Author Archive for Tadias

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 24th, 2019

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

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

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

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


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Related:

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

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

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

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


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

CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 23rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

Love at first sight

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

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

Haile Selassie


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

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

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


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Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 21st, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 20th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are photos and tweets:


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


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


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


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


(Photo: @fitsumaregaa/twitter)


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

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Boeing’s Mea Culpa Wins Over Ethiopian Airlines – Bloomberg

Ethiopian has “more confidence” in the U.S. manufacturer following its expressions of contrition and admission that it made a mistake in its handling of new systems introduced on the Max, Tewolde said Tuesday at the Paris Air Show. (Photo: Tewolde GebreMariam/Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

Boeing Co.’s efforts to reassure airlines and passengers that its 737 Max jetliner will make a safe return to service won the support of Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam, whose carrier suffered the fatal crash that led the plane’s grounding.

Ethiopian has “more confidence” in the U.S. manufacturer following its expressions of contrition and admission that it made a mistake in its handling of new systems introduced on the Max, Tewolde said Tuesday at the Paris Air Show. He has met “very frequently” with Boeing managers at the expo, CEO Dennis Muilenburg among them.

“They are more transparent and they are on the right track, doing the right things,” Tewolde said in an interview. “I think now that everything is in order. We are working together, so now we have more confidence. That’s good for global aviation.”

His comments signaled improved relations between Boeing and Ethiopian, Africa’s biggest airline, which had deteriorated after the March crash when the manufacturer questioned whether pilots on the flight had followed correct procedures. An official probe subsequently concluded that a new software system pushed the plane toward the ground when an erroneous sensor indicated that the jet was about to stall.

Muilenburg said Sunday that he arrived at the industry’s biggest trade fair “focused on safety” and with “a tone of humility and learning.”

Read more »


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

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Ethiopia Finally Has Its Internet Back

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

VOA

By Salem Solomon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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CFR on Ethiopia’s Transition & Challenges

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

The Council on Foreign Relations

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

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

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

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

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


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

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PM Abiy’s Father Ahmed Ali Dies at 105

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 18th, 2019

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

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

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


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Summer Previews of Ethiopian Art in the Diaspora – Media Roundup

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

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: June 17th, 2019

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

Elias Sime

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


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

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

Aida Muluneh

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


Denkinesh/Part One. (Aïda Muluneh)

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

Merid Tafese

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

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


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

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

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

Julie Mehretu, Kebedech Tekleab and Mezgebu Tesema

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

Addis Fine Art’s Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile


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

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

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

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


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

Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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

(Image by Michael Tsegaye)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 15th, 2019

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

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

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

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

‘Crooked River’

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

USIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ethiopian Experience

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

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

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

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

Election Prospects

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

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

A Booming Economy

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

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

Structural Problems

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

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

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

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

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

On Rising Ethnic Tensions

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

On the Peace Agreement with Eritrea

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

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

On Ethiopian Demographics

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


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Q&A: Former Zone 9 Blogger Abel Wabella

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

FairPlanet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the worst happened.

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

What formed the name Zone 9?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:

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

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

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

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

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

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

The Advocate

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

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


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

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

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

The Guardian

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

June 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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


Related:

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

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

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

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

BBC News

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Beautiful Harar in Photos

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

DW

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

A mosque for the women

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


(DW)

City of peace

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


(DW)

Shopping for fabric

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


(DW)

Bargaining for camels

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


(DW)

Read more and see photos at dw.com »


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Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

(Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: June 10th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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Ethiopia Census Postponed Once More

(Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia delays census again despite looming election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 7th, 2019

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 7th, 2019

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

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

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

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


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

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

Getty Images

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 6th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:

The Obamas Ink Deal With Spotify (Hollywood Reporter)

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


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

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

Nile Magazine

Betsy Kissam with photography by Chester Higgins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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


A papyrus ferry on Lake Tana at the headwaters of the Blue Nile, in the Ethiopian highlands. This sort of craft seems to have barely changed since ancient times. (© Chester Higgins)


The pageantry of Timkat, the Ethiopian Epiphany Day—a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ—is celebrated by Orthodox Christians throughout Ethiopia. It echoes the joyous festival of Opet, recorded on Luxor Temple walls in Egypt, below. (© Chester Higgins)


Renewal is a strong theme for both rituals. Opet priests honor the Holy Family of Waset (Thebes/Luxor): they celebrate the union of the supreme deity Amen with his companion/wife Mut, and their son Khonsu, by bringing the sacred statues of the three deities from their shrines at Karnak Temple to visit the Temple of Luxor. Images on the wall of Luxor Temple show priests carrying the statues on their shoulders through crowded streets, and then by boat on the river. For Timkat, the high priests transport on their heads the churches’ sacred tabots (a replica of the Ark of the Covenant) through streets teeming with revelers, to join other tabots at a water source. (© Chester Higgins)


(© Chester Higgins)


(© Chester Higgins)


Left: Abu Haggag Mosque at Luxor Temple, Egypt. The mosque sits atop part of the ruins of Luxor Temple. It was built as a shine to a local saint, Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, who is credited for introducing Islam to Luxor. Sacred places often remain hallowed to successive faiths, and the mosque here stands on the site of an earlier Christian church. Right: An altarpiece from the Moon Temple at Yeha, Ethiopia. Around a.d. 330, Aksum’s Emperor Ezana made Aksum into one of the earliest Christian states, which saw the replacement of the Aksumite crescent and disk religious symbols with the Christian cross. On this site today, next to the Yeha Temple is an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church monastery. (© Chester Higgins)

Much later, in the 4th century a.d., Ethiopia became a Christian country after Aksumite King Ezana converted to Christianity. Bound by this faith, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church entered into relations with the Coptic Church in Egypt, although these ties were often interrupted and conflicted. But the selection of Abunas, or Ethiopian Popes, came out of Egyptian monasteries until the 20th century when this link was severed by Emperor Haile Selassie.

Egyptologist Wallis Budge documented communication between Egyptian rulers and Ethiopian kings, foreshadowing the tension between the two countries today over down stream access to Nile water. In his 1928 book, A History of Ethiopia, Nubia and Abyssinia, Budge wrote about a seven-year famine in 11th-century Egypt: “it is said that the Khalifah Mustansir-b-Illah, thinking that the Abyssinians had turned the Nile out of its course, sent an embassy loaded with rich gifts to the king of Abyssinia, and asked him to let the Nile return to its old bed.”


A priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church with two deacons at the Blue Nile Falls, near the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The “tails” on the vestments are an enigma, although they resemble the leopard pelts worn by the ancient Egyptian priests who presided over funerary rites, called sem priests. Depictions in Egyptian temples and tombs suggest that priests wore actual pelts, but nearly all of the rare surviving examples are made of painted linen. (© Chester Higgins)

Budge further recorded the words of an 18th century Ethiopian King, in the midst of a diplomatic disturbance, “the Nile would be sufficient to punish you, since God hath put into our power his fountain, his outlet, and his increase, and that we can dispose of the same to do you harm. . . .”

It seems there was interface among children of the river. But it is too early to know how much and whether this shared cultural legacy along the Nile dates back millennia or centuries, and if influence traveled upriver or down — or in both directions.



Left: BETSY KISSAM is a freelance writer and member of ARCE – NY. For the past four decades, she has been traveling with photographer Chester Higgins along the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Currently she is working with Higgins on a book project about the sacred passage of faith along the River Nile. Right: CHESTER HIGGINS is the author of eight books of his photography. Most recently he co-authored the book, Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile. For additional info see chesterhiggins.com and #chesterhiggins12.

Related:
Photos: Chester Higgins Honored by Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative

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Ethiopia’s US Tour Operator Controversy

A tour group visits Debre Berhan Selassie Church, Gonder, Ethiopia. Photograph: (Getty Images)

The Guardian

LGBT tour operator faces death threats over Ethiopia trip

An LGBT tour operator has received death threats and hate messages on social media after launching a holiday to Ethiopia. Chicago-based Toto Tours’ 16-day trip to Ethiopia is due to take place at the end of October and includes religious sites such as the Debre Berhan Selassie in Gondar and the ancient cave monasteries in the mountains of Lalibela.

But religious groups in the country are urging the Ethiopian government to ban the company from visiting religious sites, warning that gay travellers could face violence.

Ethiopia has strict anti-gay laws, with homosexual acts punishable by up to 15 years in prison. According to Article 629 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code, this applies to both nationals and foreigners.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Dereje Negash, vice chairman of Sileste Mihret United Association, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church organisation, said that gay travellers with Toto Tours, “will be damaged, they could even die”, if they visit Ethiopia. “Toto Tours are wrong to plan to conduct tours in our religious and historical places,” he said.

Tagay Tadele of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia told news agency AFP, which has seven Islamic and Christian denominations as members, said: “[LGBT] tour programmes and dating programmes that try to use our historical sites and heritage should be immediately stopped by the Ethiopian government.”

Read more »


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New Generation Leads Ethiopia’s Ambitious Reform Drive (Financial Times)

New generation with international experience appointed to turn around tightly controlled, state-led economy. (Photo: © AFP)

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Ethiopia looks to young technocrats to lead ambitious reform drive

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has broken with tradition in Ethiopia by appointing young technocrats with international experience to important economic jobs as he seeks to turn the country’s tightly controlled, state-led economy into a competitive free market powered by private capital. 

The officials, including Eyob Tolina at the finance ministry, Abebe Abebayehu at the investment commission and Mamo Mihretu in the prime minister’s office, are leading the most ambitious aspects of Mr Abiy’s promised reforms, investors said. 

Since taking office a year ago, the reformist leader has promised to overhaul the Ethiopian economy and open previously blocked sectors, such as telecommunications and energy, to foreign investment. 

To succeed, his youthful disciples need to push reforms through Ethiopia’s sprawling bureaucracy and navigate conservative political officials in the ruling coalition, many of whom remain suspicious of relinquishing too much control of the economy after 28 years of state-led growth. 

For Mr Eyob, a former private equity executive and now state minister at the ministry of finance, the ruling party has no choice but to evolve. 

“We had public-led economic growth and it did run its course, it was obvious,” Mr Eyob told the Financial Times in an interview in Addis Ababa. “If you didn’t make some pragmatic decisions and shift the course, it would have been a full-blown crisis so you needed to avert that.” 

Read more »


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Spotlight: Hailu Mergia at DC Jazz Festival

Hailu Mergia plays at The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Hailu Mergia left behind his days as a superstar in Ethiopia. Then the world rediscovered his mind-blowing music.

For 20 years, Hailu Mergia spent his days in a cab shuttling passengers to and from Dulles International Airport. In between fares, he’d pull over, pull out a keyboard and make music.

For most of that time, no one else heard the sounds that were coming out of his instrument.

“I was performing for myself — that’s the best way to say it,” Mergia says.

He wasn’t just a cabbie who played piano as a hobby — Mergia was an accomplished Ethiopian jazz musician, formerly of the Walias Band, who moved to D.C. in the early 1980s after the group toured the region. When the band broke up, he stuck around, recording the hypnotic “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument,” a 1985 album for which he acted as a one-man band, layering Rhodes piano, accordion and Moog synthesizer sounds. He gigged a little around the world and then, in 1991, stopped performing publicly and opened a restaurant.

“But I was practicing everywhere, all the time,” says Mergia, who is in his early 70s and lives in Fort Washington, Md.

In 2013, Brian Shimkovitz, who runs the blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa, discovered Mergia’s album on cassette while in Ethiopia and rereleased it on his label the following year. Awesome Tapes went on to rerelease two more Mergia albums: “Wede Harer Guzo,” with the Dahlak Band, and “Tche Belew,” with the Walias Band. Both are heavy on keyboard and accordion work, blending funk and jazz in forward-thinking (at the time) ways that also recall Ethiopia’s past.

“When I started playing in the clubs, I was a singer and then I started playing accordion because accordion, back in the early ’60s in Ethiopia, was very popular — there was no organ,” Mergia says. “When the organ came in the mid-’60s, the accordion became a forgotten instrument — it was lost. So after so many years when I brought it back … along with the Moog, it was kind of like a different sound.”

Mergia is spending more time on the road — his trio plays The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival — and he quit driving his cab in October.

Read more »


Related:
Listen to Hailu Mergia and The Walias Band playing – Tche Belew

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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.

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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)

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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.


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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 »


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My Name Is Why: New Book by LEMN SISSAY

In Pictures: Tadias Salon Series in NYC Featuring Poet & Author Lemn Sissay

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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 »


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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:


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 »


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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.

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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)

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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

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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

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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


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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

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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

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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.


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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

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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)


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Spotlight: ZAAF Fashion Photos Shot in Afar, Ethiopia at Smithsonian in DC

ZAAF, which is founded by Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Abai Schulze (center), produces a brand of premium leather products that are designed and handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia. (Photo from ZAFF store grand opening in Washington, DC on December 1st, 2018/ Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 22nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This summer some incredible images shot in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression — known as one of the hottest places on earth — will be featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art as part of a photography exhibition hosted by the premium leather brand ZAAF.

ZAAF announced that the exhibit is scheduled to take place on July 1st, and will include “a short behind-the-scenes documentary of the photoshoot and a presentation of the new collection.” The Addis Ababa-based brand, which opened its first U.S. store in Washington D.C. last December, produces premium leather products including handbags, jackets, and travel accessories that are handmade by artisans in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Abai Schulze who founded ZAAF says: “Most of our products are named after Ethiopian trees…I was inspired by the notion of deep roots reaching into abundantly rich Ethiopian culture and heritage, while bringing out beautiful new branches of creativity and functionality.”

The announcement for the Smithsonian event adds: “Building on our prize-winning and internationally recognized work established in Ethiopia, ZAAF is developing long-term growth opportunities across Africa, partnering with skilled artisans to develop high-end designer products that celebrates the boundless depths of our continent’s ancient cultures, designs, and natural wonders that have laid the foundation for the next wave of incomparable creativity, luxury, and style.”


If You Go:
ZAAF Presents: MADE IN AFRICA | AFAR, ETHIOPIA
Monday, July 1, 2019 at 6 PM – 8:30 PM
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Avenue Southwest,
Washington, D.C.
Click here for Tickets
More info on Facebook

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

Video: CNN African Voices Feature on ZAFF

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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

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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.

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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.


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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 »


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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”

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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

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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)

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Ethiopia- Eritrea Filmmaker Refugee Stuck in Libya Amid Raging Civil War

At a refugee detention centre in Tripoli, Libya last month. (Photo: © UNHCR)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 15th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Abraha Taeme, who is in a refugee camp near Tripoli in Libya, has a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from a university in Ethiopia, and he has been sending out desperate calls for help through Facebook to whoever may listen to his plea. His heart-wrenching messages was recently forwarded to Tadias by an American filmmaker in California who happened to be researching human trafficking in the region and befriended Abraha through Facebook messenger.

Abraha says he was staying in Qasir bin Gashir detention center along with several hundred East African refugees, which he described as including “children, women and sick people among us” before he was transferred into another camp.

“Yesterday UNHCR transfer 140 refugees from Zahawia to the GDF and I am one of them,” he wrote last week. “Zahawia is dang near a death camp due to disease and IF they’re taken there ….they won’t get them because of fear of spreading infection.” He also mentioned that a local charity organization is helping to supply one meal a day as well as access to electricity. “These are the good news so far,” he adds. “About the war, still it is close to our center. Restless heavy weapons bursts close to our ears. We can’t get sleep. When we see the children and our sisters our hearts sunken in a deep grief. Literary they are shocked.”

According to AP: “The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive on Tripoli last month. His force, based in eastern Libya, is battling rival militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported government in the capital.”

Caught in the middle are foreign refugees like Abraha. Last month around 146 asylum-seekers arrived in Italy as part of a U.N.-backed humanitarian evacuation from Libya. The Associated Press notes that “the U.N. refugee agency says it’s the fifth such evacuation since 2017, though previous airlifts have taken migrants to Niger and elsewhere. Dozens of the asylum-seekers are minors, many of whom are unaccompanied. They hail from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Ethiopia.”

But Abraha was not among them and his Facebook friend Flip Webster of Jurupa Valley, California hopes that Ethiopian or the Eritrean government will step in to help or international media agencies like Voice of America could try to locate him.

Webster said Abraha is originally from Eritrea. “I am a refuge from Ethiopia (Addis Abeba) I was a film maker, I have BA Degree in Theater Arts,” Abraha wrote to Webster. “I was working with a lot of governmental and non-governmental organizations during my stay in Ethiopia.” He added: “I had my own theater and film company. Unfortunately right now I am here. What are my hopes? I spent two solid years here in Libya in a warehouses owned by smugglers. They hit us, gave us small portion of meal two times a day, no medication, even sun light was luxury.”


If you are able to assist Abraha to leave Libya you can contact Flip Webster at flenoit@gmail.com.

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Leaked Audio: Before Ethiopia Crash Pilots ‘Raised Boeing Safety Fears’

In a closed door meeting with Boeing executives last November, which was secretly recorded, American Airlines' pilots can be heard expressing concerns about the safety of MCAS. They urged swift action after the first deadly 737 Max crash off Indonesia in October, according to audio obtained by CBS and the New York Times. But this had not been rolled out when an Ethiopian Airlines' 737 Max crashed four months later, killing 157 people. (Getty Images)

BBC

American Airlines pilots confronted Boeing about potential safety issues in its 737 Max planes in a meeting last November, US media are reporting.

They urged swift action after the first deadly 737 Max crash off Indonesia in October, according to audio obtained by CBS and the New York Times.

Boeing reportedly resisted their calls but promised a software fix.

But this had not been rolled out when an Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 Max crashed four months later, killing 157 people.

Currently 737 Max planes are grounded worldwide amid concerns that an anti-stall system may have contributed to both crashes.

Boeing is in the process of updating the system, known as MCAS, but denies it was solely to blame for the disasters.

In a closed door meeting with Boeing executives last November, which was secretly recorded, American Airlines’ pilots can be heard expressing concerns about the safety of MCAS.

Boeing vice-president Mike Sinnett told the pilots: “No one has yet to conclude that the sole cause of this was this function on the airplane.”

Later in the meeting, he added: “The worst thing that can ever happen is a tragedy like this, and the even worse thing would be another one.”

Boeing declined to comment on the November meeting, saying: “We are focused on working with pilots, airlines and global regulators to certify the updates on the Max and provide additional training and education to safely return the planes to flight.”

Read more »


Related:

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

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Ethiopia: Want to Stop Hate Speech? Tune Out the Talking Heads

Here in the Diaspora it's amusing to watch the hypocrisy of the self-promoting talking heads (our version of Fox pundits on steroids) lecturing the public about divisive language and hate speech. These are the same people who hold as a badge of honor their ongoing habits of insulting, belittling, demeaning, dismissing and or barking at anyone who may have a different perspective than their own preventing meaningful dialogue. We stopped listening to them during the Obama era. Our generation in Ethiopia would be much better off doing the same today. They're part of the problem. To be sure, they have the right to express their views and we have the same right to tune them out. Hate speech is not limited to Ethiopia, its a global phenomenon. Below is a link to a recent news article showing how Facebook is attempting to deal with the issue in the U.S. as well as an HRW report on hate speech in Ethiopia published a few month ago that's still relevant today. (Getty Images)

HRW

Tackling Hate Speech in Ethiopia: Criminalizing Speech Won’t Solve Problem

Hate and dangerous speech is a serious and growing problem in Ethiopia, both online and offline. It has contributed to the growing ethnic tensions and conflicts across the country that have created more than 1.4 million new internally displaced people in the first half of 2018 alone. The government says it will pass a new law on hate speech to counter this. But around the world, laws criminalizing hate speech have been often and easily abused – and there are other options.

In the past year, speeches by government officials, activists and others in Ethiopia have disseminated quickly through social media and helped trigger or fuel violent conflicts in the country.

It is encouraging that Ethiopia’s government says hate speech must be addressed. But any law that limits freedom of expression by punishing hate speech must be narrowly drawn and enforced with restraint, so that it only targets speech that is likely to incite imminent violence or discrimination that cannot be prevented through other means. Many governments have tried and failed to strike the right balance, and Ethiopia’s own track record offers reason for alarm. In the past, the Ethiopian government has used vague legal definitions including in its anti-terrorism law, to crack down on peaceful expressions of dissent.

What Ethiopia needs is a comprehensive new strategy – one that even a carefully drawn hate speech law should only be one small part of. This could include public education campaigns, programs to improve digital literacy, and efforts to encourage self-regulation within and between communities. The prime minister and other public figures could also speak out regularly and openly about the dangers of hate speech. Donors, eager to support the reform process, could help support such a strategy. And social media companies should do more, including ensuring they have sufficient resources to respond quickly to reports that speech on their platform may lead to violence.

Ethiopians also need new platforms and opportunities to express their grievances and discuss critical issues, beyond social media. The growing list of independent media outlets, as well as universities, civil society organizations, political parties, and others could provide helpful environments for discussion.

Ethiopia is currently rewriting its civil society law and anti-terrorism law – both of which were used in the past to stifle dissent and limit freedom of expression. It should be careful not to undermine those efforts by drafting a new law that could be used for the same kinds of abuse.


Related:
Facebook moderators battle hate speech and violence

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Ethiopia Tops List of Countries with Displaced People – The Economist

Ethiopia tops the list of countries with displaced people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. (The Economist)

The Economist

After drought, famine and war, ethnic conflict now plagues Ethiopia

FOR MANY years Ethiopia struggled with drought and starvation, creating a population that moved frequently in search of food and water. Now it is violence that millions of Ethiopians are fleeing. Last year it topped the list of countries with displaced people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), an NGO.

There are nearly 70m forcibly displaced people in the world. Refugees and asylum-seekers have rights and protections, but the roughly 40m who are “internally displaced” do not. Two-thirds are in African and Middle Eastern countries. And 2018 was another awful year, with an additional 10.8m newly-displaced people.

Read more »


Related:
‘Go and we die, stay and we starve’: the Ethiopians facing a deadly dilemma (The Guardian)

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Ethiopian CEO on Future of 737 Max (NBC)

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam speaks out about whether or not his airline will ever fly a Boeing 737 Max 8 again following the deadly crash in March that left 157 dead. "This should not happen again to any airline, even a single life should not be put at risk," Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said. (NBC News)

NBC News

Ethiopian Airlines CEO wants rigorous review of Boeing 737-MAX planes following fatal crash

Two months after Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed, killing all 157 people on board, the CEO of the airline said his crews and passengers have lost confidence in the Boeing 737-MAX and he wants the company to conduct a more thorough review of the plane.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News on Monday, Tewolde Gebremariam said that the airline doesn’t yet know if it will fly the Boeing 737-MAX planes again. But he said, “At this stage I cannot, I cannot fully say that the airplane will fly back on Ethiopian Airlines. It may, if we are fully convinced and if we are able to convince our pilots, if we are ever to convince our traveling public.”

However, he also said that if the planes were back in service, Ethiopian Airlines would be “the last airline to fly them again.” “We have not got a time to discuss on the return to service and we have made it very clear on several occasions we would not be the first one to return their airplane back to air.”

Gebremariam said it’s not enough for Boeing to only review the “MCAS” anti-stall system believed responsible for the fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. He wants a much more rigorous review of the plane.

“We strongly believe that entire flight control system needs to be reviewed,” he said.

“It’s very abnormal for a new airplane to have two accidents, fatal accidents in a span of five months,” he said. “These are brand new airplanes.”

Read more »


Related:
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

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

British soldiers kidnapped Prince Alemayehu in 1868 after they stormed and looted his father’s mountain-top palace in Ethiopia following the Battle of Maqdala. 150 years later UK is still rejecting Ethiopia's request to return his remains so he can properly be reburied at home. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s request to repatriate the remains of Prince Alemayehu is once again being rebuffed by England.

The young Prince was kidnapped by British soldiers following the Battle of Maqdala 150 years ago and transported to England along with tons of stolen Ethiopian treasures.

“The Queen has sparked a diplomatic row after refusing to allow the bones of a ‘stolen’ Ethiopian prince buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle to be repatriated,” the Daily Mail reported.

“Prince Alemayehu was brought to England after his father, Emperor Tewodros II, killed himself as British forces stormed his mountain-top palace in northern Ethiopia in 1868.”

Prince Alemayehu, who died at the age of 18, eleven years after his kidnapping ordeal, is buried next to St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

The Daily Mail notes that “the Ethiopian government demanded the return of his remains 12 years ago and has grown increasingly frustrated at being rebuffed by Buckingham Palace.” The report added: “Last night Fesseha Shawel Gebre, Ethiopia’s ambassador to London, urged the Queen to consider how she would feel if one of her deceased relatives was buried in a foreign land. ‘Would she happily lie in bed every day, go to sleep, having one of her Royal Family members buried somewhere, taken as prisoner of war?’ he asked. ‘I think she wouldn’t.’”

The Ethiopian government has emphasized that they would stick to their request to return Prince Alemayehu’s remains at every opportunity they have to meet with members of the British government.


Related:
The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures Heats Up
Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years
150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II
UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?

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A CNN Hero, A Midwife, MeTooEthiopia: 3 Great News Stories You May Have Missed

(Photos: CNN Hero Freweini Mebrahtu, midwife Selamawit Lake and image from Shades of Injera Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 10th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – A CNN Hero from Ethiopia, an award-wining midwife, and the burgeoning #MeTooEthiopia movement that began as an Instagram post launched by an Ethiopian American activist in the Diaspora are among the timely human-interest stories that have received international coverage this week, but unfortunately has garnered very little media attention in our community.

Below are brief summaries and links to each story:

CNN Hero Freweini Mebrahtu

CNN celebrated Freweini Mebrahtu, a U.S.-educated chemical engineer and owner of the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products factory in Ethiopia — that produces its own patented reusable menstrual pad — as its 2019 CNN Hero for her efforts in creating public awareness about women’s health in the country and dispelling the traditionally negative perception surrounding menstruation.

“More than 80% of the pads she manufactures are sold to non-governmental organizations that distribute them for free,” CNN notes. “Mebrahtu, also worked for years to end the stigma around this issue by speaking to students at schools.”

As Freweini told CNN: “The whole goal was not only making the pads, but also attacking the cultural baggage to it.”

Read more »

Award-wining Midwife Selamawit Lake Fenta

NPR featured a Q&A session with Ethiopian Midwife Selamawit Lake Fenta who was named one of this year’s five champions by the International Confederation of Midwives.

According to NPR, “the group picked the five from nominations submitted by members from 122 countries. The goal was to honor midwives who’ve made an impact in their community. Fenta, 30, works at the Tibebe Ghion Hospital in Bahir Dar City in Ethiopia and is the department head and a lecturer of midwifery at Bahir Dar University.”

NPR also noted that eight year ago, when Selamawit was just 22-years-old, she led a crusade for higher pay for midwives in Ethiopia, where a majority of her colleagues earn about $56 to $84 a month. “We are not paid fairly,” Selamawit said.

Read more »

#MeTooEthiopia: ‘Assault is a crime, not a culture’

Public Radio International (PRI) recently highlighted the growing online campaign under the hashtag #MeTooEthiopia, which started out on the Instagram page called “Shades of Injera” in 2014 before it was transformed into a global platform for the rights of Ethiopian women a few months ago following the release of the explosive documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’

Describing efforts to promote #MeTooEthiopia PRI noted that: “on International Women’s Day this year the page featured the face of the country’s first female president photoshopped onto an image of Rosie the Riveter.”

PRI spoke with one of the Ethiopian Americans running the Instagram page who declined to share her real name — and goes by ‘S’ in the interview “because she wants to continue to post questions and speak freely about sensitive topics” and “has received threats over things she’s posted.”

PRI adds: “S. says the R. Kelly documentary made her ask, “Who are the men in their own Ethiopian community who prey on younger women?” Within days, hundreds of women and some men began sharing their own stories of sexual assault. “Everyone was saying, ‘I’ve actually never shared this before. This is my first time saying it,’” says S. “People were desperate to do something and, you know, get their story out.” The response was so overwhelming that they created a separate website called #MeTooEthiopia with the tagline, “assault is a crime, not a culture.”


Related:
Spotlight: #MeTooEthiopia “Assault is a Crime, not a Culture”

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New Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia

Whether it was ruled by an aging emperor, Soviet-backed army officers or former rebels, Ethiopia was rarely a place where you could criticize leaders so openly. Until last year, there were dozens of journalists and opposition politicians in jail or exile. (Photo: Ethiopian activist Eskinder Nega (2nd right) answered questions from BBC presenter Jonathan Dimbleby (center) at BBC's World Questions program held in Addis Ababa on Monday. The other panelists from left include Mustafa Omar, president of the Somali Region, Tsedale Lemma, editor of the Addis Standard and on the far right academic Merera Gudina. (Henock Birhanu/BBC)

The Washington Post

‘We don’t want another messiah’: Newly vocal Ethiopians debate an uncertain future

In a scene that would have been unimaginable just a year ago, some 200 Ethiopians in the capital debated their country’s politics, economics and expressed their fears over the rise in ethnic violence.

The BBC’s “World Questions” current events program came to Addis Ababa on Monday demonstrating how much freedom of expression has changed in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

After decades of authoritarian governments that tightly controlled the press, the new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has transformed the country by taking the shackles off the media and promising wide-ranging reforms.

But the loosening of such restrictions in Ethiopia has been accompanied by an explosion of ethnic conflict in the countryside. Millions of people have been displaced as long-simmering disputes over land boil to the surface — and as Monday’s discussion showed, people are frightened. Just in the week before the show, there were reports of tit-for-tat massacres between the Amhara and Gumuz peoples in the northern part of the country that killed dozens.

“I used to be afraid of the government; now I’m afraid of the people,” said one audience member, citing a common concern over the rise in lawlessness. “Before it was dictatorship we were afraid of; now it’s about the [lack] of rule of law.”

The prime minister himself was not spared criticism, either, with some singling him out for the speed and what they called the recklessness of his reforms and a personal style of leadership that often bypasses the country’s institutions.

“I believe that Dr. Abiy is a problem because we want a systematic change that can sustain itself whether there is a messiah or not,” said one man. “We don’t want another messiah.”

Whether it was ruled by an aging emperor, Soviet-backed army officers or former rebels, Ethiopia was rarely a place where you could criticize leaders so openly. Until last year, there were dozens of journalists and opposition politicians in jail or exile.

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: Voice of America’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia
After years of repression, Ethiopia’s media is free — and fanning the flames of ethnic tension
World Press Freedom Day events raise alarm on fake news (AP)
Ethiopian Selected as Official Carrier for 2019 World Press Freedom Day
Tadias Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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Boeing Was Aware of 737 Max Problem Long Before Ethiopia Crash – Report

Boeing knew about 737 Max safety problems two years before the deadly Ethiopia and Indonesia crashes, according to a statement released by the company this week. (Photo: Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max aircraft/Boeing)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 8th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Boeing was aware of the software problem with its 737 Max aircraft as far back as 2017, long before the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10th of this year that killed all 157 on board as well as the prior Indonesian Lion Air accident that took the lives of 189 passengers.

Boeing made the stunning admission in a press release this past weekend noting that it discovered a software related issue with the 737 Max two years ago, but it deemed the now globally grounded airplane safe after an internal examination.

“In 2017, within several months after beginning 737 MAX deliveries, engineers at Boeing identified that the 737 MAX display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements,” the statement said. “When the discrepancy between the requirements and the software was identified, Boeing followed its standard process for determining the appropriate resolution of such issues.” The press release added: “That review, which involved multiple company subject matter experts, determined that the absence of the AOA Disagree alert did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation. Accordingly, the review concluded, the existing functionality was acceptable until the alert and the indicator could be delinked in the next planned display system software update. Senior company leadership was not involved in the review and first became aware of this issue in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident.”

In the case of the Ethiopia crash, investigators have preliminarily ruled that a malfunctioning software flight data sensor was to blame for the accident and that the pilots performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing but could not control the plane.

The Boing revelation also comes on the heels of a recent Times article entitled “Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet” listing complaints of poor-quality manufacturing at one of its plants that raises more questions about Boeing’s overall credibility on the matter.

“Boeing is issuing a display system software update, to implement the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature before the MAX returns to service,” the press release added.

But a recently released study shows that the public is skeptical. “In a survey of 1,765 fliers conducted by Barclays Investment Bank, 44 percent of respondents said they would wait a year or more before flying the 737 Max, compared with 39 percent who said they would do so within a few months of its reentry into service,” The Washington Post reported yesterday. “Only 20 percent said they would fly on a Max as soon as the grounding order is lifted, and 52 percent said they would rather fly on another type of aircraft.”


Related:
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

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Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid

According to a new study released this week by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights "Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide," AP reports. (Photo: Global Apparel Forum)

The Associated Press

Correction: Ethiopia-Garment Workers’ Pay story

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — In a story May 7 about (topic), The Associated Press reported erroneously that the apparel retailer Gap sources clothing made in Ethiopia. Gap does not source clothing made in Ethiopia and the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights regrets its error in identifying Gap in its report about labor in Ethiopia.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid

Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are the world’s lowest paid at $26 a month

By ELIAS MESERET

Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide, a new report says.

The report by the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, pursues a bold economic experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in its mushrooming industrial parks.

“The government’s eagerness to attract foreign investment led it to promote the lowest base wage in any garment-producing country — now set at the equivalent of $26 a month,” according to the authors of the report, Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly.

In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month, those in Kenya earn $207 and those in Bangladesh earn $95.

Drawn by the newly built industrial parks and a range of financial incentives, manufacturers for many international brands employ tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers in a sector the government predicts will one day have billions of dollars in sales.

The new report is based on a visit earlier this year to the flagship Hawassa Industrial Park that opened in June 2017 in southern Ethiopia and currently employs 25,000 people. Ethiopian leaders often show off the industrial park, 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Addis Ababa, to visiting foreign dignitaries.

According to the report, most young Ethiopian workers are hardly able to get by to the end of the month and are not able to support family members. “I’m left with nothing at the end of the month,” one factory worker, Ayelech Geletu, 21, told The Associated Press last year.

The minimum monthly living wage in Ethiopia is about $110), according to Ayele Gelan, a research economist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.

“Given relatively little training, restive employees have protested by stopping work or quitting altogether. Productivity in the Hawassa factories typically is low, while worker disillusionment and attrition are high,” the report says.

Ethiopian politics are also unexpectedly disrupting factory operations. “The Ethiopian government should address ethnic tension in Hawassa and elsewhere,” the report says.

It calls on the government to implement a long-term economic plan for strengthening the apparel industry and establish a minimum wage that ensures decent living conditions.

Abebe Abebayehu, head of Ethiopia’s Investment Commission, told the AP that most garment and apparel factories prefer to locate in places with low labor costs.

“If that was not the case, Chinese companies wouldn’t have come to Ethiopia,” Abebe said. He also questioned the report’s monthly pay figure of $26 per month: “That is a basic salary but in Ethiopia the factories also provide a workplace meal and other services.”

___
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Related:
Made in Ethiopia: Changes in Garment Industry’s New Frontier (NYU)

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Meet the 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows

Here are 20 reasons to be hopeful this week: The Obama Foundation just announced its new class of Obama Fellows — comprising of educators, organizers, problem-solvers, and entrepreneurs from around the world. (Photo: The Obama Foundation)

Press Release

The Obama Foundation Fellowship supports outstanding civic innovators—leaders who are working with their communities to create transformational change and addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. The program selects 20 community-minded rising stars from around the world for a two-year, non-residential program, designed to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation.

The second-ever class of Obama Foundation Fellows represents a diverse set of leaders who all model a powerful truth: that each of us has a role to play in making our communities better. These Fellows are building cultures of entrepreneurship in neighborhoods that need it most. They’re protecting our environment and ensuring we can live sustainably for generations to come. They’re showing the world that criminal justice can be restorative justice. And they’re proving that our most disadvantaged and disconnected communities can also be our most vital and innovative.

GET TO KNOW THE 2019 CLASS OF OBAMA FOUNDATION FELLOWS


Related:
I spent my 20s as an Obama speechwriter. Here’s what he taught me about growing up.

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

Negussie Mengesha who began his journalism career in the U.S. as an Amharic reporter at Voice of America in the 1980's is now the head of VOA’s Africa Division overseeing the agency’s nearly 125 hours of weekly programming in 16 languages on radio, television, and digital platforms to the African continent - reaching nearly 51 million people weekly. (Photo: VOA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 5th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Voice of America (VOA) has been a voice for the voiceless in Ethiopia for many decades, and one of the main people behind this effort is Negussie Mengesha, who started out as young reporter then became an editor, Amharic Chief and is now the Director of the Africa division for VOA.

In the following video Negussie explains how he fled Ethiopia in the 1970s and became a refugee in Sudan before relocating to the U.S. all because he was unable to practice his profession as a journalist in his home country due to the repressive government at the time.

Thanks to the current reforms underway in Ethiopia Negussie was able to return to Ethiopia for the first time in four decades last October. In addition to an emotional visit to his parents’ burial grounds, Negussie said one of the highlights of his trip was meeting with PM Abiy Ahmed.

“I thanked him for opening up the political space and for allowing the media to operate freely,” Negussie said. “That meeting for me was very, very important.” He added: “Freedom of the press is close to my heart. I have seen journalists killed because they wrote freely, because they exposed corruption, mismanagement or also injustice.”

As to VOA he said: “This place is more than a workplace for me, it’s like my family. I started out as reporter, then became a senior editor, then became the Amharic Chief.”

Negussie says VOA is planing to strengthen its presence in Ethiopia and added: “Hopefully one day we will have a VOA 24/7.”

Watch: Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia


Related:
Freedom of Expression: Newly Vocal Ethiopians Debate an Uncertain Future
After years of repression, Ethiopia’s media is free — and fanning the flames of ethnic tension
World Press Freedom Day events raise alarm on fake news (AP)
Ethiopian Selected as Official Carrier for 2019 World Press Freedom Day
Tadias Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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DC Area U.S. Firm FAAZ Apologizes for ‘No Ethiopians’ Need Apply Job Posting

(Image courtesy Pixabay under Creative Commons license)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — A Washington, DC area hiring firm, FAAZ Consulting, is apologizing to the Ethiopian community for its recent offensive job posting that appeared on LinkedIn declaring in all capital letters that “no Ethiopians and no Federal government employees” need apply for the position. The job placement that has since been taken down had shocked many Ethiopians and created a firestorm on social media.

Contacted by Tadias Magazine the company’s owner Fatima Ali was profusely apologetic and stating that the announcement was a blunder by a rookie employee. Ali also denied that the posting was made at the request of the firm’s client as indicated in the job description that was seeking qualified SharePoint developers.

“Only apply if you are a SharePoint developer with strong .NET experience,” the job posting had stated. “Please no Ethiopians and no Federal government employees as per client.”


FAAZ Consulting job post on Linkedin looking for SharePoint Developer in the DC area. (Image: Screen shot)

“This posting was a mistake by a new team member which didn’t go through proper internal review,” Ali told Tadias. “The information contained in the posting negates the values we stand by.” She added: “I would personally like to apologize to each one of those who have been inadvertently affected by this mistake. We would further investigate internally to understand how it happened and would take appropriate disciplinary action to ensure that such unfortunate mistakes never happen again.”

Ali said that FAAZ Consulting, which is based in Mclean, Virginia, is a minority-owned small business and is sensitive to these type of issues.

“FAAZ is a small minority women owned small business,” Ali said. “We have hired and placed people from all races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and regions.” She added: “Our recruitment only focuses on applicant’s skill set. As a minority woman and a person of color I understand the challenges faced by minority communities.”

Ali said they are working to remove the content from the internet. “The position was posted on one job board which essentially mass posted the job on different websites,” she said. “We have requested every website to take the content down and await for them to honor our request.”


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Mulatu Astatke Coming to Chicago

Mulatu Astatke is coming to Chicago this month for a sold-out concert at Garfield Park Conservatory on May 14th, 2019. (Photo: Alexis Maryon (C) 2013 for Harmonia Mundi)

Chicago Reader

Mulatu Astatke continues his Ethio-jazz evolution

Vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke has a seamless way of fusing the music of his native Ethiopia with jazz and Latin music (and you can hear a little bit of R&B in that mix too). On paper this esoteric brew might seem like an acquired taste, but in reality it’s just one worldly step away from Lonnie Liston Smith, Atlantic-era Les McCann, or any other 70s musician who tweaked jazz to follow popular tastes without watering down their sounds. On Astatke’s 1966 debut album, Afro-Latin Soul, he blended Ethiopian melodies with Latin jazz so skillfully that an inexperienced listener would never know either genre had been altered, but Astatke was bringing a different spice to the table. He recorded that album and its follow-up, Afro-Latin Soul Vol. 2, while living in New York, but though his work at the time reflected the musical culture of his adopted city, he never forgot the sounds of his homeland—and in the early 70s, he brought his hybrid style back to Africa, becoming one of the founders of the Ethio-jazz movement.

Read more »


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Photos: Chester Higgins Honored by Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative

Former New York Times photographer Chester Higgins who is a close friend of the Ethiopian community is behind some of the most spectacular photos of Ethiopia captured by an international photographer in the last five decades. (Courtesy photo/Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Photographer Chester Higgins was honored by the Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative in New York city on Monday night.

The former New York Times photographer who is a close friend of the Ethiopian community is behind some of the most spectacular photos of Ethiopia captured by an international photographer in the last five decades, which include his timeless images of Lalibela, beautiful portraits of people in the Omo region, as well as enduring profiles of Emperor Haile Selassie and the late Poet Laureate of Ethiopia Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin.

In an article a few years ago, The New York Times lens blog noted that Chester “first went to Ethiopia in 1973, prompted by news that African heads of state were gathering for an Organization of African Unity meeting in Addis Ababa. On that trip, he met and photographed the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, and other heads of state. Taken by the calm sense of self he found among the Ethiopian people, he returned the following year to see other parts of the country.”

Chester never stopped going back.

Below are photos from the event celebrating his work on Monday night:


(Courtesy photo/Facebook)


The Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative honores Chester Higgins on Monday, April 29th, 2019 in New York.(Courtesy photo/Facebook)


Chester Higgins honored by Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative on Monday, April 29th, 2019 in New York.(Courtesy photo/Facebook)


Related:
Pictures: Chester Higgins’ Stunning Photos of Ethiopia:

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CPJ on Media in Ethiopia

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an American independent non-profit based in New York City. It promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists. CPJ says "since Abiy's election, conditions for Ethiopia's journalists have improved, but some challenges remain." (Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a press conference in Addis Ababa, in August 2018/AFP/Michael Tewelde)

CPJ

Under Abiy, Ethiopia’s media have more freedom but challenges remain

During a trip to Addis Ababa in January, it was impossible to miss the signs that Ethiopian media are enjoying unprecedented freedom. A flurry of new publications were on the streets. At apublic forum that CPJ attended, journalists spoke about positive reforms, but also openly criticized their lack of access to the government. At a press conference, journalists from state media and the Oromia Media Network, an outlet previously banned and accused of terrorism, sat side by side.

Mesud Gebeyehu, a lawyer who heads the Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations, an alliance of human rights groups, told CPJ he had been on television “many times” in the past year to speak about human rights, an issue that was previously taboo for the media.

Ethiopia, which was one of the most-censored countries in the world and one of the worst jailers of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, has gone through dramatic reforms under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office last April. In 2018–for the first time in 14 years–CPJ recorded no journalists behind bars in its annual census. And the country ended its block of over 260 websites and ban on media outlets forced to work in exile.

“I was fighting for [press freedom], but I did not expect it to happen in such a short time,” said Abel Wabella, a journalist who was detained and charged with terrorism under the previous government.

In May, Ethiopia will host UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day: a reflection, UNESCO said, of the country’s commitment to democratic and media reforms.

Though the Ethiopian press is much freer today than before Abiy took power, CPJ spoke to over a dozen journalists and rights defenders who said that challenges remain, including the risk of attack and arrest, especially in restive regions; attracting advertisers in a market where businesses are wary of being seen to support critical publications; accusations of sowing divisiveness; and a proposed law that could curtail their newly found freedoms.

CPJ also attempted to reach the government for comment on conditions for the press. The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Billene Seyoum, acknowledged receipt but did not respond to CPJ’s emailed questions sent on April 24.

Perhaps most fundamentally, journalists told CPJ they are anxious for the freedoms they are enjoying to be rooted in law, rather than guaranteed only by the good will of the Abiy government.

The reforms “are not legally nor institutionally guaranteed until now. They are so because the leaders on top are willing, but neither their willingness nor their hold on power is permanent,” Befekadu Hailu, a journalist and social activist who edits the Addis Maleda weekly, told CPJ.

A council established under the attorney general’s office is reviewing a raft of laws including those previously used to restrict the press, such as the anti-terror proclamation and the mass media law, according to media reports.

Most of the journalists with whom CPJ spoke with said they were happy with the reform process, which included public consultations. Befekadu said he believes those involved are “independent.” Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the Oromia Media Network, said that those involved could move faster and communicate more frequently and clearly with the public.

However, a proposed law on hate speech is splitting opinion.

The government last year said it would draft the law in response to concern abouttoxic rhetoric online that some say amounts to incitement to violence or has the potential to exacerbate divisions, largely along ethnic lines, according to reports. The government has previously responded to tension by cutting off access to the internet. CPJ documented two such shutdowns under Abiy’s government, during unrest in Addis Ababa in September and in the Somali region during a crisis in August.

Yared Hailemariam, the executive director of the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, told CPJ said that the media stand accused of “aggravating” tension. “It is a reflection of the political situation in the country, tension is high,” he said.

Most of those who spoke with CPJ said they felt there was a need for Ethiopian media to grow into “professionalism” and to act more “ethically” and “responsibly” within the newly opened space. But even so, some, like Befekadu, said they feared the hate speech law could have a “chilling effect on freedom of expression.”

“They want to give the government more power to regulate speech. Given the divisiveness in the country, it is understandable. But we need to be careful… we should not allow government to pass legislation which gives them reason to take down content they don’t like,” said Endalk Chala, assistant professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, who has studied Ethiopian media.

A copy of the draft law, viewed by CPJ, includes criminal penalties for hate speech and publishing “false news.” The privately owned Addis Fortune warned in an April 13 article that the draft law would not be a “golden bullet … to contain hate speech” and raised concerns that it harks back to laws Ethiopia previously used to suppress critical speech.

Eskinder Nega, who launched the weekly Ethiopis last year, months after he was freed from almost seven years in prison, said that ideas ought to be allowed to flourish, hate will be “filtered out”. Jawar said it was “dangerous” to invite government regulation of speech, suggesting instead a peer regulatory mechanism for the media.

Jawar and Eskinder are among the prominent media personalities whose work has been criticized for inflaming tensions, according to media reports.

Both strongly refuted these views. Jawar said that a strong political and advocacy position was being conflated with divisive speech. Eskinder said that while he has strong opinions, he has never advocated for violence. In a follow up email exchange on April 26, Eskinder told CPJ that the allegations of divisiveness were part of a “manufactured debate” and based on a misinterpretation of his work.

For the new papers that have mushroomed in Addis Ababa, financial concerns are urgent.

Abel can attest to that– he established the weekly Addis Zeybe in October, only for the paper to go out of print after four editions following financial pressures and distribution challenges.

Abel told CPJ that publications have a hard time attracting advertisers, whom he said can be shy of being associated with critical publications. This was a sentiment echoed by Jawar, who recently established a magazine, Gulale Post.

“Businesses are cautious. This is a popular government so they don’t want to be seen as being anti-government,” said Eskinder.

The government has also not been very open to the media, with Abiy hosting only a couple of press conferences with local journalists since he came to power, according to media reports and two of the journalists with whom CPJ spoke.

Journalists in Ethiopia also still face the risk of attack. CPJ has documented how mobs attacked a crew from the state-run Dire Dawa Mass Media Agency, in Meiso, in the Oromia region in July, in an incident that killed their driver, and how two journalists with the privately owned Mereja TV were briefly detained by police in Legetafo, in the same region, and assaulted by a mob upon their release in March . The regional government made initial promises to investigate, but Mereja TV chief executive Elias Kifle told CPJ in April that authorities had not investigated the crime.

Oromia government spokesperson Admasu Damtew did not answer CPJ’s phone calls or text messages on April 24 and April 27.

“They [have fulfilled] their obligation of respecting human rights, but the Abiy administration also has to protect people, to protect journalists, to protect human rights organizations from being attacked,” Yared, from the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, told CPJ.

The Economist reported last month that reform under Abiy “is not the first blossoming of free media,” pointing to how liberalization in the 1990s was followed by crackdowns in the 2000s. When CPJ asked Befekadu if he thought this current era of freedom would last he said, “I cannot say yes or no. But there is equal chance for the change to regress as it can progress. It needs collective effort of the media, civil society, and government to save it from falling into the vicious cycle.”


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

Elias Sime. (Photo by Mekbib Tadesse)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 30th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Elias Sime is set for his first major traveling U.S. museum exhibition this year starting at Wellin Museum of Art in New York in the fall followed by shows at Akron Art Museum in Ohio, the Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

According to organizers the first exhibition at the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College will be held from September 7 through December 8, 2019 and will feature work by the Ethiopian artist spanning over a decade. The exhibit entitled Elias Sime: Tightrope includes “a large outdoor site-specific sculpture, created out of repurposed computer parts, electrical wires, bronze and clay.”

Elias’ latest body of work titled Noiseless is also currently on display at the James Cohan Gallery in New York City.

As the Wellin Museum notes “Elias Sime (b. 1968 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Addis Ababa. He is highly regarded as an artist and as the co-founder of the ZOMA Museum, the only contemporary art museum in Addis Ababa, with curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued.”

Below is an overview of the exhibition courtesy of Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College:

“The exhibition Elias Sime: Tightrope marks the first major museum show to focus on the work of contemporary Ethiopian artist Elias Sime (b. 1968). Sime’s brightly-colored tableaux and sculptural assemblages feature found objects including thread, buttons, bottle caps, electrical wires, and computer detritus. The exhibition highlights the artist’s work from the last decade, much of which comprises the series entitled “Tightrope,” alongside a selection of early works critical to the artist’s development. Repurposing salvaged electronic components, such as circuits and keyboards, Sime incorporates the refuse that results from technological advancement, and points to the urgency of and different approaches to sustainability. A post consumerist critique, the artist’s work is a commentary on the fact that countries in Africa are often the repositories of e-waste imported from elsewhere in the world. The work also incorporates redundant technologies from the former Soviet Union and the the West, highlighting Ethiopia’s complex political past. The resulting abstractions reference landscape and the figure, and often employ patterning drawn from traditional Ethiopian textiles. The title “Tightrope” refers to the precarious balance between the progress technology has made possible and its detrimental impact on the environment. Featuring over 20 works of art of varying scales, including new work created by the artist to debut in this exhibition, Elias Sime: Tightrope explores the breath of Sime’s work which focuses on interconnectedness as both a literal and conceptual practice.”

Elias Sime: Tightrope will be accompanied by the first monograph focusing on the work of Elias Sime and features contributions by Tracy L. Adler; Meskerem Assegued, anthropologist, curator and founder of the Zoma Museum; Karen Milbourne, Curator of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; and Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi, Curator of African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This book will be co-published by the Wellin Museum of Art and Delmonico Books • Prestel.”

Additional dates for Sime’s other museum exhibitions are as follows:

Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio – February 29 – May 24, 2020

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri – June 11 – September 13, 2020

Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada – December 12, 2020 – April 18, 2021


You can learn more about the Wellin Museum of Art at www.hamilton.edu/wellin

Related:
Noiseless: Elias Sime’s New Exhibition Opens in NYC

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Biden Releases New Video Starring Obama, Says Trump Should be Impeached (Update)

U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has released a second campaign video in less than a week, this time featuring his close friend former president Barack Obama. Biden is also making national news after he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if he blocks investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference. (Photo by Pete Souza)

The Washington Post

Biden says Congress will have ‘no alternative’ but to impeach Trump if he blocks its investigations

Former vice president Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.

Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden said that the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III left several unanswered questions related to whether Trump obstructed the nearly two-year probe, and he argued that Congress should follow up.

“What the Congress should do and they are doing is investigate that,” Biden said. “And if in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative to go to the only other constitutional resort they have: impeachment.”

“My job in the meantime is to make sure he’s not back as president of the United States of America,” added Biden, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last week.

Read more »

Watch: Biden Releases New Video Starring Obama:


Related:

Joe Biden Raises $6.3 Million on 1st Day of 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign (UPDATE)

Joe Biden Officially Announces He is Running for U.S President in 2020

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In US the Growing Neo-Nazi Violence Takes Center Stage in 2020 Election

In the last couple of years the lack of a strong political and media leadership in the U.S. against the growing menace of neo-Nazi violence and the outdated ideology of white-nationalism & supremacy has severely damaged America's global brand as a multicultural and forward-looking country. But the conversation may now be changing thanks to Joe Biden's blockbuster campaign video released last week in which he tackled the issue straight ahead while speaking truth to power. Below is a new Washington Post article focusing on the timely topic. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

As Trump stands by Charlottesville remarks, rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in 2020 presidential race

First came Joe Biden’s campaign announcement video highlighting President Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment about the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left a counterprotester dead.

Then Trump dug in, arguing that he was referring not to the self-professed neo-Nazi marchers, but to those who had opposed the removal of a statue of the “great” Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Less than 24 hours later came another act of violence described by authorities as a hate crime: Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., in which a gunman killed one person and injured three others.

Those events have pushed the rising tide of white nationalism to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, putting Trump on the defensive and prompting even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments.

“The president’s handling of Charlottesville was not one of the finer moments of his time in office,” Republican strategist Ryan Williams said. “He shouldn’t take Joe Biden’s bait and re-litigate this controversy.”..

Nonetheless, the rise of white-nationalist violence during Trump’s tenure is emerging as an issue as the president turns his attention toward his reelection campaign.

According to the most recent annual report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has long tracked extremist activity, 39 of the 50 extremist-related murders tallied by the group in 2018 were committed by white supremacists, up from 2017, when white supremacists were responsible for 18 of 34 such crimes.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


Related:

Joe Biden Officially Announces He is Running for U.S President in 2020

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Dr. Negasso Gidada, Former President of Ethiopia, Dies at 76

Dr. Negasso Gidada served as President of Ethiopia from 1995 until 2001. (Photo: @PMEthiopia/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 27th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia is mourning the passing of Dr. Negasso Gidada, who served as President of Ethiopia from 1995 until 2001. Dr. Negasso passed away on Saturday at the age of 76.

According to local media reports the former president died in Germany where he was undergoing medical treatment.

“It is with deep regrets that we share the passing of former FDRE President, H.E. Dr. Negasso Gidada. PM Abiy Ahmed extends his condolences to the people of Ethiopia and his family,” Office of the Prime Minister shared on social media. “A national committee to oversee the funeral arrangements is being established & will share details.”

Fana Broadcasting noted that “similarly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the House of People’s Representatives, the House of Federation, the Ministry of Transport and regional states also expressed their deepest condolences.”


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Noiseless: Elias Sime’s New Exhibition Opens in NYC

ELIAS SIME, Tightrope: Noiseless, 2019. Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel. (James Cohan Gallery)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 28th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Elias Sime is back in New York City with a new exhibition called Noiseless that opened at James Cohan gallery on Saturday and remains on display through June 29th. This is the Ethiopian artist’s third solo multidisciplinary exhibition at the gallery.

“Elias Sime creates intricate, wall-mounted works on a monumental scale from discarded technological components—including salvaged motherboards and electrical wires—that have traveled from far-reaching locations across the globe to his hometown of Addis Ababa,” the press release stated. “Sime meticulously weaves, layers and assembles these found materials into abstract compositions. Sometimes his idea dictates the material, while other times the material dictates the idea. Sime titles this body of work “Tightropes,” in reference to the precision and discipline required to walk across a tightrope, as well as the tenuous balance between the progress technology has made possible and its detrimental impact on the environment.”

The press release continued: “NOISELESS features ten new large scale works from Sime’s “Tightrope” series, which demonstrate the breadth and dexterity of the artist’s practice. The exhibition’s title is a reference to the creative space of free association engendered by silence. As the artist notes, “Noise is often associated with unpleasant sounds. Noise can also seem to create words, or words can be part of noise. Words channel our thinking along familiar paths towards realistic images. The absence of noise allows our minds to create unfamiliar and abstract images. The works in NOISELESS “aim to reflect the unfamiliar and abstract images created in the mind in the absence of noise.” I BURNED IT, 2019, is one of the largest and most prominent pieces presented in NOISELESS. After years of weaving the colorful wires on the small panels that make up the piece, Sime burned the surface, exposing the copper behind the colorful insulation. He remarks: “Nature is full of vibrant colors, which we humans not only enjoy, but often expect to see. I burned the surface of the painstakingly created colorful piece to invoke a dialogue about the identity of colors.”


ELIAS SIME Tightrope: Noiseless 11, 2019. Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel. (James Cohan Gallery)

Elias Sime’s bio courtesy of James Cohan gallery:

Elias Sime (b. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) has exhibited extensively around the world. Working with his long-time collaborator, curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued, Sime co-founded and designed the Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa, an international art center described by the New York Times in 2009 as “a voluptuous dream, a swirl of ancient technique and ecstatic imagination.” Zoma Museum celebrated its grand opening in its new location in March of this year. Sime’s work has been shown internationally at the Dak’Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal; the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Austria; and in the United States at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and a survey exhibition that traveled from the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, to the North Dakota Museum of Art. The artist designed various costumes, props and set-pieces for Peter Sellars’ production of Stravinsky’s opera Oedipus Rex, performed at the Sydney Opera House as well as in Los Angeles, Aix-en-Provence, London and Stockholm.

Elias Sime’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Newark Museum, NJ; Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Toledo Museum of Art, OH; Perez Museum of Art, Miami; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; North Dakota Museum of Art; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, NH; and the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Foundation, Chicago, IL.


If You Go:
Elias Sime
NOISELESS | APR 27 – JUN 29
James Cohan gallery
533 W26 ST
New York
www.jamescohan.com

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NYT on Farah & Haile’s Ugly Public Feud

An ugly feud between Mo Farah, a Somalia-born British runner, and his former childhood hero, Haile Gebrselassie, an Ethiopian runner who set 27 world records over his career, spilled into public this week. (Photo: Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie/Getty Images and Reuters)

The New York Times

Olympic Athletes’ Feud Goes Public, With Claims of Hotel Theft and Gym Attack

They’re track-and-field legends who have competed around the world, at events including the Olympics and the London Marathon. They have run in stadiums packed with thousands of screaming fans, racing for medals and the glory of being crowned No. 1.

But an ugly feud between Mo Farah, a Somalia-born British runner, and his former childhood hero, Haile Gebrselassie, an Ethiopian runner who set 27 world records over his career, spilled into public this week.

According to news reports and the athletes’ public statements, the dispute revolves around claims of a theft, unpaid bills and an unprovoked violent attack. It all comes as Mr. Farah, the most successful British track athlete in history, is preparing to run the London Marathon on Sunday.

The public became aware of the simmering dispute during the final moments of a news conference in London on Wednesday, where Mr. Farah lit the fuse. As the event was wrapping up, he used his final few minutes onstage to reveal that although his marathon training had gone according to plan, he had been the victim of theft in a hotel outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had spent the past few months training…

Mr. Gebrselassie, 46, once regarded as the world’s greatest distance runner, responded on the same day with equally sharp comments in a news release, threatening Mr. Farah, a four-time Olympic champion who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, with legal action.

“It’s with deep sorrow,” he wrote, that he had learned of the comments made by Mr. Farah against him and his property. He also unleashed a litany of his own complaints about Mr. Farah’s stay at his hotel, claiming that Mr. Farah had left without paying a $3,000 service bill, had been the subject of “multiple reports of disgraceful conduct” and had been reported to the police for an attack on a man and a woman in the hotel’s gym.

Read more »


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Ethiopia to Extradite U.S. Murder Suspect

22-year-olds Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh were killed in Fairfax County, Virginia in December 2016. The suspect Yohannes Nesibu who fled to Ethiopia soon after the incident is set to be extradited to face murder charges in the U.S. (Image: fox5dc.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 26th, 2019

The Story Behind Yohannes Nesibu’s Imminent Extradition From Ethiopia to U.S.

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember this shocking and disturbing story of a brutal double murder in Virginia two and half years ago involving Ethiopian victims Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh, both 22, of Fairfax County. The suspect Yohannes Nesibu had escaped to Ethiopia and was seen roaming around Addis Abeba, freely club-hopping and sharing his adventures on social media.

As The Washington Post put it succinctly at the time: “After a young couple was killed, the alleged gunman fled to Ethiopia. He may never face trial.”

That’s about to change as Ethiopia prepares to extradite Yohannes Nesibu, who is currently under detention, to the U.S. According to the spokesperson for the office of Ethiopia’s Attorney General who spoke with the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting the decision to extradite Yohannes was made following “the request of the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division for his extradition.”


Henok Yohannes (left) and Kedest Simeneh. (fox5dc)

“Authorities are confident they know who carried out the brutal double slaying in Northern Virginia last December. A witness places an aspiring rapper at the scenes of the killings,” The Washington Post had noted in its October 2017 article. “A Fairfax grand jury indicted him for murder. Detectives know where he lives. Nessibu is out of reach because he boarded a flight to his native Ethi­o­pia, just before police closed in on him…Kedest’s family said detectives told them Nessibu paid about $3,000 in cash for a one-way plane ticket from Dulles International Airport to Addis Ababa, leaving the same day Kedest’s body was found.”

Fana added: “His extradition also took into account his nationality, the pledge made by the U.S. to treat him properly and the positive cooperation currently existed between the two countries in the justice sector.”


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Joe Biden Raises $6.3 Million on 1st Day of 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign (UPDATE)

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden formally announced the launch of his 2020 Presidential campaign on Thursday declaring that he is on a rescue mission to save America's 'Soul.' Biden has said he would campaign as an “Obama-Biden Democrat." (Photo: Joe Biden Facebook)

CNN

Updated: Fri April 26, 2019

Joe Biden tops Democratic field with $6.3 million haul on first day of 2020 bid

Washington — Joe Biden’s campaign said it raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign launch, a haul that surpassed the Day One amounts collected by his rivals in the crowded Democratic field.

Biden’s fundraising total underscores his prominence in the party — as a former vice president with near-universal name recognition and a cadre of supporters built up over decades in the Senate and eight years at President Barack Obama’s side.

More than 96,900 people donated online to the former vice president’s campaign, his aides said in a news release Friday.

A source familiar with the figures said the total does not include any general election funds. That means the money can all be used for the nomination battle against the 19 other Democrats seeking the party’s nod.

Of that haul, $4.4 million was raised through online donations, his campaign said.

“We are incredibly heartened by the energy and enthusiasm displayed throughout the country for Joe Biden,” his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

Read more »


Joe Biden Officially Announces He is Running for U.S President in 2020

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 25th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has officially announced that he is running for president in 2020.

In a video posted on Twitter this morning Biden took an immediate aim at the current president citing Trump’s infamous response in the aftermath of the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago in which he had claimed there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent confrontation between white supremacists and counterprotesters.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Watch: Joe Biden Announces 2020 Presidential Campaign:

The Associated Press notes that “the 76-year-old Biden becomes an instant front-runner alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading many polls and has proved to be a successful fundraiser. Among Democrats, Biden has unmatched international and legislative experience, and he is among the best-known faces in U.S. politics. He quickly racked up endorsements on Thursday morning, becoming the first Democrat running for president with the backing of more than one U.S. senator. Still, Biden must compete in a field that now spans at least 20 Democrats and has been celebrated for its racial and gender diversity. As an older white man with occasionally centrist views, Biden has to prove he’s not out of step with his party. He’s betting that his working-class appeal and ties to Barack Obama’s presidency will help him overcome those questions. Biden has said he would campaign as an ‘Obama-Biden Democrat,’ who is as pragmatic as he is progressive.”

President Obama also weighed in on Thursday releasing a statement via his spokeswoman Katie Hill.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Hill said. “He relied on the vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”

AP adds: “Privately, Trump allies have warned that Biden might be the biggest re-election threat given the former vice president’s potential appeal among the white working class in the Midwest, the region that gave Trump a path to the presidency. Biden is paying special attention to Pennsylvania, a state that swung to Trump in 2016 after voting for Democratic presidential candidates for decades. The former vice president will be in the state three times within the opening weeks of his campaign. He’ll be in Philadelphia on Thursday evening headlining a fundraiser at the home of David L. Cohen, executive senior vice president of Comcast. Biden is aiming to raise $500,000 at the event. He will hold an event in Pittsburgh on Monday and will return to Philadelphia in the next two weeks for a major rally. He’s scheduled to make his first media appearance as a 2020 presidential contender Friday morning on ABC’s “The View,” a move that may help him make an appeal to women whose support will be crucial to winning the primary.”


Related:
Biden Hires Over a Dozen Senior Obama Advisors for 2020 Campaign (UPDATE)
In NJ Cory Booker Kicks Off Bid With Echo of MLK: “We can’t wait.”
Addisu Demissie to Manage Cory Booker’s 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign

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Africa Youth Forum in Ethiopia Eyes Continental Demographic Shift

In Ethiopia 41% of the population is under the age of 15. (Photo: Young teenager with two girls in the village of Berhale, Afar Region/alamy)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 24th, 2019

Pan African Youth Forum Kicks Off in Ethiopia With an Eye on Continental Demographic Shift

New York (TADIAS) — Currently, an estimated 75% of Africa’s population is under the age of 35. And in Ethiopia — where the 2nd Annual Pan African Youth Forum got underway today at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa — the median age is 18 with 60% of the population below the age of 25. More than 40% of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 15.

This could either be an opportunity or a problem depending on how well each country on the continent is preparing its youth for the future. According to World Population Review “with a 2019 population of approximately 110.14 million, if Ethiopia follows its current rate of growth, its population will double in the next 30 years, hitting 210 million by 2060. Most of the world’s population growth in the next 40-50 years is expected to come from Africa, and Ethiopia will be a large part of the growth.”

“From a demographic point of view, this calls for a paradigm shift towards the recognition and support of the youth to harness their potential by building capacity for quality education and skills improvement, health and well-being, good governance, human rights and accountability, employment opportunities, leadership skills, empowerment and entrepreneurship,” notes The African Union Commission, which is hosting the forum in Ethiopia this week.

The press release adds that Moussa Faki Mahamet, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), will be launching the “1 million by 2021 Initiative”, focusing on investing in employment, entrepreneurship, engagement, and education opportunities for African youth across the continent “while leveraging partnerships and private sector opportunities.” This initiative is scheduled to be launched via a Pan African Youth Forum under the theme “Africa Unite for Youth: Bridging the Gap and Reaching African Youth.”

The African Union Commission says “Twelve pathways have been identified as drivers for the 4Es that will facilitate the expansion of opportunities in youth development: models for teacher development; mobilizing and catalyzing capital growth for youth-led start-ups; nurture start-ups; skills transfer hubs; internships and apprenticeships; digital skills; job centers; digital skills; leadership programs and exchange programmes. The initiative will bring together key continental players in the development space and the private sector to pool together resources and opportunities, within a sustainable ecosystem built along collaborative and Pan-African lines.”


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Addis Abeba’s Vision of New City Library

Addis Ababa. (Photo via CNN)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 23rd, 2019

Addis Abeba’s City Administration Shares Vision of New City Library

New York (TADIAS) — Addis Abeba’s City Administration just shared its new vision for a city library and it’s impressive. In a recent tweet by Addis Standard, a brief video of the library plan reveals the project as scheduled to be built across from the Parliament building and situated on approximately 38,000 square meters of land. The city library is slated to have theater halls and meeting spaces as well as include an adult and children’s library sections.

Currently there are several children’s library initiatives including through the non-profit organizations Ethiopia Reads and Whiz Kids Workshop. To date Ethiopia Reads has launched over 80 public school and mobile libraries across the country, which serves over 100,000 children per year. Ethiopia Reads has also trained 150 librarians to date. The award-winning television series, Tsehai Loves Learning, launched by Whiz Kids Workshop has also expanded to include a classroom library project that provides children’s story books, flash cards, and 32 episodes of the TV series on DVD to enhance early childhood literacy skills.

For adult readers, a brief compilation of public and academic libraries in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abeba, which was published in Against the Grain (Vol 20, Issue 1) by Marie Paiva lists Addis Ababa University as housing a multi-branch academic library with over 500,000 items as well as the Addis Ababa Public Library that is accessible for all residents, which holds mostly text collections in English. There is still a great need for more libraries and related resources in the city as well as greater opportunities for librarian training. Addis Abeba’s new city library project is a positive step in the right direction, and we hope will include texts and content that are multi-lingual and extensively diverse in subject matters.


Related:
Spotlight: Ahmedin Mohamed Nasser’s Library Foundation For Ethiopia

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In US Call for Trump Impeachment Grows

Senator Kamala Harris became the latest U.S. presidential candidate to call on Congress to impeach President Trump in the wake of the explosive Mueller report released last week. (Photo: Reuters)

CNBC

Sen. Kamala Harris calls on Congress to take steps toward Trump impeachment

Sen. Kamala Harris late Monday said she would support Congress starting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

That comes on the heels of fellow Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week calling for impeachment.

“I think we have very good reason to believe that there is an investigation that has been conducted, which has produced evidence that tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice,” Harris said in response to a question at a CNN town hall in New Hampshire. “I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment.”

Harris, the junior senator from California and a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and Select Intelligence Committee, said the report released following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election made it clear there was “good evidence” to make a case for obstruction of justice.

“For those of us who have been following the investigation, and have seen any part of that report, it’s very clear that there’s a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction and obstruction of justice,” said Harris, a former prosecutor who once served as district attorney in San Francisco and later as California attorney general.

Added Harris: “I believe that we need to get rid of this president.”

Read more »


Pelosi’s impeachment dam has been breached — The Washington Post

The Washington Post

Pelosi’s impeachment dam has been breached

Monday was the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had to know might be coming but did her best to forestall. It was the day the dam she had erected against the Democrats’ impeachment fervor was breached.

Despite polls long showing about three-quarters of Democratic voters favor impeachment, Pelosi and her fellow leaders had done a good job keeping their party’s congressional contingent unified behind a more cautious approach. While a handful of mostly backbenchers have kept beating the impeachment drum, it hadn’t really filtered up into the ranks of top leaders and presidential candidates.

After the release of the Mueller report, that’s changing. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the first big-name 2020 candidate to come out in favor of impeachment, and on Monday Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) joined her.

In some ways, it’s a wonder it’s taken this long…

But while the vast majority of Democratic voters have told pollsters they favor impeachment, there hasn’t really been a national movement. Part of that was because everyone was waiting to see the Mueller report, and part of that was that there really hasn’t been a national leader for the movement.

Neither of those reasons applies any more.

Read more »


Paranoia, Lies and Fear: Trump’s Presidency Laid Bare by Mueller Report


In his highly anticipated report released to the public on Thursday, April 18th former FBI Director Robert Mueller painted a damning portrait of Trump in the White House outlining in a cinematic fashion 10 “episodes” of obstruction of justice evidence and jarring scenes of presidential scheming, paranoia, fear and fabrication of false record. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

The moment President Trump learned two years ago that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian election interference, he declared in the Oval Office, “This is the end of my presidency.”

Trump nearly made that a self-fulfilling prophecy as he then plotted for months to thwart the probe, spawning a culture of corruption and deception inside the White House.

Trump’s advisers rarely challenged him and often willingly did his bidding, according to the special counsel’s report released Thursday. But in some cases, they refused when Trump pushed them to the brink of committing outright crimes.

Trump ordered Donald McGahn to instigate special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing, but the White House lawyer decided he would resign rather than follow through.

Trump urged Corey Lewandowski to ask then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail the investigation, but his former campaign manager only delivered the message to an intermediary.

And Trump demanded that Reince Priebus procure Sessions’s resignation, but the White House chief of staff did not carry out the directive.

The vivid portrait that emerges from Mueller’s 448-page report is of a presidency plagued by paranoia, insecurity and scheming — and of an inner circle gripped by fear of Trump’s spasms. Again and again, Trump frantically pressured his aides to lie to the public, deny true news stories and fabricate a false record.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Read more »


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The Media is Failing Ethiopia

We are only a year away from a major and historic election season in Ethiopia, but is the media ready for the challenge ahead? “This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” Tsedale Lemma, editor of Addis Standard, told The Washington Post in a recent interview. “That is damaging, not just to the industry, not just media, but to the social cohesion in a country that’s deeply polarized, ethnicized and going through a fragile moment of transition.” Below is an excerpt from The Post article published on Sunday, April 21st, 2019. (Photo: Paul Schemm/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

After years of repression, Ethiopia’s media is free — and fanning the flames of ethnic tension

Ethiopia has been a rare bright spot of increased rights and democracy on a continent more known for leaders overstaying their mandates. Its progress in media freedom — there are no longer any imprisoned journalists — has been so dramatic that it was chosen to host World Press Freedom Day next month.

The changes have also prompted conflicts and unearthed long-buried grievances, often revolving around land and ethnicity. To many, a newly polarized press is making things worse.

In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, Ethi­o­pia rose 40 places, from 150 out of 180 countries to 110 — the biggest improvement this year in any country.

Next year, Ethi­o­pia will hold its first free elections in 15 years, and there are fears that the toxic media environment could lead to violence.

“This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” said Tsedale Lemma, editor of the English-language Addis Standard. “That is damaging, not just to the industry, not just media, but to the social cohesion in a country that’s deeply polarized, ethnicized and going through a fragile moment of transition.”

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


Related:
Ethiopian Selected as Official Carrier for 2019 World Press Freedom Day
Tadias Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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Music: Dexter Story’s ‘Bahir’ Featuring Hamelmal Abate is Tribute to Ethiopia

Dexter Story's new album features mesmerizing collaborations with diverse artists including Kibrom Birhane, Sudan Archives, Haile Supreme, Hamelmal Abate and Endeguena Mulu. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 22nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — One of the most captivating songs on Dexter Story’s latest album Bahir is called Shuruba, which is performed by the award-winning Ethiopian singer Hamelmal Abate.

“The songs are informed by my recent graduate studies on Africa and Ethnomusicology, and they feature vocalists and musicians whom I deeply respect and admire,” says Dexter who is a student at UCLA. In a recent interview with Afropunk the American musician also named Tilahun Gessesse, Bezunesh Bekele, Asnaketch Worku and Mahmoud Ahmed as some of his artistic influences.

“In light of the recent plane fatalities in Ethiopia and our nation’s focus building walls as opposed to bridges, I hope that Bahir touches hearts and brings a small measure of peace and healing to these challenging times,” Dexter added. “I am humbled by the positive response it has gotten and am grateful to everyone who has taken a moment to listen.”

In his interview with Afropunk Dexter shared that he initially saw Hamelmal perform live in L.A. during an Enkutatash celebration a few years back. “I watched her work the band and the audience into an incredibly high energy, while maintaining her poise and intonation to perfection,” he said. “She is from the beautiful multi-ethnic Eastern city of Harar and is considered one of the queens of Ethiopian music. I feel incredibly lucky that she is on Bahir.”

The other songs on Dexter’s new album include Techawit, Bila (featuring Kibrom Birhane), Gold (Sudan Archives), Ras (Haile Supreme), Mamdooh, Buna Be Chow (Jimetta Rose), Electric Gurage, Jijiga Jijiya (Marie Daulne), Chemin De Fer, Desta’s Groove, Shuruba Song (Hamelmal Abate), Bahir (Endeguena Mulu),
Abebaye (Marie Daulne).

As Afropunk notes: “Since beginning to record under his own name in 2012, Story has favored a kind of pan-African jazz/funk sound, drawing upon both the great LA music community and his ethnographic studies for inspiration and musical muscle. And the one sound that he’s taken to more than others, is the music of Ethiopia.”


You can learn more about Dexter Story and his new powerful album at https://dexterstory.bandcamp.com.

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Artnet News on Ethiopia’s Zoma Museum

‘It’s All About Life’: Ethiopia’s newest art museum doubles as an experiment in environmental sustainability. The Zoma Museum, an alternative arts and ecological institution in Addis Ababa, opened in March. (Photo by Michel Temteme, courtesy of Zoma Museum)

Artnet News

A museum made of mud and straw has opened its doors in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

When the Zoma Museum’s co-founders, curator Meskerem Assegued and architect Elias Sime, decided to build a museum in their home city 20 years ago, they knew they didn’t want it to be just another brick-and-mortar building with statement architecture. “As high-rise concrete and glass buildings are crowding the city with fewer and fewer green spaces, Elias and I felt strongly [about building] a large museum with huge garden where city dwellers can be connected to nature,” says Assegued, who is the museum’s director as well as an anthropologist.

To that end, the Zoma Museum, which opened its doors on March 23, is a low-lying, eco-sensitive arts center with farming plots, herb gardens, grazing animals, and traditional Ethiopian houses for artist residencies, workshops, and exhibitions. A small family of cows lives in an on-site stable, their dairy production supervised by a previous landowner. In short, it’s a haven.

Visitors to the museum “come to experience the sources of food,” which is cultivated on site at Zoma, Assegued says. It is both a literal source of nutrition and a symbolic one aimed at providing Ethiopians an alternate view of how to live in the increasingly crowded city. “Most children don’t know where milk comes from, so they come to see how cows are milked or smell the aroma of herbs. It is all about life and love.”

Read more »


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ABIY AHMED By Feyisa Lilesa (TIME)

In the following article published by Time magazine Ethiopian Olympic-silver-medalist marathoner Feyisa Lilesa honors Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who has been named one of Time's 100 most influential people of 2019. (Photo: Yonas Tadesse—Getty Images)

TIME

By Feyisa Lilesa

In 2016, the situation in Ethiopia was very bad. People were being killed and many were in jail, and I wanted the world to know what the government was doing. That’s why, during the 2016 marathon at the Rio Olympics, I crossed my wrists at the finish line—to symbolize that the Ethiopian people want to stop the killing, stop the jailing. We don’t want a dictatorship.

After that, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back. The government was killing dissidents. I missed my country; I missed my mother. She cried to me on the phone every day for two years.

Then last March, while I was training in Kenya, I heard that Dr. Abiy Ahmed would be the next Prime Minister. In Ethiopian history, we have never seen a leader like him. He’s an educated person who talks about unity. He has released thousands of people from jail. He brought peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of war. And he made it possible for me to come home.

Yes, people are still protesting. But now, when they protest, they aren’t going to jail. To me, that is democracy. That is hope.

See the full list at Time.com »


Related:
Photos: Ethiopia Honors Feyisa Lilesa

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Spotlight: #MeTooEthiopia “Assault is a Crime, not a Culture”

(Illustration: #MeTooEthiopia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 16th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Selemawit Tefera Kelbessa — a former Ethiopian Airlines hostess who had moved to the U.S. three years ago — was the victim of a heinous acid attack by one of her roommates in Maryland in 2018, and this past week she killed herself after having been hospitalized for nearly a year. This heartbreaking news reveals the pervasive gender-based violence that remains underreported by media outlets both in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Diaspora. However, a new and bold movement fueled by young grassroots activists has created an online platform under the hashtag “MeTooEthiopia” along with the unequivocal tagline: “Assault is a Crime, not a Culture.”

Accompanied with poignant photos and illustrations on its website the #MeTooEthiopia movement collects and shares witness testimonials that narrate the gut-wrenching processes of dealing with life-long trauma as a result of experiencing gender-based violence. The hope in this work is to break the silence around gender-based violence and prevent similar tragedies moving forward.

“Due to the severity and prevalence of such crimes, we see fit to stand on behalf of victims and bring attention to this issue,” the MeTooEthiopia organizers state on their website, emphasizing that the mission is to create awareness about “gender violence, childhood marriage and acid attack among Ethiopians around the globe” and “to provide a safe platform for victims and survivors to speak, and to connect victims with resources that can help them heal and take action.”

As BuzzFeed News highlighted in a feature last month “the spread of hashtags and testimonies across social media are forcing communities in Ethiopia and across the diaspora to confront a topic that has routinely been ignored. Created by Ethiopian American women in light of an explosive documentary about R. Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of minors, #MeTooEthiopia has shown hundreds of Ethiopian women and men that they are not the only ones carrying trauma as victims from sexual violence.”

BuzzFeed adds that “#MeTooEthiopia acknowledges the specific cultural barriers women face when it comes to speaking up about sexual violence: the shame surrounding it, and the difficulty of empowering women in a society that denounces feminism as a Western product that has no place in Ethiopian culture.”

While the current political climate in Ethiopia has included a new wave of female participation in top posts in the political sector, including appointing a female head of the Supreme Court, a female president, as well as having half the Cabinet positions filled by women politicians, there is plenty of work left to do to protect the rights of women and girls. Describing Ethiopia’s new leader in this era, PM Abiy Ahmed, BuzzFeed notes that “many believe he could be the first modern-day leader to actively champion women’s rights in the country. But movements like #MeTooEthiopia want to send a message loud and clear to Abiy and his cabinet: Gender parity in the government is not enough if women are still getting abused.”


Selemawit Tefera. (Photo: Facebook)

Describing Selamawit’s horrific attack #MeTooEthiopia shared that “in 2018, Selemawit lived with four Ethiopian male roommates in Hyattsville, Maryland. After finishing her shift on a Saturday evening, Selamawit returned to her house. She then entered the kitchen, where she came across one of her roomates: Bekre Abdela. Abdela was holding a container of sulfuric acid. He splashed the acid on her face and body. She stayed in a hospital for several months after suffering second and third-degree burns. Before Selamawit took her own life on April 12th, 2019, she was hospitalized for nearly a year and had undergone numerous skin grafts. She had permanently lost sight in her right eye. Her left eye had a chance of recovering, restoring parts of her vision, which was a good news for her as she planned to study Information Technology. She was planning to have reconstructive surgery, however, the funds were hard to come by. That was, until people began to raise funds for that, her living expenses and other medical bills.”

In a petition hosted on the Change.org website and addressed to PM Abiy, the group also stated: “We believe this matter deserves immediate and intensified action on all levels. From education to bringing cultural evolution to providing services and resources for the victims and ensuring those who inflict such harm be held accountable for these crimes.” So far, the petition has received over 3,000 signatures.

Despite the deep sadness felt in reading the testimonials on the #MeTooEthiopia site, there is an undercurrent of perseverance, dedication and willpower that is strongly present. It is time to bring this discussion to the forefront and #MeTooEthiopia sums up this spirit with this Instagram post: “We Can Do It!”

And we should!


You can learn more about #MeTooEthiopia at metooethiopia.com and sign the petition at www.change.org.

Related:
Setaweet: Addis Ababa is Home to a Burgeoning Women’s Movement

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Worknesh Degefa Wins Boston Marathon

Worknesh Degefa breaks the tape to win the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa cruises to Boston Marathon title

BOSTON (AP) — Worknesh Degefa had never set foot on the Boston Marathon course before she toed the start line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on Monday morning.

It didn’t stop the 28-year-old Ethiopian from conquering it on her first trip down the famed route.

Degefa broke away from the rest of the field early and ran alone for the last 20 miles to win the women’s Boston Marathon.

Degefa crossed the finish line in Boston’s Back Bay in a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds.

She is the eighth Ethiopian woman to win the race, and the third in seven years. Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat was second, coming in at 2:24:13. American Jordan Hasay was third, crossing the line in 2:25:20. Defending champion Des Linden, who represented the United States in the marathon at the past two Summer Olympics, finished fifth in 2:27:00.

“Winning the Boston Marathon is super special to me,” Degefa said. “Even though I’d never seen the course before, last year I watched all the marathon coverage. I kept that in my mind.”

And for most of the race she kept the rest of the field far behind her.


Worknesh Degefa wins the women’s division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo)

It was Degefa’s first major marathon victory. She won the Dubai Marathon in 2017, setting an Ethiopian national record.

Linden took advantage of a rainy and windy course with temperatures in the 30s to claim last year’s title in the slowest time for a women’s winner in Boston since 1978.

A heavy band of rain moved through Hopkinton at the start line about 6:30 a.m. but tapered to a drizzle and then stopped before the women’s race began. It didn’t rain during the race, allowing the Ethiopian and Kenyan contingents to push the pace.

A half marathon specialist, Degefa took her first lead after Mile 4 headed into Framingham, followed by Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba and Kenya’s Sharon Cherop. Degefa increased the margin between Mile 5 and 6 and opened a 20-second advantage by Mile 7.

“I knew that I had some speed, so I pushed myself after Mile 5,” Degefa said.

Degefa’s pace slowed in the final three miles and she looked behind her a few times to try to glimpse one of her fellow competitors.

Kiplagat became visible again in the distance around Mile 25, but there was no time for her to close the sizeable gap.

Despite not being able to get on the podium for a second straight year, Linden had a lot of support on the course. The crowd serenaded her with loud cheers when she was introduced. At the finish, a young girl held a sign that read “Des 4 Prez.”

On a day in which the marathon fell on April 15 for the first time since the April 15, 2013 bombings, Linden said it had lots of significance for the city and for herself.

“That run down Boylston was very special to me,” Linden said. “I feel like I’ve built a name for myself in this community with these fans and they really appreciate what I’ve done over the years.

“It’s also a sign that I’m pretty old that they actually know me now.”


Related:
Ethiopia Runners Sweep Paris Marathon

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US Elections 2020|In NJ Cory Booker Kicks Off Bid With Echo of MLK: “We can’t wait.”

U.S. presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker formally Kicked off his campaign in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey this past weekend with a speech that echoed the world famous Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “We can’t wait.” (Photo: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) takes a selfie with his supporters during a hometown kickoff for his presidential campaign in downtown Newark on Saturday, April 13th, 2019/AP)

The Washington Post

Sen. Cory Booker formally joins presidential race with an echo of Martin Luther King Jr.: “We can’t wait.”

NEWARK — Speaking in the rejuvenated downtown of the city he helmed as mayor for seven years, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) offered himself as an optimistic and hopeful counterpoint to President Trump who would heal political and social toxicity that Booker said extends far beyond the White House.

Like most of the Democrats running for president, he mentioned Trump sparingly in his remarks during his hometown kickoff — and then only as a symptom of a more pervasive problem in American society.

“We can’t wait when powerful forces are turning their prejudice into policy and rolling back the rights that generations of Americans fought for and died for,” he told the crowd of 4,100…

“And we can’t wait because many of our most serious challenges as a nation were with us long before Donald Trump entered the White House.”

Booker, the mayor of New Jersey’s largest city from 2006 until 2013, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, finds himself solidly in the middle of a presidential pack that now numbers 18. Booker raised more than $5 million in the two months since he announced his bid for the presidency, a number that places him behind other high-profile aspirants like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Read more »


Corey Booker begins tour for president with ‘hometown kickoff’

UPI

April 13 (UPI) — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker began a two-week tour for president with a “hometown kickoff” Saturday in Newark, N.J., where still has a house and was mayor.

A crowd of around 4,000 to 5,000 people, according to police, turned out at Military Park for a campaign stretch billed as a “justice for all tour” — including criminal, economic and environmental. Because the supporters were slow in arriving, Booker’s speech was delayed by one hour, CNN reported.

Booker, who was elected senator in November 2012 after serving two terms as Newark’s mayor, announced his candidacy for president on Feb. 1 by emailing supporting with an email announcement.

Booker was the eighth Democrat to announce he was running for president. The Democratic field has ballooned to 17 other candidates, including six U.S. senators. He is backed by 3.8 percent of voters, according to RealClearPolitics, way behind 31.1 percent for Joe Biden, who hasn’t announced he is running for president, and 21.2 percent for Bernie Sanders, who ran in 2016 for president. All of the other candidates are in single digits.

“Together, we will fulfill our pledge to be a nation of liberty and justice for all,” Booker said in downtown Newark. “Together, we will win. And together, America, we will rise.”

Booker next plans to campaign in Iowa, Georgia and Nevada. He will be focusing on communities that have been left out, according to his campaign.

RELATED Democrats begin reporting funding totals; Sanders hauls $18.2M
“Too many people believe the forces that are tearing us apart are stronger than the bonds that hold us together. I don’t believe that,” the 50-year-old Booker told his supporters. “I believe we will achieve things that other people say are impossible. I believe we will make justice real for all.”

Booker, the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the chamber, mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, and its declaration that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

“We are here today to say, we can’t wait,” Booker said.

Read more »


Related:
Addisu Demissie to Manage Cory Booker’s 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign

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In Pictures: Amsale Spring 2020 Bridal Runway Show

Amsale released four Spring 2020 collections during Bridal Fashion Week in NYC on Friday, April 12th, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 14th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Amsale New York unveiled its Spring 2020 collections during Bridal Fashion Week on Friday, April 12th in New York City. The wedding brand that was launched by the late Ethiopian-American fashion designer Amsale Aberra, who passed away last year, also announced the launch of its new ecommerce website as well as the Amsale Retailer Partner Program and the incorporation of 3-D technology into its design and development process.

“The newly debuted program is a revolutionary app-driven initiative to reward brick-and-mortar retailers with their fair share of ecommerce revenue and align the interest of the stores, the bride and the brand to ensure that the consumer has a seamless and convenient shopping experience,” the company said in a press release.

The Amsale x You collection was among the latest designs featured at the Spring 2020 runway show as well as online.

“Amsale was an early adopter of CAD design tools in its development process, endowing it with
a digital database of 32 years of perfected couture design patterns. Amsale’s most celebrated couture
dress designs from its library are now accessible and have empowered brides to choose, using a simple
interactive tool, the elements that best reflect their personal style,” added the press release. “With Amsale x You, we virtually invite the bride into our design room, to peruse our library and empower her to design her own bespoke wedding dress,” said Sarah Swann, Chief Creative Officer of Amsale New York.

Additional Amasale collections that were revealed at the fashion show included Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale and Little White Dress.

Below are photos from the Amsale Spring 2020 Bridal Runway Show held in New York City on Friday, April 12th:


Related:
Tribute to Legacy of Amsale Aberra

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Ethiopia Runners Sweep Paris Marathon

All smiles - Gelete Burka after winning the Paris Marathon (Getty Images)

IAAF

Abrha Milaw and Gelete Burka Take Paris Marathon Titles

Ethiopia’s Abrha Milaw and Gelete Burka prevailed at the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, whose 43rd edition took place on Sunday (14).

Milaw clocked 2:07:05 for a comfortable 20-second victory over compatriot Asefa Mengistu while Burka crossed the line in 2:22:47, five seconds clear of another Ethiopian, Azmera Gebru.

With his victory, Milaw put an end to Paul Lonyangata’s dominance in Paris, the 26-year-old Kenyan who was looking for a third successive victory in the French capital, a would-be record. Lonyangata had picked up a slight injury last week when he slipped and fell in training, but it wasn’t a big enough setback to keep him from the start line…


Abrha Milaw after his victory at the Paris Marathon (Getty Images)

Milaw made a big surge with three kilometres remaining, building a four-second gap on Lonyangata and Mengistu, and nine on Gachaga, at 40km, hit in 2:00:30.

He forged on unchallenged to secure the 2:07:05 victory, clipping 20 seconds from his previous best and sealing a second successive French road success after his win at the Nice-Cannes Marathon last November.

“The conditions were tough,” Milaw simply said.

Mengistu, a past winner in Seoul, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, came home second in 2:07:25, well outside his personal best, while Lonyangata rounded the podium in 2:07:29, 1:19 slower than the time he clocked last year.

Morhad Amdouni, the European 10,000m champion, was the first Frenchman, finishing eighth in 2:09:14 in his debut over the distance.

Burka impresses with blistering kick

The women’s race was as fierce as expected…Burka, who was the fastest woman in the field, lived up to her favourite’s role to capture her second marathon victory in 2:22:47. Grebu finished five seconds in arrears as Abreha came home third in 2:23:35, six seconds ahead of Calvin whose 2:23:41 performance broke the French national record.

Read the full article at IAAF.org »


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Ethiopia’s ‘Roof of Africa’ Forest Burns: Israel Joins Fire Combat

A wildfire burning in Ethiopia's Semien National Park. (Photo via Africa News)

Africa News

Israeli firefighters are the latest addition to a growing list of experts in Ethiopia to help authorities deal with a rampaging forest fire that has hit the Semien National Park in the northern Amhara region.

Fire have been raging in parts of the historic national park for the past few months but it wasn’t until last week that external intervention was sought for to combat the crisis.

Experts from South Africa, Kenya and France were among the first to offer their assistance as of last week. Media reports quoting an Amhara regional state official said after weeks of battling fires, a renewed forest fire had broken out as of April 9.

The Times of Israel said the team joining the efforts “is being led by Zion Shenkar, who was born in Ethiopia and was the Israel Defense Force’s first-ever battalion commander from the Ethiopian community.”

Local media portal, Addis Standard added that the fire has been on and off for the last two weeks with efforts aimed at controlling it largely unsuccessful. South Africa agreed to send six firefighter planes to help.

Kenya which is also dealing with a similar case in the Mount Kenya area could not deliver on its promised assistance as at close of last week. The regional state president admitted yesterday that the issue had gotten beyond their control and needed federal intervention.

The nature of gorges and the landscape of the area is also said to be a major contributory factor that largely hampered earlier efforts at extinguishing the blaze.

A BBC reporter said: volunteers and residents had joined in the effort to put out the blaze. Another fire broke out in the park last month, destroying 340 hectares (840 acres) of forest and grass. The cause of the fires have yet to be established.

Read more »


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Los Angeles: Nipsey Hussle, A Hometown Hero, Immortalized at Memorial

People watch as a hearse carrying the casket of slain rapper Nipsey Hussle passes Hussle's clothing store The Marathon, Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Los Angeles. Hussle’s casket, draped in the flag of his father’s native country, Eritrea, embarked on a 25-mile tour of the city after his memorial service, drawing thousands to the streets to catch a glimpse of the recently-anointed hometown hero. (AP Photo)

AP

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. and MESFIN FEKADU

LOS ANGELES — Nipsey Hussle’s legacy as a persistent rapper, community activist, uniter, doting father, protective sibling and a loving son were underscored at his public memorial service on Thursday, with deeply personal testimonies from those closest to the rapper, including his actress-fiancee Lauren London, collaborator and dear friend Snoop Dogg and his mother, who said she was at peace with the death of her “superhero” son.

Beyonce and Jay-Z were among the big-name celebrities who attended the three-hour event in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, where the last celebrity funeral held at the concert arena was Michael Jackson’s in 2009.

The arena was packed with more than 21,000 fans and drove home the important impact Hussle — just 33 when he died — had on his city and the rest of the world.

“I’m very proud of my son. My son Ermias Joseph Asghedom was a great man,” said Angelique Smith, dressed in all white. Standing onstage with Hussle’s father, Dawit Asghedom, she declared: “Ermias was a legacy.”

London, who was in dark sunglasses, was emotional but stood strong onstage as she told the audience: “I’ve never felt this type of pain before.”

London called Hussle “majestic” and “brilliant” and said she had learned so much from his presence. She added that though she was hurting, she was really sad for their son Kross, whom she feared wouldn’t remember his dad: “My pain is for my 2-year-old.”

Snoop Dogg’s words to immortalize his friend were both serious and silly, as he told old stories about Hussle and their brotherhood.

“This a tough one right here,” he said, visibly shaken but keeping his composure.

Snoop thanked Hussle’s parents multiple times and told his father that “you picked up another son in me.”

Hussle’s father said he knew his son was strong because when he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck but he prevailed.

“He was a fighter,” he said.

Earlier in the ceremony, Hussle’s children also appeared onstage to pay tribute. London’s son with rapper Lil Wayne, Cameron Carter, said days after Hussle died, he had a dream he saw the rapper.

“I realized Ermias told me what heaven was like. He told me it was paradise,” Cameron said.

Cameron then told the audience that Hussle would look at him through the window at times and say “respect.” Cameron then asked the crowd to say “respect” in unison, and they complied.


Nipsey Hussle

Hussle was slain last month in front of a store that he tried to use to empower his South Los Angeles neighborhood. The public memorial service kicked off by paying respect to Hussle the rapper, as songs from his latest Grammy-nominated album, “Victory Lap,” filled the arena.

“Everybody put your hands in the air,” the DJ said as one of Hussle’s songs played. “It’s a celebration.”

Indeed, his mother danced in the aisle as R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius sang the Mariah Carey song “Fly Like a Bird” while fighting back tears. “This is for Nipsey y’all,” Ambrosius said before she started as she tried to gain her composure, sighing heavily.

But soon the focus was squarely on the person behind the persona. A montage of photos featuring the rapper from infancy, childhood and adulthood, with fellow rappers, his family and London, were shown to the crowd, set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

Stevie Wonder was the last performer to pay tribute to Hussle, who he said he had the chance to meet, saying: “We had a good conversation.” Before he sang “Rocket Song,” one of Hussle’s favorites, Wonder denounced gun violence and told the audience “there’s enough people being killed by guns and violence.”

Anthony Hamilton invoked the spirit of a church service when he performed in Hussle’s honor. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan hailed Hussle’s ability to bring different factions together. And blogger and media figure Karen Civil read a letter sent by former U.S. President Barack Obama, who wrote that he never met Nipsey but heard of his music through his daughters.

“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going. He chose to invest in that community rather than to ignore it,” the Obama letter read. “He set an example for young people to follow and is a legacy worth of celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it. Michelle and I send our sympathies to Lauren, Emani, Kross and his whole family and to all those who love Nipsey.”

Father Thomas Uwal read a scripture in Tigrinya — the native language in Eritrea, the African country where Hussle’s father was from. Uwal spoke of Hussle being “proud to be an Eritrean-American,” later saying to the late rapper’s family: “On behalf of all Eritreans … we say our condolences to you.”


A makeshift memorial site for Nipsey Hussle is filled with candles outside The Marathon Clothing store. (AP photo)

Books with an image of Hussle on the cover were handed out to service attendees. The book of nearly 100 pages contained numerous photos of Hussle with London, his children, and friends like Russell Westbrook and Snoop Dogg. It also had heartfelt messages from Rick Ross, The Game and LeBron James.

“I’ve never cried myself to sleep over any public figure before, but Nipsey’s presence meant so much for our community,” actress Issa Rae said in her message inside the book.

The hearse carrying Hussle’s coffin went through a 25-mile (40-kilometer) lap through the city, including past the property where Hussle had planned to turn an aging strip mall into new businesses and affordable homes.

Thousands of people crowded the streets, some on bicycles and motorcycles, following and surrounding the vehicle as it slowly wound its way to the funeral home. The silver Cadillac passed the rapper’s childhood home in Watts. It came to a halt at times, unable to move in the vast crowd of people.

Police kept an eye on the crowd, which appeared largely peaceful. At one point, people sat atop a police car spray-painted with the words: “Nips in Paradise.”

At one point during the procession, there was a brief stampede, apparently because of some kind of startling noise that may have been Mylar balloons popping. The Fire Department said several power lines were downed by the metalized balloons. There also were reports of people feeling unwell from the heat and the packed conditions. The Fire Department said it treated 15 people, including five who were taken to local hospitals.

There were reports of leg pain and dehydration but no reports of major injuries, fire officials said.

The hearse finally arrived Wednesday evening at a funeral home in the city’s hard-scrabble Crenshaw district, where the rapper was born on Aug. 15, 1985.

Hussle was shot to death March 31 while standing outside The Marathon, his South Los Angeles clothing store, not far from where the rapper grew up.

Eric R. Holder Jr., who has been charged with killing Hussle, has pleaded not guilty. Police have said Holder and Hussle had several interactions the day of the shooting and have described it as being the result of a personal dispute.

For a decade, Hussle released much sought-after mixtapes that he sold out of the trunk of his car, helping him create a buzz and gain respect from rap purists and his peers. His said his stage name, a play on the 1960s and ’70s rhyming standup comic Nipsey Russell, was given to him as a teen by an older friend because he was such a go-getter — always hustling.

Last year he hit new heights with “Victory Lap,” his critically acclaimed major-label debut album on Atlantic Records that made several critics’ best-of lists. The album debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s 200 albums charts and earned him a Grammy nomination.

But the rapper was also a beloved figure for his philanthropic work that went well beyond the usual celebrity “giving back” ethos. Following his death, political and community leaders were as quick and effusive in their praise as his fellow hip-hop artists.

His family and friends vowed to continue his work, and London told the crowd: “The marathon continues!”

Associated Press Writers Andrew Dalton, Amanda Myers and John Rogers contributed to this report.
___

In Ethiopia Candlelight Vigil Held for Slain Eritrean American Artist Nipsey Hussle


Hundreds of Ethiopians and Eritreans living in Addis Ababa attended a memorial service for Eritrean American rapper, Nipsey Hussle who was shot dead last month near a clothes shop he owned in Los Angeles. (AFP)

AFP

Ethiopians bid farewell to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle

Addis Ababa — With poems and speeches, Ethiopians have held an emotional farewell for murdered rapper Nipsey Hussle, whose roots in neighbouring Eritrea won him admirers in both countries.

Known for his Grammy-nominated debut album, Hussle was shot dead last week in front of the clothing store he owned in the US city of Los Angeles, whose violence-plagued neighbourhoods he had tried to revitalise.

On Friday, 29-year-old Eric Holder pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder over the shooting that also wounded two other men.

At the Saturday evening memorial in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Hussle was remembered as a rare entertainer who bridged his American upbringing with his roots in the Horn of Africa.

“When we heard there’s an Eritrean rapper out there, we were fans before we heard his music,” said Ambaye Michael Tesfay, who eulogised Hussle at the event held in a darkened parking lot. “He was an icon for us.”

Before his 2018 debut album “Victory Lap” scored a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album, Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, had won the attention of rap fans from both Ethiopia and Eritrea for his embrace of his father’s Eritrean heritage.

Eritrea was a province of Ethiopia until 1993, when it voted for independence after a decades-long independence struggle, but both countries still have close cultural and family ties.

“It’s just really tragic what happened,” said Tezeta Solomon, an Ethiopian living in Los Angeles who attended the memorial in Addis Ababa.

“When he first came out, we were all so excited. To know there was a habesha rapper out there definitely sparked some pride,” she said, using a common term to describe people from the Horn of Africa.

Hussle embraced his Eritrean heritage, visiting the country last year and telling state media, “More than anything I am proud of being Eritrean.”

Read more »


Nipsey Hussle’s Eritrean American Dream (The Atlantic)


As the staff writer for The Atlantic magazine Hannah Giorgis highlights in the following article: “The slain rapper, who was known for his investment in his Los Angeles community, also inspired fans and fellow musicians who share his East African heritage.” (Getty Images)

The Atlantic

By HANNAH GIORGIS

Updated: APR 4, 2019

In April 2018, the Los Angeles–born street rapper Nipsey Hussle traveled to his father’s native Eritrea for the first time in 14 years. The trip found the musician, née Ermias Davidson Asghedom, both contemplative and triumphant: After a prolific run of mixtapes spanning more than a decade, the fiercely independent artist had recently released his major-label studio debut, Victory Lap. (The February 2018 record, which debuted at No. 4, would later earn him a nomination for Best Rap Album at this year’s Grammys.)

While in the East African country, Hussle and his brother, Samiel “Blacc Sam” Asghedom, followed their father’s lead: They traveled to historical sites and met the country’s divisive president; they were blessed by their 90-year-old grandmother with himbasha, the slightly sweet bread most often served during celebrations. Hussle was also interviewed by a number of state-run media outlets. In one interview, which was posted to Eritrea’s Ministry of Information website, the Eritrean journalist Billion Temesghen told the musician that his listeners, particularly those on the continent, saw his hard-won successes as their own. Hussle’s response at the time was gracious and affirming. “I want to thank my Eritrean fans for feeling connected to me and for supporting me. I feel extremely grateful,” he replied. “I am going to keep coming back here and make frequent returns … Thank you for keeping my name alive out here.”

But now, less than a year later, Hussle’s connection to his fans, Eritrean and American alike, has taken on a far more tragic valence. On Sunday afternoon, Hussle was fatally shot outside the store he co-owned in South L.A., the neighborhood Hussle celebrated in his music, advocacy, and philanthropic ventures. The Los Angeles Police Department has since apprehended a suspect in the case, but the rapper and activist’s killing remains a devastating blow to his family and to fans around the world, many of whom have likened him to the late Tupac Shakur.

Read more »


How Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) Connected to His Eritrean Roots


Grammy-nominated Eritrean-American rapper Nipsey Hussle whose real name was Ermias Asghedom was shot and killed on Sunday outside the clothing store he founded in Los Angeles. He was 33. (Getty Images)

CNN

Rapper Nipsey Hussle’s death in a shooting near his clothing store was greeted with shock and disbelief by celebrities and fans alike.

The 33-year-old musician, real name Ermias Davidson Asghedom, was shot dead in an attack on Sunday that also left two others injured.

The city of Los Angeles where he grew up and dedicated his life to helping kids break out of the cycle of gang violence mourned his passing.

But somewhere, thousands of miles away in east Africa, Nipsey’s death was felt even more keenly by the people of Eritrea.

His father, Nipsey once said, fled a war in Eritrea to settle in the US.

Hussle visited Eritrea twice in his lifetime: first as an 18-year-old when he spent three months and most recently in April 2018.

With his brother Samiel and their dad, Hussle met the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and sat down with the Ministry of Information’s website for a wide-ranging interview about his life and experiences growing up in Los Angeles in a culture of gang violence.

Then he spoke of his love for Eritrea and his desire to connect with his extended family after fourteen years since his last visit.

“I am here to visit my family and reconnect with my grandmother, my cousins and everybody else,” Hussle said during the interview.

“I love to be here. The people, the food, the culture, and the lifestyle are extremely good.”

During his trip back to his father’s country, Hussle also visited a local textile factory in the capital Asmara to explore business opportunities.

Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Meskel led the tributes to Hussle after news of his death broke.

Read more »


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Spotlight: Mehret Mandefro’s ‘The Loving Generation’ up for Webby Award

Mehret Mandefro is the co-Director and co- Producer of the documentary 'The Loving Generation' that has been nominated for the 2019 Webby People’s Voice Award. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 11th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The last time we featured Mehret Mandefro in Tadias she was promoting the award-winning film Difret at a screening in New York, which was attended by the movie’s real-life inspirations Aberash Bekele as well as her lawyer Meaza Ashenafi who is now the head of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court.

In prior years we had also selected Mehret as part of our 2012 women’s history month profile and highlighted her background as a physician, filmmaker, anthropologist and social change activist as well as a former White House Fellow during the Obama administration.

In her latest film project The Loving Generation — which she co-directed and produced with Lacey Schwartz — Mehret who is now based in Ethiopia and works as an Executive Producer and Social Impact Director for Kana Television, tackles the still archaic view of race here in the U.S.

The press release about the documentary notes that “The Loving Generation tells the story of how a generation of Americans born to one black and one white parent experience race and identity in a divided United States.” The film takes its title from the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, that struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the country, and focuses on people born between 1965 and 1985. The documentary is the “first series of its kind to train a lens on this particular generation of Americans, many of whom have become recognized leaders in their respective fields.”

Mehret shares that The Loving Generation has been nominated for The Webby People’s Voice Award and voting by the public is currently underway. According to its website the award, which the New York Times has dubbed “The Internet’s highest honor,” recognizes 7 categories of media projects including websites, video, apps, games, and podcasts. “Members of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) select the nominees for both awards in each category, as well as the winners of The Webby Awards,” states the award website. “In the spirit of the open Web, The Webby People’s Voice is awarded by the voting public. Each year, The Webby People’s Voice Awards garners millions of votes from all over the world.”


You can learn more and vote for ‘The Loving Generation’ at https://vote.webbyawards.com.

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Photos: Ethiopia Honors Feyisa Lilesa

Olympian Feyisa Lilesa received a well-deserved heroes honor in Ethiopia on April 9th, 2019 while meeting with PM Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde, and was also awarded $17,000 USD for garnering Ethiopia a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. (Photo: Office of the Prime Minister @PMEthiopia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 10th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — One of the key moments that occurred during the nation-wide civil unrest in Ethiopia in the last few years, prior to current reforms, included Olympic marathoner and silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa’s symbolic protest at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil. The photo of Feyisa crossing the finish line with his hands crossed over his head — already a popular act of protest among the youth in Ethiopia — reverberated across the world. He then repeated the protest sign at a follow-up press conference and refused to return home, fearful of government reprisal.

As Feyisa’s daring protest brought immediate global attention to the festering crisis in his native country, the athlete sought political asylum in the United States. Feyisa returned to Ethiopia this past October following the new Prime Minsiter Abiy Ahmed’s call for exiled Ethiopians to come home.

On Tuesday Feyisa received a well-deserved heroes honor in Ethiopia while meeting with PM Abiy and President Sahle-Work Zewde, and was also awarded $17,000 USD for garnering Ethiopia a silver medal at the Olympics.

Below are photos tweeted by PM Abiy’s office:


(Photo: @PMEthiopia)


Related:
2016 in Pictures: Tadias Year in Review
In Pictures: Feyisa Lilesa’s Daring Protest Reminiscent of 1968 Olympics

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US-Ethiopia Launch $4m Justice Project

(Picture Courtesy: U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

Press Release

U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia

The United States and Ethiopia Launch New $4 Million Project to Improve Rule of Law Institutions

Today, the United States announced the launch of its new two-year, $4 million Feteh project to support the strengthening of independent rule of law institutions in Ethiopia. Feteh (meaning “justice” in Amharic) is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and will provide technical support to the Attorney General’s Office and the Supreme Court’s efforts to expand their independent decision-making and oversight capacity.

USAID’s Feteh project will strengthen the overall capacity of the Attorney General Office (AGO) directorates and agencies, and provide technical support to the AGO advisory council and secretariat for their ongoing legislative initiatives. The project will also support the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia in its efforts to strengthen commercial benches, revise various framework laws – including the Law on Judicial Administration and the Law on Federal Courts – and enhance its case flow management to improve efficiency.

President of the Supreme Court Meaza Ashenafi joined USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick and Ambassador Michael Raynor to announce the new collaboration at a launch event in the capital city.

“Today, we are opening a new chapter in our partnership. The United States is committed to investing in the capacity of Ethiopian legal institutions to achieve their goals of ensuring free and fair elections, promoting human rights, citizen engagement, and greater representation,” said USAID Deputy Administrator Glick.

The United States has invested approximately $4 billion in development and humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia over the past five years to enable people across the country lead healthier and more prosperous lives.


Related:
Q&A: Ethiopia’s First Female Chief Justice Says “Women Shouldn’t Be Silent Victims”

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Diaspora & Migration: A Reading List

The Pen America reading list includes Maaza Mengiste's novel 'Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.' (Photo: Pen)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 9th, 2019

Diaspora & Migration: A Reading List By PEN America

New York (TADIAS) — PEN America has released a great reading list, which includes Maaza Mengiste’s novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, in preparation for its upcoming book talk highlighting a new anthology on refugee lives. The anthology titled The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives features a collection of writings by 17 refugee writers compiled by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen and includes a submission by Ethiopian American author Maaza Mengeste.

According to PEN: “As a response to President Trump’s 2017 action of closing borders from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Viet Thanh Nguyen edited a collection of eclectic refugee voices to refute stereotypes. With essential voices from around the globe, this clamorous assortment of essays reminds readers of our cosmopolitan society and the need to maintain empathy with our global neighbors.”

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: A Novel, Maaza Mengiste

“This historical fiction shines light on the Ethiopian revolution of the 1970s—a moment often glossed over in the Western world—while crafting a gripping original story. Mengiste contrasts mellifluous, emotive language with grandiose, often grotesque, depictions of civil war. A tribute to the importance of love and family even in the grimmest times, this novel is a testament to human resilience.”


Maaza Mengiste. (Photo: M.M.LaFleur)

Maaza, whose upcoming second novel The Shadow King is scheduled to be released in September 2019, was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. Maaza is also the “writer for the Ethiopia segment of GIRL RISING,” a feature film that tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 developing countries around the world. Maaza’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and Lettre International.


If You Go:
PEN Out Loud: Viet Thanh Nguyen and Maaza Mengiste
Friday, April 26, 2019 at 7:00PM
Strand Book Store
Rare Book Room, 3rd Floor
828 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
Click here to buy tickets

Related:
Timely New Book ‘The Coffeehouse Resistance’ by Owner of Buunni Cafe

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