Author Archive for Tadias

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 8th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADDITIONAL SESSIONS

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

Vendors will also be selling various artisan merchandise

EBS TV is the premiere media sponsor of the event

event-image


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

Tickets can be purchased here

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Taye Gonfa Becomes Doctor in Greensboro After Decade as Refugee

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

The Herald

By Nancy McLaughlin (Greensboro News & Record)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That was huge,” Gonfa recalled.

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 23rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Publishers Weekly noted in a previous highlight:

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

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


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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Olympian Derartu Tulu Joins the Bikila Barefoot Challenge in Toronto

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 25th, 2019

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Dozens killed in Sidama Clashes

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

BBC

Updated: July 22nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

FAA Has No Timeline for 737 Max Return

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

Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Gebrhiwet & Gidey Take 10,000M Titles at Ethiopian Trials in Hengelo, Netherlands

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

IAAF

HENGELO, NETHERLANDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Boston Globe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Inside Higher Ed

By Wondwosen Tamrat

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

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

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

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

Healthcare and medical education in Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Israeli Musicians Use Stage to Promote Struggles

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

The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:
Healing Ethiopian Anger – Jerusalem Post

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: R&B Singer Mélat Kassa

Mélat Kassa. (Photo: The Austin Monthly)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians

(Image courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

By Elias Wondimu

TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians to Watch

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

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

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


Kelela. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Haile Supreme. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Mereba. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Meklit.(Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


SIIMBA SELASSIIE. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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

>
Kibrom Birhane. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Arima Ederra. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Ruth B. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Gabriel Teodros. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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

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


Helen Hailu. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

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


Stay up to date with TSEHAI Publishers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Vogue on Rising Singer Mereba

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

Vogue

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Life After Death of ‘Love Bug’ in Ethiopia

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article and see photos »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Africa Launches Free-Trade Zone

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

CPJ

By Muthoki Mumo/CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:
Abiy should stick to his liberal instincts

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

Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

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

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Why Are Ethiopia’s Treasures in London?

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

The Atlantic

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures Heats Up

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

150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing for Homes

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

Reuters

Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing After Water Levels Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:
Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Oklahoma State University Renews Bond with Haramaya University in Ethiopia

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

The Oklahoman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:

Photos: Emperor Haile Selassie visiting Oklahoma in 1954:

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

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

Mel Tewahade Honored at Oklahoma State University

Point Four: A Film About Haramaya University

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. Wins Women’s World Cup

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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Summer Festival in Vancouver

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

CTV News Vancouver

Ethiopian Summer Festival in Vancouver, Canada Marks 10th Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 6th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

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

Reuters

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Healing Ethiopian Anger – Jerusalem Post

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

The Jerusalem Post

EDITORIAL – JULY 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full editorial at jpost.com »


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


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

The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 4th, 2019

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


Related:

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

Video: CNN African Voices Feature on ZAFF

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Ethiopia’s Abiy should stick to his liberal instincts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

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

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 3rd, 2019

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

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

FT on Liya Kebede’s Brand Lemlem

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

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Liya Kebede’s brand Lemlem offers Ethiopian craftsmanship that sells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 3rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anchin is now available on all digital platforms.

Watch: Tommy T featuring Mahmoud Ahmed – ANCHIN አንቺን


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In DC Sankofa’s Tax Break Wins Approval

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

DCist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The Sentinel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

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

The Telegraph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:
Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

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

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Samuelsson’s Audiobook ‘Our Harlem’

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

Forbes

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

Our Harlem opens on the sound of laughter.

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 28th, 2019

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

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

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

Attempted coup d’état

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

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

‘Thankfully Prime Minister Abiy escaped’


(PM Abiy Ahmed. Tadias photo)

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

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

‘Internet is back, let the conspiracy theory begin’

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

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

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


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

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Crash Victims Refuse to Settle

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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


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

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

ABC13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The child was pronounced dead Saturday evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A: The Failed Power Grab in Ethiopia

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

Al Jazeera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:
Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

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


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 26th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:

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

Fire Damages Ethiopian Restaurant

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

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

Foreign Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:
Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia<

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


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

More People To Be Employed In Ethiopia As Coca Cola Expands Market

The investment by Coca-Cola Company, an American multinational corporation, includes the building of a new factory in Sebeta that's expected to be the biggest plant for coca cola in Ethiopia. (Photo: Coca Cola New PET bottling plant, Addis Ababa/Dubber Consulting)

WeeTracker

For the past few years, Ethiopia has continuously attracted investments. Even despite the political ups and downs, the country’s foreign direct investment has been on an upward trajectory.

Ethiopia attracted USD 3.75 Bn worth of investments in the 2017/18 fiscal year. The country now aims to achieve USD 5.1 Bn in the current financial year.

Experts have attributed the positive growth to extensive infrastructural development and friendly government policies and strategies.

The resource-rich country has put strategic measures in place in an attempt to woo investors to pump money in their economy. A noteworthy thing they did is come up with an online investment guide.

The Sahle-Work Zewde-led country launched a web-based investment promotion tool in last year December that seeks to help investors discover opportunities in the country, business costs, key procedures and laws they may need to know before committing their money.

Hardly a year after they unveiled the investment promotion tool, the country has bagged a deal that will see USD 300 Mn pumped into their economy for the coming five years.

The investment is by Coca-Cola Company, an American multinational corporation. The company has made the announcement as they strategise on expanding.

The investment is part of a current project that the soft drink manufacturer is running where a new plant will be established at a cost USD 70 Mn. The new Coca-Cola Factory will be located in Sebeta and is expected to be the biggest plant for coca cola in Ethiopia.

Reportedly, the factory that will sit on a 14.3 hectares of land is set to be finalized early next year. It will have a manufacturing capacity of 70,000 cases per day.

The Sebeta plant will be Coca-Cola’s fourth factory in Ethiopia. The company has plans of setting up a fifth one in Hawassa, capital of the Southern Regional State.

Since its entrance in the Ethiopian market 60 years ago, the beverage manufacturer has created jobs for 2,200 locals and aims to further create 2700 jobs as it commissions the Sebeta plant.

“Coca-Cola has been present in Ethiopia for 60 years and we are proud to be associated with its growth.

“We plan to invest further and have also set some ambitious targets and goals around empowering women and youth, water conservation and access and management of plastic waste,” said Phillipine Mtikitiki General Manager for East & Central Africa.

Burno Pietracci, general manager of the East and Central African Franchise noted that the new investment also seeks to promote Ethiopia as a destination for other potential foreign investors.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Killings & Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, attends a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. The Prime Minister sobbed openly at the service Tuesday for the military chief who was assassinated by his own bodyguard over the weekend. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Economist

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

A YEAR AGO, on June 23rd 2018, Ethiopia’s newly-inaugurated prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, took to the podium wearing a bright green T-shirt. Smiling and waving he offered hope to the tens of thousands of people who had flocked to a rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, in support of his promise to bring democracy to a country that has seen precious little of it.

Almost to the day a year later he again addressed the nation, this time on national television wearing army uniform to declare, stony faced, that his government had just thwarted a coup. It was a sharp reminder of the fragility of his democratic revolution.

Read more »


Related:
An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia


The coffin of assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen is taken away for burial after a state ceremony at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET and ANDREW MELDRUM

UPDATED: JUNE 25TH, 2019

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sobbed openly at a service Tuesday for the country’s military chief who was assassinated by his bodyguard over the weekend.

Abiy’s sweeping reforms since his election last year have been threatened by two violent attacks on Saturday in which the army chief and a retired general were killed in Addis Ababa and three regional officials were killed in Amhara province, north of the capital.

Brig. Birhanu Jelan, the deputy army chief, speaking at the service Tuesday in Millennium Hall in the capital, said Ethiopia’s security forces will fight to maintain the country’s unity and stability.

In the wake of the killings Abiy has ordered a security crackdown in which the general accused of leading the plot was killed Monday and more than 180 have been arrested.

The internet has been shut down since Sunday.

Eskinder Nega, a prominent rights activist, told The Associated Press that several members of his Baladera Council group have been detained in a wave of arrests by the security forces since Saturday’s killings.

Widespread arrests are taking place in Bahir Dar, the regional capital of Amhara, according to residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity for their security.

Abiy’s visible distress at the service is understandable, according to experts on Ethiopia’s politics.


Members of the military shed a tear during a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)


Members of the military shed a tear during a state ceremony for assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen, at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)


The coffin of assassinated army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen rests in state during a state ceremony at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sobbed openly at the service Tuesday for the military chief who was assassinated by his own bodyguard over the weekend. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

“The assassinations were a severe setback to Abiy and a wake-up call showing the fragility of his reform plans,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at Chatham House in London.

“Abiy has shown tremendous bravery in his reform agenda and in trying to dismantle the military and security regime that had run Ethiopia. These attacks show that some of those threatened by his reforms are striking back. The danger is that Abiy will respond to this by becoming more authoritarian himself.”

The weekend assassinations in Addis Ababa and Amhara were “a blow to Abiy’s democratization agenda and may well worsen Ethiopia’s political and security crisis if key issues are not urgently tackled,” said William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia for the International Crisis Group.

“Abiy’s challenges include divisions within the ruling EPRDF party that are exacerbated by opposition challengers, including strong ethno-nationalist movements,” said Davison. “The consequent dysfunction of an until recently all-powerful ruling coalition is reducing government effectiveness and contributing to the insecurity. Unless this situation improves, then it will be difficult to create a conducive environment for the planned competitive elections next year.”


Related:

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


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

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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


Officials say the coup attempt occurred in Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia. (Google map)

CNN

Ethiopian officials say a coup attempt on Saturday against the Amhara regional government has failed.

“We confirm there has been a coup attempt against the leadership of the Amhara regional state,” said Ethiopian Press Secretary Negussu Tilahun.

He said the coup attempt in Bahir Dar, the regional capital, had failed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a tweet that federal police have been authorized to “take action on the instigators.”

It was not immediately known who was behind the failed coup.

Separately, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a security alert saying it is aware of shots being fired in the capital, as well as violence in and around Bahir Dar.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Slate on Ethiopia’s Displacement Crisis

Ethiopia’s current situation brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous warning that the most dangerous moment for a government is when it starts to reform. (Photo: A group of internally displaced people waits for aid distribution near shelters at Qercha village on May 20 in southern Ethiopia/ by Yonas Kiros/Getty Images)

Slate Magazine

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

The world’s largest new population of displaced people results from a conflict that has received shockingly little international attention: More than 1.5 million people were displaced by violence in Ethiopia last year, nearly all of them internally. This increase doubled the total number of displaced people in the country.

The fact is surprising in part because Ethiopia is enjoying a period of unusually good publicity. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took over in April 2018, has earned international praise for an ambitious reform agenda that has included freeing thousands of political prisoners, reining in the country’s security services, lifting a state of emergency and restrictions on the media, and resolving a long-running border conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But Monday’s headlines, which saw the killing of a general accused of plotting a coup attempt, suggest the government’s position is fragile. Ethiopia’s current situation brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous warning that the most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it starts to reform.

Now that the government is in a moment of transition, ethnic conflict is surfacing. Much of the worst of the crisis has occurred in the country’s southern region, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by fighting between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups. Abiy is Oromo, and many of his reforms are meant to address the marginalization of several ethnic groups, including his own. But observers say the reforms have emboldened communal violence by Oromos. Tensions between the two groups are not new but have intensified in recent years due in part to competition over scarce farmland and resources. (Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world.) Lynchings, rapes, and beheadings have been reported.

Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian political scientist at Georgia Gwinnett College, said in a phone interview that he doesn’t believe Abiy’s government has stoked the violence but said that the prime minister has failed to adequately address it: “Ethiopia is becoming more fragile in that, when you look at the federal government’s inability to curb the violence.”

Many experts see the current crisis as the consequence of the Ethiopian government’s decision in the mid-1990s to set up a system of ethnic federalism, giving groups a greater degree of political autonomy within nine ethnic-based regional states. The system was meant to quell conflict in a country with nearly 80 ethnic groups. The problem, as Gedamu put it, is that “you cannot give every ethnic group its own state, so you have to somehow make it work. The political parties have also become ethnic in nature. It led to the growth of so many nationalist movements. Every political and economic grievance is voiced by ethnic parties or movements.”

Read the full article at slate.com »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In US, Las Vegas Gives Warm Welcome to Ethiopia Embassy Delegation – Photos

Ethiopia's Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega in Las Vegas meeting with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Assemblyman Alexander Assefa last week. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 24th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – In Las Vegas last week Assemblyman Alexander Assefa — who is the first Ethiopian American lawmaker elected to the Nevada State Assembly — was among the local elected officials who met with Ethiopia’s new Ambassador to the U.S., Fitsum Arega. The Ambassador’s trip to Las Vegas on June 18th was part of his ongoing engagement with the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States.

Ambassador Fitsum also met with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in addition to holding a public forum with the Ethiopian community similar to his earlier visit to California. An announcement was also shared on Twitter that the Ambassador discussed the potential launching of an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Las Vegas in his discussion with Mayor Goodman.

“I thank City of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman for meeting us and offer to facilitate Ethiopian opening service to Las Vegas,” Ambassador Fitsum said on Twitter. He also thanked members of the Ethiopian Diaspora as well as organizers of the town hall meeting:

Below are photos from the event shared on social media by Ambassador Fitsum Arega:


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Related:
In the West Coast, Ethiopia Appeals to Diaspora, African Americans to Invest
In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed

Ethiopians follow the news on television at a cafe in Addis Ababa, Sunday, June 23, 2019. Ethiopia's government foiled a coup attempt in a region north of the capital and the country's military chief was shot dead, the prime minister Abiy Ahmed said Sunday in a TV announcement. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET and ANDREW MELDRUM

UPDATED: JUNE 24TH, 2019

Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed, 182 Others Arrested

ADDIS ABABA — The Ethiopian army general accused of leading a failed coup in a restive northern region was killed Monday in a firefight with security forces amid a security crackdown in which more than 180 others have been arrested.

Brig. Gen. Asamnew Tsige was killed on the outskirts of Bahir Dar, capital of the northern Amhara region, Nigussu Tilahun, a spokesman in the prime minister’s office, told The Associated Press.

Ethiopian forces had been hunting down Asamnew since he and soldiers loyal to him attacked a meeting of the Amhara government in the regional capital Saturday, killing the regional governor and his adviser. The region’s attorney-general died of his wounds on Monday, according to local media reports.

The attack Saturday was followed hours later by the assassination in the national capital, Addis Ababa, of the chief of Ethiopia’s military and a retired army general by a bodyguard.

The killings were widely seen as an attack on Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has pushed through sweeping reforms since his election last year.

Asamnew, the renegade general blamed for the violence, had been pardoned by Abiy after being jailed by the previous government for allegedly plotting a coup. He had recently used social media posts to incite a rebellion in Amhara, according to reports in the Ethiopian media.

The shootout in which Asamnew was killed comes as the government roots out others suspected of supporting the rebellion. Four high-ranking officials in Amhara, including the deputy head of security there, were taken into custody Monday, according to Abere Adamu, chief of the Amhara police commission. Another 178 people have also been arrested on suspicion of taking part in violence in the region, he said.

An internet shutdown has been in force across Ethiopia since Saturday’s killings.

Flags flew at half-mast throughout Ethiopia on Monday, which was declared a day of national mourning following Saturday’s violence. Addis Ababa was peaceful as soldiers stood guard in Meskel Square and manned roadblocks throughout the capital.


Security forces stand guard in Meskel Square in central Addis Ababa Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The 42-year-old Abiy has initiated sweeping political and economic reforms, including the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea, the opening of major state-owned sectors to private investment and the release of thousands of political prisoners, including opposition figures once sentenced to death.

Although Abiy’s reforms are widely popular, some members of the previous regime are unhappy with the changes and the prime minister has survived a number of threats.

Last June, a grenade meant for Abiy killed two people and wounded many others at a big rally. Nine police officials were arrested, state media reported. In October, rebellious soldiers protesting over salaries invaded Abiy’s office, but the prime minister was able to defuse the situation.

Ethiopia is a key regional ally of the U.S. in the restive Horn of Africa region.

Tibor Nagy, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the latest violence was a “shock, but it could have turned out so much worse.”

“Thankfully Prime Minister Abiy escaped this attempt, because there are many, many more people in Ethiopia who support his reforms than those who are opposed to them,” he told reporters Sunday in Pretoria, South Africa.

Adding that “there are vestiges of the old regime” who are opposed to Abiy, Nagy said: “I wish I could say that this is will be the last of these attempts, but no one can be certain.”


Abiy Ahmed announced a failed coup attempt during a public address on TV Sunday, June 23, 2019, allegedly led by a high-ranking military official and others in the Amhara region. (ETV via AP)


Related:

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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


Officials say the coup attempt occurred in Bahir Dar in northern Ethiopia. (Google map)

CNN

Ethiopian officials say a coup attempt on Saturday against the Amhara regional government has failed.

“We confirm there has been a coup attempt against the leadership of the Amhara regional state,” said Ethiopian Press Secretary Negussu Tilahun.

He said the coup attempt in Bahir Dar, the regional capital, had failed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a tweet that federal police have been authorized to “take action on the instigators.”

It was not immediately known who was behind the failed coup.

Separately, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a security alert saying it is aware of shots being fired in the capital, as well as violence in and around Bahir Dar.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

She Married Emperor Haile Selassie’s Great-Grandson: Ariana Makonnen Tells Her Love Story

In an article published this week by Town & Country Magazine Ariana Makonnen shares how she and her husband, Joel Dawit Makonnen, met in Washington, D.C. (Photo: ANTWON MAXWELL)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 23rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – You may remember this great love story between a young American woman and an Ethiopian prince who met in a DC nightclub a few years ago. Their wedding celebration in 2017 had received international media attention.

In a recent personal essay published by Town & Country Magazine Ariana Makonnen, who is married to Joel Dawit Makonnen — the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie — tells her story of how she met her future husband who happens to be a member of Ethiopia’s former royal family and “the oldest monarchy in the world” that traces its roots to “the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.”

The year was 2005 and Ariana had just quit a Ph.D. program in English and got a job in a clothing boutique in Washington, D.C.

“Little did I know, that decision would not just change my career and my education, but the direction of my entire life,” Ariana shares. “I grew up in a close, ethnically mixed, fun-loving family with my two sisters and brother. My father is a writer, former sociology professor, and foundation executive from Kentucky, and my mother is an executive in the world of arts and humanities from Guyana. We were steeped in the arts, passionate about education, and oriented toward service and social justice. We believed in offering the world more than you took, making it better than when you arrived.”

Love at first sight

One night that same year Ariana was out having fun with friends at a nightclub in D.C. when “a man approached us and told my friend and me that we looked like a “Bombay Sapphire ad,” a line that’s now famous in our families. He had this open, playful energy and he was really handsome. We connected right away, talking easily and laughing,” she recalls in the Town & Country article. “He told me that his name was Joel and that he was finishing his last semester of college at American University, completing a double degree in international business — one part at his “home” college in Nice, France, and then this second portion in America.” Ariana adds: “From that first encounter on the dance floor, we were instantly drawn together. He was so cosmopolitan, charming — born in Rome, he had attended boarding school in Switzerland, lived in Ethiopia, and was fluent in several languages. We talked about our families: He told me that his mother worked at the United Nations and that his father, who’d passed away, had been a captain in the Ethiopian Imperial Army.”

But Ariana did not learn Joel’s family background until after they started dating and when a friend causally mentioned it: “He jokingly said you know you’re dating a prince, right?” I looked at Joel. He nodded and smiled. I reacted with a bit of shock and a bit of awe. “Really?” I said. Finally, he said “Yeah,” but not much more. I was definitely curious, but we didn’t discuss it further then, because he made it seem like not that big of a deal, and because I could tell he didn’t want to delve much deeper.”

Haile Selassie


QUEEN ELIZABETH, EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE I OF ETHIOPIA AND PRINCE PHILIP AT A DINNER DURING THE QUEEN’S OFFICIAL VISIT ON FEBRUARY 2, 1965 TO ETHIOPIA. (KEYSTONE-FRANCE)

“Even before I met Joel, I knew about his great-grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia,” Ariana says. “Many West Indians, like my mother’s family, hold him in their greatest esteem.”

You can read Ariana Makonnen’s full article at townandcountrymag.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa

Ethiopian Airlines has been honored as the ‘Best Airline in Africa’ for the third consecutive year at the 2019 World Airlines Awards held in Paris on June 18th, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 21st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – For the third year in a row, Ethiopian Airlines has been voted the Best Airline in Africa at the 2019 World Airline Awards.

Presented during the Paris Air Show this week the award is considered one of the most prestigious recognitions in the global airline industry.

Ethiopian Airlines also received the top awards for ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ and ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’ at the event held on Tuesday, June 18th and hosted by Skytrax, the leading airline review and ranking website.

“I would like to sincerely thank first and foremost our global customers for the strong and consistent vote of confidence,” said the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam in a statement, noting that the airline services “more than 120 destinations worldwide with 115 ultra-modern fleet, offering excellent connectivity with one of the best travel experiences that helped us become the best airline in Africa and one of the frontrunners in the world.”

In a press release the company added: “While much has evolved in the industry, Ethiopian has stood the test of time and achieved most of its overarching goals, going halfway through its projected 15 year plan, Vision 2025. Ethiopian is now expanding its footprint to underserved global destinations and is serving global travelers with its signature Africa’s flavored Ethiopian hospitality onboard and in the air. True to form, the airline has also continued pushing the frontiers of aviation technology with the 21st century new generation fleet.”


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In the West Coast, Ethiopia Appeals to Diaspora, African Americans to Invest

Ethiopia’s L.A. Consul General Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni and Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega hold town-hall meeting in San Diego on June 16th, 2019 as apart of their current campaign to engage the diaspora. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – This past week Ethiopia’s new Ambassador to the United States, Fitsum Arega, visited Southern California where he met with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora as well as local elected officials in Los Angeles. He also made stops in San Diego (June 16th) and Las Vegas (June 18th), and is expected to travel to San Francisco Bay area on June 22nd as well as to Houston on June 23rd.

Ambassador Fitsum’s call for African American investors to engage in business ventures in Ethiopia got the attention of The Los Angeles Sentinel, “an African American-owned and operated newspaper that puts emphasis on issues concerning the African American community and its readers.”

The Sentinel enthused about Ethiopia’s outreach in its headline titled “Opportunities Abound in Ethiopia for African Americans” and highlighted the California trip by officials from the Ethiopian embassy.

“The government of Ethiopia is rolling out the welcome mat to African Americans to explore business opportunities and tourist destinations throughout the historic nation,” the publication noted.

“During a visit to Los Angeles on June 14, Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega outlined the many prospects for investors, companies and entrepreneurs to benefit by engaging with the country, which is experiencing an economic upswing under the administration of Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.”

Ambassador Fitsum shared that the U.S. company PVH — which owns brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, and is the second biggest African trader — is partnering with the Ethiopian government for the first textile operation in Africa. “We have 53 factories in one place,” Ambassador Fitsum said.

Through his twitter account Fitsum also shared his meeting with the Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti:

The Sentinel added: “While Arega promoted Ethiopian business opportunities, he also encouraged investment possibilities in Africa.”

Several Chinese corporations are already involved with infrastructure and economic development projects throughout the African continent, and the Sentinel noted that “Ambassador Fitsum recommended that both African American and American firms do likewise.”

Fitsum’s visit to California also included a town hall gathering for the Ethiopian Diaspora in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Below are photos and tweets:


Ethiopian diaspora hold town-hall in L.A. on June 15th, 2019. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Ethiopia’s L.A. Consul General Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni and Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega hold town-hall meeting with the Ethiopian Diaspora in Los Angeles on June 15th, 2019. (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Town-hall in San Diego on June 16th, 2019 (Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


Related:
In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Finally Has Its Internet Back

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s sole provider, restored service Tuesday after intermittent outages left most of the country’s 16 million internet users unable to access the web or social media for the past week. (AP photo)

VOA

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON – This report originated in the Horn of Africa service. Alula Kebede contributed to the story.

After days without access, internet users in Ethiopia can once again get online.

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s sole provider, restored service Tuesday after intermittent outages left most of the country’s 16 million internet users unable to access the web or social media for the past week.

The telecom giant, also the country’s main mobile phone provider, acknowledged the outage and apologized for inconveniencing their customers, waiving monthly fees and extending times to use prepaid plans.

The shutdown also affected access to Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging app many Ethiopians use on their mobile phones.

NetBlocks, an independent civil society group that tracks internet shutdowns around the globe, first identified the outage in Ethiopia June 11 and recorded episodic starts and stops since then.

Neither the government nor Ethio Telecom has confirmed why the shutdown happened, but some have speculated that officials cut the internet to prevent high school students from cheating on a national exam.

In 2016 and 2017, the government shut off the internet to block the leak of stolen exam answers.

Tilaye Gete, Ethiopia’s minister of education, told VOA Amharic his ministry did not order the shutdown. “It is not the work of the Ministry of Education but the work of Ethio Telecom, and I want to confirm that the exams weren’t stolen,” he said.

Tilaye added that the federal government has taken into custody more than 100 people accused of distributing stolen exam answers. About 1.5 million 10th grade students took the exam at 2,800 testing centers, he said.

Similar shutdowns in Ethiopia have also occurred during protests and civil unrest, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to a free and open society, despite rhetoric vaunting the benefits of democratic participation.

“It worries me that the government response for every problem has become shutting down the internet without any due process,” Atnafu Berhane, an Ethiopian blogger and a co-founder of the Zone 9, a collective of outspoken political bloggers, told VOA in an email response.

“People have the right to access to information, and the government is taking away that right from the people,” he added.

Investors also worry that frequent shutdowns could ensnarl Ethiopia’s efforts to open and expand its economy — one of Africa’s fastest growing. Any businesses that rely on internet access will experience disruptions with a shutdown, especially with country-wide blackouts like the most recent outage.

Internet disruptions have a tangible financial impact, according to NetBlocks. In Ethiopia, a complete shutdown costs the country about $4.5 million a day, the group estimates.

Internet access in Ethiopia remains low, with just 15% of the population benefiting from regular, reliable access. On the whole, Africa is one of the least-connected places on Earth, with a continent-wide access rate of 37%. But some countries fare better. In Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, 56% of people have reliable access. In Kenya, the most-connected country, the number stands at 83%.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

CFR on Ethiopia’s Transition & Challenges

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a United States nonprofit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. (Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responds to questions at the Parliament in Addis Ababa, on February 1, 2019/ Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Council on Foreign Relations

U.S. Should Acknowledge Critical Challenges for Ethiopia’s Transition

Anyone fishing for a good news story out of Africa recently, and rightly, has celebrated Ethiopia, where dynamic young Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has dramatically opened political space, departing from decades of repressive, tightly controlled government. Abiy is a charismatic whirlwind of activity—making peace with neighboring Eritrea, working to open the Ethiopian economy to new opportunities for growth, and even mediating between protestors and securocrats in Sudan. Anyone who cares about stability and prosperity in Africa, and anyone who understands how important African partnership will be to tackle the foreign policy challenges of the future, is pulling for him to succeed. Just days ago, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg wove Ethiopia into a major foreign policy address, citing the country as an example of “what it looks like when hope triumphs over hostility.”

But Ethiopia faces real and urgent challenges, and it is critical that well-wishers not ignore them. Abiy has lifted the lid off of a pressure cooker—one his predecessors held in place with sometimes brutal force—and in some cases the result has not been euphoria, but rather messy, complex eruptions of communal violence. Ethiopia’s story is not a simple one, and the millions internally displaced over the past year, the worrying reports of forced returns, and the potential for 2020 elections to be a flashpoint should focus the minds of policy-makers around concrete ways to provide support to what is sure to be a long and complex transition.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s dozen most populous countries, characterized by tremendous ethnic and linguistic diversity. Over 60 percent of the population is under the age of twenty-five. Despite real gains over the past years, many Ethiopians still live in severe poverty, and official literacy rates hover at around half of the population. It is not an easy country to govern in any circumstance. Against that backdrop, and at a moment of profound change, in which the role of the state and indeed the unifying national idea is being rethought, the possibility of more instability is very real.

The Unites States and others ought to be more ambitious in finding new ways to support the resilience of governing institutions, mechanisms for reconciling longstanding grievances, and the capacity of a government inclined to respect the civil and political rights of citizens to also deliver services and opportunity. Countless talented and patriotic Ethiopians from around the country and across the diaspora have mobilized, sometimes upending their own lives, to lend support to their government’s liberalizing project. They know this will not be a year’s work—it is a generational project. A clear sense of U.S. strategic interests indicates that it is one that deserves more of our own attention and support.


Related:
In Ethiopia, Former U.S. Diplomats See Promise in Reform (U.S. Institute of Peace)
Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia
Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

PM Abiy’s Father Ahmed Ali Dies at 105

Ahmed Ali, father of Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed, passed away on Monday, June 17th at the age of 105, according to the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting. (Photo: @fanatelevision/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 18th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s father Ahmed Ali died Monday afternoon, state media reports. He was 105 years old.

According to Fana Broadcasting the PM’s father passed away while receiving treatment at a hospital in Jima.

Citing the Agaro town government communication affairs office in Jima, Fana reports that Mr. Ahmed will be buried on Tuesday.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Summer Previews of Ethiopian Art in the Diaspora – Media Roundup

The Addis Fine Art gallery, which was established in 2016 by Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile, has been cited by Artsy among the 27 rising galleries from around the world that are "shifting the global conversation around contemporary art." (Portrait of Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: June 17th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — From New York to Chicago and London this summer has seen the opening of several exhibitions and global news coverage profiling Ethiopian artists. Below are a few highlights:

Elias Sime

Elias Sime’s current New York exhibition, Noiseless, at James Cohan gallery continues to receive rave reviews before it closes on June 29th. Most recently Sime’s exhibit was featured in Brooklyn-based online arts magazine Hyperallergic, which notes that the Ethiopian artist “makes wall sculptures from castoff computer parts that evoke the toxic dumping of these materials around the world.” In the review titled “Mosaics of Motherboards, Keyboards, and Wire” the writer John Yau says that Sime’s ‘Tightrope: I BURNED IT’ piece is among his favorite and shares that “it is made of hundreds of tiles covered in different hues of red, white, blue, and green insulated wire, woven into patterns and abstract configurations that are unique to each piece” adding “I don’t remember ever seeing Simes do anything like this before. He is always methodical and meticulous, but when he is pictorial and uses the computer components toward pictorial ends, he begins to lose me…This disruption infuses the work with staying power, as it pulls us into the realm of speculation and reflection.”


“Elias Sime: NOISELESS” at James Cohan Gallery, Chelsea, installation view: left: “Tightrope: Noiseless 23” (2019); center: “Tightrope: Noiseless 10” (2019)

As Tadias magazine reported a few weeks ago Elias is also gearing up for his first traveling U.S. museum exhibition later this year. The inaugural show will take place at the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College from September 7 through December 8, 2019 and will feature a collection of his work created in the past ten years. According to organizers the exhibit entitled Elias Sime: Tightrope includes “a large outdoor site-specific sculpture, created out of repurposed computer parts, electrical wires, bronze and clay.”

Aida Muluneh

In its June issue The Atlantic magazine features an insightful piece by journalist Hannah Giorgis, who covers culture for the American publication, titled “The Photographer Fighting Visual Clichés of Africa,” and highlighting Aida Muluneh as “one of Ethiopia’s reigning image-makers.” Aida, who is a former Washington Post photojournalist and a New Yorker tells Hannah: “You can’t fantasize about making an impact in Ethiopia by being in New York or somewhere else…You have to actually be on the ground.” Hannah adds that “Muluneh’s vibrant acuity, as disorienting as it is alluring, has the power to evoke a place—Africa—and at the same time subvert conventional ideas about it.”


Denkinesh/Part One. (Aïda Muluneh)

You can read Hannah’s full article at theatlantic.com.

Merid Tafese

The work of Ethiopian artist Merid Tafese and his solo exhibit at Gallery Guichard in Chicago was also featured in Rollingout Magazine, which covers music, politics and culture with a focus on the African American community.

“For Merid Tafese his fondest memories are of his father’s extensive book collection, which would play a major role in him becoming an artist” the article notes. Merid’s exhibition is called “A Stream of Consciousness,” and as he told the magazine this is the first time in his two-decade career as a contemporary artist that he is represented by a gallery. “And the fact that the gallery is a Black-owned gallery makes it even more special,” Merid says. Merid’s work in this exhibit includes “a collection of easily five years work and change of medium, thought, mood.”


Artist Merid Tafese (Photo credit: Tony Binns for Steed Media)

Reflecting on the influence of his father’s international book collection on his work as an artist Merid — who is the sixth generation direct descendant of King Sahle Selassie — notes that “[At] a time of fear, terror and being disconnected from the rest of the planet, the collection of books was my scope to look beyond what was happening in my beloved country in the Dergue military junta time. [In] the same way, my art was my outlet and the only free space to be creative and say anything I want. So both the books and my creative process of doing art worked hand-in-hand contributed to my development as an artist.”

You can read Rollingout’s full interview with Merid Tafese here.

Julie Mehretu, Kebedech Tekleab and Mezgebu Tesema

The Wallace Art Gallery at Columbia University in NYC also has group show exhibiting the work of ten international artists including three who are Ethiopian: Julie Mehretu, Kebedech Tekleab and Mezgebu Tesema. The exhibit, which opened on Friday, June 14th is titled ‘After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art’ and focuses on “how temporality shapes new forms of politics, history, subjectivity and the turn to neoliberal global politics.” According to the gallery “It features artists looking at countries including Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. Less than thirty years since independence from colonialism, the end of the Cold War brought down socialist governments and sparked a wave of upheaval among young African nations. The need to reimagine national narratives gave rise to a generation of artists that seek to make sense of the dramatic shifts witnessed by their countries.” The show is on view through October 13th, 2019.

Addis Fine Art’s Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile


Founders of Addis Fine Art Mesai Haileleul & Rakeb Sile. (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

Last, but not least, the Addis Fine Art gallery, which was established only three years ago by Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile, has been cited by Artsy – the online art collection and education platform — as being among the 27 rising galleries from around the world that are “shifting the global conversation around contemporary art.”

Addis Fine Art is Ethiopia’s first gallery to focus on contemporary art from Ethiopia and its Diaspora. Artsy notes: “It took an art dealer in Los Angeles and a business consultant in London to create Ethiopia’s most exciting young gallery. After attending the 1-54 African Art Fair in London, Rakeb Sile wondered why there weren’t more Ethiopian artists who were globally known. She discovered Mesai Haileleul, a gallery owner who had been in L.A. for 30 years selling Ethiopian art, and had not returned to his home country in decades. Sile went to L.A. to find him and lured him back to Africa, convincing him to dive into the local art market. The two opened a gallery in Addis Ababa, and it quickly became the go-to place for Ethiopian art, especially after opening a sister space in London to connect the artists with collectors in European markets.”

You can read the Q&A with Mesai and Rakeb at artsy.net.


Related:
Art Talk: Photojournalist Michael Tsegaye’s U.S. Exhibit ‘Crooked River’
In Pictures: Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC
Spotlight: ZAAF Fashion Photos Shot in Afar, Ethiopia at Smithsonian in DC

Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Art Talk: Photojournalist Michael Tsegaye’s U.S. Exhibit ‘Crooked River’

(Image by Michael Tsegaye)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 15th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – When asked in a 2011 Tadias interview about what good photography is, Michael Tsegaye — whose upcoming U.S. exhibition ‘Crooked River’ is set to open at Cleveland Print Room in Cleveland, Ohio this month — had quoted the French art critic Jacques Leenhardt saying: “Photography is best when it emulates poetry,” portraying “not only the complex and problematic reality of the outside world, but also the way a person’s eye has seen it. It shows a person’s self-expression, a person becoming the poet we all have within us.”

“I think this is a very true statement,” Michael added.

In his own right, for the past several years, the Ethiopian photojournalist has been creating lyrical images inspired by his surroundings in Ethiopia and elsewhere, documenting whatever captures his eye at a given moment and exhibiting his work at numerous venues both locally and internationally while leaving the reactions and imaginations to the rest of us.

Many transformational events have taken place in Ethiopia since Michael Tsegaye shared his artistic philosophy with us in a Q&A eight years ago. The New York Times followed up with him in 2014 noting that “He captures sweeping panoramas, of markets springing up along newly built roads, or small details, like the cracked images on gravestones being moved to make way for development, or the rapidly disappearing communities in Addis Ababa that have been gentrified with new high-rises.” At the time Michael had astutely said: “I know the city is going to be different in 10 years. It’s going to be a memory for me, these pictures. You know the saying, ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone?’ That was in my mind when I took these pictures. I tried to work with that.”

‘Crooked River’

For his show in Cleveland, which is scheduled to open on June 21st and remain on display through August 3rd, the Cleveland Print Room Gallery has announced that Michael, who is currently their Creative Fusion International Artist-in-Residence, “will transform the gallery into the Cuyahoga River and its crooked bends from aerial photos and photographs from the riverbed.”

The Cuyahoga River in Ohio is best known for helping to launch the environmental movement in the United States in the late 1960s after the water shockingly “caught fire” due to high levels of pollution. According to the announcement: “As part of the lead up to the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River catching fire on June 22, 1969, the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion: Waterways to Waterways Edition will bring together a group of international and local artists to focus on projects that connect the regenerative efforts for the Cuyahoga to global waterways.”

Below is a brief bio of Michael Tsegaye from his website:

“Born in 1975, Michael Tsegaye lives and works in Addis Ababa. He received his diploma in painting from Addis Ababa University’s School of Fine Arts and Design in 2002, but soon gave up painting after he developed an allergy to oil paint. He subsequently found his real passion in photography and has made of it not only a profession, but a way of expressing a very particular voice.”

“As a photographer I try as much as possible to escape being pigeonholed. I place myself among my peers (photographers and painters) across the world,” Michael says. “While the spirit of my culture — its traditions in music, poetry and literature — informs my photography, my goal is that of any artist: to understand my life and standpoint in the 21st century, and express these through art.”


If You Go
CROOKED RIVER, AN EXHIBITION BY MICHAEL TSEGAYE
FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2019
5:00 PM 9:00 PM
CLEVELAND PRINT ROOM
(MAP)
www.clevelandprintroom.com

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia, Former U.S. Diplomats See Promise in Reform (U.S. Institute of Peace)

This week the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC held a panel featuring former American diplomats to Ethiopia to "identify what lessons are relevant to engagement with Ethiopia today." The event was held on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at USIP. (Photo: From left: Moderator Aly Verjee, Senior Africa Program Advisor at USIP, Ambassador David Shinn, Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal, Ambassador Marc Baas and Ambassador Donald Booth. (U.S. Institute of Peace)

USIP

As the country’s new, young leader spurs dramatic change, serious challenges lie ahead, say former American ambassadors.

In Ethiopia, political prisoners are free and the security services revamped. Women now comprise half the cabinet, and serve as ceremonial head of state, chief justice, and chair of the electoral commission. Significant steps have been taken toward resolving a 20-year conflict with neighboring Eritrea and reforms to unleash the economy—already one of Africa’s fastest growing—are ostensibly on the way. Elections are slated for next year. Under Abiy Ahmed, the nation’s popular new prime minister, Ethiopia is changing in ways long desired by American policymakers, agreed four former U.S. ambassadors to the country. Yet the most the U.S. is likely to do is offer encouragement and a bit of support, they said.

In the past 15 months, Abiy has introduced a “blitzkrieg of reforms,” said Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Institute of Peace senior advisor on Africa, in remarks opening the ambassadors’ discussion at the Institute. After 25 years of rule by the coalition of parties known as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the 42-year old reformist politician has lifted the state of emergency under which it governed and promised to break up and privatize the inefficient state-owned holding companies that strangled Ethiopia’s economy, Carson said.

Despite the positive trends, the ambassadors, whose experience in Ethiopia spanned more than 20 years, concurred with Carson that history in the ethnically divided country has not been erased. The concerns for the future include the possibility that Abiy’s reforms are exacerbating communal tensions, whether the pace of transition is faster than the public can absorb and whether the country is capable of conducting free, fair and peaceful elections in 2020, he said.

Many of the themes implicated in the current round of reforms confronted Ethiopia during the ex-ambassadors’ service in the country, said Aly Verjee, the discussion’s moderator—democratization, elections, economic reforms, political restructuring, federalism, and relations with Eritrea.

“This is not to say Ethiopia faces an exact replica of the past,” said Verjee, a USIP visiting expert in the politics of East Africa. “But it is instructive to see how they, and the United States, dealt with these issues.”

Ethiopian Experience

To illustrate the complexity of Ethiopia, Verjee asked the ex-diplomats what they wish they had known before taking their posts in Addis Ababa and what they learned on the ground.

For Marc Bass, who arrived in 1991, just weeks after the communist regime of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown by the EPRDF, it was the depth of ethnic identity in regions that are “more like nation states.” The intensity of the divisions created a “zero sum politics where if you get something, I lose something.” Aurelia Brazeal, the ambassador from 2002-2005, said getting to know the Ethiopian diaspora would have helped with her mission, given the ex-patriates’ role in the country. As for surprises, David Shinn, who became ambassador in 1996, said he found “compromise came very hard to highlanders on both sides of the [Ethiopia-Eritrea] border. You just have to accept that.”

While Washington shows little interest in Africa at the moment, there are a few things the U.S. might do, realistically, over the next 12 to 18 months to aid the country’s democratic transition, Shinn said. It would start with moral and financial support for institutions that promote democracy including a free press, the electoral commission (which other donor countries are eager to assist) and civil society. The U.S. might also offer technical advice on moving quickly to replace the 2007 census with a new one to apportion representation, Shinn said.

“These are relatively small contributions to the problem,” he said. “In the final analysis the fix has to be Ethiopian.”

Election Prospects

While Shinn said he is far from convinced the country will be ready for elections on any level next year, neither can they be indefinitely put off. Hopeful signs include that Abiy is not using a weakening EPRDF to manipulate the electorate, said Donald Booth, who served from 2010-2013. Brazeal noted that the population is more literate than it was in 2005—the only previous competitive, if disputed, election in Ethiopia’s 2,000-year history—and much better informed through social media. Remote regions once virtually cut off from outside communications are now connected, Bass said. In addition, Abiy, who still rules by fiat, has promoted press freedom, a shift that the former diplomats agreed should help foster a more open electoral process.

The vigorous involvement of U.S., NGO and other national and international observers and mediators helped dampen violence and limit breakdown in the system in 2005, said Brazeal, the ambassador at the time. It did not restrain subsequent arrests, detentions and exiles, however. The EPDRF had been jolted by its failures in the election and was determined not to be surprised again, she said. “I don’t know if they’ve evolved,” she said. “I hope so.”

A Booming Economy

On the economic front, Ethiopia has indisputably evolved. Its broad-based growth is the fastest in the region, averaging 10.3 percent a year from 2006-2017 compared to a regional average of 5.4 percent, according to the World Bank. Still, the country’s approximately 105 million people—the second biggest population in Africa after Nigeria—remain among the continent’s poorest, with a per capita income of $783.

Lifting the country economically became the single-minded focus of Meles Zenawi and the EPDRF after they won elections in 2010 and felt securely in control, said Booth, the U.S. ambassador from 2010 to 2013. Their argument, Booth said, was that they needed one-party control to promote growth and create the middle class critical to developing a liberal democracy. They took the opportunity to mobilize the country to do something unthinkable in the past—build a dam on the Blue Nile with only Ethiopia’s own resources.

Structural Problems

Despite the growth, the economy still faces structural problems tied to the political system, Booth said. There are too many state-owned enterprises, too much involvement by the military through entities such as the Defense Forces-owned Metals and Engineering Corporation—which the government is now trying to break up—and massive projects by the sugar corporation that are huge money losers. Yet privatization faces a huge obstacle: No foreigner will invest in Ethiopian enterprises for domestic sales if they have no foreign exchange to repatriate profits. The ban on operation by foreign banks is a big disincentive for Western and Chinese companies, he said.

Further, the lack of industrial infrastructure creates the kind of difficulties Booth said a Turkish textile manufacturer had described to him: He had to bring in tradesmen to build the plant, import all his machinery, build a cardboard box plant for shipping and create his own bus system to get production workers to their jobs.

Perhaps the U.S. could provide some ideas on how to free the economy from monopolies and oligopolies, foster competition and allow Ethiopian entrepreneurship to flourish, Booth said.

“Today we see Abiy making all these changes and most of them we really like.” he said. “But we have to be a little cautious about how much advice they’ll take from outsiders. They are going to do it their own way.”

The former ambassadors touched on other topics critical to Ethiopia’s future:

On Rising Ethnic Tensions

Abiy’s steps to expand press freedom, free political prisoners, and give civil society and NGOs more latitude are positive, Shinn said, but it can also “take the lid off of the pot,” allowing tensions previously repressed by the security forces and government to boil over. At the local level particularly, ethnic relationships are getting out of control, creating conflict without regard to what the central government is doing or can do about it, he said. “Local and regional nationalism is rearing its head” in parts of the country, Booth added. Even some regional governments in the country’s federated system lack control over all of their territory, he said.

On the Peace Agreement with Eritrea

Abiy’s quick move to end hostile relations with Eritrea by ceding disputed territory is widely viewed as his most important foreign policy initiative. Its significance for the future is unclear however, Bass said. Eritrea’s leader Isaias Afwerki, who Bass dealt with frequently, is erratic and hard to predict.

From Isaias’s point of view, Abiy has sent “the hated Tigrayans off into exile,” Booth said, referring to the ethnic group that had dominated Ethiopia’s government, making him more open to rapprochement. But the border is closed again, he said, after tens of thousands of Eritreans crossed into Ethiopia, threatening to “empty the gulag” of one of the world’s most repressive regimes. While Isaias has improved his international standing, “maybe Abiy got played,” Booth speculated. Landlocked Ethiopia ideally wants access to Eritrean ports, but who will invest in roads, railroads and port development in a country where the leader might shut it all down over a perceived slight, he asked. As welcome as the peace deal is, it may not be the end of tensions between the two countries.

On Ethiopian Demographics

“Demographics is the future that has already happened,” Brazeal said. With 43 percent of its population less than 15 years old, an urbanizing Ethiopia faces the urgent need to create millions of jobs annually, she said. Brazeal said she has been working on starting an American university in Africa, situated in Addis Ababa. It is critical to educate people for jobs in a changing economy as opportunities for emigration shrink, curtailing a long running trend in Ethiopia.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A: Former Zone 9 Blogger Abel Wabella

Abel Wabella, founding members of Zone 9, is Managing Editor of Addis Zeybe. (Image: @Abelpoly Twitter)

FairPlanet

ABEL WABELA: PAYING THE PRICE FOR SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER IN ETHIOPIA

He has been described by his peers as strong willed and a true patriot, but for Ethiopia’s Abel Wabela the journey and clamour for respect of rule of law has seen him pay the ultimate price.

He is one of the founding members of Zone 9, a group formed to advocate for social justice, good governance and protection of human rights. Abel and his colleagues were arrested and charged with terrorism and were tortured which led to Abel becoming partially deaf.

In an exclusive interview with FairPlanet, Abel recalls the harrowing experience at one of the country’s most notorious torture chambers, the resolve to fight on and the future of Zone 9.

FairPlanet: How did the journey to being one of the most vocal groups in Ethiopia on social and civic issues begin and what have been the key highlight of that journey?

Abel: After the general elections of 2005, the Ethiopian government launched a sustained crackdown on opposition, civil society groups and journalists with repressive laws that sought to cripple freedom of press and curtail opposition voices.

As young people we were opposed to this move and because government had blocked media from passing information to masses on its atrocities, we went online to share this information. Many young people were doing it. I had my platform which was very critical of the regime. I started following what others were writing and contacted some of the other bloggers. We formed an online community that strengthened our resolve and eventually started meeting in person.

We were nine of us, six bloggers and three journalists. We started attending political functions and visiting political prisoners. As we continued to find unity of purpose in what we were doing, we decided to form an association that would bolster our passion and that is how Zone 9 was born. We were from different professional backgrounds, I was working as a tool engineer at Ethiopian Airlines, my other colleagues were university lecturers, journalism and others in banking. We did blogging as a part-time activity.

Our political and activism work continued to inspire freedom of expression with even a political party for demonstrators formed to agitate for government’s respect of its people. They even used our hashtag and the story was picked by international media including Al Jazeera.

That is where our problems as Zone 9 started. The government started surveillance on every aspect of our lives from tapping our phones to trailing our family members. As the security situation worsened, people pleaded with us to seek political asylum abroad but we wondered what that would mean for all that we had worked for in the political space. We decided to stay on and wait for what would happen to us.

And the worst happened.

Yes, in April 2014, the government launched a massive crackdown where over 100 security men were deployed to hunt and arrest all political dissidents and that is how we were captured and put into one of the most notorious torture chambers called Maekelawi and charged with terrorism.

What formed the name Zone 9?

In the height of political persecutions in Ethiopia, journalists and other political prisoners were being incarcerated in an infamous state prison called Kaliti Maximum Security Prison which is divided into eight zones. We felt that the country had turned into another Zone where its citizens were held captive by the state. They needed liberation and that is how we ended up calling ourselves Zone9ers with our mantra being, ‘We blog because we care.’ We wanted to be the voice of the million voiceless Ethiopian citizens and we campaigning for rule of law and constitutionalism.

You and the rest of the Zone 9 members were convicted of various charges including terrorism. Tell us about the experience in prison and whether it shook or strengthened your resolve?

It was one of the most harrowing experiences of our lives. We underwent the most inhumane treatment anyone could imagine. They had some prepared confessions that they wanted us to sign admitting to terrorism and disturbing law and order. I blatantly refused to sign and that is when all hell broke loose. I was beaten with thick sticks and computer cables. The prison guards forced me to lay down and stamped on my entire body including my face with their boots. They continued beating me and hitting me and in the process seriously injured my left ear. To date I can no longer hear with my left ear. We were then charged in court and I remember how skewed the court proceedings were. I asked the judge why he wasn’t letting the accused defend themselves and I was given three months jailtime for contempt of court.

We were in prison for one and a half years before the judge dropped all charges saying the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to charge us with the said crimes. But the government didn’t want to let us free so the prosecutor appealed the judge’s ruling in the Supreme court and after one a half years of grueling court cases the Supreme court also threw out the case for lack of evidence.

What has life after release from incarceration been for the members? Are you still involved in blogging?

I went to my former employer Ethiopian Airlines who said they couldn’t employ me as I had been out of work for over six months. My work in blogging and political activism was widely known so the reason they never wanted me back is because they didn’t want to rub government the wrong way.

After taking a break for some time I managed to work for one of the leading publications in Ethiopia called Addis Fortune as new media editor a position that emboldened my zeal for freedom of expression. I then resigned to start my current media company called Addis Zeybe that seeks to highlight various political and social happenings in Ethiopia with a view to ensuring the country has an informed citizenry that understands their rights. The rest of the team has also been involved in running various civic and social ventures spanning civil society groups and political offices.

In November 2015 we were awarded the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopia Seeks New Image After Years of Media Repression (Video)

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

Spotlight: VOA’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards – In Pictures (TADIAS 2015)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Éthiopiques Revolt of the Soul Screens in Amherst, Massachusetts

The new documentary film, Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul, will screen at Amherst Cinema in Amherst, Massachusetts on July 17, 2019. (Image: IDFA)

The Advocate

Amherst Cinema will screen Éthiopiques: Revolt of the Soul as part of its Sound & Vision film series focused on music in cinema this summer. The 70-minute 2018 documentary film in English and Amharic (with subtitles), was directed by Maciej Bochniak and focuses on the rich musical history of Ethiopia. In 1997, the Western world was first introduced to the country’s musical lineage and culture through the Éthiopiques CD series, created in a collaboration between French music journalist Francis Falceto and producer Amha Eshete who between 1969 and 1975 made 120 singles and 14 albums of Ethiopian musicians. The music was created by Eshete during a period of less repressive times when Emperor Haile Selassie tolerated African music influenced by Western genres such as soul, funk, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz.

But that all changed with a military coup in 1974, which lasted until 1991, according to the film’s synopsis on Amherst Cinema’s website. Eshete, who lived in exile in the United States for many years, speaks about the music of Ethiopia on the Éthiopiques CD series as does Ethiopian musician Girma Beyene, pianist and arranger for the Walias Band, and others. The film features animations, live performances, and recordings for Mistakes on Purpose, the 30th album in the CD series.


Related:
New Film ‘Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul’ Makes North American Premiere

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

State Projects Leave Tens of Thousands of Lives in the Balance in Ethiopia – Study

US thinktank, the Oakland Institute, says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

A giant dam and irrigated sugar plantations are “wreaking havoc” in southern Ethiopia and threaten to wipe out tens of thousands of indigenous peoples , a US-based thinktank has claimed.

The Oakland Institute says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley, where people face loss of livelihoods, starvation, and violent conflict .

Acute hunger is now widespread, the organisation said in a report, due to blockage of the Omo River by Gibe III, Africa’s tallest dam. Since late 2015, the dam has stopped the river’s annual flood, a natural event that the valley’s inhabitants have relied upon for centuries for farming. As a result, entire communities have been tipped into destitution.

Responding to the report, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister of water, irrigation and electricity , said that while the government accepts there are problems, “the points raised in the paper are not properly documented or balanced”.

Seleshi said solutions had been put in place to mitigate the impact of the dam, including small-scale irrigation and outgrower schemes.

According to the report, however, such promises have not materialised. Moreover, said the study, communities claim they were tricked into leaving their ancestral land in order to make way for sugar plantations built by the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation as part of its mammoth Omo-Kuraz sugar development project (OKSDP). The project, a 100,000 hectare (247,000 acre) irrigated agricultural scheme, is fed by the waters of the Omo.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia

Ethiopia jumped 40 places in last year's press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders, which noted that over 250 previously banned websites and blogs are now running. And for the first time in 15 years no journalists are being held in connection with their work. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

June 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Below is a recent video from Reuters highlighting the growing free media environment in Ethiopia as well as the new challenges facing journalists and other professionals in the field including the public’s right to receive factual, timely and balanced news information.

As reuters reports: “Ethiopia was once ranked as one of the worst places in Africa to work as a journalist. It’s now trying to become a model for press freedom in the region.”

Addis Abeba resident Benega Teene spoke to Reuters and shared that “it’s good to have two sides of a story we should encourage that,” and noting “there are those who publish unrealistic stories and photographs.” Benega adds: “Since the transition we now have a platform to entertain all sides of ideas whether good or bad.”

Tolera Fikru, Managing Director of OMN tells Reuters: “Most of the people who work in lower ranks of government have limited understanding of media. We encounter lots of public outcry and when we try to take up these issues with them they either tend to avoid us or fail to respond properly.” He added: “This is one of the emerging challenges we’re facing.”


Related:

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

Spotlight: VOA’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia, This Woman Gives Birth And Sits Exams 30 Minutes Later

Almaz Derese took three exams at the Karl Mettu hospital in western Ethiopia. (Photo: Illubabor Zone Communication Office)

BBC News

A woman in Ethiopia has taken her exams in a hospital bed just 30 minutes after giving birth.

Almaz Derese, 21, who is from Metu in western Ethiopia, had hoped to sit the tests before her baby was born, but the secondary school exams were postponed because of Ramadan.

She went into labour on Monday shortly before the first exam was due to start.

Ms Almaz said studying while pregnant was not a problem and she did not want to wait until next year to graduate.

She took her English, Amharic and maths secondary school exams in hospital on Monday and will sit her remaining tests at the exam centre over the next two days.


Armed police transport papers and guard exam centres in Ethiopia. (Illubabor Zone Communication Office)

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Beautiful Harar in Photos

Harar, which is home to 82 mosques and over 100 shrines, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. (Photo: One of the holiest places in the city is the tomb of Sheikh Abadir, one of the city's founder. (DW)

DW

Considered as the fourth holiest Muslim city in the world, Harar is the center of Islam in Ethiopia.

A mosque for the women

The Jami Mosque is the only one where women are allowed to pray in the same building as the men. They enter through this small door on the right of the building, but it is also common to see them pray outside.


(DW)

City of peace

There are two churches within the city’s walls, the Medhane Alem church being the only Orthodox one. Residents of Harar are proud that their town welcomes all religions. In 2003, the city received the UNESCO Peace Prize for the peaceful cohabitation of many ethnic and religious groups. In recent years, however, there has been some tension around land issues and political representation.


(DW)

Shopping for fabric

Harar’s economy is also boosted by its fabric market. This street is called “makina girgir” because of the sound of sewing machines. It is often packed with women from the rural areas. They bargain for new fabric and then let the tailors – all men – prepare their new colorful dresses or headscarves.


(DW)

Bargaining for camels

About 40km (24.8 miles) from Harar, a famous camel market takes place twice a week. Up to 200 camels are sold within one morning, starting at about €500 ($565) per camel. The traders are usually Somali nomads. The camels are used both for transport and consumption.


(DW)

Read more and see photos at dw.com »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

(Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: June 10th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Some of the basic tenets of journalism include being transparent, providing facts, and giving individuals mentioned by name in an article the opportunity to share their responses to the story.

But shouldn’t these core values of ethical journalism also apply to anonymous contributors as well? The usage of pen names is a common trait observed among websites catering to Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Of course, technically speaking there is no such thing as being anonymous in today’s digital age. Given a concerted effort and the proper tools everyone’s online identity could easily be exposed.

The pressing question remains, however, if it is fair for webmasters in our community to allow fictitious name personas with a primary purpose of defaming fellow Ethiopians over ideological differences, or in some cases simply because the author may harbor personal animosity towards the individuals that he or she is writing about. Shouldn’t bloggers have the same responsibility to ascertain the facts first and give the targets of their articles advance notice to explain themselves before publishing?

“While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context,” advises the website for the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), an international coalition of journalists and media professionals. “Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.”

As a New York Times Ethicist blog published a few years back emphasized, blogging in pseudonym festers “a hideous subculture” of mean-spirited, inconsiderate one-way dialogue that prevents meaningful and respectful social communication that otherwise would in the best interest of the general public.

To promote the social good of lively conversation and the exchange of ideas, transparency should be the default mode. And that goes both for lofty political discourse and casual comments…“Says who?” is not a trivial question. It deepens the reader’s understanding to know who is speaking, from what perspective, with what (nutty?) history, and with what personal stake in the matter. It encourages civility and integrity in the writer to stand behind her words. There are times when anonymous posting is necessary, when disclosure is apt to bring harsh retribution but more often, anonymous posting sustains a culture, or at least a hideous subculture, of calumny and malice so caustic as to inhibit the very discourse the Web can so admirably enable. Writers should not do it, and Web site hosts should not allow it…Were it merely a matter of taste or tone or social style — etiquette — the anonymously obnoxious would be unimportant. But those who offer not argument but invective discourage others from speaking.

This ethical perspective appeared following a widely-publicized 2009 court case in which a judge had ordered Google to reveal the real name of an anonymous blogger who had defamed a fellow New York fashion model calling her, among other things, “psychotic, lying, whoring … skank.” According to NYT the court found the writer’s comments to be “reasonably susceptible to a defamatory connotation” and that the model had “the basis for a lawsuit and is entitled to know the identity of the blogger in order to seek legal redress. Google complied, identifying the blogger.”

Aside from the question of legality, among the top five principles of ethical journalism advocated by EJN include the need to show humanity and independence in our work: “Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.”

Finally, and most importantly, EJN argues: “Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.”


Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Census Postponed Once More

(Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia delays census again despite looming election

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliament postponed a national census for a second time on Monday, citing security concerns but potentially undermining logistics for the first election under reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopia is due to hold a national vote some time next year, and the census – already postponed once from 2017 – is a crucial step towards demarcating constituencies.

But parliamentarians in both houses voted overwhelmingly to delay the census again by a year, due to an upsurge in ethnic conflicts that has forced 2.4 million Ethiopians out of their homes, according to United Nations figures.

“Our people are still displaced in many parts of the country,” lawmaker Tesfaye Daba told Reuters. “Having this situation, I don’t think it wise to conduct the census this year.”

William Davison, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the decision would disrupt election logistics.

“Preparations for those polls are also behind schedule … this is therefore perhaps another indication that elections will be pushed back,” he said.

The next vote will test Abiy’s reformist agenda that has included ending hostilities with Eritrea, opening the economy to foreign investment, and freeing political prisoners.

Parliament also postponed to Thursday debate on a proposed law to liberalise the telecoms sector.


Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC

Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019. (Photo: CMA)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Below is a slideshow of photos from last week’s Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City.

The well-attended event organized by the CMA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee (ESAC) was held on Sunday, June 2nd and included Ethiopian music, Eskista dance, a coffee ceremony and an interactive arts workshop inspired by artists from Ethiopia such as Ezra Wube, Addis Gezehagn, Elias Sime, Afewerk Tekle as well as singer and songwriter Gigi.

ECMAA is also hosting an outdoor family friendly spring fair this weekend at the Riverbank State Park in Manhattan (See details below).

Here are images from Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York courtesy of the museum:


If You Go:
ECMAA SPRING FAIR
Sunday, Jun 9th, 2 pm to 6 pm
Riverbank State Park
New York, New York 01002
Click here to get tickets

Related:
In NYC ECMAA Expands Program to Include Community Soccer Games

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

What You May Have Missed: Ethiopian Scholars Discuss UN Peace Keeping

Left: Awol K. Allo is Lecturer in Law at Keele University in the UK. Right: Dr Mehari Taddele Maru is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre in Italy. (Photos: LSE and MPC)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – In recognition of “International Day of UN Peacekeepers” last week Al Jazeera’s Inside Story TV program held a timely discussion highlighting how a budget crisis at the United Nations could undermine the missions carried out by the ‘Blue Helmets’ around the world including next door to Ethiopia in South Sudan and other neighboring countries.

Al Jazeera noted: “The UN Secretary-General says the peacekeeping budget is two billion dollars short because member states are not paying their share on time. The United States, the biggest contributor, owes more than one billion. Recent peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Africa have also been implicated in controversies. So, what can be done to improve the system of protecting the world’s most vulnerable?”

Among the guests invited to discuss this issue included Ethiopian scholars Awol K Allo, Lecturer in Law at Keele University in England, and Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, who is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre in Italy. The program also included Mark Goldberg, the Editor of the UN and global affairs news website, UN Dispatch.

Watch: Who should pay for the world’s peacekeepers? | Inside Story


Related:

Ethiopian PM visits Sudan in bid to mediate crisis (AP)

Just in via Ethiopia Observer: An Ethiopian journalist who travelled to Canada for work disappeared

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Obamas Sign Deal With Spotify to Produce and Host Exclusive Podcasts

Getty Images

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company has announced that it has signed a multi-year deal with Spotify to produce and host exclusive podcasts on their audio streaming platform.

The Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground, announced in a press release that under the agreement Michelle and Barack Obama will “develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics.”

“President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are two of the world’s most important voices and it is a privilege to be working with them to identify and share stories that will inspire our global audience, which looks to Spotify for unique, breakthrough content,” said Spotify Chief Content Officer, Dawn Ostroff. “Connecting people with original and thoughtful creators — especially those with the ability to highlight underrepresented and indispensable narratives — is at the core of our mission and we are thrilled that not only will the Obamas be producing content, but that they will be lending their voices to this effort.”

The Obamas signed a similar deal with Netflix last year to produce movies and TV shows.

“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement regarding the deal with Spotify. “It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”

Michelle Obama added: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world. Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds—and their hearts.”–


Related:

The Obamas Ink Deal With Spotify (Hollywood Reporter)

Photos: President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia – July 2015


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

River Spirit in Nile Magazine: From Ethiopia to Egypt Photos by Chester Higgins

The following article and photos are published here with permission of the photographer, Chester Higgins, Jr. See below for detailed explanations. (Right: in Yebelo, Ethiopia: Left: The Valley of the Kings in Egypt/© Chester Higgins)

Nile Magazine

Betsy Kissam with photography by Chester Higgins

Ethiopians speak of “children of the river” — yewenz lejoch in Amharic, the country’s official language. This phrase characterises people living near and relying on the water of a river for travel and nourishment, whether for their own needs or for the crops and livestock they depend on. The Blue Nile, Ethiopia’s most celebrated river, rises in the northern highlands and then journeys down into the deserts of Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. The depth and originality of the cultural legacy threading through the ancient cultures that flourished along this river challenges the imagination and awaits comprehensive analysis.

Roughly 200 years have passed since the study of the ancient Egyptian civilization began as a discipline. More recently, Egyptologists and archaeologists, in conjunction with efforts in Egypt, are concentrating on what’s buried beneath the sands of Nubia (in Egypt and Sudan) and Kush (Sudan). And in Ethiopia, archaeology is expanding under East African archaeologists and others from abroad.

Today, most Egyptologists recognize Egyptian culture as an African invention. In his 2010 book, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, Toby Wilkinson writes “The origins and early development of civilization in Egypt can be traced back to at least two thousand years before the pyramids, to the country’s remote prehistoric past.”

New York photographer Chester Higgins sees the Nile as a cultural thread; for the past four decades, he has been visually documenting Blue Nile cultures and seeking connections between the ancient people who made up the empires of Aksum (modern Ethiopia), Kush (Sudan) and Kemet (Egypt). Along this river, ancient excavators crafted sacred stone houses of worship out of solid mountains by chiseling away rock—rather than erecting a structure block by block.

At the source and mouth of the Nile River are found the only monumental stone monoliths in Africa—phara-
onic and Aksumite obelisks. Images on Egyptian and Nubian tomb and temple walls bring to life symbols and the accouterments of early spiritual practice; when photographs of these are juxtaposed with those of rituals enacted in Ethiopia today, they focus links between “children of the river” in Egypt and Sudan—and farther south in the highlands of Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile.

Similarities in Higgins’s photographs, illustrate cultural connections up and down the river.

Much of the belief expressed today in our Abrahamic religions is rife with comparisons predicated on shared iconography and philosophy introduced millennia ago by people who honed their faith along the Nile River.


Ancient people left messages in stone, and skilled stone masons created precise structures from rock in situ along the Nile River. This is the exterior of the monolithic stone Church of St. George, in Lalibela, Ethiopia. The church was painstakingly fashioned out of solid volcanic rock in a cruciform structure, approximately 12 metres high, and standing in a 25 x 25 metre wide pit. The town of Lalibela is around 640 km north of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and today cares for 11 monolithic, rock-cut churches, which were erected in and around the year 1200. The buildings today are a living place of worship; they are home to a community of priests and monks, as well as being a place of pilgrimage for members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. (© Chester Higgins)


The monumental stone Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel [in the Egyptian part of Nubia] has been dropping jaws since it was first hewn from a Kushite mountain some 3,300 years ago. Stepping into the temple’s Great Hall, the visitor is met by eight statue-pillars of Ramesses II portrayed as Osiris, god of resurrection. At the very back, the temple’s Sanctuary, which is illuminated by the rejuvenating rays of the rising sun twice a year. (© Chester Higgins)

There is something mystical, even supernatural, about the Blue Nile. When Herodotus identified Egypt as “the gift of the Nile” in the 5th century b.c., he had no knowledge of the source of the Blue Nile in the highlands of contemporary Ethiopia — 6,000 feet above sea level. But anyone who has witnessed the watery turmoil created by the Ethiopian summer rains can appreciate the otherworldly beauty of the frothing reddish volcanic soil in this water and its menace as it hurtles down mountainsides, tracking through ancient gullies and joining to form swift flowing streams, tributaries and then the impressive Blue Nile River.

The might of this river slices gorges through volcanic rock, creating sheer canyon walls, some more than 4,000 feet deep. Twisting and turning, juxtaposing broad sweeps with tight curves, the water turns north and drops down into the deserts of Sudan and Egypt. By the time the river reaches the desert at Khartoum in Sudan, where it commingles with the White Nile to form the Nile River, its elevation is 1250 feet having fallen nearly 5,000 feet in 900 miles. By the time the Nile reaches the Giza pyramids, its elevation is barely 64 feet. Before modern dams interrupted the flow, the Blue Nile carried about 80% of the water and fertile silt that transformed Egypt’s parched desert plains: surely the “gift” that Herodotus recognized.

The Nile’s water rises at a time when other rivers are lessening. Unsuccessful at working out an explanation for this phenomenon, Herodotus wrote “I was particularly anxious to learn from [the Egyptian priests] why the Nile, at the commencement of the summer solstice, begins to rise, and continues to increase for a hundred days—and why, as soon as that number is past, it forthwith retires and contracts its stream. . . .”

In the 1st century b.c., 400 years after Herodotus, Diodorus recorded “the Ethiopians. . . say, that the Egyptians are a colony drawn out from them by Osiris; and that Egypt was. . . made land by the river Nile, which brought down slime and mud out of Ethiopia.”

The boundaries of Ethiopia today on the Horn of Africa are not the designation accepted by the ancients that referred vaguely to the home of black people living south of the Mediterranean Sea.


Left: The deity Thoth in the Tomb of Ramesses V (KV 9) that was later extended by his nephew Ramesses VI, in the Valley of the Kings [in Egypt]. Thoth holds a was sceptre (staff of authority), and sports a bull’s tail attached to the back of his kilt. Right: A Waka priest displays a staff of authority in Yebelo, Ethiopia. Contemporary Ethiopians, who honour the sacredness of nature, worship the sky deity Waka. The staffs of both the current Ethiopian example, and the ancient Egyptian version, end in distinctive curved forks. (© Chester Higgins)

The Blue Nile remained an ongoing siren song for the Greeks, Romans and other Europeans into the 15th, 16th, up to the 20th century — even after 16th and 17th-century Portuguese and Spanish Jesuits, accompanied by Ethiopian Emperors, visited and “discovered” the source of the Blue Nile, which they recorded in their travelogues published in Europe. In the 18th century, Scottish explorer James Bruce detailed his own version in his 1790 book, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile.

Even with the source of the Blue Nile revealed and the Ethiopian rains recognized in Europe as the cause of its flooding, the river still guarded its mystery. For parts of its journey, narrow canyons protect the waters from everyone but the hardiest explorers, concealing much of the river’s exquisite beauty from all eyes except those of local highlanders, who themselves, it is said, rarely descend to the riverbed when it passes through gorges choked by volcanic rock, crocodiles and often malaria.

As late as 1925, the British Consul for Northwest Ethiopia, Major R. E. Cheesman, upon arriving in the country, was astounded to discover that “the latest maps showed the course of the Blue Nile as a series of dotted lines” — a substantial challenge for this 20th-century European as it had been for earlier travelers.


Stone obelisks are found along the Nile in Ethiopia and Egypt. In Aksum, Ethiopia, this 20-metre-high monolith stands tall in a field of such obelisks, which served as royal tomb markers. Aksum was a wealthy trading empire. At the Aksumite royal necropolis, false, or spirit doors were often placed at the base of the largest obelisks and above the entrances to tombs. This false door, featuring a finely carved ring pull door handle, was placed at the base (formerly southern face) of the now-fallen Obelisk #1—thought to have been the largest obelisk ever attempted to be erected: 32.6 meters long, and weighing 517 tons. (© Chester Higgins)


Obelisks in Egypt, erected in pairs in front of temples and topped with pyramidions, appear to function like billboards advertising a pharaoh’s accomplishments, and are dated by the pharaoh’s reign. Less well understood, Aksumite obelisks have been dated anywhere from around the 5th century b.c. to early a.d.; without inscriptions from rulers, the dates are open to conjecture. False doors in Egypt were placed outside tombs, within tomb chapels and in royal memorial temples, providing a focus for offerings to sustain the ka (divine essence) of the deceased. Like many elements of Egyptian funerary practice, they also served to emphasise the conspicuous wealth and social status of the tomb owner. This false door is in the tomb chapel of the mastaba of Khenu, near the top of the causeway of King Unas at Saqqara. Khenu was a 6th-Dynasty official who served the cult of Unas, the last ruler of the Old Kingdom’s 5th Dynasty (ca. 2375–2345 b.c.). © CHESTER HIGGINS

Many scholars believe that 18th Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s famous expedition to Punt, portrayed on her temple walls at Deir el-Bahari, situates Punt on the southern coast of the Red Sea
placing it in the proximity of contemporary Ethiopia. It is known the Egyptians built boats that were able to be deconstructed and reassembled in order to carry the boats around the Nile’s treacherous cataracts and sail the Red Sea. Other trade references to Punt were recorded by pharaohs as early as the 5th Egyptian dynasty.


A papyrus ferry on Lake Tana at the headwaters of the Blue Nile, in the Ethiopian highlands. This sort of craft seems to have barely changed since ancient times. (© Chester Higgins)


The pageantry of Timkat, the Ethiopian Epiphany Day—a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ—is celebrated by Orthodox Christians throughout Ethiopia. It echoes the joyous festival of Opet, recorded on Luxor Temple walls in Egypt, below. (© Chester Higgins)


Renewal is a strong theme for both rituals. Opet priests honor the Holy Family of Waset (Thebes/Luxor): they celebrate the union of the supreme deity Amen with his companion/wife Mut, and their son Khonsu, by bringing the sacred statues of the three deities from their shrines at Karnak Temple to visit the Temple of Luxor. Images on the wall of Luxor Temple show priests carrying the statues on their shoulders through crowded streets, and then by boat on the river. For Timkat, the high priests transport on their heads the churches’ sacred tabots (a replica of the Ark of the Covenant) through streets teeming with revelers, to join other tabots at a water source. (© Chester Higgins)


(© Chester Higgins)


(© Chester Higgins)


Left: Abu Haggag Mosque at Luxor Temple, Egypt. The mosque sits atop part of the ruins of Luxor Temple. It was built as a shine to a local saint, Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, who is credited for introducing Islam to Luxor. Sacred places often remain hallowed to successive faiths, and the mosque here stands on the site of an earlier Christian church. Right: An altarpiece from the Moon Temple at Yeha, Ethiopia. Around a.d. 330, Aksum’s Emperor Ezana made Aksum into one of the earliest Christian states, which saw the replacement of the Aksumite crescent and disk religious symbols with the Christian cross. On this site today, next to the Yeha Temple is an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church monastery. (© Chester Higgins)

Much later, in the 4th century a.d., Ethiopia became a Christian country after Aksumite King Ezana converted to Christianity. Bound by this faith, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church entered into relations with the Coptic Church in Egypt, although these ties were often interrupted and conflicted. But the selection of Abunas, or Ethiopian Popes, came out of Egyptian monasteries until the 20th century when this link was severed by Emperor Haile Selassie.

Egyptologist Wallis Budge documented communication between Egyptian rulers and Ethiopian kings, foreshadowing the tension between the two countries today over down stream access to Nile water. In his 1928 book, A History of Ethiopia, Nubia and Abyssinia, Budge wrote about a seven-year famine in 11th-century Egypt: “it is said that the Khalifah Mustansir-b-Illah, thinking that the Abyssinians had turned the Nile out of its course, sent an embassy loaded with rich gifts to the king of Abyssinia, and asked him to let the Nile return to its old bed.”


A priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church with two deacons at the Blue Nile Falls, near the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The “tails” on the vestments are an enigma, although they resemble the leopard pelts worn by the ancient Egyptian priests who presided over funerary rites, called sem priests. Depictions in Egyptian temples and tombs suggest that priests wore actual pelts, but nearly all of the rare surviving examples are made of painted linen. (© Chester Higgins)

Budge further recorded the words of an 18th century Ethiopian King, in the midst of a diplomatic disturbance, “the Nile would be sufficient to punish you, since God hath put into our power his fountain, his outlet, and his increase, and that we can dispose of the same to do you harm. . . .”

It seems there was interface among children of the river. But it is too early to know how much and whether this shared cultural legacy along the Nile dates back millennia or centuries, and if influence traveled upriver or down — or in both directions.



Left: BETSY KISSAM is a freelance writer and member of ARCE – NY. For the past four decades, she has been traveling with photographer Chester Higgins along the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Currently she is working with Higgins on a book project about the sacred passage of faith along the River Nile. Right: CHESTER HIGGINS is the author of eight books of his photography. Most recently he co-authored the book, Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile. For additional info see chesterhiggins.com and #chesterhiggins12.

Related:
Photos: Chester Higgins Honored by Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia’s US Tour Operator Controversy

A tour group visits Debre Berhan Selassie Church, Gonder, Ethiopia. Photograph: (Getty Images)

The Guardian

LGBT tour operator faces death threats over Ethiopia trip

An LGBT tour operator has received death threats and hate messages on social media after launching a holiday to Ethiopia. Chicago-based Toto Tours’ 16-day trip to Ethiopia is due to take place at the end of October and includes religious sites such as the Debre Berhan Selassie in Gondar and the ancient cave monasteries in the mountains of Lalibela.

But religious groups in the country are urging the Ethiopian government to ban the company from visiting religious sites, warning that gay travellers could face violence.

Ethiopia has strict anti-gay laws, with homosexual acts punishable by up to 15 years in prison. According to Article 629 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code, this applies to both nationals and foreigners.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Dereje Negash, vice chairman of Sileste Mihret United Association, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church organisation, said that gay travellers with Toto Tours, “will be damaged, they could even die”, if they visit Ethiopia. “Toto Tours are wrong to plan to conduct tours in our religious and historical places,” he said.

Tagay Tadele of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia told news agency AFP, which has seven Islamic and Christian denominations as members, said: “[LGBT] tour programmes and dating programmes that try to use our historical sites and heritage should be immediately stopped by the Ethiopian government.”

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

New Generation Leads Ethiopia’s Ambitious Reform Drive (Financial Times)

New generation with international experience appointed to turn around tightly controlled, state-led economy. (Photo: © AFP)

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Ethiopia looks to young technocrats to lead ambitious reform drive

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has broken with tradition in Ethiopia by appointing young technocrats with international experience to important economic jobs as he seeks to turn the country’s tightly controlled, state-led economy into a competitive free market powered by private capital. 

The officials, including Eyob Tolina at the finance ministry, Abebe Abebayehu at the investment commission and Mamo Mihretu in the prime minister’s office, are leading the most ambitious aspects of Mr Abiy’s promised reforms, investors said. 

Since taking office a year ago, the reformist leader has promised to overhaul the Ethiopian economy and open previously blocked sectors, such as telecommunications and energy, to foreign investment. 

To succeed, his youthful disciples need to push reforms through Ethiopia’s sprawling bureaucracy and navigate conservative political officials in the ruling coalition, many of whom remain suspicious of relinquishing too much control of the economy after 28 years of state-led growth. 

For Mr Eyob, a former private equity executive and now state minister at the ministry of finance, the ruling party has no choice but to evolve. 

“We had public-led economic growth and it did run its course, it was obvious,” Mr Eyob told the Financial Times in an interview in Addis Ababa. “If you didn’t make some pragmatic decisions and shift the course, it would have been a full-blown crisis so you needed to avert that.” 

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Hailu Mergia at DC Jazz Festival

Hailu Mergia plays at The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Hailu Mergia left behind his days as a superstar in Ethiopia. Then the world rediscovered his mind-blowing music.

For 20 years, Hailu Mergia spent his days in a cab shuttling passengers to and from Dulles International Airport. In between fares, he’d pull over, pull out a keyboard and make music.

For most of that time, no one else heard the sounds that were coming out of his instrument.

“I was performing for myself — that’s the best way to say it,” Mergia says.

He wasn’t just a cabbie who played piano as a hobby — Mergia was an accomplished Ethiopian jazz musician, formerly of the Walias Band, who moved to D.C. in the early 1980s after the group toured the region. When the band broke up, he stuck around, recording the hypnotic “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument,” a 1985 album for which he acted as a one-man band, layering Rhodes piano, accordion and Moog synthesizer sounds. He gigged a little around the world and then, in 1991, stopped performing publicly and opened a restaurant.

“But I was practicing everywhere, all the time,” says Mergia, who is in his early 70s and lives in Fort Washington, Md.

In 2013, Brian Shimkovitz, who runs the blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa, discovered Mergia’s album on cassette while in Ethiopia and rereleased it on his label the following year. Awesome Tapes went on to rerelease two more Mergia albums: “Wede Harer Guzo,” with the Dahlak Band, and “Tche Belew,” with the Walias Band. Both are heavy on keyboard and accordion work, blending funk and jazz in forward-thinking (at the time) ways that also recall Ethiopia’s past.

“When I started playing in the clubs, I was a singer and then I started playing accordion because accordion, back in the early ’60s in Ethiopia, was very popular — there was no organ,” Mergia says. “When the organ came in the mid-’60s, the accordion became a forgotten instrument — it was lost. So after so many years when I brought it back … along with the Moog, it was kind of like a different sound.”

Mergia is spending more time on the road — his trio plays The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival — and he quit driving his cab in October.

Read more »


Related:
Listen to Hailu Mergia and The Walias Band playing – Tche Belew

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Poorly Mapped: Dinaw Mengestu’s Essay in The New Yorker

Inside my family’s home, I could lay full claim to being an Ethiopian; on the streets of Addis Ababa, however, I had to contend with the obvious facts. - Dinaw Mengestu (Photo: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

The New Yorker

On my first day in Ethiopia, my aunt Aster asked me not to leave the house. “Stay home,” she said. “Don’t go outside alone.” Her father, my grandfather, had built the house forty years earlier, shortly after his eighth and final child was born. I had lived there for the first two years of my life, before my mother, my sister, and I left to join my father, who had migrated to America in 1978, in the wake of Ethiopia’s Communist revolution. It had been twenty-five years since I or anyone in my immediate family had been back to Ethiopia. My aunt, whom I met for the first time when I landed in Addis Ababa, told me that in the years since we had left practically nothing had changed in the bedroom that my mother, my sister, and I had shared. “Everything is the same,” she told me. “Even your mother’s shoes are still there.”

My aunt lived in the house with her teen-age daughter. She assured me that it had everything I needed to fill my day until she came home from work: satellite television, an Internet connection, and American food that she had bought especially for me.

There was no explanation for my aunt’s determination that I stay home, nor did I ask her for one. Before my arrival, in the fall of 2005, contested elections had led to protests and mass arrests, which my aunt shrugged off as benign affairs that were more frightening to us in the West than to the people who lived through them. “You have to understand,” she said. “We’re fine. We go to work. We live our lives.”

I didn’t tell my aunt that I had come to Ethiopia with what looked to be a hand-drawn map of central Addis Ababa, the best one I could find on the Internet. That map was vital to an idea that I had formed as a teen-ager—that I could recover everything that had been lost in migration if I found my way back to Ethiopia and walked the streets of Addis Ababa, visited the graves of relatives I couldn’t remember, and stood in front of the palace where Emperor Haile Selassie had been arrested.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Let’s Talk About Sexual Abuse of Children

(Image: #MeTooEthiopia)

Aljazeera

Sexual abuse against children in Ethiopia: End of the taboo?

Twin sisters Dagim and Yeabsera were young children when their uncle first sexually assaulted them.

The abuse continued for years, as their father was absent – he left when they were born, and their mother worked as a domestic helper in a Middle Eastern country.

“Our uncle used to take turns to rape us, especially at middle of the night, when he was usually either drunk or high from taking drugs,” said Yeabsera.

They had been living with their uncle and maternal grandmother, who they say also physically abused them and failed to acknowledged her son’s devastating actions.

When the uncle was imprisoned for two years for shoplifting, his friends took turns abusing the children.

Dagim developed a heart problem, caused by stress. A school teacher referred her to a hospital for treatment where, finally, the twins’ trauma was revealed.

They are now 15 and, for the past two months, have been living in a refuge in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, run by the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (Awsad), the only local NGO offering shelter and rehabilitation to women and girls.

“We used to think we had no mother and father,” said Yeabsera, “but the care given by Awsad staff has got us feeling we have a real family”.

In socially conservative Ethiopia, the sexual assault of children, who make up around half of the population, is largely a taboo subject.

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: #MeTooEthiopia “Assault is a Crime, not a Culture”

Watch: Stories We Ignore (Amharic)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

President Sahle-Work Zewde Speaks at 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Canada

President Sahle-Work Zewde. (Photo: WD2019 website)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – This week in Vancouver, Canada more than 8,000 civil society leaders, academics, activists and journalists are gathering for the Women Deliver 2019 Conference,” the world’s largest international convention focusing on today’s most pressing issues dealing with gender equality. Among the main speakers featured include Ethiopia’s first female President, Sahle-Work Zewde, who is set to address the global gathering during the event’s kick-off program on Monday, June 3rd along with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

According to the organizers the President of Ethiopia will participate in a high-level panel moderated by BBC News journalist Lyse Doucet with participants that include Environmental Activist Farwiza Farhan, Women’s Rights Advocate Natasha Mwansa, Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau, and the United Nations High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment & Economic Growth Dr. Alaa Murabit.

The Women Deliver 2019 Conference is taking place in Vancouver, Canada from Monday, June 3rd to Thursday, June 6th.

It is “the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women in the 21st century,” notes the event’s website. “It will serve as a catalyst for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. The conference will present new knowledge, promote world-class solutions, and engage a broad spectrum of voices. It will focus on several issues from health, nutrition, education, economic and political empowerment to human rights, good governance, and girls’ and women’s agency and equality.”

Below is a brief bio of President Sahle-Work Zewde as provided by the conference organizers:

SAHLE-WORK ZEWDE

Sahle-Work Zewde was elected as the fourth and first woman President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on 25 October 2018.

She spent her first professional years in the Ministry of Education. She later joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1988 and started her long diplomatic carrier as ambassador to Senegal with accreditation to Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and the Gambia. She served in Djibouti and IGAD- Inter Governmental Authority on Development for 10 years before moving as ambassador of Ethiopia to France, Tunisia and Morocco and Permanent Representative to UNESCO. After her return to Ethiopia she was appointed Permanent Representative to the African Union and Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

President Sahle-Work Zewde joined the United Nations in 2009 and served as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General/SRSG/ and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) thus becoming the first African woman to become an SRSG.

In 2011, she was appointed as the first dedicated Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) at the level of Under-Secretary-General. In June 2018, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Ms. Zewde as his Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU). She was the first woman to hold these three positions at the United Nations.

Ms. Zewde is a mother of two boys. She speaks Amharic, French and English fluently.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Lemn Sissay Wins the PEN Pinter Prize

Poet and Playwright Lemn Sissay Wins the PEN Pinter Prize. Lemn Sissay said: ‘What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organisation.’ (Photo: Lemn Sissay photographed in Canterbury Cathedral/The Observer)

The Guardian

Judges laud ability to forge beautiful words from sorrows as he sees it as sign to continue

Lemn Sissay has won the PEN Pinter prize, set up in memory of playwright Harold Pinter. Sissay, 52, who was an official poet for the London 2012 Olympics, grew up in care and has spoken about how he was imprisoned, bullied and physically abused by staff. He later made documentaries about the search for his family.

Writer Maureen Freely, one of the judges, said: ‘In his every work, Lemn Sissay returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child. From his sorrows, he forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love.”

Sissay, who was FA Cup poet in 2015, said: “I met Harold Pinter when I was 36. We were on stage at the Royal Court. I was too intimidated or self-conscious to speak to him. And so I will now. ‘Thank you’.

“What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organisation. I accept it as a sign that I should continue.”

Lemn Sissay: ‘A childhood in care almost broke me – I needed to shine a light on it’

The poet, performer playwright, artist and broadcaster will receive the award at a ceremony at the British Library on 10 October.

Read more »


Related:

My Name Is Why: New Book by LEMN SISSAY

In Pictures: Tadias Salon Series in NYC Featuring Poet & Author Lemn Sissay

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Israel Marks Ethiopian Jews’ Memorial Day

President, PM address memorial ceremony on Mt. Herzl for Ethiopian Jews who perished while attempting to make it to Israel. (Photo: President meets Ethiopian leaders on Ethiopian Jewish Memorial Day/GPO)

Israel National News

President Reuven Rivlin today spoke at the official memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl in memory of the Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yoav Galant and a representative of the bereaved families also spoke at the event.

The president began by saying, “with great symbolism, the State of Israel chose to mark the memorial day for the Jews of Ethiopia who perished on their way to Israel on Yom Yerushalayim, the day celebrate Jerusalem. Their journey was not easy and unfortunately, it is not yet over. Not your journey and not the State of Israel’s journey.”

“More and more Ethiopian Israelis are climbing the ranks in the army, advancing in science, medicine, the media, sports, yeshivas and ulpanot, academia and all walks of life, and Israeli society is committed to continuing to correct the failures created in the absorption process, to repair the rifts and to strengthen the faith of the members of the community in the institutions of the state. Thirty-five years since Operation Moses and the twenty-eight years since Operation Solomon, the time has come to stop talking about ‘absorption’ and treating Ethiopian immigrants as a separate group. Ethiopian Israelis are an integral part of the State of Israel, the Jewish people, Israeli society and the story,” he said.

Read the full article at israelnationalnews.com »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Honors Dr. Catherine Hamlin

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Dr. Catherine Hamlin at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital on May 29th, 2019. (Photo: Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation via Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 1st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Dr. Catherine Hamlin, founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, has been honored with Ethiopia’s prestigious citizenship award.

PM Abiy Ahmed presented the award to Dr. Hamlin during the hospital’s 60th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, May 29th.

Since it was launched in 1974 the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, which was co-founded by Dr. Catherine and her late husband Dr. Reginald Hamlin, has treated over 60,000 women, the majority of whom have been cured and have returned to their homes to live healthy, normal lives.

Catherine and Reginald Hamlin, both gynecologists and natives of Australia and New Zealand respectively, moved to Ethiopia in 1959 to start a midwifery school at the Princess Tsehay Hospital in Addis Ababa before opening the dedicated hospital for fistula patients fifteen years later.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 100,000 women are affected worldwide by obstetric fistula — an injury during the birthing process that women with obstructive labor suffer from when they have inadequate access to medical support.

“Prime Minister Abiy commended Dr Catherine Hamlin for her tremendous work of restoring the dignity of Ethiopian women affected by obstetric fistula,” the announcement said. “He expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the care-taking role she took of the most marginalized in their time of grave need.” The PM also “bestowed an award upon Dr Catherine Hamlin on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia for her tireless contribution and together with First Lady Zinash Tayachew planted seedlings in the compound of the hospital.”

Below are photos from the event:


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia’s Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi Meets U.S. Supreme Court Judge Stephen Breyer — In Pictures

Ethiopia's Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi meeting with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 31st, 2019. (Photo: Fitsum Arega @fitsumaregaa/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: June 1st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – The President of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court Meaza Ashenafi is currently visiting the United States and has met with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer as part of her working trip.

Appointed by the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last fall Meaza, who is a women’s rights activist, is Ethiopia’s first female Chief Justice. She rose to international prominence in the late 1990s following her successful court case in Ethiopia that resulted in an end to the tradition of kidnapping girls for marriage. That case was the subject of the award-winning 2013 film Difret.

Meaza and Breyer met at the judge’s office in Washington D.C on Friday accompanied by Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Fitsum Arega.

“Justice Breyer emphasized the importance of rule of law and the independence of the judiciary to ensure peace and development,” Fitsum shared on social media after the meeting.

Below are photos:


Ethiopia’s Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 31st, 2019. (Photo: Fitsum Arega @fitsumaregaa/Twitter)


(Photo: Fitsum Arega @fitsumaregaa/Twitter)


Related:
Tadias Interview with Meaza Ashenafi & Aberash Bekele about ‘Difret’ Movie: 2015 in NYC

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

250 Ethiopians Held in Yemen Return Home

File: Ethiopian migrants depart Aden Airport as part of IOM's Voluntary Humanitarian Return initiative, May 22, 2019. (Photo: IOM)

VOA NEWS

250 Ethiopian Migrants Detained in Yemen Fly Home

GENEVA — The International Organization for Migration reports two flights carrying an estimated 250 Ethiopian migrants are expected to depart Yemen Saturday for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of a larger ongoing repatriation operation.

The UN migration agency says it hopes to repatriate another 1,968 Ethiopian migrants who are being detained under horrific conditions in a sports stadium in the Yemeni port city of Aden.

But the operation, which was to have begun last Saturday got off to a late start. And this says IOM spokeswoman, Angela Wells, might pose a problem.

“The operation was only cleared for eight days. So, because it was delayed, we are now waiting to see if we can continue it past that date, ” she said. “We will do our best to work with the authorities to find sustainable solutions and start another round of VHR (Voluntary Humanitarian Returns) and to help people where we can.”

With the approval of the Saudi-led coalition and Government of Yemen, 347 migrants have been flown home on three IOM chartered flights this past week. Wells says women and children were among the first to be repatriated as they are seen to be the most vulnerable.

At the end of April, Yemeni authorities rounded up more than 2,000 irregular migrants in Aden, most Ethiopians. They are among an estimated 150,000 migrants who have made the arduous journey to war-torn Yemen in hopes of finding work and a better life in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Wells tells VOA the migrants are being held under appalling, life-threatening conditions in Aden’s Al Mansoura Football Stadium. She says delays in repatriating the migrants are likely to result in more suffering and more deaths.

“Already eight people have died from acute watery diarrhea and one migrant was shot by a guard. So, the result if we are not able to get everyone out that we can could be quite catastrophic. And, so that is why we are urging the authorities to work with us and help us get as many people home as possible,” Wells said.

In the meantime, IOM reports Yemeni authorities are continuing to round up more migrants and bring them to the sport stadium. It warns the growing number of people being detained under sub-standard conditions is worsening an already acute humanitarian situation.


Related:
Ethiopia- Eritrea Filmmaker Refugee Stuck in Libya Amid Raging Civil War

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Life Time Friend of Ethiopia Rita Pankhurst (1927- 2019)

Rita Pankhurst, a life time friend of Ethiopia and the wife of the late historian Richard Pankhurst, died on May 30th 2019 at the age of 91. At the time of her death, she was working on Volume 2 of her autobiography 'Ethiopian Reminiscences.' Below is Rita's bio courtesy of the Pankhurst family. (Photo: Tsehai Publishers/Ethiopian Reminiscences video)

Tadias Magazine

Rita Pankhurst’s biography courtesy of her family

Life Time Friend of Ethiopia Rita Pankhurst (1927- 2019)

Rita was born in Romania in 1927. She immigrated to the UK with her parents in 1938. After attending the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge she studied modern languages (French and Russian) at Oxford (LMH) and obtained her MA in 1948. She spent the next year in Paris boarding with Russian-speaking Armenians and
attending the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales Vivantes, obtaining a Diploma in Russian. Her first job was in the Press Library of Chatham House. She worked there until 1956 when she joined Richard and Sylvia in Addis Ababa.

Rita Pankhurst was a librarian who lived in Ethiopia for over 60 years and worked at the National Library, the Kennedy Library at Haile Sellassie I University and the library of the Economic Commission for Africa. As wife and companion of Richard Pankhurst, she shared his passion for Ethiopia and worked with him on many of his writing including his books, the publishing of the journal, the Ethiopia Observer, taking part in numerous conferences of Ethiopian studies and supporting the Friends of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. She also wrote several articles on Ethiopian culture, notably on women in Ethiopian history, and on the history and development of libraries in Ethiopia, starting with a publication on “The Library of Emperor Tewodros II at Maqdala” published in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies vol. 36 in 1974.

Rita began work at the National Library of Ethiopia (Womezekir), along with distinguished Ethiopian scholars: such as The World Laureate Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle, the Honorable Dr. Kebede Mikael, and Artist Ale Felegeselam, and began correspondence courses in Librarianship. She married Richard in 1957 and had two children: Alula Andrew, who had two children Henok and Heleena and Helen Sylvia who had two children Laura and Alex. Alula was born on 27 September 1960 exactly two years after Sylvia’s death. Rita resumed her courses, interrupted by childbearing, and was awarded the Associateship of the Library Association (ALA) in 1964. (She was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 1987). Thereafter most of Rita’s working life was spent in academic librarianship. She became University Librarian of Haile Sellassie I University, a post she held for a decade.

When the family returned to London in 1976, she was appointed Head of Library Services of the City of London Polytechnic, and remained in charge for eleven years until she and Richard returned to Ethiopia. During this period she was instrumental in acquiring the library of the Fawcett Society for the Polytechnic. The Fawcett Library later formed the core of the present Women’s Library, now under the stewardship of the LSE.

Rita co-authored a number of publications with Richard over years on various topics including “A Select Annotated Bibliography of Travel Books on Ethiopia” published in 1978 in the African Journal vol. 9, no 3, “Ethiopian Ear-Picks” published in Abbay, no.10 (1979), and Ethiopian Figurines from Mugar Monastery in Shawa” published in African Arts vol. 37, no 3, (2004). She was involved with Richard in initiating the first International Conference of the History of Ethiopian Art in London, and attended successive International Conferences of Ethiopian Studies presenting papers such as “An unpublished Letter of King of Kings Tewodros II to the Egyptian Governor of the Sudan” at the Ninth International Conference in Moscow in 1986.

Rita and Richard returned to Ethiopia in 1987, and Rita undertook library consultancies, editing books and university theses. She became involved in voluntary work and was Chair of the United World Colleges National Committee – Ethiopia; Chair of the Programme Committee of the Society of Friends of the
Institute of Ethiopian Studies and Board member of the Ethiopian Gemini Trust. She was an active member of the Horticultural Society of Ethiopia.

Rita continued to take part in successive conferences of Ethiopian Studies, contributing papers including “International Conferences of Ethiopian Studies I-VI, 1959-1980: author and subject bibliography” published in S. Rubenson (ed.) Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, University of Lund, (1982), “The legacy of the Magdala collection” in the Proceedings of the 8th International Conference held in Addis Ababa published in 1988, “Observations on a letter from Emperor Yohannes IV to the Protestant Missionary Martin Flad” presented at the 9 th International Conference of Ethiopia Studies held in Addis Ababa in 1991, and “in quest of Ankobar Church libraries” both the published in the Proceedings of the 12th International Conference held in Michigan in 1994.

A growing interest in Ethiopian art, led her to conceive the idea of convening international conferences on its history, and she contributed to four conferences: the second at which she presented a paper entitled “The Bull and the Bicycle: a new genre of popular memorial art in the Ethiopian Rift Valley,” published in Paul Henze ed. Aspects of Ethiopian art from ancient Axum to the 20th Century; the third conference where she presented “Art in the Service of Diplomacy: A drawing on a letter of King Menilek to Queen Victoria”; the sixth at which she presented an article with the photographer Denis Gerard entitled “The Life and Art of Desso Hordofa, a Contemporary Self-taught Sculptor”; and the seventh where she presented “Art in the Service of Diplomacy in Shäwa in the early eighteen forties: A Treaty and a Letter from King Sahla Sellasé to Queen Victoria” published in Ethiopian Art – A Unique Cultural Heritage and Modern Challenge, edited by Walter Raunig and Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Lublin, 2007. She also contributed a chapter to a book on the renowned artist Gebre Kristos entitled “Gebre Kristos Desta through the eyes of friends and relatives”, in Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis, et al., eds., Gebre Kristos Desta: the Painter-Poet, Addis Ababa (2006). She also wrote a tribute to the eminent historian Tekle Tsadik Mekouria (1913-2000)” published in Aethiopica, vol 4 (2001). Rita also compiled successive bibliographies of the works of her late husband Richard, the most recent entitled “Bibliography of publications, written, edited or annotated by Richard Pankhurst” published in 2017 in the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies vol.11 no.1.

Her publications on Ethiopian women include: Senedu Gabru: A role model for Ethiopian women?” in Tsehai Berhane-Selassie (ed.) Gender Issues in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa: Institute of Ethiopian Studies, (1991). “Women of power in Ethiopian history and legend” Salamta, vol.13 no.1 (1996) “Forgotten women in Ethiopian history” CERTWID [ Centre for Research, Training and Information on Women in Development] Informs, vol. 6, no.2 (2001) and “Taytu’s Foremothers: Queen Eleni, Queen Säblä Wängél and Bati Del Wämbära.” presented at the 16th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Trondheim, 2007. About her mother-in-law she wrote “Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical” in Women’s Studies International Forum, vol.11, no.3, (1988).

Over the years Rita wrote a number of academic and popular articles on the history and development of libraries in Ethiopia including on the National Library published in Ethiopia Observer vol .1. no. 2 (1957), and“ Provision of libraries in Post-Revolutionary Ethiopia” in Focus on International and Comparative Librarianship vo.19 no. 2 (1988) and on the women’s library in London: “Collection development and women’s heritage: the case of the Fawcett Library”. Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 10 no.3 (1987).

She also wrote on cultural topics such as Ethiopian spices and on the coffee ceremony which she presented at the 13th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies in Japan and was also published in Selamta vol. 15, no 3 in 1998, and “Names in Amharic: A Categorisation”, in Baye Yimam et al., Ethiopian Studies as the End of the Second Millennium, Fourteenth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, 2000, vol 1, 2002.

Rita spent her final years with Richard working on a joint autobiography entitled ‘Ethiopian Reminiscences‘ based on the weekly letters she wrote home to her father which was published by Tsehai publishers in 2013.

Ethiopian Reminiscences – Rita and Richard Pankhurst from TSEHAI Films on Vimeo.

Her life and her work along with her husband Richard were celebrated by the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and Society of Friends of Institute of Ethiopian Studies (SOFIES) in 2011 with a Festschrift dedicated to her and her husband Richard Pankhurst in the Journal of Ethiopian Studies (2007).

Rita died on 30 May 2019 at the age of 91. At the time of her death, she was working on Volume 2 of ‘Ethiopian Reminiscences’.

May her soul rest in peace.


Related:
Ethiopia: In Memory of Historian Richard Pankhurst

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

PM Abiy’s VOA Interview Annotated

File photo: PM Abiy Ahmed at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C., July 26th, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

VOA News

PM Abiy: ‘All of My Intention and Action Is Aimed at Elevating Ethiopia’

WASHINGTON — Editor’s note: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave his first interview to a Western news organization when he spoke to the Voice of America’s Horn of Africa service reporter Eskinder Firew, in Addis Ababa, in Amharic. These highlights from their conversation have been edited for brevity and clarity.

For the past year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has led Ethiopia through dramatic changes. Entrenched ethnic tensions and complex regional conflicts have posed ongoing challenges to the young leader’s reform agenda, but he remains resolute in his desire to make the most of his time in office. Abiy spoke to VOA’s Eskinder Firew about Ethiopia’s relationship with neighbor Eritrea, judicial reforms and the imprint he hopes to leave.

Eskinder Firew: On the occasion of your first anniversary as prime minister, you said, “I am only planning to elevate Ethiopia to high standards, awaken the public and lift up a country that is hanging its head. I don’t have any other ill intentions other than that.” What did you mean by that?

Abiy Ahmed: I don’t believe that it’s proper to stay in power for long periods of time. And as long as I have power, I believe that I should use that to change people’s lives. But within my efforts working to bring change, there may be errors — but all of my intention and action is aimed at elevating Ethiopia.

My agenda is not to use certain groups. To attack certain groups. Or to push specific groups or oppress people. What I am working on is work that elevates Ethiopians. That’s what I want, and that is what I do.

I can confidently say that I will not be involved in killing people or benefiting by illegal means by taking away from other people’s pockets as long as I am in a position of leadership.

Firew: In your message to the government and people of Eritrea on the occasion of Eritrea’s Independence Day, you expressed Ethiopia’s readiness to remain committed to jointly addressing all outstanding issues the countries face. What are these “outstanding issues”?

Abiy: If we take the problem between Somalia and Kenya, we want Eritrea and South Sudan, along with Ethiopia, to help one another and provide support to solve these issues. We know that any problem between Somalia and Kenya can spill over toward us. Because of this, we would like to work together to solve it.

There is a wide-ranging issue as it relates to South Sudan. We don’t think that Ethiopia alone can solve the problem, and the same when it comes to the problem between us and Eritrea.

And there are also problems between Eritrea and other countries, too. So this is a region that has a lot of problems. But additionally, this is also a region that wants to move in the direction of integration.

Firew: The border closing between the two countries (Eritrea and Ethiopia) has continued until today. What is the situation currently?

Abiy: ​When the peace process started between the two sides, we saw the borders were widely opened on both sides. We can say that people were moving to and from — not like foreign countries, but movement similar to what happens within a country. There weren’t strict controls. And many people came from there to here, and from here to there. But that was not the only thing. Ethiopian opposition members who were based in Eritrea returned to Ethiopia, and Eritrean opposition members based in Ethiopia returned to Eritrea.

There needs to be a system where there is control and a custom-check system. And we need that capacity so that it would be possible to know what people are bringing in and out. There is a concern that if we leave the borders opened uncontrolled, that it would be difficult to prevent problems. We want to ensure that, if people are going from Ethiopia to Eritrea or from Eritrea to Ethiopia, it has to be for peace, development and tourism.

Firew: Regarding change in Ethiopia and legal reforms, some people say that, if the measures taken are enough, we would see the results. But because the measures taken aren’t enough, we see continuation of some things. What’s your response?

Abiy: ​Everyone should get equal treatment in the face of the law. It should never be used as a tool for revenge. When we respect the rule of law, it should be in accordance to that. So, when a government takes action, there are some who say that this decision was made by someone from my ethnic group or my community. But unless this thinking is gone or is depleted, it threatens the possibility of protecting the rule of law.

Within just this past year, there are so many people that could be jailed or face detention. Thousands are in prison charged with national security, corruption and displacement, etc. There is no need to put so many people in such a situation, because we want to reduce crime and not add prisoners. But we still have people undergoing these legal processes through the federal and regional levels. But this is not because we are not taking action, it is because we are in the process of focusing on clamping down on crimes that are serious. On the other hand, if we don’t think that the law doesn’t apply to all equally, we can’t have a sustainable future.


Related:
From Ethiopia With Love: PM Abiy Pens Open Letter to Diaspora Youth

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes

(File Photo by David Silpa/UPI)

UPI

In his first remarks to news media about two deadly crashes involving his company’s planes, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized to the victims’ families.

Muilenburg has been highly visible over the last few months following the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that killed a combined 346 people. The Max 8 and Max 9 have been grounded worldwide since March while investigators identify the causes and Boeing finalizes a software fix for the airliners’ automated flight systems.

Muilenburg apologized to the victims’ families in a video message last month, but Wednesday was the first time he spoke to news media. The Boeing chief told CBS News the 737 Max will be safe when it returns to the skies, and said he’d put his own family on one of the planes “without hesitation.”

“I do personally apologize to the families,” Muilenburg said. “We feel terrible about these accidents. We apologize for what happened. We are sorry for the loss of lives in both accidents, and that will never change. That will always be with us. I can tell you it affects me directly as a leader of this company, it’s very difficult.”

“We know there was inaccurate sensor data that came into the airplane and there appeared to be a maintenance issue with that sensor,” Muilenburg said. “The implementation of that software, we did not do it correctly. Our engineers discovered that. We are fixing it now, and our communication on that was not what it should have been.”

The airplane manufacturer said this month it knew for more than a year a cockpit alert wasn’t working properly. If the angle-of-attack sensors had conflicting data, the alert was supposed to go off before the airplane automatically went into a steep dive to avoid a stall.

“We clearly fell short and the implementation of this angle-of-attack disagree alert was a mistake, right, we did not implement it properly,” Muilenburg said. “We’re confident in the fundamental safety of the airplane.”

“We know … the public’s confidence has been hurt by these accidents and that we have work to do to earn and re-earn the trust of the flying public, and we will do that,” Muilenburg told an investor conference earlier Wednesday. “We are taking all actions necessary to make sure that accidents like those two … never happen again.”


Related:
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’

(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines Bombardier Aircraft/by Mulat Abera)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 31st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian Airlines has dismissed a recent Bloomberg news story titled Long Before Boeing 737 Max Crash, Ethiopian Air Pilot Warned of Dangers as “baseless and factually incorrect.”

The article refers to an ex-Ethiopian Airlines pilot by the name of Bernd Kai von Hoesslin who claims that he had communicated with his former superiors at the company about the need for more Boeing 737 Max training back in December 2018, prior to the March 10 crash of flight 302 that killed all 157 passengers and crew on board.

The claim by von Hoesslin, who is not Ethiopian, mirrors comments made recently by Boeing’s CEO as well as the acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and some American politicians blaming the pilots for the Ethiopian crash despite the fact that investigators had preliminarily ruled that a defective software flight data sensor known as MCAS was to blame for the accident and that the pilots performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing but could not control the plane.

Boeing has admitted in a press release earlier this month that it was aware of 737 Max safety problems two years before the deadly Ethiopia and Indonesia crashes, but had deemed the now globally grounded airplane as safe after an internal examination.

“The pilot who has been referred to as a source of these false allegations is a disgruntled former employee of the airline who has left the airline after many administrative problems, failures to comply with the company procedures and repeated demonstration of clear disobedience during his short employment period,” Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement responding to Bloomberg. “As a result of the cumulative problems he created and his inability to perform his duties as per the airline procedures and policies his contract of employment was terminated.” The statement added: “Ethiopian Airlines strictly complies with all global safety standards and regulatory requirements.”

Meanwhile, in his first media appearance since the Ethiopia crash nearly three months ago Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued an apology to the victims’ families. “I do personally apologize to the families,” Muilenburg told CBS News in a broadcast aired this week on Wednesday, May 29th. “We feel terrible about these accidents. We apologize for what happened. We are sorry for the loss of lives in both accidents, and that will never change. That will always be with us. I can tell you it affects me directly as a leader of this company, it’s very difficult.” He added: “We know there was inaccurate sensor data that came into the airplane and there appeared to be a maintenance issue with that sensor. The implementation of that software, we did not do it correctly. Our engineers discovered that. We are fixing it now, and our communication on that was not what it should have been. We clearly fell short and the implementation of this angle-of-attack disagree alert was a mistake. We did not implement it properly.”

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam has emphasized that Ethiopian, which has been a customer of Boeing for more than seven decades, has no plans to fly the Boeing 737 Max again anytime soon, but has not yet made a decision to cancel its pending orders with the U.S. plane maker.


Related:
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia PM Tackles Displacement Crisis

PM presses plan to return displaced people after violence. (File Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 28, 2019/REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister on Thursday pursued a plan to return displaced people to their homes following ethnic violence, meeting communities who recently went home, as relief workers voiced fears that the initiative could provoke fresh violence.

Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, has won international plaudits for announcing bold reform pledges, but the blossoming of political freedoms over the past year has been accompanied by a surge in ethnic violence.

Rivalries between ethnic groups — once repressed by a state with an iron fist — have exploded into the open, and the United Nations says 2.4 million Ethiopians are currently displaced due to these conflicts. More people were displaced last year in the Horn of Africa nation than in any other country, according to data published this month.

Earlier this month the government announced it was scaling up its plan to return displaced people to their homes as soon as possible, a message Abiy reinforced on Thursday when his office published photos of him speaking with people from the Gedeo and West Guji areas in southern Ethiopia who had recently returned to their homes.

“The military has been involved to the extent of supporting and securing the safe passage of the displaced back to their original locales where some still experienced a perception of fear,” a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s office wrote in an email to Reuters.

She added that the government is working to ensure that the returns are “voluntary”, in line with international standards.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Ethiopian-American filmmaker and professor Haile Gerima's bookstore Sankofa that's located near Howard University in Washington, DC has been an oasis of Pan-African culture since it opened more than twenty years ago. But now as gentrification threatens its existence the small business is fighting back with a tax abatement bill scheduled for a public hearing on June 3rd, 2019. (Photo: Facebook)

WUSA9

DC gentrification threatens black-owned bookstore, cafe near Howard University

Sankofa was founded in 1998 and named after the famous film by its owners Haile and Gerima.

“Being in D.C. has been a lot of work in terms of our relationship with the city,” Gerima said. “Now with gentrification, the relationship has become more hostile so that the taxes we have to pay each year – $30,000 – is completely outrageous.”

The owners have taken their fight to the D.C. Council where a bill would free that tax burden for the next 10 years.

“What we’re facing now with gentrification is what we’ve been facing since we’ve been here,” Gerima said. “On steroids.”

It’s a move they hope will keep the culture they’ve worked so hard to preserve for the last two decades.

“It’s all about the Benjamins, my sista (sp), it’s all about the Benjamins,” Yilma said.

Sankofa is home for many, including those looking to learn about the African experience.

“There’s a lot of history to learn here at Sankofa,” Sampson Meskel said.

“We are quite proud of what we have here,” co-owner Shirikiana Gerima said.

“When everybody benefits when everybody co-exists it’s good,” Yilma, a customer, said.

The owners want supporters to show up and show out. The tax abatement bill to save Sankofa is scheduled for a public hearing at the Wilson Building Monday, June 3 at 10 a.m.

“I don’t want the city to feel like they’re doing me a favor,” Gerima said. “They should be saying ‘thank you Lordy’ because businesses like this have contributed to the strength of the city.”


You can learn more and help Sankofa stay open at http://support.sankofa.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Mueller: Probe Did Not Exonerate Trump

“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Former FBI Director Robert Mueller said on Wednesday speaking publicly for the first time about his investigation. Mueller said he couldn't charge a sitting president because of a long-standing Justice Department rule and indicated that only Congress could "formally accuse the president of wrongdoing." (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Mueller: Special counsel probe did not exonerate Trump

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller said Wednesday he was barred from charging President Donald Trump with a crime but pointedly emphasized that his Russia report did not exonerate the president. If he could have cleared Trump of obstruction of justice he “would have said so,” Mueller declared.

The special counsel’s remarks, his first in public since being tasked two years ago with investigating Russian interference to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election, stood as a strong rebuttal to Trump’s repeated claims that he was exonerated and that the inquiry was merely a “witch hunt.” They also marked a clear counter to criticism, including by Attorney General William Barr, that he should have reached a determination on whether the president illegally tried to obstruct the probe by taking actions such as firing his FBI director.

Mueller made clear he believed he was restrained from indicting a sitting president — such an action was “not an option” — because of a Justice Department legal opinion. He said it was Congress’ job to hold the president accountable for any wrongdoing.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not however make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller’s statement largely echoed the central points of his 448-page report released last month with some redactions. But his remarks, just under 10 minutes long and delivered from a Justice Department podium, were nonetheless extraordinary given that he had never before discussed or characterized his findings and had stayed mute during two years of feverish public speculation.

Mueller, a former FBI director, said his work was complete and he was resigning to return to private life. For his rare appearance, he wore a black suit, crisp white shirt and blue tie, walking briskly onto the stage gripping a folder containing prepared remarks that he largely adhered to.


Related:
Impeachment 101: How could Congress remove President Trump from office? (LA Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Repeats Sweep in Colorado Race

Hiwot Yemer (20) wins the women's professional Bolder Boulder 10K at the University of Colorado's Folsom Field on May 27, 2019, in Boulder. (Photo: The Denver Post)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia repeats sweep in 41st BolderBoulder race

BOULDER, Colo. — Ethiopia repeated a sweep in the men’s and women’s team competitions at the 41st annual BolderBoulder 10-kilometer road race Monday.

Kenya’s Benard Ngeno won the men’s race in 28 minutes, 29 seconds, well ahead of Terefa Delesa, who was runner-up in 28:59 but paced the Ethiopians to their 10th team win with 20 points. Tanzania was second with 22 points and Eritrea was third with 29.

The Ethiopian women won for the 13th time overall and for the 10th time in the past 11 years with a 1-2-5 finish for eight total points. Hiwot Yemer edged teammate Meseret Tola for the title, winning in 32:49, six seconds ahead of Tola.

Led by Aliphine Tuliamuk’s third-place finish (33:00), the U.S.A. placed second in the women’s race with 24 points, ahead of Kenya’s 29 points in third place.


Related:
In drama-filled final sprint, Ethiopia’s Hiwot Yemer wins Bolder Boulder women’s professional race

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

We Miss President Obama: Reflection

Despite what the fork-tongued haters in our community may say (always mixing apples and oranges) in order to promote themselves most of us here in the Ethiopian Diaspora respect and admire President Obama and his place in American history as the first African American president of the United States. If it wasn't for African Americans and their past and present struggle none of us would be enjoying the freedoms that we take for granted today. Below is a great recent article titled 'Waiting for Obama' by the Atlantic magazine showing why the former U.S. president is loved and appreciated by many Americans. (Getty Images)

The Atlantic

Waiting for Obama

Barack Obama is literally more popular than Jesus among Democrats. Unfortunately, neither the former president nor any of the party’s 23 candidates currently seeking the 2020 nomination know quite what to do with that information.

Of course, before any serious endorsement conversation can commence, Obama has to finish his book (between rounds of golf and raising millions for his foundation). The writing has been going more slowly than he’d expected, and according to several people who have spoken with him, the 44th president is feeling competitive with his wife, whose own book, Becoming, was the biggest release of 2018 and is on track to be the best-selling memoir in history. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, like others in this story, these sources note he’ll occasionally say in conversation that he’s writing this book himself, while Michelle used a ghostwriter. He’s also trying to balance the historical and political needs of a project that will be up to his standards as a writer, and not 1,000 pages long. Obama’s research process has been intense and convoluted, and it’s still very much ongoing, from the legal pads he had shipped to Marlon Brando’s old island in French Polynesia, where he spent a month in March 2017, to the interviews that aides have been conducting with former members of his administration to jog and build out memories…

As with Becoming, this book will have more than a standard release. Aides expect Obama to go on tour, with a rush of interviews in which he’ll be expected to talk not just about what he’s written, but about Trump and whatever political news is unfolding that day. When that conversation has come up internally, according to people involved in the discussions, he often says simply, “I can handle it.”

Read more »


Related:
Photos: President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia – July 2015

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

From Ethiopia With Love: PM Abiy Pens Open Letter to Diaspora Youth

(Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 26th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has written an open letter addressed to young people in the Diaspora reminding the next generation that Ethiopia also belongs to them and they should take direct stake in its future.

“I am writing this letter to you as an eternal reminder that this country is your home and that you will always be a part of Ethiopia,” PM Abiy said in his letter. “On my various travels around the world, I have seen the hope that you embrace for your country, and the type of humane society that you hope Ethiopians would live in.” He added: “As Ethiopian youth and children in the Diaspora, Ethiopia also belongs to you as the next caretaker generation.”

In the letter — which has been already shared hundreds of times on social media since it was released on Saturday, May 25th — the Prime Minister emphasized five key areas of how Ethiopians around the world can be engaged in activities over the summer including organizing volunteer work in Ethiopia, participating in discussion forums in their adopted countries, and thinking about “knowledge transfer” such as collecting books, computers and other resources for the upcoming Addis Ababa City library.

“Generate ideas and solutions and share them with us,” he said. “I have paid and continue to pay keen attention to your economic abilities and contributions. We must work together to narrate the story of the present and set in stone the guiding principles for the future.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

From Abiy Ahmed: Message to Ethiopian Youth and Children in the Diaspora

Dear Ethiopian Youth and Children in the Diaspora,

I am writing this letter to you as an eternal reminder that this country is your home and that you will always be a part of Ethiopia. On my various bilateral-centered travels around the world, I have seen the hope that you embrace for your country, and the type of humane society that you hope Ethiopians would live in. You understand ‘Medemer’ and always have sought ways to be unified as one. Your sensitivity to the needs of others and the immediate action you take to help is at the core of Ethiopia – the New Horizon of Hope. A place of mystical wonders, cultures, rich traditions with a colorful mosaic of people whose faiths are as strong as her people.

Today, Ethiopia is experiencing a resurrection of hope. Hope that you have fought for from a distance. Hope that you and your parents, near and far, have prayed for. Hope that you held on to even when at times it seemed impossible. You held an enduring love and an unwavering faith in the possibilities of Ethiopia being a great nation. You never lost sight of light that leads to hope. As such, you dressed up and flaunted your Ethiopian identity at your school’s international day celebration; you hosted Ethiopian day and, proactively engaged in policies of your host nations that may concern the betterment of Ethiopia. You proudly held up Ethiopia’s flag wherever you could and defended your country’s glorious history. It is my wish you continue sharing in your various spheres of influence all that makes Ethiopia great.

It is also my wish that you seize the current prevailing opportunities and good will to contribute to your country when it needs you most. Alongside our greatness, we also shoulder as a country, many challenges and responsibilities that requires our concerted efforts as Ethiopians. As you know the rainy season in Ethiopia is upon us and schools are closed. Similarly, where most of you reside, the summer break is also ahead of you. I hope during the period you will take time to think about your country and the ways in which you can act in its favor. Many of the pleasures and conveniences you enjoy in the respective countries you live in have all been built on solid foundation. The roads you drive on, the playgrounds and parks you play in, the libraries in which you study – those that came before you planted these seeds, watered them and nurtured them until they bloomed.

As Ethiopian youth and children in the Diaspora, Ethiopia also belongs to you as the next caretaker generation. While my administration and I work tirelessly to build a democratic country, I welcome you to come home during the rainy season and to take part in the new experiences, be a part of the tangible and sustainable developments being made in every corner and direction, teach us to do things differently and better with your immeasurable knowledge, and to simply enjoy the various tourism attractions and destinations Ethiopia, your home country, has to offer.

While the needs are plenty and the opportunities to contribute even greater, I call upon you to at least engage in the following five things during the Ethiopian rainy season and your respective summer breaks:

1. Do not lose hope on your country. Focus your energy and drive on the seedlings of hope for they will soon flourish into reality with our collective efforts. Believe that we have the capacity to change; to act and to make history. Let not temporary obstacles be a defining factor.

2. Be a vehicle for knowledge transfer to Ethiopia. Introduce novel ways of doing things. Collect books, computers, medical equipment and other technologies where you are so that you may change the lives of your brothers and sisters here that need you. Develop digital libraries and enable students in Ethiopia to have free access to resources. Come and volunteer to teach skills and courses in schools here.

3. More importantly, you must organize yourselves to collect catalogues of books and other print materials in as many languages as possible for the newly announced library that is to be constructed in Addis Ababa as to ensure Ethiopia’s next-generation leaders, doctors, scientist, educators and interest of all fields do not leave Ethiopia to research any topic of interest whether it is for graduate, undergraduate, masters or PhD programs.

4. Come and volunteer your time in various establishments throughout the country and share your knowledge and skills of modern and innovative service delivery. Ethiopia calls on the diaspora community to serve your home country through various types of volunteer activities such as the #EveryDayWeCleanEthiopia cleaning and cleansing initiative and the four billion tree planting project.

5. Organize various youth discussion platforms in which you can share ideas on current challenges in the country and opportunities for overcoming them. Present study papers and discuss among yourselves; generate ideas and solutions and share them with us.

I have paid and continue to pay keen attention to your economic abilities and contributions. We must work together to narrate the story of the present and set in stone the guiding principles for the future. With the rapid changes, Ethiopia’s societal needs are insurmountable and evident. The resources that are at the disposal of the diaspora community are immeasurable. Our collective efforts are paramount in stabilizing the paradigm shift and one of the key ways to do so is through philanthropic endeavors and volunteerism.

Similarly, I want to remind us all about our the most important sector that the Ethiopian diaspora can make a meaningful contribution in which will have an almost immediate impact – the tourism sector. Ethiopia boasts a total of nine UNESCO Heritage sites with eight of the nine sites being cultural sites with one natural site. While tourism has lagged in the past, Ethiopia has introduced many reforms making tourism one of the key priority sectors for investment. It is no secret; tourism has compounded impact. Tourism contributes to local small and medium scale businesses, generates profits at every level of the sector, creates sustainable jobs. Ethiopia will benefit from the tax revenues generated and income across all regions will increase. Tourism, by far, creates the most direct effect within the sector specially in lodging, restaurants, transportation, museums and retail.

Here is where the diaspora community support is important for tourism by being the ambassadors of all things Ethiopia, encouraging global destination management agencies to turn their face towards Ethiopia and even, chaperoning groups to visit Ethiopia. It goes without saying that the diaspora holds many of the pertinent keys that will accelerate the growth and sustainable development of this country.

While Ethiopia was built to be a great nation, I write this letter to affirm that you are needed in strengthening the pillars of Ethiopia as part of the elaborate mosaic of diverse people that comprise it. Greatness is only achieved when Medemer is our collective cause; a strong, unified Ethiopia that is filled with endless possibilities for her children today, tomorrow and generations to come.

Welcome home to Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed Ali

Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

BBC: Ex-boss of Ethiopia’s Notorious Jail Ogaden Arrested

Ex-boss of Ethiopia's notorious Jail Ogaden arrested. Activists say the jail, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, was the site of particularly brutal torture. (Photo: Google Earth)

BBC

The former head of a notorious Ethiopian prison has been arrested and is expected to face trial.

Hassan Ismail Ibrahim, also known as Hassan Dhere, was arrested in neighbouring Somalia in a town where he had been hiding, following a tip-off.

Campaigners say inmates were routinely tortured at “Jail Ogaden”, which he ran in Ethiopia’s Somali region.

Many prisoners were accused of being linked to the separatist group the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

But that group signed a peace deal with the government in October, following the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister.

Read more »


Financial Times on Ethiopia’s Displacement Crisis


In total, 2.9m people were displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month. (Financial Times)

Financial Times

Ethiopian ethnic violence has forced almost 3m to flee homes

On a drenched field in southern Ethiopia, hundreds of members of the ethnic Gedeo community are huddled together with nothing to do but wait. It had rained all night and the ragged shelters they had strung together were sinking in the mud. 

“We can’t go back,” said Haptemu Mariam, 28, a father of six who fled his home in the Guji area of the neighbouring Oromia region last year. “The Guji people are dangerous,” he said, referring to a group with which his people had lived peacefully until a recent flare up of violence between the two groups. 

About 700,000 people have been displaced by the Gedeo-Guji dispute, according to the UN. Yet it is just one of many inter-ethnic conflicts raging in Ethiopia that have given the country an unenviable distinction: last year more people fled their homes there than in any other nation on earth.

In total, 2.9m people were displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month.

The upsurge in communal violence has coincided with the early days of Abiy Ahmed’s tenure as prime minister and is arguably the greatest threat to his lofty ambitions.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia Tops List of Countries with Displaced People – The Economist

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Two Timely U.S. Conferences on Ethiopia That You May Have Missed

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Photo via @fanatelevision/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 24th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Last month two timely conferences were held in Washington, D.C. reflecting on current Ethiopian affairs and the marathon political and economic reforms being undertaken under the new administration of PM Abiy Ahmed, which should have received more media attention.

The first conference titled “Ethiopia’s Democratic opening One Year Later: Looking Back and Looking Ahead” was organized by The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private nonprofit foundation that has played a valuable role during the long years of struggle for democracy in Ethiopia including awarding fellowships to former opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa — who is now the head of Ethiopia’s Election Board — as well as academic scholar and former prisoner of conscience Dr. Merera Gudina, among others.

Participants of the recent NED gathering included Seife Ayalew, Executive Director of the African Civic Leadership Program, Ltd; Yoseph Badwaza, Senior Program Officer for Ethiopia at Freedom House; Kassahun Follo, Executive Director of the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU); and Obang Metho, Founder and Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia. The panel “examined the success, opportunities, and challenges of Ethiopia’s democratic transformation” in this past year.

Watch: Ethiopia’s Democratic Opening One Year Later: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

The second program titled “Building a Big Tent for Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia” was held on April 24th and hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan and nonprofit policy research organization exploring “current endeavors, and future challenges” of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA).

According to CSIS, the keynote delivered by ATA CEO Khalid Bomba was followed by a panel discussion that included Getachew Diriba, Independent Consultant on Agricultural Development; Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator at USAID; and Sara Boettiger, Senior Advisor at Center for Agricultural Transformation, McKinsey & Company, which compared and contrasted “Ethiopia’s experience in agricultural transformation to that of other countries” and explored “the role that donors like the United States government can play to support such efforts for country-led development.”

Listen to Audio: Building a Big Tent for Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia


Related:
In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Ethiopian-American Candidate Running for City Council in Idaho

Ethiopian-American Tecle Gebremichael, who serves as a petroleum supply specialist in the United States Army Reserves, is running for a City Council seat in Boise, Idaho. Tecle told the Idaho Statesman newspaper that his goal is to bring a new perspective to the council as a West Boisean and a new American.

Idaho Statesman

A new candidate entered the race for Boise City Council on Thursday, marking the fourth person running for seats on the council.

Tecle Gebremichael, an Ethiopian refugee who came to Boise in 2012 and became an American citizen in 2017, said in a phone interview that his goal is to bring a new perspective to the council as a West Boisean and a new American.

“I think my campaign started from gratitude,” he said. “I came here with a couple of pairs of shoes, and this country was able to provide everything I need.”

Gebremichael serves as a petroleum supply specialist in the United States Army Reserves. He is working on a degree in political science from Boise State University and will graduate in a few semesters, he said.

He is also a nationally accredited language-service provider and a soccer coach for Nations United under Idaho Rush Soccer Club. His past jobs include a role as a computer lab monitor at College of Western Idaho and as a legislative intern in the Idaho Statehouse. The Idaho Office for Refugees awarded him with the Refugee Success and Integration Award in 2014.

Three of the six council seats are up for grabs every two years. In November, Boise voters will choose candidates for Seats 1, 3 and 5. Boise has at-large council elections, and the numbers don’t represent any seniority or privilege. In a release announcing his candidacy, Gebremichael said he had not yet made a choice on which seat he would seek.

Seats 1 and 3 are open. Council President Lauren McLean, who announced her bid for mayor on Monday, is in Seat 1, while Councilmember Scot Ludwig, who said he would not run again, is in Seat 3. Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg is in Seat 5. She has not announced whether she will run again.

Decisions on specific seats do not need to be made until the filing deadline of Sept. 6.

Others running for council includes Brady Fuller, Jimmy Hallyburton and Debbie Lombard-Bloom. Fuller announced he would run for Seat 1, while Hallyburton and Lombard-Bloom have said their intention is to run for Seat 3.

The election is Nov. 5.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Pilots Union to Boeing: ‘Inexcusable’ to Blame Pilots for 737 Max Crashes

A spokesman for Allied Pilots Association tells CNN that Ethiopian crash might have been prevented if Boeing took them seriously. (CNN)

CNN

Ethiopian Crash Could Have Been Prevented If Boeing Took Pilots Concerns Seriously, Union Says

Atlanta (CNN Business) — American Airline’s pilots’ union is calling Boeing’s response to two fatal plane crashes “inexcusable,” claiming the crashes might not have happened if the company had listened to pilots.

Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for Allied Pilots Association — a union of American Airlines pilots — told CNN Business that Boeing had “a poisoned, diseased philosophy” for a global company.

“Shame on you… we’re going to call you out on it,” Tajer said.

Boeing did not comment on the union’s position early Thursday morning.

In recent weeks, both Boeing’s CEO and the acting Federal Aviation Administration administrator have said that the actions of the pilots were in part to blame for the recent Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. Both planes were Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

Tajer pointed instead to Boeing’s software, about which he said American Airlines’ pilots had expressed concerns in a November 2017 meeting with the company. The meeting was a few weeks after the Lion Air crash, but months before the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

It would be fair to conclude, Tajer said, that if Boeing had taken the suggestions of the pilots, the Ethiopian Airlines crash might have been prevented.

On the Ethiopian flight, pilots struggled to right the plane after the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software, which pushes the nose of the aircraft down if it senses a stall, erroneously activated and as the plane traveled at a high speed, according to a preliminary report.

The software pushed the Ethiopian Airlines plane into an aggressive downward angle, according to Tajer.
The pilots did what they were instructed to do, he said.

“They had wired that thing so that is was irrecoverable,” Tajer said. “It just blew us away.”
In the meeting, American Airlines pilots made suggestions including having a way to turn off MCAS and adding an angle of attack disagree alert on all planes, he said. Tajer said Boeing dismissed the concerns.

The changes will be a part of a new software fix, Tajer said, but were not implemented before the Ethiopian crash.

Read more »


Related:
Leaked Audio: Before Ethiopia Crash Pilots ‘Raised Boeing Safety Fears’

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Boeing Was Aware of 737 Max Problem Long Before Ethiopia Crash – Report
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

From Rural Ethiopia to UC Berkeley

Lelisa Bera is graduating on Wednesday, May 22, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. (Photo: UC Berkeley)

UC Berkeley

From Farming in Rural Ethiopia to Graduating from UC Berkeley

Growing up in rural Ethiopia, Lelisa Bera knew that getting an education wasn’t a given. It was a privilege that many parents couldn’t afford to give their children.

He was born in a village in the Oromia Region called Dawo Saden, where his mom and dad worked as farmers. They spent long hours in the fields harvesting vegetables and grains, and tending to cattle and goats. By age 5, Lelisa began to help his parents with the labor.

“There was not much to inspire you to go to school,” he says. “I would see one student going to school from one area, another from a different area. But for most kids, their families needed them to stay home and help at the farm. There’s a very high illiteracy rate.”

When Lelisa turned 7, his mom decided that he would go to school. It was a long walk — three hours, round trip — and Lelisa didn’t own a pair of shoes. But his mom hoped education would be a worthwhile investment, so she pushed her son to make the daily trek.

On Wednesday, May 22, Bera, now 32, will receive his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley. It’s an accomplishment that he sees not as an ending, but as a launching-off point for sharing what he’s learned at Berkeley with the world.

And without a teacher who gently encouraged him to think bigger, he might never have made it to where he is today.

Read more »

Watch: UC Berkeley students long journey to graduation started in Ethiopia (abc7news)


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Pics From ZAAF Fashion Photo Show at Smithsonian in DC

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 4th, 2019

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


Related:

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

Video: CNN African Voices Feature on ZAFF

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In New York Ethiopian Cultural Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts

Photo: Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association event in New York City. (Tadias archive)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Next month an interactive arts workshop inspired by artists from Ethiopia including Ezra Wube, Addis Gezehagn, Elias Sime, Afewerk Tekle as well as singer and songwriter Gigi is set to take place at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City.

The event organized by the CMA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee (ESAC) will be held on Sunday, June 2nd from 10am to 5pm. Organizers note that the cultural festival will also feature traditional dancing (Eskista) and a coffee ceremony.

Below are brief descriptions of the art workshops:

Collaborative Subway Mural inspired by Ezra Wube in Fine Arts:

Ezra Wube is an Ethiopian New Yorker telling stories about NYC through animation and vivid imagery. Wube’s work reflects on the movement of the city. You can see his piece at the Fulton Street Station called Fulton Street Flow! How would you use art to beautify a subway station? Join us in creating a collaborative subway mural integrating our many cultures!

Dreamy Cityscapes inspired by Addis Gezehagn in Fine Arts:

Addis Gezehagn paints dreamlike deconstructed and layered renderings of urban landscapes rising above the ground. Each patch of color he uses represents buildings and doors. At the program young artists can use cutouts of color, paintings, magazine pages, and even their own colored drawings to layer squares to construct a cityscape.

Recycled Topographies inspired by Elias Sime in the Gallery:

Elias Sime is an Ethiopian artist using recycled materials to create relief sculptures and assemblages that look like looks like topographical maps or aerial views of complex city systems. We will use recycled materials as well as decorative materials like beads and pom poms to create our own relief sculptures inspired by Sime’s work and Ethiopia.

Afewerk Tekle Windows in the Clay Bar:

Using the artist Afewerk Tekle’s stained glass pieces as inspiration, design your own stylized clay tab, in a fractured stained glass visual!

Building Stained Glass Windows with Afewerk Tekle in the Media Lab:

Using either the stained glass style slab from Clay Bar, or found materials in the Media Lab, add motion to your stained glass pieces!

Sounds of Gigi in the Sound Booth:

Using melodies inspired by the famous Ethiopian singer Gigi, create your own songs layered over her fusion of contemporary and traditional soundscapes!


If You Go:
Ethiopian Cultural Festival
Sunday, Jun 02, 10 am to 5 pm
At CMA, 103 Charlton Street, New York
Click here to get tickets

Related:
In NYC ECMAA Expands Program to Include Community Soccer Games

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

EDTF Ethiopia Board Announced

Of the 11-member Board of Directors five are chosen from the Diaspora representing "different parts of the globe," the announcement stated. (Image: @PMEthiopia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – The long-awaited selection of the Board of Directors for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund was announced today.

“The EDTF Board of Directors is the apex governance body which will provide overall leadership and set the strategic direction, policy, oversight and accountability of the EDTF,” the PM’s office stated. “It will, among others, review and approve EDTF financed projects that are identified and vetted by the EDTF Secretariat.”

As of this week, eight months after it was officially launched last October, the fund has raised about 3 million dollars so far from approximately twenty thousand donors worldwide. The aim is to hopefully reach the estimated three million Ethiopians residing in the Diaspora and to generate about a billion dollars annually through the fund.

How Democratic was the Board Selection Process?

The initial announcement of the creation of the Board of Directors had stated that it “will comprise of eleven persons drawn from the Ethiopian Diaspora, Civil Society and the Ethiopian Government.” Notably, in comparison to the EDTF advisory council membership, the new Board of Directors includes more female members and appears to be more gender-balanced. However, the process of how the individuals were selected was not clear in the recent announcement.

During a press conference last December organized by EDTF at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Advisory Board members had emphasized that the selection process for the Board of Directors would be more transparent and promised to engage the public in making recommendations. Since then there has not been much public discussion dedicated to the subject. Nor is there any publicly available document showing the pool of potential candidates that were considered for the positions representing the larger Ethiopian Diaspora.

Of the 11-member Board of Directors five are chosen from the Diaspora representing “different parts of the globe recommended by the EDTF Advisory Council,” the announcement stated. Three members of Civil Society representing Women, Youth and the Ethiopian public; and three members of the Ethiopian Government.”

At the media briefing the idea of using voting mechanisms was also briefly mentioned, but quickly dismissed as being impractical — although it’s worth mentioning that many Diaspora communities in the United States do vote on a regular basis, including online, to select their representative leaders.

The announcement did not state for how long the new Board members will serve and when the next elections will be held.

While we congratulate EDTF on the formation of the new Board of Directors, we continue to encourage the fund to engage the Ethiopian Diaspora not only to discuss fundraising concerns, but to develop more transparency on how representation in governance is decided, and if possible to create a participatory electoral process in the future.

The full names of EDTF’s new Board of Directors are listed below:

Sirgut Yadeta, Editorial Lead, Lloyds Bank Group, London, U.K., representing Diaspora in Europe

Dr. Mehret Mandefro, Founder and President, Truth Aid and Executive Producer, Director of Social Impact, Kana Television, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, representing diaspora in North America

Chernet Debele, Founder and General Manager, Kia Travel & Business LLC, Maryland, USA, representing diaspora in North America

Yohannes Asefa, Director, Agriculture & Agribusiness, USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Nairobi, Kenya, representing diaspora in Africa

Dr. Abdulwehab Ibrahim, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Technology and Science, Abu Dhabi, UAE, representing diaspora in the Middle East

Sister Zebider Zewdie, Founder and Executive Director of Mary Joy Ethiopia, representing women

Mr. EyesusWork Zafu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Bank, representing the Ethiopian public

Selamawit Dawit, Director General, Ethiopian Diaspora Agency, representing the Ethiopian Government

Hirut Zemene, State Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bilen Mamo, Advisor, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation.


Related:
Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC
Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on the Diaspora Trust Fund & Chapter Formation
Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

You can learn more about the fund and contribute at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia, PM Abiy Hosts $173,000-a-seat Dinner to Beautify Capital

The event, 'Dine for Sheger,' was held at the Menelik palace in Addis Ababa on Sunday May 19, 2019. (@PMEthiopia/Twitter)

AFP

Scores of wealthy Ethiopians paid an eye-watering $173,000 (150,000 euros) to attend a dinner thrown by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to raise funds to beautify the capital Addis Ababa, state media reported Monday.

The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate published pictures of diners, some wearing tuxedos, seated at a long rose-covered banquet table.

“A seat at the event is valued at 5 million birr,” the report said.

The dinner was held to raise funds for a three-year project by Abiy to “lift the image” of the capital, a bustling, fast-changing city where modern buildings have shot up, construction is ever-present and greenery scarce.

“The rapid growth and expansion of the city over the past few years has not adequately utilised the natural resources and beautiful topography that the city is endowed with,” according to a video of the project posted on Abiy’s website.

The video said that currently green cover is only 0.3 square metres per capita in Addis Ababa, and the project hopes to raise this to seven square metres per capita — in line with average green coverage in Africa.

The project along an area of 56 square kilometres (21 square miles) envisions parks, bicycle paths and walkways along the rivers of the capital, the planting of trees and the development of urban farms.

The project is estimated to cost $1 billion, according to Fana.

It was not known how many people attended the dinner, or who they were.

Abiy’s website said that those present would have a plaque with their name on it placed along the project route, and would have a private photo-op with the prime minister. The pictures would be compiled into “an album of individuals who changed the face of Addis Ababa.”

Abiy has won praise for his reformist agenda since taking office in April last year.

Ethiopia is home to over 100 million people, the second most populous country on the continent after Nigeria, and its economy is the fastest growing in the region.

However, it is also one of the poorest, and the World Bank estimates average earnings of $783 per year.


Related:


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Review of the Play ‘EthiopianAmerica’

“EthiopianAmerica,” is a new play by Sam Kebede making its world premiere at Definition Theatre in Chicago. (Photo: Simon Gebremedhin and Freedom Martin in "EthiopianAmerica" by Definition Theatre Company/ by Joe Mazza)

Chicago Tribune

‘EthiopianAmerica’ really captures immigrant, teenage lives as they are lived.

The children of immigrants long have written plays and novels about what it’s like to be a first-generation American, trying to build a life in a new country under the watchful eyes of foreign-born parents.

In such works, mostly penned by the young and the restless (you know, Eugene O’Neill, Ayad Akhtar and so on), these parental figures are most usually severe, determined and troubled figures whose own lives involved great risk and who are determined that their offspring will recognize the importance of an education that might help them thrive and prosper in a new world these parents both admire and deeply distrust. For their part, the kids want to respect the traditions and ancestors of whence they came, but also make their own path in a country with different priorities. Their work is usually about trying to reconcile the pull of two forces that seem to be thrusting them in different directions.

“EthiopianAmerica,” a new work by Sam Kebede now in its world premiere by Definition Theatre, is one of those plays, the work of a first-generation American with Ethiopian-born parents. But it’s far more interesting and original than most. That’s partly because of its topic: When did you last see a play about Ethiopian Americans? I have known some members of that community in Chicago very well, and over a long period of time, and, for much of “EthiopianAmerica,” I was thinking it was time to get on the phone and make a recommendation, until Kebede took his play in a different and more critical turn toward his father’s generation of men. Even so, I think “EthiopianAmerica” would be widely respected.

That’s because Kebede writes about domestic life (in California, but if could be anywhere in America) with real veracity. Anyone who has teenage kids (I have two myself), or tough parents, can relate to the inter-generational struggle that fills this play. Kebede really gets the clash of the authority figure and the young person, striving to find a place in a changed world, and he does so with real understanding of what it is like to be the child of someone born in a different country. (It’s not easy.)

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

Ethiopia's Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega (right) at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 16, 2019 during an event highlighting Ethiopia’s Digital and Creative Economy hosted by Your Ethiopian Professionals Network (YEP) in partnership with Africa Technology Foundation (ATF), U.S. State Department, and Ethiopians in Tech (EIT). (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 17th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Yesterday a forum was held in Washington, DC titled “Deep Dive on Ethiopia’s Digital and Creative Economy,” which was hosted by YEP, in collaboration with Africa Technology Foundation (ATF), U.S. State Department, and Ethiopians in Tech (EIT).

The YEP event was in addition to the “Ethiopia Partnership Forum” that was hosted by the U.S. State Department in DC on Thursday.

The ‘Deep Dive’ discussion was held at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and featured presentations on Ethiopia’s startup economy exploring the innovative and burgeoning IT sector as well as emerging creative industries including film, fashion and the arts.

Below are photos from the event:


Related:
U.S. State Department hosts “Ethiopia Partnership Forum”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Brookings Institution Appoints Lemma Senbet to Africa Board

Professor Lemma Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, also serves on the advisory council of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA)

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park

Professor Lemma Senbet at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has been appointed to the Distinguished Advisory Board of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

“You join a panel of select, high-level policymakers, academics and practitioners on African socio-economic development issues,” Africa Growth Initiative director Brahima S. Coulibaly writes in a March 7, 2019, letter to Senbet.

The advisory board provides guidance to the Africa Growth Initiative on key issues facing Africa.

Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at Maryland Smith, also serves on the advisory council of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund.

He finished a five-year term as executive director and CEO of the African Economic Research Consortium in summer 2018. The nonprofit organization is the largest and oldest economic research and training network in Africa. During his African tenure, Senbet visited and led missions to 25 countries.


Related:
Tadias Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on EDTF

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Why There Is A Need For A Long-Term Investment Model In Ethiopia – Forbes

An aerial view of a new industrial park built in Hawassa, Ethiopia. (GOOGLE)

Forbes

In the last several years, a growing number of global apparel companies have begun having their products manufactured in Ethiopia. For these firms, Ethiopia has become the new low-wage frontier. The East African country now competes with Bangladesh, Vietnam and other South and East Asian nations for a share of the massive volume of global garment production. In this competition, Ethiopia has the dubious distinction of offering the lowest pay anywhere in the worldwide clothing supply chain—and that’s the main reason the big brands are drawn there.

But increasingly it has become clear that these firms need to invest more resources into Ethiopia both to make their make production profitable and sustainable over time, and to ensure that Ethiopians are better off because of their presence. Among the steps they will need to take are to increase wages, enhance training, and help provide housing and other basic necessities to the young women who come from around the country to work in the clothing factories. The challenge these firms face in Ethiopia is to balance the pressures to reduce the costs of production with the realization that to succeed over the longer term, they will need to invest more money. This longer-term view is in tension with what many Wall Street investors and analysts are expecting them to do, driven in part by a mistaken understanding of directors’ legal duties to shareholders.

For the last half-century, most analysts and investors have embraced an antiquated investment model that focuses heavily on maximizing short-term shareholder returns. They have focused on these short-term returns at the expense of longer-term wealth creation for corporations and society at large. This focus took shape in the 1970s, when economist Milton Friedman and then others asserted that corporate CEOs are merely agents of shareholders, responsible for conducting business in accordance with shareholders’ core interest: maximizing stock prices. In an often-quoted 1970 article in The New York Times Magazine, Friedman wrote that corporate executives have a fiduciary duty to conduct business in accordance with the desires of shareholders, which he defined as making “as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid (AP)
Made in Ethiopia: Changes in Garment Industry’s New Frontier (NYU)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook



 

 

 

 

Archives

Categories


Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.