Author Archive for Tadias

Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

Ethiopia is responding to the Biden administration's flurry of panic-inducing social media posts and press releases concerning the country -- which is usually echoed by the mainstream American media without much skepticism or context -- asking the U.S. government to refrain from disseminating "shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia." (Photo: Addis Ababa skyline, November 3, 2021/Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS)

Reuters

Ethiopia Warns US Against Spreading False Information

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s government has asked the United States to stop spreading what it considers falsehoods against the country, the state minister of communication Kebede Dessisa said Thursday, after the State Department issued an alert about potential “terrorist attacks.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region in the north have been fighting for more than a year…

Kebede, the state minister of communication, was quoted by state broadcaster EBC as telling a news conference the U.S. government should refrain from disseminating “shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia.”

He referred to a statement Wednesday on Twitter by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that urged its citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance due to “the ongoing possibility of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia.”

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Ethiopians lied in the capital to support the government, where they denounced the United States for alleged interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. Washington has urged its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately while the security situation still permits.

On Thursday, dozens of protesters took their anger to the U.S. Embassy in the city, where they displayed banners reading “Interference is Undemocratic” and “Truth Wins.”

Read the full article at reuters.com »

Related:

Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

SPOTLIGHT: Meskerem Mees, Winner of The Montreux Jazz Talent Award 2021

The Ethiopia-born Belgian singer-songwriter Meskerem Mees is the winner of the 2021 Montreux Jazz Talent Award. According to organizers the up-and-coming musician was "elected unanimously by a jury that comprised both professional judges and members of the public." (Montreux Jazz Festival)

Press Release

Montreux Jazz Festival

The Montreux Jazz Talent Award 2021 has been awarded to the Belgian singer and composer Meskerem Mees. The 21-year-old artist performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival alongside eight other emerging talents selected by the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation. Meskerem Mees was elected unanimously by a jury that comprised both professional judges and members of the public, as well as an Artists Committee, including Yaron Herman, Anne Paceo, Shabaka Hutchings and Michael League.

The Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation (MJAF) invited eight artists to perform at the Montreux Jazz Talent Awards, between the 2nd and 17th of July 2021. Each candidate was carefully selected by the booking team for their diverse interpretations of jazz and soul-inspired music.

The eight artists performed during the 55th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival in front of a jury of professional judges and members of the public. Four musicians, who work closely with the MJAF, also participated in the vote: Yaron Herman, Anne Paceo, Shabaka Hutchings (Sons of Kemet) and Michael League (Snarky Puppy).

THE VOTE FOR MESKEREM MEES WAS UNANIMOUS

Beautifully composed tunes, a magnetic presence and a distinct velvet voice: Meskereem Mees was a true revelation during the competition, impressing all three juries. The 21-year-old Flemish musician says she is inspired by artists such as Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Courtney Barnett. After releasing a handful of singles including the stunning “Joe”, Meskerem Mees is set to release her highly anticipated debut album, Julius, on November 12, 2021.

“I feel very honored to be the winner of a talent award competition hosted by a festival as renowned as the Montreux Jazz Festival. I’m looking forward to learn from some of the world’s best musicians at the Montreux Jazz Academy. Thank you all, once again, for this amazing opportunity.”

— Meskerem Mees

PRIZES AND PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT

Meskerem Mees has been awarded a one-week artistic residency at La Becque on the shores of Lake Geneva. She will also perform at the Montreux Jazz Academy under the musical direction of Shabaka Hutchings, Edward Wakili-Hick and Alexander Hawkins. The 7th edition of the Montreux Jazz Academy will take place at the Autumn of Music festival, organised by the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation between the 27th and 30th of October 2021.

At a key point in their careers, they also get long-term professional support from the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation (MJAF) and the Festival’s large network of contacts. The MJAF is regularly involved in the programming of concerts in Switzerland and abroad, for instance at the Swiss cultural centres in Paris and in Rome.

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Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

BBC: "The prospect of some of Ethiopia's most venerated sporting figures heading to the front lines to fight captures something profound and powerful about the mood in Addis Ababa and beyond." (Getty Images)

BBC

Ethiopian Olympic heroes Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa say they are ready to go to the front line in the war against rebel forces.

Their announcement comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he would go to the front to lead the war…

Earlier, Gebrselassie, 48, was quoted by state television as saying: “I am ready to do whatever is required of me, including going to the front line.”

Gebrselassie is regarded as a legend in Ethiopia…During his 25-year career as an athlete, he claimed two Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship victories and set 27 world records. He announced his retirement from competitive running in 2015.

Expressing his support for the war, Feyisa, 31, was quoted by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation website as saying that he was ready to draw inspiration from the “gallantry of my forefathers” and go to the front line to “save my country”.

The athlete won the marathon silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He became famous for holding up his crossed wrists as if they were shackled to draw global attention to the crackdown on demonstrators demanding political reforms in Ethiopia…The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was the dominant party in government at the time. Following the protests, Mr Abiy became prime minister and the TPLF lost the grip on the country it had held for 27 years.


Feyisa Lilesa attends a news conference in Washington, DC during his exile in the United States on Sept. 13, 2016. (Reuters photo)

[TPLF] later retreated to its stronghold of Tigray, from where it launched a rebellion last November after a huge fall-out with Mr Abiy over his reforms…

The African Union is leading efforts to find a negotiated end to the fighting, but neither side has committed to talks…

The prospect of some of Ethiopia’s most venerated sporting figures heading to the front lines to fight captures something profound and powerful about the mood in Addis Ababa and beyond.

At a time of intense crisis, many Ethiopians are clearly rallying behind their flag and prime minister, and are keen to play their part in galvanising public support for a military campaign…

It is clear many people see the military threat posed by the TPLF and their assorted allies as an existential one for Ethiopia.

Added to that is a profound dislike of the TPLF itself, which stems from its decades heading an authoritarian national government.

Read the full article at BBC.com »

Related:

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: U.S. Reports ‘Progress’ in Ethiopia Peace Efforts

US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman, who spoke to reporters following his most recent trip to Ethiopia this week, said Prime Minister Ably Ahmed told him his priority is to get the TPLF out of the areas they now occupy in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, and “we share that objective.” ( Photo: ASHRAF SHAZLY)

The Associated Press

NAIROBI – A United States envoy said Tuesday he sees “massive progress” in talks with Ethiopia’s warring sides, but he fears it will be outpaced by “alarming” military developments in the yearlong war in Africa’s second-most populous country.

Jeffrey Feltman spoke to reporters after his latest visit to Ethiopia… Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday announced he will lead “from the battlefield”…

Feltman said the warring sides are now talking about elements they expect to see on the table in talks, but “the tragedy is” that while the elements are similar, views differ on which to tackle first.

“Unfortunately, each side is trying to achieve its goals by military force and believe they are on the cusp of winning,” he said…

The U.S. envoy said the Tigray forces must halt their advance on the capital…They “would be met with unrelenting hostility if they entered Addis today,” Feltman said.

The envoy said Ethiopia’s prime minister told him his priority is to get the Tigray forces out of the areas they now occupy in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, and “we share that objective.”

Read the full article at apnews.com »

Related:

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, Stolen Ethiopia Treasures Begin to Return Home From England

The return of some of the many looted treasures is being called the most important heritage restitution in Ethiopia’s history. Ethiopia's ambassador to the United Kingdom Teferi Meles said: "We couldn’t manage to bring back all of them, but this is the first time in the country’s history to bring back looted artefacts in this quantity." (Photo: Embassy of Ethiopia, London)

Reuters

After a century and a half, Ethiopian artefacts return home

ADDIS ABABA – After a century and a half hidden in private collections, 13 stolen Ethiopian artefacts have finally returned home following months of negotiations.

“Our country’s ancient civilization’s history, artefacts, fingerprints of indigenous knowledge, culture … have been looted in war and smuggled out illegally,” said Ethiopia’s tourism minister, Nasise Challa.

The items, which include an intricately latticed processional cross, a richly coloured triptych depicting Jesus’ crucifixion, and an ornate red and brass imperial shield, are part of the largest act of restitution in Ethiopia’s history, officials said.

These artefacts were taken in 1868 after the battle of Maqdala between the British and Ethiopian empires. Some of the objects had been offered in an auction in Britain in June by a private seller descended from a British soldier who fought in Maqdala.

“There are many artefacts that were looted from Maqdala,” said Teferi Meles, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, where many of the treasures were. “We couldn’t manage to bring back all of them, but this is the first time in the country’s history to bring back looted artefacts in this quantity.”

Several of the objects were acquired by The Scheherazade Foundation, a cultural nonprofit, and handed to the Ethiopian embassy in September. They were returned to Addis Ababa this weekend and will go on display in Ethiopian museums. But the work is far from over, officials said.

“We have started negotiations with the British Museum to bring back 12 tabots,” said Teferi.

Tabots are replicas of the Ark of the Covenant that are sacred in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the world’s oldest churches. The tabots were also taken after the Battle of Maqdala.

“We believe we will be successful in bringing them back and the negotiations will continue, with other artefacts abroad,” Teferi said.

The British Museum said it held “cordial discussions” with an Ethiopian delegation in September and noted “The Museum has long-standing and friendly relations with the National Museum in Addis Ababa and with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in London and in Ethiopia.”

British museums have long resisted campaigns for the return of artworks, often citing legislation that bans them from disposing of their collections.

But the debate has heated up and British Museum said last year it would loan some works from Nigeria to a new museum there due to open in 2023.

“At this moment, it is clear that our treasures are being destroyed; it is obvious our treasures are being looted and smuggled out of the country illegally,” said Teferi, without offering detail.

Ethiopia has been mired in conflict for over a year, with the federal government fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and cultural artefacts are believed to have been damaged in the fighting.

“If there is no treasure, it means there is no history; if there is no history, there is no nation,” Teferi said.

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Foreign Powers are Intervening in Ethiopia. They May Only Make the Conflict Worse.

Photo from the huge #NoMore rally held outside the White House in Washington, DC this weekend. The rally was part of a global Ethiopian Diaspora event that took place simultaneously in major cities around the world -- including in DC, London, Los Angeles and New York City -- to denounce foreign intervention in Ethiopia. (Image via Twitter/@answercoalition)

The Washington Post

By Yohannes Woldemariam and Nic Cheeseman

Foreign powers are intervening in Ethiopia. They may only make the conflict worse.

Amid the violence in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the United States have engaged in an escalating war of words. On Nov. 12, Washington imposed fresh sanctions [on Eritrea]. The Eritrean Information Ministry responded by alleging that the “illicit and immoral sanctions” were designed to harm the Eritrean people.

It’s a useful window into just how internationalized Ethiopia’s civil war has become. Like so many conflicts in the Horn of Africa during the Cold War — when the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a series of proxy wars — the violence has domestic roots, but is shaped by foreign powers. Each foreign player presents its intervention as a constructive contribution toward Ethiopia’s future. But in reality, global competition for influence in one of Africa’s most economically and militarily significant states has become a major barrier to resolving the conflict.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »

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Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

This week, in a letter to several Western Media organizations including CNN, BBC, AP and Reuters the exasperated Ethiopian Media Authority said the heavily slanted foreign press coverage of current affairs in Ethiopia has “sowed seeds of animosity among people and compromised the sovereignty” of the country. The letter comes on the heels of this shocking report that the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, had explored ways "to embarrass the Ethiopian government" during a policy brainstorming session with staffers. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Considers Withdrawing Licenses of Foreign News Agencies

Ethiopia said it would consider revoking the licenses of CNN, the British Broadcasting Corp., the Associated Press and Thomson Reuters Corp. for alleged reportage that authorities say could endanger the interest and peaceful coexistence of the people in the Horn of Africa nation.

Stories published by these news agencies on ongoing events “sowed seeds of animosity among people and compromised the sovereignty” of the country, the Ethiopian Media Authority wrote in a letter to the media houses Friday and posted on its Twitter account. “In the absence of ethical and professional journalistic operation, the authority would be compelled to revoke the license granted to your institution to operate in Ethiopia,” it said.

Conflict has been raging in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an incursion into the northern Tigray region in November 2020 after forces loyal to the regional administration attacked a federal army base. The fighting has now spread to two other regions and the forces allied to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front advancing and capturing key towns in neighboring Amhara region.

The authority claims news and analysis of these media outlets assist the TPLF’s objectives.

The conflict has claimed lives of thousands of people, displaced hundreds of thousands and left millions in need of humanitarian aid. Earlier in November Ethiopia detained 16 United Nations staff and their family members as well as some 70 truck drivers contracted by the UN but most of them have since been released.

Related:

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In the following article Forbes magazine highlights one of the Biden administration's most irrational recent actions against Ethiopia: threatening to suspend the country's access to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) within sixty days. As Forbes points out "that action is of great concern for American retailers. The proposed “AGOA-EXIT” strategy is meeting resistance - because [it] flies in the face of USA retailers and brands who have invested in Africa and this unique action also frames America as a cut-and-run partner." (Getty Images)

Forbes

Team Biden Should Avoid Harming AGOA

As day turns to night in Ethiopia, International crisis negotiators are feverishly working to avoid an all-out civil war…

America has utilized several pressure tactics in an attempt to bring this outbreak to a resolution, but none have worked so far. The latest is to give Ethiopia a 60-day notice of withdrawal from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and that action is of great concern for American retailers. The proposed “AGOA-EXIT” strategy is meeting resistance – because a significant amount of the Ethiopia’s GDP growth is centered on the success of AGOA, and dislocation from the program could make the situation even worse for Ethiopia and perhaps for all sub-Sahara countries. On top of that, there are many American retail companies involved with manufacturing in Ethiopia and a quick withdrawal means having only a few months to wind down production – and that is simply not enough time.

The abrupt “AGOA-EXIT” plan flies in the face of USA retailers and brands who have invested in Africa and this unique action also frames America as a cut-and-run partner in a geographic area that everybody knew (going in) was fraught with risk. When the conflict finally gets resolved (and it will), losing AGOA means that thousands of Ethiopians will be put out of work, and products destined to the USA retail markets will be transferred back to more stable locations at a great cost to the investors – forcing additional price inflation back home in America.

President Biden is now being cast as the one who is delivering former President Trump’s trade messages to China and to Africa. The Biden team failed to lift Trump’s inflationary retail tariffs on China and, at the same time, inadvertently blocked the China exit doors – as retailers look for other locations to source product with fewer and fewer choices. Now that Ethiopia is suddenly coming off line, it appears that sourcing options are being eliminated faster than they are being added.

For more than a year, terror has reigned in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia…

While only 6% of the overall population, the Tigray group dominated Ethiopia politics for more than 25 years until Prime Minister Abiy came to power in 2018 using a coalition government. Since then, with the help of American and Chinese investment, Ethiopian GDP has been growing at a rapid rate and the second most populous country in Africa has been relatively stable. However, the Tigray group was marginalized from governing, and fighting broke out in the north. Forces from neighboring Eritrea also teamed up with the government against the Tigray, and the conflict accelerated from there. Humanitarian aid to Tigray has been blocked, there are serious reports of atrocities and famine in the region.

Options for U.S. Government to resolve the crisis have been limited, but the steps taken over the last year have also been ineffectual…

On November 1st the United States Trade Representative announced the 60-day “AGOA-EXIT” warning for Ethiopia, but some think it was a poor choice and not helpful for Ethiopia or for Africa. The U.S. State Department then advised that U.S. citizens should quickly leave the country.

While the USA should not extend privileges to any country that performs adversely to any trade agreement, the Ethiopian issue needs to be put in context. Over the years, it has been U.S Government practice to suggest that retailers and sourcing executives work in emerging foreign countries. The idea is that providing entry level jobs and training will create stability for the population, and it is a system that has worked well as the federal government provides a duty-free environment in return. The problem of late is that the U.S. government is not standing behind their “ask” and not helping to protect the investments that companies have make on their behalf. In this case, it would be more reasonable if they offered a time extension to manufacturers (so they can evaluate their options with regard to losing AGOA), or if they offered exemptions to industries like apparel and footwear that provide significant local employment.

This described loss of “protection” for the investments is fracturing a private-public partnership that has existed for years. Using a trade agreement (like AGOA) as a political negotiating tool, doesn’t jibe with the Ethiopian sewing machine operator who is one year into their first-ever job. The workers shouldn’t be blamed for human rights abuses in their country – when it is someone else who is abusing the power.

Multiple Industrial parks were built in Ethiopia, and thousands of Ethiopians have been employed. For the apparel sector, exports are generally consigned to the United States under the AGOA umbrella. As Team Biden starts to peel back these AGOA benefits, it punishes the investors, the employees, and adds significant turmoil to a country already in turmoil. It would be a one-off if this was only happening in Ethiopia, but lonely eyes also turn to Guinea, to Mali, to Myanmar, to Cambodia, and to Nicaragua – where similar threats against U.S. trade benefits exist.

All of this turmoil brings trade wonks to ask if the U.S. Government is working for or against investors by pulling trade benefits when the going gets tough. It appears that Uncle Sam may not have their back, and with four years left the current AGOA term, it also seems like the Trumpian ideology of individual “bi-lateral” country trade agreements will prevail, even as the AGOA folks are talking about bilateral versus unilateral – to keep the agreement from going away.

Read the full article at forbes.com »

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In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

The New York Times, which has fast become one of the least trusted Western publications among Ethiopians both at home and in the Diaspora, made a thinly veiled admission in its latest post that the belligerent U.S. policy towards Ethiopia, which is largely driven by the hysterical, one-sided Western Media coverage and propaganda, has failed. The paper noted that as the U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrived in Africa this week, it became apparent that his approach towards Ethiopia so far "seemed to have achieved little." (Pool photo)

The New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa was intended to be a grand gesture of American support for the continent. But his first day also illustrated the frustrating limits of American influence in a region…

It is an unhappy context for Mr. Blinken’s visit to Africa, where he plans to give a speech on Friday in Nigeria outlining the Biden administration’s vision for a continent…

Mr. Blinken’s team has poured much diplomatic energy into East Africa over the past year, hoping to stop the atrocity-laden war in Ethiopia and protect Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy. But as he landed in Nairobi, those efforts seemed to have achieved little.

Speaking to reporters alongside his Kenyan counterpart, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo, Mr. Blinken said the war in Ethiopia “needs to stop,” calling on both sides to enter talks without preconditions. For more than a year Mr. Abiy has been battling rebels from Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray…

For now, though, his offers appear to be falling on deaf ears.

In Ethiopia, the Biden administration has turned to increasingly coercive means…including visa restrictions on Ethiopian officials…

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

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ART TALK: In Ethiopia Annual ‘Addis Calling’ Exhibition Goes on Display

This year, Addis Fine Art is proud to introduce the following artists: Eyasu Telayneh, Kerima Ahmed, Micheal Hailu, Wendimagegn Demeke, Yasmeen Abdullah and Michal Mamit Worke. (Courtesy photo: Addis Calling IV Group Show, Addis Fine Art, Addis Ababa, on view until 25 December 2021)

Press Release

Addis Fine Art

Addis Fine Art is proud to present Addis Calling IV, our regular group show featuring new works by a selection of exciting talent across Addis Ababa and the Horn of Africa. This year, Addis Fine Art is proud to introduce the following artists: Eyasu Telayneh, Kerima Ahmed, Micheal Hailu, Wendimagegn Demeke, Yasmeen Abdullah and Michal Mamit Worke.


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

Featured Artists

Eyasu Telayneh’s paintings are scenes into the mysterious private lives of colors, breaking the rhythm of daily life and offering a fresh new view. He uses rapid cognition to absorb visual elements in his daily life, these observations serving as points of entry for his artistic practice. Telayneh is the winner of the Emerging Painters Invitational 2020 prize. His works have been shown in Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Barnard Gallery in Capetown, and Circle Gallery in Nairobi. He works as a full-time artist at his studio on Entoto mountain.

Michael Hailu’s works question the necessity of war in reaction to the outbreak of recent conflict in Ethiopia. He asks the motivation for violence, if war can be justified and if the instinct for violence is natural or through social conditioning. Michael is currently studying Art Education at Ale School of Fine Art, Addis Ababa University. His works have been exhibited at the Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Center and other galleries in Addis Ababa.

Wendimagegn Demeke’s paintings use humor and absurdity to invite viewers to deal with complex interrelationships between technology, data privacy, capitalism, conflict, and power. Wendimagegn Demeke’s works have been shown at the National Museum of Ethiopia, Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Pop up East African artists Shanghai, and Arkane Afrika Artcop22, Morocco. He studied fine art at Entoto TVET College. He works as a studio artist, illustrator and teacher.

Symbolism and dreamscapes are hallmarks of emerging Sudanese artist Yasmeen Abdullah’s (1992) idiosyncratic paintings. The figures in her canvases possess a profound sense of interiority that radiates from their person, and shapes the settings they reside in. Inspired by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Abdullah sees her paintings as a visualisation of his sensitive verses. Taking poetry to paintbrush, Abdullah’s works are rich with simile and symbol – a warming ray of light stands as a pictorial metaphor for hope, and ideas take the form of darting fish. The profound effect is a multi-layered world of image and meaning, which begs the viewer to gaze beneath the surface.

Kerima is a full-time studio artist based in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art and Design in Painting. Her work celebrates Ethiopian culture, drawing on the traditions of Ethiopian painting. Her works have been exhibited in a solo show at the C Art Gallery, as well as a group show in Seattle. In 2013 and 2014, Kerima’s work was featured at the Ethnic Gallery at the Municipal Tower, Columbia City Art Gallery and Tobya Art Gallery in Seattle.

Michal Mamit Worke, winner of the 2020 Lauren & Mitchell Presser Contemporary Art Grant, is figurative painter. Born in Ethiopia in 1982 she immigrated to Israel on “Moses Operation” in 1984 and currently works and lives in Tel Aviv. Worke explores scenes and people from everyday life. Worke explores the act of painting, seeking to dechipher the gaze and questions the power relations at stake. Worke studied at Shenkar College of Art and has appeared in various group and solo shows across Israel at Herzliya Museum and Eretz Israel Museum.

If You Go:

Learn more at addisfineart.com.

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What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

The New York Times reports that Blinken is in Africa apparently on a diplomatic mission to solve Ethiopia's domestic political problem with a five-day trip to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. Strangely, or unfortunately, neither Ethiopia nor the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, which has been leading local peace-finding efforts in the country, are on the list of scheduled stops for the U.S. Secretary of State. Below is an excerpt from the NYT report. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

Blinken Heads to Africa as U.S. Tries to Avert Ethiopia Disaster

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departed early Tuesday for a five-day swing to Africa, where he will lend support for democratic principles and seek to advance diplomacy aimed at preventing Ethiopia from descending into a catastrophic civil war.

Mr. Blinken plans to begin his trip with a stop in Kenya, which borders Ethiopia and which has played a key role in diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful resolution to a conflict between the country’s central government and rebels in its northern Tigray region…

Mr. Blinken had planned to visit Africa in late summer, but postponed the trip after the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August.

The Biden administration has not articulated its vision for the continent, something Mr. Blinken was to address during a stop in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, where he planned to deliver a speech on the United States’ Africa policy. He plans to conclude his trip with a visit to the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Just as they did in 2008 when Ethiopian American voters helped to flip Virginia for the Democrats, The Washington Post reports that this year the community swung for Republican candidates sending a message to the Biden administration about its rather belligerent and failed foreign policy towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Protesters rallied outside of the White House on Nov. 8 to denounce President Biden's approach to the conflict in Ethiopia/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Why some Ethiopian voters in Virginia swung for Youngkin — and how it may spell trouble for Democrats elsewhere

Girma Makonnen had long considered himself a loyal Democrat. Since emigrating from Ethiopia and then settling in Northern Virginia more than two decades ago, he donated, phone-banked and door-knocked for a long list of liberal candidates.

Except this year, when the 52-year-old voted for Glenn Youngkin — and other Republicans down the ticket.

“The Democratic Party right now is the Biden administration, and they blindsided us on foreign policy,” said Makonnen, an engineer who lives in Ashburn. “We were Democrats because we believed in the system. But everybody in the Ethiopian community is feeling the pain of neglect.”

Like him, some Ethiopian Americans in Virginia heeded calls to cast a vote for the GOP at the polls earlier this month amid a coordinated effort to express disapproval with how President Biden has handled growing conflict in the East African nation.

Those involved in the effort support Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago but has since led the country into an escalating civil war, vowing to “bury this enemy with our blood and bones.”

Leaders of the effort say that by authorizing sanctions on Ethiopia and cutting off trade benefits, Biden has effectively empowered the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a repressive regime that led the country before Abiy.

And with seemingly no response to their concerns from the White House, organizers said, Abiy supporters in Virginia took their message to the polls — despite, or perhaps because of, the Ethiopian community’s long allegiance with Democrats.

“The government’s approach is so illogical at this point that we have to show we are disappointed in an area that can potentially hurt the Democratic Party,” said Mesfin Tegenu, chairman of the American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC).

Organizers with the group said they put out mass messaging on social media, canvassed at Ethiopian Orthodox churches and restaurants in the D.C. suburbs, and texted thousands of people in hopes of rallying community members to vote for Youngkin.

Whether it made a difference in the election is difficult, if not outright impossible, to quantify. Although the Northern Virginia suburbs are home to one of the largest Ethiopian communities in the country, there is little data on how it functions as a voting bloc — or how members of the Ethiopian diaspora voted in Youngkin’s narrow victory over former governor Terry McAuliffe (D) earlier this month.

Virginia is home to about 30,000 immigrants from Ethiopia — about 1 in 8 of all Ethiopians nationwide, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute. Fairfax County and Alexandria have some of the highest concentrations of Ethiopians in the country.

A look at heavily East African precincts in the area, including those in Woodbridge and West End Alexandria, does not show a strong swing to Youngkin compared with previous years or other precincts in heavily blue Northern Virginia.

Still, community leaders from across the political spectrum — including some who campaigned for McAuliffe — say it was impossible to ignore an unprecedented set of rumblings, one that may offer a warning to Democratic campaigns elsewhere.

“It was pretty widespread,” said Bert Bayou, an Ethiopian American who helped canvass for McAuliffe as the vice president of Unite Here Local 23. “Ethiopians felt betrayed by the U.S., but specifically by the party.”

Read more »

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Letesenbet Gidey Just Smashed the Half-Marathon World Record . . . by a *Lot*

Ethiopian Long-distance runner Letesenbet Gidey. It's the fourth world record now held by Gidey, joining her records in the 5K, 10K, and 15K. She also won a bronze medal in the 10K in Tokyo and has a silver world championship medal in that distance. (Popsugar)

Popsugar

Letesenbet Gidey had never run a half marathon before, but [this week], she made a debut to remember. Racing at the Valencia Half Marathon Trinidad Alfonso, Gidey smashed the women’s half marathon world record by a margin of 70 seconds, coming in at 1:02:52 (pending ratification).

It’s the fourth (!) world record now held by Gidey, joining her records in the 5K, 10K, and 15K. She also won a bronze medal in the 10K in Tokyo and has a silver world championship medal in that distance.

As for the half marathon, Gidey was all confidence after her history-making run. “I knew I could run this kind of time as my training sessions in the altitude of Addis Ababa have gone very well,” she said afterward, having held a 4:48 per mile pace during the run. Ruth Chepngetich, who recently won the Chicago Marathon, set the previous half marathon record of 1:04:02 earlier in 2021.

What’s next for Gidey? After the race, she hinted that she’s “thinking of competing at the marathon distance,” though she’s not sure when she’ll debut. After adding yet another world record to her résumé, we can only assume she’ll make a splash in that distance, too.

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Haile Gerima Is Having a Hollywood Moment. It’s Left Him Conflicted

The Ethiopian American filmmaker Haile Gerima said he had “no trust in, no desire to be a part of” Hollywood. The director, an eminence of American and African indie cinema, is being recognized by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and Netflix. But he has long rejected the industry. (NYT)

The New York Times

Haile Gerima doesn’t hold back when it comes to his thoughts on Hollywood. The power games of movie producers and distributors are “anti-cinema,” he put it recently. The three-act structure is akin to “fascism” — it “numbs, makes stories toothless.” And Hollywood cinema is like the “hydrogen bomb.”

For decades, Gerima, the 75-year-old Ethiopian filmmaker, has blazed a trail outside of the Hollywood system, building a legacy that looms large over American and African independent cinema.

But as he spoke with me on a video call from his studio in Washington, D.C., Gerima found himself at an unexpected juncture: He was about to travel to Los Angeles, where he would receive the inaugural Vantage Award at the opening gala of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is also screening a retrospective of his work this month. A new 4K restoration of his 1993 classic, “Sankofa,” debuted on Netflix last month.

After 50 years, Hollywood has finally come calling. “I’m going with a lump in my throat,” Gerima said with his typical candor. “This is an industry I have no relationship with, no trust in, no desire to be a part of.”


Gerima’s ideas about self-distribution influenced Ava DuVernay and other filmmakers. (Photo: The New York Times)

Gerima tends to speak directly and without euphemism, his words propelled by the force of his conviction. The filmmaker has been at loggerheads with the American film industry since the 1970s, when he was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. There, he was part of what came to be known as the L.A. Rebellion — a loose collective of African and African American filmmakers, including Charles Burnett (“Killer of Sheep”), Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust”), Larry Clark (“Tamu”) and others, who challenged the mainstream cinematic idiom.

Gerima’s first project in film school was a short commercial called “Death of Tarzan.” An exorcism of Hollywood’s colonial fantasies, it provoked a response from a classmate that Gerima still remembers fondly: “Thank you, Gerima, for killing that diaper-wearing imperialist!”

The eight features he has since directed bristle with the same impulse for liberation, employing nonlinear narratives and jagged audiovisual experiments to paint rousing portraits of Black and Pan-African resistance. In a phone interview, Burnett described Gerima’s work as coursing with emotion: “People have plots and things, but he has energy, real energy. That’s what characterizes his films.”

The stark, black-and-white “Bush Mama” (1975) charts the radicalization of a woman in Los Angeles as she navigates poverty and the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of welfare. “Ashes and Embers” (1982) — which opens with the protagonist driving into Los Angeles with dreams of Hollywood before being abruptly stopped by the police — traces the gradual disillusionment of a Black Vietnam War veteran. In “Sankofa,” one of Gerima’s most acclaimed films, an African American model is transported back in time to a plantation, where she’s caught up in a slave rebellion. Other films, like “Harvest: 3,000 Years” (1976) and “Teza” (2008), explore the political history of Gerima’s native Ethiopia.

For the filmmaker and his wife and producing partner, Shirikiana Aina, these visions of fierce Black independence are as much a matter of life as art. Most of Gerima’s movies have been produced and distributed by the couple’s company, Mypheduh Films, which derives its name from an ancient Ethiopian word meaning “protector of culture.” Mypheduh’s offices are housed in Sankofa, a bookstore and Pan-African cultural center across the street from Howard University, where Gerima taught filmmaking for over 40 years. This little pocket of Washington is Gerima’s empire — or his “liberated territory,” as he likes to call it.

“When I think of Haile’s cinema, I think of the cinema of the maroon,” Aboubakar Sanogo, a friend of Gerima’s and a scholar of African cinema at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, said in an interview, invoking a term for runaway slaves who formed their own independent settlements. “It’s very much a cinema of freedom. Hollywood is the plantation from which he has escaped.”

If Gerima is now ready to dance with the academy (which, incidentally, has never awarded a best director Oscar to a Black filmmaker), it’s because of the involvement of a kindred soul: Ava DuVernay.

The “Selma” filmmaker, who co-chaired the Academy Museum’s opening gala, has been the driving force behind the Haile-ssance of 2021. Array, DuVernay’s distribution and advocacy collective, spearheaded the restoration of “Sankofa.” The company also rereleased “Ashes and Embers” on Netflix in 2016, in addition to distributing “Residue,” the debut feature by Gerima’s son Merawi, last year.

Speaking by phone, DuVernay said that in collaborating with Gerima, she felt she had come full circle: Years ago, she modeled Array on the example set by Gerima and Aina’s grass-roots distribution initiatives.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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Spotlight: Two Ethiopia Buildings Among Africa’s 12 Iconic Architectures

Lideta Market, Ethiopia - 2017. This shopping centre was built in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, with lightweight concrete. The considered design includes a perforated façade that controls the flow of natural light and ventilation within. Moreover, the cut-out pattern decorating the building's gleaming white shell imitates a traditional Ethiopian fabric. (BBC)

BBC

Africa’s iconic architecture in 12 buildings

While the pyramids of Egypt are recognised around the world, much of Africa’s architecture remains unknown – something architects Adil Dalbai and Livingstone Mukasa hope to change.

They are part of the team that has recently published the seven-volume Architectural Guide Sub-Saharan Africa. Their in-depth study encompasses buildings from earlier eras, the colonial period – like the recently renovated railway station (above) built in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, in 1910 – to more modern masterpieces.

Here are 12 of the most innovative, historic and iconic entries:

Palace of Emperor Fasilides, Ethiopia – early 17th Century

This palace is located in Ethiopia’s northern city of Gondar, within a fortified compound known as the “Fasil Ghebbi” (Royal Enclosure).

The site includes some 20 palaces, royal buildings, elaborately decorated churches, monasteries and unique buildings.

The design of these buildings were influenced by the baroque style brought to Gondar by Jesuit missionaries.

See the full list at BBC.com »

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UK Celebrities Urge Return of Plundered Sacred Treasures Back to Ethiopia

The Guardian reports that high-profile Britons are calling for the return of sacred treasures hidden away in England for over a century back to Ethiopia. According to the report celebrities including the Ethiopian-British writer Lemn Sissay have written a letter to the country's Museum trustees urging them to return the "plundered altar tablets." (Photo: Ethiopian priests carry tabots during the Timket festival of Epiphany/Alamy)

The Guardian

They are hidden religious treasures that have been in the British Museum’s stores for more than 150 years, never on public display – with members of the public strictly forbidden from seeing them.

Now hopes have been raised that Ethiopian tabots, looted by the British after the battle of Maqdala in 1868, could finally be returned home following a new legal opinion and an appeal backed by Stephen Fry, the author Lemn Sissay and the former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

The wood and stone tabots are altar tablets, considered by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as the dwelling place of God on Earth and the representation of the Ark of the Covenant. They have, everyone agrees, huge spiritual and religious value for the people of Ethiopia.

A letter has been sent to British Museum trustees signed by supporters including Fry, Sissay, the actor Rupert Everett and the former British ambassador to Ethiopia Sir Harold Walker. It says the museum has acknowledged the sanctity of the tabots and has never put them on display, allowed them to be studied, copied or photographed. “Instead, they sit in the vaults, where they remain over 150 years later, unknown to the vast majority of people of this country.”

It continues: “We believe that today the British Museum has a unique opportunity to build a lasting and meaningful bridge of friendship between Britain and Ethiopia by handing the tabots back to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.”

A number of attempts have been made by Ethiopia to get the tabots returned but the museum argues it is forbidden by the British Museum Act of 1963 to restitute objects in its collection.

Campaigners sought a new legal opinion that proves, they say, that the tabots can be legally returned.

The opinion, seen by the Guardian, has been drawn up Samantha Knights QC and was commissioned by the Scheherazade Foundation. It points out that the 1963 act has a provision that allows disposal of objects “unfit to be retained” and that can be disposed “without detriment to the interests of students”.

It argues the tabots fall within this category, that they have “no apparent use or relevance to the museum”.

The website has no image of them and only the briefest of descriptions. “As such they are currently and apparently always have been in effect treated very differently to the rest of the collection and could be properly said to be ‘unfit to be retained’.”

On the question of detriment to students, no student is permitted to study them, the document says.

Eleven tabots are in the museum collection; nine can be directly linked to British looting after the Battle of Maqdala in 1868, an event that came about after the Emperor Tewodros II had taken British hostages. More than 500 Ethiopian soldiers were killed and the emperor killed himself rather than be taken prisoner.

Hundreds of objects were subsequently plundered. They are in a number of collections. The V&A, which has Maqdala treasures including a gold crown and a royal wedding dress, has floated the idea of a long-term loan.

The British Museum said in a statement: “These documents need to be reviewed and addressed with full consideration, and more time is required before this can be looked at by trustees.”

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ART TALK: Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey Opens at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

This midcareer survey features more than 75 drawings, paintings, and prints made from 1996 to the present. (Image: Haka and Riot, 2019, Ink and Acrylic on Canvas, 144 x 180 inches. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging. © Julie Mehretu)

Press Release

WALKER ART CENTER

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and based in Harlem, New York, Julie Mehretu (b. 1970) is best known for abstract paintings layered with a variety of materials, marks, and meanings. These canvases and works on paper reference the histories of art, architecture, and past civilizations while addressing some of the most immediate conditions of our contemporary moment, including migration, revolution, climate change, global capitalism, and technology.

This midcareer survey features more than 75 drawings, paintings, and prints made from 1996 to the present. It covers a broad arc of Mehretu’s artistic evolution, revealing her early focus on drawing, graphics, and mapping and her more recent introduction of bold gestures, sweeps of saturated color, and figurative elements into her immersive, large-scale works.

Mehretu’s paintings begin with drawing; she then develops the works by incorporating techniques such as printing, digital collage, erasure, and painterly abstraction. She is inspired by a variety of sources, from cave paintings, cartography, Chinese calligraphy, and 17th-century landscape etchings to architectural renderings, graffiti, and news photography. Drawing on this vast archive, Mehretu explores how realities of the past and present can shape human consciousness. As the artist says, her visual language represents how “history is made: one layer on top of another, erasing itself, consuming itself, inventing something else from the same thing.”

Julie Mehretu is co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

If You Go:

WHEN: Oct 16, 2021–Mar 6, 2022
WHERE: Galleries 1, 2, 3, and D/Perlman Gallery
More info at https://walkerart.org/

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In Pictures: AMSALE Fall 2022 Brings Brides into a Romantic Dreamscape

AMSALE’s first major rollout since before the pandemic, today’s launch included all ranges within the bridal house. This season also represents a homecoming for AMSALE Designer Michael Cho, who previously worked closely alongside the brand’s esteemed late founder, Amsale Aberra, for more than eight years. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

LUXURY BRIDAL HOUSE AMSALE BRINGS BRIDES INTO A ROMANTIC, NATURE-INSPIRED DREAMSCAPE WITH ITS FALL 2022 COLLECTION

NEW YORK, October 6, 2021—Lately, brides are rethinking what a wedding looks like in the modern world; and, likewise, AMSALE has once again reimagined the modern wedding gown. Fueled by optimism, the luxury design house today unveiled its Fall 2022 collections. It’s a season of rebirth, wherein pure creativity, emotion and design come together like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon.

“Our direction this season was to focus on diversification and craft, so that each gown represents the vision of a different bride,” says Chief Creative Officer Sarah Swann. “The collections feature an exciting variety of textures, silhouettes and styles.” This season also represents a homecoming for AMSALE Designer Michael Cho, who returned to the label in March. Cho previously worked closely alongside the brand’s esteemed late founder, Amsale Aberra, for more than eight years.


(Courtesy photo)


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For Fall 2022, Cho’s imagination was sparked by the hidden world of forest streams where life is nurtured and renewed amongst lush mossy banks. Sweeping architectural lines found in the silhouettes are reminiscent of the graceful carvings along the stream bed left by decades of gently flowing water. Branching patterns worked into the embroideries reflect the climbing flora that bloom along mossy pebbles. The lamella of rare aquatic mushroom caps inspired ribbed threadwork embellishments, while butterfly koi transform into romantic trains and skirts of pleated tulle. In contrast to the romantic natural world, Cho was also influenced by the old world of the Mediterranean region, where artistic bas relief designs carved from precious stone and sculpted from plaster adorned the architecture. “After more than a year of uncertainty and harsh realities in the wake of the pandemic, I wanted to bring to our brides a hopeful vision of renewed life and reinvigorated romance, like seedlings budding into a new world,” Cho says.


(Courtesy photo)


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AMSALE’s first major rollout since before the pandemic, today’s launch included all ranges within the bridal house: AMSALE, Nouvelle Amsale, Little White Dress, Amsale Bridesmaids and Amsale Evening.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


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About AMSALE

Founded by Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown, The Amsale Group is one of the world’s leading luxury bridal houses, and widely credited as the inventor of the modern wedding dress. A Black-owned business headquartered in New Your City, with a salon on Madison Avenue, the collections including Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale, Amsale Bridesmaids, Little White Dress and Evening are carried in some of the finest bridal salons and specialty stores worldwide.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

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Whistleblower: Facebook Fueling Violence in Ethiopia

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who testified at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, accused the social media platform of fueling violence in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

CNN

During much-anticipated testimony Tuesday before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen repeatedly pointed outside of the country for examples of how the social network could be used to dangerous ends — so much so that lawmakers wondered during the hearing if they should meet to specifically discuss national security concerns.

The former product manager referenced a series of links between activity on Facebook and deadly violence in Myanmar and Ethiopia, and spying by China and Iran.

“My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning. What we saw in Myanmar and now in Ethiopia are the opening chapters of a story so terrifying no one wants to read the end of it,” Haugen said, referring to recent bloodshed in both countries.

Facebook admitted in 2018 that it failed to do enough to prevent the spread of posts whipping up hatred against the persecuted Rohingya minority in Myanmar. It has since vowed to limit the spread of “misinformation” in the country after a military coup earlier this year.

Asked by one senator whether Facebook is used by “authoritarian or terrorist-based leaders” around the world, Haugen responded that such use of the platform is “definitely” happening, and that Facebook is “very aware” of it.

Her last role at Facebook was with the company’s counterespionage team, which she says “directly worked on tracking Chinese participation on the platform, surveilling, say, Uyghur populations around the world.”

“You could actually find the Chinese, based on them doing these kinds of things,” she said.

In March, Facebook’s security staff revealed that Chinese hackers had targeted Uyghur activists and journalists living outside the country with fake Facebook accounts and malware.

Haugen’s team also observed “the active participation of, say, the Iran government doing espionage on other state actors. This is definitely a thing that is happening,” she said.

This summer, Mike Dvilyanski, Facebook’s head of cyber espionage investigations, told CNN the company had disabled “fewer than 200 operational accounts” on its platform associated with the Iranian spying campaign, and notified a similar number of Facebook users they may have been targeted by the group.

Haugen blamed “a consistent understaffing of (Facebook’s) counterespionage information operation and terrorism team” for the ongoing proliferation of such threats however, and said she was also speaking with other parts of Congress about them.

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UPDATE: In Ethiopia Parliament Confirms Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed takes oath during a ceremony at the Parliament building in Addis Ababa, October 4, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS)

Reuters

By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliament confirmed incumbent Abiy Ahmed as prime minister for a five-year term on Monday…

Abiy’s party won a landslide victory in June’s election. He was sworn in on Monday, and a ceremony was being held later in the capital Addis Ababa attended by several African heads of states.

President Sahle-Work Zewde told parliament on Monday that government priorities included easing inflation – which has hovered around 20% this year – and the cost of living, as well as reducing unemployment…

Abiy was appointed prime minister by the then-governing coalition in 2018 and promised political and economic reforms.

Within months of taking office, he lifted a ban on opposition parties, released tens of thousands of political prisoners and took steps to open up one of Africa’s last untapped markets.

Read the full article at Reuters.com »

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Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma Claims Men’s London Marathon Win

Sisay Lemma won the men's London Marathon in a time of two hours four minutes and one second after breaking away from the leading pack late in the race on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Associated Press

LONDON — Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma won the men’s London Marathon in a time of two hours four minutes and one second after breaking away from the leading pack late in the race on Sunday.

Lemma, who finished on the podium last year, crossed the line 27 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchuma with Mosinet Geremew third.

Meanwhile, in the women’s race, opting for the London Marathon over the defense of her New York title next month paid off for Joyciline Jepkosgei after the Kenyan won on her debut in the British capital on Sunday.

Jepkosgei won in two hours, 17 minutes, 43 seconds — making her the seventh fastest woman in history. Degitu Azimeraw of Ethiopia was second with compatriot Ashete Bekere third.

It was the first full-scale staging of the London Marathon in more than two years due to the pandemic, with around 40,000 runners joining some of the world’s best on the the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route from Blackheath in southeast London to The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace in the center of the city.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Kicks Out UN Officials for ‘Meddling’ in Its Domestic Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 25, 2021. The foreign ministry said in a statement that it is kicking out seven United Nations officials and accuses them of "meddling in the internal affairs of the country. (AP photo)

Bloomberg

Ethiopia told seven senior United Nations staff members to leave the country within 72 hours for allegedly meddling in its internal affairs…

The government said the UN officials were going beyond their duties in the country, which has been engulfed in conflict since late last year when federal troops retaliated to an attack by regional soldiers on an army base.

“They were found engaged in activities that contradict the law and they operated out of their mandate,” Dina Mufti, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry, said of the UN officials, without providing details. “They know the law and they should not fail to obey it.”

Read the full article at bloombergquint.com »

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NYT on International Legacy of Ethiopia’s Music Legend Alemayehu Eshete

Alemayehu Eshete in concert at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park [in New York] in 2008. His admirers compared him to both Elvis Presley and James Brown. He became a swaggering star in the late 1960s, when Addis Ababa experienced a golden age of night life and music. Decades later, he was rediscovered. (Getty)

The New York Times

Alemayehu Eshete, a soulful Ethiopian pop singer widely known as the “Abyssinian Elvis” who became a star in the 1960s when a cultural revolution took hold of Addis Ababa, died on Sept. 2…

For years under Haile Selassie’s imperial rule, Ethiopia’s music industry was controlled by the state. Orchestras dutifully performed patriotic songs at government events, while defiant bands played Little Richard songs at night in clubs. It was forbidden to record and distribute music independently.

“All the musicians used to work for the government,” Mr. Eshete said in a 2017 documentary about the era, “Ethiopiques: Revolt of the Soul.” “When they told you to perform, you had to perform. We were treated like average workers, not like real artists.”

But in the late 1960s, as Selassie grew old and the grip of his rule loosened, Addis Ababa experienced a golden age of night life and music, and Mr. Eshete became a swaggering star of the so-called “swinging Addis” era.

The sound that dominated this period was distinct: an infectious blend of Western-imported blues and R&B with traditional Ethiopian folk music. It was typified by hypnotic saxophone lines, funky electric guitar stabs and grooving piano riffs.

As a teenager, Mr. Eshete was smitten with American rock ‘n’ roll, and his idol was Elvis Presley, so when he started singing in the clubs of Addis he imitated his hero. He sported a pompadour and wore big collared shirts as he gyrated onstage.

.“I dressed like an American, grew my hair, sang ‘Jailhouse Rock,’” he told The Guardian in 2008. “But the moment that I started singing Amharic songs, my popularity shot up.”

He was soon enlisted in the fabled Police Orchestra, a state-run band composed of Ethiopia’s finest musicians, and he began playing with the ensemble at government functions in the city. After hours, he found refuge in the underground music scene.

In 1969, the defiant act of Mr. Eshete and a young record shop owner named Amha Eshete (no relation) galvanized the scene.


The acclaimed “Éthiopiques” album series, begun in 1997, ignited international interest in Ethiopian music. Two releases in the series are devoted to Mr. Eshete’s work. (Photo: Buda Musique)

Amha Eshete decided to found a label, Amha Records, to commit to vinyl the Ethiopian pop music that bands were performing in clubs. Few musicians were willing to flout the law with him until Alemayehu Eshete stepped forward and offered to record the funky tune “Timarkialesh,” and Amha then had it manufactured as a 45 r.p.m. single in India.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

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Why is Biden Admin Killing Century-old Historic American Diplomacy in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral on November 25, 1963. The Ethiopian leader was the only African head of state who attended the U.S. President's funeral. (Photograph credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

Medium

By Denton Collins (American. Lover of injera and the people in the Horn whom I’ve served)

Food Aid as a Weapon in Ethiopia, the Death of US Diplomacy and the Power of Brain Washing for State Destruction

I am old enough to intimately remember Emperor Haile Selassie as the first among world leaders at the side of JFK’s casket in on 25 November 1963. Front. And. Center.

17 September 2021, will go down in history as the death of this historic relationship dating from 1903. This compelled me to put pen to paper on a foreign policy topic for the first time in years. To my Ethiopian friends, I am with you.

How does one even begin to apologies for the Biden Administration’s humiliating foreign policy record so far? (Within the last 48 hours America has lost historic allies in Ethiopia and France — the latter recalling her ambassador. How poetic that de Gaulle and Haile Selassie are standing side by side above.)
Look at this picture and take a moment for it to sink in. Ethiopians like to say gold in your hand feels like a piece of bronze.

[On Friday, September 17th], President Biden issued an executive order imposing sanctions on warring parties in Ethiopia — which in reality is targeting the Government of Ethiopia- the most democratically elected in the history of the ancient nation.

It is not the first time that Ethiopia, a nation that has sent diplomatic mission abroad since before the United States existed, has been thrown under the bus by the West. Recall when Ethiopia — one of only a handful of African nations in the League of Nations — was allowed to be overran by the same League that it was member of AND by another League member. Double standards and colonialism have never been part of your vocabulary.

Yesterday’s Executive Order has parallels to the British and French foreign ministers at the time of the League’s decision: Sir Samuel Hoare and Pierre Laval, secretly planned to divide the country and give a piece to Mussolini (Hoare and Laval lost their jobs as a result)….

Surly coincidental, also yesterday, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) declared that of the 445 large food aids trucks sent to to Tigray province only 38 have returned. Suppress one news story with another is as old as…Ethiopia. The message from WFP characterized the missing trucks (not one or two, but several hundred in a war zone) as “concerning” — if that’s not the understatement of the century, I don’t know what is.

Read the full article at medium.com »

Related:

In an Open Letter Ethiopia Blasts Biden’s Failing East Africa Foreign Policy

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In an Open Letter Ethiopia Blasts Biden’s Failing East Africa Foreign Policy

In an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed blasted America's obviously failing East Africa foreign policy. The letter shared on social media comes on the same day as Biden's Executive Order issued on Friday, September 17th concerning the domestic political conflict in Ethiopia. You can read both documents below. (Photo via Twitter)

Press Release

By Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia

September 17, 2021

An Open Letter to President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this open letter to you, it comes at a time when innocent civilians including women, children and other vulnerable groups in the Afar and Amhara regions have been violently displaced, their livelihoods disrupted, their family members killed, and their properties as well as service giving institutions destroyed intentionally by TPLF.

This letter comes at a time when our children in the Tigray region are being used as cannon fodder by remnants of an organization recently designated as ‘terrorist’ by our House of People’s Representatives. Children of a post-war generation that have held high hopes in the possibility that their lives would be distinctly different from that of their parents, whose lives have been marred by the terror of war with the DERG regime and a cross border conflict with Eritrea in the late 1990s instigated by the TPLF.

As the rest of their peers in the country pursue their studies and lives, our children of Tigray have been held hostage by a terrorist organization that attacked the State on November 3, 2020 exposing them to various vulnerabilities. While the use of children as soldiers and participation in active combat is a violation of international law, the terrorist organization TPLF has proceeded unabated in waging its aggression through the use of children and other civilians. The cries of women and children in the Amhara and Afar regions that are displaced and suffering at the hands of TPLF’s enduring ruthlessness continues under the deafening silence of the international community.

Unfortunately, while the entire world has turned its eyes onto Ethiopia and the Government for all the wrong reasons, it has failed to openly and sternly reprimand the terrorist group in the same manner it has been chastising my Government. The many efforts the Ethiopian Government has undertaken to stabilize the region and address humanitarian needs amidst a hostile environment created by the TPLF have been continuously misrepresented. The mounting and undue pressure on a developing African country, with limitless potential for prosperity, has been building up over the past months. This unwarranted pressure, characterized by double standards, has been rooted in an orchestrated distortion of events and facts on the ground as it pertains to Ethiopia’s rule of law operations in the Tigray region. As a long-time friend, strategic ally and partner in security, the United States’ recent policy against my country comes not only as a surprise to our proud nation, but evidently surpasses humanitarian concerns.

For almost three decades, Ethiopians in all corners have been subjected to pervasive human rights, civil and political rights violations under TPLF’s regime. Various identities under the Ethiopian flag were exploited by a small clique that appropriated power to benefit its small circle at the expense of millions, including the impoverished of the Tigray region. The suppression of political dissent, egregious human rights violations, displacements, suffocation of democratic rights and capture of State machinery and institutions for the aggrandizement of a small group that ran a country of millions with no accountability for 27 years has been met with little to no resistance by various Western nations, including the US.

The period 2015-2018 that marked Ethiopia’s awakening where the TPLF was deposed from power in a popular uprising, is telling of the stance that millions throughout this great country took against a criminal enterprise that subjugated Ethiopians to oppression and stripped citizens of agency. TPLF’s track record of pitting one ethnic group against the other for its own political survival did not end in 2018 when my administration took over the helms of power. It rather mutated and intensified in form, putting on the robe of victimhood, while financing elements of instability throughout the country.

Now, the destructive criminal clique, adept at propaganda and spinning international human rights and democracy machinations to its favor, cries wolf while it leaves no stone unturned in its mission to destroy a nation of more than a 3000-year history. Although this hallucination will not come to pass, history will record that the orchestrated turbulent period Ethiopia is going through at the moment is being justified by some Western policy makers and global institutions under the guise of humanitarian assistance and advancing democracy.

In a demonstration of my people’s aspiration to democratize and unprecedented in Ethiopia’s modern history, close to 40million of my country folk went out to vote on June 21, 2021 in this country’s first attempt at a free and fair election. In spite of the many challenges and shortcomings the 6th National Election may have been faced with, the resolute determination of the Ethiopian people for the democratic process was displayed in their commitment to a peaceful electoral period. Against the backdrop of previous electoral periods in which the choice of the people was snatched through rigged processes by the former regime, the 2021 elections came on the heels of the democratic reforms processes we embarked upon three years ago. The significance of our 2021 elections is in its peaceful conclusion, demonstrating Ethiopia’s new trajectory amidst the global warnings that the elections would be violent.

With the Ethiopian people having spoken and affirmed their faith in Prosperity Party to lead them through the next five years in a landslide victory, my Party and administration with this responsibility at hand, are ever more determined to unleash the potential for equitable development these lands are blessed with. We are even more resolute in granting our people the dignity, security and development they deserve within the means we have and without succumbing to various competing interests and pressures. And we will do this by confronting the threats to democracy and stability posed by any belligerent criminal enterprise.

While threats to national, regional and global security continue to be a key component of US interests in many parts of the world, it remains unanswered why your administration has not taken a strong position against the TPLF – the very organization the US Homeland Security categorized as qualifying as Tier 3 terrorist organization for their violent activities in the 1980s.

In the same manner that your predecessors led the global ‘war on terror’, my administration supported by the millions of Ethiopians thirsty and hungry for their right to peace, development and prosperity, are also leading our national ‘war on terror’ against a destructive criminal enterprise, which poses a threat to both national and Horn region stability. Ethiopia has remained the US’s staunch ally in fighting the terrorism threat of Al Shabab in the Horn. It is our expectation that the US would stand by Ethiopia as a similar terrorist organization with hostility towards the region threatens to destabilize the Horn.

Mr. President,

The American people that have supported the US government’s global interventions under the pretext of democratization would be hard-pressed to know that a small impoverished but culturally, historically and naturally rich nation in East Africa embarked on its own democratization path three years ago. However, the American people and the rest of the Western world are being misguided by the reports, narratives and data distortions of global entities many believe were driven to help impoverished countries like mine, yet have in the past months portrayed victims as oppressors and oppressors as victims through partisan narratives and bankrolled networks. History always smiles upon those who have stood for truth. And so, I am certain that truth will shine upon this proud nation Ethiopia!

Many Ethiopians and Africans looked with optimism at your ascent to the Presidency earlier this year. This optimism has been rooted in the belief that a new dispensation for Africa – US relations will materialize in 2021, and that your Presidency would usher in respect for the sovereignty of African nations and nurture partnerships based on mutual growth and in depth reading of context.

African nations that have broken free from the shackles of colonialism starting from the 1950s have continued to resist the chains of neocolonialism that is manifesting itself in various overt and covert ways. Despite escaping the yokes of colonialism, Ethiopia now struggles with its mutation. As a founding member of the United Nations and the Organization for African Unity (now African Union), Ethiopia remains a proud nation that through its sons, daughters and kinship with other African nations, is determined to meet our current challenges with the resilient and indomitable spirit that defines this great nation.

Developing nations, like Ethiopia, have been expectant that a new course in the US’s foreign policy will be charted, departing from the influence of individuals that have entrenched themselves into the politics of other nations. A foreign policy that can extricate itself from decisions made based on key policymakers and policy influencer’s friendships with belligerent terrorist groups like the TPLF and the narrative distortions of lobby groups. We have seen the consequences and aftermaths of hurried and rash decisions made by various US administrations that have left many global populations in more desolate conditions than the intervention attempted to rectify.

It is essential to point out here that Ethiopia will not succumb to consequences of pressure engineered by disgruntled individuals for whom consolidating power is more important than the well-being of millions. Our identity as Ethiopians and our identity as Africans will not let this come to pass. The humiliation our ancestors have faced throughout the continent for centuries will not be resuscitated in these lands upon which the green, gold and red colors of independence have inspired many to successfully struggle for their freedom!

God bless Ethiopia and its people!

September 17, 2021

Related:

Press Release

The White House

Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate related to the Executive Order on Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons With Respect to the Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Madam President:)

Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order addressing the situation in and in relation to northern Ethiopia, which has been marked by activities that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region. The widespread humanitarian crisis precipitated by the violent conflict in northern Ethiopia has left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance and has placed an entire region on the brink of famine.

I have declared a national emergency to deal with the threat posed by this crisis and authorized the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for or complicit in, or who have directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Ethiopia, or that have the purpose or effect of extending or expanding the crisis in northern Ethiopia or obstructing a ceasefire or a peace process; corruption or serious human rights violations; blocking the delivery or distribution of, or access to, humanitarian supplies; targeting civilians; planning, directing, or committing attacks against United Nations, African Union, or associated personnel; or actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ethiopia or its territorial integrity.

I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued.

Sincerely,

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

—-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The White House

September 17, 2021

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the Executive Order Regarding the Crisis in Ethiopia

The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia is a tragedy causing immense human suffering and threatens the unity of the Ethiopian state. Nearly one million people are living in famine-like conditions, and millions more face acute food insecurity as a direct consequence of the violence. Humanitarian workers have been blocked, harassed, and killed. I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations.

The United States is determined to push for a peaceful resolution of this conflict, and we will provide full support to those leading mediation efforts, including the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo. We fully agree with United Nations and African Union leaders: there is no military solution to this crisis.

I join leaders from across Africa and around the world in urging the parties to the conflict to halt their military campaigns respect human rights, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and come to the negotiating table without preconditions. Eritrean forces must withdraw from Ethiopia. A different path is possible but leaders must make the choice to pursue it.

My Administration will continue to press for a negotiated ceasefire, an end to abuses of innocent civilians, and humanitarian access to those in need. The Executive Order I signed today establishes a new sanctions regime that will allow us to target those responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict in Ethiopia, obstructing humanitarian access, or preventing a ceasefire. It provides the Department of the Treasury with the necessary authority to hold accountable those in the Government of Ethiopia, Government of Eritrea, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and Amhara regional government, among others, that continue to pursue conflict over negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people.

The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and to strengthening the historic ties between our countries.

These sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea, but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster We provide Ethiopia with more humanitarian and development assistance than does any other country – benefitting all of its regions. We will continue to work with our partners to address basic needs of at-risk populations in Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa.

—-

The White House

Background Press Call By Senior Administration Officials on Ethiopia

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

PRESS BRIEFINGS
Via Teleconference
(September 16, 2021)

12:02 P.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Thanks, and greetings to everyone. I would like to welcome you all to an on-background call to discuss Ethiopia.

Today we are joined by [senior administration officials]. This call is on background, and therefore, at this point, our speakers should be referred to as “senior administration officials.” The call contents and the materials we will send later this evening will be embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Again, we have not yet sent any materials, but we anticipate sending them this evening to those of you who have participated on the call and agreed to the ground rules. And they will be embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

And with that, over to our first speaker.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great, thank you. And good afternoon, everyone. We really appreciate this opportunity to update you on a major administration announcement tomorrow regarding Ethiopia.

And, first, let me say that the Biden-Harris Administration is determined to press for an end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in northern Ethiopia. This expanding conflict is causing immense human suffering and threatening the unity of the Ethiopian state as well as regional stability.

This crisis has already sparked one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises in the world. Over 5 million people require humanitarian assistance, and up to 900,000 are already living in famine conditions in the Tigray region alone, more than anywhere else in the world today.

Less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies, however, have reached the Tigray region over the past month due to obstruction of aid access. Let me repeat that: less than 10 percent of needed supplies.

The United Nations Secretary-General and African Union leaders have stated clearly: There is no military solution to this political crisis. And we agree.

For far too long, the parties to this conflict have ignored international calls to initiate discussions to achieve a negotiated ceasefire, and the human rights and humanitarian situations have worsened. In a moment, [senior administration official] will give you a brief update on our engagement with the parties.

But let me get to the announcement. Tomorrow, we will announce that President Biden has approved a new executive order establishing a sanctions regime to increase pressure on the parties fueling this conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and, in the case of Eritrea, withdraw forces.

This action provides the Department of Treasury, working in coordination with the Department of State, the necessary authority to impose sanctions against those in the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and the Amhara regional government if they continue to pursue military conflict over meaningful negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people.

Unless the parties take concrete steps to resolve the crisis, the administration is prepared to take aggressive action under this new executive order to impose targeted sanctions against a wide range of individuals or entities.

But a different path is possible. If the government of Ethiopia and the TPLF take meaningful steps to enter into talks for a negotiated ceasefire and allow for unhindered humanitarian access, the United States is ready to help mobilize assistance for Ethiopia to recover and revitalize its economy.

And I think some people may ask: Well, what are the steps we’re asking the parties to take? Very concretely and clearly, steps towards a negotiated ceasefire could include accepting African Union-led mediation efforts, designating a negotiations team, agreeing to negotiations without preconditions, and accepting an invitation to initial talks.

Steps toward humanitarian access could include authorizing daily convoys of trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to travel overland to reach at-risk populations; reducing delays for humanitarian convoys; and restoring basic services such as electricity, telecommunications, and financial services.

But I also want to be clear: These sanctions authorities are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea. The new sanctions program is deliberately calibrated to mitigate any undue harm to those already suffering from this conflict.

In fact, Treasury will issue accompanying general licenses tomorrow to provide clear exemptions for any development, humanitarian, and other assistance efforts, as well as critical commercial activity in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The United States provides Ethiopia with more humanitarian assistance than does any other country, and we will continue to help those in Ethiopia who need our assistance. The executive order should not affect the continued provision of humanitarian and other assistance to address basic needs throughout Ethiopia.

So, with that, let me turn it over to [senior administration official] for his comments, and then we’ll be happy to take your questions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. And good afternoon to everybody.

As my colleague’s comments make clear, this decision — the President’s approval of this executive order was not a decision that the Biden-Harris administration or any of us in the Biden-Harris administration took lightly.

But we’ve telegraphed for months that the parties need to change course. They need to change course for the sake of Ethiopia, for the sake of Ethiopian people. And we’ve given them every chance to move toward a negotiated ceasefire to stop the human rights violations, to end the fighting to allow humanitarian deliveries.

You know, [redacted] spent an extended time in Addis, talking directly with the Prime Minister, with other senior officials, sharing our analysis of the dangers of the current approach and the implications for Ethiopia and the region. You know, [redacted] engaged the Eritreans, including President Isaias Afwerki, on the need for the Eritrean troops to withdraw. And we’ve detected no signs of any serious move by any of the parties to end the fighting.

What really strikes me after traveling to other African capitals, to the Gulf, through conversations and virtual meetings that I’ve had with Europeans and other friends, is how much our analysis — our shared analysis of the situation overlaps. Ethiopia’s neighbors and Ethiopia’s friends further away agree that there is a grave and growing risk to the stability of Ethiopia — a country of more than 110 million people — and that the current trajectory can lead to the disintegration of the state, which would be disastrous for Ethiopia, for the region, and beyond.

So there’s a widespread consensus — outside of Ethiopia, at least — that there is no military solution to this conflict. There’s widespread support for U.N. Secretary-General Guterres’s August call to, quote, “immediately end hostilities without preconditions and seize the opportunity to negotiate a lasting ceasefire.”

Unfortunately, right now, all signs seem to be pointing to dangerous escalation and expansion of the humanitarian crisis. We’re really worried that the end of the rainy season that’s upon us is going to mark an escalation of the military conflict.

Prime Minister Abiy seems determined to pursue a military approach. My guess is it’s probably in hopes that, by his October 4th swearing-in — before the new parliament that was elected in the recent elections — that he can claim some kind of military victory or military strength.

The mass mobilization that he’s provoked of the Ethiopian citizens essentially opens up a Pandora’s box in such a diverse country with so many political grievances and differences.

Eritrean troops have expanded their presence, dug down in western Tigray. For its part, the TPLF has been forging alliances with disaffected groups elsewhere in Ethiopia, which puts more of the country at risk of widespread civil conflict. The TPLF presumably has a keen interest in denying Prime Minister Abiy the ability to report to the new parliament in October that he has scored some kind of military win.

So the polarization inside Ethiopia deepens; the grievances grow.

We just can’t sit idly by. It must be clear that there are consequences for perpetuating this conflict and for denying lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

You know, in previewing this decision with Ethiopian officials and others, I’ve made the point clear — the data I mentioned earlier — which is the Biden administration believes that there is a different path. [Redacted] prepared to travel to the region to make the case and use the tools in our toolbox to encourage a different approach. I’ve spoken with former Nigerian President Obasanjo several times — as recently as yesterday, most recently — who’s been named AU envoy for the Horn, to assure him of our support for his mission. The time to pivot to a negotiated ceasefire and a way for military escalation is now.

With that, [senior administration official], back to you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thank you so much. And I think we are now going to open the floor to questions, correct?

MODERATOR: Yep. We can open it up.

Q (Audio muted) — the United Nations on this next week. Also, what makes you think that sanctions can really make a difference?

And finally, I just have a plea to make this call on the record because, you know, this is an issue that we’d like to get in the news, but I don’t understand why it’s on background.

Thank you.

MODEARTOR: Sorry, Michele, I think we did not hear the first part of your question, if you don’t mind repeating it.

Q Sure. It’s whether or not there’s going to be any action at the United Nations General Assembly next week — any particular outreach or meetings that you’re expecting.

And then secondly, what makes you think sanctions will make a difference?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can start on that. Michele, hi. I am going up to going up to New York along, of course, with other officials. Secretary Blinken will be there. Of course, President — President Biden will be there. And there’ll be a lot of bilateral discussions on this. But there’s not going to be any kind of, sort of, side event on Ethiopia at this time. It’s going to be more folded into bilateral discussions that we’re having with various people, rather than any kind of separate session — group (inaudible) on Ethiopia.

You probably saw that, for the G7, there was quite a — there was quite a coordinated effort of the G7 countries to make sure that there was a focus on Ethiopia and the humanitarian crisis at the time. And I think that you’ll see that type of discussion, again, among the — among the leaders next week.

Michele, you know the U.N. — you know the U.N. General Assembly atmosphere as well as I do from being up there. And my expectation is that whatever the official agenda is at the General Assembly next week, this will be a key discussion in the corridors, on the margins, in the various bilateral meetings because it is, right now, one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes in the world.

On your second question: You know, we have been engaging the parties to this conflict intently for months. And we have — you know, we have been signaling to them that there are consequences, first and foremost, to Ethiopia itself, to Ethiopia’s stability — but to the bilateral relationship of taking what is clearly a destructive approach to settling political grievances inside the country.

And I just don’t think that we can ignore the fact that all the encouragement that we and the international community and their neighbors of Ethiopia have been giving the parties — to move from a military approach to a political approach — that has been ignored. We can’t simply sit by and pretend that what we’ve had so far has been working. It hasn’t. The situation has gotten worse over the last few months.
I would hope that they would see this as an opportunity that — the tool is being unveiled tomorrow — that we have this new sanctions program, but we aren’t designating anyone or any entity under it, even though there’s broad authority to do so, in hopes that this can — that this will provide additional incentives for moving away from the military approach to a political approach.

They should be doing this anyway for the sake of Ethiopia, but now this is an additional incentive.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That’s right. And just to add: Yes, while we definitely — I second everything my colleague said. We expect significant discussion on Ethiopia at UNGA next week. And I think, you know, now is the time because we have been engaging for months on this, and yet the situation has only deteriorated.

So, you know, the statements of concern from a wide range of international actors have not achieved the results we need. And now we believe it is necessary to raise the costs to parties continuing to prosecute the war.

Q Oh, hi there. Thanks for taking the question. I just wanted a little bit more detail on the nuts and bolts of the sanctions regime that’s going to be announced tomorrow. How will this work in relation to the sanctions you already announced back in May by the Secretary of State? What kind of figures are going to be coming into view this time — military, political, others? Are you going to name names?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you, Declan. So how this is different: What was announced previously were the Global Magnitsky sanctions, and we have already designated the Eritrean commander with that sanctions package.

But this — the EO that will be announced tomorrow is a broader scope, allowing us to sanction individuals and entities from conflict parties and others fueling the conflict.

As I mentioned at the top, we have not yet and we will not yet mention names tomorrow. We are just announcing that the President has agreed to — has signed off on this authority, allowing Treasury and the State Department to look at those who are continuing fueling the conflict if the conditions that I’ve laid out are not been — have not been met.

But, you know, this regime — the EO that will come out is broader, faster, more flexible, and more directly tied to our specific push for ceasefire talks.

And, [senior administration official], I don’t know if you have anything to add to that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not really, but, you know, it’s worth noting — I mentioned the former President — former Nigerian President Obasanjo has been named the AU Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, looking at Ethiopia.

There’s a real opportunity now. He’s going to be going out to Addis — it might be today or tomorrow. He’s on his way. So, there’s a real opportunity now for the government, for the other parties to show a seriousness on the political negotiations that they haven’t done so far with working with Obasanjo.

So I would hope that this flexible, comprehensive tool that my colleague describes doesn’t have to actually be used.

Q Thanks for doing the call and for taking my question. I just wanted to see if you could get a bit more specific about the destructive behavior you’re trying to change on behalf of the Ethiopian government. You know, is it fair to say that it’s government policy to deny the humanitarian access and aid?

What is the — you know, you mentioned a bit that you had been coordinating with Prime Minister Abiy. I wonder, you know, do you feel that there’s a level of honesty in those interactions, or are they basically denying any of this is taking place? Anything you could give in terms of the specific behaviors that you’re hoping this might change. Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, just one fact: There has been no fuel and no medicines delivered to Tigray since August 16th. As my colleague said in her opening remarks, there’s only been about 10 percent of the overall supplies into Tigray since the June withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces from Tigray on June 28th.

It’s not fighting that’s preventing the movement of fuel and medicine into Tigray; it’s government decisions, government harassment, local harassment that have prevented the type of supplies going in.

You know, there’s — my colleague and I and our AID — the heroic colleagues at AID could give you a lot of details of how long and how much effort it’s taken to get any kind of shipments in. There were 150 trucks that reached Tigray from September 4th to 7th, but that’s only a drop in the bucket of what’s actually needed. There needs to be 100 trucks of food going into Tigray every day. And it’s simply not happening because of the bureaucratic obstacles that are being put in place.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That’s right. And just to add: You know, it’s — as I mentioned, we are not calling just on the Ethiopian government — right? — to take action. We’re calling on the Ethiopian government and the TPLF and any other parties — Amhara Special Forces, Eritreans — to take concrete steps to end both the humanitarian and human rights situ- — crisis, and specifically for the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to initiate discussions to achieve a negotiated ceasefire.

And again, those steps could include accepting the AU-led mediation efforts, but, you know, agreeing to negotiations without preconditions or accepting an invitation to initial proximity talks. But in order to pave the way for that negotiated ceasefire, both sides must take definitive steps to halt the ongoing offensive.

You know, we — in terms of the international community and the U.N. and steps taken there: You know, just this week, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights presented at the Human Rights Council on Monday. And those com- — in those comments, they pressed for and mentioned the continued severe human rights violations by all parties, especially the sexual violence — in the reports that we’re hearing on that.

But, you know, again, this is — this action is targeted at all parties, including TPLF.

Q Hi. Thank you for doing this. I was wondering if you could explain a bit more on why you are not imposing sanctions now. If, as you say, the current strategy of statements and warning that you would take action isn’t working, why not go ahead and take action and impose sanctions now? If you could explain that, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the reason why — and I think [senior administration official] also mentioned this as well — is because we do believe a different path is possible. This is not a decision that this administration has taken lightly.

And our preference, quite frankly, is to not to use this tool. We would prefer that the parties to the conflict work with the international community to advance discussions toward a negotiated ceasefire. We want to see a prosperous, peaceful, united Ethiopia, as well as the region in the Horn of Africa. But this ongoing protracted conflict is risking — puts all of that at risk.

So, we are communicating to the parties that a different path is possible if they take meaningful steps now to initiate discussions to achieve that ceasefire and allow for unhindered humanitarian access.

Q Thank you. Three quick questions. One, is it safe to say — you had said “Eritrean and Ethiopian government individuals” at the top, I believe. Correct me if I’m wrong. Is it safe to say that these potential sanctions will target government officials, as well as Tigrayans?

Secondly, is there a timeline that you’re going to lay out for how long you’re willing to wait until there are meaningful discussions — you know, two weeks, a month, three months?

And then finally, just on the Human Rights Watch report, which accuses the Eritreans and Tigrayans of war crimes — I’m just wondering if you have a comment on that, and will you agree with that description?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, as [senior administration official] said, and I think as I said, this tool allows us to impose sanctions on entities, on individuals — government and non-government alike — of those who are hindering the humanitarian access, those who are preventing the negotiated ceasefire, those who are blocking a shift to political process.

So, you know, you’ve got Ethiopian officials and non-officials; Eritrean officials and entities; TPLF; Amhara regional forces. It’s flexible enough that those who are taking the actions that so concern us, that so alarm us, and that put Ethiopia’s stability at risk can be sanctioned.

In terms of the — in terms of the timeline, there’s — as I said, President Obasanjo starts his negotiations this weekend. Prime Minister Abiy goes before the parliament for his new term on the beginning of October. There are opportunities, in these coming weeks, to signal a different approach than the one that has been taken over the past almost year now, unfortunately.

So, there’s no specific timeline that we have in mind, but it’s not indefinite. Unless the parties take concrete steps toward resolving the conflict and lifting the humanitarian blockade, the administration will take aggressive action, under this executive order, to impose sanctions against a broad range of individuals or entities.

I don’t think any of us — any of us were surprised to see the Human Rights Watch talking about war crimes committed by the by the Eritreans, by TPLF against the Eritrean refugees who had resident in Northern Tigray for a very, very, very, very long time. It’s another example of what — of a horrifying situation.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That’s right. Thanks. And just to add, so we are looking at weeks, not months. We don’t want to see this crisis continue to protract out even further.

And as I mentioned, yes, this EO does authorize sanctions against all parties if changes are not made.

Regarding the Human Rights Watch report: Obviously, we are very concerned about these reports, and we’re reviewing them.
Obviously, we condemn all human rights abuses in the strongest terms. And we have spoken out strongly in the past against reports of abuses by both governments and TPLF-aligned forces against Eritrean refugees.

I mean, bottom line: This must stop.

This is precisely why we need to increase our push for a ceasefire and to end the abuses.

Q Hi, thank you for this. A couple of questions. Clarifying that — you said, tomorrow, the Treasury Department’s OFAC will issue a general license allowing all humanitarian work to continue. Is that needed because there’s a chance that some of these entities down the road, that would be sanctioned if there’s no improvement, are like military units or something like that?

And you did mention that in all of your contacts regionally and with Europe, there’s a lot of overlap in your thinking in terms of the analysis of how dire the situation is. Is there any prospect of the European Union offering its own sanctions? U.N. sanctions? Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’ll take the second –I’ll take the second one first, if I may.

We have been in touch this week previewing with friends and partners in Europe and elsewhere what we’re talking about right now. And again, the overlap of our analysis of just how bad the situation is and the risk that the situation is going to get worse in the coming weeks is widely shared.

There’s still different views on what we should do about that. Everyone recognizes that our collective actions, messages, et cetera, up until now have not really changed the calculations of the party — of the parties on the ground. So, I think there’s an understanding of why the U.S. is moving — is moving in this direction.

The EU has been a very close partner with us in coordinating our positions towards the — Eritrea and the TPLF, the Amhara regional forces, and the Ethiopian government.

But as all of you know, for European sanctions to be approved, you’ve got 27 member states you’ve got to convince. So, I wouldn’t — I would not expect the EU to be able to move as quickly as we can move as a single government.

But we are in touch with them. And, certainly, the European External Action Service people, the Special — the EU Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, believes that we do need additional tools to try to bring the parties to the table.

Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. Yeah, sorry, I was having problems muting.

And I’ll take the first part of your question regarding the general licenses. So, the general licenses that will be issued by Treasury will authorize the continued flow of food, medicine, including COVID-19-related assistance, medical devices, as well as enabling international organizations, aid organizations, and nonprofits to provide humanitarian and other critical support to the region regardless of sanctions.

And just to follow up on what [senior administration official] was saying about our allies and partners, we’ve, you know, previewed these actions, and we hope that allies and partners will take similar actions.

We expect this to be some of the discussion among senior officials at the U.N. General Assembly next week. And we have seen an increasing number of international actors speaking out for an end to military escalation and initiation of ceasefire talks regarding Tigray.

Thank you.

Q Hello, can you hear me?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.

Q Oh, okay. Thank you.

I was wondering, you mentioned you spoke with the Horn of Africa — the former President of Nigeria, Mr. Obasanjo. I was wondering if you consulted with any other African national presidents.

And also, regarding the sanction, is this in response to Ethiopia and Turkey? Recently, the Prime Minister was in — met with President Erdoğan of Turkey last month. So is this a response to that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for the question. [Redacted] went to Goma a few weeks ago to see President Tshisekedi in his role as Chair of the African Union to talk about Ethiopia, given his responsibility this year as Chair of the African Union. And again, the overlap in our analysis was significant.

And [redacted] explained to him that the United States was prepared to take additional steps, to use additional tools in order to try to persuade all of the parties to move in a different direction along the lines that [senior administration official] and I have been just describing today.

[Redacted] also went to Addis and saw the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki. It’s been several weeks since [redacted] saw Moussa Faki, but, in [redacted]’s last trip to Addis, [redacted] also saw the AU Political Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Bankole, to make sure that the African Union understood our analysis, understood our strategy and our approach, and understood that we would be taking additional steps if there wasn’t some progress on the ground toward the negotiated ceasefire, political process, and lifting humanitarian access.

So, yes, we have been keeping in very close touch with the African Union and have encouraged the African Union — to the Peace and Security Council, as well as bilaterally — to press the parties to this conflict on what all these African leaders have told us privately, which is there is no military solution to the conflict; they need to move toward a negotiated ceasefire and political process.

You know, we noted in the media the reports of Prime Minister Abiy’s visits not only to Turkey, where he saw President Erdoğan, but also elsewhere in Africa. And again, we’ve encouraged all those that talk to Prime Minister Abiy to talk to him about the about the risks to Ethiopia’s stability of the current trajectory.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [senior administration official]. And let me just add, I think, to the portion of your question regarding the visit to Erdoğan: You know, we have — the United States has imposed defense trade restrictions for exports to Ethiopia amid the ongoing conflict and reported human rights abuses. And we urge other countries to implement similar measures to stop the flow of weapons to any parties to the conflict and to reinforce the futility of ongoing military operations and, again, to promote the push for a negotiated ceasefire.

But I think it’s also significant that, in terms of engaging other leaders on the continent, we are also seeing a larger number of African academics, civil society organizations, and leaders, including in Ethiopia itself, speaking out against the abuses and calling for cessation of hostilities and peace talks.

And this includes a significant letter from a coalition of civil society groups in Ethiopia last week. And we are encouraged by these voices who are speaking out and want to be supportive of African-led efforts as much as possible.

Thank you.

Q Hi, thanks for doing this. And kudos to [senior administration official] for how much you’ve been doing in the Horn of Africa. Just kind of following the conflict in Ethiopia, there was a timeframe of three weeks that was given by the Prime Minister. Then it became “after the elections, things would change.” And now there seems to be a new deadline of October 3rd, even though he’s (inaudible) essentially said that the governments would not negotiate with terrorist groups as the TPLF — that was designated by parliament.

So, there seems to be a pattern of postponing a possible end to this conflict. So, my question for you is: What makes you optimistic that this new announcement coming out tomorrow will have a different outcome, given that previous heavy-handed announcements only made the Ethiopian government kind of double down on their stance and their rhetoric?

And then just secondly, on the same: Have you been in touch with the TPLF? And have they agreed to have negotiations?

And then lastly, there have been stories of Iranian drones being used in Ethiopia. Does that complicate your work in terms of trying to bring these two factions together while Ethiopia is having sanctionable actions (inaudible)?

Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. If I expressed optimism, I perhaps made a mistake. What I feel is that we need to try new tools because the existing tools that we’ve been deploying — whether it’s us or other countries, other interested parties — have been using haven’t changed the calculation so far.

Look, the prime minister just won an election. His party just won an election. The prime minister is going to be sworn in for another term before a new parliament that’s going to be consisting of his allies. One would hope that the prime minister is going to start putting — with the election behind him, will start putting the interests of the Ethiopian people first and foremost — and that the interests of the Ethiopian people would suggest that the current strategy is not a winning strategy.

As you as you rightly pointed out, he has given lots of timelines and reasons for delay, but now he’s going to be heading a new Cabinet before a new parliament with a electoral mandate that’s behind him.

So, this is the time, we believe, for him to start thinking about the overall needs of Ethiopia and the risk that the current approach puts to Ethiopia’s stability.

And then the other parties need to also be responding in kind — thinking about the Ethiopian people, the state of Ethiopia, rather than their own military or political grievances.

When [redacted] saw the Prime Minister when [redacted] had this extended trip to Addis recently, of course, [redacted] talked about that having increased use of weaponry is not the way that’s going to stabilize Ethiopia, that’s going to address the grievances that Ethiopians have, that’s going to lead to the type of prosperity that he himself says is his goal for Ethiopia.

So, [redacted] talked about the futility of advanced weapon systems and of reliance on an exclusively military approach to what are some legitimate political grievances in the country.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. And just to add: Right — you know, I think you’ve laid it out very, very well. We are — we’re not optimistic about the situation on the ground. And that’s why the President authorized this executive order in order to ramp up the pressure.

But we are optimistic about the growing move by regional leaders, by the AU Envoy Obasanjo to press for a mediated solution. And we hope that we can marshal support for these efforts.

And I think, to the last part of your question, I’ll just refer to my previous answer and reemphasize: You know, again, we are urging countries to stop the flow of weapons to any parties to the conflict and promote the push for a negotiated ceasefire.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: I very much want to thank everyone — our participants, especially, for their thoughtful questions. I know we had many and many queued up, and we tried to get to as many as possible.

I would also very much like to thank our speakers. They’ve given us a very generous amount of time given their busy schedules.

As a final reminder, this call and materials that we’ll send later this evening will be embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I can’t yet give you a time on when we’ll send the materials out, but we’ll definitely try to get them out to you this evening.

And that concludes our call. Thank you so much, everyone and goodbye.

12:43 P.M. EDT

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Q&A With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir: ‘Faya Dayi’ Screens at AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland

Next month on October 01, 2021 Jessica Beshir will participate in a Q&A session with the audience following the screening of her documentary 'Faya Dayi' by the American Film Institute at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo via Linkedin)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — One of the marks of a successful movie is the lively conversations and reactions it generates among its audience as Filmmaker Jessica Beshir’s Sundance-premiered Ethiopian film Faya Dayi continues to do on social media and other forums.

Next month Jessica Beshir will participate in a Q&A with the public following the screening of her documentary by the American Film Institute at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“A film ten years in the making, Faya Dayi was conceived by director Jessica Beshir as an act of reconnecting with the Ethiopian homeland she left at the age of sixteen, when her family fled to Mexico to escape the chaos and oppression of the Mengistu and Derg political regimes,” the announcement notes. “Later, in 2011, during one of her return trips to Ethiopia, Beshir began collecting observations and impressions of the country by shooting footage that told the stories of several Ethiopians and the social, religious, and economic forces influencing their lives.”

The press release adds: “Among those forces was the ascendency of khat [ጫት ch'at] as a national cash crop. A plant with hallucinatory properties that has been traditionally harvested and chewed for ritualistic purposes, khat was, in Beshir’s youth, one of many lucrative crops bolstering the Ethiopian economy. But in the intervening years, climate change, along with other factors, had forced farmers to grow khat to the near exclusion of all other plants, and its excessive presence in the country increased recreational khat usage among the younger generations. Climate change had also dried up lakes, while economic necessity and political tumult had forced people living in rural areas to look for new prospects overseas or in the capital city of Addis Ababa.”

In explaining her experience of cinema while growing up in Ethiopia and what led her to become a filmmaker Jessica recalls that she was raised in a military camp located adjacent to a Russian military base in Harar. “In the Russian camp, there was an open-air movie theater,” she rememberers. “Us kids dug a hole under the barbed wire and snuck through it to the movie theater.”

She continues: “We’d go there every night to watch Russian films—mostly war films that were meant to elevate the morale of the Russian soldiers stationed in Ethiopia. One of our friends was trained by the Russians to project the films. He would change the reels of the films in the back of a Land Rover, and his leverage with the other kids was that if you were nice, he would show you how he changed the reels. Before that, it never occurred to me that movies were actually made by people. Seeing something of the magic of how movies are constructed, and experiencing the communal aspect of moviegoing, made me feel less alone and transported me during a time of war and trauma. I gravitated to filmmaking in large part because of that.”

Jessica shares that after returning to Ethiopia from many years in exile it was not her original intention to make a film about ጫት ch’at. “I returned to reconnect to my family, especially my grandmother, who was getting very old. And in reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed that everything in the country now revolved around khat, which had always been around but not in such an all-encompassing way. What had changed was that all of the country’s social and economic life centered on this drug, and I wanted to ask why this was and why so many people were medicating themselves.”

Blow is the rest of the interview with Jessica Beshir courtesy of the American Film Institute and AFI Silver Theatre. Faya Dayi will open at AFI on Friday, October 01, 2021. Organizes note that proof of vaccination –or– negative Covid PCR test is required for entry. You can learn more and purchase tickets here


Faya Dayi. (Courtesy photo)

Interview With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir about ‘Faya Dayi’

What do you remember about your childhood and early adolescence in Ethiopia, and how did those memories inform the conception of Faya dayi?

I remember everything that happened up to the time I was sixteen and my family left Ethiopia. My generation reached adulthood a lot sooner than we otherwise would have because we grew up during a cold war. My father was director of a military hospital—war was ever-present, and that couldn’t help but shape our outlook.

In returning to the country many years later, I didn’t set out to make a documentary on khat. I returned to reconnect to my family, especially my grandmother, who was getting very old. And in reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed that everything in the country now revolved around khat, which had always been around but not in such an all-encompassing way. What had changed was that all of the country’s social and economic life centered on this drug, and I wanted to ask why this was and why so many people were medicating themselves.

What was clear was that the country was in a state of decay. There was new infrastructure in Harar and other cities, but mostly the country was falling apart due to the misrule of an oppressive governmental regime. And that regime had also limited freedom of speech, which led to people’s retreat into private worlds. Even after this regime faced protests and was ultimately unseated from power, there was a huge disillusionment when substantial change did not come about.

So, there was a desire for khat, due to its ability to foster a state of insularity, but then many factors influenced the rise of khat as a cash crop. Climate change altered which crops the farmers were able to cultivate, and inflation made it impossible for the farmers to cultivate coffee and other crops. Before, khat was relegated to the Harar region, but now its development had spread to the rest of the country, so my filming concentrated on the farms and land in Harar, around the area where I had grown up. I felt it was important to be very specific—there are more than eighty ethnic groups and languages in Ethiopia. The specific Oromo identity in Harar—I’d never seen that reflected on film, and I wanted to transmit the people’s intonation of language, their cadences. This was crucial to the overall tapestry of the film.

To what extent did you predetermine or spontaneously arrive at the film’s sounds and images?

When I began shooting, I had a specific intention for what I wanted—one that would allow for multiple possibilities that could reveal themselves in the editing room. And I was excited to discover those possibilities, those forms. For example, I knew I wanted to convey a sense of interiority, but through evocation rather than through a direct telling. I also wanted the locations I shot to speak through images. One was the labyrinthine space of this close walled city, Jugol; another was comprised of the vast farms. I wanted the vastness of the farms to correspond to the vastness among the experiences I shot, with different people having different experiences within the same geographical space. I thought, If voices were to emerge from these farms, what would these voices say?

In conversations with my editors, I conveyed that the film’s form should be alive, that it should have its own mode of expression. At times this form didn’t always make rational sense, but it was transmitting something—something more elliptical, perhaps. This elliptical mode was probably influenced by the oral tradition of storytelling with which I grew up. Oral tradition is about the journey and all the things you see and experience before you arrive at a narrative destination. I wanted the structure of the film to be like an octopus, where one story strand was like a tentacle, and if something occurred in that strand it would reverberate throughout the entire body of the film.

Faya dayi took ten years to make. How did that decade-long process start, and what were some of the major milestones along the road toward completing the project?

The first thing I wanted to do upon my return to Ethiopia was to spend time on the farms. My grandmother is not a farmer—she lives far away from where I filmed—but there was a certain kinship there because I was listening to her language, the Oromo language. I met most of the farmers by spending time with them at a café that was owned by a friend. That’s how I started talking with them and learning about the khat farms. I also befriended the children of these farmers, and over the years of shooting I saw and recorded the way these children became political and participated in the peaceful protests, in 2014–15, against the government. That was an invigorating leap in the filming process, in seeing these kids come of age and getting involved in what was occurring throughout the country. A major moment in the shoot was seeing the drying up of the lakes. The first time I saw this, I couldn’t take it. I was heading down in a van to Haramaya, and I asked the driver if we could stop to take a picture of this sacred lake, and when we did, it wasn’t there—grass had grown over it, cows were herding there, it was gone. There was always new information I was obtaining and through which I learned about the changes that were unfolding throughout the country.

Another one was interviewing a university professor who did his PhD on khat studies, who had spent his whole life with and around this plant. He doesn’t appear in the film, but one thing he said stuck with me, that once in a while a visiting professor from the West would teach at the university for a few months and then a while later would publish a study on khat. All of a sudden, he had to read about khat from out there. What I picked up from that was: Where’s our voice in this? I wanted to do justice to the story of the people who live here, their stories and their dignity. Khat came from a religious, ritualistic practice of imams, just like peyote for the shamans. It’s not just a plant for kids who want to get high.

What research in the areas of politics, sociology, religion, and myth informed the production of Faya dayi?

A lot of the time I spent during my return to Ethiopia involved research. My friend’s grandfather, who lived in the labyrinthine city, was the one who first spoke with me about khat’s roots in the Sufi tradition. And not just in a religious sense but also in a social sense—it was what united people coming back home from work to have lunch, since they would chew khat and then go on with their day. It provided a boost of energy for people like farmers, who performed physical labor. It was a means to an end, but now it’s become the end itself, especially for the youth.

From my friend and her grandfather, I met several Sufi imams. These imams who you see in the film, I spent a lot of time learning from them about Azurkherlaini, about whom Ethiopians have their own individual perceptions. That myth is so alive in the people’s imagination and thought process, it’s alive in the recitation and prayer of the imams. I wanted to somehow visualize the various conceptions of Azurkherlaini, and, to get to that interiority, I wanted to represent the people’s reality on the ground as opposed to casting some weird guy who looks like Azurkherlaini.

How did you achieve the film’s distinctive black-and-white cinematography?

I knew I was going to shoot in black and white, but at times I questioned myself about that, because khat is a green leaf and obviously that wouldn’t come through in black and white. But in the end, I decided to go with black and white because so many elements of the film refer to light and darkness. For example, the fable of Azurkherlaini talks about “the black” and the darkness of night—there were all of these dichotomies in that myth that could be evoked through black and white. Plus, the nature of khat and the trade of it, and many of the film’s stories, contain the sides that black-and-white photography evokes. I wanted to focus on the interiority of the people in the film instead of the potential sensationalism of the subject of khat, and so the dreaminess of the cinematography evokes the people’s frustration, dread, loneliness, impotence, resignation, and so on. •

If You Go:

For showtime and dates please visit AFI Silver Theatre.

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Spotlight: In NYC ECMAA Hosts Ethiopian Day Picnic, Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Photo: Courtesy of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 15th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — As the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the organization announced that it will host its popular annual Ethiopian Day Picnic on September 19th in New York City — marking its first live public event since the pandemic.

In a newsletter ECMAA said the gathering this month is a symbol of our capacity to recover from difficulties and persist as a community. “Resilience and perseverance are not valued highly enough [and] we don’t celebrate managing challenges and still standing and growing,” the press release said. “We will celebrate this and ECMAA’s 40th anniversary at the annual Ethiopian Day Picnic.”

The announcement added:

In 1981, a group of refugees who felt that they could decided to gather and figure out how to help those who’ve newly arrived. In 2021, we’re Ethiopians of significantly varying backgrounds living in the tri-state area still creating a community while we rush and struggle through day to day life in New York City.

We’ll get together as a full community in this large setting for the first time since March of 2020…We celebrate still standing after many ups and downs for ECMAA from its inception, we celebrate still standing as a we face a global pandemic that forced us to separate and yet still grow stronger in support of each other, we celebrate our place of birth or heritage even as it struggles with multiple challenges that can shake us, we celebrate the flowers that still bloom, our children that still grow and our community to keeps working at being a resource to the community. We celebrate as we also mourn the losses our community and our country has sustained. We’re long-distance runners – marathoners who keep going despite the challenges that come our way. We are ECMAA and invite you to come honor our past, celebrate life and solidify our future.


(Photo: Courtesy of ECMAA)


(Photo: Courtesy of ECMAA)

The Ethiopian Day Picnic will take place on Sunday at Sakura Park in Manhattan. Organizers urge participants to be respectful and abide by current CDC guidelines in regards to COVID-19. “Although the picnic takes place outside we advise everyone to maintain social distancing and wear masks when not eating or drinking,” ECMAA said. “We all want to have fun and be safe.”

According to the program scheduled activities at the family-friendly outdoor event include fun and games featuring Sem Ena Werk quiz for adults while children “enjoy some dancing and tunes, catch up, with old friends, challenge the kids to tug-of-war, but make sure you’ve met someone you’ve not met before and have some cake.”

If You Go:

Ethiopian Day Picnic,
Sunday, September 19, at 2pm in Sakura Park in Manhattan.
More info at www.ecmaany.org

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Real Estate in Ethiopia: Q&A About KEFITA with CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE

In the following interview with Tadias, Dietrich E. Rogge, the CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE, a German-based developer, discusses their new state-of-the-art condominium development called KEFITA under construction in Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 6th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians in the Diaspora are receiving growing opportunities to invest in real estate in Ethiopia. Some of the new high-rise buildings — mostly in Addis Ababa (built by both local and international developers including from Asia, America and Europe) — offer international standard amenities while incorporating local architectural styles as well as easy access to shopping, transportation and other daily necessities.

In the following interview with Tadias, Dietrich E. Rogge, the CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE, a German-based developer, discusses their new state-of-the-art condominium development called KEFITA under construction in the kebena area (officially known as the District of Signal), one of Addis Ababa’s oldest neighborhoods.

“It is our vision that KEFITA shall be a best-in-class real estate development combining international best practices while also being a genuinely Ethiopian building both in terms of design and amenities,” Dietrich told Tadias. “What we highlight with KEFITA that makes it uniquely Ethiopian is the facade.” He added: “If you look at the building closely, it mirrors the interwoven nature of the tibeb, the traditional garment of the Ethiopian cultural dress. Along with that, the building is covered with living plants indigenious to Ethiopia. Our hope is to create connectivity among both Ethiopians and international residents at KEFITA. And with that, create long-term value for all its owners.”


The KEFITA building under construction in Addis Ababa by ROCKSTONE Real Estate. (Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

As Dietrich noted when he first traveled to Ethiopia about a decade ago, he immediately “fell in love with the country, its genuine culture, the warmth of its people and the metropolitan character of its capital, Addis Ababa.” He shares: “Until then, my own exposure to Ethiopia had been limited to meeting a very friendly Ethiopian through mutual friends while I was studying and living at MIT in the US from 2000 to 2002.”

In addition to incorporating modern international designs with Ethiopian architectural sensibilities, the KEFITA building also is set to become the first such residential building in the country to receive the green building certification.

Below is our full Q&A with Dietrich E. Rogge, CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE Real Estate

TADIAS: Dietrich, thank you so much for your time. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background, how you were introduced to Ethiopia and what led you to work in Addis?

DR: Thank you so much for having me today Liben. I appreciate having this interview and being able to introduce myself to you as well as your audience. To give you some context, I am based in Munich Germany. I started ROCKSTONE in 2013, today we have 3 offices – Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich – in Germany, and by 2018 we expanded into Lisbon in Portugal and thereafter Madrid in Spain to diversify into other European countries. Still, I had the genuine desire to expand further internationally, and Africa was my top priority. Next to diversifying my business, the drive into other countries is on a personal level very much driven by my own fascination for travel, countries and authentic cultures. Fortunately, one of my closest friends and also now business partner in ROCKSTONE ETHIOPIA had been living and working in East Africa for over 10 years. We decided to explore real estate business opportunities in East Africa. When it came to where to start, he immediately pointed to Ethiopia. When I first arrived in Addis, I understood what he meant. I instantly fell in love with the country, its genuine culture, the warmth of its people and the metropolitan character of its capital, Addis Ababa. Until then, my own exposure to Ethiopia had been limited to meeting a very friendly Ethiopian through mutual friends while I was studying and living at MIT in the US from 2000 to 2002.


Dietrich E. Rogge, CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE Real Estate. (Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Please tell us about the KEFITA building project and the inspiration behind it?

DR: It is our vision that KEFITA shall be a best-in-class real estate development combining international best practices while also being a genuinely Ethiopian building both in terms of design and amenities. What we highlight with KEFITA that makes it uniquely Ethiopian is the facade. If you look at the building closely, it mirrors the interwoven nature of the tibeb, the traditional garment of the Ethiopian cultural dress. Along with that, the building is covered with living plants indigenious to Ethiopia. Our hope is to create connectivity among both Ethiopians and international residents at KEFITA. And with that, create long-term value for all its owners. On a business level it quickly became clear to me that, similar to other metropolises – i.e. Berlin, Lisbon or Los Angeles – around the world, there is also a housing crisis in Addis. That’s because each year large cities attract more new residents than they are able to build new housing along all segments of the market. There are also a couple of specific reasons why this dilemma exists in Addis, namely, lack of trust in the real estate market, lack of building quality, and lack of foreign capital. Next to addressing these specific reasons by forming a very strong team together with our local partner Bigar, and US-based private equity firm Cerberus, all of whom have a long-term interest in Ethiopia, we defined a clear strategy.

TADIAS: KEFITA is located on Embassy Row in the District of Signal, which is one of Addis Ababa’s oldest neighborhoods. How did you choose the location and what do you like most about the area?

DR: That’s a great question, and I am happy you are asking since choosing the right location is obviously a centerpiece of any real estate development and it is entirely fair to ask a foreigner his view on Addis. We initially looked at locations in Bole and Old Airport, which are the more recent traditional neighborhoods for high-end residential developments in Addis. We carefully studied how Addis is expected to develop over the coming years in terms of density, traffic, schools, retail, security and leisure. Signal is well positioned to outperform other parts of the city over the coming years in terms of its quality of life due to its proximity to the city center, great schools, improving infrastructure, and best of all, Mount Yeka with all its outdoor activities.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: In addition to incorporating modern international designs with Ethiopian architectural sensibilities, the KEFITA building also is set to become the first such residential building in the country to receive the green building certification. Can you share what that means and how it fits with the city’s long-term plans for environmentally conscious developments?

DR: Sure, and let me happily expand on that subject since it is very important to us. As we discussed earlier, integrating best practices into Kefita on all levels is one main driver of our product and development process. From the very beginning, our entire design process has been driven toward green-conscious living. Next to reducing the carbon footprint of the building, specific measures include using local materials as much as possible, minimizing electricity consumption, collecting rain water and managing waste. Among others on the building side, that includes superior structural and fire safety design and a range of Kefita specific amenities for our community. A green building also best ensures the long-term value of the investment. I would really like to emphasize this last point since return on investment and building quality go hand in hand. Next to its location, the long-term value preservation or increase in value of any real estate is driven by the longevity of its design and construction quality. If the structure has flaws or moisture permeates into the building or energy consumption is inefficient or sound insulation is not taken care of just to name a few, then these issues obviously have a negative effect on the long-term value of any real estate. Hence our building standards we believe are a very strong signal to send to the Ethiopian real estate market and will help elevate the overall standard and building quality of new buildings in the future.

TADIAS: Where are you now in terms of the construction stage and when will the building be completed?

DR: We received the building permit last year, completed the underground construction in 2020 as well, and started with the actual building construction early this year. KEFITA is on track to be completed in 2023 for all residents to move in. The completion date is very important to us since on-time completion is a huge problem in the market and it translates into a lack of trust in developers. Therefore we have created a financially very strong team, started construction only once the design was completed and the entire construction contract had been awarded. In addition, our best practices approach extends into the purchase agreement which protects buyers on various topics as well as states binding delivery dates.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: How can people in the Diaspora buy property in the building? What’s the process and requirements?

DR: From the start, the Ethiopian Diaspora had always been in our minds as a key customer segment for KEFITA. We know that we are well positioned to serve that segment. We believe that our product is a good balance between Ethiopian authenticity, a modern building in terms of quality, technology, services as well as sustainability. Last not least, it fits all rental criteria of the International community in Addis. All of these is what the Diaspora has in mind but struggles to find as an investment opportunity. The prerequisite for owning real estate in Ethiopia requires an Ethiopian Origin ID, also known as the Yellow Card. All of our Diaspora buyers will need to provide a copy of their ID as well as Passport to initiate the sales agreement. The process involves meeting and talking with one of our sales representatives, learning our different offerings for apartment types, identifying their mode for financing, either cash or through one of the Ethiopian banks, and finally signing an Apartment Purchase Agreement. If based in Ethiopia, prospective buyers can reach out to Lily Mesfin, lm@rockstonere.com. For those based in the USA and abroad, reach out to Nya Alemayhu at ny@rockstonere.com.

TADIAS: Can you tell us more about the various apartment sizes and price ranges?

DR: We have 100 apartments ranging from 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom at approximately 1,000 square feet to a full floor penthouse at 6,500 square feet. In between this range exists 2 bedrooms + 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms + 3 bathrooms, and 4 bedrooms + 4 bathrooms. Some of our 2 bedrooms are convertible to 3 bedrooms, as well as some 3 bedrooms that can be converted to 4 bedrooms. All of the apartment types aside from the 2 bedrooms + 1 bathroom are designed with a helper’s room, as is common in most Ethiopian residences. The pricing ranges from $280,000 for a 2 bedroom + 1 bathroom apartment to $2,100,000 for our crown jewel garden terrace apartment.

TADIAS: Is there a mortgage or payment plan available?

DR: We have a payment schedule that is contingent on construction progress. The initial investment is 25% and all subsequent payments are in alignment with construction progress. The payments are spread out about 3-4 months apart. If one seeks a mortgage, we can refer to a few banks based in Addis Ababa so that prospective buyers can make the best decision as to what suits them. There are nuances with financing new construction projects in Addis Ababa and also which type of currency is used. Our sales team can also help illuminate this process more deeply. For a deeper inquiry, reach out to sales@kefita.com


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: What are your plans for future developments in Ethiopia?

DR: Although KEFITA is only our first project in Ethiopia, it won’t surprise you that we have a long-term plan for ROCKSTONE Ethiopia with more projects to come. These will obviously include additional residential developments but we are also looking into offices, logistics, and retail – commercial real estate. We very much believe in strong and lasting Ethiopian growth and want to happily be part of that over the coming years.

TADIAS: Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience here in the United States and beyond?

DR: On a personal level, my experience in Ethiopia has been wonderful and I am very fortunate to have come close to and made friends with Ethiopians over the past years. These relationships have evolved into great friendships. I really look forward to having more time for traveling within the country and enjoying all its treasures and beauties. Last but not least, I also hope to come to the US very soon to present KEFITA in person and likewise, I invite you all to meet our team and myself whenever you are in Addis.

TADIAS: Thanks again, Dietrich, and wishing you all the best from all of us at Tadias!

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Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

Born in 1941 Alemayehu Eshete rose to fame in the 60s, matching his Ethiopian heritage against jazz improvisation and soulful appeal...Multiple reports from Ethiopia have confirmed the passing of Alemayehu Eshete. (Getty Images)

Clash Music

Ethiopian artist Alemayehu Eshete has died, it has been reported.

Born in 1941 the singer rose to fame in the 60s, matching his Ethiopian heritage against jazz improvisation and soulful appeal.

Performing with the famed Police Orchestra in Addis Ababa, Alemayehu Eshete enjoyed his first hit ‘Seul’ in 1961 before forming his own Alem-Girma Band.

Releasing 30 singles across a 15 year period, Alemayehu Eshete became one of the defining Ethiopian artists of his era – at one point dubbed the Ethiopian Elvis.

Political shifts in the country substantively altered the cultural climate, but a new generation of crate-diggers – spurred on by the Ethiopiques compilation series – embraced his music.

Writing, recording, and touring until the very end, multiple reports from Ethiopia have confirmed the passing of Alemayehu Eshete.

Ethiopia: Popular Ethiopian Music Legend Alemayehu Eshete Dies (Allafrica)


Legendary Ethiopian singer Alemayehu Eshete, 80, died in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

Nicknamed “the Ethiopian Elvis”, the musician died of a heart attack shortly after he was admitted to hospital, bringing to an end a musical career that spanned four different political epochs in the country.

He had, five years ago, undergone a heart surgery in Italy to fix blockages in arteries. This forced him to limit his performances.

Born in 1941, the singer was one of the most popular musicians to emerge in the early 1960s. He also played modern Ethiopian music.

Eshete highly influenced Ethiopian modern music through his outstanding pieces that were loved by many. He was actively involved in Ethio-jazz music from the 1960s.

Compose songs

He was among the first Ethiopian singers to compose songs in English and other foreign languages.

“Temar Lije” or “My Son, You Had Better Learn” is one of his popular songs that motivated many to acquire modern education.

The popular song is still used by Ethiopian parents to discipline and counsel their children, and to raise awareness on the importance of education.

In 2015, the song won an award in Germany.

He also won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Ethiopia. His stylish dress code and hairstyle made him popular among the youth in the 1960s and 1970s.

Eshete was one of the first musicians to record music to vinyl in Ethiopia.

Since his death, his colleagues and fans have continued to send messages of condolence.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said: “I’m saddened to hear that Alemayehu Eshete, a role model for many singers, has passed away.”

“Ethiopia will always be honored in his works. Those who worked for Ethiopia will not die, but will rest in glory,” the Prime Minister added.

Timeless tunes

Selam, a Swedish Independent Cultural Organisation, which has an office in Addis Ababa, also paid tribute to Eshete: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Alemayehu Eshete. Known for his best timeless tunes, ‘Temar Lije’ and ‘Addis Ababa Bete’, Eshete was one of the most popular legendary Ethiopian singers. Our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends”

Born and raised in Jimma, Eshete who was fascinated by Hollywood films. He attempted to go to Hollywood with his friend at a younger age.

He started his journey to Hollywood with his friend with a hundred birr ($ 2) he picked from his father’s pocket. However, before he could achieve his goal, he was caught at Eritrea’s Massawa Port and sent back home. He loved Rock music.

He played much of the English vocals of American vocalists Pat Bonn, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.

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A Local’s Guide to Ethiopia: Q&A With Anna Getaneh, Founder of African Mosaique

Former model Anna Getaneh is the founder of African Mosaique, an international fashion house based in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Anna Getaneh by Michel Temteme)

Condé Nast Traveler

Anna Getaneh worked as a model in New York and Paris before eventually settling down in Ethiopia. Now, as the founder of African Mosaique, a high-end boutique and fashion incubator set in her elegant childhood home in Addis Ababa, she’s a champion for Ethiopian textiles and craftsmanship.

This interview is part of The World Made Local, a global collaboration between the seven international editions of Condé Nast Traveler in which 100 people in 100 countries tell us why their home turf should be your next destination.

How would you describe Addis Ababa, and Ethiopia, in your own words?

Addis Ababa, surrounded by beautiful mountains, is so unique in that it’s both old and new, ancient and modern, traditional and contemporary, all interwoven in harmony. There is often the smell of fresh coffee—it’s the leading national drink, and on every corner you’ll find the finest coffee being served. Street sounds are numbed by the prayer hymns from the churches or mosques.

Tell us about your connection to Addis Ababa.

I always had this nagging sense that I would come back. I have been coming back and forth for many years; each time I came there was a sense of connection and deep attachment, and every time I left I felt deep sadness, a void. And today there is nowhere else I would rather be. It’s been great for the kids, too, to connect with their culture and learn the language.

What should we do if we had 24 hours in the city?

Kategna and Kuriftu Entoto for great local food in a modern setting. For casual dining, Five Loaves, Effoi (great pizza), Asa Bet, and Gourmet Corner. Do Fendika for music, drinks, and art; there’s always an exhibition. If you like markets, Shiro Meda is the best for textiles and traditional clothing. I recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency: They are literally in the heart of the city, by Meskel Square, with great food, ambience, and locally inspired interiors and uniforms. To relax, hit up the newly built Entoto Park, with 17 restaurants, cafés, an adventure park, camping area, biking lanes, and a spectacular view of the city. Finally, go to Addis Fine Art for great local artists, and Jazz Club at Ghion Hotel for great jazz.

A happening neighborhood to check out?

Piazza, the old city center, is always bustling, with narrow streets, small cafés, and jewelry shops. If you’re looking for big-city lights, the Edna Mall area is the happening place, with streets filled with restaurants, hotels, and bars.

Give us the elevator pitch: Why should we all travel to Ethiopia (when we’re able to)?

It’s an ancient country that has so much to offer: The new generation of Ethiopia wants to be recognized for its rich and deep-rooted culture, its unique and historic role in Africa, its wildlife, the food, the art, and the music. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Follow Anna Getaneh on Instagram @anna_getaneh

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UPDATE: In Ethiopia TPLF Looted American Aid Stores, U.S. Official Says

The top American aid official in Ethiopia accused [TPLF] of taking food supplies...The remarks by Sean Jones [the head of USAID in Ethiopia] reflected a notable shift in tone from senior American officials after months of withering criticism... Mr. Jones stressed his good relations with Ethiopian officials, called its government “one of our finest and most important partners,” and likened any tensions to a marital dispute. “Sometimes, like in a good marriage, we have to say what we are feeling at that moment,” he said. (NYT)

The New York Times

Ethiopian Rebels Looted American Aid Stores, U.S. Official Says

NAIROBI, Kenya — Fighters from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have looted food stores holding U.S. government aid as Ethiopia’s civil war spreads into new areas and hunger rises across the country, America’s top aid official there has charged.

Tigrayan fighters leading a military assault on the neighboring Amhara region have destroyed villages and emptied aid stores, Sean Jones, the head of USAID in Ethiopia, told Ethiopian state television in an interview that aired Tuesday night.

“In recent weeks, some of our warehouses have been looted and emptied by advancing T.P.L.F. troops, especially in Amhara,” said Mr. Jones, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. “I do believe T.P.L.F. has been very opportunistic.”

A spokesman for the T.P.L.F. denied the charge and blamed any looting on local groups and individuals in Amhara.

The remarks by Mr. Jones reflected a notable shift in tone from senior American officials after months of withering criticism of the behavior of Ethiopian forces and their allies inside Tigray, where a war that erupted in November has been accompanied by accusations of atrocities against civilians.

U.N. and other foreign officials have accused Ethiopian authorities of blocking vital supplies of food aid for Tigray at a time when American officials say that 900,000 Tigrayans face the prospect of a devastating famine in the coming months.

Samantha Power, who leads the USAID, last month accused the Ethiopian government of obstructing access to Tigray and said that humanitarian assistance to the northern region was “woefully insufficient.”

Ethiopian critics responded angrily to Ms. Power’s comments, accusing her of “weaponizing aid” and “supporting terrorism.”

But the interview by her subordinate in Ethiopia this week conveyed a more conciliatory tone, one that suggested the Americans were reaching out to the Ethiopians, hoping to defuse the animosity.

While acknowledging “some strain and some stress” with the United States, Mr. Jones stressed his good relations with Ethiopian officials, called its government “one of our finest and most important partners,” and likened any tensions to a marital dispute.

“Sometimes, like in a good marriage, we have to say what we are feeling at that moment,” he said.

Those remarks drew an angry response from the T.P.L.F….On Twitter, the main T.P.L.F. spokesman, Getachew Reda, lashed out at the American characterization of his fighters as opportunists, and blamed any looting in Amhara on local forces.

“While we cannot vouch for every unacceptable behavior of off-grid fighters in such matters, we have evidence that such looting is mainly orchestrated by local individuals & groups,” Mr. Reda wrote.

Amid the bickering, the war in Tigray is spreading and humanitarian needs are soaring.

The Ethiopian government says it needs help for 500,000 people in the Amhara and Afar regions, where fighting spread in July after Tigrayan fighters recaptured most of Tigray from government forces.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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The New Yorker: Chester Higgins’s Life in Pictures

“Morning Chores, Ethiopia,” 1992. (Photo by Chester Higgins)

The New Yorker

By Jordan Coley

All along the way, his eye is trained on moments of calm, locating an inherent grace, style, and sublime beauty in the Black everyday.

Hanging in the fourth-floor study of the renowned photojournalist Chester Higgins’s Fort Greene brownstone is a bunch of large dead leaves, fastened to a line in front of a well-stocked bookcase. Higgins grew the leaves in his window boxes, he told me, and he’s been making photographs of them for some time now. It’s a way, he said, to examine how “the spirit” manifests in all natural things.


“Ocean Spray, Accra, Ghana,” 1973.

The spirit—a transportive, deeply human, ineffable quality that graces all memorable art work—is what the seventy-four-year-old photographer has spent his entire career trying to capture in pictures. He glimpses it in the cracking veins of old foliage, but also among the countless people he’s photographed across the decades: Muhammad Ali casting a mischievous sideward glance on the set of a television show; Aretha Franklin performing at the Apollo, her brow embroidered with sweat; a young Black boy, revelling in the spray of a fire hydrant.


“Aretha Franklin at the Apollo, Harlem, New York,” 1971. “Muhammad Ali, New York City,” 1972.


A group of Black men and women in church one man carrying a fan with the photo of Martin Luther King Jr. on it. “New Brockton Church Pew, Springfield Baptist Church,” 1973.

When Higgins began making photographs for magazines and newspapers, in the late nineteen-sixties, he was one of a handful of Black photographers working in mainstream media. Much of the work produced in his thirty-nine years as a staff photographer at the Times was a concerted attempt to incorporate Black America into the world’s consciousness. “When I arrived at The New York Times in 1975, I felt the media was immune to any real comprehension of the world I knew well,” he wrote at the time of his retirement from the paper, in 2014. “I wanted to share the history and traditions of the people I grew up with.”

Read the full article and see more photos at newyorker.com »

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Spotlight: New Ethiopia Film ‘Faya Dayi’ by Jessica Beshir Screens at Lincoln Center in NYC

The two-hour documentary (Amharic, Harari, and Oromiffa with English subtitles) is a visual poetic reflection by the U.S.-based Ethiopian Mexican filmmaker Jessica Beshir on the ceremonies and process of consuming one of Ethiopia's most profitable farm products, khat (ጫት ch'at). (Courtesy photo).

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 31st, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — This week Jessica Beshir’s award-winning new film ‘Faya Dayi’ will open at Lincoln Center in New York City.

The two-hour documentary (Amharic, Harari, and Oromiffa with English subtitles), which was released last year to enthusiastic international reviews, is a visual poetic reflection by the U.S.-based Ethiopian Mexican filmmaker on the old ceremonies and process of consuming one of Ethiopia’s most profitable farm products, khat (ጫት ch’at), a leaf chewed for centuries for religious meditations.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

According to the press release Director Jessica Beshir will participate in Q&As following the film’s showing on Friday, September 3rd and Saturday, September 4th.

The announcement notes:

In her hypnotic documentary feature, Ethiopian-Mexican filmmaker Jessica Beshir explores the coexistence of everyday life and its mythical undercurrents. Though a deeply personal project — Beshir was forced to leave her hometown of Harar with her family as a teenager due to growing political strife — the film she returned to make about the city, its rural Oromo community of farmers, and the harvesting of the country’s most sought-after export (the euphoria-inducing khat plant) is neither a straightforward work of nostalgia nor an issue-oriented doc about a particular drug culture. Rather, she has constructed something dreamlike: a film that uses light, texture, and sound to illuminate the spiritual lives of people whose experiences often become fodder for ripped-from-the-headlines tales of migration. A Janus Films release. A New Directors/New Films 2021 selection.

For in-theater screenings, please review the Film at Lincoln Center in-theater safety and health policies here.

If You Go:

For showtime and dates please visit filmlinc.org.

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The little-known history of how Harlem fought to save Ethiopia from Italian dictator Mussolini

More than 20,000 protestors including both Blacks and sympathetic Whites  showed up in the streets of Harlem, New York on August 3, 1935, to demonstrate against Mussolini’s decision to take over Ethiopia. Some 10,000 people also demonstrated in Chicago, according to records. (Photo: Black people in Harlem volunteered to take on Italian dictator Mussolini/Image via YouTube)

Face to Face Africa

When the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, or the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, began in 1935, it raged on for seven months, ending in the military occupation of the African nation. That was Italy’s second attempt at invading Ethiopia. While the rest of Africa was under colonial rule after the infamous partition by European powers at the Berlin Conference of 1884, Ethiopia was then a sovereign nation with a formidable army and a strong monarchy.

A few years after the division of the continent, the Italian Kingdom – which had obtained Eritrea and Italian Somalia as its African territories – wanted to add Ethiopia to its kingdom on March 1, 1896. But it failed after the defeat of the Italian army in the Battle of Adwa which is also described as the First Italo-Ethiopian War. The battle fought near the northern town of Adwa in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region is the first victory by an African country over a colonial power.

It left a very sour taste in the mouth of Italy so it decided to take revenge in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935 – 1939). Led by Italian leader Benito Mussolini, Italy was successful in that war but not without strong Ethiopian resistance under the leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie I. And many thousand miles away, a Black American community in the U.S. also volunteered to defend Ethiopia when no one else would.

More than 20,000 protestors including both Blacks and sympathetic Whites showed up in the streets of Harlem, New York on August 3, 1935, to demonstrate against Mussolini’s decision to take over Ethiopia. Some 10,000 people also demonstrated in Chicago, according to records. This was amid the Great Depression when it was hard for many to find work and even food. Yet, Blacks in the U.S. were ready to fight for Africa’s last sovereign nation which they saw as their true ancestral homeland and which was for them, a symbol of redemption in the diaspora.

Harlem, which would become popularly known as the Black Cultural Mecca famous for its great jazz clubs, African-American arts, culture, and heritage, was just emerging from its own Renaissance when the war in Ethiopia began. The Renaissance among other things served as a means of achieving equality and civil rights through artistic expression. When news broke that Italy was taking over Ethiopia, Blacks in Harlem, who were loud in resistance and who saw the African nation as an ancient cradle of civilization, were outraged.

Thus, they volunteered to take on Italian dictator Mussolini. Apart from protesting, thousands of them signed up to go and fight for Ethiopia. They were however stopped by the State Department, which threatened jail, adding that the U.S. should only offer medical relief.

But one brave African-American aviator was able to make it to Ethiopia. John C. Robinson, who was recruited by the Ethiopian government to lead its air force, sailed over with the cover story that he was an aircraft dealer, according to one account. Robinson would train many Ethiopians to fly and fix aircraft before returning to New York in 1936 where he was given a hero’s welcome. He later became known as the Father of the Tuskegee Airmen for his immense contributions to the aviation programs he started at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in the early 1940s.

The “Walwal Incident” in December 1934 was the reason Italian leader Mussolini decided to invade the country. Walwal, an eastern city, sat near a border, where a clash between the Kingdom of Italy and Ethiopia led to the death of 150 Ethiopians and two Italians.

On the eve of the attack, Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie I ordered men from the country to assemble and defend its lands. Although his troops outnumbered Mussolini’s, many of Selassie’s men were armed with primitive weapons and even more had no experience with military operations.

Mussolini’s forces entered Ethiopia from Eritrea, yet they did not declare war. Selassie took the crossing of borders as an affront and ordered the first of his offensive maneuvers, yet he was continually outgunned by the more experienced and well-equipped Italians.

For the next few months, many cities fell to Italy and fell under the Fascist rule of Mussolini. The Ethiopian forces were spirited, however, doing their best to pluck off enemy forces. Mussolini used chemical warfare (pictured) after Ethiopian soldiers down an Italian air pilot, sending a message to Selassie’s army.

The following May, Selassie fled to Europe in exile and did so with the blessing of the Italians who could have stopped his progress. Widespread rioting and looting took place when Selassie took leave, which was quelled by the emergence of Italian forces. Perhaps because of the fatigue of war and the lack of Ethiopian governance, a truce of sorts took place in June.

On June 1, 1936, Italy officially joined Ethiopia with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland. The new state was known as Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian East Africa).

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Ethiopia to Create Local Rival to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp

The decision comes after the government accused Facebook of deleting accounts ‘disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia’. (AP photo)

Aljazeera

Ethiopia has begun developing its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, though it does not plan to block the global services, the state communications security agency said…

The government wants its local platform to “replace” Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Zoom, the director general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw, said on Monday.

Shumete accused Facebook of deleting posts and user accounts which he said were “disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia”.

International human rights groups have criticised the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns to social media services including Facebook and WhatsApp in the past year. The government has not commented on those shutdowns.

Facebook’s Africa spokesperson, Kezia Anim-Addo, declined to comment on Ethiopia’s plans and did not respond immediately to a query about Shumete’s accusations.

But in June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users which it linked to individuals associated with INSA, which is responsible for monitoring telecommunications and the internet.

Twitter declined to comment. Zoom did not immediately reply to a comment request.

Shumete declined to specify a timeline, budget and other details, but told Reuters news agency: “The rationale behind developing technology with local capacity is clear … Why do you think China is using WeChat?”

He said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire outsiders to help.

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Interview: The art of healing: Emanuel finds catharsis through creating on ‘Alt Therapy’

Canadian-Ethiopian singer-songwriter Emanuel. (Earmilk)

Earmilk

Every so often, an album comes out that feels wholly complete, timeless, and magical. Very few albums are on my list of “unskippables”, and Alt Therapy by Canadian-Ethiopian singer-songwriter Emanuel is one of them. A cathartic listening experience that is moving, intentional, and worthy of being played from cover to cover, Alt Therapy is a new album from the heart of Canada’s blossoming R&B and soul scene that every music-head from the North and beyond has their eye on.

Conceived from a basement in the outskirts of Ontario, Emanuel’s music has travelled across the globe, touching the ears and hearts of millions and even receiving a stamp of approval from prominent figures in entertainment like Kardinal Ofishall and Idris Elba. EARMILK caught up with the prodigy to discuss his creative process, the album’s reception, and his plans for taking “the damn thing worldwide”.

Emanuel took us on the biggest pilgrimage of his musical career yet: the inception his first body of work. With a release date slated for the onset of the pandemic, there were both opportunities and risks in the timing of Alt Therapy’s release. Yet, at a time when he couldn’t play any events or connect with fans on tour, Emanuel was able to create an intimate listening experience that millions of fans found solace in. His very first single, “Need You” received over 6.4 million streams on Spotify alone, propelling his talents to the front and center of playlists and billboards, and marking him as an artist who needed to be heard.

A fan of both the music and the album’s seamless rollout, I inquired about how the album came to be. “Alt Therapy was an album born in 2017 in a basement in London, Ont. From that date till the end of 2019 when I submitted the project, everything was relatively spontaneous. I am always very intentional about how I want my music to sound, I feel when creating an album, you have to plan all you can and pray lightning strikes…” Emanuel details. “I’m not sure how much you can plan for. The whole thing feels like a series of fortunate and unfortunate [events] with abounding grace that leaves me exactly where I need to be.” And it seems like Emanuel is indeed exactly where he needs to be. With the kind of reception most new artists could only dream about, Emanuel has skyrocketed from London Ont.’s best kept a secret, to one of the country’s brightest musical gems.

But the come-up was anything but hasty. Emanuel and his team have been grinding behind the scenes for years. Before “Need You”, Emanuel was building up a devoted circle of supporters, sharing moody tunes on his YouTube channel, and wooing fans at local shows with his insane runs. But Emanuel wanted his words to reach beyond the walls of concert venues, and when it came down to releasing his debut record, Emanuel decided to entrust Universal Music Canada for its official debut, explaining, “I believe it became a question of growth and being able to do what it takes to reach a larger audience. I understand that it takes a village to truly do something great. and I signed in the hope of finding that village in Universal Music Canada.” And it seems he played his cards right. Within months, Emanuel became a multi-million streaming artist who was quickly picked up in the States by Motown Records.

And yet, despite his obvious successes, the numbers and co-signs aren’t what makes Emanuel a class-act––it’s the heart behind his heart. “I want the music to mean self reflection for people,” Emanuel shares. “I want people to recognize Alt Therapy as healing music. Like some of the great musicians of recent past, I want the music [I make] to mark a positive shift in the collective consciousness of the people that listen to the music.” Like the album’s watercolor paintings, each song is handcrafted with artful mastery. Highly in tune with the emotions society has grappled with in current times, Alt Therapy’s lyrics have the power to uplift and unite. Tracks like “I Need A Doctor” embody the angst that comes with navigating life’s uncertainties, while “Black Woman” is a heartfelt ode of appreciation to Black women everywhere.

It’s one thing to take in the sonic excellence of the record and another to appreciate Emanuel’s thoughtful pen game: “My songwriting process is really simple. I love to begin a song by just listening to instrumentation or a beat live off the floor. When I find something that brings me feeling, I begin to freestyle. when I hear something I like, I track it and refine,” Emanuel shares.“I think the hardest records are the ones about subjects I might not be willing to be honest with myself about. There’s an internal struggle that ensues, and a song like “Magazines” is born.” With a remarkable gift of transporting his listeners into his world, Emanuel’s ability to tap into the universal sentiments of surrender is a rarity, and perhaps that’s the reason why so many listeners have found comfort in his music.

Alt Therapy is the perfect crafting of heart, spirit and soul. When praising artists who create with intentionality, Emanuel must be in the conversation. A true storyteller, he’s mastered the art of living and creating in bold colour, and inspiring us to do the same.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Plans National Dialog in Bid to Defuse Tensions

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Fasika Tadesse and Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia will begin holding a national dialog in September to address grievances that have undermined stability in the Horn of Africa nation, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said.

A roadmap for the talks will be announced this month and a structure will then be put in place to facilitate them, Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokeswoman, told reporters in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday. The discussions form part of a reform process the government embarked upon three years ago, she said, without saying who will participate.

Federal troops and militia’s have been battling dissidents from the northern Tigray region since November, fighting that’s displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left millions more facing hunger. Ethnic rivalries have also degenerated into violence in several other areas, and Abiy is facing calls to grant regional authorities greater autonomy.

On Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Ethiopia’s government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which controls Tigray, to end hostilities and enter into talks.

“It is time for all parties to recognize that there is no military solution and it is vital to preserve the unity and stability of Ethiopia which is critical to the region and beyond,” Guterres said, adding that his special envoy Martin Griffith met TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael to discuss the conflict.

The U.S. is also trying to broker peace, with President Joe Biden’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman making his third trip to the region to discuss how to kick-start talks. Samantha Powers, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, visited the country earlier this month.

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Ethiopia In Pictures: Portraits of Workers in Addis Ababa and Jimma – By Redeat Wondemu

(Photography by Redeat Wondemu)

The Washington Post Magazine

Text and photographs by Redeat Wondemu

Work and Purpose in Ethiopia: A photographic journey

In 1950, Irving Penn — one of the giants of 20th-century photography — began taking photos in Paris, London and New York for what would be known as the “Small Trades” series. The project consisted of portraits of people in the clothes they wore for work.

I discovered Penn when I needed direction on what kind of photographer I wanted to be. His portraits have a rich tonal range, from the whitest white to grays to the blackest black. He used natural lighting, and it usually came from one direction, giving the photos a dramatic quality.

Penn’s approach has served as inspiration for my portraits of workers in Addis Ababa and Jimma, Ethiopia. I spent much of my childhood in Addis Ababa, the capital, then moved to Chicago when I was 13; in 2019, I moved back to Addis Ababa to begin this project. I found people to photograph — professional and skilled workers, street vendors, hawkers, criers — and asked them to come to my makeshift studio as they were. At first, they were very skeptical, as you can see by their inquisitive looks. Like Penn, I wanted to separate my subjects from distracting elements, so I had them stand in front of a blank background.

Penn spent more than two decades perfecting his photos. I hope to do the same. At a time when Instagram floods us with images, studying the classics helps me stay focused. Penn’s dedication to his work inspires me to perfect my portraits instead of feeling overwhelmed by the next cool photography trend.

For now, I am excited to be sharing these images with you. As the world has finally realized the importance of essential workers, there has never been a better time to think about and celebrate the people shown here — many of whom do work that is undervalued and overlooked.


An operating room nurse.


A shoeshiner.


A veterinarian.

Read the full article and see more photos at washingtonpost.com/magazine »

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Meet Ethiopia’s MJ: Inspired by the King of Pop

A choreographer, singer and dancer, 29-year-old Sancho Gebre was born in Wolaita, Sodo, where he developed an interest in music choreography at a young age. Sancho’s dalliance with Michael Jackson started at home where he spent lots of time watching his videos during his study time without his parents’ knowledge. (The Standard)

The Standard

The late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, inspired artistes worldwide with his unique dance and stage persona. His chart-busting Thriller album has been hailed as his finest production in terms of the sheer work and talent that went into its making.

Among the MJ wannabes are his Spanish look-alike Sergio Cortes, a stunning replica of the fallen star, who was once hailed as his reincarnation, and Congolese singer Stino Mubi of Viva la Musica band.

Ethiopia has not been left behind in this craze, with musician Sancho Gebre adding to the collection of performing artistes who draw their influence from the king.

A choreographer, singer and dancer, 29-year-old Sancho was born in Wolaita, Sodo, where he developed an interest in music choreography at a young age. Sancho’s dalliance with Michael Jackson started at home where he spent lots of time watching his videos during his study time without his parents’ knowledge.

It took up a lot of his study time, but he was determined to learn the tricks that the late King of Pop employed in his videos and to make something out of it.

Like most traditional Ethiopian families, Sancho’s parents wanted him to study and pursue a ‘proper’ career. But when they realised he was hell-bent on making a career in music they supported him.


Sancho Gebre (Courtesy)

Costly affair ‘becoming MJ’

And it was a costly affair walking in the shadow of the King of Pop. For one, to impersonate him successfully, he needed to get the costumes right, which was expensive. Then he had to perfect the famous moonwalk and on top of different dance styles, he innovated in his experimentation.

Sancho’s big break came in the 2009 Ethiopian Idol show. The show, which was aired on Ethiopian National TV, ran from 2009 to 2011. It was originally held in nine regions before it moved to the capital, Addis Ababa. He competed in eight toughly-contested seasons before finally emerging winner in the Single Modern Dance category.

But he was not home and dry yet. His next big challenge was recording his own music since he needed to get out of the shadow of the king and become his own man. To do this he had to travel 300 kilometres from his home in Areka, Wolaita Zone to the capital, Addis.

In Addis, he met famed music producer Kamuzu Kassa and his brother Gildo, who helped mould his career. At the time he was still doing a lot of choreography in the music videos of other artistes, but Kamuzu and Gildo encouraged him to go to the studio to record his own music.


Sancho Gebre. (Courtesy)

Moonwalking

His debut was the 2016 hit single, Ande, which borrowed heavily from MJ’s ‘moonwalk’ dance routines. The choreography of Ande earned Sancho a solid following. His follow-up release, Atasayugn, solidified his arrival on the Addis music scene. Three other singles Tanamo, Leba and Fiyona would follow shortly.

He genre, which he describes as ‘Afrobeats’, is extremely popular on the Ethiopian club scene, borrowing from dancehall and a sampling of Ethiopian traditional music, but done in a hip and modern style.

As a choreographer Sancho is extremely experimental pushing the boundaries of what we conceive as modern dance. His strength draws from the diversity he employs in choreographing his videos.

Sancho is currently finalising work on his album.

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Watch: Emmy Nominee Mehret Mandefro (‘American Masters’ Producer) on ‘How it Feels to Be Free’

Emmy nominee Mehret Mandefro ('American Masters' producer) on 'How it Feels to Be Free' for legendary Black women. She discusses the 'groundbreaking' careers of Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Pam Grier, Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone with Gold Derby editor Daniel Montgomery. (Gold Derby)

Gold Derby

Emmy nominee Mehret Mandefro (‘American Masters’ producer) on ‘How it Feels to Be Free’ for legendary Black women [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

All of us know a great deal about their music and the culture and the fashion and the films. But I didn’t realize how really groundbreaking they were in terms of their careers,” explains Dr. Mehret Mandefro, who is Emmy-nominated for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series for the “American Masters” documentary “How it Feels to Be Free”; she produced it along with Michael Kantor, Lacey Schwartz Delgado, Elliott Halpern, Elizabeth Trojian, Julie Sacks and Grammy winner Alicia Keys. Based on the book of the same name by Ruth Feldstein, the film chronicles the art and activism of Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Pam Grier, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson.

Watch [the] exclusive video interview with Mandefro:

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Ethiopians Headline the Women’s and Men’s Elite Fields for the Boston Marathon

Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese and Mare Dibaba are among the star international female athletes competing in the upcoming 2021 Boston Marathon, while the men's elite category also includes Ethiopians Asefa Mengstu, Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Jemal Yimer. (Getty Images)

The Boston Globe

A pair of Ethiopian runners with the fastest men’s and women’s times in the field headline the elite runner entry list for the 2021 Boston Marathon that was announced Wednesday by the Boston Athletic Association.

Because of the pandemic, the race was postponed from April and will be run Oct. 11.

Nine women who have run faster than 2:22:00 will line up in Hopkinton, including Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese, whose 2:19:36 personal best ranks fastest in the field. Melese will have some tough competition from fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba, the 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.

Dibaba has broken 2:20 twice, running 2:19:52 in 2012 and 2015, but she has not run that fast since. Also, Edina Kiplagat of Kenya, a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist who finished second at Boston in 2019, will challenge for the top spot.

American Jordan Hasay is familiar with the course, finishing third twice. She is the third-fastest US woman in history with a personal best of 2:20:57.

On the men’s side, Ethiopian Asefa Mengstu has the fastest personal best and the 23rd- fastest marathon ever at 2:04:06. Fellow Ethiopians Lemi Berhanu Hayle, the 2015 Boston champion, and Dejene Debela, who has run a sub-2:06, will join him. Berhanu’s personal best is just behind Mengstu’s at 2:04:33.

After much success over the half marathon and in cross-country, Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton and Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer will make their marathon debuts. Barsoton earned a silver medal at the World Cross-Country Championships in 2017, and Yimer owns the Ethiopian national record of 58:33 in the half marathon.

Eight of the top 12 finishers from the US Olympic marathon trials will compete in Boston, including Abdi Abdirahman, who finished 41st at the Tokyo Games last week.

In the women’s wheelchair field, course record-holder Manuela Schär of Switzerland is the favorite, but she will be challenged by five-time Boston champion Tatyana McFadden. Team USA Paralympians Susannah Scaroni and Jenna Fesemyer also will compete.

The men’s wheelchair field features four former champions: Daniel Romanchuk, Marcel Hug, Ernst van Dyk, and Josh Cassidy, who have a combined 16 Boston titles. Aaron Pike, who will compete for Team USA in the Paralympic marathon, also will be in the field.

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In DC, Helen Show Hosts Empower the Community Weekend 2021

Hosted by the Helen Show Empower the Community Weekend (ECW) is a one-day family centered event that brings together the largest East African community in the Washington DC area. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 11th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — The annual Empower the Community Weekend hosted by Helen Mesfin of the Helen Show on EBS TV takes place this weekend at the Washington Convention Center.

According to organizers the event this year will be in hybrid format including both online presentations and in-person gathering.

“We have majority of our attendees joining us virtually on our conference platform Hopin and also limited number of people with vendors attending in person at the Walter E Washington Convention Center,” Helen said, noting that people will need to register on their website in order to participate.

The announcement adds: “Empower the Community Weekend (ECW) is a one-day family centered event that brings together the largest East African community in the Washington DC area. The event focuses on helping people to thrive and to live a productive life by providing resources and empowering information. The event is filled with Exhibitors showcasing their products and services, Career Pavilion with hiring events & recruiting resources, Kids and Youth Pavilion with fun filled activities, games, college prep and internship resources, and a networking mixer.”

Topics for the 2021 main stage panel discussion include Civic Engagement, Business & Leadership as well as Young Trailblazers.


(Image courtesy of Empower CW)

Organizers note that the conference also features workshops in various timely subjects including “Minding Your Mental Health; Small Business Surviving & Thriving Post COVID; Minding Your Money-Building Wealth; Preparing for College- What You Should Know; Exploring Identity As First Generation Immigrant Children; Resiliency & Parenting Children with Special Needs.”

If You Attend:

Empower the Community Weekend 2021
AUGUST 14th, 2021
Walter E Washington Convention Center
VIRTUAL REGISTRATION & LIMITED IN-PERSON SEATING
Registration Here
More info at: www.empowercw.com

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White House Nominates Biniam Gebre as Chief of Federal Procurement Policy

Biniam Gebre, Nominee for Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget (Photographer: Official portrait of Biniam Gebre by Sammy Mayo, Jr.--HUD)

Fed Scoop

The Biden administration has nominated Biniam Gebre as the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within the Office of Management and Budget.

If confirmed by the Senate, he will rejoin government from Accenture, where he is a senior managing director and head of management consulting for Accenture Federal Services.

The OFPP sets overall policy direction for governmentwide procurement procedures and is focused on promoting efficiency and effectiveness. Previously, it was led by Michael Wooten, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump and confirmed to the role in 2019.

Gebre has previously also worked at consulting firms Mckinsey & Co. and Oliver Wyman. He served in the Obama administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where his work focused on access to credit for low-income families, FHA’s financial health, and revamping public housing.

The White House

Press Release

Biniam Gebre, Nominee for Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget

Biniam Gebre is a Senior Managing Director at Accenture and Head of Management Consulting for Accenture Federal Services. He has spent the past two decades helping dozens of organizations within both the public sector and private sector address management, operational, and technology issues ranging from agriculture to banking to artificial intelligence. He served in the Obama-Biden administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he focused on access to credit for low-income families, FHA’s financial health, and revitalizing public housing properties.

Gebre came to the United States as a refugee at the age of nine and grew up in public housing and on government assistance. He graduated with Highest Honors from Williams College, where he earned a B.A. in Chemistry and was a Goldwater Scholar. He also earned an M.B.A in Finance and Economics from Northwestern University. Gebre sits on the Board of Pathfinder International.

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Spotlight: A New Documentary ‘Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt’ Celebrates Ethiopian Artists

Organizers note that a virtual launch of the documentary 'Free Art Felega 5 - Disrupt' is scheduled for Sunday, August, 15th, 2021 featuring all participating artists. (Photos courtesy of Free Art Felega)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 11th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember our story last year highlighting a “positive and optimistic” art project amid the gloom of the COVID-19 era called Free Art Felega, an online space organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate that gave Ethiopian artists, both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora, a place to gather and exhibit their work for audiences around the world.

This week organizers announced that they will release a new documentary film titled ‘Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt showing “the result of six months of hard work from the 32 participating Ethiopian artists in times of CoVid-19, including the personal artist statements.”


Photos courtesy of Free Art Felega

The announcement added: “You will receive deeper insights into the motivations and thoughts of every participating artist and, very important, their way of finding their artistic identity.”

Organizers note that a virtual launch of the documentary is scheduled for this coming Sunday, August, 15th, featuring all participating artists.

If You Go:

A virtual launch: Documentary of Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt
Sunday 15th August 2021 5 p.m. CET.
More info: www.freeartfelega.com

Related:

Spotlight: ‘Free Art Felega,’ A Virtual Ethiopia Exhibition by Yenatfenta Abate

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Ethiopia is Not Yugoslavia: Response to the Ridiculous Western Media Narrative

In the following letter to the editor published by the Politico website this week, Ethiopia's Ambassador to Belgium Hirut Zemene points out that "drawing a comparison between the two countries is both incorrect and dangerous." (UN photo)

Politico

BY HIRUT ZEMENE

Ethiopia is not Yugoslavia

The opinion piece “In Ethiopia, echoes of Yugoslavia” (August 2) by Baroness Arminka Helič is based on a misconstrued parallel that is both factually and conceptually incorrect.

In an attempt to draw a parallel with Yugoslavia, the author has failed to understand the sociopolitical, historical and cultural contexts of the country and its people.

To begin with, Ethiopia and its people are known for their cultural and religious tolerance and have lived in harmony for many centuries. There exists no enmity among the people of Ethiopia. Therefore, comparing the country’s current situation with the Balkans is a complete malposition.

Additionally, without properly understanding the nuances of the official Ethiopian language or statements made by our leaders with regard to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the author has misinterpreted a label aimed at the TPLF as describing our compatriots in Tigray. It appears that the author attempts to call for unwarranted interventions from the international community based on misinformed ideas. However, it must be made clear that no Ethiopian official has incited ill intentions against their own people as the piece portrayed.

The TPLF, which provoked conflict in November 2020 by attacking the national defense bases in the Tigray region, is now labeled a terrorist group by the Ethiopian Parliament. TPLF leaders who caused and led the conflict in Ethiopia must be brought to justice for their acts of war. No country would sit idly by while such an attack is committed.

As for the situation in the Tigray region, the Ethiopian Government, with the aim of resolving the conflict, has enacted a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire. The TPLF clique, rejecting this peaceful gesture, has instead opted to aggravate the situation by prolonging the fighting. The author’s view of the TPLF’s destabilizing character, expanding the conflict to neighboring provinces, demonstrates only an attempt to justify the acts of the TPLF as legitimate and, even more so, unjustifiably impose sanctions on Ethiopia.

The Embassy of Ethiopia not only rejects this erroneous opinion but would also request that as a respected official of a reputed country, the author refrain from comparing incomparable situations and calling for unwarranted action.

Ambassador Hirut Zemene
Embassy of Ethiopia, Brussels

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Spotlight: Meet Sammy Kahsai, the Ethiopia-Born Pro Soccer Player for Maryland Bobcats

Samuel Kahsai, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in the U.S., is a professional soccer player with the Maryland Bobcats, an American soccer team and academy based in Montgomery County, Maryland. (Photo: Courtesy of Goalden Generation Management)

Hyattsville Wire

Meet the Pro Soccer Player Who Grew Up in Hyattsville

Maryland Bobcats FC midfielder Sammy Kahsai got his start in Hyattsville.

Born in Ethiopia, Kahsai moved with his family to Hyattsville at age 7, playing soccer at Hyattsville Middle School and Northwestern High, where he led the team to its first county and regional title and state semifinal appearance since 1995.

“He was so talented, but there weren’t enough, or any, resources to help him elevate to the next level,” a representative for Goalden Generation Management who works with Kahsai, told the Hyattsville Wire. “So he had to take the long route using his skill and old fashioned grit, to hop from level to level.”

After graduating in 2013, Kahsai played for D.C. United’s youth academy, and broke records as a freshman at Washington Adventist University. He was named top midfielder while playing at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he graduated.

In 2019, he signed his first professional contract with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a second tier team, and the next year he moved to the Maryland Bobcats FC, a tier three team with the National Independent Soccer Association based in Montgomery County.


SAMUEL KAHSAI. (NATIONAL INDEPENDENT SOCCER ASSOCIATION)

Goalden Generation Management, which represents Kahsai, has put together a short documentary about his pro soccer career. You can see a trailer on their Instagram here.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia to Reopen Bidding for Second Telecoms License, Officials Say

A customer holds a 3G prepaid sim card after buying the service from an Ethio-Telecom shop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Neger)

REUTERS

By Dawit Endeshaw

EXCLUSIVE Ethiopia to reopen bidding for second telecoms licence, officials say

ADDIS ABABA, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Ethiopia will reopen bidding for its second telecoms operator licence this month, two senior government officials said on Monday, including the right to operate mobile financial services.

The Horn-of-Africa nation sold only one of two full-service licences on offer in May, citing a lower-than-expected price for the second one, which it now wants to offer again. read more

“We have made some changes that can uplift its value, for instance mobile financial service,” Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communication Authority, told Reuters.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, will serve as transaction adviser in the deal, said Brook Taye, a senior adviser at the ministry of finance.

The government expects prospective bidders to include firms which had expressed interest in the previous attempt to sell the licence but whose bids were deemed to be insufficient, Brook said.

“We expect to have a strong interest,” he said.

A consortium led by Kenya’s top operator, Safaricom (SCOM.NR), secured the first licence. South Africa’s MTN (MTNJ.J) had also bid in the first round but it was not awarded a licence.

Safaricom’s winning bid of $850 million could serve as a guide for the price of the remaining licence.

“At least there is a benchmark and to uplift this benchmark we are working on amending the policy,” Brook said, citing the automatic inclusion of the right to operate mobile financial services, which was not present in Safaricom’s licence.

Mobile financial services have become a significant part of African telecom operators’ businesses since Safaricom pioneered them with M-Pesa in 2007, giving people an alternative to banks.

State monopoly Ethio Telecom, which launched a new mobile financial service called Telebirr in May, snagged 4 million users within weeks, showing the potential of the market.

A separate sale of a 40% stake in Ethio is going on, part of a drive to liberalise the sector and also open up the broader economy.

The economic reforms were initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whose troops are engaged in fighting with local forces in the northern region of Tigray, when he came to power in 2018.

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Tonight Whitney Museum of American Art Features Conversation with Marcus Samuelsson and Julie Mehretu

Both born in Ethiopia and now New York-based, Samuelsson and Mehretu have been friends for decades. Despite working in different fields, they hold each other’s work in the highest regard and have supported each other in their respective pursuits. (Whitney Museum of American Art)

Press Release

Whitney Museum of American Art

COOKING AND CONVERSATION WITH MARCUS SAMUELSSON, JULIE MEHRETU, AND RUJEKO HOCKLEY

Tuesday, August 3
6 pm

Online, via Zoom

During this special event, chef Marcus Samuelsson and painter Julie Mehretu, along with Rujeko Hockley, the Whitney’s Arnhold Associate Curator, will talk about art, food, and much more.

Both born in Ethiopia and now New York-based, Samuelsson and Mehretu have been friends for decades. Despite working in different fields, they hold each other’s work in the highest regard and have supported each other in their respective pursuits. Join us on Zoom and follow along as chef Samuelsson prepares a special recipe just for the occasion, which coincides with the final days of Mehretu’s mid-career survey at the Whitney.

Free with registration

REGISTER

This event will have automated closed captions through Zoom. Live captioning is available for public programs and events upon request with seven business days advance notice. We will make every effort to provide accommodation for requests made outside of that window of time. To place a request, please contact us ataccessfeedback@whitney.org or (646) 666-5574 (voice). Relay and voice calls welcome.

Julie Mehretu
Mar 25–Aug 8, 2021

For more than two decades, Julie Mehretu (b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) has been engaged in a deep exploration of painting. She creates new forms and finds unexpected resonances by drawing from the histories of art and human civilization—from Babylonian stelae to architectural sketches, from European history painting to the sites and symbols of African liberation movements. Some of Mehretu’s imagery and titles hint at their representational origins, but her work remains steadfastly abstract.

Comprising approximately thirty paintings and forty works on paper dating from 1996 to the present day, this mid-career survey of Julie Mehretu presents the most comprehensive overview of her practice to date. She plays with the parameters of abstraction, architecture, landscape, scale, and, most recently, figuration. At its core, Mehretu’s art is invested in our lived experiences, and examines how forces such as migration, capitalism, and climate change impact human populations—and possibilities.

Julie Mehretu is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition is curated by Christine Y. Kim, curator of contemporary art at LACMA, with Rujeko Hockley, Arnhold Associate Curator at the Whitney.

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U.S.-Africa Policy: Does It Exist? And the Problem With Biden’s Ethiopia Approach

Patient voters during the June 21 Ethiopia election. (Photo via Lawrence Freeman Africa And The world Blog)

Lawrence Freeman Africa and the World Blog

What’s Wrong With U.S. Policy For Ethiopia and Africa?

Knowledgeable American analysts of U.S.-African relations are disturbed by the U.S. government’s treatment of Ethiopia. In the first six months of the Biden Presidency, we have witnessed a dramatic reversal of U.S. support for a long standing ally in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia, the second largest nation in Africa, has been a regional leader, with its bold economic vision to improve the lives of its 110 million people.

Ethiopia has achieved two major accomplishments under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during June and July. First, the successful June 21st national elections, and second, the natural partial filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Regrettably, there were no robust congratulations from President Biden for either achievement. Following the freest, fairest, and most peaceful elections in Ethiopia’s history, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s only comment was: “the United States commends those who exercised their right to vote on June 21.” Unusual for elections in Africa, not one individual died in Ethiopia’s voting process. In contrast, several Americans died during the January 6th, violent protest of the U.S. electoral vote.

Equally astonishing, President Biden failed to praise the second filling of almost 14 billion cubic meters of water in the reservoir of the GERD, which will lead to production of electricity later this year. Following in the footsteps of former President Trump, the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress, have tried to discourage Ethiopia from filling the GERD. Despite Ethiopia’s important role in Africa, Prime Minister Abiy’s notable reform movement, and the success of his Prosperity Party, President Biden has never talked to the Prime Minister.

America’s Agenda for Democracy

Secretary of State Blinken along with several other officials from the Obama administration are leading President Biden’s global foreign policy with their mantra: “democracy, human rights, and rule of law.” But what do these words mean other than a desire to impose their world order on other nations.

Prime Minister Abiy’s non-ethnic based Prosperity Party won overwhelmingly in a democratic election deemed fair, free of violence and intimidation, and credible. Ethiopia Election: A Vote for Peace, Unity, and Prosperity. Millions of Ethiopians approved of Prime Minister Abiy’s policies, giving him a mandate to lead for another five years. That is democracy.

Shouldn’t “human rights” include the most fundamental right; the right for human beings to live a productive and dignified life? How is that possible when Africans are suffering from abject poverty, lack of food, clean water, and electricity. It is not possible.

The solution lies in physical economic development that transforms the conditions of life. As the Ethiopians are fond of saying: “eliminate poverty, don’t manage it.” Aid is not sufficient. Building vital infrastructure is an absolute necessity, not an option. More than anything else, African nations need electricity—a thousand gigawatts at least. Africa needs a minimum of 50,000 kilometers of high speed railroads. With the billions of dollars in aid given to African nations, transformative infrastructure projects could have been built. Isn’t the right to electricity a human right?

Then, why hasn’t Ethiopia been profusely praised for building the GERD to produce 6,200 megawatts (6.2 gigawatts) of electricity. Physical economic development is the most fundamental of human rights.

Read more »

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Ethiopia Back on Top at Olympics: Selemon Barega Wins Gold in Men’s 10,000 Metres

Ethiopia's newest Olympic gold medalist Selemon Barega stood atop an all-Africa podium in the men's 10,000m final at the Tokyo Games on Friday. The 21-year-old joined Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele and Miruts Yifter in the club of Ethiopian legends to have won the Olympic 10,000-meter title. (Getty Images)

Reuters

Ethiopian Selemon Barega wins men’s 10,000 metres in all-Africa podium

Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega sprinted the last lap to beat world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda and win a shock Olympic Games gold medal in the men’s 10,000 metres on Friday.

The 21-year-old Barega powered down the home straight to cross the line in 27 minutes 43.22 seconds, ahead of world champion Cheptegei in 27:43.63.

Jacob Kiplimo, the youngest ever Ugandan Olympian when he ran the 5,000 heats in Rio as a 15-year old, posted a time of 27:43.88 to secure bronze in the first athletics medal event of the Games.

Barega, the 2019 5,000m world championship silver medallist who set the second fastest 10,000 metres time of the year in June, was applauded by the Ethiopian delegation as he smiled broadly on a victory lap with his country’s flag draped around his shoulders.

Cheptegei said he was experiencing mixed emotions.

“I have two feelings. “One is that I’m very happy to have won an Olympic silver medal today,” he told reporters. “But the other side of me is really not satisfied with the result because I came here expecting to win a gold.”

Cheptegei also admitted that 2021 had been tough for him.

“This year was really a very difficult year for me in terms of racing,” he said. “It’s the year that I have lost all the focus, all the belief. There was a lot of pressure and I was feeling it in every moment.”

Uganda’s Stephen Kissa acted as the early pacemaker before dropping out a little over halfway through the race.

“We had a plan for me to go ahead to make it a fast race,” Kissa told reporters. “I thought they were going to follow me but when I looked round they were not there.”

Cheptegei led briefly before dropping back into the pack and Barega seized his chance, moving among the leaders in the last third of the race before hitting the front with a surge on the last lap to secure his surprise victory.

Related:

Ethiopia Is Back on Top As Selemon Barega Is Golden in 2020 Olympic 10K Final

Tokyo Olympics: Men’s Steeplechase Gold Medal Odds Favor Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale

Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics: How to Watch Track and Field Live

On Twitter, Cryptocurrency Fans Cheer Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics

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Tokyo Olympics: Men’s Steeplechase Gold Medal Odds Favor Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale

Ethiopia's Getnet Wale is favored in the men's steeplechase odds at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The 21-year-old is set to make his first Olympics appearance and set his personal best time of 8:05.21 in 2019 while running at Doha in Qatar. (Getty Images)

FanDuel

The 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games are in full swing and sports fans are able to put in wagers on a number of different events on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Men’s track & field remains one of the most exciting sports on the Olympic schedule every year. Specifically, the 3,000m steeplechase competition made its debut at the 1920 Olympics. Athletes push their bodies to the limits in order to battle at the most elite level in the world.

Olympics Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase

Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale leads all competitors with odds set at +130 to take home the gold in this event, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The 21-year-old is set to make his first Olympics appearance and set his personal best time of 8:05.21 in 2019 while running at Doha.

Soufiane El Bakkali of Morroco follows closely behind with odds set at +155.

Here’s how the rest of the Olympics men’s 3,000m steeplechase Gold Medal odds are shaping up.

Olympics Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase Gold Medal Odds

1. Getnet Wale (ETH): +130
2. Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR): +155
3. Abraham Kibiwot (KEN): +700
4. Bikila Tadese Takele (ETH): +750
5. Leonard Bett (KEN): +1100
6. Benjamin Kigen (KEN): +1300
7. Hilary Bor (USA): +1600
8. Abrham Sime (ETH): +1800
9. Mohamed Tindouft (MAR): +3400
10. Djilali Bedrani (FRA): +3400
11. Ahmed Abdelwahed (ITA): +5000
12. Fernando Carro (ESP): +6000

Related:

Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics: How to Watch Track and Field Live

On Twitter, Cryptocurrency Fans Cheer Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics

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American Filmmaker Ava DuVernay Launches A Masterclass On Narrative Storytelling Featuring Haile Gerima

Haile Gerima editing his upcoming documentary “Children of Adwa.” (Eurweb)

Eur Web

*A legendary filmmaker is teaching a five day workshop!

Ava DuVernay’s Peabody Award-winning arts and social impact collective ARRAY announced their inaugural masterclass with celebrated Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima. Applications are now being accepted until August 9 for the Los Angeles-based intensive workshop, being led by the legendary figure of the L.A. Rebellion film movement.

Liberated Territory: A Masterclass by Haile Gerima is a partnership between ARRAY and The Sankofa Film Academy divided into three parts: The Art and Craft of Screenplay, Cinematography, and Film Directing. Taking place at the ARRAY Creative Campus, the five-day workshop will explore the catalyst of storytelling and a story’s structure crafted from personal narrative accents. Participants will have an opportunity to dive into Gerima’s past notable work, including the ARRAY Releasing distributed title Ashes and Embers. Gerima is set to be honored by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with the inaugural Vantage Award as part of its opening gala in September 2021.

Applications are open to storytellers (experienced or emerging) working across all mediums, not just film. Artists who would like a deeper understanding of connecting their personal roots to narrative story development are encouraged to apply at arraynow.com/masterclass.

“Ava has always been a supporter of me and my work,” shared Gerima. “I come from a generation of filmmakers — independent filmmakers in the late 60s, early 70s – where making films about marginalized communities and people of color was not always accepted by mainstream audiences. It was important to Ava and ARRAY that this next generation of filmmakers get an opportunity to see my past work and to understand it. This Master Class is structured based on my personal practice, not only writing my own screenplays but also directing and editing my own films. Most of all, it demonstrates how editing my own films shaped my ideas of holistic filmmaking.”


Ava DuVernay (Photo: Diana King)

“Mr. Haile Gerima is the reason I was inspired to create my own film distribution company and he is, very simply, one of my heroes,” expressed DuVernay. “He disrupted the system long before anyone was willing to take notice and continues to chart his own path. Launching the ARRAY Masterclass program with Mr. Gerima is a surreal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can’t wait to watch him in action as he shares his filmmaking expertise with the next wave of disruptive filmmakers at our liberated territory, the ARRAY Creative Campus.”

“Sankofa, which is an Adinkra term for ‘going back to our past in order to go forward’ provides the best description of this full circle moment for me,” explained ARRAY Vice President of Public Programming, Mercedes Cooper. “I first visited Mr. Gerima’s legendary Sankofa Video and Bookstore in 1999 while I was a student at University of Maryland College Park. I am beyond words and honored to collaborate with master filmmaker Haile Gerima and visionary Ava DuVernay to develop ARRAY’s first masterclass.”

About Haile Gerima:

Haile Gerima is a fiercely independent filmmaker and leading member of the film movement known widely as L.A. Rebellion birthed in the late 1960s. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Gerima immigrated to the United States in 1967. Following in the footsteps of his father, a dramatist and playwright, Gerima entered UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, where his exposure to Latin American films inspired him to mine his own cultural legacy.

After completing his thesis film, the acclaimed BUSH MAMA (1975), Gerima returned to Ethiopia to film HARVEST: 3000 YEARS (1976) which won the George Sadual critics award of at the Festival de Cannes, the Grand Prize at the Locarno Film Festival and was the Official Selection As Cannes Classic in 2007 in Festival de Cannes. When Gerima’s legendary epic SANKOFA (1993, nominated for the Golden Bear of the Berlin Film-festival) was ignored by U.S. distributors, he decidedly self-distributed the film by tapping into African-American communities, resulting in sold-out screenings in independent theaters around the country. In 2016 ARRAY re-released his classic ASHES & EMBERS (1982), winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1996, Gerima co-founded an independent film company for the production and distribution of films, which also houses the Sankofa Video and Bookstore, in Washington, D.C. Gerima continues to produce, distribute and promote his own films. He also lectures and conducts workshops in alternative screenwriting and directing both within the U.S. and internationally.

About ARRAY:

Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a Peabody Award-winning multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change. The organization catalyzes its work through a quartet of mission-driven entities: the film distribution arm ARRAY Releasing, the content company ARRAY Filmworks, the programming and production hub ARRAY Creative Campus and the non-profit group ARRAY Alliance.

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Spotlight: In NYC, the MET Presents Mulatu Astatke — Digital Premiere

Today in New York City The Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with World Music Institute presents a Digital Premiere featuring Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke. According to the museum the concert was recorded at the MET on September 9, 2016. The JazzTimes called it “a spirited and entrancing set that spanned his career and spotlighted his gift for shifting fluidly between intricate, sinuous melodies and airy, atmospheric grooves.” (MET)

MET Museum

Known as the father of Ethio-jazz, composer and multi-instrumentalist Mulatu Astatke rose to international fame in the 1970s and 1980s with his unique mix of American jazz and Ethiopian music, drawing comparisons to jazz giants Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. Forced off the road for a time due to the political situation in his homeland, he came roaring back in the 1990s, recording and touring as never before.

Astatke’s music begins and ends with improvisation and is the product of fearless experimentation. Experience the sounds, rhythms, and textures of this pioneer of Ethiopian jazz in The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing in a performance recorded on September 9, 2016, that JazzTimes called “a spirited and entrancing set that spanned his career and spotlighted his gift for shifting fluidly between intricate, sinuous melodies and airy, atmospheric grooves.”

Watch on Facebook or YouTube. Note: No login required.

If You Attend:

Digital Premiere—Mulatu Astatke at the MET
TUESDAY / JULY 27
7:00–8:40 P.M.
www.metmuseum.org

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Meron Hadero Becomes 1st Ethiopian Author to Win Prestigious AKO Caine Prize

Meron Hadero's winning short story is about an Ethiopian boy called Getu, who has to navigate the fraught power dynamics of NGOs and foreign aid in Addis Ababa. It impressed the judges who found it "utterly without self-pity" and said it "turns the lens" on the usual clichés. The author was born in Ethiopia and raised in the US by parents who are both medical doctors. Her sister is the singer Meklit Hadero. (BBC News)

BBC News

AKO Caine Prize: Meron Hadero named first Ethiopian winner

“I’m absolutely thrilled, I’m in shock – being shortlisted in itself was a huge honour,” she told the BBC.

Her winning short story is about an Ethiopian boy called Getu, who has to navigate the fraught power dynamics of NGOs and foreign aid in Addis Ababa.

It impressed the judges who found it “utterly without self-pity” and said it “turns the lens” on the usual clichés.

Hadero will take home £10,000 ($13,000) in prize money.

The author was born in Ethiopia and raised in the US by parents who are both medical doctors. Her sister is the singer Meklit Hadero, whose support was “absolutely essential” to her success, Hadero says.

She says stories of “refugees, immigrants and those at risk of being displaced” are always the “entry-point emotionally” to her work.

“With The Street Sweep, he has that threat looming. He’s facing losing his ancestral home, and that’s the real driver of the story that makes him take charge and try to re-write that outcome that seems kind of inevitable,” Hadero told BBC Focus on Africa.

Much of The Street Sweep is set in Addis Ababa’s Sheraton hotel, where Getu is invited for a party.

“Looking through his eyes it’s almost a culture shock when he goes there,” Hadero said.

“I did want to paint that contrast… What does that access mean? And what does that bestow? That’s the bigger question of what those open doors represent.”

Writing short stories has been “it’s own love” for the author, who likened the form to a “contained laboratory” from which “pared down and elegant” tales can emerge.

Her next challenge is her debut novel, which “is really fun to work on in a different way.

“You’re adding and you’re exploring mess.”

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Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics: How to Watch Track and Field Live

Local time in Japan is 13 hours ahead of Eastern time and 16 hours ahead of Pacific time in the United States. As you’ll see in the examples of our must-watch races below, the time differences will make for some early morning or late evening viewing if you want to see events live. (Getty Images)

Runners World

Plus, our picks for five must-watch races at the Games.

Watching what you want when you want might not be simple, because NBC’s coverage will be spread across several of the network’s channels and properties, including Peacock, USA, NBCSN, NBCOlympics.com, NBCSports.com, and, for good measure, the NBC Sports app.

Also, local time in Japan is 13 hours ahead of Eastern time and 16 hours ahead of Pacific time in the United States. As you’ll see in the examples of our must-watch races below, the time differences will make for some early morning or late evening viewing if you want to see events live.

Your best bet to knowing what will be shown where and when is to check NBCOlympics.com daily. The schedule there will be regularly updated.

Women’s 10,000 Meters

Final: 7:45 p.m. local, Saturday, 8/7; 6:45 a.m. Eastern/3:45 a.m. Pacific


Getty Images

We try to use the word “epic” sparingly, but it’s fair to say this race should be one of the epic match-ups in any sport of the Games. The top two contenders: Reigning world champion Sifan Hassan of Holland, who ran 29:06.82 on June 6 to break the world record, and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, who broke Hassan’s record just two days later in 29:01.03.

The two met have met before at the distance, in the 2019 World Championships. There, Hassan seemed on another level from the rest of the world and easily handled Gidey’s attempt to break her over the final four laps. (At that meet, Hassan also won the 1500, an unprecedented double-gold haul in modern times.) But Gidey was 21 at that time, and now has another two years of international experience. Given Hassan’s prowess at 1500 meters, Gidey will likely try the same tactic as in 2019, a long drive over the last four or five laps. Hassan needed a 4:18 final mile last time to beat Gidey. Will they close even faster in Tokyo?

U.S. Trials champion Emily Sisson is unlikely to get caught up in Hassan-Gidey fireworks. But if the weather cooperates, she could threaten the American record of 30:13.17 that her occasional training partner, Molly Huddle, set while finishing sixth at the 2016 Games.

Men’s Marathon

Final: 7 a.m. local, Sunday, 8/8; 6 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Pacific, Saturday, 8/7


Getty Images

A day after the women’s marathon concludes—another highly-anticipated event that takes place at 6 p.m. Eastern on Friday, July 30—the men’s marathon is the final running event of the Games. This race is either one of the most predictable or most unpredictable.

On the predictable hand, there’s the defending champion, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, the most accomplished marathoner in history. Did you know that Kipchoge won a marathon in April in 2:04:30? Don’t feel bad if not—the world record-holder and only person to break 2:00 in any conditions is also the first person in history to make a 2:04 marathon unremarkable. Kipchoge has lost only two marathons since taking up the event in 2013.

On the unpredictable hand, consider: One of those losses occurred at London last October. Kipchoge not only lost, but, by his exalted standards, bombed, finishing eighth, more than a minute behind the winner. Kipchoge, age 36, suddenly seemed mortal. There’s built-in unpredictability concerning anyone’s body on marathon day—Kipchoge was undone last fall in London by a clogged ear.

Also, knowing who is in great shape is always difficult because the top marathoners race so seldom. That said, don’t be surprised to see U.S. champion and defending bronze medalist Galen Rupp vie for a medal. And most definitely keep an eye out for one or both of Kengo Suzuki and Suguru Osaka, who hope to give marathon-mad Japan hometown heroes to cheer for late in the race.

Read the full article at runnersworld.com »

Related:

On Twitter, Cryptocurrency Fans Cheer Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics

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On Twitter, Cryptocurrency Fans Cheer Ethiopia at Tokyo Olympics

Flag bearer Abdelmalik Muktar of Team Ethiopia during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Team Ethiopia is receiving global cheers on social media that has gone viral after Twitter added Ethiopia's flag to the “ETH” hashtag in the lead-up to the Olympics. Interestingly, the support is coming from fans of the largest cryptocurrency next to Bitcoin, Ethereum. (Getty Images)

Crypto Briefing

Ethereum Community Backs Ethiopia Ahead of Olympics

The Ethereum community is rallying behind Ethiopia after Twitter added the country’s flag to the “ETH” hashtag in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Key Takeaways

  • Ethereum fans are showing their support for Ethiopia after Twitter added the country’s flag to the “ETH” hashtag in celebration of the Olympics.
  • A DAO called EthiopiaDAO has formed, while some community members have suggested sponsoring the country’s Olympic team.
  • The Olympics thanked Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and the wider crypto community for their support.

    Ethereans are voicing their support for Ethiopia.

    Ethereum Forms Ties with Ethiopia

    Ethereum fans are backing Ethiopia ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

    Members of the second-ranked blockchain’s community began showing their support for the African nation after Twitter added national flag emojis for each of the teams appearing at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The social media platform added the Ethiopia flag to the hashtag “ETH,” which coincides with the name for Ethereum’s native currency.

    Ethereum enthusiasts quickly adopted the hashtag and united in showing support for Ethiopia. Many reposted the country’s flag, similar to how Bitcoiners and other crypto believers collectively adopted “laser eyes” on their Twitter avatars earlier this year. Since the flag surfaced on Twitter, a decentralized autonomous organization called EthiopiaDAO “centered around Ethiopia and blockchain education” has formed. A member of the DAO told Crypto Briefing:

    “While there isn’t a clear vision of exactly how EthiopiaDAO can help today, we have the tools and know how to coordinate capital globally towards whatever we decide to put our efforts towards. Currently there seems to be memetic alignment between communities and we’d like to capture that momentum towards funding communal goods that could have real world benefits to Ethiopia, and the Ethereum ecosystem at large.”

    Meanwhile, several community members have suggested supporting the country in other ways. Brantly Millegan, director of operations at Ethereum Name Service, reached out to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to suggest sponsoring the country in the Tokyo Olympics. Meanwhile, Mike Demarais, co-founder of the Ethereum wallet rainbow, shared a similar proposal and suggested that Ethereum could “copy/paste el salvador strat but for vitalik coin.“ El Salvador made history when it adopted Bitcoin as legal tender last month, indicating that Demarais was most likely proposing a campaign to make ETH an official currency in Ethiopia.

    Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square founder and longtime Bitcoin evangelist, also joined in with the trend by posting the hashtag in a tweet. In the crypto world, Dorsey is best known for his ardent support for Bitcoin, though he’s been less enthusiastic about Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. The official Olympics Twitter account responded to Dorsey’s post to say it was “great to see” him and the crypto community supporting Ethiopia’s athletes.

    Ethereum isn’t the only cryptocurrency project to show support for Ethiopia: earlier this year, Cardano’s IOHK partnered with the country’s government to develop a blockchain system focusing on student performance in schools. The deal will involve five million Ethiopian students having their digital identities stored on the blockchain.

    The Tokyo Olympics runs from today until Aug. 8. Representatives from the country are yet to respond to the Ethereum community, though ETH has enjoyed an overnight rise: it’s back above $2,000, up around 4%.

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  • Listen: Family, Ethiopian Roots Inspire Seattle Youth Poet Laureate’s New Book

    Bitaniya Giday is finishing her tenure at Seattle Youth Poet Laureate and publishing a book of her poetry. In the following audio Bitaniya speaks with KNKX Morning Edition about her new book and the inspiration for her poetry, and she reads one of her poems. (SEATTLE ARTS & LECTURES)

    KNKX

    Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate has just published her first book of poetry. “Motherland” is Bitaniya Giday’s exploration of Blackness, womanhood and family history as an Ethiopian-American youth.

    You might be familiar with Giday from her appearance in KNKX’s Take the Mic youth voices series, and she was part of our virtual town hall event. She was also featured in this interview with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

    Giday, who is finishing her one-year term as youth poet laureate, spoke with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about her new book and what inspires her work. Listen to the interview and hear Giday read one of her poems.

    Read more and listen to the audio at knkx.org »

    Related:

    Seattle Arts & Lectures names Bitaniya Giday as the next Youth Poet Laureate

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    Marcus Samuelsson Sets The Record Straight About American Cuisine

    The Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised chef says the concept of American cuisine focused almost entirely on European dishes for a "long time." But that's never been the whole story. The chef said, "We know as a diverse, layered nation that there's been a huge contribution by African-Americans to the American food experience." (Mashed)

    Mashed

    Chef Marcus Samuelsson celebrates a wide array of culinary traditions that comprise what we call American cuisine. Fortunately for us, that means American cuisine is more than just burgers and apple pie. The judge of “Chopped” and host of the culinary travel show “No Passport Required” is known for touring the country to explore how immigrant communities have influenced and helped create the cuisine we know and love (via PBS). We asked the restaurateur and cookbook author during an exclusive interview with Mashed to debunk myths about American cuisine.

    Samuelsson explained the concept of American cuisine focused almost entirely on European dishes for a “long time.” But that’s never been the whole story. The chef said, “We know as a diverse, layered nation that there’s been a huge contribution by African-Americans to the American food experience.” Chefs like Samuelsson know innovation is key to the foundation of American cuisine because as he said, “There’s always a blend between immigrants and their traditions and indigenous people adding on and adding on.” Food must evolve because “as generations we evolve,” he furthered. 

    In his shows, restaurants, and cookbooks, Samuelsson explores “about four cuisines in America” that are a direct link to the African-American experience. American food is a modern umbrella term, which the Red Rooster owner said brings all these heritage flavors together “whether it’s barbecue, Southern food, Lowcountry, and Korean cooking.” The major influence of African-American techniques, ingredients, and flavors are the elements that the Season 2 “Top Chef Masters” winner wanted to highlight in his most recent cookbook, “The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food” (via Eater). Samuelsson learned cooking is more than following a recipe. “I don’t think my grandmother ever shared a pure recipe with me,” Samuelsson said. “Well, ritual has been around much longer than just traditional recipes … it’s also very much word of mouth.” The chef isn’t alone, Eater reports “no-recipe recipes” are making a big comeback. 

    The Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised chef said “every time I cook, I think about my family,” and it should be no coincidence, “especially when it’s something Ethiopian or Swedish.” Samuelsson translates those rituals to his restaurants, but it can be found in the partners he works with in New York, Miami, Bermuda, Sweden, Canada, and elsewhere. ”Nurturing rituals is key and it’s kind of the core of what makes that extended family,” he said. “Whether it’s the cooks that you work with or the restaurants you go and support.” It’s no surprise Samuelsson is a leader in American cuisine, where consistent evolution that is nothing short of inspirational.

    Read more »

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    This Royal Couple Launched a New Media Company to Tell Stories Uniting the Black Diaspora

    Prince Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of emperor Haile Selassie, and his wife, Princess Ariana Makonnen, are on a mission to unite the Black diaspora, launching their new media company, "Old World//New World (OWNW)." "It was definitely inspired by my own life, growing up as a prince in exile," Joel says. (BOTWC)

    BOTWC

    A royal couple just launched a new media company to tell stories uniting the Black diaspora.

    Prince Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, and his wife, Princess Ariana Makonnen, are on a mission to unite the Black diaspora, launching their new media company, “Old World//New World (OWNW).” Inspired by their own story, the media and entertainment company is dedicated to storytelling across various forms, focused on sharing powerful stories that unite and inspire the global Black diaspora.

    The name of the couple’s Los Angeles-based media company is a homage to their wedding theme and echoes a sentiment they hope to bring to their projects.

    “Ariana coined this statement during our wedding…old-world aristocracy meets new world charm…and it stuck with us. And so we thought the concept…which represents ourselves…we [thought it would be good for] all of our projects to have that same theme, with Africa and the diaspora coming together,” Prince Joel told Because Of Them We Can.

    “We’ve always kind of thought of our relationship as a cool Old World/New world mix, taking what’s great, the history and tradition of the old world, and combining it with the innovation and freedom of the new world and we thought through a while about what we wanted to do next…and we decided that a media company would be close to our heart,” Princess Ariana added.

    The company officially launched in 2018, focusing on acquiring projects and partnerships that aligned with its mission. Their first project, a children’s book entitled “Last Gate Of The Emperor,” was co-authored by HIH Prince Joel in partnership with Kwame Mbalia. The two are both Howard University grads and came together to tell a story for young children rooted in history that also had an Afrofuturist element.

    “Last Gate Of The Emperor” follows a young 12-year-old Ethiopian boy who lives in a distant future, ultimately discovering his royal lineage, which gives him the power to save his city and his people. The story is loosely based on Prince Joel’s life, exploring themes of resilience, family, and bravery with a bit of fun and a whole lot of sci-fi.

    “It was definitely inspired by my own life, growing up as a prince in exile. When I was born, there was a really bad revolution that happened in Ethiopia, and we happened to be outside of the country, so my family just couldn’t go back. As a child, I had to struggle, understanding what that meant. My family had taught me all this great legacy, but then also it impacted life, and we just kind of had to survive. And so I wanted to share that experience but in a children’s format,” Prince Joel said.

    The book has already hit number one on Amazon’s bestsellers, and the Makonnens have no plans on slowing down. The mission of OWNW is to curate compelling stories that give new narratives to Africa and the diaspora, building a bridge to unite Black people across the globe and pushing positive Black stories to the mainstream.

    “With the company, the goal is to tell powerful Black stories… Stories that are always from an empowered place, a place of agency, and it doesn’t mean that traumatic things don’t happen or the history is not complicated, but I think there is always a way to tell a story…that you come through trauma, that you’re resilient, even if it does happen. And then jointly, to really connect the diaspora in a way that we haven’t seen before,” Princess Ariana said.

    Ideally, OWNW is looking to build inroads that help Africa feel more like home for those in the diaspora. While people are learning more and more every day, Africa still feels like a faraway concept for many Black people in the diaspora. Through these stories, the Makonnen’s are hoping to help people see themselves more and more.

    In addition to the book, more projects are coming down the pipeline, including a biopic, a television series centered around the Ethiopian monarchy, and a romantic comedy based on the Prince and Princesses’ love story.

    Currently, they’re looking to connect with all storytellers who may be interested in getting their projects out to the world.

    To purchase “Last Gate Of The Emperor,” click here. You can also learn more about “Old World//New World” via their website or follow them on Instagram.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: The Other Side of the Ethiopia Story the Western Media Bubble Doesn’t Cover

    As is usually the case with most wars in geostrategic areas of the world, there's far more to the story than is being told and a whole lot of misleading information from the mainstream [western] press. In the following video BreakThrough News make sense of what's happening in Ethiopia's Tigray region and how we got here. (BTN)

    BreakThrough News

    Crisis In Ethiopia: What the Media Isn’t Telling You About the War In Tigray

    Ethiopia has been in the headlines in recent months as the TPLF, a Tigrayan rebel group that ruled the country for three decades, violently seized the northern Ethiopian state of Tigray from the government. As of this recording, the Ethiopian government had declared a ceasefire. However, the TPLF has continued fighting to expand its control over Tigray’s border areas and threatening to push the war into neighboring countries.

    The Western media has largely cheered on the TPLF and demonized the Ethiopian government and its allies, with allegations of ethnic cleansing, intentional famine and even genocide. The US has gone so far as to place sanctions on the Ethiopian government, a longtime US ally. But, as is usually the case with most wars in geostrategic areas of the world, there’s far more to the story than is being told and a whole lot of misleading information from the mainstream press.

    To help us make sense of what’s happening and how we got here, Rania Khalek was joined by Eugene Puryear, a journalist for Breakthrough News and host of The Punch Out.

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    UPDATE: France’s Orange Submits Interest for Stake in Ethio Telecom – Official

    A woman walks past the logo of French telecom operator Orange at the company headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris, France. Ethiopia's ambassador to Paris Henok Teferra Shawl said in a tweet Orange had "formally submitted interest to participate in the partial privatisation of @ethiotelecom." (REUTERS)

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA – France’s telecom firm Orange has submitted an expression of interest to participate in the ongoing partial privatisation of Ethiopia’s Ethio Telecom firm, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Paris said on Twitter on Tuesday.

    Henok Teferra Shawl said in a tweet Orange had “formally submitted interest to participate in the partial privatisation of @ethiotelecom.”

    Priti Patel defends £54.2m payment to France in effort to reduce migrant crossings
    Last month, Ethiopia launched a tendering process for the proposed sell-off of a 40% stake in the state-owned carrier Ethio Telecom to private investors, part of the government’s broader plan to open up the Horn of Africa country’s economy.

    The telecoms business in Ethiopia, a country with a population of more than 100 million people and one of the region’s biggest economies, is considered lucrative and is expected to draw significant investor interest.

    As part of the process to open up the telecoms sector in May authorities handed out the first private operator licence to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone, and Japan’s Sumitomo.

    Ethio Telecom reported an 18.4% rise in full-year revenue to end-June to 56.5 billion birr ($1.29 billion).

    (Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Elias Biryabarema, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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    Opinion: Why US Policy on Ethiopia and Horn of Africa is Flawed

    A general view of the White House in Washington, DC., July 2021. (Reuters)

    Daily Sabah

    Despite its imperfections, the U.S. boasts one of the oldest and most successful examples of constitutional breakthroughs in the world. The U.S. Constitution emerged as a result of the historically arduous but careful compromises of its framers.

    Learning from the flaws of the country’s first founding document, i.e., the Articles of the Confederation, the current Constitution that was drafted in 1789 also led to the birth of the current U.S. system of federalism.

    As opposed to an ineffective and costly confederation that had empowered then 13 states consolidated after the American Revolutionary War, the new federal Constitution balanced political power between the national government in Washington, D.C. and that of the states and their local governments.

    Since its inception, however, the U.S. Constitution has not been immune to facing many constitutional debates or state-national tensions that have ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court’s judicial review framework and that created both good and bad legal precedents that still define federal relations in the country.

    To mention one major achievement, among others, the U.S. federal system has also ensured the implementation of what is referred to as the “national standard,” a system of direct, conditional and blocked federal grants that guaranteed more or less similar economic growth across the country’s 50 states.

    For instance, thanks to such a system, an American who hopes to move from any small town in North Dakota or Alabama to major cities like Chicago or New York would still have access to quality health care, education opportunities, immediate employment and the right to enjoy any benefits that his new state’s residents receive.

    Thanks to such a working system of governance, any impediment to the free movement of people, goods and services is also never a concern.

    The un-American approach

    Unfortunately, when it comes to what system of government and governance that the U.S. wishes for others, especially for third world countries that happen to rely on foreign economic aid, it has always been evident that its approach is mistaken.

    A recent statement by the U.S. State Department that called for keeping Ethiopia’s flawed ethnic federal arrangement is one such example.

    Unlike the U.S. federal system, Ethiopia’s ethnic federal arrangement is a failed system that illegally constituted the country’s internal borders according to ethnic and linguistic classifications.

    Such an arrangement has now been proven to be a ticking time bomb when it comes to the unity of Ethiopia’s people and the nation’s territorial integrity.

    Read more »

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    The Pan-Africa-USA International Track Meet

    One year before Ethiopian Miruts Yifter won an Olympic bronze medal in Munich, Germany, and five years before he won two golds in Moscow, he miscounted laps in a race held in Durham, North Carolina [during the Pan-Africa – U.S.A. International Track Meet] in front of 52,000 fans. He would soon earn the moniker “Yifter the Shifter” for his ability to change speeds so rapidly in races. (Fansided)

    Fansided

    50 years ago, Duke University hosted the experimental Pan-Africa – U.S.A. International Track Meet, looking to change a legacy of structural racism.

    One year before Ethiopian Miruts Yifter won an Olympic bronze medal in Munich, Germany, and five years before he won two golds in Moscow, he miscounted laps in a race held in Durham, North Carolina. As a result, American distance running icon, Steve Prefontaine, took the title at the Pan-Africa – U.S.A. International Track Meet in front of 52,000 fans. Yifter irritated his competitors, shifting between positions throughout the race, before mistakenly using his final gear in the penultimate lap. He would soon earn the moniker “Yifter the Shifter” for his ability to change speeds so rapidly in races.

    After the race, a frustrated Yifter explained that he was accustomed to hearing bells, not a gun, to signal the final lap, and did not see the lap counter. Jean Claude Ganga, a Congolese sports administrator and the selected African team manager for this particular competition, explained further, “‘In some countries, it’s a gong, gong, in others, it’s a bing, bing, bing. Here it’s a boom. He did not know this.”

    This would be one of several moments of cultural reckoning 50 years ago, when athletes from across the continent were invited to North Carolina to compete at the Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke University on July 16-17, 1971.

    As sport is positioned to do, the Pan-Africa – U.S.A. International Track Meet was meant to disseminate ideas and feelings of cultural cohesion. But for many, using the Pan-African namesake to advertise the event just a few short years after Black students occupied a central Duke Administration building to make demands in response to the racism they felt at the newly integrated University, and with several African countries still under colonial rule, cohesion seemed like an obvious ruse.

    At the competition, Pan-Africanism had two opposing connotations. For some — namely the organizers and most spectators — it simply described the structure of the meet. Athletes from across the African continent competed as one team against athletes from the U.S. For others, most notably the Black activists who attended the meet to publicize racial oppression omnipresent in the South, Pan-Africanism was an ideology focused on uniting all people of African descent within and beyond the continent. It was, and is, an anti-imperialist and anti-racist way of organizing politics in the world. And it changed how some understood the different teams on the track and in the field.

    “We decided to create this huge scoreboard and the idea was any time any Black person won points whether they were from Africa or the United States we gave those points to Africa,” civil rights activist, academic, and education reform leader, Howard Fuller, told FanSided.

    Fuller, along with other students and members of the Malcolm X Liberation University (MXLU) that he helped found knew they would need to take advantage of the large staging of such an event to make a statement and espouse the values of Pan-Africanism. The University was created mostly in response to the discrimination Black students faced in Duke’s early years of integration, and the structural racism felt in Durham and beyond.

    “When we learned about the track meet the first thing we did was we met the people from Africa when they got off the plane,” Fuller explains. “We had made up these packets telling them about the oppression of Black people in Durham and North Carolina. And then with the score card we brought drums to the meet and were drumming the whole time. So we turned an athletic event into a political event.”

    Pre-meet dynamics around Duke University

    The meet was the brainchild of Dr. LeRoy T. Walker, the head coach of North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically black university founded in the early 20th century. Walker coached dozens of Olympians before and after his time at NCCU, and critically forged a close relationship with Duke’s Cross Country and Track and Field Coach, Al Buehler, in order to find adequate facilities for his athletes.

    One of Walker’s athletes, Lee Calhoun, only had access to five hurdles and a poorly maintained track that could easily turn an ankle. Calhoun, who went on to win Olympic Gold Medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games, as well as other several would-be Olympians, would soon be snuck into Duke’s segregated campus to practice in safer conditions.

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    Ethiopian Immigrant And UBS Top Advisor Hopes To Blaze Trail For More Diversity In Wealth Management

    Araya Mesfin, Senior Vice President–Wealth Management, UBS Wealth Management (UBS)

    Forbes

    Name: Araya Mesfin

    Firm: UBS Wealth Management

    Location: Atlanta, Georgia

    AUM: $763 million

    Background: Mesfin, 45, grew up in Ethiopia and immigrated to the United States at age 14. After getting a degree in biology and physics from Berry College in Rome, Georgia he spent time as a tutor for private school students and working on fundraising with his alma mater. In his late 20s he decided he wanted a career change.

    An interview with an advisor from Merrill Lynch, where he never end up working, piqued his interest in the wealth management field. In 2008, he started at Morgan Stanley in a rookie program before heading to UBS five years later.

    Competitive Edge: For Mesfin his biggest advantage is his resourcefulness, built upon joining the industry with no resources.

    Early in his career, without a large network, he started cold calling corporations. One on of those calls, a prospect said that many of the his colleagues were close to retirement and could use financial advice. In order to try to capture that potential client base, Mesfin created a spreadsheet, and in the evenings called every extension to get client names from voicemails. He would then follow up on this homemade lead list in the morning. In his first few years of work, he estimates he was working up to 200 hours a week.

    Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenges in Mesfin’s career came early on when he faced lots of rejection, some he believes as a result of his race. With so much discussion around representation coming in the last year, he says many large firms have good intentions. However, the problem is that these conglomerates do not determine who is successful in wealth management.

    “If you’re IBM and want to diversify your workforce, you hire more people of color and women, but an advisors success isn’t dependent upon their employer, it is dependent upon Mr. and Mrs. Smith hiring them as an advisor,” Mesfin says. “People only like to work with those they trust so they look to those in their network for recommendations and that’s how the cycle works. That’s why, in my personal experience, women and minorities have a harder time.”

    Mentors: Edward Williams, the president of Baltimore-based RIA DEW Financial Management was the training manager at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney when Mesfin first met him. Mesfin credits his mentorship for setting an example that a Black man could be successful as a financial advisor.

    Lessons Learned: While acknowledging that the United States in 2021 is far from perfect, Mesfin says that hard work and perseverance can still lead to success in this country.

    “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when your back is against the wall,” he adds. “I had to learn English. Then I had to learn how to get clients because it was a matter of survival. I don’t know that my story is possible anywhere else in the world.”

    Biggest Misunderstanding: The biggest misunderstanding Mesfin has with clients is around politics, with many people falling into the trap of allowing their political leanings to color how they view their portfolio.

    Many of his progressive clients saw scary information on MSNBC over the last four years and spent the Trump presidency worried about the market and the same thing is happening with conservative clients watching Fox News under President Biden. Mesfin says this is all a product of outsize polarization.

    Investment Outlook: Mesfin is extremely bullish on the markets, highlighting the accommodative actions of the Federal Reserve as well as pent up demand that reminds him the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918 which led directly into the roaring twenties.

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    Spotlight: In Florida Mekdelawit Messay, Ph.D. Student, is on a Mission to Study Equitable Water Sharing on the Nile

    “Like every kid in Ethiopia, I grew up hearing in songs, stories, folklore and school how the Nile — Abay is its name back home — is our greatest resource—the beauty, the grace of Ethiopia, but also how we have not been able to use it," says Mekdelawit Messay, a Ph.D. Student at Florida International University, who is studying "Equitable Water Sharing" on the Nile. "I feel like I have found my niche in life." (FIU)

    FIU News

    Ph.D. student is on a mission to study equitable water sharing on the Nile

    FIU Ph.D. student Mekdelawit Messay Deribe grew up in Ethiopia hearing about the Nile River and how it is such a crucial yet underutilized water resource.

    When life on the Nile was poised to forever change with the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in 2011, it became the source of Deribe’s inspiration to immerse herself in the water issues surrounding the river.

    “Like every kid in Ethiopia, I grew up hearing in songs, stories, folklore and school how the Nile — Abay is its name back home — is our greatest resource—the beauty, the grace of Ethiopia, but also how we have not been able to use it, how it does not have a home at its source,” Deribe says. “So, there was always this dichotomous feeling of love and adoration for the Nile, as well as anger at not using our resource.”

    Six years after the construction of the GERD began, Deribe found herself seriously researching Nile water issues and transboundary water use. She completed her master’s thesis on the subject and searched for Ph.D. programs that aligned with her passion. This is when she discovered FIU Institute of Environment and Department of Earth and Environment professor Assefa Melesse’s work on the Nile. It was a perfect fit.

    Today, Deribe studies the long-term, sustainable and equitable use of transboundary waters specifically focused on the Nile Basin.

    The Nile Basin is expected to be one of the most water-scarce areas in the world in the near future, she explains, so it is especially important to study transboundary water sharing in this area. The current situation in the basin is complex. Deribe explains further that, although the Nile is shared by 11 countries, historical water-sharing arrangements between Sudan and Egypt completely allocate the Nile water between these two countries, complicating the issue even more.

    “The way we deal with utilization of the Nile drastically needs to change in the basin if we are collectively to have a sustainable future,” Deribe says. “My research is focused on finding ways to ensure that collective better future for the Basin.”

    Deribe has been instrumental in supporting monthly, virtual Nile Talk Forums hosted by the Institute of Environment. She recently spoke on a panel at one of these forums, where she discussed the importance of transboundary collaboration in order to identify solutions for the equitable utilization of the Nile. She also presented her research at the annual FIU graduate symposium, earning third place for Outstanding Oral Presentation by a doctoral student.

    “I feel like I have found my niche area—my calling in life—with researching and working on the Nile,” she says. “The Nile Basin has a long way to go in terms of ensuring equitable, long term, sustainable and climate-proof use of the shared water for all the Nile Basin countries and citizens.

    “I believe there is a lot to be done in that avenue and I hope to contribute to that cause through my academic research and social advocacy. I love teaching, so I also hope to teach and give back to my country and people in a small way,” Deribe adds.

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    From Ethiopia to MIT: How Aspirations Become Actions for Mussie Demisse

    From Ethiopia to community college to MIT, Mussie Demisse ’21 is on a mission to use his love of learning to solve big problems. Demisse grew up in Ethiopia, where he’d been involved in the Ethiopian Space Science Society, and when he arrived in Boston after high school, that childhood passion brought him to the MIT Astrophysics Colloquia. (MIT News)

    MIT News

    Minutes before finding out he’d been accepted to MIT, Mussie Demisse ’21 was shaking Governor Charlie Baker’s hand. Demisse was at an awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House, being honored as one of the 2018 “29 Who Shine,” a select group of graduates from the Commonwealth’s higher education system who’d made an impact at their institution and in the community. For Demisse, Bunker Hill Community College, where he’d spent the previous two years studying computer science, represented both. “I really matured there,” he says, explaining that, at one point, he’d held three jobs at the college while also serving on student government and participating in various academic clubs.

    Bunker Hill was also where Demisse got his first peek at the rigorous yet vibrant nature of an MIT classroom and began picturing himself in such an environment. In a linear algebra course, Demisse’s professor, Jie Frye, would regularly give out challenging quizzes that piqued his curiosity. “As kind of a motivator she would tell us this is the same quiz that MIT students take,” he recalls. “They’re learning the same material, so don’t beat yourself up, be proud of what you’re able to accomplish.” Demisse asked where his professor had gotten the MIT quizzes.

    The answer wasn’t a secret connection, it turned out, but something called MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). “She was one of my favorite professors at Bunker Hill,” Demisse says. “She emphasized that it’s possible for us to pursue our dreams — which isn’t as much of a thing, I think, in community college. There’s a lot of stigma, and I feel like that sometimes keeps people from applying to things. She was very intentional about making sure that we knew we could, and we should try.”

    Demisse says OCW wasn’t the first time his interests had led him to MIT. But it was the final push he needed to apply to the school that he’d long set his heart on. Demisse grew up in Ethiopia, where he’d been involved in the Ethiopian Space Science Society, and when he arrived in Boston after high school, that childhood passion brought him to the MIT Astrophysics Colloquia. Learning that the colloquia welcomed members of the public to their weekly events, Demisse attended for a few months. Though he admits that he could understand only the first 10 minutes or so of every talk, he says, “I saw a part of MIT that was very much about advancing knowledge — done in such a supportive and cooperative way that I thought to myself, ‘Wow, it would be really cool if I could be a part of this community.’”

    After the materials on OCW showed him he had not only the drive but the aptitude to turn this dream into a reality, Demisse began researching initiatives like MIT D-Lab, the lab dedicated to designing solutions for tackling poverty, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). “That’s when I said, it must be MIT,” he recalls.

    Demisse graduated from MIT this spring with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science. But before coming to Bunker Hill and embarking on the path that would lead him to MIT, Demisse longed for opportunities to apply himself in the ways that his linear algebra professor described — to turn his aspirations into actions.

    Growing up, Demisse had witnessed the devastating effects of global inequalities like poverty. But Ethiopia was also, he explains, where he’d learned that, when you recognize a problem, it falls upon you to do something about it. When it came time to choose his major at Bunker Hill, Demisse had no shortage of motivation. He knew it’d have to be something that would allow him to serve not only the Ethiopian community but underprivileged communities around the world that share similar challenges. Computer science struck Demisse as the perfect intersection of his goals, interests, and abilities. “It’s kind of a claim of responsibility for the issues that I’ve lived through or seen people that I care about go through,” he says.

    Through OCW, Demisse found another outlet to channel this desire to help others. “I became somewhat of an evangelist for OCW,” he says, remembering reaching out to friends in Ethiopia who were also looking for resources to make a difference in their communities.

    “I especially targeted the ones that felt like they wanted more, but couldn’t get it,” Demisse says. “And it really made me happy to do that because this is the same complaint I had when I was back home — you acknowledge the problems you know you want to invest yourself in, and you know you can build the discipline, but sometimes you feel like there’s nowhere to exert that discipline, that motivation. And I think OCW and similar platforms really allow you to build your capabilities to do what you can to solve the problem that you think is most important.”

    Demisse also credits OCW with preparing him for life as an MIT student. “I think professors at MIT have this way of highlighting how hundreds of years of knowledge was built out — this focus on intuition — in order for students to project into the future, for students to be the next discoverers,” he observes. “And in OCW I saw this. I began to grasp the importance of knowing more than just the facts. Coming to MIT, this was fostered so much more.”

    At MIT, Demisse joined the African Students Association, where he found another community to inspire him. He participated in UROP, completing a project with MIT D-Lab, the lab that Demisse had dreamed of joining years before. He’s taken an entrepreneurship class that has given him the tools to think about building social ventures in Ethiopia. Demisse also joined the MIT OpenCourseWare Faculty Advisory Committee as an undergraduate representative.

    Bringing insights from his own experiences to the committee, Demisse advocates for more student involvement in the future of OCW. If the goal of OCW is to capture and share with the world as much of MIT as possible, he explains, then engaging the student community is paramount. Demisse also emphasizes the need for OCW, and MIT more broadly, to continue pioneering the open education resources movement. Now that he’s graduated he plans to continue working with OCW, focusing on increasing collaboration with community colleges and increasing access to universities in Africa.

    Ultimately, Demisse sees open education resources as a way to bring people hope — the same hope he felt when he opened the email from MIT Admissions offstage at the State House and saw the word “congratulations.”

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Grants Final License to New Mobile Operator

    In a statement, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) said the license was issued to Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia, a freshly incorporated local telecoms operating company owned by the Global Partnership for Ethiopia (GPE) consortium which consists of Safaricom, Vodacom, Vodafone Group, Sumitomo Corporation and CDC Group. (Mobile World Live)

    Mobile World Live

    The first private mobile operator in Ethiopia moved a step closer to launching services after the nation’s regulator issued a final license to the newly created local company run by a consortium which recently received the green light to start operations.

    In a statement, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) said the license was issued to Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia, a freshly incorporated local telecoms operating company owned by the Global Partnership for Ethiopia (GPE) consortium which consists of Safaricom, Vodacom, Vodafone Group, Sumitomo Corporation and CDC Group.

    Effective from 9 July, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia was granted a “nationwide full-service” license with a term of 15 years and a renewal option for a further 15, subject to fulfilment of all necessary obligations.

    Commenting on the move on Twitter, Safaricom congratulated the new entrant for “going beyond and earning a final full-service nationwide telecoms license to operate in Ethiopia”.

    Earlier this month, the consortium announced the new operator will be headed by Vodacom DRC MD Anwar Soussa.

    Ethiopia commenced a process to issue two new mobile licences in November 2020, issuing one to GPE in May.

    At the time, the consortium pledged to invest $8 billion into the Ethiopian entity in the span of ten years.

    After Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia launches services, it will be the second company operating in the market alongside state-run Ethio Telecom.

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    Art From the Horn of Africa Makes Exciting Debut in Sweden

    Exhibition view: From Modern to Contemporary: Artists from the Horn of Africa and Diaspora, CFHILL, Stockholm (10 June–17 August 2021). Among them are two modern masters, and the first graduates of the Allé School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University, the oldest art school in East Africa: Lulseged Retta and Tadesse Mesfin, who is also a long-time Allé educator. (Courtesy CFHILL and Addis Fine Art)

    Ocula Magazine

    This collaboration with London and Addis Ababa-based Addis Fine Art continues CFHILL’s commitment to offering an exhibition platform to international curators, artists, and galleries. Works by 19 artists including sculpture, painting, textiles, video, and photography are shown in five main galleries across two floors, highlighting important artists of Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Sudanese descent spanning the modern era to the present.

    A large painting hanging in a white gallery shoes figures dancing and playing trumpets. In the background, the next-door room is visible, and on it a painting of a fragmentary painting of a figure sitting on a stool.


    Left to right: Tesfaye Urgessa, Gesicht III (2019); Lulseged Retta, African Jazz (2021). Exhibition view: From Modern to Contemporary: Artists from the Horn of Africa and Diaspora, CFHILL, Stockholm (10 June–17 August 2021). Courtesy CFHILL and Addis Fine Art.

    Among them are two modern masters, and the first graduates of the Allé School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University, the oldest art school in East Africa: Lulseged Retta and Tadesse Mesfin, who is also a long-time Allé educator.

    Founded by the artist Alle Felege Selam, the Allé School of Fine Arts and Design was the first art school in Ethiopia, and for over six decades has produced an impressive cohort, including seminal text-based painter Wosene Worke Kosrof, Elizabeth Habte Wold, and educator Bekele Mekonnen.

    Works by Retta and Mesfin are included in the first of four sections that organise the show chronologically and thematically: ‘The Modernists’, which looks at the first graduates of the Allé School of Fine Arts and Design in the 1970s.

    Retta’s figurative acrylic on canvas painting Setate (2010) shows two women cooking in rich saturated hews; and Mesfin’s Pillars of Life: Patience II (2020) is a striking portrait of Ethiopian women in the marketplace—part of an ongoing series celebrating women working as small-holder vendors in Ethiopian cities.


    Left to right: Tegene Kunbi, Red Panther (2021); Lulseged Retta, Setate (2010); Tsedaye Makonnen, Senait & Makonnen, The Peacemaker & The Comforter I (2019). Exhibition view: From Modern to Contemporary: Artists from the Horn of Africa and Diaspora, CFHILL, Stockholm (10 June–17 August 2021). Courtesy CFHILL and Addis Fine Art.

    ‘The Contemporary’ is the largest section, with mid-career artists who emerged in the 2000s, with many former students/mentees of Mesfin, including Addis Gezehagn, Merikokeb Berhanu, Tesfaye Urgessa, and Ermias Kifleyesus.

    Urgessa’s expressive paintings are rooted in his childhood and memories as a young man in Ethiopia, but also draw from his encounters with both German Neo-expressionism and the School of London through his travels abroad. Wandering Man (2019) depicts a black, partially abstracted figure contorted atop a stool, giving equal emphasis to the figure as well as the background composition’s play of colour, light, and shadow.

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    From Ethiopia Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week Comes to New York for Trunk Show

    According to organizers the trunk show, which will be held at Silvana in Harlem on Saturday July 17th, 2021 is "a curated marketplace featuring some of the most exciting fashion designers and brands coming out of Ethiopia." (Photo courtesy of Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: July 14th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This week the Ethiopia-based Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week is coming to New York City for a trunk show featuring nearly a dozen Ethiopian designers and brands.

    According to organizers the trunk show, which will be held at Silvana in Harlem on Saturday July 17th, is “a curated marketplace featuring some of the most exciting fashion designers and brands coming out of Ethiopia.”


    (Image courtesy of HAFW)

    The announcement notes that “over the past decade, HAFW has become one of the most important fashion events on the African continent, giving a platform for established and emerging fashion brands on its runways. With over 100 designers having participated at its events over the years, the organizers of HAFW hope to make this event an annual endeavor to further grow the expanding fashion industry in Ethiopia and Africa by creating linkage between brands and customers globally. Some of the exciting brands to look out for include: MAFI MAFi, Fozia Endrias, Meklit.Me, SHIMENA and Paradise Fashion.”

    If You Go:
    HAFW Trunk Show 2021
    July 17th, 10 – 6 pm
    Silvana in Harlem NYC
    300 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026
    silvana-nyc.com
    Phone: (646) 692-4935
    www.hubfashionweekafrica.com

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    Renewed Hope: How Bitcoin And Green Energy Can Save Ethiopia’s Economy

    The future headquarters of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia CBE in Addis Ababa. (Getty Images)

    Forbes

    Selamawit Girma, a mother of three living in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, is worried.

    Her monthly salary of 4,000 birr (about $91) isn’t going as far as it used to. Inflation surpassed 20% in Ethiopia last year and it’s still rising–up to 24.5% in June–as the country struggles to contain the economic fall-out of the covid-19 pandemic.

    “I am very scared of the current cost [of things],” she told The Addis Standard.

    “I am afraid of being on the streets with my children. Prices are increasing in house rent, transport, foods and non-food items … which the government seems to be doing very little about.”

    It’s not for want of trying. Ethiopia has one of the most stable and diverse economies in Africa, benefiting from a forward-looking government that has consistently met development targets for its 117 million citizens. The number of Ethiopians living below the poverty line has more than halved since 2000.

    Yet, whatever strides are taken domestically, Ethiopia exists within a global financial order that puts the US dollar–the world’s only reserve currency–at its apex.

    Supply of these dollars is determined solely by the US Federal Reserve, which has a mandate solely to protect US economic interests.

    And while printing trillions of dollars to stimulate demand seems to be helping America–in the short-term, at least–the practice is having a devastating impact on poorer nations whose currencies are directly or indirectly pegged to USD.

    “The Fed is tasked with solving US monetary problems and not [those of] other countries,” explained a spokesman for Project Mano, an Ethiopian lobby group that wants Addis Ababa to consider whether bitcoin–a decentralized cryptocurrency with a fixed supply–can break the inflationary cycle.

    “It is our problem, because we rely on another country’s monetary policy. They don’t do it out of spite or to hurt us … It’s our own choice to hold dollars.”

    Understanding how ultra-loose monetary policies in the West can hurt developing nations isn’t difficult.

    The not so almighty dollar

    The National Bank of Ethiopia currently holds about $3bn worth of foreign exchange reserves–the vast majority of which is in USD.

    These holdings don’t increase proportionally as the Fed prints more and more money, so their real value–or their purchasing power–is gradually eroded by inflation.

    At the same time, Ethiopia’s government is overseeing the steady devaluation of its own currency, the birr, in an effort to stop the country’s $12bn trade deficit from growing any larger. (Devaluing a currency makes domestically produced goods more affordable on the international stage, thereby driving exports and helping to balance the books.)

    Taken in isolation, each of these trends would be manageable.

    But when the value of a country’s domestic currency and the value of its foreign reserves fall in tandem, there is a real and present danger of economic meltdown. Ethiopia must preserve the value of its USD holdings–or an equivalent reserve currency–in order to shield itself from hyperinflation at home.

    And it’s getting much harder to do that–not just because of the Fed’s endless money-printing, but also the fact that Ethiopian Airlines, one of the country’s main earners of foreign currency, is facing an uncertain future thanks to covid-19.

    With Ethiopia’s GDP rate now growing four times slower than its inflation rate, the country is staring default down the barrel of a gun.

    So, what to do about it?

    It could simply buy more dollars. That’s China’s approach: more than half of its $3.2tr worth of foreign exchange reserves is believed to be USD, which it uses to manipulate the USD/CNY exchange rate and keep exports rolling off the shelves.

    Trouble is, developing nations like Ethiopia can’t afford to stack trillions of dollars.

    That leaves three options: hope that America will stop debasing the world’s reserve currency; find new, reliable sources of USD; or, diversify the state’s holdings beyond dollars–preferably by acquiring an asset with a fixed supply that cannot be manipulated by foreign governments. Enter bitcoin.

    “Adoption of bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general is scary for any government, but … our project mainly aims at exploring solutions to solve forex issues the government might be facing,” Project Mano asserted. “Since everything else they hold grows in supply–including gold–we are suggesting [they find] something that doesn’t grow, as an experiment.”

    Project Mano’s long-term vision encompasses three spheres: mining bitcoin; holding bitcoin; and linking bitcoin to the birr.

    The latter two would, in theory, solve the problem of a depreciating reserve currency–but only if bitcoin fulfills its promise and matures into a globally recognized asset class. That, the lobbyists admit, will be seen as a “gamble” by the government.

    A safer bet is their proposal to mine and monetize bitcoin–particularly given Ethiopia’s unique energy landscape and developmental status.

    A costly green revolution

    The East African country has abundant supplies of renewable energy: 90% of its electricity is already powered by domestic hydroelectric plants, with the remainder largely coming from wind, solar and geothermal sources.

    That’s just a fraction of its future potential. The government hopes to grow renewable generation capacity fivefold to 25,000 megawatts (MW) by 2037, of which 6,500MW will come from one flagship project: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), situated in the Blue Nile River.

    Read more »

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    NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day: Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands

    NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day for July 12, 2021: Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands. The rugged volcanic terrain creates a temperate climate in a mostly dry place. (Photo: Appears in the Astronaut photography Collection)

    NASA Earth Observatory

    While in orbit over central Sudan, an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph featuring Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands. The oblique angle and shadows help emphasize the rugged terrain of the Ethiopian Plateau, while Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, appears mirror-like due to sunglint. The low-lying, tectonically active East African Rift Valley is bounded by the eastern edge of the Ethiopian Highlands.

    The Semien (or Simien) Mountains tower over the plateau. With a peak rising 4,533 meters (14,926 feet) above sea level, Ras Dashen is the highest point in Ethiopia. Much of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of a large igneous province—a region with a significant accumulation of large lava rocks. The Semien Range was formed due to volcanic activity about 31 million years ago.

    Although the highlands are surrounded by deserts, their elevation results in a temperate climate with ample rainfall. Lake Tana and its tributaries support an important fishing industry, in addition to agriculture in the surrounding wetlands. The lake also feeds the Blue Nile, which runs through northern Ethiopia and southern Sudan and delivers water to many communities. The river flows out of the south side of Lake Tana, through lower canyon areas south of the lake, and then east to ultimately join the White Nile in Sudan.

    Astronaut photograph ISS061-E-113632 was acquired on January 3, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 50 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Sara Schmidt, GeoControl Systems, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.

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    Spotlight: Meet Ethio-American Singer, Songwriter, and Producer Marian Mereba

    Marian Mereba is an Ethiopian-American singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer. (Photo: Mereba attends the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California./Getty Images)

    Tuko

    Mereba: nationality, parents, height, songs, record label, album

    Musicians get their inspiration from different things. Some are inspired by nature, the past, struggles and beauty, while others use day-to-day activities. Mereba has taken her music to a whole new level, as she can be described as an artist who thrives in discomfort.

    Marian Mereba is an Ethiopian-American singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer. She is known for her association with Spillage Village, a group formed in Atlanta with artists like Earthgang, J.I.D, and 6lack. Some of her single hits are Late Bloomer, Planet U, and Bet.

    Biography

    Mereba was born on 9th September 1990 in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. She has not any information about her parent’s names. However, her mother is an African-American born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On the other hand, her father is Ethiopian.

    Mereba gained interest in music at the age of 4. After completing her elementary studies, the singer joined Greensboro, North Carolina, for her high school education. She then enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

    The singer transferred to Liberal Arts Women’s College Spelman in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2009. She sought to fully immerse herself in the legacy of the historically black women’s college. She graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in English and a Minor in Music.

    Career


    Mereba performs at her Album Listening Party And Performance Celebrating “The Jungle Is The Only Way Out” at Urban Outfitters Space 15 Twenty. (Getty Images)

    Mereba started writing songs while in elementary school. However, she began her professional career after graduating from Spelman. Mereba spent years performing in the Indie music scene in Atlanta. On 14th February 2013, she released her debut project, Room for Leaving, an extended play under her full name, Marian Mereba.

    In 2018, she was signed by Interscope Records, where she released the singles Black Truck and Planet U. These songs, among others, appeared on her debut album, The Jungle is the Only Way Out, released on 27th February 2019. The singer has continued to release more songs and albums as encouraged by her mentee, Stevie Wonder. Here are the highlights of her music career and various releases:

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia: Land of Independent Cultural Origins – Ancient, Diverse, and Proud

    Ethiopians are fiercely proud of the fact that they were never colonized, having repelled foreign invaders to remain independent while the rest of Africa was carved up by European powers. Ethiopians' spirit of independence is expressed in many unique ways: use different clocks and their own calendar. It was the first African state admitted to the League of Nations and United Nations, and the capital Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union. (Photo: Adwa Victory celebration in Addis on March 2, 2021/VCG)

    AFP

    Africa’s second-largest nation by population, with 110 million people from dozens of ethnic groups, Ethiopia, is among the world’s oldest countries and has dominated the Horn of Africa for centuries.

    Here are five things to know about Ethiopia, where results issued Saturday showed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ruling party winning a landslide victory in a June election.

    Millennnia old

    Like the Greeks and Romans, the Axumites in what is modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea, were regarded in the first century AD as one of the world’s great early civilizations.

    Powerful and prosperous, this kingdom traded with Europe and Asia, and conquered lands in Africa and Arabia. The Axumites adopted Christianity in the early fourth century, before most of Europe, and devised their own alphabet.

    Centuries on, this ancient script is still recited by Orthodox priests in stone-hewn churches and hilltop monasteries, while Axum, many Ethiopians believe, is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

    Ethiopia’s natural history, meanwhile, stretches back much, much further.

    The fossilized remains of Lucy, an ancient ancestor of modern humans who roamed the Earth 3.2 million years ago, were discovered in Ethiopia, along with other early hominid bones and some of the oldest-known stone tools.

    Fiercely independent

    Ethiopians are fiercely proud of the fact that they were never colonized, having repelled foreign invaders to remain independent while the rest of Africa was carved up by European powers.

    From the late 13th century until 1974 – some 700 years – Ethiopia was ruled by a royal dynasty that considered itself directly descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

    The last emperor, Haile Selassie, was overthrown by the communist Derg regime. A defining figure in modernizing Ethiopia, Haile Selassie was also believed to be a messiah by Rastafarians in faraway Jamaica.

    An Italian invasion was rebuffed in the late 1800s, and Mussolini’s forces briefly occupied the country beginning in 1936, but were expelled five years later by Ethiopian forces.

    Ethiopians’ spirit of independence is expressed in many unique ways. They use different clocks, with sunrise marking the start of a new day, and refer to their own calendar, which has 13 months and is seven years behind the Western one.

    It was the first independent African state admitted to the League of Nations and United Nations, and the capital Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union.

    Diverse and faithful

    Ethiopia is divided into 10 states along ethnic and linguistic lines. They vary greatly in territory and population, though each enjoys a level of self-rule from Addis Ababa.

    The Oromos are the largest ethnic group, and include among their number the prime minister. Amharas are the second largest, while other sizeable minorities include the Somalis and Tigrayans.

    The Sidama people overwhelmingly backed the creation of Ethiopia’s newest region in a referendum in 2019, spurring bids for autonomy from other groups particularly in the multi-ethnic southern part of the country.

    Ethiopia remains mainly Christian, while about one-third of the country is Muslim, with regions in particular near Djibouti and Somalia predominantly following Sunni Islam.

    A small Jewish community exists in Ethiopia, though most were brought to Israel in the 1980s and early 1990s, sometimes by extraordinary means. The covert mission “Operation Solomon” airlifted some 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel over 36 hours in 1991.

    Rising economy

    Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with industry and services driving its expansion, but faces considerable hurdles including huge debt payments. It hopes to reach lower-middle income status by 2025.

    Most of the population is engaged in agriculture and about a quarter of Ethiopians live in poverty. Hunger remains a constant threat in a country no stranger to famine.

    In recent years the government has moved to liberalize the economy, vowing to open state-run industries to foreign investment, including Ethiopian Airlines, the largest carrier in Africa.

    Ethiopia is landlocked, having lost its gateway to the Red Sea when Eritrea gained independence in 1993.

    Regional clout

    Ethiopia is blessed with a major tributary of the Nile, on which it has constructed an enormous $4.6 billion dam it sees as crucial for alleviating poverty, electrifying rural homes, and improving the lives of millions.

    But the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is fiercely opposed by Sudan and Egypt, two countries downstream who argue the mega-project threatens to cut off their own supplies of life-supporting Nile waters.

    The war in Tigray, in Ethiopia’s north, saw Eritrean troops cross the border to join the fray, while Sudanese and Ethiopian forces have clashed over a strip of fertile farmland along the border claimed by both countries.

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    ETHIOPIA ELECTION UPDATE: Prosperity Wins Landslide Victory

    A mother carries her baby on her back as she casts her vote in the general election at a polling center near Entoto Park on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The ruling Prosperity Party was declared on Saturday, July 10, 2021 the winner of last month's national election in a landslide, assuring a second term for PM Abiy Ahmed. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia’s ruling party wins national election in landslide

    ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party on Saturday was declared the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, assuring a second five-year term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

    The National Election Board of Ethiopia said the ruling party won 410 seats out of 436 contested in the federal parliament, which will see dozens of other seats remain vacant after one-fifth of constituencies didn’t vote due to unrest or logistical reasons. Ethiopia’s new government is expected to be formed in October.

    The vote was a major test for Abiy, who came to power in 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests. Abiy oversaw dramatic political reforms that led in part to a Nobel Peace Prize the following year, but critics say he is backtracking on political and media freedoms. Abiy also has drawn massive international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region has that left thousands of people dead.

    June’s vote, which had been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and logistical issues, was largely peaceful but opposition parties decried harassment and intimidation. No voting was held in the Tigray region.

    Abiy has hailed the election as the nation’s first attempt at a free and fair vote, but the United States has called it “significantly flawed,” citing the detention of some opposition figures and insecurity in parts of Africa’s second most populous country.

    The leader of the main opposition Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party, Birhanu Nega, lost while opposition parties won just 11 seats. The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party has filed 207 complaints with the electoral body over the vote.

    Popular opposition parties in the Oromia region, the largest of Ethiopia’s federal states, boycotted the election. The ruling party ran alone in several dozen constituencies.

    The head of the electoral board, Birtukan Mideksa, said during Saturday’s announcement that the vote was held at a time when Ethiopia was experiencing challenges, “but this voting process has guaranteed that people will be governed through their votes.”

    She added: “I want to confirm that we have managed to conduct a credible election.”

    Voter turnout was just over 90% among the more than 37 million people who had been registered to vote.


    People look at electoral results posted on the wall outside a polling station in the capital Addis Ababa a day after the country voted in a general election. (AP Photo)


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed casts his vote in the general election, in his home town of Beshasha, in the Oromia region. Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party was declared on Saturday, July 10, 2021 the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, assuring a second term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    The Prosperity Party was formed after the dismantling of Ethiopia’s former ruling coalition, which had been dominated by Tigray politicians. Disagreements over that decision signaled the first tensions between Abiy and Tigray leaders that finally led to the conflict in the region in November.

    Though Abiy hinted in 2018 that Ethiopia will limit a prime minister’s terms to two, it is not clear whether he will act on that.

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    U.N. Security Council Backs African Union Bid to Broker Ethiopia Dam Deal

    The "negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union," said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, adding that the African Union “is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute.” (Reuters)

    Reuters

    U.N. Security Council backs AU bid to broker Ethiopia dam deal

    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Security Council members on Thursday backed African Union mediation efforts between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan in a dispute over the operation of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, urging the parties to resume talks.

    Egypt and Sudan both called on the U.N. Security Council to help resolve the dispute after Ethiopia earlier this week began filling the reservoir behind its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for a second year. Ethiopia is opposed to any Security Council involvement.

    “A balanced and equitable solution to the filling and operation of the GERD can be reached with political commitment from all parties,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council.

    “This begins with the resumption of productive substantive negotiations. Those negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union, and should recommence with urgency,” she said, adding that the African Union “is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute.”

    Many council diplomats were wary of involving the body in the dispute – beyond holding the meeting on Thursday – as they are concerned it could set a precedent that could allow other countries to seek Security Council help with water disputes.

    Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development and to provide power. But Egypt views it as a grave threat to its Nile water supplies, on which it is almost entirely dependent. Sudan, also downstream, has expressed concern about the dam’s safety and impact on its own dams and water stations.

    Tunisia has proposed a draft Security Council resolution that would call for a binding agreement between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on the operation of the giant dam within six months. It was not clear if or when it could be put to a vote.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on the Security Council to adopt the resolution.

    “We do not expect the council to formulate solutions to the outstanding legal and technical issues, nor do we request that the council impose the terms of a settlement,” he said. “This resolution is political in nature and its purpose … is to re-launch negotiations.”

    Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi also urged the council to act by calling for a resumption of negotiations and on Ethiopia to abstain from any unilateral measures.

    Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, said an agreement on the operation of the $5 billion dam is “within reach” and he described it as regrettable that Egypt and Sudan pushed for the Security Council meeting.

    “We urge our Egyptian and Sudanese brothers and sisters to understand that the resolution to the Nile issue will not come from the Security Council. It can only come from good faith negotiations,” he told the council.

    Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia suggested the countries meet while in New York to try to resolve some issues.

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    Olympic Legend and Now Successful Businessman Haile Gebrselassie Warns West Not to Push Ethiopia

    The two-time Olympic gold medal winner, now a thriving businessman, spent much of his 20-year career overseas and is now using that experience to his advantage. (Sky News)

    Sky News

    Nobody hands out golden medallions for achievement in the African business community but if they did, former two-time Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie would need additional room in his trophy cabinet.

    The 48-year-old Ethiopian occupies a modest-sized office in a modest-looking building in the heart of the capital city, Addis Ababa, with a compact gym in the basement and a snack stall in the foyer.

    But the former long-distance runner is something of a long-term visionary when it comes to meeting consumer expectations – and his secret is both a simple and extraordinarily difficult to realise.


    Haile Gebrselassie competing in the 10,000 metres at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. (Sky News)

    “We Ethiopians have always followed outsiders, the Europeans, the Americans and Asians and with access to social media we know everything about the world and people (here) want the same kind of life, the same attitude towards life and that is why (my business) is possible.”

    In order to train and compete against the best in the world, Gebrselassie had to spend much of his 20-year career overseas, staying in hotels and using services that were unavailable in Ethiopia.

    Upon retirement, he decided to try and offer 112 million Ethiopians the same sort of opportunities.

    “When we built our first resort there was not so many people using these hotels and slowly people started to come along and experience the feeling of a vacation, the feeling of family time.

    “Twelve years ago, tourists (made) 90% of the bookings but now 90% are (Ethiopians) travelling from Addis, bringing their families.”

    Until relatively recently, Ethiopia was considered an economic basket-case but it has experienced high levels of growth in the decade leading up to of the global pandemic.

    Poverty levels have been reduced and consumers have discovered that they had time and money to spend.

    Realising that everyday realities were shifting, Gebrselassie decided to do something that many people – including members of his family – thought was absolutely crazy.

    In 2004 he decided to the open the first privately-owned cinema in the city.

    “(My family) said ‘eh, why don’t you give your money to poor people instead of spending it on nothing?’. But I said, ‘hey guys, I don’t know, this is my wish’.”

    The former athlete built the Alem Cinema Hall behind the building he now works from and installed a modern screen with proper speakers and a bar-code ticketing system. But there was a serious problem with this venture. Nobody in Ethiopia made films.

    “There were no movies to show at the cinema so I found a person who knew how to write a script and hired some of the actors and actresses and told them to make a movie.

    “After that Ethiopian filmmakers went out and started to make movies, comedies, love stories and slowly people came in. (After a while) there was a big line to come and see them…. you won’t believe how many cinema halls there are in town now. I am just so proud to be the first one.”

    The arrival of COVID-19 has not been good for the bottom line although Gebrselassie says that business has now begun to pick up. However, in a country like Ethiopia, the global pandemic is only one of a number of existential threats.

    “In Ethiopia we have a lot of problems, with fighting, hunger, political instability and last year I lost two of my hotels.”

    The death of a popular singer called Hachalu Hundessa sparked unrest in the Ethiopian region of Oromia, where he was widely viewed as a hero.

    More than 160 people were killed in the unrest and property belonging to non-Oromos – who make up the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia – was targeted.

    “Imagine, 400 people who work at the hotels lost their jobs and millions of birr (currency) was lost, like in half a day – burning is very easy.

    “I spent five years to build these hotels but thanks to God, I have renovated one of the hotels. The other (hotel) was 100% burnt and that is a little bit difficult to rebuild or renovate.

    “You see? Again and again, this country has so many problems.”

    The biggest problem now faced by Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, is the conflict in Tigray where his forces have been battling forces loyal to the region’s leaders, the TPLF, for the past eight months.

    The government made a surprise withdrawal from the area’s biggest city, Mekelle last week – a move the prime minister said was based on financial and humanitarian calculations.

    The United Nations says 400,000 people are “in famine” with another 1.8 million at risk.

    Gebrselassie is member of group called “the elders” who tried to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict last year and he treads a careful line on this most emotive of issues, calling it “a war between brothers”.

    But he asks the international community not to push Ethiopia too hard because he says its problems are bigger – and the political system more unstable – than the diplomats and the politicians realise.

    “I think (there is) a lot of pressure in this country and in the west they have to be careful, be careful… if you keep pushing this way, the result will be very bad.”

    Gebrselassie’s athletic career was defined in part by thrilling victories over the Kenyan Paul Tergat in two successive Olympic 10,000m finals. But present day problems now produce more anxiety for this remarkable entrepreneur.

    “When I think about that time, my athletics career, I wish to go back to those days, running in the morning (for) two hours, sleeping the whole day, and one hour (of training) in the afternoon and lots of conversation and chatting with the manager, the coach and the physio. Three people, not 3,000 (employees). Now it is more complicated.”

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    643 Ethiopian Peacekeepers Receive Prestigious UN Medals for Service

    86 women were among the 643 peacekeepers recently honored with the prestigious United Nations Medal for their service in South Sudan. (Photo by Mach Samuel/UNMISS)

    UNITED NATIONS

    643 ETHIOPIAN PEACEKEEPERS RECEIVE UNITED NATIONS MEDALS FOR THEIR SERVICE IN SOUTH SUDAN

    “I have left my two young sons at home and have been serving as a Blue Helmet with UNMISS for almost two years,” says Major Wondimagegn Araya, a peacekeeper from Ethiopia who is deployed to conflict-ridden Jonglei in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.

    Prior to becoming a United Nations peacekeeper, Major Araya has served in different military units as part of his country’s army for 20 years.

    In his current role, he often spends days and nights in remote areas trying to overcome near-impassable road conditions to reach villages where local communities need protection or humanitarian aid.

    Yesterday, Major Araya, along with 642 of his brave colleagues, including 86 women, received the prestigious UN medal honouring their service to the cause of peace in a colourful ceremony attended by senior UNMISS officials and state dignitaries.

    For Major Araya, it was a day to remember. “The conditions we serve in as peacekeepers are harsh; we are often in the forefront of armed hostilities, but we try and fulfil our mandate to protect civilians with happiness. This UN medal acknowledges the hardships we go through but, more significantly, it is a reminder that peace and security always necessitate sacrifice,” he states poignantly.

    Since their initial deployment to UNMISS, Ethiopian peacekeepers have contributed immeasurably to the mission’s mandate by reducing intercommunal conflict; preventing revenge attacks due to cattle rustling; building community trust and confidence; and ensuring safe, speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance to people who need it the most.

    “It hasn’t been an easy deployment for all of you in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area—the terrain is tough, weather conditions arduous and it is a hotspot for conflict, all of which has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Main Ullah Chowdhury, Deputy Force Commander, UNMISS, while commending awardees at the medal ceremony.

    “However, for the past 18 months you have been the lynchpin for the mission to achieve its mandated tasks here.”

    As geographical neighbours with longstanding cordial relations, Ethiopia has also been at the forefront of the ongoing political engagement by international and regional stakeholders for a sustainable peace across South Sudan.

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    Ethiopians Deserve a Future They Can Be Proud of – Commentary on Current Affairs

    (Getty Images)

    THE FINANCIAL TIMES

    By Zeinab Badawi

    Ethiopians constantly tell me how much they detest being seen as a conflict and famine-ridden country. Parts of the nation, together with Eritrea, once made up the kingdom of Axum, which has been described as one of the four greatest civilisations of the ancient world. Ethiopia has a written language and coinage dating back nearly 2,000 years. Its history is full of glory, heroism and victories against foreign invaders.

    It is also the only country in Africa that has never been colonised. In 1963, the capital, Addis Ababa, was chosen as the headquarters of the Organisation of African Unity, today’s African Union. Ethiopia hosts the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and is an international hub. The palpable pride Ethiopians have in their past transcends different ethnic backgrounds. Indeed, the country’s heritage of independence is a source of great esteem for many Africans, including those in the diaspora. 

    My great-grandmother was Ethiopian, though my family are Sudanese. Orphaned during a raid on the Ethiopian Sudanese border, she was adopted by an Egyptian merchant. My mother recalls her concern during the second world war when Ethiopia was occupied by the Italians. Unable to read Arabic, she would ask her grandchildren to scan the newspapers and update her about the Ethiopians’ resistance efforts.

    Ethiopia’s descent today into a spiral of conflict and suffering in the northern Tigray state make depressing reading. Five million people need emergency assistance with 400,000 at risk of starvation. Thousands have been killed, nearly two million displaced and accounts of severe human rights abuses are widespread.

    The conflict between the government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which began last November, was initially described by prime minister Abiy Ahmed as a “law enforcement operation” after an attack on a federal army base. The war has since led to numerous accusations and counteraccusations. Federal forces recently withdrew from Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital, leaving it once again in the hands of the TPLF. Their conditions for a ceasefire suggest they may even be heading towards independence as their ultimate goal.

    Last week the UN Security Council held its first open session on the crisis, calling on all sides to commit to an indefinite ceasefire and allow humanitarian access to the region. This was critical and long overdue. But the international community must also focus on the wider challenges in Ethiopia: namely that there are several other opposition forces which could become radicalised.

    The Tigrayans account for 6 per cent of Ethiopia’s 112m people. Instrumental in ousting the dictator Mengistu in 1991, they subsequently dominated the coalition government for nearly 30 years. But the Oromo, who make up 35 per cent of the population, also have a century’s long conflict with the central government. If not dealt with promptly, this too could provoke the disintegration of Ethiopia. And among the Amhara, who account for 27 per cent of the population, factions and militias blame the government for intensifying oppression and are growing extremely restless. Abiy has so far failed to put a lid on any of these tensions.

    The twice-delayed elections to choose 547 federal parliament members have either been boycotted or postponed in parts of Oromia and Amhara and put off indefinitely in Tigray. Given the lack of a credible opposition, the result of June’s poll in due course will almost certainly deliver victory to the prime minister’s Prosperity Party, securing his position as head of government. Abiy should use this as a platform to stop the fighting and call for round-table discussions with all his opponents. He must pursue a path to genuine power-sharing and inclusive development, so that no group feels marginalised politically or economically. His recent comments that Ethiopia needs peace to develop provide a glimmer of hope. 

    As the international community considers how to respond to the tragedy in Tigray, it should also apply pressure to each of Ethiopia’s warring parties in order to get them to come to the table. It must be made clear that there can be no military solution to the country’s challenges.

    Sadly, Ethiopia is once again becoming synonymous with war and suffering. Its people need a present and future of which they can be as proud as they are of their past. I wonder what my great-grandmother would think if she could see that the conflict raging in her country today is not between Ethiopians and their would-be European subjugators but between her own compatriots. 

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    UPDATE: IMF Encourages Formation of Ethiopia Creditor Committee

    “The IMF strongly encourages the swift formation of the creditor committee for Ethiopia to enable the timely delivery of the debt operation that Ethiopia is requesting," the spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund Gerry Rice said in a media release. (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it “strongly encourages the swift formation” of a creditor committee for Ethiopia to enable timely debt relief.

    The formation of the committee will help Ethiopia “create fiscal space for development spending and lower the risk of debt distress rating to ‘moderate’ by reprofiling debt service obligations,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.

    Related:

    IMF Urges Swift Formation of Creditor Committee for Ethiopia

    Press Release

    IMF

    July 6, 2021

    Washington, DC: The following statement on Ethiopia was issued today by Gerry Rice, spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund:

    “The IMF strongly encourages the swift formation of the creditor committee for Ethiopia to enable the timely delivery of the debt operation that Ethiopia is requesting.

    “Ethiopia requested in February to G20 and Paris Club creditors to benefit from a debt operation under the G20 “Common Framework.” The authorities’ aim is to create fiscal space for development spending and lower the risk of debt distress rating to moderate by reprofiling debt service obligations. The formation of the committee will help Ethiopia in this regard.”

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    Ethiopian Airlines Leads Africa in Passenger Traffic During the COVID Crisis

    Ethiopian Airlines topped the list with the highest passenger traffic transported through Addis Ababa Bole Airport [in 2020]. A total of 5.5 million passengers have been transported through the airport. Of this traffic, Ethiopian transported 5.2 million passengers. - Travel Daily News. (Photo via @flyethiopian/Twitter)

    Travel Daily News

    Ethiopian continues to lead Africa in passenger traffic during the COVID crisis

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Airlines Group has become Africa’s top airline in passenger traffic retaining its leadership position in the continent. According to the African Airlines Association’s (AFRAA) report, Ethiopian has been ranked first by passenger and cargo traffic in 2020.

    Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said, “We are honoured to continue our leadership even during the Global Pandemic Crisis which has devastated the aviation industry. This is a manifestation of our resilience and agility. We are excited about the role we played in the fight against the pandemic by continuing our much-needed air connectivity within Africa and with the rest of the world without any flight suspension. We are saving lives through air transport of medical supplies and vaccines.”

    Ethiopian Airlines topped the list with the highest passenger traffic transported through Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. A total of 5.5 million passengers have been transported through the airport. Of this traffic, Ethiopian transported 5.2 million passengers and the remaining passengers were transported by other airlines. Ethiopia also topped the list in the most connected countries in Africa due to Ethiopian Airlines’ large number of direct flights within the continent.

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    In Chicago, Campaign to Build Monument for Black Pilot John Robinson, Who Fought Fascists in Ethiopia

    John Robinson of Chicago, circa 1935. The aviator did his part to fight fascists by joining Ethiopia's air force. He is often called the father of the Tuskegee Airmen. After World War II, Robinson returned to Ethiopia to train pilots and organize the country’s national airline — and it’s where he met his fate in 1954. He died following a plane crash in Addis Ababa. He is buried there a hero. He was 50. (Associated Press)

    Chicago Tribune

    Flashback: Black Chicagoan John C. Robinson Fought Italy’s Fascists as Commander of Ethiopia’s Air Force

    As a mayoral commission evaluates dozens of Chicago monuments and statues deemed problematic, it will confront one memorial that has long been the focus of a dispute: the Balbo column in Burnham Park.

    The honoree, Italo Balbo, attended Chicago’s 1933 Century of Progress Exposition as Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini’s representative. Balbo was a fascist, a leader of the movement’s paramilitary Blackshirts, one of the men who planned the insurrectional March on Rome to install Mussolini as Italy’s dictator and, as colonial governor of Libya, a supporter of Italy’s forced annexation of Ethiopia.

    Despite the outcry over Chicago’s recognition of him, the Balbo column remains in place, and Balbo Drive remains Balbo Drive. Perhaps it is time to contextualize Balbo, and there may be no better way than with a monument to a Black Chicagoan: John C. Robinson, commander of Ethiopia’s air force and the man credited with inspiring the Tuskegee Airmen.

    “When he was a kid, he stood on the beach and watched the first ‘aeroplane’ land” in Gulfport, Mississippi, a childhood friend of Robinson’s told a local Mississippi newspaper. “Right then he was thrilled with the idea of flying.”


    Left: A studio portrait of John Charles Robinson, nicknamed the Brown Condor, shows the pioneer aviator in his flying gear/Smithsonian Institution. Right: Aviator John C. Robinson, of Chicago, is welcomed home [after his return from Ethiopia] in May 1936. Editor’s note: This historical print contains crop marks and hand painting. (Chicago Tribune historical photo)

    Robinson, who trained at the Tuskegee Institute to be an automobile mechanic, moved to Chicago in 1927 and soon opened a garage in Bronzeville on 47th Street near Michigan Avenue. He lived close by with his wife, Earnize.

    He found ways to indulge his fascination with aviation and build his skills. He established the Brown Eagle Aero Club, a coed group of young African American aviation enthusiasts. He bought a kit for a build-it-yourself airplane and, with the help of friends including Cornelius Coffey, began assembling it in his garage with a retrofitted motorcycle engine. The group eventually moved the project to space at the airport in Melrose Park. Robinson’s contacts there led to his first training as a pilot, and he earned his pilot’s license just a few years after moving to the city.

    Despite Robinson’s impressive drive and skills, the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University in Chicago rejected his application because it didn’t admit Black students. But that didn’t stop Robinson, who got work as a janitor there. He “was always cleaning classroom floors at lecture time,” absorbing the lessons and also taking notes off the chalkboard when class wasn’t in session, a friend told biographer Phillip Thomas Tucker. The school finally admitted him, and he graduated at the top of his class as a master mechanic in 1931.

    Robinson broke the color barrier in other ways. He signed on as the school’s first Black instructor and taught the first all-Black class, which included Coffey. The university’s Black students would become pioneers in aviation and the seeds of the Tuskegee Airmen, the most-storied Black unit in World War II.

    Robinson and Coffey teamed up to establish an airport in south suburban Robbins, where they instructed other African Americans in flying, though a brutal windstorm tore it apart. Coffey then set up his own flight school in the southwest suburbs; it trained some 200 African American pilots, many of whom served with the Tuskegee Airmen, either as pilots or in supporting roles. Robinson, for his part, was deeply involved in developing Tuskegee’s aviation program and is often called the father of the Tuskegee Airmen.

    Robinson began waging his own fight against fascism much earlier. In 1935, he announced his eagerness to volunteer in Ethiopia, then under imminent threat of an Italian invasion, and drew the attention of Malaku Bayen, a relative of Ethiopia’s emperor. Robinson was granted an officer’s commission and the rank of colonel. He shortly took over as leader of the nation’s air force after the emperor kicked out its volatile commander. Italy invaded a few weeks later. Robinson fought Mussolini’s fascists for a little over a year, suffering wounds in warfare and earning the nickname Brown Condor.

    As a Black flyer, Robinson was the subject of worldwide fascination. The African American press in America covered every exploit of the Florida-born and Mississippi-bred pilot.

    The Tribune also took notice of his celebrity. In the summer of 1935, a reporter contacted his wife at his auto garage, which she was managing while Robinson was in Ethiopia building up its air force. “She got most of her information about her husband’s activities from the newspapers,” the reporter wrote. The Tribune’s knowledge was only a little more definite: “Recent dispatches from Addis Ababa have described him as chief of the Ethiopian air forces.”

    The Ethiopians met the Italians bravely. In October 1935, Robinson gave the emperor “his first airplane flight in many years,” the Tribune wrote, so that he might “wave good-by to 8,000 well equipped troops riding to the northern front from Addis Ababa in American motor trucks.”

    The Ethiopians were overmatched, however. The air force flew only a dozen or so aircraft, described in the Tribune as “mediocre scouting planes.” Italian forces acted with impunity. Italy’s air force bombed combatants and civilians with mustard gas, a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

    Forced to keep his distance and fly as an observer, Robinson witnessed the Italian bombardment of Adwa, the site of an Ethiopian victory over Italy in the first Italo-Ethiopian War in 1896. “They caught the city asleep and unawares,” he told a news wire service, as reported in October 1935. “Many sought refuge at the Red Cross hospital, imagining they would be protected there. …. The killed and wounded were chiefly in the neighborhood of the hospital.”

    Robinson returned to the United States after Italy won the war, exiled the emperor and annexed Ethiopia in May 1936. He received a hero’s welcome. At Municipal (Midway) Airport, the Tribune reported, the crowd broke through police lines to greet him. “He was showered with bouquets by girl members of the Challenger Air Pilots’ association, which Robinson organized.”

    Officers with the Eighth Infantry Regiment of the Illinois National Guard and members of the Chicago Society for the Aid of Ethiopia and the Chicago-Tuskegee club were also there to celebrate him.

    Police escorted his motorcade to the Grand Hotel at 51st Street and King Drive, where the Brown Condor addressed a crowd of thousands from a balcony. Later, dignitaries including Mayor Edward Kelly toasted him at a dinner in his honor.

    The next year, the Chicago Defender recruited the famed pilot to lead its campaign to deliver food and clothing to the victims of catastrophic Mississippi River flooding.

    After his return from Africa, Robinson founded a school for aviation and automotive engineering in buildings at Poro College in Bronzeville. Poro’s president, Annie Malone, the cosmetics and hair care magnate, considered it a prestigious addition. Robinson barnstormed across the U.S. to promote it. The federal National Youth Administration took it over and designated it a training center for aviation mechanics, with Robinson as its administrator.

    “Brown Condor’s Wings Pinioned by Desk Duties” declared a 1941 Tribune headline. The training center became another feeder into the Tuskegee Airmen.

    After World War II, Robinson returned to a liberated Ethiopia to train pilots and organize the country’s national airline — and it’s where he met his fate in 1954. He died following a plane crash in Addis Ababa.

    The Brown Condor is buried there, in Africa, a hero. He was 50.

    Robinson is not commemorated in Chicago, his adopted hometown. Balbo has a street and a column. Perhaps a monument to Robinson might be commissioned, to be placed opposing Balbo in Burnham or Grant Park. What better way to underscore Balbo’s infamy than to contrast him with the heroism of the Brown Condor?

    John Mark Hansen is a professor in political science at the University of Chicago.

    Related:

    Smithsonian: Two Black Aviators & Ethiopia

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    A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe

    For centuries, a Eurocentric worldview disregarded the knowledge and strength of the African empire. (Photo: St. George, late-15th or early-16th century, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, (Courtesy of the DEEDS Project)

    Smithsonian Magazine

    In early 2020, just as the scope and scale of the coronavirus pandemic was revealing itself, historian Verena Krebs went to spend a few months at her parents’ house in the German countryside. There, “next to fields of rapeseed and barley and dense old woods,” in her words, the Ruhr-University Bochum professor would wait out Germany’s lockdown. She wasn’t terribly worried about not having things to do though, since she had her book on the history of late medieval Ethiopia to finish up.

    The good news was that she had already completed the full manuscript and had secured a contract with a major academic publisher. The bad news was more existential: She didn’t like the book she had written. Krebs knew her sources ran against the dominant narrative that placed Europe as aiding a needy Ethiopia, the African kingdom desperately in search of military technology from its more sophisticated counterparts to the north. But her writing didn’t fully match her research; it still followed the prevailing scholarship. Krebs worried that her interpretation of the original medieval sources was, in her own words, too “out there’” So, she hedged, and she struggled, and she doubted, and wrote the book she thought she was supposed to write.

    And then, she told us, she did something radical. Instead of tweaking what was already written, she decided to do what good historians do and follow the sources. “I basically deleted the manuscript that I had submitted. And I just wrote the whole thing anew. I started writing in April, and I finished the whole thing by, I think, August.”

    What emerged, published earlier this year as Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe, is a story that flips the script. Traditionally, the story centered Europe and placed Ethiopia as periphery, a technologically backwards Christian kingdom that, in the later Middle Ages, looked to Europe for help. But by following the sources, Krebs showcases the agency and power of Ethiopia and Ethiopians at the time and renders Europe as it was seen from East Africa, as a kind of homogenous (if interesting) mass of foreigners.

    It’s not that modern historians of the medieval Mediterranean, Europe and Africa have been ignorant about contacts between Ethiopia and Europe; the issue was that they had the power dynamic reversed. The traditional narrative stressed Ethiopia as weak and in trouble in the face of aggression from external forces, especially the Mamluks in Egypt, so Ethiopia sought military assistance from their fellow Christians to the north—the expanding kingdoms of Aragon (in modern Spain), and France. But the real story, buried in plain sight in medieval diplomatic texts, simply had not yet been put together by modern scholars. Krebs’ research not only transforms our understanding of the specific relationship between Ethiopia and other kingdoms, but joins a welcome chorus of medieval African scholarship pushing scholars of medieval Europe to broaden their scope and imagine a much more richly connected medieval world.

    The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia, in Krebs’ retelling, forged trans-regional connections. They “discovered” the kingdoms of late medieval Europe, not the other way around. It was the Africans who, in the early-15th century, sent ambassadors out into strange and distant lands. They sought curiosities and sacred relics from foreign leaders that could serve as symbols of prestige and greatness. Their emissaries descended onto a territory that they saw as more or less a uniform “other,” even if locals knew it to be a diverse land of many peoples. At the beginning of the so-called Age of Exploration, a narrative that paints European rulers as heroes for sending out their ships to foreign lands, Krebs has found evidence that the kings of Ethiopia were sponsoring their own missions of diplomacy, faith and commerce.

    But the history of medieval Ethiopia extends much farther back than the 15th and 16th centuries and has been intertwined with the better-known history of the Mediterranean since the very beginning of Christianity’s expansion. “[The kingdom of Ethiopia] is one of the most ancient Christian realms in the world,” she says. Aksum, a predecessor kingdom to what we now know as Ethiopia, “[converts] to Christianity in the very early fourth century,” much earlier than the mass of the Roman empire, which only converted to Christianity by the sixth or seventh century. The Solomonic dynasty specifically arose around 1270 A.D. in the highlands of the Horn of Africa and by the 15th century had firmly consolidated power. Their name arose out of their claim of direct descent from King Solomon of ancient Israel, via his purported relationship with the Queen of Sheba. Although they faced several external threats, they consistently beat those threats back and expanded their kingdom across the period, establishing uneasy (though generally peaceful) relations with Mamluk Egypt and inspiring wonder across Christian Europe.

    It’s at this time, Krebs says, that the Ethopian rulers looked back to Aksum with nostalgia, “It’s its own little Renaissance, if you will, where Ethiopian Christian kings are actively going back to Late Antiquity and even reviving Late Antique models in art and literature, to make it their own.” So, in addition to investing in a shared culture of art and literature, they followed a well-worn model used by rulers across the Mediterranean, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, by turning to religion. They build churches.They reach out to the Coptic Christians living in Egypt under the Islamic Mamluks to present themselves as a kind of (theoretical) protector. The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia consolidated a huge “multilingual, multi-ethnic, multi-faith kingdom” under their rule, really a kind of empire.

    And that empire needed to be adorned. Europe, Krebs says, was for the Ethiopians a mysterious and perhaps even slightly barbaric land with an interesting history and, importantly, sacred stuff that Ethiopian kings could obtain. They knew about the Pope, she says, “But other than that, it’s Frankland. [Medieval Ethiopians] had much more precise terms for Greek Christianity, Syriac Christianity, Armenian Christianity, the Copts, of course. All of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. But everything Latin Christian [to the Ethiopians] is Frankland.”

    Detail from a manuscript made for King Lebna Dengel, circa 1520, Tädbabä Maryam Monastery Ethiopia. (Photograph by Diana Spencer courtesy of the DEEDS Project.)

    Krebs is attuned to the challenges of being an outsider, a European rewriting Ethiopian history. Felege-Selam Yirga, a medieval historian at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, told us over email that Krebs has recognized that “Ethiopian diplomatic contacts with and perception of Europe [were] far more complex [than has been traditionally understood].” Yirga says that much of the study of late medieval Ethiopia and Europe “was informed by the colonial and [20th-century] fascist setting in which many … scholars of East Africa worked. While Ethiopian studies is awash in new discoveries and excellent philological and historical work, certain older works and authors remain popular and influential.” Indeed, these were points that Krebs herself emphasized—that following the footnotes back in time often led to dead-ends in scholarship produced in 1930s and 1940s Italy, under the thrall of fascism and entertaining new colonial ambitions that culminated in the country’s successful invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.

    Read more »

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    In Seattle, What Radio Host Gabriel Teodros Wants to Do This Summer

    Gabriel Teodros. (Seattle Times)

    Seattle Times

    For this special summer section, we asked an array of notable locals what they are looking forward to getting out and going/seeing/doing.

    Gabriel Teodros, KEXP Host
    & Associate Music Director

    This Southend Seattle native and radio host says his neighborhood’s residents who come from many parts of the world have taught him about resilience, and that home isn’t always a place. “Sometimes home is something you carry with you, sometimes you find it in people, and sometimes home is a memory.” He loves seeing all the ways his neighbors hold on to their culture and find new ways to survive and thrive with each other, rooted in the strength of all the places they come from.

    The Station

    A coffee shop on Beacon Hill that in many ways is the heartbeat of our community. Throughout the pandemic they’ve lent space for people to drop off and pick up food as they need, a shining example of what mutual aid looks like. So many of my fondest summertime memories in recent years also involve gathering with people around coffee at The Station.

    Musang

    Amazing Filipino food on Beacon Hill. Melissa Miranda opened her restaurant right as the pandemic hit, and she and everyone she works with were able to pivot and turn the restaurant into a community kitchen that gave free food to people, with no questions asked. But the food is AMAZING, and the space looks beautiful, but with COVID we have yet to actually sit inside to eat a meal.

    Communion

    I have loved Chef Kristi Brown’s food for the last 20 years, since being delighted anytime That Brown Girl Catering was at an event, or any time I was lucky enough to catch Kristi’s hummus stand at the local farmer’s market. Seeing her open her first restaurant in the Central District at the historic Liberty Bank Building is a dream come true, and like Melissa at Musang she was giving away free meals as a community kitchen for so many months during the pandemic. They both are heroes for real.

    Cafe Avole

    A beloved Southend institution that is now relocating to the Liberty Bank building next to Communion. I feel like I see my whole self anywhere that celebrates both Ethiopian culture and Hip-Hop culture, and Cafe Avole has been like a second home for since they first opened up. They have had the cafe and restaurant closed for most of the pandemic, but I’m so excited to see them open a new space and I can’t wait to get some of the best ful in the city again.

    Cafe Melo

    This is a new cafe recently opened by the hip-hop duo Fifth House (Hanan Hassan and Toni Banx), just one block east of the Liberty Bank Building. Anytime I see musicians I love open a space for community to gather around food and coffee I’m all the way in. And I hear the juices are amazing.

    Hood Famous

    Speaking of musicians I love opening spaces, Hood Famous is founded by Chera Amlag in partnership with her husband, Geo of Blue Scholars. Anytime I’ve been in to Hood Famous before the pandemic, it was a beautiful community gathering right in the heart of the International District. Also, I miss the buko pie so much. Amazing desserts all around, really.

    Estelita’s Library

    Estilita’s used to be on Beacon Hill, and I loved catching Edwin in there at random for conversations and seeing his incredible book selections. They are moving to a new space in the Central District, and I can’t wait to visit and see what grows

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Declares Cease-Fire in Tigray

    In a statement, Ethiopia said it was pausing hostilities to prevent disruptions to the farming season and to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid. (Africa News)

    Africa News

    Ethiopia declared a “unilateral ceasefire” in Tigray on Monday, as rebels claimed retaking the regional capital of Mekelle.

    In a statement, Addis Ababa said it was pausing hostilities to prevent disruptions to the farming season and to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid.

    The United Nations has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the situation in the country.

    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres considered these events “extremely worrying”. “They demonstrate, once again, that there is no military solution to the crisis,” he said, saying he was “confident that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place.

    The United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday called for an emergency public meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tigray, diplomatic sources said, adding that it could be held Friday.

    Mekelle fell to the federal army on November 28, three weeks after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive after the region’s forces attacked and killed federal troops.

    Despite the victory proclaimed after the fall of Mekelle, the fighting never stopped between the pro-Tigray Peoples Liberation Front forces – and the federal Ethiopian army.

    The rebels launched an offensive last week, just as much of the rest of the country was holding highly anticipated national elections, the results of which have not yet been announced.

    Music and fireworks

    On Monday, these rebels “took control of the city, I saw them myself, they entered,” a member of the interim regional administration, set up by Addis Ababa after the removal of the TPLF authorities, told AFP.

    An AFP reporter confirmed that the troops had arrived in trucks and cars.

    Their entry triggered scenes of jubilation, with soldiers firing into the air in celebration, and residents coming out into the street waving the Tigrayan flag.

    “The city is celebrating, everyone is out dancing,” confirmed the interim administration member.

    “Everyone is excited, there is music in the streets. Everyone has their flags out and the music is playing. I don’t know how they got them, but everyone has fireworks,” detailed one resident, reached by AFP.

    Faced with the rebel advance, officials from the regional interim administration left the town on Monday, according to the administration official.

    Witnesses reported that soldiers and federal police were also fleeing Mekele, some looting banks and commandeering private vehicles.

    Read more »

    FED. GOV ACCEPTS INTERIM ADMIN’S CALL FOR UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE

    Addis Standard

    Addis Abeba, June 28, 2021 – Reports of the take over of Mekelle city by forces formerly loyal to the TPLF which have since renamed themselves as Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) were coming out of Mekelle this afternoon. Addis Standard learned from residents of Mekelle that the city roads are overwhelmed by celebrating residents as the city was taken over by TDF.

    Hours after the reports, local media reported that Chief Executive of Tigray’s Interim Administration, Abraham Belay (PhD) announced that his administration has asked the federal government for a ceasefire agreement to provide a timely political solution to the plight of Tigray farmers. Abraham explained the need for a ceasefire ahead of the summer farming season, a better delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and seeking a political and timely solution.

    In a nine-point request to the federal government, the interim administration noted that it made the proposal last week, following intensive discussion with regional leaders, Tigrayan intellectuals, businessmen and religious leaders. He pointed out that some in the fighting force out there are currently seeking a way to peace and it was important to give these forces a chance.

    Earlier today tensions were at their peak in Mekelle city as the local television, Tigray Tv ceases its transmission today in the afternoon. A staff from the local TV who wanted to stay anonymous also confirmed to Addis Standard the termination of the TV transmission and said that the employees were told to leave the station. Another resident of Mekelle told Addis Standard that residents are hastily evacuating the roads to their houses and businesses including shops, hotels and banks were closed at the moment.

    Residents also told Addis Standard the troops loaded in trucks were seen being rounded up in parts of the city. Later in the evening, residents told Addis Standard that the city is rocked by people chanting. Addis Standard also spoke to Etenesh Nigusie, an official in the Interim administration, who was limited only to state that ‘the city is calm’. Further efforts to reach other Interim administration officials were unsuccessful.

    This comes days after reports of flare ups in the region over the past days featuring an airstrike that claimed the lives of civilians. The spokesman of the ENDF said that the only combatants, not civilians, were struck in the airstrike. It is also remembered that the EU and the US condemned the attacks while also reiterating calls for an immediate ceasefire in the region and unhindered humanitarian access.

    The request of the interim administration was followed by a declaration of a ceasefire by the federal government. In a statement released late afternoon, the Prime minister’s office said “It is believed that there are forces within the scattered rebel forces who are willing for a peaceful resolution,” adding “The government has accepted the interim administration’s proposal.”

    The statement concluded by explaining that the investigation against the leaders of TPLF would proceed, while declaring “ The government has announced an unconditional ceasefire that will last until the end of the farming season effective as of June 28, 2021.” Federal and regional institutions were instructed to follow suit, reminding that measures will be taken on those who try to use this opportunity for ill purposes. AS

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    A Mother’s Hope: Ethiopian Woman Returns to San Francisco to Seek her Lost Son

    Photos of Maereg Tafesse and his mother Legawork Assefa. (Photo of Tafesse courtesy of Assefa / Photo of Assefa by David Mamaril Horowitz)

    Mission Local

    The 57-year-old mother from Ethiopia sat across from me on a recent June day. She was in San Francisco, she said, to again search for the son she last heard from in March, 2018.

    This is her second visit to the Mission District, one of the last places, she explains, that someone remembered seeing him. One of the last places that gave her some hope.

    “I lost all the meanings that I have for life,” said Legawork Assefa, a thin woman who shares her son’s photos. “You can’t imagine what it feels like, looking for your son in the streets of the U.S., where you don’t even know which street takes you where and how to come back to where you have started.”

    But she refuses to give up, using savings from her job at an NGO in Ethiopia to cover the costs of three trips to the United States, hire private detectives and slowly piece together the story of her son, Maereg Tafesse. He was 24 when he went missing in early 2018.

    An engineering degree and a desire to work with the homeless

    Less than two years before disappearing, the 6-foot-2 young man pictured on the flyer in Assefa’s hand graduated from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

    His mother is accustomed to describing him, and the photo confirms her memory: He is skinny with a receding hairline. He has tattoos of flying birds on his left wrist and a tattoo of some sort of box on his right.

    His family and friends describe him as intelligent and kind-hearted — precisely the sort of young man who would earn a B.A. in mechanical engineering and then volunteer to serve homeless residents in Los Angeles.

    “He’s always been consistent, in the sense that he didn’t just want to get a job and do the whole capitalism thing,” said Zuhair Sras, his close friend from college. “He said he’d want to join the Christian anarchists group in Los Angeles.”

    He joined a group of volunteers at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, which operates hospice care for the dying, a hospitality house for the homeless, publishes a bi-monthly newspaper and generally opposes war-making and systemic injustice.

    Members live together in a commune setting, with volunteer work covering room and board and bringing in a stipend of $15 to $25 a week. Tafeesse worked in the soup kitchen.

    Jed Poole, an associate director who lived in the room next to Tafesse, said the young volunteer was like others who graduate and aren’t ready to jump into traditional work.

    He stayed from September, 2016, to September, 2017, his mother said. Poole said that timeframe sounded about right.

    Next, in October, 2017, Tafesse moved to the Seattle area, where he volunteered at Left Bank Books, which “specialize(s) in anti-authoritarian, anarchist, independent, radical and small-press titles,” according to its website. At one point he also volunteered at the Green Tortoise Hostel in return for shelter, Assefa said.

    When he last emailed with his mother in March, 2018, Tafesse wrote about leaving the country, but five months later, Assefa confirmed that he had never left.

    So, in September 2018, she flew to Seattle to find him. But instead, she only found small clues: that her son had checked out of the the Green Tortoise Hostel in February, 2018, and that he had texted Adrian Lambert, a worker at the bookstore, the day before he went missing to say that he was going to Sacramento and might return to Seattle again in the summer.

    Assefa reported her son missing to the police department in Seattle, and detectives there said that they found Tafesse had been in Sacramento in 2018, a fact confirmed by Seattle Police Detective Patrick Michaud. Tafesse’s case as a missing person remains open, Michaud said.

    Unable to locate her son, Assefa returned home to Ethiopia, but traveled back to the United States a year later, in October, 2019, to visit Sacramento and to canvas its homeless shelters. At a Salvation Army homeless shelter, she met Lee, who is homeless. He recognized Tafesse’s photo and reported seeing him at the nearby light rail station around a month before Assefa arrived.

    The man wore clothes of Ethiopian style, Lee said. Like Tafesse, the man also also had a tattoo on his wrist.

    Assefa’s search in 2019 next took her to San Francisco because a private detective told her that Tafesse bought a bus ticket from Sacramento to San Francisco on March 8, 2018. Sras, Tafesse’s college friend, also reported that Tafesse had talked about the possibility of moving to San Francisco.

    In San Francisco, Assefa visited homeless shelters — flyers and photos in hand. One of the nonprofits she visited was Dolores Street Community Services.

    Three workers there recognized her son, including then-receptionist Barbara Torres. She told Assefa in 2019 that, a week prior, someone who looked “similar” had made a landline call, asked for a shower and was later seen down the street.

    Torres, the receptionist, confirmed this month that she and two others at the nonprofit had also remembered seeing Tafesse in the area in 2019. She added, however, that the man she saw looked “rougher” and “more rugged” than the one in the photos Assefa showed them, as if he had been homeless.

    In March and April this year, two workers in Sacramento shelters also reported seeing a man who resembled Tafesse, according to Brittany Stevens, an investigator with Sacramento’s Gumshoe Detective Agency.

    Why does someone disappear?

    Tafesse’s mother, family members and friends are unclear why the young college graduate dropped out of sight. There was no history of mental instability earlier in his life, they said.

    Allison McGillivray and her husband Sam Yergler met Tafesse when they were working at Los Angeles Catholic Worker. They said that, a month before he went missing, Tafesse visited them in Eugene, Ore., where they now live.

    He took the bus and stayed for several nights to reconnect, McGillivray said. They parted on good terms, and have no idea why he would have gone missing.

    Tafesse also regularly spoke to his uncle, Atlabachew Assefa, who lives in Dallas, and is the family member closest to him in the United States. A week or perhaps only days before he disappeared, they talked for 10 minutes and spoke of meeting in April or May of that year.

    “I’ll call you next week,” Tafesse promised.

    Shortly after, on March 3, 2018, Tafesse stopped communicating with everyone.

    “I just don’t have anything. Really. I really don’t,” his uncle said. “I just want to say that anybody who’s seen him, anybody who has any information about this … the family is suffering.”

    “We don’t have any clue, even if he’s alive or dead,” Atlabachew Assefa added. “We just need to know what happened to Maerag. That’s all. So, we beg everybody, ask everybody.”

    June 2021

    When she visits the city her son might have been in, Assefa always finds herself walking.

    She tries to get a good view of people’s faces, especially those who are homeless.

    Assefa suspects her son could be volunteering again or living on the streets, so she often visits and distributes his information at homeless shelters and community nonprofits wherever he’s lived or been reported in.

    “Every time I see someone, I see him in them,” she said.

    The San Francisco Police Department found no reports of Tafesse in its system. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing declined to confirm the presence of Tafesse in its system due to privacy concerns. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said it has no reports of Tafesse in its system.

    Assefa asks that anyone who may have information relating to the whereabouts of her son contact her at legaworka@gmail.com or on Whatsapp at +251911231194.

    The Seattle Police Department said that information on missing people should be reported to (206) 625-5011.

    You can alternatively contact the San Francisco Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit at (415) 734-3070 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or (415) 553-0123 outside of those hours.

    You can also contact the reporter, who will forward your message to Assefa, at david@missionlocal.com.

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    BUSINESS: In Ethiopia, Abiy Tries to Charm Europe’s Top Pharmaceuticals

    The Ethiopian government has made the pharmaceuticals sector one of its priorities and introduced financial incentives to lure foreign investors into the country, a bait that so far has only lured Asian groups. (Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. (© @AbiyAhmedAli/Twitter)

    Africa Intelligence

    Abiy tries to charm Europe’s top pharma groups

    While most of Africa is encountering Covid-19 vaccine distribution difficulties, Ethiopia dreams of becoming a hub for the continent’s pharmaceutical industry. The country has listed the sector as a priority for its 2015-2025 second growth and transformation plan, GTP II, drawn up by the former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s administration and taken on board by his successor Abiy Ahmed Ali.

    Currently, Ethiopia imports 90% of its pharmaceutical products. The GTP II target is for 60% of the country’s needs to be met by local production and to attract at least 25 new investors that respect good manufacturing practices and three active ingredient production plants by 2025.

    Asian investors

    In September, Ethiopia revised its legislation on foreign investment, lifting all restrictions on the pharmaceutical sector. Since then, the Ethiopian Investment Commission, or EIC, hungry for technology transfers, has been actively working to bring in global players with attractive financial incentives.

    So far, Ethiopia has struggled to land any of the European and US leaders, only catching African and Asian firms in its net. Inside the gates of Addis Ababa’s pharmaceutical industry-focussed Kilinto Industrial Park (KIP) there is a majority of Chinese and Indian name plaques. China’s Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co and Zhende Medical Co have pledged to invest $30m and $75m respectively in the zone, while Indian vaccine manufacturer Kilitch Drugs has promised to inject $35m. The KIP’s other main investors include Egypt’s Eva Pharma, for $21m, and Kenyan Dawa Group, for $13m.

    Sights on Germany and the UK

    These promises fulfil some of the goals set by the GTP II but will not satisfy the EIC, whose sights are set on Europe. For the better part of a year, the commission has been working to win over German groups including sector giant Merck. Talks are underway but nothing has come of them yet. One of the reasons holding these European players back is that Ethiopia’s infrastructure fails to match their standards for the moment.

    The EIC is also keen to convince British firms to invest in its pharmaceuticals sector. Last week, the Ethiopian ambassador to the UK, Teferi Melesse-Desta, in collaboration with one of the EIC directors Aschalew Tadesse Mechesso, held a webinar with several dozen potential British investors.

    Uncertain future

    The only European player present in Ethiopia so far is 54 Capital, a private equity firm that in 2016 forked out $42m for a 40% share in the country’s largest producer Addis Pharmaceuticals Factory (APF, AI, 08/04/21). Though based in London, 54 Capital was founded by Moroccan business partners Saad Aouad and Yassine Benjelloun.

    APF’s main production site is in Adigrat, a city in the Tigray region that is currently the theatre of a civil war between the federal army and regional rebel forces. Since the start of the conflict, Adigrat has been subject to heavy fighting and changed hands several times. The APF factory has become a focus of propaganda on both sides, jeopardising its production capacity.

    Being cut off from its largest pharmaceuticals producer has made Ethiopia all the more impatient for new investors.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Launches Tender Process to Sell 40% Stake in Ethio Telecom

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Conducted Election in a ‘Credible’ Manner, AU Observers Say

    “Overall the election [was] conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner,” former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the mission of 100 observers, told a news conference in Addis Ababa as authorities continued counting ballots. (Photo: A staff from Ethiopia's Election Board confirms casted ballots at a polling station in Addis Ababa, June 22, 2021. (REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie Tadese)

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliamentary polls, held on Monday, were conducted in a “credible” manner, the African Union’s election observer mission said on Wednesday.

    “Overall the election and election day processes were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner,” former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the mission of 100 observers, told a news conference in Addis Ababa as authorities continued counting ballots.

    The election in the country of 109 million people has been billed by the government as the first free vote in the country’s history. But it has been marred by an opposition boycott, war and reports of irregularities in some areas.

    Authorities were unable to hold elections in four of Ethiopia’s 10 regions on Monday, though polling took place a day late in one of those regions, Sidama, on Tuesday, according to the elections board.

    The board was expected to hold a news conference later on Wednesday.

    Related:

    ETHIOPIA ELECTION UPDATE: As Voters Head to the Polls, Spotlight on Birtukan Mideksa

    Video: Debating the Ethiopia Election (France 24)

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    Circus Abyssinia Returns to U.S. With New Show Inspired by Derartu Tulu

    The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota announced that its 2021-22 season features the world premiere of the Ethiopian group's latest performance. (Photo: Courtesy of Bibi and Bichu Ltd)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: June 24th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — Circus Abyssinia will return to the U.S. next year with a new show inspired by Ethiopian Olympic legend Derartu Tulu.

    The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota announced that its 2021-22 season features the world premiere of the Ethiopian group’s latest performance.

    “We are thrilled to bring you a season that will inspire you, that will delight you, that will take your breath away and start extraordinary conversations,” the theatre’s artistic director Peter C. Brosius said in a news release. “We have been waiting for this moment and so look forward to seeing you all soon.”

    According to the announcement, the show titled Circus Abyssinia: Tulu is “a celebration of athleticism that features feats of speed and flight, high-flying acrobatics, hand balancing and juggling backed by the beat of Ethiopian music. It’s inspired by the story of Ethiopian runner Derartu Tulu, the first Black African woman to win Olympic gold.”


    (Photo: Circus Abyssinia. Courtesy of Bibi and Bichu Ltd)

    Meanwhile, Circus Abyssinia announced on Twitter that they will preview their show this week at Brighton Fringe, the largest annual arts festival in England and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world.

    We’re SO excited to officially announce the debut of our new show at this year’s @brightonfringe! We’ll be performing TULU.

    @CircusAbyssinia

    Circus Abyssinia Promo from Circus Abyssinia on Vimeo.

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    U.S. Arrests Ethiopian Man for Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

    According to the indictment, which was unsealed following the arrest, Mezemr Abebe Belayneh, 65, of Snellville, Georgia [east of Atlanta] served as a civilian interrogator at a makeshift prison in Dilla, Ethiopia, during a period in the late 1970s known as the Red Terror, [which he failed to disclose] (DOJ)

    Press Release

    Department of Justice
    Office of Public Affairs

    Naturalized U.S. Citizen from Ethiopia Arrested on Charge of Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

    Indictment Alleges Lies During the Naturalization Process, Including Failure to Disclose Participation in Persecution During the Ethiopian Red Terror

    A Georgia man has been arrested on criminal charges related to allegations that he lied to obtain U.S. citizenship.

    According to the indictment, which was unsealed following the arrest, Mezemr Abebe Belayneh, 65, of Snellville, served as a civilian interrogator at a makeshift prison in Dilla, Ethiopia, during a period in the late 1970s known as the Red Terror. At the prison, Abebe ordered and participated in the severe physical abuse and interrogation of prisoners held on the basis of their political beliefs. The indictment alleges that Abebe unlawfully procured U.S. citizenship, to which he was not entitled, by concealing his involvement in the Red Terror when he falsely claimed that he had not persecuted anyone because of their political opinions and had never committed a crime for which he had not been arrested.

    “Human rights violators have no home in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “No matter how much time has passed, the Department of Justice will find and prosecute individuals who committed atrocities in their home countries and covered them up to gain entry to the United States.”

    “The laws of the United States are designed to provide refuge for the victims of human rights violation and to exclude those who commit them,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine for the Northern District of Georgia. “The defendant’s alleged lies through his immigration and naturalization process subverted this system. We commend our law enforcement partners at the Department of Homeland Security and the dedicated team at the Department of Justice who work tirelessly to assure that individuals such as the defendant do not have a safe haven in our communities.”

    “Abebe’s lies and horrible past deeds have thankfully come back to haunt him,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Now he will be held accountable. Thanks to some great work from the agents and officers involved in this case as well as our law enforcement partners, justice will be served.”

    Abebe is charged with two counts of unlawful procurement of naturalization. The maximum sentence for each count is 10 years in prison. If convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. A conviction would also result in automatic revocation of Abebe’s U.S. citizenship.

    Homeland Security Investigations’ Atlanta Field Office is investigating the case, and coordination was provided by the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.

    Trial Attorneys Jamie Perry and Patrick Jasperse of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Morris of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case, with assistance from HRSP Senior Historian Dr. Christopher Hayden.

    Members of the public who have information about former human rights violators in the United States are urged to contact U.S. law enforcement through the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips.

    An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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    ETHIOPIA ELECTION UPDATE: As Voters Head to the Polls, Spotlight on Birtukan Mideksa

    A former political prisoner who went into exile in the US, Birtukan Mideksa is now centre-stage in Ethiopia as she oversees the country's first parliamentary election since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018 on a pledge to end decades of authoritarian rule. - BBC (Getty Images)

    Updated: June 21st, 2021

  • Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson
  • Ethiopians pray for peaceful vote ahead of key election
  • Ethiopians to vote in what government bills as first free election
  • How Monday’s vote will shape Ethiopia’s place in Horn of Africa
  • Ethiopia elections: The misinformation circulating online
  • Ethiopia’s historic election overshadowed by a cascade of crises and conflict

    Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson


    Birtukan Mideksa (right). Voter education programmes have been held to reduce the risk of spoiled ballots (AFP)

    Recommending Ms Birtukan, 47, to the all-important post of chairperson of the electoral board, the new premier described her as someone who would “never surrender, even to the government”.

    Many agreed with that sentiment as she had built a reputation for being brave and independent-minded as a lawyer, judge and politician.

    Ms Birtukan contested the 2001 parliamentary election as an independent, but lost to the candidate of the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), conceding that her defeat was due to her “limited popularity” rather than rigging.

    She then became a judge, catching the attention of the public a year later when she resisted political interference in the judiciary by ordering the release of former Defence Minister Siye Abraha. His arrest on corruption charges was seen as an attempt to neutralise a formidable rival of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

    “Siyes’ case is the visible one. But they [Ms Birtukan and other judges] all tried to challenge the system invisibly for a while,” said a friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Restless for change, Ms Birtukan moved back into politics, playing a key role in the formation of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to present a united front against the EPRDF in the 2005 parliamentary election, which was widely seen as the most fiercely contested poll in Ethiopia’s history, with the opposition claiming that it had been robbed of victory.

    As a senior CUD official, Ms Birtukan was an obvious target for the security forces, and she was among thousands of people detained in the crackdown that followed the election. Almost 200 people were shot by police.

    Prosecuted by a friend

    An underground network that the CUD had built was crushed, but from prison, its leaders – including Ms Birtukan – rebuilt it, calling it the Kinjit International Council (KIC), to mobilise support for the campaign for democracy.

    “They usually discussed and took decisions on the way to court,” said a friend of Ms Birtukan, who preferred to remain anonymous.


    More than 37 million people have registered to vote, officials say. (AFP)

    In 2006, Ms Birtukan was among a large number of detainees – including current Ethiopian Human Rights Commission chairman Daniel Bekele – who were charged with various offences, including treason.

    To their shock, one of the prosecutors turned out to be Shimels Kemal – a friend of Ms Birtukan and a housemate of Mr Daniel – who asked the judge to sentence them to death.

    “The scene was so dramatic,” a colleague, who knew them, recalled in an interview with BBC Amharic.

    “Shimels doesn’t let things go easily. He mixes politics with personal. He felt betrayed when his friends chose another line of ideology.”

    The judge rejected the prosecutor’s request, and imposed a life sentence instead.

    Forced to leave her little daughter in the care of her elderly mother, Ms Birtukan began serving her sentence at the notorious Kaliti prison, where she acted as a peacemaker between rival CUD factions after major differences emerged within their ranks.

    “She didn’t solve the problem but they then rebuilt an underground network from scratch, successfully,” said Ms Birtukan’s friend.

    In jail, she was one of the prisoners who entered into talks with a panel of elders who brokered a deal between them and the government.

    This led to her release in 2007 after 18 months in jail, with Ms Birtukan being among those who signed a document regretting “mistakes” and asking Prime Minister Meles for a pardon.

    The decision caused controversy in opposition circles, and she tried to play down the significance of the document in a speech she gave during a visit abroad.

    Then-police chief Wokneh Gebeyehu – now the executive secretary of the regional body Igad – ordered her to apologise, accusing her of breaching the conditions of her pardon.

    Ms Birtukan refused, and during the Christmas period in 2008, she was sent back to prison to serve the rest of her life sentence.

    In an article published in Ethiopia’s Addis Neger newspaper shortly before her re-arrest, she wrote: “Maybe this is my last word,” and in a significant comment amid the controversy over her decision to seek a pardon, she wrote: “I signed on that document. This is a fact that I can’t change, even if I want to.”

    Her new prison conditions were harsher, and she was kept in solitary confinement for two months, when she was denied the right to even see her daughter.

    Exile in the US

    This increased public sympathy for her, with Amnesty International calling her a prisoner of conscience and South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper describing her as Ethiopia’s most famous political prisoner.

    In October 2010, Ms Birtukan was again freed after negotiating another pardon.


    Birtukan Mideksa’s release in 2010 was a huge relief to her family and friends. (AFP)

    Following her release, she and her daughter went into exile in the US, where she studied at the Harvard Kennedy School and later worked for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US agency which says it supports democracy around the world.

    She returned to Ethiopia after Mr Abiy took power, promising to end years of repression.

    But the euphoria around her appointment has to some extent faded.

    After repeated delays, the poll is now taking place on Monday, although some major opposition parties are boycotting it, saying conditions for a free and fair poll do not exist.

    Among Ms Birtukan’s critics is Professor Merera Gudina, who has known her for 21 years. He heads the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), which is boycotting the election.

    “We had not seen illegal polling stations or an inability to register a candidate at their constituency during the previous elections,” he said.

    With the OFC and another party boycotting the poll in Oromia, war in the northern Tigray region and a postponement in parts of the Somali region, “the election is mainly in Amhara region and in [the capital] Addis Ababa”, he added.

    But for Addis Ababa University academic Mesenbet Assefa, Ms Birtukan has done a good job.

    “The problems are not the making of the [election] board or the government. Political parties have the responsibility of doing what democracy requires – a disciplined discourse – not using arms to topple the government.”

    Ms Birtukan herself has sought to manage expectations over the elections. In a letter to the US Senate in May, she warned “shortfalls are inevitable given factors such as… a nascent democratic culture and an increasingly charged political and security environment”.

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  • For Juneteenth in New York City, Helina Metaferia’s Mural Celebrates Black Women

    Helina Metaferia, Headdress 21 (2021). (Courtesy of the artist)

    Artnet News

    10 New Murals Will Pop Up Across New York This Summer Thanks to a New Professional Development Initiative for Black Artists

    The first piece will be unveiled in Brooklyn this weekend in celebration of Juneteenth.

    This weekend, on Juneteenth, a new mural celebrating the labor of Black women activists will be unveiled in Brooklyn.

    The work of Harlem- and Brooklyn-based artist and activist Helina Metaferia, the mural depicts a fellow young creator, Wildcat Ebony Brown, atop a picture of a plinth; collaged throughout the scene are archival photos of civil rights-era protests and pictures culled from old Ethiopian and Kenyan travel magazines. A small text reads, “Where would democracy be without Black women?” It will be located at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art in Fort Greene.

    The idea, Metaferia told Artnet News, is to “amplify the people in my life that are doing amazing work yet are often chastised in the media. [It’s about] reclaiming that image and offering another perspective on these activists in a way they can essentially get their power back.”

    The piece will be revealed this weekend amid a flurry of other events scheduled for Juneteenth Jubilee 2021, a free outdoor event co-sponsored by arts organizations The Blacksmiths and the Wide Awakes that Metaferia—a member of the latter group—helped organize.

    Metaferia’s mural is the first of 10 public artworks set to appear across New York’s five boroughs this summer through Not a Monolith, a new professional development initiative for Black artists organized by ArtBridge, an initiative that works to transform New York City’s many miles of construction fencing and scaffolding into a venue for art.

    Read the full article at news.artnet.com »

    Related:

    ART TALK: Helina Metaferia’s Solo Debut with Addis Fine Art at 2021 Frieze NYC

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    Rolling Stone on Motown Records’ CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam

    “We’re back at a place where we have to create the new generation of superstars,” says the newly promoted label chief. (Photo: Ethiopia Habtemariam by Bonnie Nichoalds)

    Rolling Stone magazine

    This story appears in Rolling Stone‘s 2021 Future of Music issue, a special project delving into the next era of the multibillion-dollar hitmaking business. Read the other stories here.

    To reinvent Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam wants to start by going back in time. “I remember being a really young kid and seeing how massive acts like Boyz II Men were, and how that was indicative to what Motown was like,” Habtemariam muses, noting that in the Sixties and Seventies, the label was a formidable launchpad for black artists to become global superstars.

    Back then, Motown really had everything — a film and TV division, a comics team. Habtemariam, who has just been promoted to the company’s CEO and chair after spending the past decade ushering the legacy label out of the shadows, first as a VP and then as president, has a vision to bring that cross-platform entertainment brand back.

    Under her leadership, Motown will find new revenue streams for its 50-year-old catalog of hits from the likes of the Jackson Five and the Supremes, while also seeking to break fresh rappers and R&B stars. It’ll continue to court partnerships with hot new labels like Quality Control and Blacksmith Records, two important relationships brokered by Habtemariam that have brought Migos, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, Vince Staples, and City Girls on board. Hip-hop is the most commercially successful genre of music right now, and Motown is eager to take center stage in breaking the biggest rappers of tomorrow.

    Habtemariam, an Atlanta native who started her music career as an intern at Atlanta-based LaFace Records more than two decades ago, is also well aware that she’s only the second woman, after Epic Records’ Sylvia Rhone, to lead a major record label — and so she’s got a second, unofficial job as a role model for the entire record business, which is undergoing seismic racial change for the first time in its own ranks. “I’m hoping this opens up the door for a lot more that happens for people that look like me, and have done the work, and deserve to grow to this level in their careers,” Habtemariam says.

    In her new role helming Motown, she will also report directly to Universal Music’s CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, becoming one of only a handful of executives at the giant music company to do so. While Habtemariam doesn’t foresee hip-hop’s pull diminishing any time soon, she says the pandemic has underscored the wide swaths of music released every day online, and she expects a wider range of music to stick to the charts than before — meaning that Motown might expand its classic “Motown Sound” as well. “I think there’s going to be more cream rising to the top, great songs,” she says. “I don’t think it’ll be just one sound that dominates. People are looking for music that speaks to every bit of their emotions and what they go through.”

    The seasoned exec believes the streaming era highlights, rather than threatens, the importance of labels to young artists. “It’s really competitive,” she says. “But our industry as a whole is in such a healthy place now. We’re back at a place where we have to create the new generation of superstars.”

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    The Guardian: Looted Artefacts Withdrawn From UK Auction After Ethiopia’s Appeal

    The Ethiopian embassy called the decision an important move toward its goal of having all Maqdala artefacts returned from British institutions. “Maqdala is really important in terms of the shared history between the UK and Ethiopia, so today is a big day. A small step,” a spokesperson from the Ethiopian embassy said. (Photo: An Ethiopian Coptic bible taken during the Battle of Maqdala in 1868/ Busby auctioneers and valuers)

    The Guardian

    Ethiopian government asked auction house to ‘stop cycle of dispossession’

    Two artefacts that were taken during colonial-era looting by British forces in Ethiopia have been withdrawn from auction after the Ethiopian government appealed to an auction house selling them to “stop the cycle of dispossession”.

    Busby auctioneers in Bridport, Dorset, has withdrawn a leather-bound Coptic bible and a set of horn beakers from a sale on 17 June after the Ethiopian embassy in London discovered the items – which were taken during the Battle of Maqdala in 1868 – and wrote to the auction house.

    In the letter, the embassy said the return of the items would help bring to a close a “painful chapter” of the nation’s history, and said the two lots – valued at about £700 – were a small but “important part of that story”.

    “In the government’s view the auctioning of these items is, at best, unethical and, at worst, the continuation of a cycle of dispossession perpetrated by those who would seek to benefit from the spoils of war,” the letter said.

    Busby confirmed that after discussions with the Ethiopian government and the seller, the two items had been withdrawn. “The matter has been resolved with the vendor and the Ethiopian embassy in London,” a spokesperson said.

    The Guardian understands that there are now negotiations between the Ethiopian embassy and the private seller of the items to secure their return to the country they were taken from more than 150 years ago.

    The Ethiopian government has been appealing for the return of items taken in 1868 for decades.

    In 2007, it unsuccessfully asked for the return of hundreds of artefacts – including manuscripts, royal regalia and jewellery – being held by British institutions that were taken from Maqdala, the mountain capital of Emperor Tewodros II in what was then known as Abyssinia.

    In 2018, before an exhibition of items from Maqdala, the Victoria and Albert Museum said some items could be returned to Ethiopia on long-term loan. The embassy said more than 20 private collectors had returned Maqdala items following restitution requests.

    Related:

    Is UK Ready to Return Ethiopia’s Looted Treasures? Museum Talking to Embassy

    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?

    A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ART TALK: The Whitney Museum of American Art Presents The World Premiere of Julie Mehretu’s Palimpsest

    Julie Mehretu. (Checkerboard Film Foundation)

    Press Release

    The Whitney Museum Presents The World Premiere of Julie Mehretu: Palimpsest

    Julie Mehretu: Palimpsest, a new feature documentary by Checkerboard, follows the artist as she prepares for a mid-career survey, currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art (until August 8, 2021), co-organized with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The artist offers commentary on her work, process, and chronology of her career, from graduate work at RISD to current expansive, multi-layered canvases.

    The screening will be introduced by the Whitney’s Rujeko Hockley, co-curator of the exhibition, and Checkerboard Film Foundation’s President, Edgar Howard.

    Watch: Checkerboard Film Foundation presents “Julie Mehretu: Mid-Career Survey”

    Checkerboard Film Foundation is a non-profit educational institution established in 1979 to document artists who are making unique and important contributions to the American arts. Checkerboard has produced over 70 films on influential painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, and writers.

    If You Attend:

    Advance registration is required to the free screening. Registrants will receive an individual link via email to access the premiere screening on June 17 at 8PM. The film will be available for registrants to stream on demand from June 18-20.

    June 17, 2021
    This Whitney event is free, registration required.
    REGISTER

    Related:

    ART TALK: Julie Mehretu – A Decade of Printmaking at Gemini G.E.L. in NYC

    ART TALK: Julie Mehretu Makes Art Big Enough to Get Lost In

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

    Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

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    Ethiopia’s Prime Minister: Next Week’s Election Will be Peaceful

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia's parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    Reuters

    JIMMA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia will show a sceptical world that it can successfully hold a peaceful election next week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters at his first – and last – campaign rally on Wednesday.

    The June 21 vote is the first time Abiy, 44, will face voters at the ballot box in Africa’s second most populous nation. He tweeted this week that the election “will be the nation’s first attempt at free and fair elections”. read more


    PM Abiy Ahmed campaigning in Jimma on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    “The whole world is saying we will fight but we will show them differently,” Abiy told a packed stadium in the western city of Jimma. “The forces that saved Ethiopia from collapsing will turn the Horn of Africa into Africa’s power hub.”

    Just over a fifth of parliamentary constituencies are not voting due to logistical problems, low-level violence or due to the war in the northern region of Tigray.

    “I will vote for Abiy because he is creating many jobs, building schools and roads,” said Hawi Aba Jihad, 21, a motorised three-wheel taxi driver at the rally.


    Supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)


    Supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    But many parties in Oromiya, the nation’s most populous region and the site of Wednesday’s rally, are boycotting the polls, alleging government intimidation.

    Regional spokesman Getachew Balcha referred queries to the police commissioner, Ararsa Merdasa, who did not respond to questions on those accusations.

    NEW FREEDOMS ROLLBACK?

    Abiy rode a wave of optimism to become prime minister with a message of unity and reform after years of bloody anti-government demonstrations forced his predecessor to resign.

    His appointment sparked hopes that one of the continent’s most repressive governments would speed up democratic and economic reforms.

    Within months of taking office in 2018, Abiy freed more than 40,000 political prisoners, said Fisseha Tekle of Amnesty International. He unbanned political parties and signed a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea, winning the Nobel peace prize for ending more than two decades of conflict.

    He also began opening the sclerotic state-run economy to outside investors, starting with telecoms. read more

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Launches Tender Process to Sell 40% Stake in Ethio Telecom

    The telecoms business in Ethiopia, a country with a population of more than 100 million people and one of the region’s biggest economies, is considered lucrative and is expected to draw significant investor interest. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia on Monday launched a tendering process for the proposed sell-off of a 40% stake in state-owned carrier Ethio Telecom to private investors, part of the government’s broader plan to open up the Horn of Africa country’s economy.

    Interested investors can now submit so called expressions of interest (EOI), the first of a series of stages that will lead to picking of a successful bidder, Zinabu Yirga, Deputy Director of Public Enterprises Holding and Administration Agency told a press conference in the capital Addis Ababa.

    “The government want(s) state-owned enterprises to be competitive and productive,” Zinabu said, explaining the authorities’ motivation for selling a part of Ethio Telecom to private operators.

    As part of the broader opening up of the sector, Ethiopia is also moving to license private operators to compete with Ethio Telecom.

    Last month authorities handed out the first private operator licence to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone, and Japan’s Sumitomo.

    The telecoms business in Ethiopia, a country with a population of more than 100 million people and one of the region’s biggest economies, is considered lucrative and is expected to draw significant investor interest.

    Brook Taye, senior advisor at the finance ministry said the 40% would be sold as a single stake to a single investor.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Pictures: Update on US Military School Graduate Bishane Whitmore

    This month Bishane Whitmore who is currently a Speechwriter for the United States Air Force in Arlington, Virginia, received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Monday, June 15th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This is graduation season and you may remember our interview with Lieutenant Colonel Bishane Whitmore when he graduated with a Masters of Military Art and Science (MMAS) from the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, five years ago. Among those who attended the ceremony was his then 96-year-old grandfather, retired Ethiopian General Tilahun Bishane, who had graduated from the same military school 46 years earlier as one of the institution’s first international students from Ethiopia.

    This month Bishane, who is currently a Speechwriter for the United States Air Force in Arlington, Virginia, received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama.

    According to its Linkedin page: “The Air Forces Advanced Studies Group develops strategists for the United States and its allies. SAASS is a degree granting institution, with qualified graduates receiving an MPhil in Military Strategy. Select graduates can receive the AU PhD in Military Strategy by completing additional training and research requirements, which is also administered through SAASS. SAASS is a school at Air University on Maxwell AFB, in Montgomery, AL.”

    In addition to pursuing his doctorate degree since his graduation from CGSC in 2016 Bishane had served as the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron Commander as well as the Director Of Operations/ RQ-4 Pilot at Beale U.S. Air Force Base in California.

    Below are photos from his recent graduation that took place on June 9th, 2021 courtesy of his family, which note that his Doctoral Regalia was presented to him by his sister.


    Bishane Whitmore’s graduation ceremony at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama, June 9th, 2021. (Courtesy photo)


    Bishane Whitmore received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama, on June 9th, 2021. (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)

    Related:

    Harris Leadership award goes to grandson of Ethiopian General

    Bishane Whitmore Follows in Footsteps of Grandfather at US Military School

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    Twitter Appointments Mimi Alemayehou to Board of Directors

    Mimi Alemayehou's career spans both the public and private sectors across emerging markets. She currently serves as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard. Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou was the Managing Director for Black Rhino Group. Ms. Alemayehou was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). (Photo: Mastercard)

    Press Release

    Twitter Announces Appointment of Mimi Alemayehou and Departure of Jesse Cohn

    Mimi Alemayehou to join the Board, bringing more than 20 years of investment and finance experience across emerging markets

    News provided by Twitter, Inc.

    SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) today announced the appointment of Mimi Alemayehou to the Company’s Board of Directors as a new independent director, effective immediately.

    “Mimi’s extensive experience overseeing growth in emerging markets in both the public and private sectors will be invaluable as we advance Twitter’s mission to serve the public conversation across the world,” said Patrick Pichette, independent chair of the Twitter Board. “Mimi shares our commitment to social responsibility and strengthening global communities, and we’re eager to benefit from her perspective and regional expertise as we expand Twitter’s presence to Ghana and invest in improving our service across Africa and other regions.”

    Ms. Alemayehou, who brings to Twitter’s Board more than 20 years of investment and finance experience across emerging markets, with a strong focus on Africa, said, “I have long respected Twitter’s focus on supporting the diverse global communities that drive public conversation, and am proud to join the team as they work to expand Twitter’s reach around the world. I look forward to working closely with Twitter’s management team and the rest of the Board to help oversee and execute the Company’s long-term growth objectives.” In her current role as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou leads Mastercard’s partnerships with private foundations, international development organizations and non-governmental organizations with the objective of building commercially sustainable digital ecosystems that benefit everyone by advancing financial inclusion, transparency, support to humanitarian response and economic development.

    In connection with Ms. Alemayehou’s appointment, Jesse Cohn will be stepping down after an important year on the Board. As one of Twitter’s largest shareholders, Elliott Investment Management will continue to engage with members of the Company’s senior management team and Board, facilitated by the Information Sharing and Engagement Agreement the Company entered into with Elliott.

    Mr. Pichette continued, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Jesse for his support and contributions as a director. Over the past year, years of foundational work combined with a clear focus on growth and monetization paid off. The pace of innovation at Twitter has increased dramatically, the company is executing at a high level, and the vision of Twitter’s ecosystem value is being realized. We are grateful for Jesse’s insights and commitment to help strengthen Twitter over the course of this important year.”

    Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said, “As we shared at our Analyst Day, we continue to build upon our strengths and are proud of our progress. We are appreciative of Jesse’s input and support during an important year for us.”

    Jesse Cohn, Managing Partner at Elliott, said, “It’s been a pleasure to serve on Twitter’s Board during this remarkable period of progress for the company. Over the past year, thanks to the hard work of Twitter’s management team and Board, Twitter has improved operational execution, strengthened the Board’s governance, initiated a share repurchase program, established bold, multi-year performance goals, meaningfully accelerated its release of new products and monetization strategies, and intensified its focus on operational performance and shareholder value creation. Elliott remains one of the company’s largest shareholders, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Twitter’s management and Board as it executes on its vision.”

    About Mimi Alemayehou

    Mimi Alemayehou’s career spans both the public and private sectors across emerging markets. She currently serves as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard. Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou was the Managing Director and a Board member for investment platform Black Rhino Group, a portfolio company of Blackstone, where she focused on the development and acquisition of energy and infrastructure assets across Africa. Ms. Alemayehou was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). During Ms. Alemayehou’s tenure from 2010 to 2014, OPIC’s portfolio grew by more than 24% to $18 billion and the corporation’s Africa portfolio tripled to nearly $4 billion. Prior to OPIC, Ms. Alemayehou was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Executive Director on the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB). She received a Distinguished Honor Award for her outstanding service in this role. Ms. Alemayehou has also launched entrepreneurial ventures in consulting.

    About Twitter, Inc.

    Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) is what’s happening and what people are talking about right now. To learn more, visit about.twitter.com and follow @Twitter. Let’s Talk.

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    Obituary: Prof. Getatchew Haile (1931-2021)

    Professor Getatchew Haile, a widely respected Ethiopian scholar best known for his work on the volumes of the Catalogue of Ethiopian Manuscripts Microfilmed for the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library, has died. In a statement his family announced that Prof. Getatchew passed away on June 10, 2021 at Mount Sinai Morningside hospital in New York City after a long illness. He was 90. Funeral services will be held this week. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    Updated: June 16th, 2021

    STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF GETATCHEW HAILE:

    Prof. Getatchew Haile passed away on June 10, 2021 in New York City after a long illness.

    Prof. Getatchew’s groundbreaking achievements in Ethiopian Studies reshaped the field, and his dedication to his beloved Ethiopia was a source of global renown. He was widely admired for his courage and resilience in the face of significant personal challenges, while his generosity of spirit and joyful embrace of life endeared him to devoted family, friends and colleagues across the world. He leaves behind an enormous legacy and an equally enormous void that will be deeply felt.

    Getatchew was born in rural Shenkora, Ethiopia in 1931. His was a modest upbringing that encompassed a period of upheaval and homelessness resulting from the Italian occupation. He was eventually able to enroll at Holy Trinity Spiritual School in Addis Ababa, and at the conclusion of secondary school went abroad for further study. He received a B.A. (1957) from the American University in Cairo, a B.D (1957) from the Coptic Theological College in Cairo, and a Ph.D. (1962) from the University of Tubingen, Germany (where he changed the spelling of his name from “Getachew” to “Getatchew” to ensure proper pronunciation by German colleagues). Upon his return to Ethiopia in 1962, he served briefly in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then taught for ten years in the Department of Ethiopian Languages and Literature at Haile Selassie I (now Addis Ababa) University.

    In 1964 he married Misrak Amare, and the two soon started a family. They settled into a life of their choosing as eager members of a generation motivated to advance Ethiopia during a period of post-colonial excitement across Africa.

    Their plans were upended in 1975, after the Derg came to power in Ethiopia. Getatchew served as a member of the short-lived civilian parliament, representing his province of Shoa, and in that role was an outspoken advocate for democracy and the separation of church and state. In October 1975, Derg soldiers attempted to arrest him for those views. In that attempt, he was shot and nearly died. Though he survived, he was left a paraplegic.

    Thanks to the intervention of many friends, Getatchew left Ethiopia to receive medical care in England, and in 1976 made his way to the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. At Saint John’s, he became Regents Professor of Medieval Studies and Curator of the Ethiopia Study Center at HMML, where he was a valued leader and a beloved friend and colleague to many over four decades. Getatchew’s vast knowledge, collegiality, and numerous publications, most notably the volumes of the Catalogue of Ethiopian Manuscripts Microfilmed for the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library, created an impact on his field rarely witnessed in any discipline. His enormous contributions were well recognized by the wider academic community. Significant awards included the prestigious MacArthur fellowship (1988) (the “MacArthur genius grant”), the first Ethiopian and first African to receive the award; the British Academy’s Edward Ullendorff Medal (2013); election as corresponding member of the British Academy (1987), again the first Ethiopian or African to receive that honor; and board membership of many prestigious academic journals.

    Outside his academic work, he was a tireless advocate for Ethiopia through countless articles, speeches and interviews, and as publisher of the magazine Ethiopian Register. He received many awards for this work, for example as one of the first recipients of the Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora’s (SEED) annual award (1986) in recognition of his great effort on behalf of Ethiopian culture and history and his struggle for human rights and the recipient of the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award (2018). He was also a dedicated member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewadeho Church which he served in many capacities. Getatchew never let the challenges and constant pain of paraplegia stop him from full participation in life’s pleasures. He always said “yes” to every proposal, from travel for academic conferences to trips to visit family to sunset drinks on the dock of his beloved Minnesota lakeside home. He always answered calls for help and touched many lives as a result. He took joy in the successes of colleagues and mentees and burst with pride at the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. He appreciated beauty both natural and manmade (his Amharic penmanship was legendary). He was sentimental and cried at graduations, weddings and sometimes for no reason at all. He continually made new friends of all ages and from every conceivable background. Even in his final months, as he was slowly losing his fight against the inevitable, time with him left a visitor energized and uplifted. He was joyful to the end.

    In October 2016, Getatchew and Misrak moved to New York City to be closer to their children and grandchildren. From his office in New York, Getatchew continued both his scholarly work and his advocacy for Ethiopia. His final speeches and interviews were given over Zoom – appropriate for a man who loved using the latest technology. He completed his final book earlier this year, and its posthumous publication will be fitting final punctuation to an extraordinary career.

    If he had one regret, it is that he was not ever able to return to Ethiopia since departing in 1975. Among immediate family Getatchew is survived by his wife Misrak, his six children, Rebecca (Jean Manas), Sossina (Jeffrey Snyder), Elizabeth (Nephtalem Eyassu), Dawit (Tracy), Mariam-Sena and Yohannes, and ten grandchildren. He held his sisters in-law Hirut Amare and Martha Amare and his niece Teyent Germa especially close.

    Getatchew was a deeply religious man, and in recent weeks he let it be known that he was ready to meet his Maker with the words of St. Paul in mind: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. Yes, beloved husband, father, Ababa, brother, uncle, friend, colleague, mentor, our Wondim Tila, ye Shenkora Jegna, you have.

    Prayer services will be held on Thursday, June 17, 2021, at Debre Selam Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 4401 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis MN 55406.

    Funeral services will be held on Friday, June 18, 2021, at St. John’s Abbey Church, Collegeville, MN, 56321. Visitation from 9:00-10:30am, followed by the service at 10:30am. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota (www.hmml.org) or to The Getatchew Haile Scholarship Fund at Ethiopia Education Initiatives (www.ethiopiaed.org), whose first project is the Haile-Manas Academy in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia.

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    U.S. on Elections in Ethiopia Press Statement

    Ned Price, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Elections in Ethiopia

    PRESS STATEMENT

    NED PRICE, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON

    JUNE 11, 2021

    On June 21, many Ethiopians will be able to cast ballots in elections, an important exercise of their civil and political rights.

    These elections should not be seen as a singular event but rather as part of a democratic political process that involves dialogue, cooperation, and compromise. To that end, we urge the Government of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians to commit to an inclusive, post-election political dialogue to determine a path forward to strengthen the country’s democracy and national unity.

    We recognize the efforts that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and its staff have made to prepare for these elections at a time when so many Ethiopians are suffering and dying from violence and acute food insecurity caused by conflict.

    We urge politicians and community leaders to reject violence and to refrain from inciting others. All political actors and community leaders should seek to resolve grievances through negotiation, dialogue, and recognized non-violent dispute resolution mechanisms.

    The United States continues to urge Ethiopia’s leaders to support a free media and an active civil society. We urge the government to respect the right of citizens to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and to reject the use of Internet shutdowns or network restrictions.

    The United States is gravely concerned about the environment under which these upcoming elections are to be held. The detention of opposition politicians, harassment of independent media, partisan activities by local and regional governments, and the many interethnic and inter-communal conflicts across Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair electoral process and whether Ethiopians would perceive them as credible. The exclusion of large segments of the electorate from this contest due to security issues and internal displacement is particularly troubling.

    The hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia threaten the country’s unity and territorial integrity. The period following these elections will be a critical moment for Ethiopians to come together to confront these divisions. The United States stands ready to help Ethiopia address these challenges and find a path to a brighter future. We stand with all Ethiopians working toward a peaceful, democratic, and secure future for the country.

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