributed to wardrobe, and historic venue La Zona Rosa that was used as the video’s backdrop.”

This week Mélat tweeted: “It gives me chills thinking about how the visual feel of After All is the product of some of Austin’s most dope black creatives,” and we’re thrilled to share her creative work on Tadias.

You can read more about Mélat’s journey in The Austin Monthly article here.


Related:
R&B Singer Mélat Talks Black Girl Magic Inspiration Behind ‘After All’ Video: Exclusive (Billboard)

A New World Opens Up for Austin’s Soul Priestess Mélat (The Austin Chronicle)

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TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians

(Image courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

By Elias Wondimu

TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians to Watch

For decades, TSEHAI has published books and journals to educate, inspire, and empower its readers with comprehensive and diverse narratives. In keeping with this tradition, TSEHAI is delighted to announce the launch of the quarterly TSEHAI Picks Series.

From cultural tastemakers to historical figures, TSEHAI Picks celebrates individuals from all walks of life and fields of expertise. In this first edition, the TSEHAI team is giving your summer playlist a makeover with a list ten songs from phenomenal musicians of Ethiopian origin whose art represents the rich and diverse Ethiopian heritage and narratives on the world stage.

“Rewind”-Kelela
https://youtu.be/py6PgXq0yDM


Kelela. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

The combination of Kelela’s sultry vocals with the hypnotic synthesizer and beat in “Rewind” immediately pull you in. On the podcast, Song Exploder, Kelela talks about her process of working with five different producers on this song. I was blown away by how she melded together elements from each producer to create one dynamic layered sound. “Rewind” is a great testament to Kelela as an artist: complex, unique, and forged from a melting pot of experiences.

“Danjahrous”–Haile Supreme
https://youtu.be/XJJjXFjkZKQ


Haile Supreme. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Drawing from many genres including jazz, blues, reggae and funk music, Haile Supreme creates a unique blend of Ethiopian culture with contemporary hip-hop/R&B in both his music and his persona. “Danjahrous” is a chill jam that goes down as smooth as honey wine.

“Black Truck”–Mereba
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGojZ12cZRQ


Mereba. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Mereba is a multi-talented musician, songwriter, producer, and rapper. Her brilliant album, The
Jungle is the Only Way Out, is a must listen for soulful vocals, intricate production, and poetically incisive lyrics. Her song “Black Truck” is an ode to her father who immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia and the perseverance of her ancestors.

“Walk Up”–Meklit
https://youtu.be/hGK6VUlaJmw


Meklit.(Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

In “Walk Up,” Meklit’ssoft vocals are accompanied by an eclectic assemblage of instrumental sounds. The lyrics of this song reminds me of Meklit’s brilliant TED talk, “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds” on how music can be found all around — from the emphatic lilt of Amharic language to the sound of birds.

“W.I.A”–SIIMBA SELASSIIE
https://youtu.be/oN36HaYaZdc


SIIMBA SELASSIIE. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

SIIMBA SELASSIIE serves up clever and honest lyricism in an irreverent package that expands the definition of a hip-hop artist. Donning traditional dress and referencing his Ethiopian roots in his lyrics, SIIMBA is not one to shy away from his heritage.

“Abune”–Kibrom Birhane
https://youtu.be/2qwebzVcKAc

>
Kibrom Birhane. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Kibrom is a humble music visionary who embraces traditions in EthioJazz and EthioFolk music. His talent in piano and vocals shine in “Abune.” The powerful artistry of his music is truly arresting.

“Free Again”–Arima Ederra
https://youtu.be/OaYAE2lneD0


Arima Ederra. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Arima Ederra has the kind of angelic voice that will capture your attention within the first few notes. “Free Again” evokes the feeling of the first day of summer, ripe with infinite possibilities and childlike energy. I also love how the album art for this record draws from traditional Ethiopian illustration styles.

“Slow Fade”–Ruth B.
https://youtu.be/4HEUfU2CrEM


Ruth B. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Ruth B.’s regal voice remains soothing and pleasant, even as she takes you through her innermostfeelings. Currently signed with Columbia Records, it is exciting to see what she will do next.

“Process”–Gabriel Teodros, Shakiah
https://youtu.be/GUC31bcfAfM


Gabriel Teodros. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Gabriel Teodros is an Ethiopian-American son of a refugee, which strongly influences his music. He creates music motivated to heal and promote positive social change. When he’s not creating music, Gabriel is actively involved in local youth communities and advocates on the treatment of immigrants in the US.

“Eye”–Helen Hailu
https://youtu.be/YAvdusDoDCE


Helen Hailu. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

For my last pick, I chose “Eye” by Helen Hailu. “Eye” is the perfect song for a slow Sunday morning. Her jazzy vocals and instrumentals rock steady as she invites listeners to join in her proclamation of independence: “I’d rather be me, myself, and I.”


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Spotlight: Vogue on Rising Singer Mereba

"Dawit and I wanted to capture the black elegance we've seen in our Ethiopian families throughout our lives," the rising Ethiopian-American singer Mereba tells Vogue about her new music video directed by Brooklyn-based Dawit N.M. "We incorporated these regal east African elements with colors and jewels." (Photo: Courtesy of Interscope Records)

Vogue

Rising Singer Mereba Serves Up Regal Beauty in Her New “Sandstorm” Music Video

Mereba has the kind of soft, hypnotizing vocals that can lull you into a meditative state no matter the subject. In “Sandstorm,” the second to last track on her self-produced debut album The Jungle is the Only Way Out, the rising Ethiopian-American singer laments the inevitable end of a relationship with deep—and hauntingly beautiful—introspection. “We were low, we were high, Jekyll, Hyde,” she coos in the opening lines of the slow groove breakup ballad, which also features a more tender side of her fellow Atlanta native, rapper J.I.D. “I let go of something that was comfortable in hopes of making space for something that was actually meant for me,” she explains of a longterm relationship that unraveled as she was finishing the album. “I’m a Virgo and we love really hard, but we ended up in this cycle, a lot like a sandstorm, that neither of us were happy in, so I jumped out of the eye of the storm.”

Tapping Brooklyn-based director Dawit N.M. to explore the song’s visual narrative, the music video illustrates the exquisite pain of an on-off relationship cycle. Inside a sprawling midcentury modern house in the West Hollywood hills, Mereba and her lover oscillate between silence and bursts of fleeting joy through a black and white filter. She only appears in vivid color during a series of interspersed close-up shots alongside J.I.D., her natural beauty radiating with dewy, strobed skin and a glossy chocolate brown lip, as well as washes of metallic ruby red shadow on the eyes to play off her crimson gem-encrusted neckpiece. “Dawit and I wanted to capture the black elegance we’ve seen in our Ethiopian families throughout our lives,” she explains of conceptualizing her beauty looks for the film. “We incorporated these regal east African elements with colors and jewels.”

Read more »


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Life After Death of ‘Love Bug’ in Ethiopia

Volkswagen will halt production of its latest version of the Beetle model car at its plant in Puebla, Mexico on Wednesday. Production of the original version of the curvy little vehicles ended in 2003. But, in Addis Ababa, Beetles enjoy a kind of life after death; their parts are never discarded but re-used to keep the city's remaining Beetles on the road. (Photo: Ishetu Kinfe, 59, a mechanic, poses next to his 1965 model Volkswagen Beetle car at a garage in Addis Ababa/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

In Ethiopia authentic spare parts of the original Beetle model are hard to come by. So mechanics there have to “slaughter” some cars to keep others alive.

“If one is in a bad condition, we will cannibalise it and give its parts to other cars. That is how we extend their life,” said Kinfe, the 74-year-old garage-owner who has been working on Beetles for six decades.

“I wish the Germans had continued producing them. They abandoned them and things started falling apart.”

“They are lovely cars,” said Teferi Markos, a mechanic in Kinfe’s garage. “You get satisfied when you fix them. If you want to change the colour, they absorb any paint.”

About 8,000 commercial and other vehicles are assembled in Ethiopia for the home market, about a quarter of them cars. The numbers of expensive imported models on the roads is also rising as a new middle class emerges.

“My brother-in-law owned a Beetle and I learned to drive with it when I was a young student,” said Workineh Kebede, 41, a businessman in the capital.

“I like them because they are so easy to drive. So I bought it because of my love for them since that time. It is not for economic reasons – I could afford to buy other cars.”

Read the full article and see photos »


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Africa Launches Free-Trade Zone

The IMF described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America. (Photo: AU summit in Niger on June 7th, 2019 where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters/Reuters)

Reuters

Economic ‘Game Changer’? African Leaders Launch Free-Trade Zone

African leaders launched a continental free-trade zone on Sunday that if successful would unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.

After four years of talks, an agreement to form a 55-nation trade bloc was reached in March, paving the way for Sunday’s African Union summit in Niger where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters and discussions were held on how exactly the bloc will operate.

It is hoped that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994 – will help unlock Africa’s long-stymied economic potential by boosting intra-regional trade, strengthening supply chains and spreading expertise.

“The eyes of the world are turned towards Africa,” Egyptian President and African Union Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at the summit’s opening ceremony.

“The success of the AfCFTA will be the real test to achieve the economic growth that will turn our people’s dream of welfare and quality of life into a reality,” he said.

Africa has much catching up to do: its intra-regional trade accounted for just 17% of exports in 2017 versus 59% in Asia and 69% in Europe, and Africa has missed out on the economic booms that other trade blocs have experienced in recent decades.

Economists say significant challenges remain, including poor road and rail links, large areas of unrest, excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption that have held back growth and integration.

Members have committed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, which will increase trade in the region by 15-25% in the medium term, but this would more than double if these other issues were dealt with, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.

The IMF in a May report described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America, but it added a note of caution.

“Reducing tariffs alone is not sufficient,” it said.

Read more »


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In Era of Reform, Ethiopia Still Reverts to Old Tactics to Censor Press (CPJ)

Ethiopians read newspapers in Addis Ababa on June 24. Following what the government refers to as a failed attempted coup, access to the internet was cut and journalists were arrested. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

CPJ

By Muthoki Mumo/CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative

On June 22, Ethiopia was plunged into an internet blackout following what the government described as a failed attempted coup in the Amhara region. In the aftermath at least two journalists were detained under the country’s repressive anti-terror law, part of an uptick in arrests that CPJ has noted in the country since May.

While internet shutdowns and anti-terror laws being turned against journalists are nothing new in Ethiopia, their use in recent weeks is in stark contrast to the Ethiopia that welcomed the international media community for World Press Freedom Day celebrations in May and whose prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has been fêted as taking bold steps in opening up the space for a free press.

Yared Hailemariam, the executive director of the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, described the June 22 shutdown to CPJ as “a very wrong and old strategy of the government.” But it wasn’t the only blackout last month. The country was hit by intermittent network disruptions affecting internet and SMS services between June 11 and June 18, according to the Open Observatory of Network Interference, a global open sourcing network for tracking blocks. Several outlets, including Bloomberg and CNN, said speculation inside Ethiopia was that authorities cut internet access in those instances to prevent students cheating during examinations.

Alongside the blackouts, in the past two months authorities also arrested several journalists and, on July 8, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Defense said in a press conference that it planned to file charges against “individuals and media creating distrust between the public and the army,” the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported.

Read more »


Related:
Abiy should stick to his liberal instincts

Meet Daniel Bekele: The New Chief at Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

Ethiopian Diplomat: ‘Power in Ethiopia to Come Through Voting, Not Violence’

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

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Why Are Ethiopia’s Treasures in London?

A crown seized by British troops at the battle of Maqdala in 1868 in Ethiopia is pictured at an exhibition, “Maqdala 1868: A Reflection on the 1868 Siege and Battle at Maqdala," at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Ethiopia wants treasures like this to be returned, part of a growing call for the restitution of treasures taken by European countries during the imperial age. (Getty Images)

The Atlantic

LONDON—In a storeroom of the British Museum here sits a collection of 11 wood and stone tablets that nobody is allowed to see. They are Christian plaques, or tabots, that represent the Ark of the Covenant, and they belong—though belong in this case is a contested term—to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which believes only its priests should view them.

The tabots were seized, along with hundreds of other precious items—processional crosses, gold and silver jewelry, illustrated manuscripts—by the British army in 1868, after it defeated Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II at the battle of Maqdala. There is hardly a clearer case of officially sanctioned plunder: When Tewodros committed suicide, soldiers ransacked his treasury, then auctioned off their finds among their entourage to pay for the expedition. They had even brought along an expert from the British Museum to bid for some of the choicest items. The majority of the artifacts, some of which first passed through the hands of private owners, now sit in the collections of leading U.K. museums and libraries, even though Ethiopia has repeatedly asked for them back over the past century and a half.

Today, Ethiopia is asking once again, yet even in the case of the tabots—which are of limited use to the U.K., since literally nobody is allowed to see them—the answer is no. The British Museum’s best offer, made last month, was that it would consider the possibility of a long-term loan.

For many Ethiopians, the items seized at Maqdala are of vital importance—“a fundamental part of the existential fabric of Ethiopia and its people,” according to Hirut Kassaw, the country’s culture minister, who visited the U.K. in March and requested their return. To Britain, as with many of the objects gathered for its museums during the era of imperial expansion, the tabots mean relatively little by themselves—until, that is, someone asks for them back.

Requests for the permanent return of items taken without their owners’ consent, known as restitution, have gathered pace in recent years.

Read more »


Related:
UK Kidnapped this Ethiopian Prince in 1868, Still Refuses to Return His Remains

The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures Heats Up

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

150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II

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

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Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing for Homes

Fana quoted Seleshi Bekele, the minister for water and electricity, saying the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country's Gibe 3 dam. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Reuters

Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing After Water Levels Rise

Ethiopia on Monday lifted measures rationing electricity for homes and companies after a rise in water levels at hydroelectric dams, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting said.

Fana quoted Seleshi Bekele, the minister for water and electricity, saying the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam.

Seleshi had said in May when announcing the rationing that the drop in water levels at Gibe 3 dam had led to a deficit of 476 megawatts, more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.

Load shedding temporarily reduces supply of power to an area of the grid when demand exceeds its supply.

Fana quoted Seleshi as saying power to the grid was also expected to increase when electricity from another dam, the Genale Dawa 3, is inaugurated next month. The dam has an installed capacity of 254 MW.

Under the rationing programme announced in May, domestic consumers faced blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms had to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts, Seleshi said at the time.


Related:
Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

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Oklahoma State University Renews Bond with Haramaya University in Ethiopia

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis meets with Haramaya University officials in Ethiopia during its commencement ceremony on Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

The Oklahoman

Across the globe, standing before a room of foreign graduates, Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis could see the fruits of a program his college helped plant.

Hargis delivered the commencement address Saturday to Haramaya University in Ethiopia, addressing the more than 4,000 graduates earning degrees in agriculture, animal science and plant science.

“OSU has a lot of history in Ethiopia,” Hargis said. “Very excited to be a part of continuing that.”

Hargis is the first Oklahoma State president to visit the Ethiopian school in more than 60 years, renewing a bond between the two institutions that started in the years after World War II.

Established in 1952, Alemaya College of Agriculture (now called Haramaya University), was part of the vision of President Harry S. Truman as part of the Point Four Program, designed to build relationships with countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East, while assisting them in agriculture and technological innovations.

Truman believed it was America’s duty to build up allies in the wake of World War II.

“What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing,” Truman said about the Point 4 program. “All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a constructive program for the better use of the world’s human and natural resources.”

Truman tasked Henry G. Bennett, OSU’s president, to help bring modern farming and ranching techniques to Ethiopia.

With the help of the agricultural experts at Oklahoma State, Bennett established schools in Ethiopia to teach the basics of crop management and rotation.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie then returned the favor with a visit to Stillwater and Oklahoma State in 1954, marking the first time a foreign head of state had visited Oklahoma.

Clyde Kindell, who served as both an instructor and then as president of the college in Ethiopia, said his eight years in the country were life changing.

“If you establish friendship among the Ethiopians, they will never forget it,” Kindell said. “We have evidence to this day that there’s many Ethiopians in Ethiopia now that you mention Oklahoma State University and they remember it with fond memories.”

At an event last year, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie of Ethiopia, the great-grandson of Emperor Selassie, visited as OSU honored Kindell and four other professors for their work in the African nation.

“OSU’s involvement in the Point Four program in Ethiopia remains an important milestone in the university’s emergence as a truly global institution,” said Randy Kluver, the dean of OSU’s School of Global Studies and Partnerships.

Hargis’ trip to the Horn of Africa is part of a renewed effort on behalf of Oklahoma State and Haramaya to re-establish a strong connection between the two institutions.

Officially, Oklahoma State’s aid for the college ended in the late ‘60s, but earlier this year both schools pledged to reforge the relationship.


Related:

Photos: Emperor Haile Selassie visiting Oklahoma in 1954:

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

Reflection: The 60th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Visit to OSU

Mel Tewahade Honored at Oklahoma State University

Point Four: A Film About Haramaya University

Letter From Harar: Dr. Clyde Kindell’s ‘Fond Memories of Ethiopia’ — Photos

Haile Selassie in America: Q & A with Professor Ted Vestal

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U.S. Wins Women’s World Cup

The Americans celebrate a fourth Women's World Cup title. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

U.S. wins Women’s World Cup with 2-0 defeat of Netherlands

The United States remained supreme in women’s soccer Sunday, repeating as World Cup champions and winning for the fourth time by defeating the Netherlands, 2-0.

In the Americans’ most difficult test of the month-long competition, Megan Rapinoe converted a penalty kick in the 61st minute after video replay overruled the referee’s initial decision.

There was no controversy eight minutes later. Rose Lavelle, the Washington Spirit midfielder who at age 24 enjoyed a breakout tournament, doubled the lead with an assertive run and 17-yard shot before a pro-U.S. sellout crowd at Stade de Lyon.

This championship adds to a portfolio of glory featuring world crowns in 1991, ’99 and 2015, and Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2004, ’08 and ’12. Germany is the only other country to win multiple Women’s World Cups.

A victory parade is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday on the streets of Manhattan.

The Americans have won 13 straight matches and are unbeaten in 16 since losing a friendly at France in January.

Read more »

Watch: Fans in New York reacted to the U.S. women’s national soccer team beating the Netherlands in the World Cup on July 7. (The Washington Post)


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Ethiopian Summer Festival in Vancouver

There are an estimated 10,000 people in the Ethiopian community in the Greater Vancouver area. “This is the beauty about Canada. It’s a multicultural country where you can celebrate your culture and also contribute to the cultural mosaic of Canada, ”said festival organizer Bereket Kebede. (CTV News Vancouver)

CTV News Vancouver

Ethiopian Summer Festival in Vancouver, Canada Marks 10th Year

It was a feast for the eyes and mouth as a Burnaby stadium was given some Ethiopian flair.

Hundreds of people celebrated at the annual Ethiopian Summer Festival at Swangard Stadium Saturday.

There were soccer games for the kids to play on the field and the adults pitched in to prepare traditional cuisines to enjoy.

Ethiopia’s culture is over 3,000 years old. The country is where coffee was discovered.

Traditional coffee ceremonies took place where the beans are roasted in a pan over flames and brewed to a rich dark drink enjoyed by many on this cloudy chilly day.

Many colourful fashions were on hand as people gathered to celebrate and promote their culture.

“This is the beauty about Canada. It’s a multicultural country where you can celebrate your culture and also contribute to the cultural mosaic of Canada, ”said festival organizer Bereket Kebede.

Music was played throughout the day and when Ethiopians hear their music — spontaneous dancing takes place everywhere.

There are an estimated 10,000 people in the Ethiopian community in the Greater Vancouver area.


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Spotlight: The Legacy of Haile Selassie Celebration at Ethiopian Embassy in DC

The event on July 23rd, 2019 marks the first time the former Emperor is being honored at an Ethiopian embassy compound since 1974. (Photo: Emperor Haile Selassie saluting as the National Anthems are played at the White House in Washington DC, February 18th 1967/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The legacy of Ethiopia’s last Emperor, Haile Selassie, will be celebrated at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. this month.

The event, which is scheduled to take place on July 23rd (Haile Selassie’s birthday), marks the first time the former Emperor is being honored at an Ethiopian embassy compound since he was overthrown by a communist military junta in 1974 and assassinated a year later while in custody.

According to organizers the gathering is part of a larger diaspora community engagement commemorating “African heritage” and paying homage to “pan-African leaders.”

The keynote speakers include the Mayor of D.C. Mauriel Bowser, the African Union Ambassador to the United States Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S Fitsum Arega.

The preliminary program shared with Tadias also highlights presentations featuring scholars, business professionals, diaspora associations, and corporate & non-profit leaders.

Among the listed guest speakers are Dr. Frank Smith, the Founder and CEO of the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, who will be addressing “the importance of preserving history and culture.”


If You Go:
TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2019
EMBASSY OF ETHIOPIA
WASHINGTON DC, 20008
For more info Contact info@nfspro.org
202-344-5480

Related:
In Ethiopia AU Inaugurates Majestic New Statue Honoring Emperor Haile Selassie

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Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign Tolina told Reuters that Ethiopia will grant two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies and a minority stake in Ethio Telecom. (Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia will award two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies, a senior official told Reuters on Friday, in the first detailed formal announcement of the government’s plans for opening one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets.

The government will also offer a minority stake in Ethio Telecom, the monopoly operator, and foreign firms will be invited to bid.

“We have announced the market structure as ‘two plus one’,” State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina told Reuters by telephone, referring to the two licences and stake in Ethio Telecom.


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Healing Ethiopian Anger – Jerusalem Post

Protesters stand opposite police during a protest for the death of 18-year old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 2, 2019. (photo: REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post

EDITORIAL – JULY 5, 2019

Israeli leaders and society in general understand that there are problems that we must address, and also help heal the anger among victims in the Ethiopian-Israeli community.

Protests erupted across Israel this week by Israelis from the Ethiopian community. Demonstrators blocked intersections. Some of the protests descended into tragic clashes with police in which more than 60 protesters were arrested and 47 officers injured. There are fears the protests will continue. Now is the time to reach out and heal the wounds and embrace each other.

These are not the scenes anyone in Israel wants to see, either members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community who have suffered racism in the past, or police and others caught in the traffic jams that surrounded the protests. The protests were triggered by the shooting of 19-year old Solomon Tekah in a suburb of Haifa. He was killed after an altercation with an off-duty policeman, the circumstances of which are under investigation.

The wider context, and the reason that people poured into the streets in anger, is that four years after similar nation-wide anti-racism protests in April 2015, there is a feeling among many Ethiopian-Israelis that the systemic issues youth face are still not being addressed. In April 2015, an Israeli soldier named Damas Pakedeh was stopped by police while riding his bicycle. An altercation ensued. At the time, the highest levels of government, from the president to the prime minister, sought to reach out to Pakedeh and the community and assure them that the incident was not consistent with the values of the Israel Police, and that they wanted a society in which people are not accosted for the color of their skin…

Israeli leaders and society in general understand that there are problems of racism that we must address, and also help heal the anger among victims in the Ethiopian-Israeli community. President Reuven Rivlin said we must stop and think how to continue. “Let us sit together in peace.” Articles in the media said it is important that the government addresses anger over discrimination by police. An officer should think twice before pulling his or her weapon.

Read the full editorial at jpost.com »


Ethiopian-Israelis Protest for 3rd Day After Fatal Police Shooting


The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened. (Photo: Israeli security forces detained a protester at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Wednesday/Getty Images)

The New York Times

JERUSALEM — Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters took to the streets across the country on Wednesday for a third day of protests in an outpouring of rage after an off-duty police officer fatally shot a black youth, and the Israeli police turned out in force to try to keep the main roads open.

The mostly young demonstrators have blocked major roads and junctions, paralyzing traffic during the evening rush hour, with disturbances extending into the night, protesting what community activists describe as deeply ingrained racism and discrimination in Israeli society.

Scores have been injured — among them many police officers, according to the emergency services — and dozens of protesters have been detained, most of them briefly. Israeli leaders called for calm; fewer protesters turned out on Wednesday.

“We must stop, I repeat, stop and think together how we go on from here,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday. “None of us have blood that is thicker than anyone else’s, and the lives of our brothers and sisters will never be forfeit.”…

On Tuesday night, rioters threw stones and firebombs at the police and overturned and set fire to cars in chaotic scenes rarely witnessed in the center of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

After initially holding back, the police fired stun grenades, tear gas and hard sponge bullets and sent in officers on horseback, prompting demonstrators to accuse them of the kind of police brutality that they had turned out to protest in the first place.

The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened.

The officer said that the youths had thrown stones that struck him and that he believed that he was in a life-threatening situation. He drew his gun and said he fired toward the ground, according to Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian-Israeli teen shot by cop laid to rest amid cries for justice (The Times of Israel)

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In Pictures: DC Event Featuring ZAAF Fashion Photos Taken in Afar, Ethiopia

The event hosted by the Ethiopian fashion brand ZAAF took place at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 4th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This week the Ethiopian leather fashion brand ZAAF hosted a photo exhibition and a documentary presentation of its latest collection shot in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression — known as one of the hottest places on earth. The event took place at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. on Monday, July 1st.


Related:

In Pictures: Ethiopia’s Zaaf Brand Opens First US Store in DC

Video: CNN African Voices Feature on ZAFF

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PM Abiy: Your Instincts Are Right, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

In the following timely editorial the Financial Times newspaper urges PM Abiy Ahmed to continue to trust his instincts, which have been mostly right, and to remain steadfast on his much needed political and economic reforms despite the recent violence and the ethnocentric opposition to his leadership. "But like Yugoslavia after the death of General Josip Tito in 1980, it is not clear the centre can hold," FT points out. "The newly freed press is awash with ethnic slurs and direct attacks on Mr Abiy...It would be a tragedy for the whole continent if it fails." (Photo: PM Abiy's Facebook)

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Ethiopia’s Abiy should stick to his liberal instincts

The country can blaze a developmental path, but only if it can hold together

Ethiopia, whose economy has grown at near-double digits for 15 years, is one of the most optimistic stories in Africa. Abiy Ahmed, who became prime minister last year, is one of the continent’s most exciting leaders. But the fragility of Africa’s second most populous country became apparent last week with shootings of a regional president and the military’s chief of staff that the administration has portrayed as an attempted regional coup.

Much is riding on Mr Abiy’s ability to withstand such challenges and pursue his vision of a nation that can both be free and open and deliver the development goals needed to lift the living standards of 105m people. It is troubling, then, that Ethiopia feels constantly as though it is about to derail.

Mr Abiy was chosen as prime minister last April in an effort by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a coalition of four ethnically constituted parties, to quell a political crisis. The EPRDF had overseen strong growth and gains in health and education, becoming a darling of international donors. But it had stoked ethnic tension both through a constitution that defined the country’s nine regions in ethnic terms and through the perception that the administration was secretly run by a clique of Tigrayans, who make up just 6 per cent of Ethiopia’s population. 

The EPRDF had maintained order through a tightly controlled security state, suppressing demonstrations and banning political parties. Mr Abiy, who comes from Oromia, the centre of anti-government protests, has unpicked much of that. He has released prisoners and unbanned political parties, even ones that had previously taken up arms. He has proposed multi-party elections for 2020. 

But like Yugoslavia after the death of General Josip Tito in 1980, it is not clear the centre can hold. The newly freed press is awash with ethnic slurs and direct attacks on Mr Abiy. Land grabs and disputes between regions have displaced at least 2m people. Mr Abiy, greeted by many as a national saviour during his first months in office, finds himself attacked from all sides as both an “Ethiopian nationalist”, trampling on jealously-guarded regional rights, and a leader too weak to stop revolt. 

In the aftermath of last month’s shootings, Mr Abiy must decide whether to claw back the freedoms he has instituted or press ahead with his liberal agenda. Within reason, he should choose the latter. True, more may need to be done to outlaw hate speech and to stop those who are attempting to whip up violence between ethnic groups. It is true, too, that Mr Abiy will have to think long and hard about whether next year’s promised elections are still feasible, given the political unrest and lack of preparation. In the long run, a form of new federal settlement needs to be worked out that can both guarantee the autonomy of regions — whether ethnically based or not — while pursuing a national agenda.

For the most part, though, Mr Abiy’s instincts have been right. He should attempt to maintain the country’s impressive economic performance not through force but through persuasion that Ethiopia is stronger united than divided. The state’s grip should be loosened, including through the gradual and careful liberalisation of the economy. Ethiopia, almost alone among the populous countries of sub-Saharan Africa, has a chance to blaze a developmental path and achieve the middle-income status that successive leaders have held up as a goal. It would be a tragedy for the whole continent if it fails.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

Ethiopian Diplomat: ‘Power in Ethiopia to Come Through Voting, Not Violence’

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

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Meet Daniel Bekele: The New Chief at Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

Daniel Bekele is the new Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Previously he served as a senior Advisor at Amnesty and as the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York. (Photo: by Patricia Williams)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Daniel Bekele, formerly a Senior Advisor at Amnesty International and the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York, has been appointed as the new head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called Daniel a “seasoned human rights advocate and lawyer” congratulating him following his appointment by parliament on Tuesday. In a Twitter post Abiy also noted that “independent, credible and strong democratic institutions play a vital role in ensuring multiparty democracy and respect for human rights.” Daniel replaces the outgoing Commissioner Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher.

Prior to his experience at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch “Daniel practiced law in Ethiopia as a partner at Abebe Worke & Associates,” according to his bio shared by HRW. “He served as the Legal Department Director as well as Secretary of the Board for United Insurance Co., and he managed Action Aid Ethiopia’s policy research and advocacy departments.”

HRW adds: “Daniel has extensively consulted with non-governmental organizations including Oxfam, ARTICLE 19, Freedom House, and PACT, as well as with USAID and the World Bank. He has worked in varying capacities with numerous civil society organizations, and led the national-level campaign for the Global Call to Action against Poverty. Daniel’s focus includes promoting African civil society organizations, human rights, and good governance. In the 2005 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, Daniel was actively involved in promoting human rights, and independent election monitoring, as well as peace initiatives in the aftermath of the post-election crisis. However, he was arrested by the authorities and spent more than two years in prison. He was internationally recognized as a prisoner of conscience, and in 2009 received the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, and in 2010 was nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award and the Index Freedom of Expression Award. Daniel received a Bachelor’s in Law and a Master’s in Regional Development Studies from Addis Ababa University and a Master’s in Legal Studies from Oxford University, where he is completing a PhD in International Law.”


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FT on Liya Kebede’s Brand Lemlem

The supermodel implemented a sustainable approach while sponsoring her foundation for African women. (Photo: Founder Liya Kebede at Lemlem's Muya workshop in Addis Ababa/FT)

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Liya Kebede’s brand Lemlem offers Ethiopian craftsmanship that sells

When supermodel Liya Kebede was growing up in Addis Ababa, she wore comfortable Ethiopian clothing — ample dresses made from strips of woven cotton sewn together. But traditional clothes were beginning to disappear, replaced by the spread of western fast fashion and access to cheap second-hand garments.

Since 2007, her fashion label Lemlem has revived commercial interest in Ethiopian weaving, putting back on the map the artisanship that was at risk of falling into oblivion.

“I wanted to reinject an energy and fuel back into the artisans and into the artisanal industry,” Ms Kebede explains. “The idea is to inspire others to look at Africa as a source of high-end artisanal work, and not just be a place to which you outsource for cheap labour.”

Tailors all over the continent make clothes using traditional techniques, with patterns and styles that are often unique to their culture. But the arrival of faster production methods threatens this treasure trove of skills and traits, in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

“Few in the fashion industry thought it possible to ever use Africa’s traditional skills on a commercial scale,” she says. “We are showing local creators and local entrepreneurs [how] to invest in their own local skills and skill makers, and not just look to the outside.”

Although Lemlem, which means “blooming” in Amharic, shipped 35,000 items last year, 85 per cent of which were made in Ethiopia, Ms Kebede admits it is still “uncharted territory”.

Experienced suppliers do not exist in Ethiopia — each partnership must be built from scratch, workers need to be trained and exports are arduous.

Liya Kebede with Ethiopian artisans working on cotton garments © Gilles Bensimon

This results in long production times and expensive individual products — most of Lemlem’s dresses sell for between $250 and $450.

As the fashion world wrestles with questions of sustainability and wastage, Ms Kebede believes there are opportunities for African brands such as Lemlem, in creating a small number of “beautiful, unique” garments, for consumers who want fewer, better-made clothes.

“The whole world is thinking about excess in general, and in the fashion world there is so much of it,” she says.

Lemlem is now working with 300 artisans, up from 50 when it started, but it will not push for very high production volumes.

Read more »


Related:
Liya Kebede Looks Regal on Porter’s Summer Escape 2019 Covers

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Spotlight: Tommy T’s newest Single ‘Anchin’ Featuring Mahmoud Ahmed

Cover of Tommy T’s newest single 'Anchin' featuring Mahmoud Ahmed. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Four years go Tommy T (Thomas Gobena) — the Ethiopian-born bass player for the American punk band, Gogol Bordello — met up with legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed at a Stephen Marley concert in Washington D.C. where Mahmoud was performing a song for the opening. That same evening Tommy pitched a song idea to Mahmoud, which turned into a new single Anchin released online on Tuesday, July 2nd.

“I had a chance to share with him a concept of a song that I had worked on a while back, and he eventually agreed to collaborate,” Tommy told Tadias. “Out of the collaboration on this song I also got a chance to direct my first music video for this single.”

Anchin (Amharic for ‘you’ in feminine pronoun), is a follow up to Thomas’ first solo album entitled The Prestor John Sessions issued in 2009.

Tommy shares that the new single, Anchin, “fuses roots reggae with the very familiar sound of Ethiopia’s musical golden era, delivered by the incomparable booming voice of Mahmoud Ahmed.”

The self-released single launched on Tommy’s new platform, Afroxoid, “is a continuation of his work in exploring the vast world of afro-rhythms combined with an Ethiopian melody, and will guide the listener on a cross-cultural musical journey,” states the press release. “Amplified by the unmistakable voice of Mahmoud Ahmed and a universal message of LOVE, Anchin is sure to capture the imagination of audiences young and old worldwide.”

Tommy T, who was appointed as a UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia in 2015, said he continues to serve in that capacity. “I have done several PSAs and visited schools doing advocacy work,” he told us. “More recently, I also worked on a song to highlight the work done by University of Alberta and St. Paul Hospital on midwife training.” He added: “The emphasis was to get the word out about how crucial it was for pregnant women to receive access to healthcare (or visit healthcare centers), which could cut maternal deaths by 50%. I produced a song with Zeritu and Tadele on vocals as well as worked with my brother Henock Temesgen who is also a musician. The project is scheduled to be released soon.

Tommy has also produced another full album for Abdi Nuressa who sings in Oromifa, which hopefully be out soon as well.

Anchin is now available on all digital platforms.

Watch: Tommy T featuring Mahmoud Ahmed – ANCHIN አንቺን


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In DC Sankofa’s Tax Break Wins Approval

The Washington, DC bookstore owned by Ethiopian-American filmmaker Haile Gerima and his wife Shirikiana Gerima, has won an approval of a ten-year tax break from the D.C. City Council. (DCist)

DCist

Sankofa’s Tax Break Wins Approval From The D.C. Council

A decades-old District institution on Georgia Avenue NW looks like it’s slated for a 10-year tax abatement, after the black-owned bookstore lobbied for relief from the city.

The D.C. Council was unanimous on Tuesday in its approval of a tax break for Sankofa Video Books & Cafe. Like all permanent legislation, the bill requires another vote at the council before heading to the mayor’s desk. There’s no date set for the second vote, though it could come as soon as July 9, according to the office of Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who introduced the legislation.

While the city has long used tax breaks and other incentives to entice corporations and developers, it has less frequently directed those tools towards retaining small businesses.

“I hope that the Sankofa example is a spark for protections to be put in place for small black businesses,” says Sankofa co-owner Shirikiana Gerima. “Legacy businesses who’ve been here through crack, through, in some cases, the riots, through gentrification—the latest devastation, they need to be supported in really, really concrete ways.”

As written, the bill exempts Sankofa from taxation for the coming decade, as growing property values in Pleasant Plains have left the business with a rising tax bill. This year, Sankofa owes $30,000 in property taxes, a 25 percent increase over the past decade, according to Gerima’s testimony to the D.C. Council. That number is projected to rise to $36,000 by 2022, according to D.C.’s chief financial officer. The CFO valued the abatement at $415,346 over a 10-year period, and determined that the business could survive without it.

But Gerima says that Sankofa is more than bookstore—it’s a community meeting place for “people who are thirsty to know about their culture and history.” She says all of the people who signed a petition and lined up to testify at the D.C. Council on Sankofa’s behalf earlier this June are a testament to that mission. “We’ve been out here working hard for a long time and the sustenance has been the growth of people around us and ourselves, too,” she says.

The shop sits just down the street from Howard University and a few blocks from the Metro PCS store in Shaw, which have been at the center of recent conflicts over who has a right to space in the city.

Gerima thinks the city needs to be involved in these discussions. “The government is a gatekeeper and they have a responsibility to look out for D.C. residents old and new,” she says.

In exchange for the tax break, the legislation requires that more than half of Sankofa’s employees live in D.C., with more than 30 percent of them living in Ward 1. Gerima says this measure won’t be a problem.

Read more »


Related:
In DC Haile Gerima’s Bookstore Sankofa Takes Tax Fight to City Council

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Etenesh Tesfu: From Ethiopian Immigrant to Entrepreneur in Aurora, Colorado

Etenesh Tesfu at her 7-Eleven store in Aurora, Colorado. she and her husband Zek Tesfu, opened their second 7-Eleven franchise this week. (The Sentinel)

The Sentinel

AURORA | Etenesh Tesfu emigrated from Ethiopia in 2000 and got a job at an Aurora 7-Eleven. Now she owns one.

In fact, she and her husband Zek Tesfu, opened their second 7-Eleven franchise this week.

“It’s all about community,” said Zek. “You won’t believe how many people come and, like, try to meet us here.”

The Tesfu’s new store at 3800 Tower Road. in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, celebrated a grand opening with free small Slurpees, coffee and Big Gulps. There were discounted pizza slices and hot dogs and even games. Sponsors set up booths outside to greet customers, like Colorado Lottery, Monster Energy and KS1075. The Denver Broncos mascot Miles came to visit and take photos with families.

Etenesh worked her way up from cashier to assistant manager, to manager to 7-Eleven franchisee. The other location the couple owns is in Commerce City.

Jullian Garcia, 4-years-old, spent his summer morning and afternoon at the grand opening. His tongue turned blue from the blue raspberry Slurpee he sipped on. When he found out that there would be a new location, his father Joseph Garcia promised Jullian that he would take him to the event. According to Joseph, his son has always loved the place.

“So he was always saying ‘They’re gonna build my 7-Eleven,’” said Joseph. “He loves Slurpees, pizza, anything from 7-Eleven.”


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Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

There are strong parallels with Yugoslavia in the 1990s, where a federal state organised along ethnic lines broke up over similar tensions...In an ethno-federal state like Ethiopia is and like Yugoslavia was, power is very much claimed along ethnic lines...Ethnic parties, many of them with an openly chauvinistic message, have mushroomed. It would not take much to tip it over the edge. (Photo: A mourner holds the photo of Amhara president Mekonnen during a funeral ceremony in the town of Bahir Dar/REUTERS)

The Telegraph

Warnings over ‘Africa’s Yugoslavia’ as Ethiopia coup attempt heightens risk of violent Balkan-style split

The meeting was meant to have been top-secret. The men gathered inside the room were the most powerful in northern Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

The agenda before them was incendiary: the removal of Asamnew Tsige, the regional security chief whose shadowy ambitions had chilled the Ethiopia establishment.

But somehow Mr Asamnew had got wind of what was afoot.

Unknown to the participants, a convoy of his loyalists, armed and dressed in unfamiliar camouflage, was advancing towards them along the palm-lined avenues of Bahir Dar, Amhara’s capital.

Moments after they entered Amhara’s regional headquarters, the meeting room would be splattered in blood and gore. The region’s president and his chief aide lay dead.

Survivors emerging from under tables ripped curtains off their hooks in a vain attempt to staunch the wounds of Amhara’s dying attorney-general. Events were only just getting underway.

Elsewhere in Bahir Dar, Asamnew loyalists reportedly attempted to storm the city’s police headquarters and state media building.

Hours later came more killings, the most startling of them all, as Ethiopia’s powerful army chief, Seare Mekonnen, and a visiting retired general were shot dead while they ate their dinner in the country’s capital Addis Ababa, 300 miles to the south.

The motivation for last weekend’s attacks, and whether they were even connected, remains unclear…

Whatever the truth, the assassinations have laid bare the profoundly disturbing dangers facing Ethiopia.

Under its dynamic young prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia has been held up over the past year as one of Africa’s most promising states.

But beneath the exciting reforms, much of the country is seething. Some 3.2m people have fled communal violence that has erupted in pockets across the country in the past 18 months, more than in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia combined, leading to warnings of a humanitarian disaster.

Read more »


Related:
Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

Ethiopian Diplomat: ‘Power in Ethiopia to Come Through Voting, Not Violence’

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Samuelsson’s Audiobook ‘Our Harlem’

Our Harlem features interviews with folks like style icon Dapper Dan, veteran Harlem chef Charles Gabriel, and food historian Jessica Harris, along with a soundtrack as diverse as Red Rooster's clientele, and most importantly, Samuelsson's rhythmic, affable voice. (Getty Images)

Forbes

Spotlight: Forbes on Marcus Samuelsson’s Audiobook ‘Our Harlem’

Our Harlem opens on the sound of laughter.

You’re welcomed into the story, invited by the voices of the neighborhood. It seems intentional, significant, even, that Marcus Samuelsson’s jovial, hard-to-place voice is the third one to greet listeners on the recording. He wants you to know from the beginning that he’s telling this story, but it’s not a story about him.

Our Harlem is an Audible Original adaptation of Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Cookbook with a few vital differences. In the print version, he tells us about the history, culture, and food of the remarkable place he’s chosen to call home. In the audiobook, he takes you there.

Books are personal totems, little worlds unto themselves, but they cannot give you the mood and the music, the strong sense of place that’s possible on audio. By adapting it into an audiobook, Samuelsson has taken what was a brilliant cookbook with stories and transformed it into a vibrant story with recipes.

In letting the culinary instruction take a backseat, he focuses on Harlem itself. Our Harlem features interviews with folks like style icon Dapper Dan, veteran Harlem chef Charles Gabriel, and food historian Jessica Harris, along with a soundtrack as diverse as Red Rooster’s clientele, and most importantly, Samuelsson’s rhythmic, affable voice.

Read more »


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Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

Press Secretary Billene Seyoum (L) and spokesperson of the Primer Minister Negussu Tilaaun, speak during a press conference, in Addis Ababa last week. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 28th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Internet service is being slowly restored in Ethiopia after several days of blackout following last weekend’s deadly political drama.

According to network measurement data shared by the civil society group, NetBlocks, connectivity is currently “at 85% and rising toward levels observed prior to the total disruption with wifi hotspots coming online, although mobile data remains unavailable.”

NetBlocks also reports that social media and messaging apps are not yet fully accessible: “Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp web and CDN and some VPN sites are now restricted, with Telegram and YouTube also intermittently down.”

Attempted coup d’état

The Internet has been shut down across Ethiopia in the aftermath of the attempted military takeover of a civilian government in the ethnically delineated Amhara and Benishangul Gumuz regions last Saturday and Sunday.

The attempted coup, the scale of which has not been seen in Ethiopia since the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie by a military junta in 1974, claimed the lives of several officials including Ethiopia’s army chief who was assassinated by his bodyguard at his home in Addis Ababa. Other victims included the governor and the attorney-general of the Amhara state, as well as at least 37 other individuals in Benishangul. The Prime Minster’s office said the violent campaign was led by a formerly imprisoned general who was killed amid a fire fight with federal security forces near Bahir Dar on Monday. Since then hundreds have been arrested in a nationwide security crackdown and the director of the country’s spy agency has been named the new head of the national army.

‘Thankfully Prime Minister Abiy escaped’


(PM Abiy Ahmed. Tadias photo)

For many Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia around the world, the tragic turn of events came out of nowhere in light of the hopeful democratic reforms being carried out by the popular new PM Abiy Ahmed who had issued amnesty to thousands of political prisoners last year including the renegade general behind the failed coup.

It was a “shock, but it could have turned out so much worse,” Tibor Nagy, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, told reporters while traveling in South Africa this week. “Thankfully, Prime Minister Abiy escaped this attempt, because there are many, many more people in Ethiopia who support his reforms than those who are opposed to them.” The American diplomat added: “I wish I could say that this is will be the last of these attempts, but no one can be certain.”

‘Internet is back, let the conspiracy theory begin’

“Internet users living abroad rejoiced hearing from friends and relatives for the first time in days,” NetBlocks noted citing Twitter conversations.

“So good to finally get WhatsApp messages from my family and friends in Ethiopia,” one user Kalkidan Mulugeta @Kalkidafrique declared. “No internet in 2019 cannot be the way forward.” She added: “Welcome back though, apparently only WiFi is turned on but we’ll take that.”

Another user Ruhama @ruhama_m_belay deadpanned: “Internet is back, let the conspiracy theory begin #Ethiopia.”


Related:
Ethiopian Diplomat: ‘Power in Ethiopia to Come Through Voting, Not Violence’

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Crash Victims Refuse to Settle

Boeing 737 MAX fallout continues: The families of some victims of the crash on Ethiopian Airlines in March are not ready to settle, their lawyers told a Chicago judge on Thursday. (Reuters)

Reuters

737 MAX fallout continues as some Ethiopia crash victims refuse to settle

Boeing is grappling with the fallout of two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX jet within five months, which prompted a worldwide grounding in March and a string of litigation.

The families of some victims of a second crash on Ethiopian Airlines in March are not ready to settle, their lawyers told a Chicago judge on Thursday.

American Airlines and United Airlines, which also operate the MAX in the United States, have pulled the planes from their schedules into early September.


Related:
Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa
Boeing’s Mea Culpa Wins Over Ethiopian Airlines
Boeing CEO Calls Handling of 737 Max Crashes a ‘Mistake,’ Vows Improvements (USA Today)
In U.S. Fellowship Being Created in Name of Victim of Ethiopia Crash (AP)
U.S. House to Hold Second Hearing on 737 Max (The Washington Post)
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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In Texas, Father of Girl From Ethiopia Killed by Fleeing Driver Speaks Out

8-year-old Sesinna Kahsay was hit by a fleeing driver and killed while walking with her three brothers and two sisters in their new neighborhood in Fort Bend County, Texas on June 20, 2019, ABC reports. (Photo: ABC13)

ABC13

The father of the girl who was killed in a hit-and-run crash gave a tearful interview just days after his 8-year-old daughter died.

Sesinna Kahsay was hit while walking with her three brothers and two sisters on Bissonnet and Hodges Bend on June 20.

“We all lost her love. We all lost her uniqueness, her character,” Berhane Kahsay Asgedom told ABC13′s Steve Campion.

They were new to the neighborhood and were excited about seeing their new school.

Berhane said they moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia three years ago. Before that, they spent 10 years in a refugee camp there.

Berhane said now only faith can pull him through the sudden death of his daughter.

“I know she’s going to go to heaven because of our faith in Jesus Christ,” Berhane

The woman accused in the hit-and-run, 39-year-old Angela Smith, was arrested and charged on Friday.

A woman accused in a hit-and-run crash that killed an 8-year-old girl in Fort Bend County will face upgraded charges.

She did not answer questions as deputies walked her to a patrol car. Sheriff Troy Nehls said during her interview that Smith had little emotion.

“She has not asked about the status of the person she struck. Very little sympathy and quite honestly, very little remorse,” Nehls said in a Friday afternoon news conference.

Twelve minutes after allegedly hitting Sessina, she rear-ended another vehicle. That driver took a picture that helped deputies identify Smith. They say her family led them to her and her car at Edgewood Park in southeast Houston.

ABC13 was there when they took her in. Nehls said she eventually told them why she left.

“The reason she left the scene, she didn’t stop is because she was scared,” Nehls said. “She had a suspended driver’s license, but she knew she hit somebody.”

Her car’s driver’s side windshield was shattered. The car’s hood was dented. Investigators say the child flew 20 feet on impact.

The victim was crossing Bissonnet at the crosswalk with her brother and sister. Deputies say Smith ran the stop sign and hit the girl.

“All of a sudden I heard my neighbor saying, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’” Bolanle Awoniyi said.

Awoniyi called 911. She says the little girl had a faint pulse when paramedics arrived.

The child was pronounced dead Saturday evening.

A GoFundMe account has been launched to help the Kahsay family pay for Sessina’s funeral.

Smith was originally charged with failure to stop and render aid, a 3rd degree felony with bond set at $40,000.

Her charges were updated Sunday to felony failure to stop and render aid in the second degree. Smith’s bond was increased to $100,000.

Her now-deleted social media accounts show her with children.

In 2008, Smith was convicted on marijuana possession in Harris County.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account has been made for Sesinna’s funeral expenses. You can make a donation through here.


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Q&A: The Failed Power Grab in Ethiopia

Ethiopian diplomat Samia Zekaria tells Al Jazeera that the attempted power grab in Ethiopia this week "came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms" undertaken under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April last year. (Photo: Reuters)

Al Jazeera

Q&A: ‘Power in Ethiopia to come through voting, not violence’

A failed coup bid last weekend in Ethiopia’s Amhara region was orchestrated by people seeking to forcefully seize power against the will of the population, the Ethiopian ambassador to Qatar has said, adding that the situation has now returned to normal.

In an interview with Al Jazeera this week, Samia Zekaria said the attempted power grab “came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms” undertaken by the government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April last year.

Ethiopia’s government accused General Asamnew Tsige of masterminding two separate attacks on June 22 in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa that killed several people, including the president of the Amhara region and the national army’s chief of staff. The government referred to the killings in Amhara as an attempted coup. Asamnew was shot dead on Monday by security forces.

Al Jazeera spoke to Zekaria, who assumed the position of Ethiopia’s ambassador in Qatar in February, about the recent instability in Ethiopia, the state of human rights in the country and its mediating efforts in neighbouring Sudan. The interview below has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Al Jazeera: What is the current mood in the country following last weekend’s events?

Samia Zekaria: The people of Ethiopia want peace. The coup attempt came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms undertaken by the government.

It is a national tragedy. People are condemning what has happened all across the country. Power in Ethiopia will come through the ballot box, not through violence.

Al Jazeera: Many have attributed the recent violence to ethnic tensions. Do you think Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has managed to help defuse ethnic tensions in Ethiopia?

Zekaria: Ethiopia is a country of diversity in terms of religion, language, ethnicity and culture but known for centuries to live together peacefully.

There are more than 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Some have tried to use the differences such as religion and ethnicity to cause trouble and conflict. I believe these tensions will settle down as time goes by.

The recent coup attempt was orchestrated by those who want to acquire power forcefully against the will of the people and in an unconstitutional way. The situation has been normalised now.

Read more »


Related:
Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed, 182 Others Arrested


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Sacramento, California, Fire at Ethiopian Restaurant Queen Sheba Deemed Arson

The owner of the Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento, California that was damaged by a suspicious fire earlier this week has confirmed in a Facebook update that investigators are now pursuing the fire as an arson. (Photo: sacramento cbslocal screenshot)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 26th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Earlier this week in Sacramento, California local media had reported a suspicious fire that had damaged the city’s long-standing Ethiopian Restaurant, Queen Sheba, in the wee hours of Monday morning.

The owner, Zion Taddese, had told The Sacramento Bee newspaper that she was not sure if it was a hate crime or what the motivations may have been, but she “received a call from the Sacramento Fire Department at 4:30 a.m. and first thought it was a kitchen fire. But she said security footage provided by a neighboring business on Broadway showed a person driving up and intentionally starting the fire.”

Zion confirmed in a follow up Facebook update shared yesterday that investigators are now pursuing the fire as an arson.

“It has been confirmed that the Fire Inspector is pursuing this as an arson fire based on all evidence that has been collected — The implications of which are uncertain at this time,” she said. “We do not know the reasons behind this attack, but knowing that the authorities are handling matters has been reassuring.” She added: “We are holding ourselves together for now and awaiting the outcome.”

As the NBC-affiliated media outlet KCRA-TV noted: “flames burned the front of the building, and smoke damaged the inside. Firefighters were able to put out the fire about a minute after arriving at the scene. Surveillance video from a pawn shop next door appears to show someone pulling up to the restaurant, intentionally setting the fire and then driving away. Fire officials said they have the surveillance video.”

Regarding when Queen Sheba may return back to business Zion said:”More details will follow shortly on our re-opening… as the institutions coordinate their red tape, the haze of after-fire bureaucracy is beginning to clarify some matters. Stand by for more information.”


Related:

Sacramento Bee: Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine catches fire in possible arson

Fire Damages Ethiopian Restaurant

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

A man reads the Reporter depicting the portraits of Ambachew Mekonnen, the president of the country’s Ahmara region, and of Gen. Seare Mekonnen, the chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Force, in Addis Ababa on June 24. (GETTY IMAGES)

Foreign Policy

Ethiopia Is at a ‘Very Critical Juncture’: After high-level assassinations, the country may still be in danger, says Human Rights Watch expert Felix Horne.

Ethiopia marked a national day of mourning on Monday after four government officials, including the governor of the Amhara region and the chief of the army, were assassinated over the weekend in dual attacks in Addis Ababa and Amhara’s capital city, Bahir Dar. State forces shot and killed Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige, a former political prisoner, who is allegedly responsible for the attacks, in Amhara state on Monday. Tsige was said to be resentful of perceived maltreatment by the central government, but there remains some confusion about the nature and precise planning of the attacks.

Amid an internet blackout that has forced many Ethiopians offline and restrictions on cell phone use, the country is still working to make sense of the consequences. Foreign Policy spoke to Felix Horne, an Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch, about the country’s regional politics, the record of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and what to look out for as Ethiopia confronts a volatile moment.

Foreign Policy: How do the events of the weekend fit into Ethiopia’s broader political landscape?

Felix Horne: Under Abiy’s leadership there’s been a lot of very positive human rights reforms, but one of the ongoing concerns has been the breakdown in security across wide parts of the country. And I think so far that insecurity has manifested itself in a lot of ethnic violence. At present, Ethiopia has over 3 million internally displaced people. Over this weekend, we saw a slightly different manifestation of that breakdown. While Abiy has earned a lot of praise for his human rights reforms, I think it’s clear that some of those actors that are not supportive of the regime have made their mark.

FP: What do we know about Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige? What is his relationship to Ethiopia’s broader politics?

FH: He was in the army. He was one of the individuals behind an alleged coup attempt in 2009, and he was released along with many political prisoners in 2018, and then he was quickly appointed to be the regional security head of the Amhara region.

FP: What should we know about the regional politics at play here?

FH: The dynamics of the Amhara region are interesting because on one hand you have the ruling party, so the Amhara Democratic Party who are part of the ruling coalition, and who are closely connected to Abiy. But at the same time you have the rise of Amhara nationalism, which has been very pronounced the last couple of years. So a lot of people ascertain that the appointment of Asaminew to his position as head of the peace and security bureau in the Amhara region was to appease the rising Amhara nationalists, and as part of an effort to make the ADP more appealing to a broader swath of the population. Now over the last couple of months, he has been engaging in a lot of really strong rhetoric, saying that Amharas need to arm themselves—that they are facing a lot of threats. There’s been a lot of negativity toward the federal government. He’s also been actively recruiting people to join local militias. Lots of rhetoric against the Tigrayan government of the neighboring region—there is a lot of tension along those borders. So he’s very much been a divisive figure. So he’s very much at odds with the ADP and with Abiy’s broader reform agenda, and I think the events of this weekend need to be seen in that context.

FP: Do you think that anything like this was on Abiy’s radar, and how do you think his response could shift the situation?

Read more »


Related:
Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia<

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed, 182 Others Arrested


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

More People To Be Employed In Ethiopia As Coca Cola Expands Market

The investment by Coca-Cola Company, an American multinational corporation, includes the building of a new factory in Sebeta that's expected to be the biggest plant for coca cola in Ethiopia. (Photo: Coca Cola New PET bottling plant, Addis Ababa/Dubber Consulting)

WeeTracker

For the past few years, Ethiopia has continuously attracted investments. Even despite the political ups and downs, the country’s foreign direct investment has been on an upward trajectory.

Ethiopia attracted USD 3.75 Bn worth of investments in the 2017/18 fiscal year. The country now aims to achieve USD 5.1 Bn in the current financial year.

Experts have attributed the positive growth to extensive infrastructural development and friendly government policies and strategies.

The resource-rich country has put strategic measures in place in an attempt to woo investors to pump money in their economy. A noteworthy thing they did is come up with an online investment guide.

The Sahle-Work Zewde-led country launched a web-based investment promotion tool in last year December that seeks to help investors discover opportunities in the country, business costs, key procedures and laws they may need to know before committing their money.

Hardly a year after they unveiled the investment promotion tool, the country has bagged a deal that will see USD 300 Mn pumped into their economy for the coming five years.

The investment is by Coca-Cola Company, an American multinational corporation. The company has made the announcement as they strategise on expanding.

The investment is part of a current project that the soft drink manufacturer is running where a new plant will be established at a cost USD 70 Mn. The new Coca-Cola Factory will be located in Sebeta and is expected to be the biggest plant for coca cola in Ethiopia.

Reportedly, the factory that will sit on a 14.3 hectares of land is set to be finalized early next year. It will have a manufacturing capacity of 70,000 cases per day.

The Sebeta plant will be Coca-Cola’s fourth factory in Ethiopia. The company has plans of setting up a fifth one in Hawassa, capital of the Southern Regional State.

Since its entrance in the Ethiopian market 60 years ago, the beverage manufacturer has created jobs for 2,200 locals and aims to further create 2700 jobs as it commissions the Sebeta plant.

“Coca-Cola has been present in Ethiopia for 60 years and we are proud to be associated with its growth.

“We plan to invest further and have also set some ambitious targets and goals around empowering women and youth, water conservation and access and management of plastic waste,” said Phillipine Mtikitiki General Manager for East & Central Africa.

Burno Pietracci, general manager of the East and Central African Franchise noted that the new investment also seeks to promote Ethiopia as a destination for other potential foreign investors.


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Killings & Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, attends a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. The Prime Minister sobbed openly at the service Tuesday for the military chief who was assassinated by his own bodyguard over the weekend. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Economist

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

A YEAR AGO, on June 23rd 2018, Ethiopia’s newly-inaugurated prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, took to the podium wearing a bright green T-shirt. Smiling and waving he offered hope to the tens of thousands of people who had flocked to a rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, in support of his promise to bring democracy to a country that has seen precious little of it.

Almost to the day a year later he again addressed the nation, this time on national television wearing army uniform to declare, stony faced, that his government had just thwarted a coup. It was a sharp reminder of the fragility of his democratic revolution.

Read more »


Related:
An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia


The coffin of assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen is taken away for burial after a state ceremony at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET and ANDREW MELDRUM

UPDATED: JUNE 25TH, 2019

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sobbed openly at a service Tuesday for the country’s military chief who was assassinated by his bodyguard over the weekend.

Abiy’s sweeping reforms since his election last year have been threatened by two violent attacks on Saturday in which the army chief and a retired general were killed in Addis Ababa and three regional officials were killed in Amhara province, north of the capital.

Brig. Birhanu Jelan, the deputy army chief, speaking at the service Tuesday in Millennium Hall in the capital, said Ethiopia’s security forces will fight to maintain the country’s unity and stability.

In the wake of the killings Abiy has ordered a security crackdown in which the general accused of leading the plot was killed Monday and more than 180 have been arrested.

The internet has been shut down since Sunday.

Eskinder Nega, a prominent rights activist, told The Associated Press that several members of his Baladera Council group have been detained in a wave of arrests by the security forces since Saturday’s killings.

Widespread arrests are taking place in Bahir Dar, the regional capital of Amhara, according to residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity for their security.

Abiy’s visible distress at the service is understandable, according to experts on Ethiopia’s politics.


Members of the military shed a tear during a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)


Members of the military shed a tear during a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)


The coffin of assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen rests in state during a state ceremony at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sobbed openly at the service Tuesday for the military chief who was assassinated by his own bodyguard over the weekend. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

“The assassinations were a severe setback to Abiy and a wake-up call showing the fragility of his reform plans,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at Chatham House in London.

“Abiy has shown tremendous bravery in his reform agenda and in trying to dismantle the military and security regime that had run Ethiopia. These attacks show that some of those threatened by his reforms are striking back. The danger is that Abiy will respond to this by becoming more authoritarian himself.”

The weekend assassinations in Addis Ababa and Amhara were “a blow to Abiy’s democratization agenda and may well worsen Ethiopia’s political and security crisis if key issues are not urgently tackled,” said William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia for the International Crisis Group.

“Abiy’s challenges include divisions within the ruling EPRDF party that are exacerbated by opposition challengers, including strong ethno-nationalist movements,” said Davison. “The consequent dysfunction of an until recently all-powerful ruling coalition is reducing government effectiveness and contributing to the insecurity. Unless this situation improves, then it will be difficult to create a conducive environment for the planned competitive elections next year.”


Related:

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed, 182 Others Arrested


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)


Officials say the coup attempt occurred in Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia. (Google map)

CNN

Ethiopian officials say a coup attempt on Saturday against the Amhara regional government has failed.

“We confirm there has been a coup attempt against the leadership of the Amhara regional state,” said Ethiopian Press Secretary Negussu Tilahun.

He said the coup attempt in Bahir Dar, the regional capital, had failed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a tweet that federal police have been authorized to “take action on the instigators.”

It was not immediately known who was behind the failed coup.

Separately, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a security alert saying it is aware of shots being fired in the capital, as well as violence in and around Bahir Dar.

Read more »


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Slate on Ethiopia’s Displacement Crisis

Ethiopia’s current situation brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous warning that the most dangerous moment for a government is when it starts to reform. (Photo: A group of internally displaced people waits for aid distribution near shelters at Qercha village on May 20 in southern Ethiopia/ by Yonas Kiros/Getty Images)

Slate Magazine

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

The world’s largest new population of displaced people results from a conflict that has received shockingly little international attention: More than 1.5 million people were displaced by violence in Ethiopia last year, nearly all of them internally. This increase doubled the total number of displaced people in the country.

The fact is surprising in part because Ethiopia is enjoying a period of unusually good publicity. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took over in April 2018, has earned international praise for an ambitious reform agenda that has included freeing thousands of political prisoners, reining in the country’s security services, lifting a state of emergency and restrictions on the media, and resolving a long-running border conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But Monday’s headlines, which saw the killing of a general accused of plotting a coup attempt, suggest the government’s position is fragile. Ethiopia’s current situation brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous warning that the most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it starts to reform.

Now that the government is in a moment of transition, ethnic conflict is surfacing. Much of the worst of the crisis has occurred in the country’s southern region, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by fighting between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups. Abiy is Oromo, and many of his reforms are meant to address the marginalization of several ethnic groups, including his own. But observers say the reforms have emboldened communal violence by Oromos. Tensions between the two groups are not new but have intensified in recent years due in part to competition over scarce farmland and resources. (Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world.) Lynchings, rapes, and beheadings have been reported.

Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian political scientist at Georgia Gwinnett College, said in a phone interview that he doesn’t believe Abiy’s government has stoked the violence but said that the prime minister has failed to adequately address it: “Ethiopia is becoming more fragile in that, when you look at the federal government’s inability to curb the violence.”

Many experts see the current crisis as the consequence of the Ethiopian government’s decision in the mid-1990s to set up a system of ethnic federalism, giving groups a greater degree of political autonomy within nine ethnic-based regional states. The system was meant to quell conflict in a country with nearly 80 ethnic groups. The problem, as Gedamu put it, is that “you cannot give every ethnic group its own state, so you have to somehow make it work. The political parties have also become ethnic in nature. It led to the growth of so many nationalist movements. Every political and economic grievance is voiced by ethnic parties or movements.”

Read the full article at slate.com »


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In US, Las Vegas Gives Warm Welcome to Ethiopia Embassy Delegation – Photos

Ethiopia's Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega in Las Vegas meeting with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Assemblyman Alexander Assefa last week. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 24th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – In Las Vegas last week Assemblyman Alexander Assefa — who is the first Ethiopian American lawmaker elected to the Nevada State Assembly — was among the local elected officials who met with Ethiopia’s new Ambassador to the U.S., Fitsum Arega. The Ambassador’s trip to Las Vegas on June 18th was part of his ongoing engagement with the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States.

Ambassador Fitsum also met with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in addition to holding a public forum with the Ethiopian community similar to his earlier visit to California. An announcement was also shared on Twitter that the Ambassador discussed the potential launching of an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Las Vegas in his discussion with Mayor Goodman.

“I thank City of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman for meeting us and offer to facilitate Ethiopian opening service to Las Vegas,” Ambassador Fitsum said on Twitter. He also thanked members of the Ethiopian Diaspora as well as organizers of the town hall meeting:

Below are photos from the event shared on social media by Ambassador Fitsum Arega:


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Related:
In the West Coast, Ethiopia Appeals to Diaspora, African Americans to Invest
In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

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Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed

Ethiopians follow the news on television at a cafe in Addis Ababa, Sunday, June 23, 2019. Ethiopia's government foiled a coup attempt in a region north of the capital and the country's military chief was shot dead, the prime minister Abiy Ahmed said Sunday in a TV announcement. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET and ANDREW MELDRUM

UPDATED: JUNE 24TH, 2019

Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed, 182 Others Arrested

ADDIS ABABA — The Ethiopian army general accused of leading a failed coup in a restive northern region was killed Monday in a firefight with security forces amid a security crackdown in which more than 180 others have been arrested.

Brig. Gen. Asamnew Tsige was killed on the outskirts of Bahir Dar, capital of the northern Amhara region, Nigussu Tilahun, a spokesman in the prime minister’s office, told The Associated Press.

Ethiopian forces had been hunting down Asamnew since he and soldiers loyal to him attacked a meeting of the Amhara government in the regional capital Saturday, killing the regional governor and his adviser. The region’s attorney-general died of his wounds on Monday, according to local media reports.

The attack Saturday was followed hours later by the assassination in the national capital, Addis Ababa, of the chief of Ethiopia’s military and a retired army general by a bodyguard.

The killings were widely seen as an attack on Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has pushed through sweeping reforms since his election last year.

Asamnew, the renegade general blamed for the violence, had been pardoned by Abiy after being jailed by the previous government for allegedly plotting a coup. He had recently used social media posts to incite a rebellion in Amhara, according to reports in the Ethiopian media.

The shootout in which Asamnew was killed comes as the government roots out others suspected of supporting the rebellion. Four high-ranking officials in Amhara, including the deputy head of security there, were taken into custody Monday, according to Abere Adamu, chief of the Amhara police commission. Another 178 people have also been arrested on suspicion of taking part in violence in the region, he said.

An internet shutdown has been in force across Ethiopia since Saturday’s killings.

Flags flew at half-mast throughout Ethiopia on Monday, which was declared a day of national mourning following Saturday’s violence. Addis Ababa was peaceful as soldiers stood guard in Meskel Square and manned roadblocks throughout the capital.


Security forces stand guard in Meskel Square in central Addis Ababa Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The 42-year-old Abiy has initiated sweeping political and economic reforms, including the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea, the opening of major state-owned sectors to private investment and the release of thousands of political prisoners, including opposition figures once sentenced to death.

Although Abiy’s reforms are widely popular, some members of the previous regime are unhappy with the changes and the prime minister has survived a number of threats.

Last June, a grenade meant for Abiy killed two people and wounded many others at a big rally. Nine police officials were arrested, state media reported. In October, rebellious soldiers protesting over salaries invaded Abiy’s office, but the prime minister was able to defuse the situation.

Ethiopia is a key regional ally of the U.S. in the restive Horn of Africa region.

Tibor Nagy, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the latest violence was a “shock, but it could have turned out so much worse.”

“Thankfully Prime Minister Abiy escaped this attempt, because there are many, many more people in Ethiopia who support his reforms than those who are opposed to them,” he told reporters Sunday in Pretoria, South Africa.

Adding that “there are vestiges of the old regime” who are opposed to Abiy, Nagy said: “I wish I could say that this is will be the last of these attempts, but no one can be certain.”


Abiy Ahmed announced a failed coup attempt during a public address on TV Sunday, June 23, 2019, allegedly led by a high-ranking military official and others in the Amhara region. (ETV via AP)


Related:

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)


Officials say the coup attempt occurred in Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia. (Google map)

CNN

Ethiopian officials say a coup attempt on Saturday against the Amhara regional government has failed.

“We confirm there has been a coup attempt against the leadership of the Amhara regional state,” said Ethiopian Press Secretary Negussu Tilahun.

He said the coup attempt in Bahir Dar, the regional capital, had failed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a tweet that federal police have been authorized to “take action on the instigators.”

It was not immediately known who was behind the failed coup.

Separately, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a security alert saying it is aware of shots being fired in the capital, as well as violence in and around Bahir Dar.

Read more »


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She Married Emperor Haile Selassie’s Great-Grandson: Ariana Makonnen Tells Her Love Story

In an article published this week by Town & Country Magazine Ariana Makonnen shares how she and her husband, Joel Dawit Makonnen, met in Washington, D.C. (Photo: ANTWON MAXWELL)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 23rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – You may remember this great love story between a young American woman and an Ethiopian prince who met in a DC nightclub a few years ago. Their wedding celebration in 2017 had received international media attention.

In a recent personal essay published by Town & Country Magazine Ariana Makonnen, who is married to Joel Dawit Makonnen — the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie — tells her story of how she met her future husband who happens to be a member of Ethiopia’s former royal family and “the oldest monarchy in the world” that traces its roots to “the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.”

The year was 2005 and Ariana had just quit a Ph.D. program in English and got a job in a clothing boutique in Washington, D.C.

“Little did I know, that decision would not just change my career and my education, but the direction of my entire life,” Ariana shares. “I grew up in a close, ethnically mixed, fun-loving family with my two sisters and brother. My father is a writer, former sociology professor, and foundation executive from Kentucky, and my mother is an executive in the world of arts and humanities from Guyana. We were steeped in the arts, passionate about education, and oriented toward service and social justice. We believed in offering the world more than you took, making it better than when you arrived.”

Love at first sight

One night that same year Ariana was out having fun with friends at a nightclub in D.C. when “a man approached us and told my friend and me that we looked like a “Bombay Sapphire ad,” a line that’s now famous in our families. He had this open, playful energy and he was really handsome. We connected right away, talking easily and laughing,” she recalls in the Town & Country article. “He told me that his name was Joel and that he was finishing his last semester of college at American University, completing a double degree in international business — one part at his “home” college in Nice, France, and then this second portion in America.” Ariana adds: “From that first encounter on the dance floor, we were instantly drawn together. He was so cosmopolitan, charming — born in Rome, he had attended boarding school in Switzerland, lived in Ethiopia, and was fluent in several languages. We talked about our families: He told me that his mother worked at the United Nations and that his father, who’d passed away, had been a captain in the Ethiopian Imperial Army.”

But Ariana did not learn Joel’s family background until after they started dating and when a friend causally mentioned it: “He jokingly said you know you’re dating a prince, right?” I looked at Joel. He nodded and smiled. I reacted with a bit of shock and a bit of awe. “Really?” I said. Finally, he said “Yeah,” but not much more. I was definitely curious, but we didn’t discuss it further then, because he made it seem like not that big of a deal, and because I could tell he didn’t want to delve much deeper.”

Haile Selassie


QUEEN ELIZABETH, EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE I OF ETHIOPIA AND PRINCE PHILIP AT A DINNER DURING THE QUEEN’S OFFICIAL VISIT ON FEBRUARY 2, 1965 TO ETHIOPIA. (KEYSTONE-FRANCE)

“Even before I met Joel, I knew about his great-grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia,” Ariana says. “Many West Indians, like my mother’s family, hold him in their greatest esteem.”

You can read Ariana Makonnen’s full article at townandcountrymag.


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Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa

Ethiopian Airlines has been honored as the ‘Best Airline in Africa’ for the third consecutive year at the 2019 World Airlines Awards held in Paris on June 18th, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 21st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – For the third year in a row, Ethiopian Airlines has been voted the Best Airline in Africa at the 2019 World Airline Awards.

Presented during the Paris Air Show this week the award is considered one of the most prestigious recognitions in the global airline industry.

Ethiopian Airlines also received the top awards for ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ and ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’ at the event held on Tuesday, June 18th and hosted by Skytrax, the leading airline review and ranking website.

“I would like to sincerely thank first and foremost our global customers for the strong and consistent vote of confidence,” said the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam in a statement, noting that the airline services “more than 120 destinations worldwide with 115 ultra-modern fleet, offering excellent connectivity with one of the best travel experiences that helped us become the best airline in Africa and one of the frontrunners in the world.”

In a press release the company added: “While much has evolved in the industry, Ethiopian has stood the test of time and achieved most of its overarching goals, going halfway through its projected 15 year plan, Vision 2025. Ethiopian is now expanding its footprint to underserved global destinations and is serving global travelers with its signature Africa’s flavored Ethiopian hospitality onboard and in the air. True to form, the airline has also continued pushing the frontiers of aviation technology with the 21st century new generation fleet.”


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In the West Coast, Ethiopia Appeals to Diaspora, African Americans to Invest

Ethiopia’s L.A. Consul General Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni and Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega hold town-hall meeting in San Diego on June 16th, 2019 as apart of their current campaign to engage the diaspora. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – This past week Ethiopia’s new Ambassador to the United States, Fitsum Arega, visited Southern California where he met with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora as well as local elected officials in Los Angeles. He also made stops in San Diego (June 16th) and Las Vegas (June 18th), and is expected to travel to San Francisco Bay area on June 22nd as well as to Houston on June 23rd.

Ambassador Fitsum’s call for African American investors to engage in business ventures in Ethiopia got the attention of The Los Angeles Sentinel, “an African American-owned and operated newspaper that puts emphasis on issues concerning the African American community and its readers.”

The Sentinel enthused about Ethiopia’s outreach in its headline titled “Opportunities Abound in Ethiopia for African Americans” and highlighted the California trip by officials from the Ethiopian embassy.

“The government of Ethiopia is rolling out the welcome mat to African Americans to explore business opportunities and tourist destinations throughout the historic nation,” the publication noted.

“During a visit to Los Angeles on June 14, Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega outlined the many prospects for investors, companies and entrepreneurs to benefit by engaging with the country, which is experiencing an economic upswing under the administration of Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.”

Ambassador Fitsum shared that the U.S. company PVH — which owns brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, and is the second biggest African trader — is partnering with the Ethiopian government for the first textile operation in Africa. “We have 53 factories in one place,” Ambassador Fitsum said.

Through his twitter account Fitsum also shared his meeting with the Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti:

The Sentinel added: “While Arega promoted Ethiopian business opportunities, he also encouraged investment possibilities in Africa.”

Several Chinese corporations are already involved with infrastructure and economic development projects throughout the African continent, and the Sentinel noted that “Ambassador Fitsum recommended that both African American and American firms do likewise.”

Fitsum’s visit to California also included a town hall gathering for the Ethiopian Diaspora in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Below are photos and tweets:


Ethiopian diaspora hold town-hall in L.A. on June 15th, 2019. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Ethiopia’s L.A. Consul General Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni and Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega hold town-hall meeting with the Ethiopian Diaspora in Los Angeles on June 15th, 2019. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Town-hall in San Diego on June 16th, 2019 (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Related:
In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

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Ethiopia Finally Has Its Internet Back

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s sole provider, restored service Tuesday after intermittent outages left most of the country’s 16 million internet users unable to access the web or social media for the past week. (AP photo)

VOA

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON – This report originated in the Horn of Africa service. Alula Kebede contributed to the story.

After days without access, internet users in Ethiopia can once again get online.

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s sole provider, restored service Tuesday after intermittent outages left most of the country’s 16 million internet users unable to access the web or social media for the past week.

The telecom giant, also the country’s main mobile phone provider, acknowledged the outage and apologized for inconveniencing their customers, waiving monthly fees and extending times to use prepaid plans.

The shutdown also affected access to Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging app many Ethiopians use on their mobile phones.

NetBlocks, an independent civil society group that tracks internet shutdowns around the globe, first identified the outage in Ethiopia June 11 and recorded episodic starts and stops since then.

Neither the government nor Ethio Telecom has confirmed why the shutdown happened, but some have speculated that officials cut the internet to prevent high school students from cheating on a national exam.

In 2016 and 2017, the government shut off the internet to block the leak of stolen exam answers.

Tilaye Gete, Ethiopia’s minister of education, told VOA Amharic his ministry did not order the shutdown. “It is not the work of the Ministry of Education but the work of Ethio Telecom, and I want to confirm that the exams weren’t stolen,” he said.

Tilaye added that the federal government has taken into custody more than 100 people accused of distributing stolen exam answers. About 1.5 million 10th grade students took the exam at 2,800 testing centers, he said.

Similar shutdowns in Ethiopia have also occurred during protests and civil unrest, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to a free and open society, despite rhetoric vaunting the benefits of democratic participation.

“It worries me that the government response for every problem has become shutting down the internet without any due process,” Atnafu Berhane, an Ethiopian blogger and a co-founder of the Zone 9, a collective of outspoken political bloggers, told VOA in an email response.

“People have the right to access to information, and the government is taking away that right from the people,” he added.

Investors also worry that frequent shutdowns could ensnarl Ethiopia’s efforts to open and expand its economy — one of Africa’s fastest growing. Any businesses that rely on internet access will experience disruptions with a shutdown, especially with country-wide blackouts like the most recent outage.

Internet disruptions have a tangible financial impact, according to NetBlocks. In Ethiopia, a complete shutdown costs the country about $4.5 million a day, the group estimates.

Internet access in Ethiopia remains low, with just 15% of the population benefiting from regular, reliable access. On the whole, Africa is one of the least-connected places on Earth, with a continent-wide access rate of 37%. But some countries fare better. In Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, 56% of people have reliable access. In Kenya, the most-connected country, the number stands at 83%.


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CFR on Ethiopia’s Transition & Challenges

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a United States nonprofit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. (Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responds to questions at the Parliament in Addis Ababa, on February 1, 2019/ Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Council on Foreign Relations

U.S. Should Acknowledge Critical Challenges for Ethiopia’s Transition

Anyone fishing for a good news story out of Africa recently, and rightly, has celebrated Ethiopia, where dynamic young Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has dramatically opened political space, departing from decades of repressive, tightly controlled government. Abiy is a charismatic whirlwind of activity—making peace with neighboring Eritrea, working to open the Ethiopian economy to new opportunities for growth, and even mediating between protestors and securocrats in Sudan. Anyone who cares about stability and prosperity in Africa, and anyone who understands how important African partnership will be to tackle the foreign policy challenges of the future, is pulling for him to succeed. Just days ago, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg wove Ethiopia into a major foreign policy address, citing the country as an example of “what it looks like when hope triumphs over hostility.”

But Ethiopia faces real and urgent challenges, and it is critical that well-wishers not ignore them. Abiy has lifted the lid off of a pressure cooker—one his predecessors held in place with sometimes brutal force—and in some cases the result has not been euphoria, but rather messy, complex eruptions of communal violence. Ethiopia’s story is not a simple one, and the millions internally displaced over the past year, the worrying reports of forced returns, and the potential for 2020 elections to be a flashpoint should focus the minds of policy-makers around concrete ways to provide support to what is sure to be a long and complex transition.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s dozen most populous countries, characterized by tremendous ethnic and linguistic diversity. Over 60 percent of the population is under the age of twenty-five. Despite real gains over the past years, many Ethiopians still live in severe poverty, and official literacy rates hover at around half of the population. It is not an easy country to govern in any circumstance. Against that backdrop, and at a moment of profound change, in which the role of the state and indeed the unifying national idea is being rethought, the possibility of more instability is very real.

The Unites States and others ought to be more ambitious in finding new ways to support the resilience of governing institutions, mechanisms for reconciling longstanding grievances, and the capacity of a government inclined to respect the civil and political rights of citizens to also deliver services and opportunity. Countless talented and patriotic Ethiopians from around the country and across the diaspora have mobilized, sometimes upending their own lives, to lend support to their government’s liberalizing project. They know this will not be a year’s work—it is a generational project. A clear sense of U.S. strategic interests indicates that it is one that deserves more of our own attention and support.


Related:
In Ethiopia, Former U.S. Diplomats See Promise in Reform (U.S. Institute of Peace)
Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia
Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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PM Abiy’s Father Ahmed Ali Dies at 105

Ahmed Ali, father of Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed, passed away on Monday, June 17th at the age of 105, according to the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting. (Photo: @fanatelevision/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 18th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s father Ahmed Ali died Monday afternoon, state media reports. He was 105 years old.

According to Fana Broadcasting the PM’s father passed away while receiving treatment at a hospital in Jima.

Citing the Agaro town government communication affairs office in Jima, Fana reports that Mr. Ahmed will be buried on Tuesday.


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Summer Previews of Ethiopian Art in the Diaspora – Media Roundup

The Addis Fine Art gallery, which was established in 2016 by Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile, has been cited by Artsy among the 27 rising galleries from around the world that are "shifting the global conversation around contemporary art." (Portrait of Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: June 17th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — From New York to Chicago and London this summer has seen the opening of several exhibitions and global news coverage profiling Ethiopian artists. Below are a few highlights:

Elias Sime

Elias Sime’s current New York exhibition, Noiseless, at James Cohan gallery continues to receive rave reviews before it closes on June 29th. Most recently Sime’s exhibit was featured in Brooklyn-based online arts magazine Hyperallergic, which notes that the Ethiopian artist “makes wall sculptures from castoff computer parts that evoke the toxic dumping of these materials around the world.” In the review titled “Mosaics of Motherboards, Keyboards, and Wire” the writer John Yau says that Sime’s ‘Tightrope: I BURNED IT’ piece is among his favorite and shares that “it is made of hundreds of tiles covered in different hues of red, white, blue, and green insulated wire, woven into patterns and abstract configurations that are unique to each piece” adding “I don’t remember ever seeing Simes do anything like this before. He is always methodical and meticulous, but when he is pictorial and uses the computer components toward pictorial ends, he begins to lose me…This disruption infuses the work with staying power, as it pulls us into the realm of speculation and reflection.”


“Elias Sime: NOISELESS” at James Cohan Gallery, Chelsea, installation view: left: “Tightrope: Noiseless 23” (2019); center: “Tightrope: Noiseless 10” (2019)

As Tadias magazine reported a few weeks ago Elias is also gearing up for his first traveling U.S. museum exhibition later this year. The inaugural show will take place at the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College from September 7 through December 8, 2019 and will feature a collection of his work created in the past ten years. According to organizers the exhibit entitled Elias Sime: Tightrope includes “a large outdoor site-specific sculpture, created out of repurposed computer parts, electrical wires, bronze and clay.”

Aida Muluneh

In its June issue The Atlantic magazine features an insightful piece by journalist Hannah Giorgis, who covers culture for the American publication, titled “The Photographer Fighting Visual Clichés of Africa,” and highlighting Aida Muluneh as “one of Ethiopia’s reigning image-makers.” Aida, who is a former Washington Post photojournalist and a New Yorker tells Hannah: “You can’t fantasize about making an impact in Ethiopia by being in New York or somewhere else…You have to actually be on the ground.” Hannah adds that “Muluneh’s vibrant acuity, as disorienting as it is alluring, has the power to evoke a place—Africa—and at the same time subvert conventional ideas about it.”


Denkinesh/Part One. (Aïda Muluneh)

You can read Hannah’s full article at theatlantic.com.

Merid Tafese

The work of Ethiopian artist Merid Tafese and his solo exhibit at Gallery Guichard in Chicago was also featured in Rollingout Magazine, which covers music, politics and culture with a focus on the African American community.

“For Merid Tafese his fondest memories are of his father’s extensive book collection, which would play a major role in him becoming an artist” the article notes. Merid’s exhibition is called “A Stream of Consciousness,” and as he told the magazine this is the first time in his two-decade career as a contemporary artist that he is represented by a gallery. “And the fact that the gallery is a Black-owned gallery makes it even more special,” Merid says. Merid’s work in this exhibit includes “a collection of easily five years work and change of medium, thought, mood.”


Artist Merid Tafese (Photo credit: Tony Binns for Steed Media)

Reflecting on the influence of his father’s international book collection on his work as an artist Merid — who is the sixth generation direct descendant of King Sahle Selassie — notes that “[At] a time of fear, terror and being disconnected from the rest of the planet, the collection of books was my scope to look beyond what was happening in my beloved country in the Dergue military junta time. [In] the same way, my art was my outlet and the only free space to be creative and say anything I want. So both the books and my creative process of doing art worked hand-in-hand contributed to my development as an artist.”

You can read Rollingout’s full interview with Merid Tafese here.

Julie Mehretu, Kebedech Tekleab and Mezgebu Tesema

The Wallace Art Gallery at Columbia University in NYC also has group show exhibiting the work of ten international artists including three who are Ethiopian: Julie Mehretu, Kebedech Tekleab and Mezgebu Tesema. The exhibit, which opened on Friday, June 14th is titled ‘After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art’ and focuses on “how temporality shapes new forms of politics, history, subjectivity and the turn to neoliberal global politics.” According to the gallery “It features artists looking at countries including Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. Less than thirty years since independence from colonialism, the end of the Cold War brought down socialist governments and sparked a wave of upheaval among young African nations. The need to reimagine national narratives gave rise to a generation of artists that seek to make sense of the dramatic shifts witnessed by their countries.” The show is on view through October 13th, 2019.

Addis Fine Art’s Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile


Founders of Addis Fine Art Mesai Haileleul & Rakeb Sile. (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

Last, but not least, the Addis Fine Art gallery, which was established only three years ago by Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile, has been cited by Artsy – the online art collection and education platform — as being among the 27 rising galleries from around the world that are “shifting the global conversation around contemporary art.”

Addis Fine Art is Ethiopia’s first gallery to focus on contemporary art from Ethiopia and its Diaspora. Artsy notes: “It took an art dealer in Los Angeles and a business consultant in London to create Ethiopia’s most exciting young gallery. After attending the 1-54 African Art Fair in London, Rakeb Sile wondered why there weren’t more Ethiopian artists who were globally known. She discovered Mesai Haileleul, a gallery owner who had been in L.A. for 30 years selling Ethiopian art, and had not returned to his home country in decades. Sile went to L.A. to find him and lured him back to Africa, convincing him to dive into the local art market. The two opened a gallery in Addis Ababa, and it quickly became the go-to place for Ethiopian art, especially after opening a sister space in London to connect the artists with collectors in European markets.”

You can read the Q&A with Mesai and Rakeb at artsy.net.


Related:
Art Talk: Photojournalist Michael Tsegaye’s U.S. Exhibit ‘Crooked River’
In Pictures: Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC
Spotlight: ZAAF Fashion Photos Shot in Afar, Ethiopia at Smithsonian in DC

Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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Art Talk: Photojournalist Michael Tsegaye’s U.S. Exhibit ‘Crooked River’

(Image by Michael Tsegaye)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 15th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – When asked in a 2011 Tadias interview about what good photography is, Michael Tsegaye — whose upcoming U.S. exhibition ‘Crooked River’ is set to open at Cleveland Print Room in Cleveland, Ohio this month — had quoted the French art critic Jacques Leenhardt saying: “Photography is best when it emulates poetry,” portraying “not only the complex and problematic reality of the outside world, but also the way a person’s eye has seen it. It shows a person’s self-expression, a person becoming the poet we all have within us.”

“I think this is a very true statement,” Michael added.

In his own right, for the past several years, the Ethiopian photojournalist has been creating lyrical images inspired by his surroundings in Ethiopia and elsewhere, documenting whatever captures his eye at a given moment and exhibiting his work at numerous venues both locally and internationally while leaving the reactions and imaginations to the rest of us.

Many transformational events have taken place in Ethiopia since Michael Tsegaye shared his artistic philosophy with us in a Q&A eight years ago. The New York Times followed up with him in 2014 noting that “He captures sweeping panoramas, of markets springing up along newly built roads, or small details, like the cracked images on gravestones being moved to make way for development, or the rapidly disappearing communities in Addis Ababa that have been gentrified with new high-rises.” At the time Michael had astutely said: “I know the city is going to be different in 10 years. It’s going to be a memory for me, these pictures. You know the saying, ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone?’ That was in my mind when I took these pictures. I tried to work with that.”

‘Crooked River’

For his show in Cleveland, which is scheduled to open on June 21st and remain on display through August 3rd, the Cleveland Print Room Gallery has announced that Michael, who is currently their Creative Fusion International Artist-in-Residence, “will transform the gallery into the Cuyahoga River and its crooked bends from aerial photos and photographs from the riverbed.”

The Cuyahoga River in Ohio is best known for helping to launch the environmental movement in the United States in the late 1960s after the water shockingly “caught fire” due to high levels of pollution. According to the announcement: “As part of the lead up to the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River catching fire on June 22, 1969, the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion: Waterways to Waterways Edition will bring together a group of international and local artists to focus on projects that connect the regenerative efforts for the Cuyahoga to global waterways.”

Below is a brief bio of Michael Tsegaye from his website:

“Born in 1975, Michael Tsegaye lives and works in Addis Ababa. He received his diploma in painting from Addis Ababa University’s School of Fine Arts and Design in 2002, but soon gave up painting after he developed an allergy to oil paint. He subsequently found his real passion in photography and has made of it not only a profession, but a way of expressing a very particular voice.”

“As a photographer I try as much as possible to escape being pigeonholed. I place myself among my peers (photographers and painters) across the world,” Michael says. “While the spirit of my culture — its traditions in music, poetry and literature — informs my photography, my goal is that of any artist: to understand my life and standpoint in the 21st century, and express these through art.”


If You Go
CROOKED RIVER, AN EXHIBITION BY MICHAEL TSEGAYE
FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2019
5:00 PM 9:00 PM
CLEVELAND PRINT ROOM
(MAP)
www.clevelandprintroom.com

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In Ethiopia, Former U.S. Diplomats See Promise in Reform (U.S. Institute of Peace)

This week the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC held a panel featuring former American diplomats to Ethiopia to "identify what lessons are relevant to engagement with Ethiopia today." The event was held on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at USIP. (Photo: From left: Moderator Aly Verjee, Senior Africa Program Advisor at USIP, Ambassador David Shinn, Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal, Ambassador Marc Baas and Ambassador Donald Booth. (U.S. Institute of Peace)

USIP

As the country’s new, young leader spurs dramatic change, serious challenges lie ahead, say former American ambassadors.

In Ethiopia, political prisoners are free and the security services revamped. Women now comprise half the cabinet, and serve as ceremonial head of state, chief justice, and chair of the electoral commission. Significant steps have been taken toward resolving a 20-year conflict with neighboring Eritrea and reforms to unleash the economy—already one of Africa’s fastest growing—are ostensibly on the way. Elections are slated for next year. Under Abiy Ahmed, the nation’s popular new prime minister, Ethiopia is changing in ways long desired by American policymakers, agreed four former U.S. ambassadors to the country. Yet the most the U.S. is likely to do is offer encouragement and a bit of support, they said.

In the past 15 months, Abiy has introduced a “blitzkrieg of reforms,” said Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Institute of Peace senior advisor on Africa, in remarks opening the ambassadors’ discussion at the Institute. After 25 years of rule by the coalition of parties known as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the 42-year old reformist politician has lifted the state of emergency under which it governed and promised to break up and privatize the inefficient state-owned holding companies that strangled Ethiopia’s economy, Carson said.

Despite the positive trends, the ambassadors, whose experience in Ethiopia spanned more than 20 years, concurred with Carson that history in the ethnically divided country has not been erased. The concerns for the future include the possibility that Abiy’s reforms are exacerbating communal tensions, whether the pace of transition is faster than the public can absorb and whether the country is capable of conducting free, fair and peaceful elections in 2020, he said.

Many of the themes implicated in the current round of reforms confronted Ethiopia during the ex-ambassadors’ service in the country, said Aly Verjee, the discussion’s moderator—democratization, elections, economic reforms, political restructuring, federalism, and relations with Eritrea.

“This is not to say Ethiopia faces an exact replica of the past,” said Verjee, a USIP visiting expert in the politics of East Africa. “But it is instructive to see how they, and the United States, dealt with these issues.”

Ethiopian Experience

To illustrate the complexity of Ethiopia, Verjee asked the ex-diplomats what they wish they had known before taking their posts in Addis Ababa and what they learned on the ground.

For Marc Bass, who arrived in 1991, just weeks after the communist regime of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown by the EPRDF, it was the depth of ethnic identity in regions that are “more like nation states.” The intensity of the divisions created a “zero sum politics where if you get something, I lose something.” Aurelia Brazeal, the ambassador from 2002-2005, said getting to know the Ethiopian diaspora would have helped with her mission, given the ex-patriates’ role in the country. As for surprises, David Shinn, who became ambassador in 1996, said he found “compromise came very hard to highlanders on both sides of the [Ethiopia-Eritrea] border. You just have to accept that.”

While Washington shows little interest in Africa at the moment, there are a few things the U.S. might do, realistically, over the next 12 to 18 months to aid the country’s democratic transition, Shinn said. It would start with moral and financial support for institutions that promote democracy including a free press, the electoral commission (which other donor countries are eager to assist) and civil society. The U.S. might also offer technical advice on moving quickly to replace the 2007 census with a new one to apportion representation, Shinn said.

“These are relatively small contributions to the problem,” he said. “In the final analysis the fix has to be Ethiopian.”

Election Prospects

While Shinn said he is far from convinced the country will be ready for elections on any level next year, neither can they be indefinitely put off. Hopeful signs include that Abiy is not using a weakening EPRDF to manipulate the electorate, said Donald Booth, who served from 2010-2013. Brazeal noted that the population is more literate than it was in 2005—the only previous competitive, if disputed, election in Ethiopia’s 2,000-year history—and much better informed through social media. Remote regions once virtually cut off from outside communications are now connected, Bass said. In addition, Abiy, who still rules by fiat, has promoted press freedom, a shift that the former diplomats agreed should help foster a more open electoral process.

The vigorous involvement of U.S., NGO and other national and international observers and mediators helped dampen violence and limit breakdown in the system in 2005, said Brazeal, the ambassador at the time. It did not restrain subsequent arrests, detentions and exiles, however. The EPDRF had been jolted by its failures in the election and was determined not to be surprised again, she said. “I don’t know if they’ve evolved,” she said. “I hope so.”

A Booming Economy

On the economic front, Ethiopia has indisputably evolved. Its broad-based growth is the fastest in the region, averaging 10.3 percent a year from 2006-2017 compared to a regional average of 5.4 percent, according to the World Bank. Still, the country’s approximately 105 million people—the second biggest population in Africa after Nigeria—remain among the continent’s poorest, with a per capita income of $783.

Lifting the country economically became the single-minded focus of Meles Zenawi and the EPDRF after they won elections in 2010 and felt securely in control, said Booth, the U.S. ambassador from 2010 to 2013. Their argument, Booth said, was that they needed one-party control to promote growth and create the middle class critical to developing a liberal democracy. They took the opportunity to mobilize the country to do something unthinkable in the past—build a dam on the Blue Nile with only Ethiopia’s own resources.

Structural Problems

Despite the growth, the economy still faces structural problems tied to the political system, Booth said. There are too many state-owned enterprises, too much involvement by the military through entities such as the Defense Forces-owned Metals and Engineering Corporation—which the government is now trying to break up—and massive projects by the sugar corporation that are huge money losers. Yet privatization faces a huge obstacle: No foreigner will invest in Ethiopian enterprises for domestic sales if they have no foreign exchange to repatriate profits. The ban on operation by foreign banks is a big disincentive for Western and Chinese companies, he said.

Further, the lack of industrial infrastructure creates the kind of difficulties Booth said a Turkish textile manufacturer had described to him: He had to bring in tradesmen to build the plant, import all his machinery, build a cardboard box plant for shipping and create his own bus system to get production workers to their jobs.

Perhaps the U.S. could provide some ideas on how to free the economy from monopolies and oligopolies, foster competition and allow Ethiopian entrepreneurship to flourish, Booth said.

“Today we see Abiy making all these changes and most of them we really like.” he said. “But we have to be a little cautious about how much advice they’ll take from outsiders. They are going to do it their own way.”

The former ambassadors touched on other topics critical to Ethiopia’s future:

On Rising Ethnic Tensions

Abiy’s steps to expand press freedom, free political prisoners, and give civil society and NGOs more latitude are positive, Shinn said, but it can also “take the lid off of the pot,” allowing tensions previously repressed by the security forces and government to boil over. At the local level particularly, ethnic relationships are getting out of control, creating conflict without regard to what the central government is doing or can do about it, he said. “Local and regional nationalism is rearing its head” in parts of the country, Booth added. Even some regional governments in the country’s federated system lack control over all of their territory, he said.

On the Peace Agreement with Eritrea

Abiy’s quick move to end hostile relations with Eritrea by ceding disputed territory is widely viewed as his most important foreign policy initiative. Its significance for the future is unclear however, Bass said. Eritrea’s leader Isaias Afwerki, who Bass dealt with frequently, is erratic and hard to predict.

From Isaias’s point of view, Abiy has sent “the hated Tigrayans off into exile,” Booth said, referring to the ethnic group that had dominated Ethiopia’s government, making him more open to rapprochement. But the border is closed again, he said, after tens of thousands of Eritreans crossed into Ethiopia, threatening to “empty the gulag” of one of the world’s most repressive regimes. While Isaias has improved his international standing, “maybe Abiy got played,” Booth speculated. Landlocked Ethiopia ideally wants access to Eritrean ports, but who will invest in roads, railroads and port development in a country where the leader might shut it all down over a perceived slight, he asked. As welcome as the peace deal is, it may not be the end of tensions between the two countries.

On Ethiopian Demographics

“Demographics is the future that has already happened,” Brazeal said. With 43 percent of its population less than 15 years old, an urbanizing Ethiopia faces the urgent need to create millions of jobs annually, she said. Brazeal said she has been working on starting an American university in Africa, situated in Addis Ababa. It is critical to educate people for jobs in a changing economy as opportunities for emigration shrink, curtailing a long running trend in Ethiopia.


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Q&A: Former Zone 9 Blogger Abel Wabella

Abel Wabella, founding members of Zone 9, is Managing Editor of Addis Zeybe. (Image: @Abelpoly Twitter)

FairPlanet

ABEL WABELA: PAYING THE PRICE FOR SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER IN ETHIOPIA

He has been described by his peers as strong willed and a true patriot, but for Ethiopia’s Abel Wabela the journey and clamour for respect of rule of law has seen him pay the ultimate price.

He is one of the founding members of Zone 9, a group formed to advocate for social justice, good governance and protection of human rights. Abel and his colleagues were arrested and charged with terrorism and were tortured which led to Abel becoming partially deaf.

In an exclusive interview with FairPlanet, Abel recalls the harrowing experience at one of the country’s most notorious torture chambers, the resolve to fight on and the future of Zone 9.

FairPlanet: How did the journey to being one of the most vocal groups in Ethiopia on social and civic issues begin and what have been the key highlight of that journey?

Abel: After the general elections of 2005, the Ethiopian government launched a sustained crackdown on opposition, civil society groups and journalists with repressive laws that sought to cripple freedom of press and curtail opposition voices.

As young people we were opposed to this move and because government had blocked media from passing information to masses on its atrocities, we went online to share this information. Many young people were doing it. I had my platform which was very critical of the regime. I started following what others were writing and contacted some of the other bloggers. We formed an online community that strengthened our resolve and eventually started meeting in person.

We were nine of us, six bloggers and three journalists. We started attending political functions and visiting political prisoners. As we continued to find unity of purpose in what we were doing, we decided to form an association that would bolster our passion and that is how Zone 9 was born. We were from different professional backgrounds, I was working as a tool engineer at Ethiopian Airlines, my other colleagues were university lecturers, journalism and others in banking. We did blogging as a part-time activity.

Our political and activism work continued to inspire freedom of expression with even a political party for demonstrators formed to agitate for government’s respect of its people. They even used our hashtag and the story was picked by international media including Al Jazeera.

That is where our problems as Zone 9 started. The government started surveillance on every aspect of our lives from tapping our phones to trailing our family members. As the security situation worsened, people pleaded with us to seek political asylum abroad but we wondered what that would mean for all that we had worked for in the political space. We decided to stay on and wait for what would happen to us.

And the worst happened.

Yes, in April 2014, the government launched a massive crackdown where over 100 security men were deployed to hunt and arrest all political dissidents and that is how we were captured and put into one of the most notorious torture chambers called Maekelawi and charged with terrorism.

What formed the name Zone 9?

In the height of political persecutions in Ethiopia, journalists and other political prisoners were being incarcerated in an infamous state prison called Kaliti Maximum Security Prison which is divided into eight zones. We felt that the country had turned into another Zone where its citizens were held captive by the state. They needed liberation and that is how we ended up calling ourselves Zone9ers with our mantra being, ‘We blog because we care.’ We wanted to be the voice of the million voiceless Ethiopian citizens and we campaigning for rule of law and constitutionalism.

You and the rest of the Zone 9 members were convicted of various charges including terrorism. Tell us about the experience in prison and whether it shook or strengthened your resolve?

It was one of the most harrowing experiences of our lives. We underwent the most inhumane treatment anyone could imagine. They had some prepared confessions that they wanted us to sign admitting to terrorism and disturbing law and order. I blatantly refused to sign and that is when all hell broke loose. I was beaten with thick sticks and computer cables. The prison guards forced me to lay down and stamped on my entire body including my face with their boots. They continued beating me and hitting me and in the process seriously injured my left ear. To date I can no longer hear with my left ear. We were then charged in court and I remember how skewed the court proceedings were. I asked the judge why he wasn’t letting the accused defend themselves and I was given three months jailtime for contempt of court.

We were in prison for one and a half years before the judge dropped all charges saying the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to charge us with the said crimes. But the government didn’t want to let us free so the prosecutor appealed the judge’s ruling in the Supreme court and after one a half years of grueling court cases the Supreme court also threw out the case for lack of evidence.

What has life after release from incarceration been for the members? Are you still involved in blogging?

I went to my former employer Ethiopian Airlines who said they couldn’t employ me as I had been out of work for over six months. My work in blogging and political activism was widely known so the reason they never wanted me back is because they didn’t want to rub government the wrong way.

After taking a break for some time I managed to work for one of the leading publications in Ethiopia called Addis Fortune as new media editor a position that emboldened my zeal for freedom of expression. I then resigned to start my current media company called Addis Zeybe that seeks to highlight various political and social happenings in Ethiopia with a view to ensuring the country has an informed citizenry that understands their rights. The rest of the team has also been involved in running various civic and social ventures spanning civil society groups and political offices.

In November 2015 we were awarded the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopia Seeks New Image After Years of Media Repression (Video)

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

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

Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards – In Pictures (TADIAS 2015)

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Spotlight: Éthiopiques Revolt of the Soul Screens in Amherst, Massachusetts

The new documentary film, Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul, will screen at Amherst Cinema in Amherst, Massachusetts on July 17, 2019. (Image: IDFA)

The Advocate

Amherst Cinema will screen Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul as part of its Sound & Vision film series focused on music in cinema this summer. The 70-minute 2018 documentary film in English and Amharic (with subtitles), was directed by Maciej Bochniak and focuses on the rich musical history of Ethiopia. In 1997, the Western world was first introduced to the country’s musical lineage and culture through the Éthiopiques CD series, created in a collaboration between French music journalist Francis Falceto and producer Amha Eshete who between 1969 and 1975 made 120 singles and 14 albums of Ethiopian musicians. The music was created by Eshete during a period of less repressive times when Emperor Haile Selassie tolerated African music influenced by Western genres such as soul, funk, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz.

But that all changed with a military coup in 1974, which lasted until 1991, according to the film’s synopsis on Amherst Cinema’s website. Eshete, who lived in exile in the United States for many years, speaks about the music of Ethiopia on the Éthiopiques CD series as does Ethiopian musician Girma Beyene, pianist and arranger for the Walias Band, and others. The film features animations, live performances, and recordings for Mistakes on Purpose, the 30th album in the CD series.


Related:
New Film ‘Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul’ Makes North American Premiere

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State Projects Leave Tens of Thousands of Lives in the Balance in Ethiopia – Study

US thinktank, the Oakland Institute, says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

A giant dam and irrigated sugar plantations are “wreaking havoc” in southern Ethiopia and threaten to wipe out tens of thousands of indigenous peoples , a US-based thinktank has claimed.

The Oakland Institute says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley, where people face loss of livelihoods, starvation, and violent conflict .

Acute hunger is now widespread, the organisation said in a report, due to blockage of the Omo River by Gibe III, Africa’s tallest dam. Since late 2015, the dam has stopped the river’s annual flood, a natural event that the valley’s inhabitants have relied upon for centuries for farming. As a result, entire communities have been tipped into destitution.

Responding to the report, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister of water, irrigation and electricity , said that while the government accepts there are problems, “the points raised in the paper are not properly documented or balanced”.

Seleshi said solutions had been put in place to mitigate the impact of the dam, including small-scale irrigation and outgrower schemes.

According to the report, however, such promises have not materialised. Moreover, said the study, communities claim they were tricked into leaving their ancestral land in order to make way for sugar plantations built by the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation as part of its mammoth Omo-Kuraz sugar development project (OKSDP). The project, a 100,000 hectare (247,000 acre) irrigated agricultural scheme, is fed by the waters of the Omo.

Read more »


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Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

June 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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


Related:

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

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

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In Ethiopia, This Woman Gives Birth And Sits Exams 30 Minutes Later

Almaz Derese took three exams at the Karl Mettu hospital in western Ethiopia. (Photo: Illubabor Zone Communication Office)

BBC News

A woman in Ethiopia has taken her exams in a hospital bed just 30 minutes after giving birth.

Almaz Derese, 21, who is from Metu in western Ethiopia, had hoped to sit the tests before her baby was born, but the secondary school exams were postponed because of Ramadan.

She went into labour on Monday shortly before the first exam was due to start.

Ms Almaz said studying while pregnant was not a problem and she did not want to wait until next year to graduate.

She took her English, Amharic and maths secondary school exams in hospital on Monday and will sit her remaining tests at the exam centre over the next two days.


Armed police transport papers and guard exam centres in Ethiopia. (Illubabor Zone Communication Office)

Read more »


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Beautiful Harar in Photos

Harar, which is home to 82 mosques and over 100 shrines, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. (Photo: One of the holiest places in the city is the tomb of Sheikh Abadir, one of the city's founder. (DW)

DW

Considered as the fourth holiest Muslim city in the world, Harar is the center of Islam in Ethiopia.

A mosque for the women

The Jami Mosque is the only one where women are allowed to pray in the same building as the men. They enter through this small door on the right of the building, but it is also common to see them pray outside.


(DW)

City of peace

There are two churches within the city’s walls, the Medhane Alem church being the only Orthodox one. Residents of Harar are proud that their town welcomes all religions. In 2003, the city received the UNESCO Peace Prize for the peaceful cohabitation of many ethnic and religious groups. In recent years, however, there has been some tension around land issues and political representation.


(DW)

Shopping for fabric

Harar’s economy is also boosted by its fabric market. This street is called “makina girgir” because of the sound of sewing machines. It is often packed with women from the rural areas. They bargain for new fabric and then let the tailors – all men – prepare their new colorful dresses or headscarves.


(DW)

Bargaining for camels

About 40km (24.8 miles) from Harar, a famous camel market takes place twice a week. Up to 200 camels are sold within one morning, starting at about €500 ($565) per camel. The traders are usually Somali nomads. The camels are used both for transport and consumption.


(DW)

Read more and see photos at dw.com »


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Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

(Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: June 10th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Some of the basic tenets of journalism include being transparent, providing facts, and giving individuals mentioned by name in an article the opportunity to share their responses to the story.

But shouldn’t these core values of ethical journalism also apply to anonymous contributors as well? The usage of pen names is a common trait observed among websites catering to Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Of course, technically speaking there is no such thing as being anonymous in today’s digital age. Given a concerted effort and the proper tools everyone’s online identity could easily be exposed.

The pressing question remains, however, if it is fair for webmasters in our community to allow fictitious name personas with a primary purpose of defaming fellow Ethiopians over ideological differences, or in some cases simply because the author may harbor personal animosity towards the individuals that he or she is writing about. Shouldn’t bloggers have the same responsibility to ascertain the facts first and give the targets of their articles advance notice to explain themselves before publishing?

“While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context,” advises the website for the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), an international coalition of journalists and media professionals. “Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.”

As a New York Times Ethicist blog published a few years back emphasized, blogging in pseudonym festers “a hideous subculture” of mean-spirited, inconsiderate one-way dialogue that prevents meaningful and respectful social communication that otherwise would in the best interest of the general public.

To promote the social good of lively conversation and the exchange of ideas, transparency should be the default mode. And that goes both for lofty political discourse and casual comments…“Says who?” is not a trivial question. It deepens the reader’s understanding to know who is speaking, from what perspective, with what (nutty?) history, and with what personal stake in the matter. It encourages civility and integrity in the writer to stand behind her words. There are times when anonymous posting is necessary, when disclosure is apt to bring harsh retribution but more often, anonymous posting sustains a culture, or at least a hideous subculture, of calumny and malice so caustic as to inhibit the very discourse the Web can so admirably enable. Writers should not do it, and Web site hosts should not allow it…Were it merely a matter of taste or tone or social style — etiquette — the anonymously obnoxious would be unimportant. But those who offer not argument but invective discourage others from speaking.

This ethical perspective appeared following a widely-publicized 2009 court case in which a judge had ordered Google to reveal the real name of an anonymous blogger who had defamed a fellow New York fashion model calling her, among other things, “psychotic, lying, whoring … skank.” According to NYT the court found the writer’s comments to be “reasonably susceptible to a defamatory connotation” and that the model had “the basis for a lawsuit and is entitled to know the identity of the blogger in order to seek legal redress. Google complied, identifying the blogger.”

Aside from the question of legality, among the top five principles of ethical journalism advocated by EJN include the need to show humanity and independence in our work: “Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.”

Finally, and most importantly, EJN argues: “Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.”


Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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Ethiopia Census Postponed Once More

(Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia delays census again despite looming election

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliament postponed a national census for a second time on Monday, citing security concerns but potentially undermining logistics for the first election under reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopia is due to hold a national vote some time next year, and the census – already postponed once from 2017 – is a crucial step towards demarcating constituencies.

But parliamentarians in both houses voted overwhelmingly to delay the census again by a year, due to an upsurge in ethnic conflicts that has forced 2.4 million Ethiopians out of their homes, according to United Nations figures.

“Our people are still displaced in many parts of the country,” lawmaker Tesfaye Daba told Reuters. “Having this situation, I don’t think it wise to conduct the census this year.”

William Davison, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the decision would disrupt election logistics.

“Preparations for those polls are also behind schedule … this is therefore perhaps another indication that elections will be pushed back,” he said.

The next vote will test Abiy’s reformist agenda that has included ending hostilities with Eritrea, opening the economy to foreign investment, and freeing political prisoners.

Parliament also postponed to Thursday debate on a proposed law to liberalise the telecoms sector.


Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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In Pictures: Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC

Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019. (Photo: CMA)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Below is a slideshow of photos from last week’s Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City.

The well-attended event organized by the CMA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee (ESAC) was held on Sunday, June 2nd and included Ethiopian music, Eskista dance, a coffee ceremony and an interactive arts workshop inspired by artists from Ethiopia such as Ezra Wube, Addis Gezehagn, Elias Sime, Afewerk Tekle as well as singer and songwriter Gigi.

ECMAA is also hosting an outdoor family friendly spring fair this weekend at the Riverbank State Park in Manhattan (See details below).

Here are images from Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York courtesy of the museum:


If You Go:
ECMAA SPRING FAIR
Sunday, Jun 9th, 2 pm to 6 pm
Riverbank State Park
New York, New York 01002
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In NYC ECMAA Expands Program to Include Community Soccer Games

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What You May Have Missed: Ethiopian Scholars Discuss UN Peace Keeping

Left: Awol K. Allo is Lecturer in Law at Keele University in the UK. Right: Dr Mehari Taddele Maru is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre in Italy. (Photos: LSE and MPC)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – In recognition of “International Day of UN Peacekeepers” last week Al Jazeera’s Inside Story TV program held a timely discussion highlighting how a budget crisis at the United Nations could undermine the missions carried out by the ‘Blue Helmets’ around the world including next door to Ethiopia in South Sudan and other neighboring countries.

Al Jazeera noted: “The UN Secretary-General says the peacekeeping budget is two billion dollars short because member states are not paying their share on time. The United States, the biggest contributor, owes more than one billion. Recent peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Africa have also been implicated in controversies. So, what can be done to improve the system of protecting the world’s most vulnerable?”

Among the guests invited to discuss this issue included Ethiopian scholars Awol K Allo, Lecturer in Law at Keele University in England, and Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, who is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre in Italy. The program also included Mark Goldberg, the Editor of the UN and global affairs news website, UN Dispatch.

Watch: Who should pay for the world’s peacekeepers? | Inside Story


Related:

Ethiopian PM visits Sudan in bid to mediate crisis (AP)

Just in via Ethiopia Observer: An Ethiopian journalist who travelled to Canada for work disappeared

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The Obamas Sign Deal With Spotify to Produce and Host Exclusive Podcasts

Getty Images

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company has announced that it has signed a multi-year deal with Spotify to produce and host exclusive podcasts on their audio streaming platform.

The Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground, announced in a press release that under the agreement Michelle and Barack Obama will “develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics.”

“President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are two of the world’s most important voices and it is a privilege to be working with them to identify and share stories that will inspire our global audience, which looks to Spotify for unique, breakthrough content,” said Spotify Chief Content Officer, Dawn Ostroff. “Connecting people with original and thoughtful creators — especially those with the ability to highlight underrepresented and indispensable narratives — is at the core of our mission and we are thrilled that not only will the Obamas be producing content, but that they will be lending their voices to this effort.”

The Obamas signed a similar deal with Netflix last year to produce movies and TV shows.

“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement regarding the deal with Spotify. “It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”

Michelle Obama added: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world. Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds—and their hearts.”–


Related:

The Obamas Ink Deal With Spotify (Hollywood Reporter)

Photos: President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia – July 2015


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River Spirit in Nile Magazine: From Ethiopia to Egypt Photos by Chester Higgins

The following article and photos are published here with permission of the photographer, Chester Higgins, Jr. See below for detailed explanations. (Right: in Yebelo, Ethiopia: Left: The Valley of the Kings in Egypt/© Chester Higgins)

Nile Magazine

Betsy Kissam with photography by Chester Higgins

Ethiopians speak of “children of the river” — yewenz lejoch in Amharic, the country’s official language. This phrase characterises people living near and relying on the water of a river for travel and nourishment, whether for their own needs or for the crops and livestock they depend on. The Blue Nile, Ethiopia’s most celebrated river, rises in the northern highlands and then journeys down into the deserts of Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. The depth and originality of the cultural legacy threading through the ancient cultures that flourished along this river challenges the imagination and awaits comprehensive analysis.

Roughly 200 years have passed since the study of the ancient Egyptian civilization began as a discipline. More recently, Egyptologists and archaeologists, in conjunction with efforts in Egypt, are concentrating on what’s buried beneath the sands of Nubia (in Egypt and Sudan) and Kush (Sudan). And in Ethiopia, archaeology is expanding under East African archaeologists and others from abroad.

Today, most Egyptologists recognize Egyptian culture as an African invention. In his 2010 book, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, Toby Wilkinson writes “The origins and early development of civilization in Egypt can be traced back to at least two thousand years before the pyramids, to the country’s remote prehistoric past.”

New York photographer Chester Higgins sees the Nile as a cultural thread; for the past four decades, he has been visually documenting Blue Nile cultures and seeking connections between the ancient people who made up the empires of Aksum (modern Ethiopia), Kush (Sudan) and Kemet (Egypt). Along this river, ancient excavators crafted sacred stone houses of worship out of solid mountains by chiseling away rock—rather than erecting a structure block by block.

At the source and mouth of the Nile River are found the only monumental stone monoliths in Africa—phara-
onic and Aksumite obelisks. Images on Egyptian and Nubian tomb and temple walls bring to life symbols and the accouterments of early spiritual practice; when photographs of these are juxtaposed with those of rituals enacted in Ethiopia today, they focus links between “children of the river” in Egypt and Sudan—and farther south in the highlands of Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile.

Similarities in Higgins’s photographs, illustrate cultural connections up and down the river.

Much of the belief expressed today in our Abrahamic religions is rife with comparisons predicated on shared iconography and philosophy introduced millennia ago by people who honed their faith along the Nile River.


Ancient people left messages in stone, and skilled stone masons created precise structures from rock in situ along the Nile River. This is the exterior of the monolithic stone Church of St. George, in Lalibela, Ethiopia. The church was painstakingly fashioned out of solid volcanic rock in a cruciform structure, approximately 12 metres high, and standing in a 25 x 25 metre wide pit. The town of Lalibela is around 640 km north of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and today cares for 11 monolithic, rock-cut churches, which were erected in and around the year 1200. The buildings today are a living place of worship; they are home to a community of priests and monks, as well as being a place of pilgrimage for members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. (© Chester Higgins)


The monumental stone Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel [in the Egyptian part of Nubia] has been dropping jaws since it was first hewn from a Kushite mountain some 3,300 years ago. Stepping into the temple’s Great Hall, the visitor is met by eight statue-pillars of Ramesses II portrayed as Osiris, god of resurrection. At the very back, the temple’s Sanctuary, which is illuminated by the rejuvenating rays of the rising sun twice a year. (© Chester Higgins)

There is something mystical, even supernatural, about the Blue Nile. When Herodotus identified Egypt as “the gift of the Nile” in the 5th century b.c., he had no knowledge of the source of the Blue Nile in the highlands of contemporary Ethiopia — 6,000 feet above sea level. But anyone who has witnessed the watery turmoil created by the Ethiopian summer rains can appreciate the otherworldly beauty of the frothing reddish volcanic soil in this water and its menace as it hurtles down mountainsides, tracking through ancient gullies and joining to form swift flowing streams, tributaries and then the impressive Blue Nile River.

The might of this river slices gorges through volcanic rock, creating sheer canyon walls, some more than 4,000 feet deep. Twisting and turning, juxtaposing broad sweeps with tight curves, the water turns north and drops down into the deserts of Sudan and Egypt. By the time the river reaches the desert at Khartoum in Sudan, where it commingles with the White Nile to form the Nile River, its elevation is 1250 feet having fallen nearly 5,000 feet in 900 miles. By the time the Nile reaches the Giza pyramids, its elevation is barely 64 feet. Before modern dams interrupted the flow, the Blue Nile carried about 80% of the water and fertile silt that transformed Egypt’s parched desert plains: surely the “gift” that Herodotus recognized.

The Nile’s water rises at a time when other rivers are lessening. Unsuccessful at working out an explanation for this phenomenon, Herodotus wrote “I was particularly anxious to learn from [the Egyptian priests] why the Nile, at the commencement of the summer solstice, begins to rise, and continues to increase for a hundred days—and why, as soon as that number is past, it forthwith retires and contracts its stream. . . .”

In the 1st century b.c., 400 years after Herodotus, Diodorus recorded “the Ethiopians. . . say, that the Egyptians are a colony drawn out from them by Osiris; and that Egypt was. . . made land by the river Nile, which brought down slime and mud out of Ethiopia.”

The boundaries of Ethiopia today on the Horn of Africa are not the designation accepted by the ancients that referred vaguely to the home of black people living south of the Mediterranean Sea.


Left: The deity Thoth in the Tomb of Ramesses V (KV 9) that was later extended by his nephew Ramesses VI, in the Valley of the Kings [in Egypt]. Thoth holds a was sceptre (staff of authority), and sports a bull’s tail attached to the back of his kilt. Right: A Waka priest displays a staff of authority in Yebelo, Ethiopia. Contemporary Ethiopians, who honour the sacredness of nature, worship the sky deity Waka. The staffs of both the current Ethiopian example, and the ancient Egyptian version, end in distinctive curved forks. (© Chester Higgins)

The Blue Nile remained an ongoing siren song for the Greeks, Romans and other Europeans into the 15th, 16th, up to the 20th century — even after 16th and 17th-century Portuguese and Spanish Jesuits, accompanied by Ethiopian Emperors, visited and “discovered” the source of the Blue Nile, which they recorded in their travelogues published in Europe. In the 18th century, Scottish explorer James Bruce detailed his own version in his 1790 book, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile.

Even with the source of the Blue Nile revealed and the Ethiopian rains recognized in Europe as the cause of its flooding, the river still guarded its mystery. For parts of its journey, narrow canyons protect the waters from everyone but the hardiest explorers, concealing much of the river’s exquisite beauty from all eyes except those of local highlanders, who themselves, it is said, rarely descend to the riverbed when it passes through gorges choked by volcanic rock, crocodiles and often malaria.

As late as 1925, the British Consul for Northwest Ethiopia, Major R. E. Cheesman, upon arriving in the country, was astounded to discover that “the latest maps showed the course of the Blue Nile as a series of dotted lines” — a substantial challenge for this 20th-century European as it had been for earlier travelers.


Stone obelisks are found along the Nile in Ethiopia and Egypt. In Aksum, Ethiopia, this 20-metre-high monolith stands tall in a field of such obelisks, which served as royal tomb markers. Aksum was a wealthy trading empire. At the Aksumite royal necropolis, false, or spirit doors were often placed at the base of the largest obelisks and above the entrances to tombs. This false door, featuring a finely carved ring pull door handle, was placed at the base (formerly southern face) of the now-fallen Obelisk #1—thought to have been the largest obelisk ever attempted to be erected: 32.6 meters long, and weighing 517 tons. (© Chester Higgins)


Obelisks in Egypt, erected in pairs in front of temples and topped with pyramidions, appear to function like billboards advertising a pharaoh’s accomplishments, and are dated by the pharaoh’s reign. Less well understood, Aksumite obelisks have been dated anywhere from around the 5th century b.c. to early a.d.; without inscriptions from rulers, the dates are open to conjecture. False doors in Egypt were placed outside tombs, within tomb chapels and in royal memorial temples, providing a focus for offerings to sustain the ka (divine essence) of the deceased. Like many elements of Egyptian funerary practice, they also served to emphasise the conspicuous wealth and social status of the tomb owner. This false door is in the tomb chapel of the mastaba of Khenu, near the top of the causeway of King Unas at Saqqara. Khenu was a 6th-Dynasty official who served the cult of Unas, the last ruler of the Old Kingdom’s 5th Dynasty (ca. 2375–2345 b.c.). © CHESTER HIGGINS

Many scholars believe that 18th Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s famous expedition to Punt, portrayed on her temple walls at Deir el-Bahari, situates Punt on the southern coast of the Red Sea
placing it in the proximity of contemporary Ethiopia. It is known the Egyptians built boats that were able to be deconstructed and reassembled in order to carry the boats around the Nile’s treacherous cataracts and sail the Red Sea. Other trade references to Punt were recorded by pharaohs as early as the 5th Egyptian dynasty.


A papyrus ferry on Lake Tana at the headwaters of the Blue Nile, in the Ethiopian highlands. This sort of craft seems to have barely changed since ancient times. (© Chester Higgins)


The pageantry of Timkat, the Ethiopian Epiphany Day—a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ—is celebrated by Orthodox Christians throughout Ethiopia. It echoes the joyous festival of Opet, recorded on Luxor Temple walls in Egypt, below. (© Chester Higgins)


Renewal is a strong theme for both rituals. Opet priests honor the Holy Family of Waset (Thebes/Luxor): they celebrate the union of the supreme deity Amen with his companion/wife Mut, and their son Khonsu, by bringing the sacred statues of the three deities from their shrines at Karnak Temple to visit the Temple of Luxor. Images on the wall of Luxor Temple show priests carrying the statues on their shoulders through crowded streets, and then by boat on the river. For Timkat, the high priests transport on their heads the churches’ sacred tabots (a replica of the Ark of the Covenant) through streets teeming with revelers, to join other tabots at a water source. (© Chester Higgins)


(© Chester Higgins)


(© Chester Higgins)


Left: Abu Haggag Mosque at Luxor Temple, Egypt. The mosque sits atop part of the ruins of Luxor Temple. It was built as a shine to a local saint, Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, who is credited for introducing Islam to Luxor. Sacred places often remain hallowed to successive faiths, and the mosque here stands on the site of an earlier Christian church. Right: An altarpiece from the Moon Temple at Yeha, Ethiopia. Around a.d. 330, Aksum’s Emperor Ezana made Aksum into one of the earliest Christian states, which saw the replacement of the Aksumite crescent and disk religious symbols with the Christian cross. On this site today, next to the Yeha Temple is an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church monastery. (© Chester Higgins)

Much later, in the 4th century a.d., Ethiopia became a Christian country after Aksumite King Ezana converted to Christianity. Bound by this faith, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church entered into relations with the Coptic Church in Egypt, although these ties were often interrupted and conflicted. But the selection of Abunas, or Ethiopian Popes, came out of Egyptian monasteries until the 20th century when this link was severed by Emperor Haile Selassie.

Egyptologist Wallis Budge documented communication between Egyptian rulers and Ethiopian kings, foreshadowing the tension between the two countries today over down stream access to Nile water. In his 1928 book, A History of Ethiopia, Nubia and Abyssinia, Budge wrote about a seven-year famine in 11th-century Egypt: “it is said that the Khalifah Mustansir-b-Illah, thinking that the Abyssinians had turned the Nile out of its course, sent an embassy loaded with rich gifts to the king of Abyssinia, and asked him to let the Nile return to its old bed.”


A priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church with two deacons at the Blue Nile Falls, near the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The “tails” on the vestments are an enigma, although they resemble the leopard pelts worn by the ancient Egyptian priests who presided over funerary rites, called sem priests. Depictions in Egyptian temples and tombs suggest that priests wore actual pelts, but nearly all of the rare surviving examples are made of painted linen. (© Chester Higgins)

Budge further recorded the words of an 18th century Ethiopian King, in the midst of a diplomatic disturbance, “the Nile would be sufficient to punish you, since God hath put into our power his fountain, his outlet, and his increase, and that we can dispose of the same to do you harm. . . .”

It seems there was interface among children of the river. But it is too early to know how much and whether this shared cultural legacy along the Nile dates back millennia or centuries, and if influence traveled upriver or down — or in both directions.



Left: BETSY KISSAM is a freelance writer and member of ARCE – NY. For the past four decades, she has been traveling with photographer Chester Higgins along the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Currently she is working with Higgins on a book project about the sacred passage of faith along the River Nile. Right: CHESTER HIGGINS is the author of eight books of his photography. Most recently he co-authored the book, Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile. For additional info see chesterhiggins.com and #chesterhiggins12.

Related:
Photos: Chester Higgins Honored by Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative

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Ethiopia’s US Tour Operator Controversy

A tour group visits Debre Berhan Selassie Church, Gonder, Ethiopia. Photograph: (Getty Images)

The Guardian

LGBT tour operator faces death threats over Ethiopia trip

An LGBT tour operator has received death threats and hate messages on social media after launching a holiday to Ethiopia. Chicago-based Toto Tours’ 16-day trip to Ethiopia is due to take place at the end of October and includes religious sites such as the Debre Berhan Selassie in Gondar and the ancient cave monasteries in the mountains of Lalibela.

But religious groups in the country are urging the Ethiopian government to ban the company from visiting religious sites, warning that gay travellers could face violence.

Ethiopia has strict anti-gay laws, with homosexual acts punishable by up to 15 years in prison. According to Article 629 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code, this applies to both nationals and foreigners.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Dereje Negash, vice chairman of Sileste Mihret United Association, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church organisation, said that gay travellers with Toto Tours, “will be damaged, they could even die”, if they visit Ethiopia. “Toto Tours are wrong to plan to conduct tours in our religious and historical places,” he said.

Tagay Tadele of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia told news agency AFP, which has seven Islamic and Christian denominations as members, said: “[LGBT] tour programmes and dating programmes that try to use our historical sites and heritage should be immediately stopped by the Ethiopian government.”

Read more »


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

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

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Ethiopia looks to young technocrats to lead ambitious reform drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spotlight: Hailu Mergia at DC Jazz Festival

Hailu Mergia plays at The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Hailu Mergia left behind his days as a superstar in Ethiopia. Then the world rediscovered his mind-blowing music.

For 20 years, Hailu Mergia spent his days in a cab shuttling passengers to and from Dulles International Airport. In between fares, he’d pull over, pull out a keyboard and make music.

For most of that time, no one else heard the sounds that were coming out of his instrument.

“I was performing for myself — that’s the best way to say it,” Mergia says.

He wasn’t just a cabbie who played piano as a hobby — Mergia was an accomplished Ethiopian jazz musician, formerly of the Walias Band, who moved to D.C. in the early 1980s after the group toured the region. When the band broke up, he stuck around, recording the hypnotic “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument,” a 1985 album for which he acted as a one-man band, layering Rhodes piano, accordion and Moog synthesizer sounds. He gigged a little around the world and then, in 1991, stopped performing publicly and opened a restaurant.

“But I was practicing everywhere, all the time,” says Mergia, who is in his early 70s and lives in Fort Washington, Md.

In 2013, Brian Shimkovitz, who runs the blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa, discovered Mergia’s album on cassette while in Ethiopia and rereleased it on his label the following year. Awesome Tapes went on to rerelease two more Mergia albums: “Wede Harer Guzo,” with the Dahlak Band, and “Tche Belew,” with the Walias Band. Both are heavy on keyboard and accordion work, blending funk and jazz in forward-thinking (at the time) ways that also recall Ethiopia’s past.

“When I started playing in the clubs, I was a singer and then I started playing accordion because accordion, back in the early ’60s in Ethiopia, was very popular — there was no organ,” Mergia says. “When the organ came in the mid-’60s, the accordion became a forgotten instrument — it was lost. So after so many years when I brought it back … along with the Moog, it was kind of like a different sound.”

Mergia is spending more time on the road — his trio plays The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival — and he quit driving his cab in October.

Read more »


Related:
Listen to Hailu Mergia and The Walias Band playing – Tche Belew

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