Author Archive for Tadias

UPDATE: Ethiopia Seeks IMF Deal as Talks Begin to Revamp Older Debt

Setting up a creditors’ panel and an agreement on how to deal with Ethiopia’s nearly $30 billion of external debt paves the way for the IMF to determine how to engage with the country on economic recovery. (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

By Fasika Tadesse and Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia asked the International Monetary Fund for a new deal, days after France and China co-chaired the first meeting of the nation’s major creditors panel to rework the nation’s previous debt.

Setting up a creditors’ panel and an agreement on how to deal with Ethiopia’s nearly $30 billion of external debt paves the way for the IMF to determine how to engage with the country on economic recovery. The lender’s executive board has yet to approve disbursements from the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility, the former of which has expired — despite reaching staff-level agreements.

The government requested a new IMF credit arrangement, potentially with a similar amount, to replace the one that just lapsed, State Minister for Finance Eyob Tekalign told reporters on Wednesday in the capital, Addis Ababa. A new ECF will grant Ethiopia access to concessional resources under a poverty reduction and growth program, he said.

The IMF board in December 2019 approved an equivalent of $2.9 billion for Ethiopia’s two credit arrangements. On Thursday, the Washington-based lender said it was “too soon” to engage with Ethiopia over any possible new program.

The formation of an Ethiopian creditors panel marks a breakthrough in a global push to restructure the debt of poor countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic under the Group of 20’s common framework. It could also set a roadmap for the role of private creditors on the same.

The panel may propose that commercial lenders push their payment-due dates by one or two years, Eyob said later in an interview.

“The creditors committee will reach an agreement on some parameters on how to deal with comparable debt treatment,” Eyob said. The “sense we got is that there was no strong opinion on this, so we’re hopeful in getting the required amount of debt being restructured without market disruption.”

Ethiopia’s announcement on Jan. 29 that it plans to restructure its debt triggered a selloff of its $1 billion of Eurobonds. The yield on the 2024 debt has since risen, and traded at a record high of 11.75% by 11:07 a.m. in London.

Ethiopia’s economic pain, following the hit from the pandemic, was exacerbated by a civil war in its northern Tigray region, which has depleted government finances. Ethiopia, along with at least two other African nations, Chad and Zambia, have approached creditors for debt relief under the G-20 program that aims to rework the debt for countries at risk of defaulting amid the fallout from the virus.

China’s inclusion as the co-chair of the creditor committee is key, according to Mark Bohlund, a senior credit analyst at REDD Intelligence. It “strengthens the likelihood that re-profiling of debt service to bilateral creditors will need to be reciprocated by commercial creditors, for instance through a consent solicitation with eurobond holders to delay coupon payments,” Bohlund said.

Ethiopia creditors’ committee meets as Addis seeks new IMF facility (Reuters)


The meeting, which was led by the co-chairs, France and China, was “successful”, State Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign Tolina told a news conference, adding that the next meeting would be held soon. (REUTERS Photo)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s creditors’ committee held its first meeting on Sept. 16, the state minister of finance said on Wednesday, a key step in a bid to restructure its debts under the joint G20′s common framework.

The meeting, which was led by the co-chairs, France and China, was “successful”, State Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign Tolina told a news conference, adding that the next meeting would be held soon.

“How (the) private sector components will be treated is something that the creditors’ committee will work on in the coming weeks,” Eyob said.

Ethiopia said in January it would seek debt relief under a Group of 20 (G20) common framework designed to help governments to overhaul the debt they owe to official and commercial creditors after the COVID-19 crisis deepened the burdens of many developing countries spiralling. read more

That news sent the price of Ethiopia’s dollar bond issue into its biggest one-day fall, dropping around 8 cents in the dollar to under 92 cents. It now trades at around 86 cents.

“We have been assuring them (Eurobond investors) strongly that the government has no solvency issues,” Eyob said.

The amount of debt to be restructured will be known at the next meeting of the committee, he said.

The government in Addis Ababa, whose troops are engaged in a conflict against Tigrayan forces in the north, says the restructuring of debt will help it create stable economic fundamentals.

“This action will provide liquidity relief from the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and help establish the fiscal space needed,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

The government has requested a new extended credit facility from the International Monetary Fund, the ministry said, to replace an expired component of a lending program from the IMF that is already in place.

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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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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%.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • 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.

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    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.

    Read more »

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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.

    Read more »

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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.

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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:

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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

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    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

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    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.

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    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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    Marcus and Maya Samuelsson – Surviving the Pandemic and Finding Their Tribes

    "Having a sense of purpose helped Mr. Samuelsson to design a new routine for himself and his family." (Photo by Angela Bankhead)

    The New York Times

    June 10th, 2021′

    By Stephanie Cain

    The chef Marcus Samuelsson would not have made it through the pandemic without the help of his community.

    He says the support from his family, his Harlem neighborhood and his fellow restaurant workers made getting up every day have meaning. In the process, he fell even more in love with New York City.

    “Why did it have to be Covid to create this sense of community?” Mr. Samuelsson said. “But that is something I choose to see positively out of a very, very, very difficult year.”

    Mr. Samuelsson, 50, lives with his wife, Maya Haile Samuelsson, a fashion model, and their 4-year-old son, Zion, in Harlem, not far from his Red Rooster restaurant. When New York City went into lockdown in March 2020 and some residents decamped to second homes, the family stayed in their brownstone.

    There was enough change to deal with already. As the founder of the Marcus Samuelsson Group, with 36 restaurants from London to Bermuda, Mr. Samuelsson was weighing options on how to proceed with his teams. For Ms. Haile Samuelsson, 39, all fashion work halted. Zion could no longer go to preschool or even the nearby playground.
    After the initial shock, the couple began to acknowledge their privilege. For Mr. Samuelsson, that was realizing that he had health care when so many others living around him in Harlem did not. Ms. Haile Samuelsson wondered: How can I think about fashion when other people are fighting for hospital beds? The couple heard ambulances rush by all night.

    Mr. Samuelsson saw the neighborhood fall into despair at a rapid pace. That was the motivation, he said, to turn Red Rooster into a community kitchen for Central Harlem. “It gave me purpose to get up in the morning, put on a mask and gloves, walk to Red Rooster, and feed 800 people a day,” he said. “I was back to being a chef again, something I’ve been doing since I was 17 years old.”

    Read the full article here »

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    In Louisville, Kentucky Family of Slain Ethiopian Store Owner Devastated His American Dream Came to Tragic End

    The shooting happened around noon Monday...when police arrived, they found a man, now identified as Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, of Louisville, shot to death inside the store. His niece Hilena Haileselassie and nephew Amanuel Abay said they didn't know who would do this to their uncle. (WLKY)

    WLKY

    Family of slain Louisville liquor store owner devastated his American dream came to tragic end

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The family of a Taylor Berry liquor store owner shot to death inside the store is asking for the public’s help in identifying his killer.

    The shooting happened around noon Monday at a store in the 3200 block of Taylor Boulevard, which is just blocks away from Churchill Downs.

    When police arrived, they found a man, now identified as Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, of Louisville, shot to death inside the store.

    His niece Hilena Haileselassie and nephew Amanuel Abay said they didn’t know who would do this to their uncle.

    “What am I going to say to the person who took our everything?” Haileselassie asked. “Someone chose on a Monday morning to come and take his life and it’s devastating. His wife found him. His nephew [Abay] found him.”

    The store was a venture by Haileselassie and his wife to start a new chapter when they moved from Louisville to Atlanta. Haileselassie owned the store for two years before tragedy struck a family already experiencing loss in their home country.

    “I feel like I lost a thousand people,” Abay said. “We’re already losing a lot of people in Tigray, Ethiopia. Our family are dying there. Again, here, to happen, this to us. It’s unreal, another death.”

    Abay recalled the conversations he had with his uncle about staying safe in a city now plagued by violence.

    “He kept saying as long as you’re nice to people, they will never kill you,” Abay said. “He never thought somebody would come and kill him.”

    Part of the shock for the family is knowing how much Haileselassie himself survived as a young man. The family said he fled his home country of Ethiopia through Sudan and arrived in America in search of a better life.

    “To say Dimtsu Haileselassie was the epitome of the American Dream is not an understatement,” niece Hilena Haileselassie said. “Pulling himself up, pulling his family up with him, pulling the community up with him. Even having gone through all of that, he was the brightest face in the room. That’s his legacy. The kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness. My stomach was sick just to know his blood was spilled here.”

    A communal room next door to the store where he was killed is being used to celebrate his life. As the family begins their Ethiopian mourning tradition, they’re calling out to the community Dimtsu Haileselassie had so much faith in to honor him and help bring his killer to justice.

    “We need some form of closure,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “It’s not going to bring Dimtsu back. But it can’t end like this so please, please call the anonymous tip line.”

    LMPD has not yet made an arrest in his shooting, but released photos Tuesday of a suspect:

    Suspect in liquor store homicideWANTED: LMPD releases photos of suspect in fatal shooting of liquor store employee
    Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 502-574-LMPD.

    Read the full story and watch video at wlky.com »

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    Spotlight: Review of Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ in DC

    Mimi’s is named for Siham Mohammed (bottom left), whose mother used to call her “Mimi” as a child. [Siham] is an entrepreneur, just like her parents were back in Gondar. Her restaurant Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ is located on Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Wahington, DC. (The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ brings a delicious taste of East African cooking to a new audience

    A woman tends to a small portable grill she has placed atop a picnic table at Anacostia Park, just steps from a pirate ship that has, for the moment, separated children from their phones long enough to explore every inch of the three-masted playground. From my own picnic table, I can’t tell what she is cooking, but it has the unmistakable aroma of meat charred and caramelized on a hot grill.

    Of course, I have my own platter of grilled meat, which I had bought minutes earlier at Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ, just up the way on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Long, ropy lengths of beef are coiled and tangled on a bed of injera, each strip slathered with awaze red-pepper paste and blackened from a brief stay on the grill. Some sections have this sublime crustiness, which forms best, I think, when thickly marinated meats hit a superhot grate. To be honest, I can’t tell who’s enjoying their afternoon more: the children on the pirate ship or me with my zilzil tibs.

    Mimi’s is named for Siham Mohammed, whose mother used to call her “Mimi” as a child. Mohammed is an entrepreneur, just like her parents were back in Gondar, in the northern reaches of Ethiopia. Aside from Mimi’s, Mohammed also owns the supermarket a few doors down where, according to the signage, you can get groceries, accessories and your checks cashed. To my mind, the sign doesn’t begin to cover the vast array of foods, services and household goods found in Mohammed’s store.

    Mimi’s, by contrast, has only a few offerings. It has even fewer workers. Its principal employee is Hikmah Tasew, older sister to Mohammed. Tasew serves as prep cook, baker, chef, dishwasher, cashier, you name it. She arrives early in the morning and leaves late at night, six days a week. She’s a crew of one, layered in clothes from top to bottom, from her floor-length striped dress to her tawny-colored headscarf. The only visible parts of her body are her hands and her face, which radiates kindness.

    “It breaks my heart seeing her working hard, to be honest with you,” says Mohammed. “She makes everything on a daily basis. She doesn’t make anything for the next day. … She makes everything fresh, just like at her house.”

    Read more »

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    Olympic Talk: Letesenbet Gidey Breaks 2-Day-Old World Record in 10,000m

    On Tuesday letesenbet Gidey broke the 5000m world record at the Ethiopian Olympic Trials in Hengelo, Netherlands. (yes, the Ethiopian Trials are being held in the Netherlands). She took 5.79 seconds off Sifan Hassan’s record from Sunday. (Getty Images)

    Olympic Talk

    Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey lowered the women’s 10,000m world record, two days after Sifan Hassan broke it on the same track in Hengelo, Netherlands.

    Gidey, who on Oct. 7 broke the 5000m world record, clocked 29:01.03 at the Ethiopian Olympic Trials (yes, the Ethiopian Trials are being held in the Netherlands). She took 5.79 seconds off Hassan’s record from Sunday.

    Hassan, an Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, brought the record down 10.63 seconds from Ethiopian Almaz Ayana‘s winning time at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    In total, 30.75 seconds have been taken off the world record starting with Ayana in Rio. Before that, the mark of 29:31.78 set by dubious Chinese runner Wang Junxia had stood since 1993, and nobody else had run within 22 seconds of it.

    All four men’s and women’s 5000m and 10,000m world records have been broken over the last 10 months. Runners have benefited from technology — new spikes and pacing lights on the track.

    In 2019, Gidey took 10,000m silver at the world championships. In 2020, she took 4.5 seconds off countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba‘s 12-year-old 5000m world record.

    Gidey, 23, was previously briefly expelled from school for refusing to run in physical education classes.

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    In Idaho, Athlete Rosina Machu From Ethiopia is The most Inspirational Story of 2021 Graduation Season

    Rosina Machu set a number of records through her years at Boise High School. (Photo by Michael Najera)

    Boise State Public Radio

    Meet Rosina Machu: Ethiopian Refugee, Idaho Track Phenom And New Boise High Graduate

    Rosina Machu may be the most inspirational story of Idaho’s 2021 graduation season. She barely survived Malaria at the age of 2 and spent much of her childhood in a refugee camp in the shadow of war-torn Ethiopia. She and her family were ultimately relocated to Idaho.

    As she remembers it, she wasn’t overly interested in athletics, but a Boise elementary physical education teacher insisted that she run around a track with the rest of her class.

    ”And at the time I was like, ‘OK, you can’t make me do sports. I don’t want to do it.’ So I just said, ‘OK,’ and I started running and I enjoyed it,” Machu said.

    Indeed, she would go on to become one of Idaho’s best track athletes in recent memory.


    Rosina Machu and her Boise High track teammates. (Photo: Boise High School/Courtesy Of Michael Najera)

    As she prepares to say farewell to Boise High School, in preparation of attending Gonzaga University, Machu and her Boise High track coach Aaron Olswanger visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about her past and her impressive dreams for the future.

    “It’s amazing, she’s so smooth, so strong just to see her progression over the last four years, it has been just remarkable.”

    — Aaron Olswanger

    Read the full transcript below:

    GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I’m George Prentice. Indeed, this is graduation season and there is much to celebrate in the class of 2021. And we’re going to meet an exceptional high school graduate and hear a bit of her story. But first, let’s say good morning to the track coach at Boise High School. He is Aaron Olswanger.

    AARON OLSWANGER: Good morning. Thanks for having us on.

    PRENTICE: Well, first of all, congratulations to you and making it through a school year unlike any other. Quite an achievement.

    OLSWANGER: Thank you. It’s been a challenging year,

    PRENTICE: But you ended together: your students in class…in person.

    OLSWANGER: Yeah, it was nice getting everybody together in the last nine weeks of the school year and it almost acted like we were functioning normally again.

    PRENTICE: Coach, I’m going to ask you to do the honors and introduce us to a special guest short.

    OLSWANGER: This is Rosina Machu. She is, like you said, a senior graduating here. And she’s been a cross country and track and field runner for us for the last four years, at Boise High, and has basically done everything under the sun and more… and she’s more than just a tremendous leader in our program and a great role model for our younger kids.


    Rosina Machu and Boise High track coach Aaron Olswanger. (Photo: Boise High School, Aaron Olswange)

    PRENTICE: Rosina. Good morning.

    ROSINA MACHU: Good morning.

    PRENTICE: It’s my understanding that you spent some of your childhood in war-torn Ethiopia. What do you remember of those years?

    MACHU: I actually remember quite a lot like up until we left in June of 2007. I believe… a lot of my memories I can remember are…since we were in a refugee camp in a war torn country, I did get sick a lot. I was very young. I had malaria. And it hit my younger sister, too. We both had malaria. It was very bad for us. And something I remember was when I was sick, at the time, my mom had to take me to the doctor to get me checked up. And I remember she had to stick a finger down my throat to make me throw up and get rid of any bad things in my body, just to make me feel better. I remember that. Whenever anyone asked me something about Ethiopia and I was there in the refugee camp, the one thing my mind goes to is that…something I will always remember.

    PRENTICE: So my sense then would be that you are supersensitive to the importance of health and keeping fit, and how important it is not only for survival, but, well, to be a premium athlete, which you have become.

    MACHU: Yeah. Being healthy and just taking care of your body and yourself is one of the big things to being an athlete and just being a healthy person overall. So, I try to take care of my health as best I can.

    PRENTICE: Rosina… why do you run?

    MACHU: To be honest, growing up as a kid, I was never the most active or athletic kid. My dad would take me to soccer games because he’s a big soccer fan. And he tried to get me into sports, especially soccer. But I was never interested. Everyone took me to the soccer games. I’d go run off and like the other kids, do anything other than watch the game. Even when we came to the United States, I wasn’t an active kid. I never joined any sports teams like my dad wanted me to. And how I got into running was in third grade when we ran the mile for the first time. I never did sports… never did running ever in my life. Our PE teacher took us outside to our giant field, made us run for laps, and I guess I had a really good time for a little third grader. He’s said, “You know what, Rosina? When you’re in fifth grade and you can start doing track and like sports, you are going to join the track team.” And at the time I was like, “OK, you can’t make me do sports. I don’t want to do it.” So I just said, “OK,” and I started running and I enjoyed it.

    PRENTICE: Coach, what’s it like to watch Rosina run?

    OLSWANGER: Oh, it’s amazing, she’s so smooth, so strong just to see her progression over the last four years, it has been just remarkable. And I have so much confidence in my athletes and especially when I watch her run. Looking back to this past weekend at the state tournament…you just know she’s going to do great things.

    PRENTICE: You’ve probably lost count of how many personal bests and school bests and state bests… This is quite some athlete we’re talking to here.

    OLSWANGER: Yeah, she continues to improve, which is the remarkable thing. A lot of high school kids don’t… sometimes when they’re younger. Rosina has been the opposite. She’s gotten better every single year. And she ended with two of her lifetime bests at the state meet.

    PRENTICE: Let’s talk about college. You’re heading to Gonzaga, I hear.

    MACHU: Yeah, I am. I’m super excited to go up there and turn a new page in the book, inside a new chapter and make a lot of new friends and learn many more things.

    PRENTICE: Are you the first in your family to go to college?

    OLSWANGER: I’m the first kid in my family to go to college and hopefully my younger siblings will follow me and go to college as well.

    PRENTICE: Great. What do you want to do someday?

    MACHU: I wanted to be a doctor. But then I started watching some medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy. You know what? Maybe not a doctor, like a surgeon…I’m not going to school for fifteen years. And then I got into law and criminal justice and I took a class here at Boise High School. And I really enjoyed it. And it opened up my eyes to criminal law and justice. So that’s one of the things I want to maybe major in, along with social work or psychology. I took a class in psychology at Boise High. And I really enjoyed that as well.

    PRENTICE: I feel like tossing her the keys right now. It sounds like the world will be better off.

    OLSWANGER: Yeah, she’ll have she’ll have some tremendous opportunities at Gonzaga.

    PRENTICE: Congratulations on graduation… on everything that you’ve done at Boise High and everything you are about to do at Gonzaga. We can’t wait to read about all of your success there and hear about that. Coach, to you. Best of luck on another year, another season.

    OLSWANGER: Thank you so much.

    PRENTICE: Talk about class… the class of 2021.

    MACHU: Thank you so much for this.

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    How an Orphan From Ethiopia Became a U.S. Air Force Academy Soccer Signee

    Kobey Stoup, who is adopted from Ethiopia, came to America when he was five years old. This year he was recruited  by the U.S. Air Force Academy as a Soccer player. (Photo: courtesy of Mary Stoup)

    Montgomery Advertiser

    How an orphan from Ethiopia who lived in Montgomery became an Air Force Academy soccer signee

    One of the things Kobey Stoup remembers about his childhood in Ethiopia is the process of picking up new dialects. He and his mom bounced across the region and had to quickly learn. Even then, he had a tendency to hang back and watch, his mom pressing him to be more vocal.

    But he adjusted and adapted.

    “I’m kind of used to moving around,” Stoup said.

    His childhood gave him perspective, even if he didn’t realize it at the time. It helped him when he was a 5-year-old orphan who was adopted by Mary and Mark Stoup and moved to the United States. Mark, a retired Air Force colonel and a civilian working at Maxwell Air Force Base, and Mary have four biological daughters and one adopted son, but Mary realized she wanted another after a trip to Ethiopia. They now have three adopted children.

    They’ve always been impressed with how Kobey has handled new locales as the military family moved repeatedly through the South. Through it all he’s had soccer, playing originally on a concrete court at his orphanage with crumbled trash shaped into a ball. Now, Stoup is preparing for his next step with the Air Force Academy, where he’ll play right back.

    “I may have understood (the move) at the time,” Kobey said. “It’s hard to explain. It just felt right. I don’t really remember.”

    One of his first memories of the U.S. was seeing the bright lights from the plane in the airport hangar. He’s learned English from his siblings. Playing sports allowed him to narrow his focus…


    Kobey Stoup, who is adopated from Ethiopia, came to America when he was five years old. This year he was recruited by the U.S. Air Force Academy as a Soccer player.

    He played in the Olympic Development Program and spent some time with the Montgomery Streaks, now known as Alabama FC South. The MLS club Atlanta United contacted him for its developmental academy in Georgia, and Kobey stayed with a host family the last four years.

    In a pro environment, though, Kobey noticed things he didn’t like. Some coaches preferred some players over others and the business aspect of sports — injuries, trades, new signees — took his future out of his control.

    So he pivoted to college options, earning looks from multiple Division I programs.

    Read the full artcile at montgomeryadvertiser.com »

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    An Extremely Rare Jazz Album From a Legendary DC-Area Artist Has Been Reissued: Hailu Mergia’s “Tezeta”

    On Friday, Ethiopian jazz artist Hailu Mergia re-released the nine-track "Tezeta".

    Washingtonian Magazine

    A very rare jazz album from a legendary Ethiopian artist is now a lot easier to get a hold of. Hailu Mergia, who’s lived in the DC area for years, debuted “Tezeta” in 1975 with the Walias Band. The nine-song album was originally released on cassette and has been difficult to track down. But on Friday, the record label Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued a remastered version of “Tezeta”—meaning fans can now simply download it.

    Hailu Mergia & the Walias Band were a huge influence on modern Ethiopian music. The group went on tour in the U.S. in 1981, performing mostly for Ethiopian refugees. However, they split after four band members opted not to go back to Ethiopia, which was under a military regime at time.

    The four members, including Mergia, continued to release music under a new name, Zula Band. Mergia studied music at Howard University and worked as a taxi driver near Dulles airport. As he drove passengers around, he would jam out to his old songs, which increased the popularity of Zula Band within Washington.

    You can buy “Tazeta” digitally for $9. Physical copies have already sold out.

    Related:

    Originally released on cassette tape in 1975, the reissue arrives this June via Awesome Tapes From Africa


    Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band. (Photo courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa)

    Pitchfork

    Ethiopian music legend Hailu Mergia has announced a new reissue of his 1975 album with the Walias Band, Tezeta. The rare, initially cassette-only release has been remastered by restoration engineer Jessica Thompson and arrives June 4 via Awesome Tapes From Africa. Check out “Nefas New Zemedie,” as well as the album artwork and full tracklist, below.

    Tezeta was recorded at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, where Mergia and the Walias Band were the resident backing band for some of the most influential names in Ethiopian music. It was the group’s first proper full-length release and was originally released under its own Ethio Sound label. At the time of the recording, the Walias Band lineup featured Moges Habte (saxophone and flute), Mahmoud Aman (guitar), Yohannes Tekola (trumpet), Melake Gebre (bass guitar), Girma Beyene (piano), Temare Haregu (drums), and Abebe Kassa (alto saxophone).

    Read Pitchfork’s review of Hailu Mergia’s 2020 album Yene Mircha.

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    The Concept of “Culture” in Modern Ethiopian Context: By Ayele Bekerie

    "Culture provides context with regard to people to people interactions. Cultural understanding is key to peaceful co existence. It is by making space to learn and understand people’s cultures that communication and interaction among people will have positive outcome." -- Ayele Bekerie. (Photo: Dagi pictures)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

    Published: June 3rd, 2021

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Human beings are defined by cultures they created, nurtured and embraced. Culture names people, for it is people who make and use culture. It defines and projects their identities within themselves and in relation to others. Culture offers them a sense of belongingness, also a sense to embolden human to human relations. That is, they will have a sense of direction and purpose. It allows them to have and nurture a safe space, a safe space to sing, cry, laugh and even do nothing. Culture provides a certain degree of protection from negative stereotypes or negative judgements of others. One is judged within one’s own cultural community means that the judgement will be fact-based and may serve as a tool for growth and improvement.

    It is through culture that people constitute family and community and beyond that may be able to acquire the ability to establish lasting institutions to produce and utilize knowledge or develop characteristics and to be able to passing experiences from one generation to another. Each generation will have the opportunity to leave behind their cultural signatures.

    Culture is about what is learned, shared, and symbolized. It is integrated and dynamic. It is subject to evolution and innovation, from time to time, facing critical evaluation. Culture is not about blood or DNA. It is not fixed and is, as a rule, subject to change. Culture provides a framework to human development. Humans acquire attributes of life and living through cultural initiations. The skills of mastering a profession or acquiring knowledge is
    rooted in the cultural tradition one is very familiar with.

    Culture provides context with regard to people to people interactions. Cultural understanding is key to peaceful co existence. It is by making space to learn and understand people’s cultures that communication and interaction among people will have positive outcome. It is also the acknowledgement of the presence of diverse cultures that will enable people to address misunderstandings and disagreements, in a peaceful and dialogic manner.

    Traditional culture is often recognized through arts, music, choreography, story-telling, theatre, and poetry. People often ritualize traditional culture and celebrate them within their own time calendar. Festivities, ceremonies and other time-based activities provide opportunities to maintain and advance the tradition. It also offers an occasion for others to be introduced to the tradition.

    It is a phenomenon which is characteristically collective. As the saying goes, I am because we are and we are because I am. Individuals will be able to shine first and foremost in the context of their own cultures. Talents are first tested in one’s safe space. Some talents may attract universal attention thereby transforming the talented individual to global recognition and fame. Culinary traditions of the Chinese or the Mexicans or the Ethiopians have achieved worldwide appreciation. Chinatowns are present in almost all the major cities of the world. Interactions through food pave the way to intercultural understanding. Food diplomacy may be one way to ease political tensions.

    In a multiethnic society such as ours, culture is not only collective, but it is normally expressed with nuances and overlapping tendencies. What people share or what they have in common overrides singular features. Multiethnicity appears to have both distinct and cross-cultural features. It is therefore paramount for our society to recognize the impure nature of our cultures.

    In other words, given our long history and the tendency of people to move from place to place, cultures flourish in a setting that there are other cultures nearby or in interaction with one another.

    Moral and social values, behaviors, beliefs, languages, occupation are often recognized as realms of culture. Even if these expressions are marked with distinctiveness, the practitioners assume multilayered cultural identities. The more features one acquires both from within and without, the more open-minded the person becomes. Tolerance and respect are key words that often guide the day to day activities of a broad-minded person.

    It is fair to state that culture is dynamic. That means, it is subject to change, growth and development. Culture is local, but it has the capacity to turn into a universal phenomenon. While culture possesses its own fingerprints to mark people’s identity and way of life, it is also capable of crossing boundaries.

    Culture is a source of free space. It is a comfort zone for members of a particular cultural attribute and people’s ability to express themselves fully, free of inhibition, lies in cultural reference point.

    Institutions often serve as permanent homes of culture. Educational, political, economic, social and religious institutions are libraries of culture. In these institutions, knowledge is produced and propagated. Categories are useful tools that allow the systematic organization and utilization of cultural attributes.

    We may not have universally agreed upon definition of culture, but human beings are capable of recognizing cultural phenomena often expressed in the form of arts, music, aesthetics or festivities. Culinary traditions, for instance, are people-specific. The culinary traditions of the Chinese are distinct and as such recognized by non-Chinese.

    Culture is often marked or celebrated in the form of festivals. Rituals are sources of cultural manifestations. Human beings affirm their sense of culture by participating in cultural activities, be it religious or non-religious.

    The retention of cultural values will be stronger if a specific cultural event is practiced on a regular basis by people. Cultural activities may be practiced both at home and in public squares.

    Cultural development is governed by internal forces, such as natural resources, occupation, beliefs and knowledge production. Culture is also capable of absorbing practices from outside sources. There are no rigid boundaries among cultures. However, it is always important to advance the non-hierarchical nature of culture. That was not the case, however, in the world we live in. Cultural supremacy has been deployed to effectuate colonialism. Languages of the colonizer were imposed among the colonial subjects. In other words, hegemony and supremacy are hostile to distinct local cultures. They stunt their normal development. External intervention to impose alien culture often threatens the healthy development and advancement of a particular culture.

    For instance, among the Oromo people’s cultural attributes are mogassa and gudificha. Mogassa refers to fostering children from within and without the community, while gudificha refers to adoption of children from non-Oromo communities. These cultural attributes represent the learned nature of culture. It also affirms that culture is not about blood or biology nor it is about purity.

    The notion of blood tie or the push for purity are mere ideological and political posturing often used to cover up the active mission of land grabbing and to engage in displacing people who are labeled impure. Millions of people have been displaced and pushed out of their birthplaces under the cover of purity and lack of blood relations. Since blood or biology is a false base for a person’s identity, its use is an excuse to fascistically remove people from the land of their birth.

    In most instances, blood is used as a false tool to claim identity and also to bypass the fact that
    the non-Oromos might be speaking the language of their new homeland.

    To conclude, culture is a trademark of human beings. Human beings flourish if they have access to cultures they relate and are in a position to actively participate in them. Intercultural interactions lead to peaceful co-existence of different cultures, provided that there are no hierarchies among cultures. By adopting tolerance, respect and understanding to cultures, human beings will be in a position to create and embrace a peaceful world.

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    Ethni & Serene Amsale: 17 Year-old Ethiopian American Twin Sisters Reflect on Their Culture

    In the following essay twin sisters Ethni & Serene Amsale reflect on their Ethiopian culture. Born and raised in the U.S. the college bound sisters -- who live in Middletown, Delaware -- are set to graduate from high school this month. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ethni Amsale

    Updated: June 7th, 2021

    Middletown, Delaware — My name is Ethni Amsale. I am 17 and a first generation, Ethiopian American. My twin sister, Serene and I were raised by our beautiful single mother. Our lives have been nothing short of full and bright. Throughout my lifetime, I have been blessed to have been exposed to my Ethiopian culture and background. I believe all should be judged by their character and how they treat others rather than their ethnic or economic background. This is most important.


    Ethni and Serene Amsale at their home in Middletown, Delaware. (Courtesy photo)

    However, I often remember feeling proud of my ethnic background when I went on car rides with my family listening to Ethiopian music. My mother would explain the lyrics to my sister and I, unveiling the message behind each tune. One song stands out to me Tikur Sew or “Black Man” by Teddy Afro was its title. The song is a tribute to Emperor Melenik II’s victory of a united Ethiopia against an Italian invasion specifically in the Battle of Adwa. It highlighted the role women played in the Ethiopian military, celebrating our success in resisting European colonialism. My mom tells us to listen for the lyrics ourselves and that this is one of the many reasons we feel honored to be Ethiopian. As I get older, I become increasingly exposed to a variety of literature, music, art, food, and dance representative of Ethiopia and I fall more in love with it. As a student in the American school system, I learn about history and become increasingly aware of the racial divide that exists. Although I do not fully understand it, I make an effort to research and analyze the reasons behind the socioeconomic disparity between African Americans and Whites that we witness today. The majority of African Americans who arrived in America hundreds of years ago through the transatlantic slave trade have been systematically disconnected from their roots. Many generations were born without the cognizance of their ethnic language, customs, social institutions, and achievements. They were forced to carry the name and surname given to them by their slave masters with nothing else to hold on to but the color of their skin and folktales. Unfortunately, this disconnect has caused an understandable frustration and a version of identity crisis in the Black community.


    Ethni and Serene Amsale with their mother, Meseret Tamirie, at their home in Middletown, Delaware. Ethni is also pictured on the right. (Courtesy photo)


    Ethni & Serene Amsale attending church in New York City with their mother and grandmother. (Courtesy photo)

    I am grateful for the connection I have to my ancestors birthplace and its rich history. I accredit this to my upbringing and my eagerness to continue to learn in a system that would otherwise see me fail. Currently, I am a high school senior planning on studying Animal Science and Biology on a Pre-Veterinary Track. I have been accepted to several accredited colleges and am in the process of making a decision. I am also an aspiring model and hope to one day have the platform to advocate for environmental policies that would positively impact the ecosystem and animal rights. I am appreciative of the opportunities I have and look forward to serving Ethiopia and the global community. Ethiopia enate tinur le zelalem.

    ‘Ethiopian music as the soundtrack to my life’ By Serene Amsale


    Serene Amsale. (Courtesy photo)

    By Serene Amsale

    I can imagine myself opening and closing my eyes, the light of the sun, or the highway flooding my pupils and then disappearing as my eyelids met each other. I was on a car ride, when my mother, Meseret or “Mimi” and my twin sister, Ethni would go on family trips. My Ethiopian, specifically, gurage mother would put on music, with a wide variety of Ethiopian artists. From Mohamood Ahmed to Gigi, to Teddy Afro. Ever since our first days on Earth, even if I couldn’t recall, I can hear Ethiopian music in the background of old home movies with us as babies.

    Staring out of the window, looking at landscapes, cities, and eventually crossing states, with Ethiopian music as the soundtrack to these road trips, and essentially my life. I was able to pick up on words and use my mother as a human dictionary. “Ehe mindinew?”, I would say, pointing to a lamb or cow on a local farm. It is important to note that I am passionate about animals. Ever since I was little, I aspired to be a veterinarian or wildlife biologist.

    At the age of 6, my sister and I decided in unison to become vegetarian, which my lovely, single mother fully supported. I would love learning what animals would translate to in the Amharic language. Soon after, I noticed myself understanding the language more, and the conversations my mom would have with relatives on the phone. I was able to articulate myself, which was very apparent to me on our most recent trip to Ethiopia in the summer of 2018. While I enjoyed reconnecting with family and friends, I also got a glimpse into the experience of animals in Ethiopia, particularly cattle and domesticated animals.


    Serene and Ethni Amsale with their mother, Meseret Tamirie, pictured before their Prom night at their home in Middletown, Delaware. (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)

    I noticed some were used in the prime of their lives and then deemed no longer valuable. They were left emaciated and lifeless on the streets of Addis Ababa and Hawassa, and everywhere in between, where we traveled. I am pursuing a higher education in biology and environmental policy. I will be majoring in those fields in the beginning of this fall semester. I will focus on veterinary medicine. I am confident I can rely on my knowledge thus far, and solid upbringing in my 17 years of life that being a human being is extraordinary but being Ethiopian is a true privilege.

    I take great pride in being able to call Ethiopia my country of origin. It is a strong and determined lion, “anbessa” in a pride of lost ones, remaining independent through two Italian invasions, thus becoming the only uncolonized African country in history. Accordingly, the only African country with its own indigenous alphabet, “fidel” and diverse subcultures, breaking into over 80 dialects. The land is home to impressive geographic locations, from the Danakil Depression, the hottest point on planet Earth to the Great Rift Valley and Simien Mountains- by the way I loved doing a report on them in 5th grade- The mountains helped coin the phrase “The roof of Africa” for the nation. Retrospectively, notice our flag colors, green, yellow, and red, and countries across the continent, subsequently adopt them throughout history. The first, Ghana, in 1957, then, Mali, Cameroon, Benin, and Senegal, consecutively after that. These are not simply colors, but a symbol of indepence, peace, and a real possibility of freedom, not just hope. I aspire to emulate my mother’s principles, her open-heartedness, and ability to lead with the heart, and to be present, and accessible, non-judgement towards others, belief in herself, and strong-willed, graceful, and magnetic nature. Similarly, these are all elements of the wonderful nation where our roots lie, and leading with any one of those traits will surely lead one to a bright future. I am excited to embark on my life’s adventure, and eager to affect change in a meaningful way.

    If you would like to share a similar story please send your submssion to info@tadias.com.

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Lost $500m on Telecom License Mobile-Money Move, PM Says

    The block imposed will be lifted after about a year, Abiy said at the launch of Telebirr, a mobile-payments service. “This decision has cost us a high price. When it was decided to open up the telecom market about two years ago, one of the key areas of contention was the issue of mobile money.” (Photo: @ethiotelecom)

    Bloomberg

    Ethiopia’s decision to exclude mobile money from the terms of two new telecom licenses cost the government about $500 million from bid levels, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

    The block imposed to allow the country to build its own expertise in phone-based financial technology will be lifted after about a year, Abiy said at the launch of Telebirr, a mobile-payments service. Ethio Telecom, the state-owned operator, will run Telebirr.

    “This decision has cost us a high price,” the prime minister said. “When it was decided to open up the telecom market about two years ago, one of the key areas of contention was the issue of mobile money.”

    The government has long been in the process of selling two new telecom licenses — a policy that’s at the heart of Abiy’s economic-reform plan. The move will open up one of the last major markets yet to welcome international investors, and is intended to trigger a wider privatization program to raise foreign-exchange and boost productivity.

    The issue of mobile money has been vital to the progress of the auction. Financial technology is a major revenue and profit driver for African telecom operators, who are filling a gap left by traditional banks and taking advantage of soaring smartphone use.

    “Though Ethiopian mobile penetration lags behind peers, investment and lowered prices should lead to strong growth in takeup of mobile services,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst John Davies said in a note. “The value to international investors depends on agreements with the government and how it chooses to regulate the market.”

    Ethiopia has received a license bid from a consortium including Vodafone Group Plc, Vodacom Group Ltd. and Kenya’s Safaricom Ltd. Another offer was made by MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless carrier, and China’s Silk Road Fund.

    The country is yet to announce the result.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia’s state telecoms monopoly launches mobile money service

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA, May 11 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s sole mobile operator, Ethio Telecom, launched a mobile phone-based financial service on Tuesday, seeking to boost growth by offering cashless transactions.

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

    The new service, telebirr, will mark a shift for Ethiopia, where the banking system is seen as inefficient with 19 commercial banks serving a population of about 115 million.

    State-owned Ethio said it would allow users to send and receive money, deposit or take out cash at appointed agents, pay bills to various merchants and receive cash sent from abroad.

    The company aims to attract 21 million users for the service in its first year of operations, rising to 33 million in five years, said Chief Executive Frehiwot Tamiru.

    About 40% to 50% of Ethiopia’s annual economic output will be transacted on the platform in five years, she said.

    Its launch comes as the government prepares to sell a 45% stake in Ethio, part of a broader liberalisation including the auctioning of two new full service telecoms licences.

    Only Ethio Telecom will be able to offer mobile financial services for now as foreign operators are currently barred by law from participating.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said at a launch ceremony for telebirr that the government had foregone $500 million by denying bidders for the two licences the right to roll out mobile financial services.

    “We expect Ethio Telecom to strive in a way to compensate this,” he said.

    The prime minister said, however, that mobile financial services would be opened up to competition after a year.

    He said telebirr would help provide formal financial services to those who do not have access to bank accounts.

    It will also enhance security by discouraging criminals who target cash, said Mebratu Kassa, a cashier at the Lucky Cafe and Restaurant in the capital Addis Ababa.

    “You sometimes don’t know if the note is counterfeited or not,” he said.

    Ethio Telecom, which had revenue of 25.57 billion Ethiopian birr ($604 million) in the six months to the end of December 2020, has 50.7 million subscribers.

    Apart from the Ethio stake sale, ending one of the world’s last closed telecoms markets, the government is looking more broadly to open up Ethiopia’s economy.

    Shares in sugar factories are also being sold and tentative steps towards opening up the financial sector have been taken. ($1 = 42.3188 birr)

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    Profile: At Harvard Yoseph Boku is Geared Up to Fight for Social Justice From A Biomedical Perspective

    This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates. “I really believe that public service can be therapeutic, that you can learn just as much from a volunteer opportunity as you can learn from a classroom or a section discussion,” said Yoseph Boku, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immigrated with his family to Alexandria, Va., when he was 6 years old. (The Harvard Gazette)

    The Harvard Gazette

    Yoseph Boku constantly asks himself: How can I have an impact?

    The question-slash-mindset helped define his experience at Harvard College through his research on rare genetic diseases and in his volunteer work with the homeless. It will undoubtedly continue to frame his next steps as he starts Harvard Medical School this fall.

    “I hope to dedicate my future to fighting for justice from a biomedical perspective,” he said.

    Boku’s drive to make a difference started his first year, when he realized he could do something to help local disadvantaged teenagers and young adults.

    “I saw that a lot of youth my age were sleeping outside,” said Boku, who concentrated in molecular and cellular biology and is living in Kirkland House. “I really saw great inequity where on one side of Mass. Ave., you have one of the wealthiest schools and right on the other side, you have youth who didn’t have any homes.”

    Boku began volunteering at Y2Y, a youth homeless shelter in Harvard Square. He stayed on campus during the winter break of his first year to be able to continue volunteering while interning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In his sophomore year, Boku became volunteer director at Y2Y and oversaw all Harvard student volunteers, about 150 each week. In that job Boku worked doggedly to recruit peers at Harvard, not only for the benefit of the youth the shelter served but also to give his student conscripts the opportunity to get involved with public service.

    “I really believe that public service can be therapeutic, that you can learn just as much from a volunteer opportunity as you can learn from a classroom or a section discussion,” said Boku, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immigrated with his family to Alexandria, Va., when he was 6 years old. “Even doing a single shift can leave an impact. It was my hope that, from their shift at Y2Y, it would give Harvard students a yearning for social justice so that these Harvard students, wherever they go on to — whether it’s consulting or medicine or law — that volunteer experience with Y2Y would impact them so that they continue for the rest of their lives to advocate for those who don’t have.”

    That type of effort was why Boku was recognized in 2020 with the Spirit of Harvard College award. It is given to students who have shown a commitment to the ideals articulated in Harvard’s mission.

    When the pandemic struck, Boku switched to working remotely as a case manager. During the fall semester, Boku helped a local high school student find a place to take his online classes when the Y2Y building was closed. He worked with the student, the administrators at his school, and the Cambridge mayor’s office to find him a shared working space in Cambridge.

    “It showed me the importance and real-life impact that advocacy can have,” Boku said.

    The 21-year-old made his impact felt outside of Y2Y as well. Just before the pandemic hit last February, Boku helped organize the third annual student-run Black Health Matters Conference. It focused on racial disparities in health care for African Americans, an issue that a few months later was in the national spotlight.

    Over the years Boku has developed a special interest in sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to become misshapen and break down, and disproportionally affects Black and brown communities. He got involved in mentoring young adults diagnosed with it through STRIVE, the Harvard mentoring program for teenagers with the disease.

    While he is concerned about sickle cell disease, Boku hasn’t done much research on it just yet. Most of his efforts thus far have been geared toward rare genetic diseases with no cure, such as progeria and tuberous sclerosis complex. Because they don’t affect a large number of people, they tend to have trouble drawing major funding from sources like big pharmaceutical companies.

    Boku’s passion for looking into rare diseases was cultivated in a neurobiology class he took his junior year. A father of two girls with a rare sleeping disorder spoke to the class about the difficulties of finding physicians who specialized in treating his daughters’ condition.

    “There wasn’t really enough research being done so he broke the fourth wall and asked us to go into rare disease research,” Boku said. “That is what strengthened my resolve to do research on these diseases that are neglected by the broader research community. In a way, I see that as no different from my work with Y2Y, mentoring students with sickle cell, or my work with the Black Health Matters Conference. All of it is fighting for justice, whether I’m pipetting in the lab or whether I’m making a grilled cheese sandwich at Y2Y or whether I am introducing speakers for a panel at the conference. All of it was fighting for justice.”

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    SPORT: Gudaf Tsegay Makes 10000m Debut With Crazy 29:39.42

    In Portugal this past weekend the 24-year-old Gudaf Tsegay became the first woman in history who in her 10000m debut broke the 30-minute barrier. Tsegay's 29:39.42 puts her in fifth place on the world all-time list. (Watch Athletics)

    Watch Athletics

    Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay ran an amazing 29:39.42 10,000m debut on Saturday at the Fernanda Ribeiro Gold Gala in Portugal.

    The world indoor 1500m record holder (3:53.09), ran 14:55 for the first 5000m and then accelerated to 14:49 for the second half to win the race in 29:39.42.

    Behind Tsegay finished Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne who returned to racing since 2018 and amazingly clocked 29:50.77. Meanwhile, Uganda’s Doreen Chesang took third place in 32:09.82.

    The 24-year-old, Gudaf became the first woman in history who in her 10000m debut broke the 30-minute barrier. Tsegay’s 29:39.42 puts her in fifth place on the world all-time list.

    In the men’s 10000m race Kenya’s world championships bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto clocked 27:11.01 for the win. He finished miles ahead of compatriot Shadrack Koech (27:59.19).

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    ART TALK: Helina Metaferia’s Solo Debut with Addis Fine Art at 2021 Frieze NYC

    Ethiopian American artist Helina Metaferia is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance, and social engagement. As a research based artist, Helina's work is informed by written and oral archives, dialogical art, and somatic practices. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow / Assistant Professor at Brown University. (Addis Fine Art)

    Press Release

    Addis Fine Art is delighted to announce its representation of artist Helina Metaferia in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Helina will make her solo debut with Addis Fine Art at this year’s Frieze NYC Online Viewing Rooms from 7 – 14 May 2021.

    For Frieze NYC Online Viewing Rooms, Addis Fine Art will be showcasing a series of collage works and an accompanying film by Helina Metaferia. The works are a continuation of the series titled, By Way of Revolution, a celebration of the overlooked histories of BIPOC women’s labor within activism, and the generational impact of civil rights eras of the past on today’s social justice movements.

    Her mixed media works are made with images sourced from archival research of historical activism, including Black Panther newspapers and civil rights era photographs. She then amalgamates these images into crowns of adornment upon portraits she has photographed of women who are involved in contemporary liberation movements. Previous collages include portraits of participants of her performance-as-protest workshops that she conducts nationally. Her most recent works draw upon the activities of the Black Lives Matter movement during the pandemic and showcase Black women activists in LA and NYC, including BLM founders and chapter leaders such as Opal Tometi and Melina Abdullah, and recently formed artist-activist groups, such as The Wide Awakes, Revival Resistance Chorus, and Blacksmiths.


    HELINA METAFERIA, HEADDRESS VIII, 2020, Mixed media, collage, 88.9 x 88.9 cm (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

    HELINA METAFERIA

    Helina Metaferia is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance, and social engagement. Through a hybrid of media, Helina’s practise is concerned with exploring overlooked stories relating to the Black experience, mainly in the context of the West. She approaches this by centring Black bodies, mostly women, in positions of power and vulnerability to interrogate complex histories of systemic oppression, questioning how it informs personal experiences and interpersonal relationships. She is also influenced by her Ethiopian heritage, often drawing upon traditional African art sensibilities in her work, specifically the intersection of visual art and ritual.

    As a research based artist, Helina’s work is informed by written and oral archives, dialogical art, and somatic practices. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow / Assistant Professor at Brown University.

    Helina’s work has appeared in numerous institutional solo and group exhibitions including Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit; Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, among many others. Her solo exhibition, Generations will open at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in Autumn 2021. Helina’s work has also been supported by several artist residencies including MacDowell, Yaddo, Bemis, MASS MoCA, and Triangle Arts Association. She is also a participant of the 2021 Drawing Center’s Viewing Program. Helina received her MFA from Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Art and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

    Learn more at addisfineart.com.

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    OPINION: What Ethiopia Needs is Less, Not More, Ethno-Nationalism

    The author of the following article Yohannes Gedamu is a lecturer of Political Science at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, GA, in the United States. (Photo: The Ethiopian Parliament building in Addis Ababa/via Twitter)

    Aljazeera

    By Yohannes Gedamu

    The TPLF, not the Abiy government and its allies, is responsible for the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.

    On November 29 of last year, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the end of his administration’s military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the country’s northern Tigray region. This announcement has since proved premature. Tigray’s conflict, and the consequent humanitarian crisis, continues to this day.

    The TPLF, an ethno-nationalist front that dominated Ethiopia’s coalition politics for almost three decades before Abiy’s rise to power, was responsible for the onset of the conflict that is devastating the region.

    The conflict started in early November, when the TPLF launched sudden, coordinated attacks on the northern command centres of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) across Tigray. In response, the federal government immediately declared a national emergency and launched an extensive counteroffensive. With the help of militia and police forces from the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara, the ENDF swiftly pushed the TPLF forces back and gained control of Tigray and its capital city Mekelle in a matter of weeks.

    The TPLF, however, refused to accept defeat and vowed to continue fighting. Fighters loyal to the group are still engaged in guerrilla warfare against the federal government.

    The ongoing conflict has had a heavy human cost. Forces loyal to the TPLF, as well as the ENDF and its regional allies, have been accused of causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Civilians have been killed and many forced to flee their homes and seek shelter in neighbouring regions and countries. Hundreds of cases of sexual violence have also been recorded and citizens in Tigray are still struggling to access clean food and water, according to the United Nations. The TPLF’s guerrilla fighters have also attacked aid convoys and road infrastructures, which worsened the humanitarian situation in the region.

    While the conflict has had a devastating impact on all Ethiopians, many believe the military counteroffensives conducted by the federal government with the help of forces from neighbouring regions were justified. Indeed, had the government not responded to the TPLF attacks with force, the consequences would have been a lot worse for the country. A TPLF victory against the federal army in Tigray could have triggered an endless, bloody civil war across Ethiopia and marked the beginning of the country’s disintegration. The federal government and neighbouring regional states had no option other than to do everything they can to stop the TPLF’s aggression in Tigray before it spilled over to other parts of the country.

    Despite this, some accused the Amhara and Afar states of supporting the federal effort to contain the TPLF solely due to their “ethnic animosity” against the group.

    As the conflict started with aggression by the TPLF against the Ethiopian national army, which is tasked with protecting all Ethiopians and not any specific ethnic group, these accusations are baseless. Nevertheless, it is also impossible to deny that Amharas and Afars had suffered immense discrimination and abuse under the rule of the TPLF for decades and have every reason to be fearful of the group and its attempts to regain control of the country.

    To understand how Ethiopia ended up where it is today, and why the administrations of Tigray’s neighbouring states did not hesitate to help Abiy’s government defeat the TPLF, we need to look at the country’s recent past.

    Launched as a fledgeling fighting group in the 1970s, the TPLF led a movement that came to power in 1991 after overthrowing the Communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam. It established a multi-ethnic governing coalition that was dominated by ethnic Tigrayans.

    The ethnic federal arrangement that the TPLF established and led for nearly three decades resulted in unprecedented levels of instability, ethnic violence, displacements and countless massacres across the country.

    While the TPLF put Tigrayans before all other peoples of Ethiopia, they were especially hostile to some ethnic groups, such as the Amhara.

    The group’s founding political manifesto actually listed the Amharas as the number-one enemy of the Tigrayan people and called for controlling them. After rising to political power, the group unlawfully seized many traditionally Amhara inhabited territories in the north and northwest Ethiopian highlands and added them into Tigray’s administrative borders.

    Since then, many Amharas have been expelled from these areas and the ones who managed to remain have been barred from speaking in Amharic and living as Amharas. Those who tried to question this discrimination and abuse have faced severe consequences, including arbitrary detention, beatings, torture and even forced disappearances and murders.

    And under the rule of the TPLF-led coalition, the Amharas faced abuse not only in Tigray-controlled areas but across the country.

    In particular, in the Oromia region, which was initially jointly administered by the Oromo Liberation Front and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (TPLF’s partner in the governing coalition), unspeakable acts of violence have been committed against Amharas in areas such as Arba-Gugu and Bedeno.

    The TPLF-led regime condemned these crimes but did nothing to stop the ethnic-based abuse directed at the Amharas or bring those responsible to justice.

    Similarly, the Amharas in other regions of Ethiopia have been facing abuse and discrimination since at least the 1990s.

    It was against this tragic backdrop of growing ethnic-based abuse and discrimination that the majority of Ethiopians, from multiple ethnic groups, started to protest against the TPLF-led regime back in 2015. When the Oromos and the Amharas, the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia, joined forces against the TPLF, they managed to topple the regime and pave the way for Abiy’s rise to power. Unfortunately, the ethnic violence targeting Amharas continued even after the fall of TPLF.

    The October 2020 massacre in the Southern region’s Gura Ferda, in which 31 ethnic Amhara civilians were killed, for example, was not a new eruption of violence but a continuation of ethnic-based violence and frictions that started decades before, during TPLF rule. The January 2021 anti-Amhara massacre in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region’s Metekel Zone, in which 81 civilians were brutally murdered, also had its roots in the ethnic tensions that were flamed by the TPLF regime. More than 100 Amhara civilians were killed in another ethnic-based massacre in the region in December 2020.

    Amharas in these regions are still suffering from dire humanitarian conditions and a constant threat of ethnic-based violence.

    Since taking power in 2018, Abiy has been working tirelessly to achieve national unity and to help Ethiopians leave the tensions and animosities that were created by the TPLF behind. However, the TPLF and its ethno-nationalist allies proved to be so determined to keep the ethnic divisions within the nation alive that the atrocities being committed against the Amharas continued unabated.

    In Western Ethiopia, the Oromo Liberation Army, which Abiy’s regime labelled as the TPLF’s partner in crime, has been directly responsible for the kidnapping of Amhara students, massacres committed in school compounds, the burning of Amhara villages and the killing of hundreds of innocent and unsuspecting farmers in the last couple of years alone.

    The TPLF’s attacks on Amhara communities continued even during the latest conflict. After the TPLF attack on the ENDF’s Northern Command in Wolkait, which was repelled by Amhara special forces, retreating TPLF soldiers and its anti-Amhara youth group “Samre”, targeted civilians in the western Tigrayan town of Mai-Kadra. Mass graves are still being discovered in the area.

    The Amhara people are not any more or less Ethiopian than other ethnic groups living in the country. They have no intention to dominate the country or turn it into an Amhara-led nation. The majority of Amharas only want to live in a peaceful, united nation in which they are not discriminated against because of their ethnic identity. This is why the Amharas are being targeted by ethno-nationalist groups like the TPLF and OLF/OLA, which long for the country’s disintegration along ethnic lines.

    Ethno-nationalists often claim that the Amharas want to return to the pre-Haile Selassie I era, during which Amharas had significant dominance.

    Sadly, the truth is that the Amhara people as a whole never benefitted from any of the old systems that ruled Ethiopia; instead, they have been victimised by the injustices of past authoritarian regimes.

    The ongoing conflict in the country is not the result of differing visions of Ethiopia’s future, as some claim, but a direct consequence of groups like the TPLF stoking ethno-nationalist tensions and rekindling historic animosities to divide Ethiopia.

    When the TPLF launched an attack on Ethiopia’s national army, the Amhara and Afar regions rushed to help the federal government, not because they want to dominate or punish Tigrayans, but because they want to maintain the country’s unity.

    The Abiy regime is far from perfect – I myself wrote articles criticising his administration. But the prime minister undeniably enacted important reforms and policies to bring all Ethiopians together and to move the country forward. Abiy is an Oromo, but he is working to further the interests of not only his own ethnic group but all Ethiopians. For this, he has been targeted by ethno-nationalists and labelled as a “neftegna” (a derogatory term used to refer to the Amhara). Even some of the Oromo region’s administrators, who have long been perceived as natural allies of Abiy, are now working against his reform and unity agenda.

    To leave this devastating conflict behind and get back on the path of progress and reform, Ethiopia undoubtedly needs to embark on a national reconciliation project. Hopefully, the upcoming national election in June concludes peacefully and gives birth to such a much-needed framework. Recent atrocities that targeted civilians should also be documented and those responsible brought to justice. But even before that, what the country really needs is a strong federal government that proactively works to ensure all Ethiopians, from all ethnic groups, feel safe and secure in their own country.

    The Amharas, like others who suffered immensely under the TPLF’s ethno-nationalist regime, also want a federal government that not only condemns the many atrocities they have suffered over the years but also takes action to prevent their repetition.

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    Q&A: Liya Kebede on Lemlem’s Designer Collaboration With H&M

    In a Q&A with Elle magazine Liya Kebede discusses her H&M designer collaboration, finding joy during a pandemic, and advice to “accidental entrepreneurs” like herself. (Photos: Courtesy of H&M)

    Elle

    Liya Kebede Continues Lemlem’s Sustainability Mission With H&M

    Some people were born into entrepreneurship, others planned for it. Then, there’s Liya Kebede who considers herself an “accidental entrepreneur.” For most international supermodels, you can almost predict their trajectory—supermodel status, then brand ambassador, then beauty brand or clothing line will follow suit. But Kebede’s path wasn’t that clear cut. When she refers to herself as an accidental entrepreneur, she truly means the launch of her brand Lemlem was a mere coincidence birthed from a stroll through an Ethiopian market street.

    “[Lemlem’s] designs share the story of the art of handweaving and amazing talent, diversity, and inspiration to be found in Africa,” she tells ELLE.com via email. During a walk through the Ethiopian market, Kebede noticed a group of traditional weavers struggling to sell their hand-woven garments. Given the name—an Amharic expression that translates to “bloom” and “flourish,” Kebede used her own money to build her team from the ground up to help the weavers do exactly that. Collaboration has been central to the brand’s DNA from its genesis, from employing weavers to combine traditional techniques and Western style, to designer collabs with Moncler, to Kebede’s latest trick: an H&M collection.

    Launching today, May 6, in the US and Canada, Lemlem x H&M continues the mission-driven story of celebrating artisanship, creating job opportunities for traditional weavers across the continent. The collection features warm-weather staples (crop tops, caftans, dresses, jewelry and more) that marry H&M’s trend-forward aesthetic with Lemlem’s timelessness, doused in summer brights like yellow, orange, blue, and white. What’s more, H&M will donate $100,000 to the Lemlem foundation to continue providing opportunities for women artisans.

    Ahead, Kebede talks her H&M designer collab, finding joy during a pandemic, and advice to “accidental entrepreneurs” like herself.

    Joy was hard to find in the past year. How have you been making sure to celebrate joy in your life?

    It has been a complicated year but also a time of reflection and learning. And I have found true joy in seeing the ways people have reached out to old and new friends offering support and caring for one another in this time.

    A lot of clothing brands were birthed as a solution to a larger problem in fashion. What would you say was the problem Lemlem was created to fix?

    Lemlem was created to share the best of the craftsmanship I grew up with at home in Ethiopia – and to help the incredible community of artisans there. That’s what motivated me and it’s the story of Lemlem. I never thought about having my own brand until I suddenly saw it as a solution to create sustainable jobs so traditional weavers from my country could make a good living doing what they love, channeling their incredible skill into the beautiful, modern collections that we sell around the world.

    Where does the name Lemlem come from?

    Lemlem means to bloom and flourish in my native Ethiopian language, Amharic. When our designer at Lemlem and I were first brainstorming – this name popped off the page at me immediately. Not only did it so perfectly reflect our story and our goals, but it was also a nickname my family used for my daughter when she was little.

    How does the H&M x Lemlem collection continue this story?

    The collaboration was about combining things we both love to create a joyful collection of beach and swimwear and accessories using sustainable materials.

    When H&M approached you about this collaboration, what was the most important thing you wanted to bring to this collection?

    From the start, we wanted to make a joyful collection that reflected the story and spirit of Lemlem– and this took on extra significance as we designed this together through the pandemic. We want people to jump to get every piece and have great times wearing them out and making new happy memories as we get out into the sun again.

    Why did this collaboration make sense to you?

    H&M has been at the forefront of doing cool collaborations with brands for years. So for Lemlem, it was a very exciting proposition to become a part of this. And we appreciate H&Ms incredible global reach. To be able to introduce our brand to the H&M community is a wonderful opportunity.

    Where did you draw inspiration from this time around?

    The beauty and strength of sisterhood—embracing things that connect rather than separate us—was the central idea that very much inspired me while designing the collection and the campaign.

    What was it like designing in collaboration with a huge retailer like H&M versus how you operate on your own?

    It was an incredible experience working with H&Ms teams and learning about their processes. When we first started planning back in 2019 I imagined that we would be in a design studio together, brainstorming, looking at fabrics, and fitting together. Designing the collection together virtually during Covid called on our creativity in a different way. We drew from our experience at Lemlem bridging the distance to work closely with our partner weaving workshop in Ethiopia. In the end, I’m so happy and proud of the group effort and what we were able to create.

    What is the Lemlem x H&M guide to lounging?

    Keep it loose! I love to size up and wear the trousers from our collection with a big shirt or caftan. That’s my repeat look at home.

    Read more at elle.com »

    Related:

    Vogue: Liya Kebede & Her Daughter Bring A Touch Of Ethiopia’s Artisanship To H&M

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    ART TALK: Tariku Shiferaw’s ‘It’s a Love Thang, it’s a Joy Thang’ Exhibition in NYC

    Installation view: Tariku Shiferaw: It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang, Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, 2021. (Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.)

    The Brooklyn Rail

    Tariku Shiferaw: It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang

    Tariku Shiferaw’s It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang embodies Black joy—but not in the sense that people might think. In his latest exhibition, the artist pays homage to quotidian pleasures: those often referenced in the jazz era, a time when the greats sang about their daily lives. Their happiness, the Ethiopia-born, Los Angeles-raised artist explains, was not in the commoditization of their music or in the difficulties they overcame, but in the beauty of their expression. Now based in New York, Shiferaw presents a show of his own work, featured alongside handpicked poetry and a stunning sound piece, emulating a love song, and showcasing the small joys on which a person relies to overcome. There’s a powerful playlist to match, bringing Shiferaw’s work to life, featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Aaliyah and Tyler, the Creator, Solange and Kendrick Lamar, along with many others. Each of his pieces, it’s worth noting, is inspired by one of the musical artists in the abovementioned playlist, adding a sense of interconnectedness to the concept of Black joy.

    The exhibition is designed to be a multisensory experience. Shiferaw explains that he embraced ideals such as self-love and joy first and foremost, all while exploring the power of positivity on a more universal level. He cites celebrated American poet Toi Derricotte, an 80-year-old professor who crafted the famous 2008 poem “Joy is an act of resistance.” Derricotte’s work is printed in small font and mounted on the wall in vinyl, such that viewers must come closer and read lines such as: “What does her love have to do with five hundred years of sorrow, then joy coming up like a small breath, a bubble?” Like Shiferaw, Derricotte puts the nuances of Black joy into a tangible form, embracing the same, blues-based artistry as the creatives who came before her, demarcating the line between joy and sorrow. Here too, she finds pleasure in the small things; for instance, she writes extensively about the happiness she derived from observing her goldfish Telly, who cost practically nothing but offered her jubilance in his simplicity, in the way he smiled, and in the beauty of his mere existence in the world as a little orange fish.


    Tariku Shiferaw, A Boy is a Gun (Tyler, the Creator), 2020. Wood, wall paint, lacquer, 106 x 140 inches. © Tariku Shiferaw. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.

    The show itself, viewers will find, is serene and immersive in equal measure. With a new site-specific installation, Jerusalema (Master KG) (2021), reflective mylar sheeting covers one wall, layered behind high chain-link fencing that mimics the sense of separation one might experience from gazing across a barrier. On the opposite wall, flat, slatted wooden sculptures hang against a pink-painted panel, representative of the artist’s early use of shipping pallets. Here Shiferaw has created his own resting place, a space where he can simply chill out, relax, and, in his words, “not think about shit.” Installed in the middle of the room are Velvet Rope (Janet) (2021), and High Fashion (Roddy Ricch) (2021); between them a live palm tree and a smattering of sand that honor the artist’s childhood and conjure a Caribbean beach where both viewers and the artist himself can sit back and simply be. The black and blue hues only amplify this, highlighting the contrast of implied, lilting water to stillness of the air. Observers will find this dynamic play on black and blue in every one of the pieces on display.

    They will find it, for example, in A Boy is a Gun (Tyler, the Creator) (2020), a rectangle of rocky mountain sky blue paint applied to the gallery wall, supplemented with the same palette-like sculptures. They will find it in one of Shiferaw’s favorite pieces in the show, Waiting in Vain (Bob Marley) (2021). Named for Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” (1977), it is a love song in its own right, focused on the intensity of separation—which Shiferaw describes as a ransom or denial of pleasure. In Waiting in Vain, much of a vibrant blue painting is hidden behind the bars of a black pallet; Shiferaw, through his use of lacquer paint, acrylic, canvas, and wood, hopes to spark discussion on what he calls the “incarceration of painting.” And, of course, viewers will find the same black and blue in The Nearness of You (Ella Fitzgerald) (2021), a darkened canvas with hints of deep blue denoting the nearness of better times, the thrill of wanting or waiting, or of anticipation.

    Through It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang at Galerie Lelong & Co., Shiferaw aims to move beyond notions of overcoming to embrace new tools and ideas through which a person might experience hope. The show is about tap dancing, he explains, about singing the blues, or about letting one’s hair down. Ultimately, through Shiferaw’s musical curation and abstract paintings and installations, he has opted against talking about trauma, instead focusing on how we might derive pleasure from the time we have.

    Read the full article at brooklynrail.org »

    ON VIEW
    Galerie Lelong & Co.
    It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang
    April 1 – May 15, 2021
    New York

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    ART TALK: In A Thrilling Retrospective, Ethiopian-American Artist Julie Mehretu Maps A Radical New Path For Geopolitics

    "The extraordinary vitality of these works is achieved by Mehretu’s artistic talent for abstraction, through which she channels her interests in political forces including globalism and migration. (The latter is tinged with personal experience. Her family fled political instability in Ethiopia, moving from Addis Ababa to East Lansing, Michigan, when the artist was a child.)- Forbes. (© Julie Mehretu)

    Forbes

    In A Thrilling Whitney Retrospective, Ethiopian-American Artist Julie Mehretu Maps A Radical New Path For Geopolitics

    Before the world was home to Africans, Asians, Europeans, Australians, and North and South Americans, all lands were massed in a single supercontinent called Pangaea. And before Pangaea, the landmasses were conjoined to make the supercontinent of Gondwana. At the time, some five hundred million years ago, there were no humans, and the dinosaurs that were alive to watch the tectonic shifts leading to Gondwana’s breakup – a multi-million-year process – left no record of what they witnessed. Geologists have only recently mapped Gondwana by simulating plate tectonics in reverse. The artist Julie Mehretu has also charted Gondwana. Her version takes the form of a mural-scale painting currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a highlight of her impressive mid-career retrospective.

    Mehretu is best known for paintings that have the superficial appearance of cartography yet are deeply disorienting. Since the 1990s, she has combined rigorous systems of geometry with symbols of her own imagination, often highly gestural, which articulate specific spatial relationships between unknown reference points. Titles such as Black City and Back to Gondwanaland sometimes hint at a subject being mapped or explored, but any modicum of certainty is undermined by other titles applied to similar canvases, such as Mumbo Jumbo.


    Julie Mehretu, Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation, 2001. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 101 ½ × 208 ½ inches (257.81 × 529.59 cm). Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas 2013.28. © Julie Mehretu

    The extraordinary vitality of these works is achieved by Mehretu’s artistic talent for abstraction, through which she channels her interests in political forces including globalism and migration. (The latter is tinged with personal experience. Her family fled political instability in Ethiopia, moving from Addis Ababa to East Lansing, Michigan, when the artist was a child.) Mehretu has creatively embraced the tension between abstract tradition and political engagement by evoking the ambiguous ways in which geopolitics maps onto the intercontinental landscape.

    One of the most extreme instances of this technique can be seen in a mural she created for Goldman Sachs in 2009. Mehretu intended Mural to represent “a spatial history of global capitalism”, an ambition she set out to achieve by layering abstractions of global trade routes, historical stock exchange architecture, and corporate logos. The result is unintelligible in the sense of being irreducible, and thereby evocative of the irreducible complexity of the marketplace. Capitalism is depicted as a self-perpetuating system that repels reform through its inconceivable internal logic.

    Taking a commission from Goldman Sachs to create this painting may be viewed as cynical opportunism – a shrewd way to make a buck on the wages of sin – or more charitably can be seen as a gesture of optimism: Situating the mural in the lobby of one of the world’s most powerful investment banking firms, where financiers would see it daily, might provide just the kind of unmooring required to awaken the need to reorient global wealth distribution.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ART TALK: Julie Mehretu – A Decade of Printmaking at Gemini G.E.L. in NYC

    Watch: Checkerboard Film Foundation presents “Julie Mehretu: Mid-Career Survey”

    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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    OBITUARY: Influential Ethiopian Producer Amha Eshèté Dies at 74

    Amha Eshete, the Founder of Amha Records -the pioneering record company whose work from the "golden era" of Ethiopian music is now enshrined in the world-famous éthiopiques CD series - has died at the age of 74. “The Amha Records catalog includes more than 100 vinyl references, released between 1969 and 1975. (Courtesy photo)

    World Music Central

    Amha Eshèté, a highly influential Ethiopian music producer and founder of Amha Records, died on April 30, 2021. The Amha Records label released iconic recordings of Ethiojazz and Ethiopop rooted in traditional music. These releases captured the golden era of Ethiopian music. The Amha recordings were licensed to French world music label Buda Musique and received worldwide distribution and critical acclaim as part of the successful Ethiopiques series.

    Gilles Fruchaux (Buda Musique) and Francis Falceto (collections éthiopiques & ethioSonic) issued a press release: “The departure of our friend Amha Eshèté (Amha Records) from Ethiopia’s great modern music scene follows five weeks after the death of Ali Tango (Kaifa Records).

    “A music lover through and through, a lone pioneer of record production in his country, a daring young entrepreneur, an alternative activist before his time (and something of a combative dude), a gentleman outlaw, Amha managed to circumvent Emperor Haile-Selassie’s state monopoly which did not publish any modern music and banned the importation and production of records. Amha Eshèté said «I had a gut feeling that it was the thing to do. I thought, nobody’s going to kill me for that. At most I might land in jail for a while. »

    “The Amha Records catalog includes more than 100 vinyl references, released between 1969 and 1975. The very essence of Ethiopian pop golden oldies. Nearly all of them have been reissued in the Éthiopiques series. Ethiopian pop is now firmly established, everywhere.

    “Without Amha Records and Kaifa Records, there would have been no Ethiopiques.

    “Thank you Amha. Thank you Ali. Rest in peace.”

    Related:

    TADIAS Interview: Amha Eshete & Contribution of Amha Records to Modern Ethiopian Music

    How Ethiopian Music Went Global: Interview with Francis Falceto

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    SPORT: Ethiopia Prepares For Tokyo Olympics – Results From Marathon Trials

    Ethiopian runners booked their tickets to the Tokyo Games after a 35K qualifying race near Addis Ababa on Saturday. Shura Kitata wins Ethiopian Olympic Marathon Trials in sprint finish, Tigist Girma wins women’s race. (Photos: FloTrack and via Twitter)

    Running Magazine

    Shura Kitata and Tigist Girma won the Ethiopian Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday in Sebeta, a city just outside the nation’s capital of Addis Ababa. The 35K qualifying race saw a thrilling finish in the men’s event, with Kitata, the 2020 London Marathon champion, edging out two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa in a sprint to the line. Girma’s win was much more comfortable, and she crossed the line 22 seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor. As things stand now, the top three men and women from Saturday’s race will represent Ethiopia in the Olympic marathon this summer.


    The women’s race

    With a PB of 2:19:52, Girma, the 2019 Ottawa Marathon champion, owns one of the fastest marathon results in history, and she ranks 14th among Ethiopians all time. She ran this result at the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon, where she finished second. While Girma doesn’t have any big wins on her resume, she has recorded several top-10 finishes at competitive races, and along with her run onto the podium at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2019, she posted fifth- and sixth-place finishes at the Tokyo and Valencia marathons in 2020.

    Girma’s win on Saturday is perhaps the biggest of her career so far, not because it was a major event (it wasn’t), but because it gives her the opportunity to race at the Olympics for the first time. Her 1:59:23 finish in the 35K trial race in Sebeta put her on pace for a 2:23:56 marathon.

    Second place went to Birhane Dibaba in 1:59:45. Dibaba owns the sixth-fastest marathon result in Ethiopian history, with a PB of 2:18:35, which she ran in her second-place finish at the Tokyo Marathon in 2020. Dibaba has run to multiple podiums at World Marathon Major events, including a pair of wins in Tokyo in 2015 and 2018. Like Girma, the Tokyo Games will be Dibaba’s first time racing at the Olympics.

    Roza Dereje won the third and final spot on the Ethiopian marathon team headed to Tokyo this summer, crossing the line in 2:00:16. Dereje’s marathon PB of 2:18:30 is the third-fastest ever run by an Ethiopian and 10th-best in world history. She, too, has never raced at the Olympics.

    The men’s race

    Kitata has tremendous momentum going into the Tokyo Games. In October, he won the London Marathon in a sprint finish, crossing the line in 2:05:41, just one second in front of Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba. Similarly on Saturday, Kitata’s finishing kick lifted him to victory, and he beat Desisa by one second, stopping the clock in 1:46:15 (which was on pace for a 2:08:06 marathon). With a two-race win streak in a pair of competitive races, Kitata is likely brimming with confidence, and he will be riding a huge wave of momentum as he works toward his first Olympic race.

    Desisa went home disappointed on Saturday, but he has still guaranteed himself a chance to race in Sapporo, Japan, where this year’s Olympic marathon will be held. While Desisa also hasn’t raced in the Olympics before, he is no stranger to big events. Along with his two Boston Marathon victories in 2013 and 2015, he won the New York City Marathon in 2018, and he has five other podium finishes at the two races. He is also the reigning marathon world champion, as he won the world title in Doha, Qatar in 2019.

    Sisay Lemma finished in third, just as he did in London when Kitata also won the race. Lemma crossed the line in 1:46:19, just a few seconds behind Kitata and Desisa. Although his ticket is booked for the Tokyo Games on paper, Lemma can’t celebrate his run just yet, as it has been reported that Ethiopian running legend Kenenisa Bekele has challenged the qualification decision of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.

    Bekele opted not to race the trials, saying that the run is too close to the Olympic marathon race date on August 8 and that he wouldn’t have time to fully recover. He has also said he is unhappy with the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, as officials originally said the marathon team would be selected based on who ran the fastest times in the qualifying period. After the pandemic hit, officials changed the qualification process and added the trials race instead.

    Bekele ran his PB (and the second-fastest marathon result in history) of 2:01:41 in September 2019, and he assumed that would guarantee him a spot on the Ethiopian Olympic team. As things stand now, however, he will be left off the start list in Tokyo. However, if Bekele’s appeal with the national federation is successful, then he will be added to the team and Lemma will likely be let go, seeing as he was the last man to qualify in Saturday’s race.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: In Colorado, Governor Visits Konjo Ethiopian in Edgewater

    Yoseph Assefa and Fetien Gebre-Michael of Konjo Ethiopian [the first Ethiopian food truck in Colorado serving the Denver metro area] meet with Colorado Governor Jared Polis at the Edgewater Public Market on Friday, April 30, 2021. (Photo: Oh Hey Creative)

    Edgewater Echo

    This past Friday (April 30, 2021) Colorado Governor Jared Polis visited Edgewater and had lunch with the owners and operators of Konjo Ethiopian, Yoseph Assefa and Fetien Gebre-Michael, at the Edgewater Public Market. Governor Polis spent the day touring small businesses throughout the Denver area.

    Here’s our interview with Fetien Gebre-Michael of Konjo Ethiopian about the visit.

    How did you hear the Governor would be stopping by Konjo?

    We received a call from the Governor’s office wanting to confirm a time in the next 2 days for him to stop by Konjo. Ummm, let’s rewind a bit here. Yes, we would love to have the Governor stop by, but why Konjo? So, Konjo is a part of the SBDC and back in 2018 we particpated in Trout Tank, a pitch accelerator. We ended up winning for our pitch of a fast-casual Ethiopian restaurant. One of the judges at the time, China, who is now the director of the SBDC, threw Konjo’s name in the hat. How cool is that?? Full circle.

    What was the message you wanted to the Governor to hear?

    We wanted the Governor to know that even though we barely made it through the pandemic, our struggles as a small business are not over yet. Yes, people are getting vaccinated and starting to come out more and more, but no one in our industry has enough staff. We are all struggling to keep up with the overnight demand and lack of staff has been a big issue. Our co-founder Yoseph suggested some sort of incentive to try to get more folks back into the service industry by way of a signing bonus funded by the state or a way that small businesses can draw potential employees back with help from the state level.

    What makes you hopeful for the future?

    Business is already starting to pick up exponentially. This will be a busy summer across the board. People are antsy to get out and they have money saved up from staying home for so long. They want to be around other people and start socializing again. Failure wasn’t an option for Konjo. We’ve worked too hard to get to where we are. We diversified and did what we could to stay afloat. If we can make it through Covid, we can make it through anything.

    Related:

    Video: The Ethiopian Food Truck In Denver

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    ART TALK: Rare Works by Modernist Skunder Boghossian Go on Sale in New York

    “Boghossian is one of Ethiopia’s most highly regarded Modernist artists, and we are delighted to offer the collection from the artist’s family for the first time at auction,” Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams director of modern and contemporary African Art, says. “The dynamic works illustrate the diversity of multiple influences throughout his prolific career.” (Images: Skunder Boghossian, Union, 1966; The Big Orange, 1971/Bonhams)

    Penta Magazine

    Twenty works by Ethiopian modernist master Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian will be offered at Bonhams modern and contemporary African art sale in New York on May 4.

    The paintings and works on paper, executed from the 1960s through the 1990s by Boghossian (1937-2003), have all been kept in his family until this auction. Estimates of the works range from US$2,000 to US$150,000.

    Boghossian was born in 1937 during Benito Mussolini’s occupation of Ethiopia. He left the country to study art in London and then in Paris. In 1970, he emigrated to the U.S. and taught painting at Atlanta University and Howard University.

    Boghossian was known to use bright colors to create superimposed dimensions of form and shape, inspired by Ethiopia’s long tradition of wall painting in churches and of illustrated manuscripts. He became the first contemporary Ethiopian artist to have works purchased by the Musée d’ Art Moderne in Paris (1963) and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1965).

    “Boghossian is one of Ethiopia’s most highly regarded Modernist artists, and we are delighted to offer the collection from the artist’s family for the first time at auction,” Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams director of modern and contemporary African Art, says. “The dynamic works illustrate the diversity of multiple influences throughout his prolific career.”


    Skunder Boghossian, The Jugglers (Bonhams)

    Highlights from the collection include Union, a 1966 blue-color painting composed of forms of African symbolism and iconography, and The Big Orange, a 1971 canvas featuring various African animals and symbols. The two paintings are expected to sell for between US$150,000 and US$250,000 each.

    Additionally, The Jugglers, a 1962 painting partially inspired by Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam (1902-82) is offered with an estimate of between US$70,000 and US$100,000. The two met in 1959 in Rome. In this painting, Boghossian took inspiration from Lam’s use of mysterious and primordial totemic images.

    The collection is on view, by appointments only, at Bonhams New York galleries, from now until the auction on the afternoon of May 4.

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    Spotlight: Zeresenay Alemseged Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Ethiopian American Scientist, Anthropologist and Professor Zeresenay Alemseged (pictured with President Obama in Ethiopia in 2015) is one of eight University of Chicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the United States. (Photo: @Zeray_Alemseged/Twitter)

    UChicago News

    Eight UChicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Eight members of the University of Chicago faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. They include Profs. Zeresenay Alemseged, Benson Farb, Jeffrey Hubbell, Karin Knorr Cetina, Anup Malani, Angela Olinto, Eric Santner and Amie Wilkinson.

    These scholars have made breakthroughs in fields ranging from human evolution and cancer immunotherapy to cosmic rays and geometric group theory. They join the 2021 class of more than 250 individuals, announced April 22, which includes artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

    Zeresenay Alemseged

    Zeresenay “Zeray” Alemseged is the Donald N. Pritzker Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy. His research in human evolution focuses on the origins and evolution of early human ancestors and how they were shaped by underlying environmental and ecological factors—thus he also studies the fauna at the time our ancestors were evolving. His objective is to unearth and analyze evidence for shifts through time and space in their biology, behavior and ecology aiming at identifying milestone evolutionary events that ultimately led to the emergence of modern Homo sapiens.

    While leading the Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia, Alemseged discovered and analyzed the fossilized remains of a 3.3-million-year-old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis—the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor discovered to date. In addition, his team unearthed the earliest evidence for stone tool use in the human lineage dating back to 3.5 million years ago. These discoveries represent a major advancement in the understanding of how we became human and have changed the textbooks on human evolution.

    Read more »

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