Author Archive for Tadias

Ethiopian-American Nate Araya’s New Film Explores Africans In The Diaspora

The director of 'Sincerely, Ethiopia,' Nate Araya, is back with another movie series, this time exploring the state of mental health in the U.S. in his new film entitled 'Growing Up In America.' (Photo: Nate Araya)

Konbini

In 2011, budding filmmaker and Ethiopian-American, Nate Araya made waves when he tackled the public’s negative perceptions of his homeland, Ethiopia, by making a documentary — Sincerely, Ethiopia — that displayed a more positive portrayal of Ethiopian life and culture.

The documentary was released in 2013, and since then Nate has gone on to make many impactful documentaries, championing the realities of Africans in the diaspora.

His latest work, Growing Up In America is a travel-based documentary series exploring different parts of American cities, cultures and conversations surrounding the underrepresented communities in America.

Nate describes the series as a “purpose project”, saying:

“This project is an extension of my life work to become a solution to the problems I see within my culture and community today.

We can either complain about the problems or contribute towards a solution. This is small contribution. A purpose project.

[I hope] that it can become a voice for the silent issues we face and a light for the many solutions ahead.”

The first episode of the series focuses on mental health in minority communities. Nate visits a local barbershop in Austin, Texas to better understand the views of mental health from the minds of young game changers, artists and professionals.

The episode includes a featured interview from National Institute of Mental Health Psychiatric Nurse, Ledet Muleta, who discusses the state of mental health within the black, immigrant and first-generation community. The series is set to be released on Nate’s website and his YouTube page.

Watch the trailer for the first episode below:


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Shops Bustling Once Again at Ethiopia-Eritrea Border

(© AFP | In the Eritrean town of Senafe traders are now doing good business)

AFP

With border open, Ethiopia and Eritrea are back in business

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA BORDER (ETHIOPIA) – For two decades, little besides soldiers, refugees and rebels moved across Ethiopia and Eritrea’s closed border, but today the once-barren no man’s land teems with activity.

Horse-drawn carts, buses full of visitors and trucks piled high with bricks and plywood make their way across the frontier, watched by relaxed soldiers from the two nations’ armies who just months ago stared each other down from trenches carved into the rocky soil.

After 20 years of bloody conflict and grim stalemate, the Ethiopia-Eritrea border is bustling once again, revitalising frontier towns and allowing the countries’ long-estranged populations to reacquaint themselves.

“We have everything we didn’t have before, from the smallest to the biggest products,” said Abraham Abadi, a merchant in the Eritrean town of Senafe whose shop is now filled with biscuits, drinks and liquor made in Ethiopia.

Read more »


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In Pictures: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week

Sebeatu by designer Muse Legesse and Roots in Style by Tigist Seife. (courtesy of HAFW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – The 2018 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week took place in Ethiopia’s capital city last week. This year’s runway show, which was held on October 3rd at Millennium Hall, highlighted a diverse collection of local and international designers.

Below are photos courtesy of Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week:

Samra Leather by Samrawit Mersiehazen:

Ayni’s by Aynalem Ayele:

Roots in Style by Tigist Seife:

Precious design by Nasra Mustofa:

Meron Addis Ababa by Meron Seid:

Lali by Lemlem Haile Michael:

ZAAF by Abai Schulze:

Wuwi Couture by Egla Negusse:

Sebeatu by Muse Legesse:

Aleph Design by Meseret Teferra:

Yefikir by Fikerte Addis:

Tseday Design by Tseday Kebede:

Komtare by Dawit Ketema:

Kahindo (Democratic Republic of the Congo):

Basse (Senegal ):

ArtC (Morocco):

Alaoui M’hammdi Amina (Morocco):


Related:
2017 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week in Pictures
Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2016
Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2015
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

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Spotlight: Professor Lemma Senbet to Focus on Ethiopian Diaspora After Successfully Leading AERC

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park has returned to the United States after five years leading the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), based in Nairobi, Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 12th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – After a successful five-year term as the head of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) — a Kenya-based non-profit organization that conducts independent research concerning the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa – Professor Lemma W. Senbet, an internationally recognized leader in finance studies has returned to continue teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“I am now back in Washington from an incredibly satisfying five-year Africa journey in the service of the Motherland,” Professor Lemma told Tadias. Before leaving the U.S. to lead AERC Lemma had shared with us in an interview that he “will be embarking on strategies for full global integration of AERC and its visibility beyond Africa as an organization that is at the cutting edge of best policy research practices.”

In 2015 under his leadership AERC received the highest possible rating as the most transparent think tank in the world. According to a report released by Transparify AERC was one of 31 major centers of research worldwide, out of 169 examined, that was given a five-star rating. The list included several American policy research establishments such as the Center for Global Development, Pew Research Center, Stimson Center, Woodrow Wilson Center and the World Resources Institute.

Last year Dr. Lemma was also one of the presenters during a high–level panel held in Rome, Italy comprising of representatives and experts from the G7 and selected African think tanks. The conference “focused on Africa and addressed three key issues related to Agenda 2030: food security, innovation and mobility.”

Now back in the U.S. Professor Lemma shares that his next steps involve working with the recently formed Diaspora committee that will help to raise funds for Ethiopia. His background as an economist as well as his non-political, non-partisan and fact-based approach to complex issues will certainly bring a much-needed skill set to the group — which also includes several highly qualified individuals whose work we have previously featured in Tadias such as Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, retired United Nations official; Elias Wondimu, Publisher of Tsehai Publishers; Dr. Menna Demissie, Vice President of Police Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; and Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director of Black Rhino Group & Executive Advisory and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure.

In his departing speech to his colleagues at AERC, Professor Lemma told his audience that he will continue to advocate for Africa once he returns to the U.S. and he has already hit the ground running.

Watch: Closing Remarks – AERC Executive Director Prof Lemma Senbet


Related:
Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking
Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

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Michelle Obama’s vacation is over. Now she’s claiming her own spotlight. (Video)

Former first lady Michelle Obama prepares to take the stage during a When We All Vote rally at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas. Obama, the founder and co-chairwoman of the organization, spoke at the September rally with over 2,000 volunteers and eligible voters present. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Twenty-one months after she left the White House, Michelle Obama is returning to public life feeling purposeful and invigorated. She launched, within weeks, high-profile social initiatives on voting and girls education while preparing for a mega-book tour unlike any book tour, well, ever.

Fans already have purchased tens of thousands of tickets to hear Obama share stories from her memoir, “Becoming,” in basketball arenas in 10 cities. Combined with the celebrity-laden rollouts of her latest projects, the former first lady is demonstrating a mix of uncommon star-power and bankability while advancing themes that have long mattered to her.

Obama, 54, feels liberated after a decade in an unrelenting political spotlight where she was tethered to her husband’s career and a White House role marked by both opportunities and constraints alike, say those who know her well. They say she is reveling in the chance to develop meaningful pursuits entirely her own.

“The possibilities are infinite,” said longtime friend and former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who describes Obama as fired-up and happy. “Now she’s able to lead her best life and to create and own it in her own image.”

Today on a New York television stage, Obama unveiled a project intended to help educate tens of millions of adolescent girls denied the chance to finish high school. The Global Girls Alliance, developed quietly over the past year, scored an hour of coverage on NBC’s “Today Show,” ending with a concert by Jennifer Hudson, Meghan Trainor and Kelly Clarkson.

Read more »


Related:
Michelle Obama to young voters: ‘It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead’

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Celebrating International Day of the Girl with Girls Gotta Run Foundation

Girls Gotta Run Foundation celebrates International Day of the Girl with Virtual Relay (Photo Courtesy: GGRF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — October 11th is International Day of the Girl, and Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF), which works in Bekoji and Soddo in Ethiopia, is joining the global celebration with the launch of their Day of the Girl Virtual Relay to raise funds for GGRF athletic scholars set to run an ultra relay in January 2019.

“RUN anywhere you are in the world on October 11th in honor of International Day of the Girl and join runners across the globe by logging your miles on Strava or with Ragnar Relay,” states the event announcement. “CELEBRATE girl changemakers in Ethiopia by sharing your run on social media using #DayoftheGirlRelay, making a donation to GGRF in honor of the inspiring women in your life, or joining us in Ethiopia for the first ever GGRF Bekoji Ultra Relay in January 2019.”

In London, GGRF is co-hosting a panel discussion with the Tate Modern focusing on the power of collaboration among organizations “to empower girls and women around the world.
” Panel speakers include: Daniel Demissie, Filmmaker of Town of Runners documentary; Dora Atim and Jessie Zapotechne, Girl Effect Run Leaders, and Kayla Nolan, Executive Director of Girls Gotta Run Foundation. The London event also features photography and artwork by GGRF athletic scholars.

Since 2007 GGRF has been working at the grassroots level in four key areas to improve the lives of girls, ages 11-18, in Ethiopia by providing athletic scholarships and increasing access to education, while creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and savings for mothers.

The organization’s vision statement notes: “Girls Gotta Run envisions a world that empowers and invests in the exceptional initiative of young women who are working to establish their place in the world as competitive runners and leaders in their communities, who are finding strength, courage and power in their pursuit of excellence, and who are achieving their fullest potential in running and society.”

GGRF programs in Ethiopia have included the provision of athletic scholarships in Sodo and Bekoji, a Running Across Borders project in Addis Ababa, the Simien Girls Runners program and a one year scholarship program for young Ethiopian women runners in collaboration with the YaYa Village in preparation for professional athlete careers.

Click here to register for the virtual relay.


Related:
Why Girls Gotta Run: Interview with Patricia Ortman

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Meet the 19-year-old Tech Genius Coding at Ethiopia’s First AI Lab

Betelhem Dessie, 19, has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name - including an app developed for the Ethiopian government to map rivers used for irrigation. (CNN)

CNN

At 19-years-old, Betelhem Dessie is perhaps the youngest pioneer in Ethiopia’s fast emerging tech scene, sometimes referred to as ‘Sheba Valley’.

Dessie is coordinating a number of nationwide programs run by robotics lab iCog, the Addis Ababa based artificial intelligence (AI) lab that was involved in developing the world famous Sophia the robot.

She has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name – including an app developed for the Ethiopian government to map rivers used for irrigation.

And it all began when she was just 9.

She recalls: “On my 9th birthday I wanted to celebrate so I asked my father for money.” When her father said he didn’t have any to give her that day, Dessie took matters into her own hands.

Making use of the materials around her – her father sold electronics in their home city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia – Dessie started with small tasks such as video editing and sending music to customer’s cell phones.

“I got about 90 dollars – then I celebrated my birthday” she laughs, sitting in one of the robotics and coding rooms at iCog, Ethiopia’s first AI lab.
iCog launched in 2013 and Ethiopia’s tech industry is set to take off even faster this year following the liberalization of the country’s economy under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Read more »


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Ethiopia to Reform Repressive Laws

President Mulatu Teshome (left) hosting dinner for members of parliament on October 8th, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @fitsumaregaa)

Africa News

Ethiopia to Reform Judicial System, Amend Repressive Laws: President

Ethiopia will reform several laws that are widely perceived to having had a detrimental effect on human rights and democracy, according to a speech delivered by the country’s president Mulatu Teshome.

Fitsum Arega, the chief of staff in the prime minister’s office said the president tasked the country’s lawmakers as he outlined government’s plans for the next fiscal year on Monday.

‘‘The government will reform the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, the Charities and Societies Proclamation as well as various legislation having to do with the regulation of the media,’‘ Arega quoted the president on Twitter.

Discussions between government and opposition parties to amend provisions the controversial anti-terrorism law in May.

Human rights group have previously accused the state of using the law’s broad definitions against anyone who opposes government policies.

Human Rights Watch has previously said the law “grants authorities the power to prosecute journalists who publish articles about protest movements, armed opposition groups, or any other individuals deemed as terrorist or anti-peace”.

Read more »


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Michelle Obama to young voters: ‘It’s time for us to let you lead’

As the 2018 midterm U.S. elections fast approaches on November 6, an all-out national effort is underway to register millennials and young people to vote including by former first lady Michelle Obama, co-chair of the voter registration group When We Vote. (Photo: Michelle Obama rallies young voters at University of Miami last week. | Miami Herald)

USA Today

Michelle Obama to young voters: ‘It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead’

Michelle Obama brought her voter registration campaign to the University of Miami on Friday, rallying thousands of students and residents to “have a say in the issues we care about.”

It was the final stop of her Week of Action tour for When We All Vote at the University of Miami’s Watsco Center, before a crowd of about 6,000. The former first lady co-chairs the nonpartisan organization, which aims to encourage voting.

In front of an audience whose shirts read “Register to vote,” “#MSDStrong,” “Andrew Gillum for Governor,” and “I support Planned Parenthood,” Obama stressed that voting is the way to make sure citizens’ voices are heard.

“It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead,” Obama told the young people in the audience, many of whom flashed the university’s U hand sign as she addressed them directly. “This is no longer about me, it’s not about Barack, it’s about you.”

Obama stressed she was “not stumping for any one candidate,” and did not mention the names of any elected officials. But she said she is frustrated by the “daily chaos,” “pettiness,” and “meanness” of politics, adding that whenever she feels like shutting it all out, she thinks of her dad, who made sure he voted in every election.

“He went to vote for the same reason he went to work – to provide for his family,” Obama said.

Read more »

As Election Day Approaches, Here’s How to Register to Vote

If you’re at least 18 years old and planning to vote on Nov. 6, listen up: Voter registration deadlines are coming.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia require voters to register before casting ballots in local, state or federal elections. Registration deadlines vary, but the majority occur throughout October – and 19 of those deadlines are Tuesday. In many states, residents can register in person, by mail or online.

Here’s what you need to know.

The basics

U.S. citizens ages 18 and older who meet their state’s residency requirements can register to vote by filling out a form. (Find your state’s requirements here.) Most states allow online registration, but you can also register at your local or state board of elections office.

North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t require registration before voting.

Most states also allow voters to cast their ballots before Election Day. Find out if your state does early voting here.

Read more »


Related:
Midterms: How can election groups get out the vote when just half of Americans say process is ‘fair and open’?

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Ethiopian American Neurologist Enawgaw Mehari Bettering Health in Ethiopia

Neurologist Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is the founder and president of People to People. He works at King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Kentucky. Courtesy photo.

Daily Independent

KDMC neurologist bettering health in Ethiopia

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is devoted to improving the health of those in Africa.

The King’s Daughters Medical Center neurologist is the founder and president of a non-profit organization called People to People (P2P) that is dedicated to bettering healthcare and reducing the spread of diseases, particularly in Ethiopia and in diaspora communities.

“The key to this organization is serving as a bridge between Africa and the west,” said Mehari.

P2P’s projects are focused on strengthening health systems through partnerships with local hospitals and universities. The organization engages “the global Ethiopian diaspora in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap and address the country’s severe shortage of health and medical professionals,” according to its website, p2pbridge.org.

To help achieve this goal P2P hosts U.S.-based medical conferences and members will even make trips to Ethiopia as well.

Mehari has brought along KDMC physicians on these trips in the past, with oncologist/hematologist Galena Salem, M.D., joining him last year. Together, the two taught medical professionals and cared for patients.

This year’s conference will take place on Oct. 20 in Arlington, Va., marking the event’s 10th anniversary. The conference will hit many firsts for the organization, offering an in-person and online conference targeting “the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in Ethiopia.” It’s the first program presented as part of the newly formed Pan African Continuing Medical Education Network.

The conference will be streamed live on Facebook as well.

Read more »


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Pictures: Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show

Amsale Fall 2019 Collections debuted at Second, Eventi Hotel, in New York on October 5th, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 6th, 2018

In Pictures: Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show at New York Bridal Fashion Week

New York (TADIAS) — It’s Bridal Fashion Week in New York City and Amsale New York debuted three Fall 2019 collections during a runway event held at Eventi Hotel’s Second floor in Manhattan on Friday, October 5th. Amsale, which is one of the leading bridal fashion brands in the United States, was founded by the late Ethiopian American designer Amsale Aberra who passed away earlier this year.

The Fall 2019 runway presentation was designed by Margo Lafontaine who was selected by Amsale Aberra as her successor. “Lafontaine’s featured designs include the Fall 2019 collections of Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale and the re-launch of the Little White Dress Collection,” notes the event press release. “Lafontaine joined the Amsale design team in 2017 and spent precious months with the beloved late founder and creative director. She was most recently senior studio director of Vera Wang, where she worked for more than a decade.”

“Amsale was the creator of the modern wedding dress and as I help carry that legacy forward, I am threading her unmistakable Amsale aesthetic into each aspect of my designs” said Margo Lafontaine.

As Design Director at Amsale New York, Lafontaine describes the current collection as “designed with the Amsale bride in mind to celebrate and enhance each woman’s energy, personality, and her natural style.”

Below is a description of this season’s collections and photos from Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show at New York Bridal Fashion Week:

NOUVELLE AMSALE FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Inspired by the modern and effortless bride who understands fashion but stays true to her personal style, the Nouvelle Amsale Fall 2019 collection shows bold textural details in the form of graphic floral laces offset with delicate layers of tulle. Clean necklines are carefully detailed with sheer borders and trailing lace appliques. These effortlessly elegant gowns are designed to create endless versatility.

LITTLE WHITE DRESS FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Celebrating timeless Amsale silhouettes, the iconic Little White Dress collection is re-launching after its original debut in 2009, reimaging effortlessly elegant details for the modern bride for each occasion surrounding her wedding. Designed with sheer illusion overlays, draped bow detailing, graphic lace, and crisp tailored faille, these dresses underline the unmistakable Amsale aesthetic— classic but not ordinary.

AMSALE FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Designed to embody an understated take on old school glamour, the Amsale Fall 2019 collection reflects a mix of dramatic design and simple silhouettes to cater to every bride. Draped crepe sheaths are presented alongside handcrafted tulle and Lyon lace ball gowns. Working with the signature interplay of opacity and sheerness, striking necklines are featured in elegant fronts and backs with sculptural counterpoints of bow and draping details. Decorations remain subtle yet luxe with delicate hand-painting, tonal embroidery and hand-cut Lyon lace that lend a modern texture to the collection.


Related:
Special Tribute to Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Runway Show

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In New Jersey, Ethiopian Churches to Celebrate “Peace and Reconciliation Day”

Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia's fourth Patriarch, arrives in Addis Ababa after 27 years in exile on Wednesday August 1st, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — One of the major turning points signaling a new era of goodwill among Ethiopians worldwide came in late July this year when a peace and reconciliation agreement was announced that ended the nearly three-decade-old separation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia.

Shortly thereafter Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia’s fourth Patriarch, returned to his country on August 1st after 27 years in exile. He was welcomed home with a memorable state reception at Addis Ababa airport, which was televised live.

Members of several Ethiopian churches in New York and surrounding states are organizing a “Peace and Reconciliation Day” event this month on October 13th to celebrate this historic achievement in a day of prayer and thanksgiving at the Besrate Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in New Jersey.

>


If You Go:
Peace and Reconciliation Day Celebration
Saturday, October 13th, 2018 from 9:00 am to 5 pm
Besrate Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church
1046 S. Orange Ave
Newark, New Jersey
More info: 571-310-7645

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U.S. Embassy Welcomes Largest Ever Cohort of American Scholars to Support Education in Ethiopia

The group consisted of 13 Fulbright Scholars, 20 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, and 3 English Language Fellows. (Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Press Release

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor welcomed a group of over 35 American scholars to Ethiopia – the largest such group at any one time.

The group consisted of 13 Fulbright Scholars, 20 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, and 3 English Language Fellows.

The Ambassador said that by investing in expanding academic exchange programs between the United States and Ethiopia, “We’re investing in our educational institutions, providing an opportunity to share best practices and to work together to improve the quality of research and education.”

Together, the Fulbright Program and the Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program (ADSP) aim to bring American scholars to conduct research, support academic quality, teach, and collaborate with their Ethiopian colleagues. Both programs have expanded thanks to significant funding contributions from Ethiopian universities, representing the possibilities that come from joint cooperation.

The scholars represent a range of subject areas including anthropology, business, chemistry, computer science, education, engineering, environmental science, history, humanities, political science, public health, public administration and policy, sociology, and urban planning will be placed at the following universities: Addis Ababa University, Bahir Dar University, University of Gondar, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, Jimma University, and Mekelle University. The ADSP program is a pilot project that began with the University of Gondar and Bahir Dar University, but is slated to expand to additional locations in the next academic year based on the success of the pilot.

Ambassador Raynor emphasized “investing in Ethiopia’s education system remains one of the United States’ top priorities as part of our commitment to supporting the capacity of all Ethiopians to achieve the best possible future for themselves,” adding, “the most important investment of all is in our young people. Through these exchanges of people and ideas, we can offer a richer, higher quality educational experience for the next generation of scholars in both our countries. And we know that few investments will ever pay off as much as a good education.”


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Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2018

Photo from previous Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week. (courtesy of HAFW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – This week in Addis Ababa the annual Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week is taking place at Millennium Hall. This year’s runway show, which will be held on October 3rd, features the collection of 15 Ethiopian designers as well as international guest presenters hailing from Morocco, DRC and Kenya.

“As in past events, HAFW will also be hosting key industry players including international and regional buyers and media. Vogue Italia / Talents will keep their dedication to scouting talents during the event,” organizers shared in a press release. “HAFW 2018 is happy to be continuing its platform as a source for supporting and encouraging the fashion, textile, and manufacturing industries in Africa as a key part of the sustainable development of the continent.”

In addition, HAFW announced that it is collaborating with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) to connect experts with five young fashion designers whose work will also be showcased on October 4th, 2018 at the Italian Embassy.

The participating Ethiopian designers include Abai Schulze (ZAAF), Aynalem Ayele (Ayni’s), Dawit Ketema (Komtare), Egla Negusse (Wuwi Couture), Fikerte Addis (Yefiki), Lemlem Haile Michael (Lali), Meseret Teferra (Aleph Design), Muse Legesse (Sebeatu), Nasra Mustofa (Precious design), Samrawit Mersiehazen (Samra Leather), Tigist Seife (Roots in Style), Tigist Shiferaw (TG’SH), Tseday Kebede (Tseday Design), Yordanos Aberra (Yordi Design), Mahlet Afework (MAFI), Meron Seid (Meron Addis Ababa), as well as emerging designers Hiwot Solomon (BELLAHIWOT), Fozia Endrias (Fozia Endrias Clothing & Accessories) and Kunjina Tesfaye (Kunjina).


Related:
2017 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week in Pictures

Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2016
Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2015
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

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Spotlight: Julie Mehretu’s London Art Show at White Cube Mason’s Yard

Julie Mehretu makes large-scale, gestural paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. The exhibition highlights Mehretu’s use of gestural abstraction as a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry. (White Cube gallery)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 1st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — To observe close-up one of Julie Mehretu’s thought-provoking and spacious artworks is to immerse oneself in history as well as to reflect and examine some of the burning socio-political issues of the day. An exhibition of new work by Julie Mehretu that is currently on display at White Cube gallery in London precisely makes this point.

“Featuring large-scale paintings and etchings, the exhibition highlights Mehretu’s use of gestural abstraction as a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry,” the gallery said in a press release. “Glenn Ligon has described the artist’s work as ‘traversed by history [...] grounded in urgent political and social questions while simultaneously troubling the limits of abstract painting.’

Marking a continued departure from her earlier work which focused on a layered language of mapping and architectural detail, these paintings take the immediacy of a news photograph as their starting point. These include images of such recent pivotal junctures as the rallies of independence in Catalonia; the voracious wild fires of California; the violent white supremacy rally and counter rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; the instantaneous outbreak of Muslim ban protests throughout the United States; and the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Julie, who is one of the most significant American artists of our time, was born in Ethiopia in 1970 and now lives in New York. She was a MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Fellow in 2005, and has subsequently won the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). In 2017 The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art commissioned Julie to complete an installation in their lobby. She also serves as a trustee of the American Academy in Berlin.

Julie’s current work at White Cube Mason’s Yard — which will be on display through November 3rd, 2018 — is: “Less structured than previous work and characterized by their intensely animated and vital surfaces,” notes the exhibit announcement. “Mehretu’s paintings suggest a suspended moment ripe with possibility, defining what Suzanne Cotter has identified as a ‘mobility’ inherent in her painterly language. Part of a continual state of becoming, where marks reliant on effacement and erasure relate to action, they allow for new thematic possibilities.. Urging the viewer to look, question and take time, Mehretu ignites the potential of painting to carry political significance, serving as an energising and motivational force that draws vital nerves and narrative lines with both the history of modernist abstraction as well as that of engaged political thought.”


If You Go:
Julie Mehretu SEXTANT
Show ends on November 3rd 2018
White Cube Mason’s Yard
25 – 26 Mason’s Yard
London SW1Y 6BU
www.whitecube.com/

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Hyatt to Open Its First Hotel in Ethiopia

Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa plans to open by the end of the year. (Photo courtesy: Hyatt.com)

Bloomberg

Hyatt Hotels Corp. plans to open its first hotel in Ethiopia by the end of the year as it seeks to double its African portfolio to tap growing visits by both African and Chinese travelers.

The property in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, will be followed by Hyatt’s first hotels in Algeria and Senegal in early 2019 and in Kenya the year after, according to Kurt Straub, the company’s vice president for the Middle East and Africa. Hyatt in October said it would invest an estimated $200 million in new hotels on the continent.
“Things are opening up in Ethiopia, it’s very exciting what’s going on there,” Straub said in an interview in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, referring to Ethiopia’s recent pledge to loosen control of the state-planned economy and invite more foreign investment. “It’s much easier now that it’s open, there’s a path.”

Hyatt will operate the Ethiopian hotel through a management contract with U.K.-based ASB Development Ltd., which already has business there, according to Straub. Hyatt is also looking into opening outlets in the Ethiopian cities of Awasa and Mekelle, he said.
Hyatt, whose portfolio on the continent includes hotels in Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Tanzania, is open to franchising opportunities, Straub said. It also sees major opportunities from a growing Chinese market and intra-African travel, according to Tejas Shah, the company’s regional vice president for sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more »

Learn more about Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa by visiting the website.

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Ethiopia’s Democratic Awakening

(Photograph: by Tom Gardner)

The Guardian

‘Abiy Ahmed is our miracle’: Ethiopia’s democratic awakening

Something extraordinary is happening in Ethiopia. Under new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, authoritarianism and state brutality appear to be giving way to something resembling democracy. A country that began the year crippled by anti-government protests is now being lauded as a model for the region. One of Africa’s most autocratic ruling parties, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is today led by a man who professes to believe deeply in freedom of expression.

In the capital, Addis Ababa, huge crowds have been welcoming home exiled dissidents. Residents who once feared speaking publicly about politics now talk of little else. Flags and symbols long banned by the EPRDF blossom across the city.

But it is also a time of deep anxiety. The unprecedented loosening of state control has been accompanied by an upsurge in ethnic violence and widespread lawlessness. Hate speech thrives on social media. Groups with starkly contrasting visions for the country have clashed on the streets of the capital. On 19 September the government began its first clampdown, arresting thousands of people suspected of orchestrating violence. “Abiymania”, as it has become known, may not last forever.

In Addis Ababa the face of Abiy Ahmed is almost ubiquitous, emblazoned on stickers, posters, T-shirts and books. Some of his most enthusiastic supporters liken him to a prophet. “Without Abiy we would be doing nothing,” says Asrat Abere, a taxi driver and father of two. “If he had time he could change everything.

Some worry that “Abiymania” is a personality cult; others liken it to the sort of adoration that has often followed Ethiopian leaders, including the former emperor, Haile Selassie.

“There’s an inclination in the Ethiopian population to have more faith in charismatic leaders than in political parties or institutions,” says Goitum Gebreluel, an Ethiopian researcher at Cambridge University. “Abiy has been able to cultivate that cleverly.”

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Hundreds Arrested in Ethiopia After Violence Around Capital

The town of Burayu, which is located on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, was the scene of a recent ethnic-based violence that claimed several dozen lives and displaced thousands of people. (Photo: @fanatelevision)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian security official has confirmed the arrests of hundreds of youths in the capital, Addis Ababa, following violence within the city and in nearby towns last week in which several dozen people were killed.

The announcement on Monday came following widespread calls on social media by citizens of the East African country to disclose the reason why the arrests were made.

“We arrested several people following the violence but most of them were released shortly after provided with advice. If we were to keep them all, our prisons wouldn’t be able to handle them,” said Degife Bedi, a police official with the Addis Ababa Police Commission. “28 people lost their lives in the violence in Addis Ababa alone. Most of them lost their lives after beatings with stones and sticks. Other seven people lost their lives due to actions taken by security forces.”

According to the official, more than 1,200 individuals who were “directly involved” in the violence in the capital have been sent to a military camp to be “rehabilitated” and 107 others will face criminal charges.

“An additional 2,000 people were detained inside hookah-serving houses, gambling shops and khat-chewing stores,” the police head said, adding that most were later released.

A week of violence erupted in Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas beginning from September 12 following disagreements between youths from the capital and its surrounding Oromia region over the use of different flags. On September 15, several people were killed in the Oromia region’s towns of Burayu and Ashewa Meda which victims blamed on youths from the same region.

City officials said 26 people lost their lives and close to 15,000 were displaced in the attacks in the capital’s outskirts but hospital sources told The Associated Press that at least 70 people were killed in the attacks that were mainly carried out on ethnic-lines.

Ethiopia’s new leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, hails from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest. Various attacks based on ethnic rivalries are mushrooming across the country and are his biggest challenges to date.

Ethnic-based conflicts that are mainly driven by competition for land and resources are not new to Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups, but the escalation of the current conflicts is alarming many. Some fear it may derail the reforms made by Abiy since he came to power in April.


Related:

Ethiopia’s Stunning Reforms Now Challenged by Deadly Unrest (AP)

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Meet Sinna Habteselassie: First Black Woman Elected as University Of Cincinnati Student Body President

As the child of Ethiopian immigrants who migrated to the United States during the mid 1980s, Sinna Habteselassie's family settled just south of Dayton, Ohio in Centerville where she was born and raised. Sinna recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. (Photo: UC Creative Services)

BOTWC

Senior neuroscience and organizational leadership double major, Sinna Habteselassie, recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. In UC’s 199-year history, Habteselassie became the first African American woman student to be elected to serve in the role.

After some persuasion from friends and mentors and ultimately turning down an internship opportunity, Habteselassie decided to run for the coveted role. She soon realized that her significant fear of speaking in public would soon be challenged as she blazed the campaign trail. “I said, ‘I have the ability to do it. I can do it,’” she shared with UC News. “We’re not doing enough to make sure marginalized people have a seat at the table. Hopefully, my presence will encourage other people to participate.”

Her recent victory continues to do just that as she uses her platform to speak out about issues such as mental health advocacy and maintaining college affordability to lower student debt rates.

“There was a lot of pressure and significance knowing she would be the first Black woman to hold this position. But the fact that she talks so openly about her identity and how that influences how she wants to lead sets a different kind of precedent. She doesn’t shy away from her identity,” shared Program Coordinator in UC’s Office of Ethnic Programs & Services and mentor to Habteselassie, Peyton Wu.


Photo credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services

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Marathoner Tolassa Elemaa, Refugee From Ethiopia, Finds Hope in NYC Marathon

From political prisoner to marathon hopeful: help the International Rescue Committee get Ethiopian refugee Tolassa Elemaa to the New York City Marathon. (Central Track)

Central Track

About a month ago, the International Rescue Committee in Texas launched a Facebook page in support of Tolassa Gadaa Elemaa, a refugee from Ethiopia who was imprisoned for five years for speaking out against his native country’s government.

His is an interesting story for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, prior to finding refuge in North Texas with his family, Tolassa had been training in his native country to compete as a world-class runner. Now free from persecution, Tolassa may no longer be running in fear of persecution — but he is still running, literally, towards something else.

Currently, he’s got his eyes set on competing in the New York City Marathon.

With the help of his new American friends and the IRC, who have launched a campaign called #TeamTolassa to help him accomplish this goal, Tolassa has been training daily while simultaneously raising money to cover the costs of getting him into the famed footrace. He just wants a chance to compete, he says. And he’s on his way to doing that: So far, the campaign has raised a little more than half of the $10,000 Tolassa needs to in order to get registered for the competition and have his travel costs covered for the trip, which will find him serving as an ambassador for IRC and its efforts here in Texas.

Of course, time is of the essence: This year’s New York City Marathon takes place on November 4. Hence why #TeamTolassa has recently upped its fundraising efforts with the recent release of a beautiful short documentary about the campaign’s effort called “He’s Still Fast.” Filmed by “A City is a Poem” director Andrew Holzschuh — who has a knack for capturing some of Dallas’ more moving stories — the clip shares more of Tolassa’s story, as well as IRC’s efforts at helping him get his life back on track.

Check out the clip below. Should it inspire you to help Tolassa’s cause, click here to donate.


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Meskel Holiday Party in Brooklyn, NY w/ Ethiopia’s Fendika Dance Group

Fendika cultural dance group. (Courtesy image)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 20th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This month a festive Meskel holiday party is coming to Brooklyn, New York featuring Ethiopia’s internationally acclaimed Fendika cultural dance group all the way from Addis Ababa and the U.S.-based renowned guitarist Selamino – Seyoum Selam Woldemariam, who is a former member of the legendary Ibex and Roha bands.

“The Meskel holiday in Ethiopia is punctuated by the lighting of an enormous bonfire at the climax of the night,” note organizers in their event announcement. “In that vein we will be lighting our own musical bonfire with two legends of Ethiopian dance and performance.”

The event, which is scheduled for Saturday, September 29th and Sunday, September 30th, is set to take place at Lightspace Studios that’s located steps away from the popular Ethiopian restaurant Bunna Cafe.


Selamino – Seyoum Selam Woldemariam, is “a renowned guitarist who has been in the industry for over 40 years,” notes Bunna Cafe’s event announcement. “Selamino was part of a number of famous bands in the 70s and 80s, including Black Soul Band, ROHA, and Ibex. He continues to perform at venues in the DC area with his keyboardist Ashebir Gebremeskel.” (Courtesy photo)


Fendika. (Courtesy photo)

“The Azmari tradition is an Ethiopian form of musical storytelling that uses improvisation, dance, humor, and Ethiopian instruments to create a one-of-a-kind collective experience. Nobody does it better than Fendika,” the announcement adds. “Fendika (tr. “exult!”) takes its name from Melaku Belay‘s famous decades-old club in Addis Ababa — a club that has kept its grasp on the traditional art and dance style, in the face of Addis’ own version of gentrification, and a changing, modernizing look and feel in Fendika’s neighborhood.”


If You Go:
Sat, Sep 29, 2018, 8:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Lightspace Studios
1115 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237
Ethiopian food and drink will be served.
Limited parking is available in the neighborhood.
$25 online or at the restaurant. $30 the day of.
Everything is eshi!
Click here to buy tickets

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Ethiopia’s Stunning Reforms Now Challenged by Deadly Unrest

Thousands of protestors from the capital and those displaced by ethnic-based violence over the weekend in Burayu, demonstrate to demand justice from the government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopia’s stunning political reforms are now threatened by long-standing ethnic tensions that have roared back to life since a young prime minister took power just five months ago and promised greater freedoms.

While exiled groups once banned as terror organizations are welcomed home to join political dialogue, deadly violence erupts on the fringes of celebrations. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered peacefully in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square to cheer one group’s return. Two days later, police fired tear gas there to disperse people protesting killings blamed by some on youth from the same ethnicity.

Suddenly, the government of 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears to be reaching for security tactics whose unpopularity helped to bring down the previous government, while some Ethiopians who cheered Abiy’s reforms now accuse him of being soft on the unrest that poses his biggest challenge so far.

The internet winked off this week across the capital, a once-common act to control dissenting voices. The National Security Council has vowed “all necessary measures” against those spreading anarchy, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported. Some have even called for the return of the state of emergency that Abiy lifted in one of his first acts in office.

The prime minister himself, who shocked the country with a dizzying series of reforms that included freeing imprisoned opposition figures and vowing free and fair elections in 2020, has made warning sounds against the unrest.

“There’s nothing more shameful than a group of people committing these types of crimes against their fellow citizens,” Abiy said Tuesday while visiting a camp for those displaced by the latest violence.

Stability is crucial in a country whose fast-growing economy, 100 million-strong population and security ties make it the powerhouse of the turbulent but strategic Horn of Africa region.

Ethnic-based conflicts mainly over scarce resources are common in Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups, but now the communal violence is spiraling at a scale that alarms many.

“If this trend continues, I fear a time will come soon when Ethiopians yearn for the old dictatorial times,” Mussie Tefera, a university student, told The Associated Press.

Ethiopia since 1991 has been led by a ruling coalition and allied parties that hold every seat in Parliament and for years were accused by human rights groups of suppressing critical voices. That grip on power slipped after anti-government protests that began in late 2015 in the Oromia and Amhara regions, home of the country’s two largest ethnic groups.

Abiy’s arrival in power was a surprise. He is the first prime minister from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. As the son of a Muslim father and Orthodox Christian mother who converted to Islam he has spoken out for tolerance. On an exuberant tour of the United States that drew large crowds, he spoke to Ethiopian communities and invited emotional exiles long wary of the government to return.

His appeals to peace and openness, however, have not healed long-standing ethnic fractures between groups such as the Oromo and the Somalis. Some disputes have worsened. The number of the country’s internally displaced people has reached 2.8 million, up from 1.6 million at the beginning of the year, according to the United Nations.

For some, the surge in unrest comes with the recent shifts in power.

“Local cadres and officials are instigating this violence for a petty political gain,” Ethiopia’s disaster prevention chief, Mitiku Kassa, told The Associated Press after fighting between the Oromo and others in the Gedeo and West Guji zones.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Embassy was among those issuing safety warnings amid the violence on the outskirts of the capital as many Ethiopians expressed outrage over the alleged targeting of people based on ethnic identity. More than 20 people were killed.

“We demand justice,” some protesters chanted as they passed by the prime minister’s office on Monday en route to Meskel Square. By the end of the day, mobile internet service across Addis Ababa was blocked as citizens and Amnesty International pointed out hate speech against non-Oromo groups on social media. Internet service returned on Wednesday.

While some accuse “paid agents” of trying to paint a bad image of Oromo youth emboldened by Abiy’s rise to power, others suggest some unrest is being orchestrated by groups in the ruling coalition that lost power when he took office.

Any internal frictions could be exposed when the ruling coalition holds its congress early next month, when it is expected to take steps to implement Abiy’s whirlwind political and economic reforms.

“In a system where party and state have long been indistinguishable, the (coalition’s) fragmentation would be a dangerous thing,” Michael Woldemariam, assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, wrote this month in Foreign Affairs.

Ethiopians have long expressed grievances over the country’s federal structure that is largely based on ethnic lines and has been held together by the ruling coalition and its security forces.

“If the federal structure is implemented properly, it is fine,” said Berhanu Nega, whose Patriotic Ginbot 7 opposition group had been listed by Ethiopia as a terror group alongside the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab before being welcomed home from exile by the new government. “But what we have now here is a structure based mainly on ethnic identities and hence creating all these problems.”

Abiy’s administration is failing to guarantee law and order, said Awol Kassim Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University School of Law in Britain.

“At this defining moment for this country and its people, the state needs a commander-in-chief that stirs the ship out of the storm,” he said. “If we fail to defend this moment of ours and support this understandably challenging transition, we will all lose a great deal.”


Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Ethiopian Teenager Sara Gebretsadik Earns One Of Colorados Highest Honors

College student Sara Gebretsadik with her parents. (Family photo)

CBS4

DENVER – She just starting college and is only 19 years old, but Sara Gebretsadik has done enough to catch the eye of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gebretsadik was announced Wednesday as a recipient of the Emerging Community Leader for the Governor’s Citizenship Medal.

“I’m proud of myself. Yes! I did all those things,” Gebretsadik said as she read the list of her accomplishments the state had compiled.

She immigrated at the age of 10. She’s volunteered for the Special Olympics and Denver Club of Humanities. She’s mentored kids through the Black Student Alliance and other organizations.

“Rising Rebels is definitely my favorite accomplishment because it was very close and dear to heart. The club was dedicated to increasing people of color in higher-level courses,” she said.

It’s now been recognized nationally.

Gebretsadik had only been on campus at CU Boulder for a few days when she got an unexpected phone call.

“I answered it and it’s the governor, and I thought I was getting pranked. I was just awestruck. I was super honored. He said I was a key component in trying to make a better change for Colorado in terms of my involvement through community service,” she said.

The governor’s office says medals are awarded to citizens, “To recognize the remarkable leaders in Colorado for their impact on their community, and to honor their legacy.”

“I don’t know what my legacy is, I just got into college. I’m trying to figure out my life,” she said. “Definitely I hope to inspire people to do more good.”


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Tibor Nagy – Newly-Appointed Top US Diplomat for Africa Praises Ethiopia, Eritrea

The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on recent developments in Ethiopia on Wednesday September 12th, 2018. (C-SPAN)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The newly appointed U.S. Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, praised the reform efforts underway in Ethiopia and the recent peace deal with Eritrea in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

This week Ethiopia and Eritrea achieved a major milestone in normalizing relations between the two neighbors when they reopened their borders for the first time in two decades. “Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998,” Reuters reported. “Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV.”

“We enthusiastically welcomed Dr. Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki working together to end 20 years of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea,” Nagy said in one tweet. “We support both sides as they explore possibilities for peace & continue to encourage and support their long-term success.”

The U.S. diplomat, who also testified on Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on recent developments in Ethiopia, complimented PM Abiy Ahmed for his historic socio-political reform initiatives. “In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has initiated groundbreaking reforms across most every area of Ethiopian society since taking office in April,” Nagy stated on Twitter. “He deserves tremendous credit for his boldness in tackling issues that previous governments have not addressed.”

According to C-SPAN other topics discussed at the hearing included “human rights concerns, regional security, economic development, Ethiopia relations with neighboring countries, and the U.S. influence in the region.”

Nagy, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia from 1999 to 2002, added: “Dr. Abiy has also taken dramatic steps to end the former government’s repression of civil liberties, inviting a diversity of voices – including many who were previously criminalized – to participate in Ethiopia’s future.” He continued: “With Eritrea’s re-emergence onto the regional & global stage, we see strong potential for its contributions to improving regional security. Eritrea can also contribute to regional peace & stability, as evidenced by its role brokering agreements among Ethiopian opposition groups.”

Watch: House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Development in Ethiopia


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

'Ethiopiques – Revolt of the Soul' documentary film. (Image: IDFA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul is a new documentary that captures the exquisite sounds of the Ethiopian classics now preserved in 30 volumes of the internationally acclaimed Ethiopiques CD collection featuring some of nation’s best known musicians.

The film is set to make its North American premiere at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City next month.

“The jazz-funk music that came out of Addis Ababa in the 1960s and 70s was complex, fun, original, and nearly lost to the world,” notes the announcement from the Museum. “Meet the Ethiopian artists who forged this beautiful new sound and feel the passion that has gone into keeping that sound alive.”

Indeed if it was not for Producer Amha Eshete, the founder of Amha Records — the first Ethiopian record label launched in the late 60s and producing more than a dozen albums and some 120 singles with legendary Ethiopian musicians — and French Music Journalist Francis Falceto, the person behind the Ethiopiques series, who tracked down Amha years later living in exile, chances are more likely that this rich and historic Ethiopian treasure would have vanished forever.

According to the movie synopsis: “In addition to Falceto and Eshete we hear from various Ethiopian musicians, including Girma Beyene, who was the pianist and arranger for the Walias Band.” The film also incorporates animation “and finishes with Beyene’s comeback, including live performances and recordings for ‘Mistakes on Purpose,’ the 30th CD in the series.”


Ethiopiques, Revolt of the Soul. With live performance of Girma Bèyènè. (Photo via Twitter @MicroBioWil)

Watch: Girma Beyene live in Paris with French band Akale Wube — 2015


If You Go:
Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul North American Premiere
American Museum of Natural History
Friday, October 19, 2018 at 9 pm
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Entrance: 77th Street
Click here to buy tickets

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Spotlight: Artist Tariku Shiferaw at Whitney Museum of American Art ISP

Tariku Shiferaw. (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — When we first featured Tariku Shiferaw as an emerging artist two and half years ago he had just completed his graduate studies in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City and was participating in a group exhibition entitled Introductions 2016 at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn.

Since then Tariku, who was born in Addis Ababa and raised in Los Angeles, has held several exhibitions including his first international show at Addis Fine Art’s (AFA) London project space last year. The exhibition entitled Erase Me was featured at AFA’s inaugural event at their U.K. location.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tariku is now part of the Whitney Museum of Art Independent Study Program this Fall. Each year the Whitney Museum of American Art — the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States — chooses fifteen up-and-coming artists to take part in their Studio Program. According to the museum “the program begins in early September and concludes at the end of the following May. Many of the participants are enrolled at universities and art schools and receive academic credit for their participation, while others have recently completed their formal studies.”

“The Whitney ISP provides me an opportunity to extend my education through discussions and debates with influential artists, art historians, and cultural critics,” Tariku said. “I am also partaking in The Drawing Center’s Open Sessions program (2018-2020), which already started in May. Open Sessions is a two-year program open to artists working in a variety of disciplines.”

In addition, Tariku is featured in two upcoming group exhibitions: If I Go There, I Won’t Stay There opening September 22, 6-8pm at ltd Los Angeles and To Dream Avant-Garde, curated by Alteronce Gumby, Sept. 28 – Nov. 4, at Hammond Harkins Galleries in Columbus, OH.

“Often, I use a range of gray painterly gestures as ground to the geometric forms, which metaphorically refers to the gray space between meanings,” he told Tadias during our first interview. “The dialectical relationships between painterly gestures and geometric forms create the necessary complexity to inspire deep thoughts on these simple shapes and color, and the possible interpretations.”


If You Go:
Tariku Shiferaw will be at the opening reception in Los Angeles, please stop by if you’re in town. The exhibition runs from September 22 – November 3.

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Ethiopia-Eritrea Reopen Border Roads

PM Abiy and President Isaias at Debay Sima-Burre border point. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia, Eritrea reopen border points for first time in 20 years

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, cementing a stunning reconciliation and giving Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe’s Red Sea ports.

Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998.

Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV.

“This is the happiest day of my life,” Ruta Haddis, an Eritrean from the town of Senafe just across the frontier, told reporters. “I never thought this would take place in my lifetime.”

The war over their border and other issues killed an estimated 80,000 people before fighting ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal.

Tensions burned on over the position of the frontier – until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

The two leaders also opened another frontier crossing at Bure, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said in a tweet.


Related:
Pics: Ethiopia-Eritrea Reopen Border Roads

Happy New Year! Enkutatash Comes Amid Momentous Change in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Reopens Embassy in Asmara | Ethiopian Ship Docks in Massawa

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Happy New Year! Enkutatash Comes Amid Momentous Change in Ethiopia

(Photo: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church recognized Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zenash Tayachew with a special award for bringing peace and reconciliation to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region in Addis Ababa on Sunday, September 9, 2018/Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week Ethiopians celebrate enkutatash (Ethiopian new year) amid a momentous internal transformation that has captivated the imagination of the world.

In a little more than than 150 days under the new leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia has implemented one historic reform after another that’s indeed worth celebrating.

From releasing political prisoners and welcoming home fellow Ethiopians from exile to making peace with neighboring Eritrea as well as with the exiled Ethiopian Orthodox church, and promising to hold free and fair election in 2020, this has been a year for the ages.

More importantly, as we speak the country is revising some of its worst draconian laws — such as the Charities & Societies proclamation, the Anti-Terrorism proclamation, and the media law– that in the past were employed as tools to suppress freedom of expression and association.

In the latest positive development that’s capturing international headlines former Mayor-elect of Addis Ababa and opposition leader, Berhanu Nega, became the latest high profile individual to return to Ethiopia after more than a decade in exile. Per AFP: “Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned with scores of other senior members of the group, after reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the group from a list of “terrorist” organisations in July.”

And on the same day the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church gave a well-deserved special award to PM Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zenash Tayachew for their role in helping to bring peace and reconciliation to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region. The state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reports: “Prime Minister on the occasion said “the award belongs to all who fought selflessly and prayed for this change to happen,” according to Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office.”

“Ethiopia is a rarity in Africa,” declared the website Stratfor, which is known for its timely and informative geopolitical analysis, in a recent assessment focusing on current affairs of Ethiopia. “It has existed in a coherent form for more than 2,000 years and largely escaped European colonization. The country’s lineage — tracing back to the kingdom of Aksum in the first century — makes it stand out among its neighbors, and its advantageous location between the ancient trade routes of Rome and India makes it stand out on a map.” The analysis added: “The country’s recent push for reform and desire for strategic partnerships in the Horn of Africa provides a timely reason to explore Ethiopia’s geopolitical environment.”

Regarding “the Abiy Factor,” Stratfor rightly points out that “Abiy is a new kind of Ethiopian leader: He is young compared to his predecessors, at 42 years old; [and] Abiy is reaching out to different ethnic groups, ending draconian security measures, and promising free and fair elections in the years ahead.”

If successful we may once again become a role model for the rest of Africa and beyond.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year!


Related:
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa: Ambassador Mike New Year Message
PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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Exiled Opposition Leader Berhanu Nega Returns to Ethiopia

Berhanu Nega, the leader of Ginbot 7, returned to Ethiopia on Sunday after 11 years in exile. Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in a contentious May 2005 election, however was imprisoned before assuming office. Speaking in Addis Ababa, Berhanu said recent political changes had convinced him to return to the country and conduct a peaceful campaign. (AFP)

AFP

Former outlawed opposition leader returns to Ethiopia

The popular leader of a formerly outlawed opposition group returned to Ethiopia on Sunday where he was greeted by a crowd of thousands after 11 years in exile, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned to Ethiopia on Sunday after 11 years in exile

The popular leader of a formerly outlawed opposition group returned to Ethiopia on Sunday where he was greeted by a crowd of thousands after 11 years in exile, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned with scores of other senior members of the group, after reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the group from a list of “terrorist” organisations in July.

Speaking at a ceremony in the capital Addis Ababa, Berhanu said he had been forced to wage an armed struggle to fight for Ethiopians’ rights, however recent political changes had convinced him to return to the country and conduct a peaceful campaign.

Read more »


Related:
‘We have tied the knot’: PG7′s Andargachew Tsege shares wedding photo with Ethiopians

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Incredible 12-Year-Old Dancer Tsehay Hawkins Featured on “Little Big Shots” TV

Tsehay Hawkins won the Australian Amateur Latin Dance Competition in 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Robyn Hawkins)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Tsehay Hawkins loves to dance and has been taking classes since she was 2 years old. Adopted from Ethiopia by an Australian family when she was 8 months old, Tsehay recently shared her passion for many types of dance including Ethiopian, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Latin and Tap with the host of Australia’s Little Big Shots TV series earlier this month.

Last year she won the Australian Latin Dance Championships in the Samba Soloist Youth category.

“She is extremely proud of being Ethiopian. She has never forgotten her birth country,” her parents told Tadias.

Below is a clip of Tsehay Hawkins on Little Big Shots:


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Nile Dam Engineer Simegnew Bekele ‘took his own life’: Police

Top Ethiopian engineer Simegnew Bekele, whose death from a bullet wound in July sparked a huge outcry, took his own life, police say. (Getty Images)

BBC News

Mr Simegnew’s body was found in a car in the main square of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The engineer was in charge of the country’s controversial multi-billion-dollar project to dam the Nile.

Spontaneous demonstrations broke out in the wake of his death as some thought he had been murdered.

At the time, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he was “saddened and utterly shocked” by the news of Mr Simegnew’s death.

At his funeral, police used tear gas to control the thousands who had gone to pay their respects.

For many the engineer had come to represent the country’s ambitions

After more than a month looking into the engineer’s death, the authorities found “that he used his own gun and killed himself,” police chief Zeinu Jemal told journalists.

Mr Simegnew’s fingerprints had been found on the gun and the doors of the vehicle were all locked from the inside, the police chief added.

He also said that the engineer had left messages for his secretary and child explaining that he might be going away for a while.

Commenting on what could be behind the suicide, Mr Zeinu said preliminary investigations suggested that Mr Simegnew may have been under pressure because of the delays and the increasing cost of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

But, he said, more investigations need to be carried out.

The dam, which has been called the most ambitious infrastructure project ever achieved on the continent, was supposed to have been finished two years ago. Now, seven years into construction, it is only 65% complete, reports the BBC’s Abebe Bayu.

The project is also expected to go over its $4bn (£3.1bn) budget.

Read more »


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UPDATE: Ethiopia Reopens Embassy in Asmara | Ethiopian Ship Docks in Massawa

Leaders from both countries attend ceremony in Asmara as two nations re-establish diplomatic links. Ethiopia and Eritrea have moved swiftly to sweep away two decades of hostility (Mulugeta Ayene/AP Photo)

Al Jazeera

UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 6, 2018

Ethiopia reopens embassy in Eritrea amid thaw in ties

Ethiopia has reopened its embassy in Eritrea after a 20-year hiatus, in a further sign of improving relations between the neighbours who signed a peace accord earlier this year.

A brief reopening ceremony in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on Thursday was attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki and senior officials of both countries, according to state-affiliated Ethiopian Fana Broadcasting.

Redwan Hussein was named the new Ethiopian ambassador.

Since signing an agreement in Asmara to restore ties on July 9, leaders from both countries have moved swiftly to sweep away two decades of hostility that followed the conflict in 1998.

In July, Eritrea reopened its embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and named an ambassador to represent it.

Air links were also re-established with Ethiopian Airlines commencing direct passenger flights between Addis Ababa and Asmara.

Read more »


Related:
Ship docks, road upgrade planned as Eritrea, Ethiopia ties strengthen (Reuters)


(Photo: A general view shows a locked gate of Massawa Port, Eritrea July 22, 2018/by Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS.)

Reuters

SEPTEMBER 5, 2018

By Aaron Maasho

An Ethiopian ship docked in an Eritrean port for the first time in two decades on Wednesday and Eritrea announced plans to upgrade a road to its neighbor, local media said, in further signs of strengthening ties between the former foes.

The announcements came as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in their second face-to-face encounter since a July peace deal ended two decades of enmity.

Abiy and Isaias traveled the entire 70-km (40-mile) road that links Assab’s port along the Red Sea to the town of Bure just across the border in Ethiopia, which had not been used since a two-year war broke out between the neighbors in 1998.

“They were able to confirm that the existing road link was in good state,” state-run EriTV said.

“There are (now) plans to modernize the port in Assab and enlarge the road linking it to Bure to four lanes (from one),” it added.

Read more »


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ECMAA Hosts Ethiopian Day Picnic in NYC

Ethiopian Day Picnic in 2015 (Photo Courtesy: ECMAA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) will be hosting its annual Ethiopian Day picnic on Sunday, September 16th, 2018 that will include games, music, food and entertainment. The family-friendly event will take place at Sakura Park in New York City.

ECMAA was founded in 1981 to serve the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Ethiopian Diaspora community. The organization regularly hosts social and educational events and focuses on providing job networking information, educational resources as well as health promotion programs. ECMAA helps individuals to find ways to give back to their community by sharing their skills and experiences or by assisting financially.


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2018 US Election Heats Up: Obama Joins Battle, Starting in California & Ohio

As the 2018 U.S. midterm elections heat up, the Democrats are enlisting one of their most formidable and popular campaigners, former President Barack Obama, in the closing months. Obama will begin his midterm campaign events in California and Ohio next week. (NYT)

The New York Times

Obama to Join Midterm Battle, Starting in California and Ohio

Former President Barack Obama is poised to plunge into the fray of the midterm campaign, returning to electoral politics with a frontal attack on Republican power in two states that are prime Democratic targets this fall: California and Ohio.

Having largely avoided campaign activities since leaving office, Mr. Obama’s first public event of the midterm election will take place in Orange County, a traditionally conservative-leaning part of California where Republicans are at risk of losing several House seats. And Mr. Obama is expected to be joined by Democratic candidates from all seven of California’s Republican-held districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

Mr. Obama intends to campaign next Thursday in Cleveland for Richard Cordray, a former bank regulator in his administration who is the Democratic nominee for Ohio governor. Republicans have held total control of the state government since the 2010 election, and Mr. Obama helped encourage Mr. Cordray, also a former state attorney general, to seek the governorship.

The former president’s return to public politicking comes at a momentous point in the 2018 election season, furnishing Democrats again with one of their most formidable and popular campaigners in the closing months. While Mr. Obama has addressed several fund-raising events and issued a list of endorsements, he has otherwise confined his public appearances this year to loftier venues than the campaign trail.

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San Jose, California Honors Ethiopian Community with New Year Flag-Raising Ceremony

The Mayor of San Jose, California Sam Liccardo. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

September 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Every September for the last fourteen years, rain or shine, the city of San Jose in California has formally honored the heritage of its vibrant Ethiopian American residents with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall in recognition of the Ethiopian new year festival.

The tradition continues this year in the presence of the city’s Mayor, Vice Mayor as well as City Council members and other officials who are expected to attend the annual commemoration on September 10th.

According to the organizer of the annual celebration, the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), the “ceremony will be followed by a week-long celebration of the Ethiopian New Year with cultural dances and festivities. Throughout the week, individuals who have made significant contributions to the Ethiopian-American community will be recognized for their service.”

In addition, EAC announced that this year’s event will also celebrate the recent peace and reconciliation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The churches were reunited this summer after almost three decades of separation.

“Let us use the occasion to celebrate and honor the reunification of the two synods, of one of the world’s oldest Christian churches, and to celebrate the political change in Ethiopia,” EAC stated.


If You Go:
Monday, Sep 10th at 5:00 PM
Jose City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San José, CA

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Ethiopia Opens Logistics Sector to Foreign Investment

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has presided over a shake-up of one of the most heavily-regulated economies in Africa since his appointment in April. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed in DC, July 2018/by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia will open its logistics sector to foreign investors but cap their participation, the state investment body said on Tuesday in the latest reform to loosen the government’s control of the economy.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has presided over a shake-up of one of the most heavily-regulated economies in Africa since his appointment in April.

The latest move by the Ethiopian Investment Board – a body headed by Abiy and comprised of several ministers and the central bank governor – lifted restrictions on foreign investment in packaging, forwarding and shipping agency services.

Those sectors were previously reserved exclusively to Ethiopian nationals. Foreign firms will now be allowed to take stakes of up to 49 percent in logistics businesses.

The Ethiopian Investment Commission, a government body that handles investment issues such as licensing and promotion, said opening up this sector to foreign investors had become necessary.

This will “improve the provision of high-end logistics services while local firms acquire world class knowledge, expertise, management, and systems by working jointly with globally reputed logistics providers,” it said in a statement.

The ruling EPRDF coalition, in power since 1991, has long supported deep state involvement. But it said earlier this year that Ethiopia needed economic reforms to sustain rapid growth and boost exports amid a severe hard currency shortage.

Abiy, 42, was appointed by the EPRDF after his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned in February after three years of unrest in which hundreds of people were killed by security forces.


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Tefere Gebre’s American Journey: From Refugee Camp to Labor Leader

Tefere Gebre is executive vice president of the AFL-CIO—the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest labor union in the world, representing over 12 million Americans. Gebre is the first refugee elected as a national officer of the organization. (Photo: Courtesy AFL-CIO)

International Rescue Committee

Ethiopian refugee Tefere Gebre was just 15 years old when he arrived in the United States—starting over in a new world alone, without any family by his side.

Over 30 years later, he is executive vice president of the AFL-CIO—the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest labor union in the world, representing over 12 million Americans. Gebre is the first refugee elected as a national officer of the organization.

Gebre was still a boy when he was forced to flee Ethiopia, a country that suffered political turmoil and famine during the 1980s. “People were getting murdered on the streets by the government,” Gebre says. “They were just grabbing kids and torturing them if they were suspected of being an anarchist or aiding the opposition. That’s when I knew I had to find a way to get out.”


Photo of Tefere Gebre at age 3. Gebre as a child in Ethiopia: “Refugees leave with nothing,” he says. “But I somehow I found one photo from when I was three years old.” Tefere Gebre first joined a union while working a night job loading UPS trucks in college. In 2013 he became the first refugee elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO. (Photo: Courtesy AFL-CIO Photo: Courtesy Tefere Gebre)

In 1982, Gebre and four friends managed to escape to a refugee camp in neighboring Sudan, walking through the desert for 93 days. There they applied to enter the U.S. through the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNCHR), taking several written and oral exams in the vetting process.

“When the UNCHR announces who has been accepted to resettle to the U.S., they post the names outside their office,” says Gebre, recalling the jostling crowd pressing against him as he searched the list. “That was like another birth for me, when I saw my name there.” His four friends did not make the cut.

But Gebre didn’t have any family members in America, and he needed a sponsor to support his relocation. His mother remained in Ethiopia. His brother, who had lived in the U.S., had died in a car accident.

That’s when the International Rescue Committee stepped in to help. Currently operating in 27 U.S. cities, the IRC supports newly arrived refugees by providing immediate aid, including food, housing and medical attention.

“I was received in New York by an IRC staff member,” Gebre says. “Then they put me on a plane to Los Angeles and an Ethiopian man who worked at the IRC met me at the airport.”

IRC staff members helped Gebre and three other Ethiopian refugees apply for driver’s licenses, fill out I-9 forms for employment, and complete tuberculosis tests. They helped them move into an apartment (which the IRC sponsors until new arrivals find work), and took them to apply for public benefits. Later, the IRC acted as Gebre’s guardian so he could enroll in L.A.’s Belmont High School.

“There was no way anybody of my status could survive all of that without the IRC being there,” Gebre says.

The IRC continued to act as a lifeline for Gebre in coming years, helping him reconnect with his family in Ethiopia. “I sponsored my mom to come to the U.S.,” he says, “and I did that through the IRC.”

Gebre went on to attend California State Polytechnic University on a scholarship. During his sophomore year, he took a night job loading UPS trucks so he could send money to friends still in Sudan. There he joined his first union—the Teamsters —another turning point in his life.

“The fact that someone was looking after me, that there were real work rules—that I knew what my responsibilities were and what my company’s responsibilities were—I thought everybody should have that,” Gebre says. “Ever since, I have really committed myself to advancing that cause.”

While attending graduate school at the University of Southern California, Gebre became a legislative aide for Willie Brown Jr., speaker of the California State Assembly. He then embraced an even bigger challenge—to become the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation.

“I did that because Orange County is the most conservative part of the state,” he says. “As a skinny Ethiopian refugee, I wanted to prove myself by organizing Orange County. And I did.”

Read more »


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In Canada Bikila Award Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Mulatu Astatke accepting the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award in Toronto, Canada in 2017. (Photo courtesy: Bikila Award, Inc.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 31st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — What do Mulatu Astatke, The Weeknd, Miruts Yifter and the Pankhurst family have in common? They are all recipients of the Bikila Award.

Named after the legendary Olympian marathoner Abebe Bikila the annual award ceremony organized by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Toronto, Canada showcases inspiring achievements of the Ethiopian community from the arts to academia and sports.

The 2018 Bikila Award celebration and dinner will be held on Saturday, September 22nd at Chestnut Residence and Conference Center in Toronto.

Celebrating its fifth year the Bikila Award ceremony “has become one of the most anticipated events in the African-Canadian community calendar,” organizers said in a press release. The event “draws hundreds of attendees from within and outside of the Ethiopian-Canadian community.”

This year the winner of the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award is philologist and world-renowned scholar of the Ge’ez language Professor Getatchew Haile. In addition, the Bikila Award will honor Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Founder of the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula hospital with the Medical & Humanitarian Services Award, as well as Dr. Siegbert Uhlig a distinguished Professor Emeritus of African and Ethiopian Studies at Hamburg University in Germany who will receive the Professional Excellence Award. Professor Uhlig founded the Journal of Aethiopica, and as Editor-in-Chief launched five volumes of Encyclopaedia Aethiopica focusing on Ethiopian studies and involving contributions from hundreds of scholars hailing from approximately 30 countries.

Other 2018 honorees include Bethlehem Tilahun, Founder of soleRebels (Business Excellence Award); Professor Tessema Astatke (Professional Excellence Award) in recognition of his primary research areas that designed linear and nonlinear regression and nonlinear time series modeling; and Benyam Belete (Community Service Excellence Award) as founder of Mekedonia, a philanthropic organization in Addis Ababa that provides services for elderly and mentally disabled individuals.

The Academic Excellence & Scholarship Award goes to students Ednah Negatu, Semir Bulle, Zatty Tameru and Caleb Jara.

Professor Mammo Muchie, a renowned Pan Africanist, currently a Professor of Innovation Studies at the Institute of Economics Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa is the keynote speaker. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Adama Science and Technology University, Addis Ababa University, University of Gondar and Arsi University in Ethiopia.

The 2018 honorary guest speaker will be journalist, novelist and playwright Jeff Pearce who is the author of Prevail – a book about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Pearce connected with survivors of the Italo-Ethiopian War in the 1930s and 40s and discovered additional records of Britain’s role from the London archives. Prevail is now being adapted into a documentary feature film.


If You Go:
The 2018 Bikila Award Celebration and Dinner
Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 6:00 PM
Chestnut Residence and Conference Center,
89 Chestnut Street,
Toronto, Canada
www.bikilaaward.org

Related:
Photos from past Bikila Award Ceremonies:


Previous winners of the Bikila award include Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopian-Canadian pop music superstar Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), Miruts Yifter, one of the greatest middle distance runners of all-time who died in 2016 at the age of 72, as well as Dr. Taffara Deguefe and the Pankhurst Family who were honored two years ago with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. (Courtesy photographs)

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Social Media, Disinformation and Press Reform in Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking at his first press conference on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 in Addis Ababa. (Reuters photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Just like the underground pamphleteers and newspaper editors during the American revolution, independent journalists and social media activists — some of whom were imprisoned or exiled for many years — played a fundamental role in the longstanding movement for change in Ethiopia that recently culminated with the historic inauguration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on April 2nd, 2018.

In one of his first and most memorable acts as the new leader of Ethiopia Dr. Abiy moved swiftly to free jailed reports, bloggers, opposition members and invited those who were exiled to return home. He also unblocked websites run by opposition groups and granted pardons to owners who were charged under the country’s draconian anti-terror legislation that in the past was primarily used to stifle dissent.

Independent Journalism Driven Out

“Critical media was being decimated one way or another, and journalists were leaving the country,” says Tsedale Lemma, the Editor-in-Chief of Addis Standard. “We became at some point, the second-largest country producing journalist asylum seekers.”

Tsedale’s reflection was part of a recent and timely article titled “How Social Media Shaped Calls for Political Change in Ethiopia,” focusing on the new era and “the hopes for ethnic unity, democracy, freedom of speech and media reform,” which was published by Al Jazeera this month. The piece points out that Ethiopia’s “newfound hope was no coincidence; it was the culmination of hard-fought political activism that had forced change upon the authoritarian nation.”

“You cannot imagine this change without social media,” Al Jazeera quotes Jawar Mohammed, the founder of Oromo Media Network (OMN). Jawar is one of several activists who answered PM Abiy’s call and returned to Ethiopia this summer after 13 years in exile in the United States. In another interview with The Guardian Jawar added: “We used social media and formal media so effectively that the state was completely overwhelmed. The only option they had was to face reform or accept full revolution.”

Disinformation on Social Media

Unfortunately, despite Dr. Abiy’s groundbreaking leadership and the good will from the general public, some detractors are misusing social media to spread disinformation, propaganda and hate speech to divide people, sow distrust and incite ethnic-based animosity. Abiy himself admitted in a recent televised comment that rumors and disinformation were largely to blame for the recent ethnically motivated mob violence in several cities particularly in South Eastern Ethiopia leading to a partial Internet shutdown.

According to Reuters: “A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions. The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April.”

This past weekend in his first press conference since taking office Dr. Abiy addressed this issue and emphasized his vision to hold a “free and fair election” in 2020. Elias Meseret at Associated Press quotes PM Abiy Ahmed as stating: “My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. He continued: “there are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country. They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”

PM Abiy Ahmed likewise discussed concerns about the practice of shutting down Internet in Ethiopia following unrests, which was routinely implemented by the previous EPRDF leadership. Per the Associated Press: “Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives. “But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, and urged youth to use it responsibly.”

Moving Forward

It is also worth considering that, from our perspective as journalists, in the long-term the most democratic way to sustain the rule of law and counter the dissemination of unverified news via social media is to strengthen, expand, empower and protect independent, professional and private media infrastructure, which has been severely suppressed. Private media groups should be free of government interference as well as be more representative of the population and not just opposition media.

Last week the 13-member justice reform advisory council, which is tasked to revise the country’s most repressive anti-civil society proclamations, held a public meeting in Addis Ababa engaging stake holders including activists and journalists, some of whom had been victims of these laws, according to Human Rights Watch. “The working groups will conduct consultations and propose amendments – reportedly within 3 months, in time for parliament’s return from recess.”

In the Al Jazeera feature journalist Eskinder Nega who was released a few months ago after six years in prison echoes Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers and the main author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, who went on to serve as the third president of the United States is remembered for eloquently expressing that he’d rather have newspapers without a country than a country without newspapers.

“If Abiy Ahmed does not deliver the promise of democracy, then we’ll be back to social media,” Eskinder says. “I’m prepared to go back to prison again. So, whether there’s democracy or no democracy, it’s back to work. There’s no choice.”


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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Ethiopia Ousts State Firm METEC From Nile Dam Project

A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia has ousted state-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) from a $4 billion dam project on the River Nile due to numerous delays in completing the project.

The Grand Renaissance Dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said at the weekend that the government had cancelled the contract of METEC, which is run by Ethiopia’s military, and would award it to another company.

Italian firm Salini Impregilo remains the main contractor building the dam, while METEC was the contractor for the electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure divisions of the project.

The government has touted the 6,000-megawatt dam project, which is 60 percent finished, as a symbol of its economic reforms.

“It is a project that was supposed to be completed within five years, but seven or eight years later not a single turbine is operational,” Abiy said during a news conference in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

“Salini has even demanded compensation because of the delays. We decided to cancel a contract with METEC and offer companies with experience. Otherwise, it will take even longer,” he said.


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses his country’s diaspora, the largest outside Ethiopia, calling on them to return, invest and support their native land. He spoke in Washington, July 28, 2018.

Abiy has presided over a series of reforms since coming to power in April, releasing political prisoners, relaxing state control of the economy and dramatically improving relations with Ethiopia’s neighbor Eritrea.

The government had previously said the dam would be completed within two years, but recently Abiy said it may face a lengthy delay.

An official at METEC, who did not wish to be named, said the company first heard of the cancellation on Saturday.

“Even now our workers are on the site,” the official said


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AP: Ethiopia’s New PM Vows to Continue Reforms ‘at any cost’

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his first press conference since taking power vowed Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 to continue with reforms “at any cost” and says the longtime ruling coalition soon will prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed waves to the crowd at a large rally in his support, in Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, Saturday, June 23, 2018/By Mulugeta Ayene for AP)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister in his first press conference since taking power vowed Saturday to continue with dramatic reforms “at any cost” and said the longtime ruling coalition soon will prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also said the World Bank “soon” plans to provide $1 billion in direct budgetary assistance, a sign of confidence after years of unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation. Such assistance stopped after the disputed 2005 elections.

“My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” Abiy said, saying the vote won’t be delayed and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and shocked the country with a wave of reforms including restoring diplomatic ties with neighboring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned companies to outside investment and releasing thousands of prisoners.

The reforms have been praised by the international community and attracted investors interested in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Recent ethnic unrest in various parts of Ethiopia, however, has dampened the initial jubilation and posed a major challenge to the new leader.

“There are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country,” Abiy told reporters. “They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”

Some 2.8 million people have been displaced by the unrest, according to the United Nations. “But this didn’t happen due to the reforms,” the prime minister said.

He said the unrest in the eastern Somali region has calmed but measures will be taken against former officials, including the region’s former President Abdi Mohammed Omar, who is suspected of orchestrating the chaos earlier this month that led to the destruction of government offices, looting of businesses and burning of churches.

Asked about internet cuts in the region following the unrest, an unpopular tactic widely used by the previous government, Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives.

“But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, and urged youth to use it responsibly.

The prime minister also in recent months has welcomed a number of once-exiled opposition figures and groups back to Ethiopia and invited them to join in the political conversation.

But on Saturday he drew the line at former military dictator Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974 and eventually was sentenced to life for spearheading a “Red Terror” that killed tens of thousands of people. He fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital.

Some Ethiopians have called on Abiy to offer Mengistu amnesty after a rare photo of him in exile in Zimbabwe went viral early this month.

“Ethiopia’s constitution clearly stipulates the ‘Red Terror’ crimes cannot be covered under an amnesty law,” Abiy said. “So Col. Mengistu will not … return home. But if the law in the future allows, that may change.”

___
Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

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Unbreakable Spirit: A Student’s Journey From the Streets of Ethiopia to the UA

Since leaving home and setting out on his own when he was 8 years old, Josh Brewer has overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve his dream of playing basketball at the University of Arizona. (Photo: Josh Brewer is one of the newest members of the UA Men's Wheelchair Basketball/ Bob Demers/UANews)

UANews

University of Arizona freshman Josh Brewer was told by many of his high school teachers that college might not be an option for him.

After all, he’d never set foot in a classroom until sixth grade, and academics didn’t come easily to him.

Then again, nothing about Brewer’s life had been easy.

From his days begging for food in his native Ethiopia to the horrific accident that nearly claimed his life, Brewer endured more than his fair share of trauma by the time he was a high school senior, yet his perseverance and drive only continued to grow.

So, when his teachers told him college might not be right for him, he didn’t let it discourage him. He applied to the University of Arizona, where he dreamed of playing basketball.

Brewer starts as a freshman and student-athlete at the UA this fall. A triple amputee, he will play on the UA’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team.


Josh Brewer in the UA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team’s equipment room at the Student Recreation Center. (Photo: Bob Demers/UANews)

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Reuters: Ethnic Unrest Tarnishes New Ethiopian Leader’s Reforms

A child plays next to a tree painted in Ethiopia's national flag colors within a camp for the internally displaced people in Chelelektu, Ethiopia, August 15th, 2018. (Photo: by TIKSA NEGERI/Reuters)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

CHELELEKTU, Ethiopia – Shiburu Kutuyu, a 45-year-old Ethiopian maize and coffee farmer, was jolted awake by gunshots one night in June. He told his wife and seven children to flee.

They returned to find their mud-walled home had been burned down, but no sign of Shiburu. Eleven days later, fellow farmers found his body hanging from a tree, his severed limbs strewn on the ground…

A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions.

The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April.

On Thursday, Sorri Dinka, spokesman for the Oromiya Police Commission, said authorities are taking action against individuals suspected of ethnically motivated crimes.

He mentioned the so-called “qeerroo”, a term used to describe young Oromo men involved in the protest movement over the past three years that culminated in former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation.

Some people who fled their homes still feel federal government and local authorities are failing to halt violence against them.

Read the full article at Reuters.com »


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Africa’s First Waste-to-Energy Plant Launched in Ethiopia

Reppie facility in Addis Ababa (photo courtesy: esi-africa.com) & Samuel Alemayehu of Cambridge Industries (Photo courtesy: energynet.co.uk)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 23rd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The first waste-to-energy plant in Africa, headed by Ethiopian Co-Founder & Managing Director of Cambridge Industries, Samuel Alemayehu, was inaugurated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this past weekend on Sunday, August 19th. Samuel, a Stanford educated engineer, venture capitalist and a 2018 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader told CNN that “having created a facility uniquely for Africa, our goal is to duplicate it in five locations” including in Lagos, Nigeria, Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya to “create a renewable energy source that competes with fossil-fuel based power plants.”


Africa’s first waste-to-energy facility, Reppie, was inaugurated on Sunday, August 19th, 2018 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia (Photo Courtesy:Weforum.org/Alex Stewart)

Hailing the Reppie facility as a first on the continent, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) described Addis Ababa’s sprawling landfill also known as the Koshe dump site as an “urban landscape” that is “the size of 36 football pitches and attracting hundreds of waste pickers who make their living from salvaged trash.” In 2017 UNEP reported that a “landslide on the dump site killed 114 people, prompting the government to declare three days of mourning.”

Now Samuel Alemayehu’s company has envisioned and boldly launched a new, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient way to address both the issue of waste management as well as increased generation of electricity through the Reppie project.

Samuel shares his vision for the Reppie waste-to-energy facility in this brief video below:

Producing more electricity for the national grid in Ethiopia has been a long-standing need as cities across the country continue to face frequent power blackouts. Last year in March Cambridge Industries released a YouTube video describing the capabilities of the Reppie waste-to-energy facility being built in Addis Ababa noting that “through a combustion process that converts 1,400 tons of Addis Ababa’s waste each day” approximately “185 gigawatt (GW) hours of electricity” can be produced each year to meet “30% of the city’s annual demand for household electricity.” The Reppie facility would also help to sort metals for recycling in addition to the production of clean electricity by “utilizing two 25 megawatt (MW) steam turbines.”

According to the UNEP the Reppie waste-to-energy project was developed and launched as a partnership between the Ethiopian Government, Cambridge Industries and a group of additional companies including China National Electric Engineering, and the Danish firm Ramboll.

In a World Economic Forum news article from May 2018 entitled “This African Country is Turning a Mountain of Trash into Energy” writer Alex Gray notes that “Africa is the world’s fastest-urbanizing continent,” which brings with it growing concerns regarding environmental pollution. Samuel Alemayehu told Gray “African cities have seen explosive growth in the past three decades and have outgrown the infrastructures planned for them,” adding that Cambridge Industries seeks to “turn one of Africa’s most challenging social problems, the management of waste, into a source of new wealth.”


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US Delegation Visits Ethiopia to Discuss Reforms, Human Rights

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is leading the U.S. congressional delegation to Ethiopia. (AP photo)

VOA News

A U.S. delegation is heading to Ethiopia on Wednesday to talk about the country’s reform efforts since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April.

Republican Congressman Christopher Smith, who led the congressional delegation, said he “is cautiously optimistic” about the political reforms in the country.

In an interview with VOA’s Horn of Africa, Smith says he will meet Prime Minister Abiy and Foreign Minister Affairs Minister Workineh Gebeyehu and push for continued reforms, as well as reinforcing human rights issues.

“We are going to meet with him [prime minister] and encourage him and try to get our own sense of how well the reform process is moving,” Smith said.

The congressman is the architect of H.R. 128, legislation condemning human rights abuses in Ethiopia and outlining a number of reforms that Ethiopia must take to promote peace and democracy. The resolution was passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

A wake of reforms

Since Abiy took office in April, Ethiopia has instituted reforms including releasing political prisoners, diluting state control of the economy, and making peace with northern neighbor Eritrea after two decades of hostility.


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks in Washington, July 28, 2018.

A 41-year-old former intelligence officer, Abiy came to power after his predecessor resigned earlier this year amid protests of abuses by security forces and public anger over perceived ethnic marginalization of many groups in the racially diverse country.

Smith said the delegation plans to press for “the release of all political prisoners, freedom of the press, the history of forced disappearances, accountability for past abuses committed against civilians, and an end to torture and all human rights abuses.”

These reforms, the congressman said, will only strengthen the country, “and we stand in solidarity with the Ethiopian people in pushing to promote these rights.”

Besides top officials, the U.S. delegation will also meet with religious and civic leaders, and journalists. Their talks are to focus on human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.

Smith confirmed to VOA’s Horn of Africa service that the government of Ethiopia has begun amending the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation with input from opposition parties.

Critics of the law argue it has criminalized dissent, saying the 2009 law’s broad definitions have been used indiscriminately against anyone who opposes government policy. Among its provisions, anyone convicted of publishing information deemed to encourage terrorism could receive a jail term of up to 20 years.

Border issues

The delegation also will discuss border issues between Somali and Oromia states, where thousands are displaced and hundreds have been killed.

The violence is said to be the biggest domestic challenge facing the country’s reformist prime minister. When he took office, Abiy ended a military stalemate with neighboring Eritrea and extended an olive branch to dissidents overseas. However, violence at the border continues.


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Aida Muluneh: Changing the Narrative on Ethiopia, One Photo at a Time

Photo by Aida Muluneh.

CNN

By Meron Moges-Gerbi

When you look at Aida Muluneh’s work, it’s clear where her passion lies: Ethiopia. The photographer has been telling the story of Ethiopia long before it started trending this year. The country has undergone tremendous change in 2018, most of which stems from the election of its new 41-year-old Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, one of the most progressive leaders in the country’s history.

Muluneh’s work has garnered international attention and her photographs have been displayed at MoMA, at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and at the largest European photography festival in Baden, Austria.

Muluneh was born in Ethiopia, a child of the diaspora. As a youth, she lived in Yemen, England and Cyprus, before finally settling in Canada. Her education brought her to the United States, where she graduated from Howard University, in Washington DC. Later, she became a photojournalist with the Washington Post, before finally moving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, in 2000.

“My work often starts with a sketch, and I approach each image as a film production in which the character, set design, lighting and styling come together,” she said in an email interview. “I utilize face painting as a form in which the inspiration is driven by body ornamentation, not only in my country, but also various parts of the world. I am deeply influenced by various traditional cultures, hence in a sense, I am bringing the past into the future through various forms.”

Read more »


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Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

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Jawar Mohammed’s Red-carpet Return Signals Ethiopia’s Political Sea Change

Two years ago, the state branded him a terrorist. Now, after years in exile, activist Jawar Mohammed is back – and determined to see democracy in his country. (Photo: Jawar Mohammed addresses a news conference upon arriving in Addis Ababa in August/ By Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Guardian

Jawar Mohammed never travels alone. When the US-based Ethiopian activist returned to his home country on 5 August, he was treated like royalty. A posse of sharply suited young men hovered by him at all times. Jeeps carrying security guards patrolled his hotel in central Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Supporters from the provinces arrived in droves to pay their respects. Over the course of a two-week visit he held about 25 to 30 meetings a day, according to an exhausted aide.

After meeting with the Guardian in his hotel suite he rushed off to give a lecture at the capital’s main university, entourage in tow.

Nothing demonstrated the breathtaking transformation in Ethiopian politics over the past four months quite like the red-carpeted return of a figure who was once the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF) most wanted man.

From a studio in Minneapolis, where he founded the controversial Oromia Media Network, Jawar has spent the past decade agitating over social media for political change back home in Ethiopia, which he left as a scholarship student in 2003. This was his first time in Ethiopia since 2008.

So effective was he as an activist that by late 2016, as anti-government protests billowed across the country compelling the EPRDF to impose a state of emergency, the Oromia Media Network was banned and Mohammed declared a terrorist.

By early 2018 the revolutionary fervour had grown so loud that Hailemariam Desalegn was forced to resign as prime minister, paving the way for his enormously popular successor Abiy Ahmed, a young reformist from Oromia, Jawar’s home and the country’s largest and most populous region.

The Oromia Media Network, along with some smaller outlets and activists, has used social media to devastating effect over the past few years, coordinating boycotts and demonstrations and bringing Ethiopia’s large and often brutal security apparatus close to its knees.

“We used social media and formal media so effectively that the state was completely overwhelmed,” Jawar says. “The only option they had was to face reform or accept full revolution.”…

Few doubt the importance of Jawar in recent Ethiopian history. Perhaps more than any other single individual, he took the once-marginal politics of Oromo nationalism and made it mainstream. Today, Oromos – the country’s largest ethnic group – dominate the highest offices of state, and Jawar enjoys significant personal influence over the country’s new leaders, including Abiy himself.

In a recent interview with local media he claimed – to the dismay of many Ethiopians – that the country now effectively has two governments: one led by Abiy, the other by the Qeerroo. This puts him in a position of extraordinary responsibility, since he is “one of the Qeerroo” and “a significant portion of the country listens to me”, he admits.

Read more »


Related:
US-based Activist Jawar Mohammad Returns to Ethiopia After 13 Years in Exile

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Tribute to Scholar, Civic Society Leader, Actor & Professor Awetu Simesso

Awetu Simesso participated as a guest speaker at EDAO's International Conference in June 2018. (Photo Courtesy: Boka G Tesso/Facebook).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 19th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — It is with profound sadness that we share the news of Professor Awetu Simesso’s passing on Saturday, August 18th in Addis Ababa. The funeral and tribute celebrating his life took place on Sunday, August 19th at Mekana Yesus in Bishoftu with former president Dr. Negasso Gidada giving the eulogy.

A beloved educator Awetu returned from the United States after 32 years of residence to Ethiopia and contributed his talents in various sectors including working as a Professor at Addis Ababa University at the College of Law and Governance on an ongoing basis since 2010 and Professor of Global Studies & International Relations at New Generation University College (2005-2007). Awetu also served as Strategic Advisor at Development Assistance Group (DAG) advising Western donor governments (2014-2018) and as a Senior Advisor at USAID/Ethiopia focusing on democratic governance, peace and security issues (2006-2013). In 2009 Awetu received Meritorious Honor Awards from United States Agency of International Development (USAID) as well as the United States Department of State for outstanding service in the field of Democratic Governance. As a civic society leader Awetu traveled extensively throughout Ethiopia networking and assisting civic organizations across the nation.

Awetu was not only a beloved scholar, civic society leader, and talented actor but a lifelong friend whose mentorship and support was unparalleled. We first met Awetu while he was part of the Stanford University community where he had pursued a Master’s degree in Communication & Media Studies and a second Master’s in Political Science & Government on his way to a PhD in the same department. While performing in plays and theaters as an actor from 1973 to 2004 Awetu was actively involved in the Ethiopian Diaspora community on campus and beyond and held various leadership positions including President of the East African Relief Organization (EARO), Board Member of Emergency Relief Fund International and United Christian Ministries, member of the Stanford International Development Organization (SIDO) and the Overseas Development Network (ODN), Vice President of the Stanford African Students Association (SASA) as well as founding member and advisor of the Stanford Ethiopian Students Union (SESU).


Awetu Simesso (Photo Courtesy: Kathy Haverty Welsh/Facebook)

Awetu Simesso’s contributions were far-reaching and exemplary in the manner that he consistently engaged his peers and colleagues with kindness and generosity. It is difficult to summarize all of Awetu’s accomplishments but the best way is to share reflections and photos from his friends, students and colleagues in the U.S. and Ethiopia. Please write to us at info@tadias.com to share your stories of Awetu Simesso and we’ll keep this page updated.

From Ethiopian American Council

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Awetu Simesso. Ethiopia has lost a powerful force for human rights, democracy and freedom. Ethiopian Americans in Bay Area fortunate to have many wonderful memories of Awetu. The passing of Awetu Simesso will be an enormous loss to Ethiopia and Ethiopians he cared so much about. RIP our brother.

From Daniel Gizaw

“I am absolutely stunned to read this sad story. Professor Aweitu was a close friend to me and served as my advisor and my critique during the writing of my books. He was inseparable from the Stanford university campus at the time. His profound intelligence was unmatchable. In the early 1980s, when we started a group called HAAn (Horn of Africa Action Network) consisting American Peace corps volunteers who served in Ethiopia, Aweitu became our lead man. He was a gifted orator and, with that bellowing voice he commanded respect. In the Bay area, we called him the Ethiopian guru. He was wise and patient. I will miss him immensely. May his soul rest in peace.”

From Hundee Dhugaasaa

I am deeply saddened by the death of Professor Awetu Simesso. I know Prof Awetu when he decided to visit Jimma University Students Union with Addis based Diplomats to discuss several issues at a very challenging time, after the troubles of the 2005 election. He was such a brilliant, humble and far sighted person. We lost him at a time we need him the most. RIP Obbo Awetu.

From Filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman

I am writing to share how Awetu Simesso enabled me to take on an almost impossible task. In all of my filmmaking efforts (which began in 1976) I had had connections to help me…friends, filmmakers, foundations and national organizations. With this support, during the decade from 1993 – 2003 I grew significantly as a filmmaker. Activities included five films on PBS stations, an Oscar-nomination and an Emmy.

At that point, I decided to take a bold step forward. I gathered all that I had learned and took up an opportunity: to document the ways in which Ethiopians in Ethiopia were meeting the challenges of HIV/AIDS. It was then that Awetu appeared.

My vision was to speak with professionals, and lay practitioners, as well as people in villages in Ethiopia, doing whatever they could to help each other. I wanted to focus on Ethiopians who were managing their own organizations on the ground, working with a range of their peers.

In order to get started, I put out a call to anyone anywhere in the SF Bay Area who could help me build a core community of Ethiopians who would volunteer to help me organize this project. The one person who responded was Aweto Simesso. He understood what I was daring to do.

Based on his intuition that this was a project worth his time and effort, he called together a dozen Ethiopians. We met in my living room and the project took root. That night gave birth to a cadre of almost 200 people, most of whom were volunteers, who worked with me. Many from the United States, many living in Ethiopia. Working together, they translated Amharic to English, English to Amhari, viewed footage giving input and feedback, logged more than 100 video tapes and much more.

The result? A five film series SEEDS of HOPE: Meeting the Challenges of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.

From Fesseha A Atlaw

My friend, you are sorely missed already! You only saw the glimpse of your vision of Ethiopia… But God allowed you to see the promised land from the mountain top.

“…I am a proud Oromo and I am a proud Ethiopian, I don’t see any contradiction between the two…” — Professor Awetu Simesso


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Designer Amsale Aberra Will Be Honored by Harlem School of the Arts

The Harlem School of the Arts will posthumously honor Ethiopian American designer Amsale Aberra with the Visionary Lineage Award at a ceremony to be held at the New York Plaza Hotel on October 22nd, 2018. (Getty Images)

Broadway World

American designer Amsale Aberra will be honored posthumously for her contributions to the world of couture by the Harlem School of the Arts at the Herb Alpert Center for the Arts. She will receive the Visionary Lineage Award and is among several high profiled members of the artistic community, whose contributions will be acknowledged during the organization’s 2018 Masquerade Ball and After Party, to be held at the New York Plaza Hotel on October 22nd.

On April 20th of this year, Amsale Aberra lost her battle with cancer at the age of 64, leaving behind her husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, who will be on hand to accept the award on his wife’s behalf; and her daughter, singer-songwriter Rachel Brown, who is herself receiving a Visionary Lineage Award from the organization.

Before illness claimed her life, Amsale had turned a passion born out of necessity into a thriving business; first making a name for herself in the fashion world, with her minimalist, yet elegant wedding gown collection which she sold to Kleinfeld, and later creating the Amsale Group based in New York City with a salon on Madison Avenue.

A graduate of Boston State College, with a degree in political science, Amsale brought her love of design to New York and enrolled at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), earning a degree in fashion design. Her genius lay in an ability to turn understated designs into works of art. She was the true definition of “fashion-forward.” Today, her business has expanded to include her signature bridal collection, a bridesmaid line, cocktail dresses, as well as a line of designer gowns, which have been featured on the red carpet, worn by some of the most glamorous celebrities, among them – Heidi Klum and Salma Hayek. Her designs have also been featured in the pages of the top beauty and fashion publications, in films and television shows.

Her legacy continues under the guidance of her husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, CEO of the company, and her hand-picked successor, Margot Lafontaine, Vera Wang’s former senior studio director. Amsale Aberra was highly regarded by her peers in the fashion industry for her inspiring, straightforward approach to design, and as her husband said, by all who knew her, “…for her infinite goodness.”


Related:
Special Tribute to Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Runway Show


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Ethiopian American Actor Antu Yacob Featured in New Movie ‘Night Comes On’

Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 18th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Actor and Playwright Antu Yacob is featured in a new film Night Comes On that was released in select theaters across the U.S. earlier this month on August 3rd and is now available on iTunes. Based on a true story written by Angelica Nwandu and Jordana Spiro, Night Comes On starring Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall recounts events following the release of 18-year-old Angel LaMere from a juvenile detention center. In its review of the film the Los Angeles Times states “the passionate feature film debut” is “not business as usual” as it weaves together “two different strands: a revenge melodrama about a determined daughter seeking retribution for her mother’s murder, and the emotional story of two sisters desperate for family closeness and connection but not sure they can trust it.”

New York Magazine’s culture and entertainment site, Vulture.com, compares Night Comes On to Moonlight (2016 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture) and notes: “Like Moonlight, Night Comes On takes much of its soulfulness from la mer and people’s capacity for rebirth in its waters. This is a lovely, inspiring film.” Night Comes On was the winner of the Next Innovator Award at the Sundance Film Festival.


Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photo)

Antu, who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Rutgers University in New Jersey, grew up in San Francisco and Minnesota. Her acting career includes roles in NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and the recently released Netflix series Gypsy. She played lead roles in the films Eminent Domain (DeepFreeze Media) and Walking In Circles (NYU Film/Elegance Bratton) as well as supporting roles in Conjure (TerraLuke Media) and Fine Art (Shannon Ousley/Zoe Munlyn). Her play entitled Mourning Sun, set in Ethiopia and New York, was performed at the West End Theatre in Manhattan in 2015 and at the 2016 Kampala International Theatre Festival in Uganda last Winter. In June 2018 Antu also recorded a radio play with the BBC based on the novel entitled Shadowbahn.

Watch the trailer for Night Comes On below:

The full version of the film is available here on iTunes.


Related:
In Pictures: Antu Yacob Performs “In the Gray” at United Solo Theatre Festival

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Watch Ethiopia Episode of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS Show No Passport Required

Marcus Samuelsson's show No Passport Required featured Ethiopian immigrant community in DC as season finale (photo courtesy: Eater.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 16th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The season finale of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS show, No Passport Required, aired on Tuesday, August 14th featuring Ethiopian food and culture in Washington D.C. The full episode highlighted the inspiring stories of Ethiopian entrepreneurs as well as how to make traditional dishes such as kitfo and ful, and eskista dancing.

Zenebech, who started her injera business as a newly arrived refugee in the United States, invited Marcus into her kitchen and they make the hearty lamb dish of tibs as she recounted the early days of her entrepreneurial journey and then later launching an Ethiopian restaurant in 2010.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), one of the largest television program distributors in the United States, premiered Marcus Samuelsson’s new show No Passport Required on July 10th, 2018. As host of No Passport Required Restaurateur, Chef and Author Marcus Samuelsson highlighted food, art and culture in immigrant communities across America — from Little Kabul in Fremont, California to the Vietnamese shrimpers in Louisiana, and the Indo-Guyanese community in Queens, New York.

“Chasing flavors has been my lifelong passion,” shared Samuelsson in recent press release. “To now be able to bring viewers on that journey with me to these amazing communities in cities across the U.S. is truly a dream come true. We get to go deep into the markets, pull up to the roadside stands, and be welcomed into homes — all the places where people share and celebrate food together.”

No Passport Required is produced by Vox Media in collaboration with PBS.

Watch a preview of the Ethiopian community episode of No Passport Required below:

To watch the full season finale episode featuring the Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. click here.


Related:
PBS and VOX Media Announce New Series Hosted by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

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7 Iconic Aretha Franklin Moments, From Obama’s Inauguration to ‘Blues Brothers

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” and a cultural icon around the globe, died Thursday at age 76 from pancreatic cancer. She died at her home in Detroit. (Photo: Aretha Franklin at a news conference on March 26, 1973/AP)

The Washington Post

Relive 7 iconic Aretha Franklin performances, from Obama’s inauguration to ‘Blues Brothers’

For six decades, the world had countless opportunities to be stunned by the talent and range of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at age 76 of pancreatic cancer.

Her long recording career was punctuated by iconic performances that could stir a nation, get an ordinary concertgoer out of their seat and dancing and reduce a sitting president to tears.

Here is a look back at just a few of those moments.

The first Obama inauguration (2009)

The Queen had sung already during the inaugurations of two previous presidents (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton), but she brought extra power and symbolism to the 2009 inauguration of America’s first black president, Barack Obama.

Franklin also sang on numerous occasions in the Obama White House.

Bringing President Obama to tears (2015)

When the annual Kennedy Center Honors selected singer-songwriter Carole King for recognition, it was Franklin who stole the show.

King’s jaw dropped as Franklin, in a floor-length fur coat, sat before a piano and belted out the 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” written by King and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin.

President Obama also sat in the audience, awestruck and wiping away tears. As she neared the end of the song, Franklin stood up, dropped her coat to the ground and belted out the final notes. The roaring audience leapt to its feet.

Franklin told the New Yorker it was “one of the three or four greatest nights of my life.”

Read more and watch the videos at The Washington Post »


Related:
Aretha Franklin, music’s ‘Queen of Soul,’ dies at 76

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Hundreds of Newspapers Respond to Anti-Media Rhetoric — AP

This week hundreds of newspapers in the United States are responding to the present state of anti-media rhetoric in a nationwide coordinated editorials. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 16, 2018

NEW YORK — Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press — and, not surprisingly, Trump didn’t take it silently.

The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.

They did across the breadth of the country. The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy’s need for a free press.

“The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger,” wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.

In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots.” The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, “but we’re not holding our breath.”

“Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants,” the North Carolina newspaper said.

On Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to denounce the effort, saying the Globe was in collusion with other newspapers.

He wrote: “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people.

“Like any true friend, we don’t always tell you what you want to hear,” the Morning News said. “Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness.”

Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.

The New York Times added a pitch.

“If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers,” said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country. “Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”

That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren’t joining the Globe’s effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.

Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context.

“Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media,” Finley wrote. “He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted.”

The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable.

“I want to make sure that it is positive,” said Dan Shelley, the group’s executive director. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters.”

It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump’s election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.


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Feyisa Lilesa Will Return to Ethiopia (VOA)

Rio Olympic marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia attends a news conference in Washington, Sept. 13, 2016. Feyisa will return to Ethiopia in the coming weeks with his wife and children after two athletics groups notified him that he would receive a hero’s welcome upon arriving. (Photo: Reuters)

Voice of America

By Salem Solomon

Olympian in Self-Imposed Exile Will Return to Ethiopia

After winning the silver medal in the men’s marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feyisa Lilesa spent two years in self-imposed exile in the United States. Now, he’s returning home.

Feyisa will return to Ethiopia in the coming weeks with his wife and children after two athletics groups notified him that he would receive a hero’s welcome upon arriving.

Ashebir Woldegiorgis, the president of the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, told VOA Amharic that the call for Feyisa to return is meant to better the country.

“He can teach his exemplary ways to other athletes and teach strength to our youngsters. That’s the main call, so he can come back to participate in the sport he loves and pass it on by running and by advising to elevate Ethiopia’s sport,” Ashebir said.

Show of protest

Feyisa made international headlines when he raised his crossed wrists above his head at the finish line, and again on the podium, at the 2016 summer games.

Read more »


Related:
In Pictures: Feyisa Lilesa’s Daring Protest Reminiscent of 1968 Olympics
Washington Post Interview With Feyisa Lilesa
From Rio to America: Olympian Feyisa Lilesa’s Washington Post Op-Ed
Olympian Feyisa Lilesa Arrives in the U.S.
Olympian Feyisa Lilesa Shows Solidarity With Protesters in Ethiopia at Rio Games
Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa shows solidarity with protesters in Ethiopia
Ethiopian runner makes protest sign as he crosses line in Rio

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As Forgiveness Sweeps Ethiopia, Some Wonder About Justice

Ethiopian lawyer Wondimu Ebsa, who represented political prisoners detained during unrest in the country over the past three years, poses for a photograph during a Reuters interview in his office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Maggie Fick

Reuters

Ethiopia has released thousands of prisoners as a new prime minister reverses decades of security abuses. No-one knows how many were tortured.

But some of those torture victims are now talking openly – to the media, to their relatives and to their friends – about what happened to them after they were jailed, in many cases for protesting against the government.

Their stories raise a hard question for the government: how will it address the injustices committed by security forces behind prison walls?

Since coming to power in April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 41, has made peace with Eritrea, ended a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and announced plans to sell shares in state-owned firms to promote growth and create jobs.

Abiy acknowledges that many prisoners suffered abuses, which he has denounced as acts of “state terrorism”.

He has not, however, announced plans to investigate abuses committed by the security forces or set up a process for victims to seek redress. But he has preached forgiveness.

“I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts. To close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,” Abiy said in his inaugural address.

Rights groups that have documented the torture – from psychological torment to the use of water and ceiling hooks – say there must now be a greater focus on justice.

“Despite all the reforms, there have yet to be any detailed commitments regarding investigations into abuses or justice for victims,” said Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch.

Since late 2015, when protests against ethnic marginalization and inequality began, tens of thousands of people were detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

The attorney general’s office and government spokesman Ahmed Shide did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment.

“WE NEED HELP”

Those who spent years imprisoned and were recently released say they are cautiously hopeful.


Recently released from prison, Ethiopian torture survivor and former political prisoner Keyfalew Tefera, 33, poses during a Reuters interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Maggie Fick

Read more »


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Helen Show Hosts 2nd Empower the Community Event at DC Convention Center

Helen Mesfin of the Helen show on EBS TV. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Among the headliners later this week at the 2nd Annual Empower the Community event in Washington D.C. are Alexander Assefa, a Democrat elected to the 42nd district of the Nevada State Assembly, and Nina Ashenafi Richardson, the first Ethiopian-American judge who was re-elected to the Leon County bench in Florida in 2014 after first being elected to the judgeship in 2008.

The program, which was launched last year by the producers of the Helen Show on EBS TV, brings together leaders from diverse professional backgrounds for a day-long session of information sharing and networking. According to organizers the 2018 guest speakers also include Lulit Ejigu, Executive Director in Risk Management at JP Morgan Chase; Dr. Yared Tekabe, Research Scientist at Columbia University; immigration attorneys Yemmi Getachew & Hellina Hailu as well as Almaz Negash, Founder & Executive Director of African Diaspora Network.

The family-friendly gathering combines the broadcast experience of the event’s founder Helen Mesfin, host of the Helen Show, with her professional work in the hospitality industry, and aims to create a space for community members to participate in panel discussions as well as provide resources and information for families. The event is scheduled to be held at the DC Convention Center on Saturday, August 18th.

Below is a summary of parts of the program on August 18th from 11am-8pm at the Washington Convention Center

The Power of Civic Engagement:
Amaha Kassa, Founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together
Semhar Araya, UNICEF USA’s Managing Director for Diaspora & Multicultural Partnership
Samuel Gebru, Director of Community Engagement and Partnership, Cambridge Community Center
Alexander Assefa, Democrat elected to the 42nd district of the Nevada State Assembly
Tebabu Assefa, Community Leader, Social Entrepreneur

Leadership Panel:
Dr. Senait Fisseha, MD,JD, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of International Programs at the Susan T. Buffett Foundation
Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson , Elected Leon County Judge 2008 & 2014
Almaz Negash, Founder & Executive Director of African Diaspora Network

Science & Technology:
Mark Gelfand, Founder STEM Synergy, STEM-minded financial systems pioneer
Yared Tekabe, Ph.D, Research Scientist at Columbia University
Solomon Mulugeta Kassa, Producer & Host of TechTalk with Solomon television (EBS), Author & Consultant at Deloitte
Tsegaye Legesse, CPA, MBA, Accounting Manager at National Institute of Health, Chief Financial Officer of OnePupil, and Board Member at STEM Synergy

Young Trailblazers:
Nate Araya, Brand Strategist, Story Teller at All Creative Degital
Melat Bekele, Founder Habesha Networks
Sam Kebede, Actor
Helen Fetaw, Actively Engaged in community service related to health care
Selamawit Bekele, Co-Founder, Africa Leads

Business Leaders Panel: Getting To The Top: Strategies for breaking through the
Glass Ceiling with successful Ethiopian American and Eritrean American business
leaders.
Ethiopia Habtemariam, President of Motown Records, and President of Urban
Music/Co-Head of Creative at Universal Publishing Music Group
Michael Andeberhan, CFA, CAIA is Executive Director & Head of Investment
Consultant Coverage at MSCI in New York.
Lulit Ejigu, Executive Director in Risk Management at JP Morgan Chase
The Event will have the Following Pavilions

Health & Fitness Pavilion
Free Health Screenings provided by Kaiser Permanente, American Kindy Fund,
Med Star Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles Dental – BMI, Blood Pressure, Blood
Glucose, Dental Screening, Fitness Consultants, ZUMBA, Resources for Families
with Special Needs, Giveaways and much more
Our partner organizations and sponsors are Kaiser Permanente, American Kidney
Fund, Ethiopian American Nurses Association, Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles
as well as Ethiopian American doctors

Career Pavilion: Career Resources in the Community
Hear high energy career motivational speakers
Learn Career Advancement tips

Participate in Informational Interviews
Receive mini career coaching
Assess your career aptitudes
Partner Organizations: 21st Century Community, YEP – Your Ethiopian Professionals, Alexandria Workforce Development and MBC

Finance Pavilion will cover the following topics:
Raising Money Savvy Kids-Financial Responsibility
Creating Generational Wealth
Dealing with College Debt
Get Your Credit Right
Securing Your Families Financial Future
Home Buying 101
Partner Organization Primerica, CLRA group and Your DMV Team

Kids Corner
Reading Time/Games/Fun Exercises/ Art

Sessions 1
Immigration and Legal Issues with Attorney Yemmi Getachew & Hellina Hailu
Fear NOT, Know Your Rights as Immigrants 11:00 am

Surviving the Stop – How to Engage with Law Enforcement 1:00pm
Teaching Kids & Young Men What to Expect and Know

Session 2
Warrior Moms- Special Needs Parenting
Minding Your Family Relationship
Alzheimer and Dementia and Support for Caregivers


If You Go:
Saturday August 18, 2018
11am -7pm
Walter E Washington Convention Center
801 Mt. Vernon Place, NW
Washington DC 20001
www.empowercw.com

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Why I am Suddenly Optimistic About the Future of Ethiopia: by Joel Makonnen

In the following opinion article published on the TRUE Africa website on Friday, Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, explains why he feels suddenly optimistic about the future of Ethiopia. Makonnen lives in Washington and works as an attorney for a multinational pharmaceutical corporation. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed speaking in DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on July 28th, 2018/Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

TRUE Africa

By Joel Makonnen

On April 2, 2018, with Ethiopia on the edge of political collapse, more than 100 million Ethiopians witnessed something different. Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, an energetic, visionary and unifying figure of mixed Muslim Oromo and Christian Amhara heritage, became Prime Minister. Dr. Abiy’s appointment marks the first time power was transferred peacefully in Ethiopia. But it is also significant because his rise to power can be seen as the manifestation of Ethiopians’ yearning for a dynamic agent of democratic change.

Dr. Abiy was an unlikely candidate. A soldier in the armed struggle against the oppressive Marxist Derg regime, he went on to earn a PhD in conflict resolution, entering politics quietly only a few years ago. As Prime Minister, he has been uncharacteristically outspoken about the problems facing government and strident in his pursuit of justice, both unusual for an official from the ruling coalition, not to mention for an African leader.

In his inauguration speech, Dr. Abiy announced sweeping reforms, which he is implementing at a thrilling speed. He negotiated changes that ended years of divisive protests. He lifted the state of emergency, ordered the release of thousands of political prisoners, denounced human rights violations and removed key figures responsible for perpetrating them.

Dr. Abiy also addressed governance issues for which Ethiopia had become notorious. He removed political opposition groups from a “terrorist” list established to shut down dissent, restored internet access and unblocked hundreds of websites and TV channels. He gave an historic speech on HIM Emperor Haile Selassie, recognizing the need for healing and reconciliation 40 years after the Ethiopian Revolution and the ensuing Red Terror. And critically, Dr. Abiy concluded a costly (human and financial) 20-year conflict with our brothers and sisters in neighboring Eritrea. He is being compared to historic leaders like Obama, Macron and Mandela – after only 100 days in office.

But as optimism dominates the headlines, there are murmurs of concern about Dr. Abiy’s alleged tendency to act unilaterally. Some also question whether things can be this good over the long-term and still others point to the need for consensus among the ruling coalition party.

We have to temper our expectations. One man cannot have all the answers, and in the haste of effecting significant change, he will make mistakes. For example, he is considering a pardon for former Derg officials, even the Chairman and dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. I support efforts to unite the country. However, to equate the pardoning of Derg officials with pardoning unjustly accused political dissidents, releasing political prisoners and ending a needless war with Eritrea is a false moral equivalency.

Under the Red Terror – a wave of violence, arbitrary incarcerations, torture, and mass killings – an estimated half-million people died at the hands of Derg officials. The Ethiopian Diaspora itself is a result of it. I urge Dr. Abiy to consider Rwanda and South Africa, which teach us that dealing with such trauma is a years-long process that must be managed carefully. People who commit atrocities should not be forgiven until they have first sought forgiveness and made amends.

Despite mild fears and healthy skepticism, there is far more we celebrate – for Ethiopia, and Ethiopians, everywhere. And with such a bold agenda of reforms, Dr. Abiy will need all of our help to realize his vision. The United States is home to an estimated 500,000 Ethiopians and many of us stand ready to support the new administration. Several Ethiopian attorneys and I have organized a lawyers’ association. We avail ourselves to the new administration to help with legislative and institutional reforms, constitutional amendments, and any other legal counsel needed.

The Ethiopian community was joined by our countrymen from across the United States for Dr. Abiy’s historic visit which included trips to Washington, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles where he was greeted with a hero’s welcome. Every Ethiopian I’ve spoken with, including my family, delights at the prospect of rebooting a positive relationship with our government. And it is a great feeling to know the new administration wants to hear from the Diaspora, too. If this momentum and good faith can be harnessed to sustain a unified front with matching substantive reforms, great things can happen. Ethiopia is rising again and ushering in an era of peace, prosperity, and freedom. As we say in Amharic, Yichalal (We can succeed)!

You can read this and other great stories on culture, music, sports, lifestyle, politics, fashion and tech in Africa and the diaspora at trueafrica.co »


Related:
In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting
10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis
In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Visit to LA
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at ConventionCenter
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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President of Proposed Ethiopian Diaspora Bank Quits After Board Dispute

Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat announced that he has walked away from his position as President of Marathon International, a recently proposed Ethiopian Diaspora Bank, after a dispute with the Board's leadership. (Photo: Linkedin)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat, who was slated to become President of Marathon International, the proposed first ever Ethiopian Diaspora Bank, has resigned amid a heated Board dispute.

In a recent letter titled “Investor Alert” that was shared with Tadias Magazine Zekarias, who previously worked at PNC and Bank of America, said “for the past year and a half, I have been working as the president of Marathon International Bank, setting up the infrastructure, vendor identification, staff selection, feasibility study and worked on a business plan.” Zekarias noted: “So far FDIC sent our application back twice indicating ‘significantly incomplete.’”

According to the American Banker, “organizers did not include all of Marathon’s policies and procedures in their initial application, [Zekarias] said in the interview. The second time, the agency expressed concern that several directors lived in different states and would be unable to come in and run the bank.”

Zekarias reiterates that “there is still a chance to resubmit a new application. However, the FDIC numerously communicated to us that the current board members are not fit to serve. Knowing this would eventually resurface, the Board and its chairman decided to go forward.”

In his interview with the American Banker, Zekarias said that he still hopes the project could be revived, but insisted that the board has to be reorganized from scratch. Zekarias noted that “he would be open to rejoining the de novo if that happens.” The American Banker said it had also reached out to the current chairman of Marathon International, Tekalign Gedamu, a retired economist and former managing director of the Development Bank of Ethiopia, but Tekalign was not immediately available for comment.

“The FDIC is not the problem,” Zekarias told the American Banker. “They are really helping us by asking us to correct our mistakes.”

Zekarias had initially been equally optimistic about the launching of the bank, expressing enthusiastically to the media that Marathon International would be a groundbreaking venture for the Diaspora. “Our vision is to help transform the Ethiopian community into a far more economically engaged, creative and vibrant member of the wider and diverse U.S. community,” Zekarias had said. The aim was “to become a differentiated provider of financial services by leveraging our understanding of the unique financial needs of the Ethiopian American Community.”

The American Banker further points out that “organizers filed an application with the FDIC in mid-January. They plan on raising $22 million to $25 million in initial capital” while “Gregory Garrett, who previously served as president and CEO of Platinum Bank in Lubbock, Texas, was identified in the application as the proposed bank’s CEO. Several prominent Ethiopian-Americans agreed to serve on Marathon’s board.”


Related:
Ethiopian American Community Bank to Open in DC

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NYC Medhanialem Church 35th Anniversary Celebration Sept 8th

Traditional Ethiopian Dance (photo courtesy: New York Medhanialem Church)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 9th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — One of New York City’s earliest established Ethiopian orthodox churches, Medhanialem, will be celebrating its 35th year anniversary on September 8th, 2018. The celebration includes traditional dance, fashion show, theatre as well as live entertainment from acclaimed Ethiopian comedian Meskerem Bekele. Organizers state that proceeds of the celebration will go towards the building of a multi-purpose center at their current Bronx location.

Medhanialem Church members purchased their current building five years ago in the Norwood section of the Bronx after having used a rental space in Riverside Church in Uptown Manhattan for the past three decades.


If You Go:
Medhanialem Church Anniversary Celebration
Date: Saturday, September 8th, 2018
Time: 6pm – 12am
Location: South Hall, Riverside Church
490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027

Admission (with dinner)
Adults: $50 advance purchase $60 at the door
Students: $25 (with ID at the door)
Children under 12 get free entrance

Click here for ticket purchase
For further information please call 732-766-3895

Related:
Video & photos: Inauguration of the Historic NYC Medhanialem Church in the Bronx in 2014

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UN on Women Farming Groups in Ethiopia

Through women’s cooperatives, a joint UN programme provides training in agricultural techniques, improved seeds and time-saving machinery, while also granting loans and encouraging saving. (Photo: Tulule Knife uses the modern grain storage facility known as metallic silo that her village administration awarded her for successfully applying the line sowing approach to her wheat farm. It also keeps her grain safer. Courtesy UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)

UN Women

Women’s cooperatives boost agriculture and savings in rural Ethiopia

In most parts of the Dodola district, 300 km south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, slow-moving oxen plowing opens stretches of farmland. But in one field, a red tractor is speedily tilling women’s cooperative owned farmland ahead of the rainy season.

For Kamso Bame, a widowed mother of 12 and owner of 2.5 acres of land, the tractor has shaved off days of grueling labour.

Bame is among more than 2,000 smallholder women farmers involved in a joint UN programme to boost sustainable agricultural production and rural women’s economic empowerment, through training and cooperatives.

After Bame joined the women’s cooperative in her village of Wabi Burkitu, she received a 7,000 Birr (259 USD) loan, which she used to start a cart-transport service. Bame uses her daily average income of 400 Birr (15 USD) to support her children, four of whom live independently. Her membership also enables her to cultivate the land using a tractor owned by the cooperative.

“Before the death of my husband, whenever the rainy season came, I remember him spending three to four days ploughing the family’s land with the pair of oxen we owned. Each day, he and the oxen used to come back home exhausted,” she recalls. “Today, it is different, as I am privileged to farm the same land with a tractor and it takes a maximum of three hours.”


Kamso Bame takes care of her sheep by her grass-roofed house. Among her long-term plans are to build a new roof with corrugated iron sheets. (Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)

Fast facts on women in agriculture

Women comprise an average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, varying considerably across regions from 20 per cent or less in Latin America to 50 per cent or more in parts of Asia and Africa. Less than 20 per cent of landholders are women. Gender differences in access to land and credit affect the relative ability of female and male farmers and entrepreneurs to invest, operate to scale, and benefit from new economic opportunities. Learn more

The tractor is used to farm the land owned by the cooperative as a team, as well as each member’s own land. The cooperative also rents it out to other farmers in 26 villages across the district, whose population is more than 240,000. Charging up to 1,500 Birr (56 USD) per hectare, the cooperative currently earns over 6,000 Birr (222 USD) per day, on average.

Read more »


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Ethiopian Artist Aida Muluneh Directs Fatoumata Diawara’s Music Video

Still photo from Fatoumata Diawara's new music video for her single entitled Nterini, which was filmed in the Dallol, Afar region of Ethiopia. (photo courtesy: Aida Muluneh)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist and photographer Aida Muluneh — whose work was recently part of the “Being: New Photography 2018″ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York — recently collaborated with acclaimed Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara on her new album entitled Fenfo (“Something to Say”) and directed the video for her single entitled Nterini (“My Love”). Fatoumata’s first album was ranked #1 for 6 months on the world music charts in 2011.

Aida Muluneh is the founder of the annual Addis Foto Fest and her photography work is in the permanent collection of several museums in the U.S. including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Aida’s body painting photography was also featured earlier this year in March in W Magazine.

“In a world of 7 billion people there are 1 billion migrants. This is the story of one man’s journey,” says a statement in the opening of Fatoumata’s music video. The lyrics describe the heartache of two lovers who are separated from each other.

The music video for Nterini was filmed in the Dallol, Afar region in Ethiopia. “The location is a photographer’s dream. I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I enjoyed directing it,” shared Aida on Instagram.

Below is the dynamic video for Fatoumata Diawara’s Nterini single:


Related:
Ethiopian Photographer Aida Muluneh Featured in W Magazine
Spotlight: Aida Muluneh in MoMA’s Being: New Photography 2018
Aida Muluneh’s First Solo Exhibition at David Krut Projects
Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

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In US, Barack Obama Named 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Laureate

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic campaign for the White House, and the founding of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. (@RFKHumanRights)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization announced that it will be honoring the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama with its 2018 Ripple of Hope award.

“My father believed; ‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,” said Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy. “On the 50th anniversary of his historic campaign for the White House, we honor laureates who have sent forth countless ripples of hope to millions of people inspired by their example.”

The former U.S. President will share the accolade along with Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Humana CEO Bruce D. Broussard.

“Laureates were selected for their exceptional work toward a more just and peaceful world,” the nonprofit said in a press release.

“Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights founder Ethel Kennedy will award the Laureates during the annual Ripple of Hope Gala at the New York Hilton Midtown on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.”

President Obama said: “Bobby Kennedy was one of my heroes. I first got into public service because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, believing that my own salvation was bound up with the salvation of others. That’s something he expressed far better than I ever could when he talked about the power that comes from acting on our ideals, those ripples of hope that can ‘sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’ That’s what I’m determined to help inspire and cultivate over the rest of my career – the idea that anybody can be one of the millions of acts of conscience and voices raised against injustice, the idea that anybody can be one of the ‘million different centers of energy and daring’ who, like Bobby Kennedy, have always changed the world for the better.”

The press release added: “2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic campaign for the White House, and the founding of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. The Ripple of Hope Gala caps an incredible year of commemoration and activism by celebrating those who work to advance the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy in our challenging modern times.”

Past Ripple of Hope laureates include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, Bono, George Clooney, Robert Smith, Harry Belafonte, Howard Schultz, Joe Biden, Congressman John Lewis, Tim Cook, Tony Bennett, and Robert De Niro.

“Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States. Following his roles as a community organizer, constitutional law professor, and U.S. Senator, Obama was elected President in 2008, taking office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades. His leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the healthcare system to cover another twenty million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history. On the world stage, Obama’s belief in America’s indispensable leadership helped wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decimate al Qaeda and eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorists, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, open up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and unite humanity in coordinated action to combat a changing climate. In his post-presidency, President Obama remains committed to lifting up the next generation of leaders through his work with the Obama Foundation.”


Learn more and purchase tickets at rfkhumanrights.org.

Related:
Photos: President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia

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WSJ Profiles the Late Semegnew Bekele

Engineer Semegnew Bekele devoted his life to Ethiopia’s ambitious dam. The project manager of what is expected to be Africa’s biggest dam was found shot dead in his car at 53. (Getty Images)

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal Profiles Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Engineer the Late Semegnew Bekele

Diminutive and agile, Semegnew Bekele usually wore a high-visibility vest and construction helmet while working on the banks of the Blue Nile on Ethiopia’s side of the border with Sudan, considered one of the world’s most inhospitable construction sites.

Most of his work as project manager of what is expected to be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam occurred at night, when the temperatures dropped below 100 degrees. The site teemed with thousands of workers.

Read the full story at wsj.com »


Related:
Construction manager of Ethiopia’s Nile River dam found dead (AP)

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US-based Activist Jawar Mohammad Returns to Ethiopia After 13 Years in Exile

Jawar Mohammad (second from left) pictured with PM Abiy Ahmed and his delegation at Minneapolis International Airport last week has returned to Ethiopia after 13 years in exile. (Photo: Abiyu Tegegn @abiyu_b/Twitter)

AFP

ADDIS ABABA: Jawar Mohammad, an online activist and fierce critic of Ethiopia’s one-party government through his outlet Oromia Media Network, returned to the country on Sunday after 13 years in exile.

Jawar is the latest opponent of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to come home since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April and announced sweeping reforms.

“It’s good to be here! It’s good to be not a terrorist anymore!” Jawar told a press conference in the capital Addis Ababa.

Through his media outlet OMN, Jawar has promoted strikes and anti-government protests, particularly among the country’s largest ethnic group the Oromo.

Protests that began in late 2015 among the Oromo and then spread to the second-largest group the Amhara left hundreds dead and prompted the government to twice declare a nationwide state of emergency to halt the unrest.

It also played a role in the resignation last February of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who struggled to appease the protesters.

Hailemariam’s government banned the OMN and last year levied charges of inciting violence against Jawar, who lived in the United States.

Those charges were dropped after Abiy took office.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Jawar said he planned to stay in Ethiopia for good and would focus on expanding OMN’s operations and re-orienting its editorial policies.

“OMN was an activist media until now. We took clear sides with the Oromo protests,” Jawar said. “From now on, we’re going to move to the center.”

Since taking office, Abiy, himself an Oromo, has encouraged anti-government activists like Jawar to return to Ethiopia.

He has also freed jailed dissidents and removed several armed groups from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist organizations, while signing a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea that ended two decades of hostilities.

Through his work with OMN, Jawar has become a controversial household name in Ethiopia, but he swore off seeking elected office.

“I think I have done my share for this country,” he said. “I want to have an advisory role from now on.”


(Photo: Jawar_Mohammed greeting PM Abiy Ahmed and his delegation at Minneapolis International Airport for the final leg of a three-state diaspora tour, Jul 30th 2018/Mohammed Ademo @OPride on Twitter)


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From Janitor to Nurse: How an Ethiopian immigrant Seized His American Dream

Ethiopian immigrant Hakeem Abdulwahab is a nurse at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, a non-profit hospital, located in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Star Tribune)

Star Tribune

Growing up in Ethiopia, Hakeem Abdulwahab thought only guys like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone could live the American dream.

“I’d watch Hollywood action movies and see that it’s clean here, it’s beautiful, everyone has cars,” he said. “But America was like a dream country … impossible to get to.”

With a little luck and a lot of perseverance, Abdulwahab at 36, has achieved his version of the American dream: Once he scrubbed toilets at one of the top children’s hospitals in the country. Now he works there as a nurse.

“If it was cleaning a toilet, cleaning a floor, getting a towel or making a bed, whatever task he was assigned to do at any given moment, he did it with conviction and he did it with heart,” said Tammy Sinkfield-Morey, nursing supervisor at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul.

“Now he’s progressed from one of our lower level positions to one of our most admired positions.”

One of eight children, Abdulwahab grew up in Jimma, Ethiopia, about 220 miles southwest of the capital city of Addis Ababa. Abdulwahab helped his father produce and sell coffee, one of the only ways to make money, he said. Business often was fickle, due to a cholera outbreak and the amount of time — 3 to 5 years — it took for Arabica trees to produce fruit.

“We were so poor then,” he said. “Some days I didn’t eat anything. Basic necessities like food and water were a luxury.”

As a teenager, Abdulwahab’s parents sent him to live with his older sister in Addis Ababa so that he could attend high school.

On his summer breaks, he learned English with the intention of going to college. When that time came, Abdulwahab couldn’t afford college, so he returned home to once again help his family with the coffee business.

“I always hoped to work and send money to my Mom and Dad,” he said. “I will sacrifice my life for them.”

Read more »


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In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Visit to LA

Ethiopians greeting Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, July 29th, 2018. (Photo: Courtesy Elias Wondimu/TSEHAI Publishers)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 3rd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Below are photographs from Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, July 29th, 2018.

The event took place at Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) where a cheerful crowed of thousands welcomed the Ethiopian prime minister to L.A.


Related:
10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis
In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at ConventionCenter
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopia in Africa’s Week in Pictures: BBC

Ethiopian diaspora cheer Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his visit to the US. (Reuters)

BBC News

Africa’s week in pictures: July 27 – August 2, 2018

August 3rd, 2018

A selection of the best photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere in the world this week.


The arrival of the Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch Bishop Merkorios, who’d been in exile for 27 years, is met with harp music and song in Addis Ababa. (Reuters)


Other members of the welcoming musical ensemble in the Ethiopian capital perform on ceremonial horns. (Reuters)

Read more and see the rest of the photos at BBC.com »


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Eskinder Nega: I’ve Spent a Fifth of my Life in Prison Just for Doing the Work of a Journalist

Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega after being released from prison in Feb 2018. (Photo Courtesy: AFP/Getty Images/Yonas Tadesse)

Time

By Eskinder Nega

I became a journalist by accident. I was in my twenties. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, we had independent magazines. I knew we had to venture into freedom of expression and push the boundaries, so I wrote articles criticizing the Ethiopian regime’s abuse of power. My newspaper became the first to be charged under the press law; my editor and I the first to be imprisoned.

I am 48 now. Since 1993, I’ve been imprisoned on nine separate occasions on various charges. I’ve spent almost one fifth of my life in prison—simply for doing the work of a journalist. This year I was released after spending more than six years in prison. Even though I am a peaceful person, the Ethiopian government convicted me on terrorist charges. Throughout the world, such charges are frequently leveled against dissident journalists like me who challenge their governments.

I’ve seen every side of prison life. I have been kept in dark cells, measuring less than two square meters. As I slept it was as though my head was touching the wall and my feet were touching the door. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand. I was allowed to go to the bathroom twice a day. A shower was out of the question.

Once, when the state had locked me up for my journalism, the authorities tortured me. They beat me on the inside of my feet, the most common type of torture in the world. But I didn’t experience the worst of it.

My son was born in prison. The Ethiopian government had imprisoned my wife and I after the 2005 elections. He had to go and live with his grandmother because the conditions were so bad. My wife and I would meet during court sessions, but apart from that we were not allowed to see each other. My son is 11 now and lives in the United States. I haven’t seen him since I was imprisoned in 2012. The prospect of meeting him is both exciting and terrifying. I am not perfect and I am not the legend he thinks I am. I hope he won’t be too disappointed when he gets to know me.

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Hailemariam Desalegn and Mengistu Meet in Zimbabwe Setting Social Media Buzzing

Social media is buzzing about the surprise meeting between Ethiopia's ex-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Mengistu Hailemariam in Harare, Zimbabwe on Wednesday. (Photo via Twitter)

AP

By Elias Meseret 

Ex-Ethiopian dictator Mengistu meets former leader in Harare

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The former Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam has met with Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Wednesday.

The surprise meeting between Hailemariam, who was Ethiopia’s Prime Minister until he resigned in April 2018, and Mengistu has stunned many in Ethiopia who had a rare glimpse of Mengistu since he fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital, Addis Ababa.

A photo of the meeting between Mengistu and Hailemariam, who was in Zimbabwe as head of the African Union’s election observers’ mission, was widely shared on social media and many Ethiopians expressed amusement at the former strongman’s appearance.

“Mengistu has gained weight and looks very old. I’m very surprised to see that photo,” Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger in Ethiopia, wrote on Facebook.

Others said Mengistu should still face justice in Ethiopia. “Looks like he’s living comfortably in Zimbabwe when he really should be in an Ethiopian maximum security prison or at The Hague. I certainly wouldn’t have met him, let alone taken a photo,” another Facebook user, Samuel Gebru, wrote.

Mengistu was head of the military junta that overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974. He ruled the country in an iron grip for 17 years during which he implemented a crackdown named “Red Terror” in which tens of thousands of Ethiopians were allegedly killed. Some estimates put the number of killed in hundreds of thousands.

“Mengistu is a man with much blood on his hands,” tweeted Martin Plaut, a specialist on East African politics.

The ex-dictator fled to Zimbabwe after losing power and escaped an assassin’s bullet in 1995 while jogging near his Harare home. Former President Robert Mugabe refused Ethiopian government requests to extradite Mengistu, who supported Mugabe’s guerrilla fighters in the war against white-minority rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then called.

Mengistu was put on trial in absentia in Ethiopia where he was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison for genocide.

Calls have been made for the current Ethiopian reformist leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to allow Mengistu to return home without having to go to jail following the release of several political prisoners.


(Photo via Twitter)


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Ethiopian Scientists Develop New Sorghum Variety

Ethiopia releases new, perennial sorghum variety. (Photo: Farmer examining heads of Sorghum/Copyright: Panos)

SciDev.Net

By: Biruktayet Bihon

[ADDIS ABABA] Ethiopian scientists have developed a new sorghum variety that could lead to multiple yields annually.

According to the National Statistics Agency in Ethiopia, the country has almost two million hectares of sorghum fields, and harvests about four million tonnes of sorghum grains every year.

The new sorghum variety is expected to produce yields two to three times a year with continuous water supply and at least once when there is water scarcity, said Gethaun Mekuriya, Ethiopia’s minister of science and technology, during the release of the new variety in Ethiopia last month (28 June).

“The benefit of this new variety is … that once you sow it, you don’t need to till the land for up to five years.” — Talegeta Loul, Re-nature Eternal Life Agro Processing SC

Talegeta Loul, general manager of Ethiopia-based Re-nature Eternal Life Agro Processing SC, said that the national average yield for sorghum is about 2,400 kilograms per hectare, but the new variety could increase yields fivefold.

One of the new variety’s unique characteristic, according to Loul, is that it can produce yields for seven to ten growing years without the need for ploughing.

Loul, who led the research team to produce the new sorghum variety, told SciDev.Net: “We have￿￿ struggled enough to give an output for this country where the majority of the people depend on agriculture for food and livelihoods.”

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Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia’s 4th Patriarch, Returns Home After 27 Years in Exile

His Holiness Abune Merkorios arrives in Addis Ababa after 27 years in exile, Wednesday August 1st, 2018. (Photo courtesy Fana Broadcasting)

Anadolu Agency

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia The 4th Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Merkorios, returned to his country on Wednesday after spending 27 years in exile in the U.S.

Merkorios arrived in the capital Addis Ababa together with the high-level Ethiopia delegation led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — who was on an unofficial visit to the U.S., where he achieved his target of unifying Ethiopians in the diaspora and turned their attention to social, political and economic activities in Ethiopia.

The patriarch was expelled during the 1991 change of government in what many perceive as an undue political intervention in the affairs of the church. An echelon of the clergy opposing the purge went out of the country and declared themselves as retaining a Synod in exile.

It was mainly the question of legitimacy and ensuing claims and blames that resulted in mutual excommunications of the two Synods.

In a fast-paced reconciliation spearheaded by the Ethiopian prime minister, the two Synods agreed to reunite and rescinded their mutual excommunications.

According to the agreement reached in Washington D.C., Patriarch Abune Mathias will serve as an administrative patriarch and Patriarch Abune Merkorios will serve the Church’s spiritual functions on equal authoritative footing.

Since coming to power on April 2, 2018, Ahmed has created a wider political space by releasing political prisoners and calling home exiled dissidents.

Higher government officials, the clergy, eminent personalities and artistes welcomed the prime minister Abiy and the homecoming patriarch.

Pictures: His Holiness Abune Merkorios arrives in Addis Ababa — FANA BROADCASTING


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)

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10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis

Ten thousand people gathered at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota to welcome PM Abiy Ahmed on Monday, July 30th, 2018. (Photo via Twitter @OPride)

TwinCities.com

Ethiopia’s prime minister found a patient and exuberant audience of about 10,000 on Monday afternoon at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Abiy Ahmed, 41, took office in April and has moved quickly to promote peace and diplomacy in East Africa.

He has warmed relations with neighboring Eritrea, released thousands of political prisoners, ended a state of emergency in the country and moved to privatize Ethiopia’s state-owned enterprises.

A member of the Oromo ethnic group, which claims a third of Ethiopia’s residents and an estimated 40,000 in the Minnesota diaspora, Abiy received a rock star’s greeting in the third city of his bridge-building U.S. tour.

Four hours after the event was slated to begin, Abiy took the podium amid hundreds of waving flags of both Ethiopia and the Orono Liberation Front.

Dursito Roro, an Ethiopian citizen living in Fargo, N.D., said she had to be here for the event. She poured out praise for a leader who kept a low profile until earlier this year: He respects women. He is making peace with other countries. He wants to unify their nation of rival tribes.

“He smiles. That’s the most amazing thing,” she said. “African leaders don’t smile.”

College student Murkata Gata made the trip from Chicago to see Abiy speak.

“He is changing a lot of things in our country, so we’re trying to support the idea of what he’s doing,” he said. “He’s trying to unify everyone.”

Hours before the event began, young men waved a banner on the stage reading “Qeerroo rules,” celebrating the Oromo youth movement that pushed Abiy’s predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, out of office.

Abiy shared his speaking time with Jawar Mohammed, founder of Minnesota-based Oromia Media Network. A Qeerroo supporter, Mohammed faced terror-related charges in Ethiopia until Abiy had them dropped.


(Photo via Twitter @OPride)


(Photo via Twitter @OPride)


Related:
In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at ConventionCenter
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting

PM Abiy Ahmed addresses a public gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on July 28th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: July 30th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — With PM Abiy Ahmed’s tour in DC ending with a public gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and a town hall meeting on Saturday, July 28th followed by a visit to Los Angeles, CA, he is now scheduled to greet the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Minneapolis, MN.

The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28th, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of PM Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities,” Mayor Bowser said. Organizers of the Los Angeles event have also shared that an “Ethiopia Day” proclamation was presented on behalf of the City Council on July 29th, 2018.

Below are images from PM Abiy’s address at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, July 28th as well as the evening town hall meeting.


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10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs
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Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

PM Abiy Ahmed addresses a public gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on July 28th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

July 30th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — PM Abiy Ahmed visited the United States in July 2018 meeting with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Minneapolis.

During his successful three city tour PM Abiy also met with religious leaders and took part in the peace and reconciliation conference in DC between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation.

In Washington, DC PM Abiy’s busy schedule included a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday, July 27th. In addition he met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser proclaimed July 28th, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of PM Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities,” Mayor Bowser said. Likewise in Los Angeles an “Ethiopia Day” proclamation was presented on behalf of the L.A. City Council on July 29th at Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) where a cheerful crowed of thousands welcomed the Ethiopian prime minister to California. And in Minnesota as the TwinCities.com website notes over 10,000 gave PM Abiy Ahmed “a rock-star greeting” at Target Center in Minneapolis on July 30th.

Below are pictures from PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour:

PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting

PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs in DC

First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.

PM Abiy Ahmed Visits LA


Related:
10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis

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Ethiopians From Around America Greet PM Abiy in DC (Washington Post)

Ethiopians from around the country wait to enter the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday to see their homeland’s newly minted prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

‘He’s a hugger . . . so I want to hug him’: Ethiopian exiles greet new prime minister

Hulgize Kassa, a 52-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., earned his spot at the front of the line.

The father of two camped outside Walter E. Washington Convention Center starting at midnight Friday, watching as Ethiopians from as far as Colorado and Texas arrived with boxes of food, speakers and selfie sticks. By 7  a.m. Saturday, thousands had gathered in the streets spanning Mount Vernon Place to N Street, honking car horns and sharing food. Most wore T-shirts emblazoned with the face of their homeland’s newly minted prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.

In the three months since his rise to power, the 41-year-old politician has introduced sweeping changes to Ethiopia, lifting a state of emergency, brokering peace with neighboring Eritrea and releasing hundreds of political prisoners. These dramatic steps toward liberalization have sparked “Abiy-mania” within the Ethiopian diaspora in the United States, which, for decades, stood among the fiercest critics of the ruling party’s autocratic regime.

Abiy is in the United States to visit and speak to members of the diaspora. The Washington area is home to some 300,000 Ethiopians, making it the largest community outside the African country.

“I want to hug him. He’s a hugger, I know, so I want to hug him,” said Kassa, a researcher at North Carolina State University. When Kassa first came to the United States in 2000, he never thought he would go back to his homeland. But Abiy’s ascension has changed his mind, he said. He plans to visit his home in the Amhara region next year, and bring his children, 12 and 14, with him.

Abede Yimenu, a former major in the Ethiopian army, said he is also thinking of going home after having been away for 17 years.

Read more »


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In LA, PM Abiy Ahmed to Address Ethiopian Diaspora Conference at USC
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs in DC
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Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
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In LA, PM Abiy Ahmed to Address Ethiopian Diaspora Conference at USC

(Photo: Street sign in Los Angeles' Little Ethiopia neighborhood/Tadias file)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 29th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Wrapping up the first leg of his three-city U.S. tour that kicked off in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 26th, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed is now headed to the West Coast to speak at the Ethiopian Diaspora Conference in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, July 29th.

The LA event is scheduled to take place at Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC).

Organizers say the City Council of Los Angeles will hand an ‘Ethiopia Day’ proclamation to the PM during the gathering.

The event is free and first-come-first-serve until it is filled to capacity.


If You Go:
Ethiopian Diaspora Conference with remarks by Ethiopian Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed
Sunday July 29th, 2018
Doors open at 12:00 PM (Noon)
Program begins at 2:00 PM
Galen Center at USC
A3400 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90089

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Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Why Ethiopia is Grieving ‘Hero’ Dam Engineer Simegnew Bekele

The death of Simegnew Bekele, the project manager of the multi-billion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, has been met by an outpouring of grief in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

BBC News

Condolences flooded social media from journalists, businessmen academics, ambassadors and even flag-carrying Ethiopian Airlines after it was reported that Mr Simegnew’s body was found in a car in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday.

The police are investigating the circumstances of his death. He died as a result of a bullet wound and a hand gun was found in his car, which was parked in Meskel Square in the city centre.

By the afternoon, hundreds had taken to the streets in the capital, as well as Mr Simegnew’s hometown of Gondar, with protesters demanding “justice” for the late engineer.

To understand why a project manager has managed to elicit such shock and widespread mourning – normally seen in other countries after the death of royalty, celebrities or politicians – one has to look at what the Grand Ethiopian Dam has come to represent.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian dam engineer Simegnew Bekele’s funeral draws thousands

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Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Friday, July 27th, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 28th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — On Friday, July 27th Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed continued his U.S. tour and met with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora business community as well as individuals representing political organizations in Washington D.C.

PM Abiy is culminating his East Coast visit with a free public address to greet the larger Ethiopian Diaspora in the D.C. metropolitan area later this afternoon at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Earlier in the week on Thursday, July 26th PM Abiy Ahmed had taken part in the peace and reconciliation event between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia upon his arrival in Washington DC. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation.

In addition, Dr. Abiy who is also scheduled to travel to Los Angeles, CA on July 29th and Minneapolis, MN on July 30th, met with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday, July 27th. Pence tweeted: “Honored to meet with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia today at the @WhiteHouse. I applaud his historic reform efforts, including improving respect for human rights, reforming the business environment, and making peace with Eritrea.”

The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28th, 2018 “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of his visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. The Mayor said she will join Prime Minister Abiy at the Convention Center on Saturday. “The Ethiopian community is such a valued part of our city, and our Ethiopian neighbors have played a critical role in building the diverse, inclusive, and vibrant Washington, DC that we live in today,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities.” The Mayor’s proclamation highlights that “since assuming office in April of 2018, Dr. Abiy has focused on improving human rights, ending the war with Eritrea, pursuing political and economic reforms, and eliminating corruption, that will move Ethiopia toward a more democratic society.”

The Mayor added on Twitter: “We are honored to welcome @PMOEthiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali to Washington, DC. I look forward to joining thousands of Ethiopians from across the region tomorrow as we proclaim July 28, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC.”

In the meantime below are sounds and images from PM Abiy’s visit on Friday, July 27th as he engaged with the Diaspora business community and political leaders:


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First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Joins PM Abiy at Convention Center

In recognition of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28, 2018 “Ethiopia Day in DC.” (Photo: Mayor Bowser Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28th, 2018 “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa.

Mayor Bowser said she will join Prime Minister Abiy at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday. Thousands are expected at the venue as PM Abiy holds his first public address greeting the Ethiopian community in the DC metropolitan area.

“The Ethiopian community is such a valued part of our city, and our Ethiopian neighbors have played a critical role in building the diverse, inclusive, and vibrant Washington, DC that we live in today,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities.” The Mayor’s proclamation highlights that “since assuming office in April of 2018, Dr. Abiy has focused on improving human rights, ending the war with Eritrea, pursuing political and economic reforms, and eliminating corruption, that will move Ethiopia toward a more democratic society.”

The Mayor added on Twitter: “We are honored to welcome @PMOEthiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali to Washington, DC. I look forward to joining thousands of Ethiopians from across the region tomorrow as we proclaim July 28, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC.”

Meanwhile, PM Abiy who is on three city tour of the United States, also met with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday, July 27th.

Pence tweeted: “Honored to meet with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia today at the @WhiteHouse. I applaud his historic reform efforts, including improving respect for human rights, reforming the business environment, and making peace with Eritrea.”


Related:
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.

PM Abiy Ahmed arrives at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. for a private reception on Thursday, July 26th, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — PM Abiy Ahmed met with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community at a reception held at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. on Thursday, July 26th as he started his three city tour of the United States this week that will take him to Los Angeles, CA on July 29th and Minneapolis, MN on July 30th as well.

Earlier in the day PM Abiy met with religious leaders and took part in the peace and reconciliation event between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia during his visit to Washington DC. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation.

When PM Abiy arrived at the embassy there was a lone protester holding the Ethiopian flag. The prime minister approached the protestor, inquired about his concerns and insisted that he will not go inside unless he joins him. It’s not clear what the person was protesting, but he was later seen having a good time at the reception inside.

Ethiopia’s prime minister is further expected to encourage investment from the diverse Ethiopian Diaspora community to continue to boost Africa’s fastest-growing economy. As Bloomberg’s Samuel Gebre notes “Abiy Ahmed’s first U.S. trip since taking office in April comes as he shakes up orthodoxies at home, promising a multi-party democracy and to privatize state monopolies, while making peace with long-time foe and neighbor Eritrea. He will hold meetings in Washington D.C. with the Ethiopian business community, religious leaders, think tanks and the public until Saturday, before heading to Los Angeles and Minneapolis, according to Ethiopia’s embassy.”

Thousands are expected on Saturday, July 28th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. as PM Abiy hold his first public address greeting the larger Ethiopian community at a free event open to all individuals.

Below are photos of PM Abiy’s first meeting with the Ethiopian Diaspora in America:


Related:
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Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopian Nile Dam Manager is Found Dead

Investigators inspect the scene, where Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam Project Manager Simegnew Bekele was found dead in his car in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July, 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The project manager of a $4 billion Ethiopian dam was found shot dead in his vehicle in Addis Ababa on Thursday, police said, prompting scores of people to take to the streets in the capital and his home city calling for justice.

People in the crowds said they believed Simegnew Bekele had been murdered, though there was no immediate confirmation from the authorities, or details of any motive.

“We have confirmed that engineer Simegnew Bekele was shot dead … He had a bullet wound behind his right ear,” the head of Ethiopia’s Federal Police Commission, Zeinu Jemal, told reporters.

Zeinu said a Colt pistol was found in the vehicle in the city’s Meskel Square – a massive road junction and open space usually packed with vehicles and pedestrians during daylight hours.

Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was “saddened and utterly shocked” by the death, his chief of staff said in tweet.

Simegnew was the public face of the Grand Renaissance Dam project on the River Nile – the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Ethiopia has been pushing on with the project in the face of opposition from Egypt which fears it will affect the flow of the Nile, its main source of water. In June, the leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt vowed to iron out their differences peacefully.

Crowds in Addis Ababa marched to the state television station’s headquarters chanting “No to killings” and “Justice for Simegnew”.

Hundreds also packed the streets of his birthplace, the northern city of Gondar. “Amongst our requests is the repatriation of his body back to his own city,” said one protester, who only gave his name as Geremew.

A Reuters photographer saw blood stains along an arm rest inside his vehicle – a gold Toyota Land Cruiser – before an ambulance took away the body.

The dam is currently only half complete, but the government says it is designed to churn out 6,000 megawatts (MW) of power on completion.


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How Africa’s Youngest Leader Transformed Troubled Ethiopia in Just 100 Days

(Photo via Twitter)

Quartz Africa

The changes are nothing short of seismic, proof that nothing remains the same forever.

In just over 100 days, Ethiopia’s new prime minister Abiy Ahmed has taken radical steps aimed at dismantling the country’s troubled past and paving the way for a new future. After years of protests, state killings, ethnic violence, internet shutdowns, and emergency rules, the Horn of Africa nation has made an astonishing and promising turnaround for the better.

Abiy, Africa’s youngest leader at 41, has overseen all this, taking a sledgehammer’s approach in order to establish quick and lasting change on both the local and foreign levels. Domestically, Abiy’s administration announced it would loosen its monopoly on several key economic sectors, including aviation and telecoms. This has reportedly prompted Kenya’s Safaricom to negotiate the entry of its dominant mobile money service M-Pesa in the country. Politically, in a nation where all parliament seats are held by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, Abiy has urged the nation to pursue multiparty democracy.

Abiy’s administration also freed prominent opposition leaders and journalists, including Andargachew Tsege, a British citizen who was seized during a stopover in Yemen in 2014.

But it’s Abiy’s work across the east and Horn of Africa region that have brought a sharp focus to his reformist politics. In June, Abiy went to Egypt to assure president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi— in Arabic nonetheless — that Egypt won’t cut its share of the Nile waters. The hugs and smiles that followed the meeting showcased a significant step to breaking the deadlock over who controls the world’s longest river. On his flight home, Abiy brought with him 32 Ethiopian inmates freed from Egyptian prisons.

After decades of political and military impasse, Abiy also announced Ethiopia would accept a 2000 peace deal with Eritrea. That announcement cascaded in a series of events that ended the hostility between the two nations and captured the world and storytellers’ attention. These include the reopening of embassies, the resumption of trade, and the reunification of friends and family after the first commercial flight from Ethiopia crossed into Eritrean airspace this century last week.

Abiy also presided over the first meeting in two years between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival, Riek Machar, in an effort to end the five-year civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.

With his youthful popularity, Abiy has also become a sort of consigliere of cool, appearing at a concert with Eritrean strongman Isaias Afwerki, and scheduling a dinner date with the famous humanoid robot, Sophia, some of whose software was developed in Ethiopia. He has also appeared at rallies wearing a t-shirt with a Nelson Mandela fist-clinched photo above a slogan that read, “No one is free until the last one is free.”

While many challenges await Abiy after this honeymoon period is over, the reformist politician is proving to be the bearer of good news for now, not only Ethiopia but the region and Africa at large. This week, he will take this message of hope and unity to the diaspora in the United States, where many, including marathoner Feyisa Lilesa, remain hopeful about the change of guard in their home nation.

See the photos at qz.com »


Related:
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Setaweet: Ethiopia’s Capital City is Home to a Burgeoning Women’s Movement

Although a language around women's rights is largely absent from national discussions, Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, is home to a burgeoning women's movement. The city is witnessing growing activity including the first openly declared feminist group called Setaweet. (Photo: Setaweet gathering in Addis by Hasabie Kidanu).

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: July 24th, 2018

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) – As one of the world’s oldest continuous nation states Ethiopia upkeeps and exports a particular image to the rest of the world — a never-colonized, cradle of life that remains superior to European dominance. The culture is ancient and native with its indigenous national language, music and dress traditions considered sacrosanct. Ethiopia grows at its own pace, and looks inward.

In 2018, Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing national economies in the world and is nested in global networks of wealth, yet the perceived influence of foreign ideas are regarded warily. In a guarded and proud culture social change at the national scale is slow and painstaking. And in spite of generations of evolving global discourses focused on women’s rights, the subordinate position still held by women remains largely undiscussed.

Within this cultural context, how do we make language for an Ethiopian women’s movement? What do we call it? What have we called it in the past? And how do we define, grow, and adapt it? A younger generation of women has grown unsatisfied with the culture’s precedent for male hegemony in both public and domestic spheres. How do we redefine the role of women with liberation, leadership and sisterhood in mind? The greatest challenge facing an Ethiopian women’s movement today is how to fashion a homegrown language, which catalyzes change. How do we elevate consciousness within culture so committed to its customs, traditions and social structures that tends to place women on its margins?

From political participation and property ownership to healthcare access and education the social and legal lag of gender equality is evident here. Most acts of daily violence and domestic abuse go legally unchecked and garner little public outcry. Openly sharing one’s story of gender-based violence remains a taboo. Only a very slim portion of cases of sexual assault in the home and/or workplace are reported and even fewer cases make it to the courts. Media continues to perpetuate and dictate stale ideologies of the Ethiopian woman’s image, responsibility, and behavior. The daily catcall is as common as ever, and can easily escalate to physical violence. How do we raise a generation of women and men who no longer internalize and normalize sexism and violence?

Although a language around women’s rights is largely absent from national discussions, Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is home to a burgeoning women’s movement. The city is witnessing growing activity including the first openly declared feminist group called Setaweet. Setaweet (the Amharic term for ‘of woman’) is the brainchild of Dr. Sehin Teferra, and it started essentially as a meeting, which later morphed into ‘The Setaweet Circle.’ It was, and still is, a safe space for Addis Ababa women to convene. Gathering together from all walks of life women involved with Setaweet speak candidly about their experiences in the workplace, home, city. From these gatherings the ‘Setaweet Open Sessions’ were born, and a free forum open to the public was developed to invite guest speakers, authors, and historians to tackle subjects concerning women’s issues. Here, everything is laid bare — even topics of Ethiopian culture that elsewhere are off limits. Topics such as the all-male clergy of  the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, patrilineal family structures, as well as male privilege and entitlement are discussed. In addition, the Setaweet PLC provides a variety of services and custom designed trainings for public schools, corporate offices, and agencies on women’s leadership, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence.

Setaweet has organized various campaigns throughout the city, often with the support of their partner groups such as the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), and The Yellow Movement — a group founded by Addis Ababa University law program faculty and students. Some of the projects include #AcidAttackEducationCampaign (2017); #PagumeActivism initiated by the Yellow Movement to create a platform for sharing incidences of everyday sexism on social media; #AriffAbbat (2017), a collaboration between the Embassy of Sweden and Setaweet to host a photo contest to celebrate and encourage engaged fatherhood; and #NothingforGranted (2018), a collaboration with the European Union Delegation to celebrate the contributions of Ethiopian women through photography.

However, it’s not so much ‘Setaweet,’ but the term ‘feminism’ that has become the trigger word. One of the greatest obstacles and complications of this particular word is that it signals a western import and a foreigner’s ethics onto Ethiopia. It pulls with it a connotation that it has ‘arrived’ to contaminate local customs and religious practices, and the ever-so-cherished Ethiopiawee Bahil. Even though the country has integrated many Western ideals in the past — from clothing, to architecture, to films, music, and food — feminism has not received an easy welcome. Surely, feminism is not new. Although Setaweet is the first to openly identify as a ‘feminist’ collective there have been organized women’s groups that have inched the needle forward for women’s health, legal reforms, social and economic participation.

Ethiopia has not generally witnessed waves of feminism (as we have seen in the West) or properly recorded or historicized organized women’s movements, however, Setaweet has had to sustain criticism that it is ‘too western, radical, hip’ or that the need to champion women as a culture pales in comparison to more nation-pressing issues of prosperity, security, and peace.

“Our goal is clear, it’s activism. The cultural specificity of a city like Addis Ababa is not lost on us,” says co-founder Sehin. “We have declared ourselves feminists. Perhaps other organizations who work to champion women’s rights may not use the word due to the stigma that is associated with the word here. We understand the banner of feminism originally responds to the challenges faced by women in the English speaking world. Yet, work needs to be done here, so fighting for gender equality at home means finding language specific to the challenges facing women in Ethiopia, and how we can raise consciousness to confront Ethiopia’s most closely held cultural ideals. Part of that includes teasing out when and where the Amharic language and media imaging are giving way to harmful and/or sexist attitudes towards the Ethiopian woman.”

Setaweet moves forward still growing and expanding its breadth. The role and need for it is undeniable. In four short years its following has increased while the responsibilities have broadened tremendously. Setaweet has become somewhat of a hotline for the city and community to share, unload, and call out injustices from all over the country – from sexist advertisements in pop-culture to cases of gender-based violence in universities and households. Anything and everything concerning women’s issues is circled through their main channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Perhaps, Setaweet’s most fundamental goal and achievement is that it is fostering an environment for conversation, and in return creating a space for language to evolve within the culture’s context. 


You can learn more about Setaweet on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pg/SetaweetMovement.

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Ethiopia & Eritrea Set to Play First Soccer Match in 20 years

Ethiopian coach Abraham Mebratu searching for a date to play Eritrea. (Photo Courtesy of Alkass)

BBC News

By Omna Taddele

Ethiopia and Eritrea set for first match in 20 years

Addis Ababa — The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) and its Eritrean counterpart have come to an agreement to stage an historic friendly game in August.

An exact date for the match is yet to be decided but looks set to be played in the Eritrean capital Asmara.

The two nations have been avoiding games against each since the start of a border war in 1998.

In recent weeks peace has returned to the area with diplomatic ties being resumed.

Ethiopia boycotted games against Eritrea in 2000 and refused to take part in the east and central African regional under-20 event organised by Cecafa.

For their part Eritrea have also failed to take part in the 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup and forfeited a 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Ethiopia.

Newly appointed Ethiopia coach Abraham Mebratu is looking into the best date for the game as he will use it to help prepare for September’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone.


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Ethiopia Has ‘No Option’ But Multiparty Democracy, PM Says (AP)

Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia's reformist and outspoken new prime minister, says multi-party democracy is the only option for Ethiopia's future. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia has “no option” but to pursue multi-party democracy, the reformist new prime minister said Sunday, again shaking up Africa’s second most populous nation that for decades has been ruled by a single coalition.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff announced the remarks on Twitter, saying they were made during a meeting with leaders of more than 50 national and regional parties, including ones from overseas, who demanded reforms in election law.

A multiparty democracy would need strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law, Abiy said, according to chief of staff Fitsum Arega.

The 42-year-old prime minister has announced sweeping reforms since taking office in April, including the release of opposition figures from prison and the embrace of a peace deal that led to the surprising restoration of diplomatic ties this month with longtime rival Eritrea.

Just months ago Ethiopia, a nation of more than 100 million people, faced widespread anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms, with the U.N. human rights chief and others expressing concern over hundreds of reported deaths and tens of thousands of people detained. The economy, one of Africa’s fastest-growing, suffered.

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, which has been in power since 1991 and along with affiliated parties holds every seat in parliament, came up with Abiy after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stepped aside early this year. Notably, Abiy doesn’t come from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a party in the ruling coalition that has been the dominant force in government for most of the past 27 years.

Since taking office the new prime minister has surprised Ethiopians by openly acknowledging past torture by security forces, announcing the opening-up of the state-run economy and suggesting that his own position should have term limits.

While the government in the past has called its elections democratic, election observers and human rights groups have reported alleged intimidation and vote-rigging.

“Electoral reform, yes. It must be the top priority. Only speedy transition to electoral democracy will save the country,” Jawar Mohammed, a prominent Ethiopian activist based in the U.S., said Sunday on Facebook.

The recent removal of three groups from Ethiopia’s terror list, yet another of the new reforms, means the Oromo Liberation Front and Ginbot 7 could challenge the ruling coalition in next year’s elections. Their delisting, Abiy’s chief of staff said at the time, “will encourage groups to use peaceful political discourse to achieve political ends.”

While many in Ethiopia have cheered the changes, the dramatic shifts in the country’s long-entrenched government have caused some unrest. A grenade attack last month on a huge rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, shortly after Abiy addressed the crowd killed two people and hurt more than 150.

The ruling coalition blamed “desperate anti-peace elements” and vowed to continue with the reforms.


Related:
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.

(Photos: Outside of the Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington, D.C. (Hannah Gebresilassie/Medill News Service)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 20th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. held a press conference yesterday evening to provide more details on the PM Abiy Ahmed’s upcoming visit to Washington D.C. on July 28th, 2018. The press conference was shared live on a newly launched official Facebook page (PM Abiy in DC #መደመር) designed to promote this event.

Details of the public event provided during the press conference include location and time information, transportation recommendations as well as security details for the gathering as follows:

PM Abiy will greet Ethiopians at a free event hosted at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, July 28th, 2018. There is no registration or payment requirement for the event.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE & LOCATION:

Walter E. Washington Convention Center 801 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington, DC 20001
9:00AM: Doors Open
1:00pm: Official Program Commence
5:00pm: Program Concludes

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION & PARKING INFORMATION:

Metro information:
Yellow/Green line: Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center
Red/Green Line: Gallery Place-Chinatown wmata.com for weekend schedule. It is recommended to use public transportation to arrive to the convention for this event.

Parking Information:
There are over 3,000 parking spaces in a three-block radius of the facility. These spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis.

VOLUNTEER INFORMATION & TRANSPORTATION:

Close to 500 volunteers in uniform will be assisting attendees with entrance into the venue. Three volunteer cab companies will be transporting attendees from various locations to the venue. Please pay attention for marked taxi vehicles.

SECURITY INFORMATION:

It is highly recommended that attendees do not bring large bags or metal objects. Everyone is subject to security protocol and metal detector screening. In addition, it was advised at the press conference that event participants refrain from bringing their children to the convention center.

ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS

In addition to the public event at the Walter E. Convention Center a smaller town hall event comprising of 1,500 individuals represented from various sectors and civic organizations have been invited to meet with PM Abiy Ahmed during his visit to Washington D.C.

PM Abiy Ahmed also plans to take part in the peace process event to be held among the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and the synods in Addis Ababa during his visit to Washington DC.

Following the Washington DC event PM Abiy Ahmed will travel to Los Angeles, CA on July 29th and Minneapolis, MN on July 30th to meet with members of the Ethiopian community. The Minneapolis event is scheduled to be hosted at the Target Center (600 N 1st Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403).

Additional information for all events related to PM Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. can also be found on the following social media platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrAbiyUSVisit/
Website: www.yemedemerguzo.org
Instagram: #MedemerUSA
Twitter: @MedemerUSA


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Reuters: Kenya’s Safaricom Taking M-Pesa to Ethiopia

Kenya's Safaricom is in talks with the government of Ethiopia to provide its mobile money service, M-Pesa. (Photo Courtesy: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI — Kenya’s Safaricom (SCOM.NR) is in advanced talks with the Ethiopian government to introduce its popular M-Pesa mobile money service, a major step towards establishing a toe-hold in the market of 100 million people, two sources said on Tuesday.

M-Pesa could transform Ethiopia’s economy, as it has done in Kenya, by allowing people to sidestep a decrepit and inefficient banking system and send each other money and make payments at the touch of a button.

As such, it could bolster the bold political and economic reform drive of new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed against opposition from hardliners in the ruling EPRDF coalition.

Started in 2007, M-Pesa has around 20 million active users in Kenya and has become the principal driver of profit growth for the dominant telecoms provider in East Africa as revenue from traditional voice and text services has flattened off.

Over the last decade, it has evolved from a basic money transfer service to a financial platform offering savings, loans and insurance products in conjunction with local lenders.

The deal could also give Safaricom and its parent companies, South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone (VOD.L), a head-start when the Ethiopian government follows through on its stated intention to open up its telecoms sector to foreign companies.

“This is an important milestone for Safaricom,” said Eric Musau, head of research at Nairobi-based Standard Investment Bank.

Vodafone will license the use of the M-Pesa brand to an Ethiopia-based bank while Safaricom will host the servers in Nairobi, one Kenyan telecoms industry source told Reuters.

Ethiopia’s state telecommunications monopoly, Ethio Telecom, will carry the service, the source added.

Read more »


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Ethiopian Makes Historic Flight to Eritrea

Ethiopian Airlines resumed flights to Eritrean capital Asmara on July 17, 2018. (Photo: AFP)

BBC

Roses and champagne have been given to passengers on the first commercial flight between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 20 years.

Ethiopian Airlines said its “bird of peace” flew to Eritrea, after the end of the “state of war”.

“I am in cloud nine,” flight captain Yosef Hailu told the BBC.

Relatives and friends are expected to be reunited for the first time since a 1998-2000 border war between the two nations shut air and road travel.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has spearheaded a peace process with Eritrea since he took office in April.

He signed a “peace and friendship” agreement with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki on 9 July, declaring that the “state of war” was over.

The deal was signed in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, during the first visit by an Ethiopian head of state to the country in 20 years.

Mr Isaias made a reciprocal visit to Ethiopia about a week later.

The two leaders agreed to restore diplomatic ties, and resume air and road travel.

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was among the passengers on the historic flight.

He told the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza that he was emotional about making the trip.

“It’s a golden moment for the two countries and the two people,” he said.

Captain Yosef said he was looking forward to meeting friends in Eritrea.

“I’m going back to the place where I grew up. I’m really happy,” he told the BBC.

Ethiopia Airlines tweeted a picture of the pilots in the cockpit before take-off.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia’s Young, New Leader Shakes Up One-Party System — Wall Street Journal
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Obama Speaks to Cheering Crowd on Mandela’s 100th Birthday in South Africa

Obama’s speech in South Africa is his highest-profile address since leaving office. He is marking the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s birth and giving an impassioned defense of the values held by the Nobel Peace Prize winner. (Photo: Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his speech at the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 17, 2018/AP)

AP

Obama decries ‘utter loss of shame among political leaders’ in high-profile Mandela address

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In his highest profile speech since leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced the policies of President Donald Trump without mentioning his name, taking aim at the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” and decrying leaders who are caught lying and “just double down and lie some more.”

Obama was cheered by thousands in Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium as he marked the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth by urging respect for human rights, the free press and other values he said were under threat.

He rallied people to keep alive the ideals that the anti-apartheid activist worked for as the first black president of South Africa, including democracy, diversity, gender equality and tolerance.

Obama opened by calling today’s times “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”

“We see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.

A day after Trump met in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama criticized “strongman politics.”

The “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” are on the move “at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago,” Obama added.

“Those in power seek to undermine every institution … that gives democracy meaning,” he said.

The first African-American president of the United States spoke up for equality in all forms, adding: “I would have thought we had figured that out by now.”

Obama praised the diversity of the World Cup champion French team, and he said that those countries engaging in xenophobia “eventually … find themselves consumed by civil war.”

He noted the “utter loss of shame among political leaders when they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more,” warning that the denial of facts could be the undoing of democracy.

But Obama reminded the crowd that “we’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys.”

He closed with a call to action: “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

The crowd gave him a standing ovation in the chilly South African winter.

“Just by standing on the stage honoring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump,” said John Stremlau, professor of international relations at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.

He called the timing of Obama’s speech auspicious — one day after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and said the commitments that defined Mandela’s life are “under assault.”

“Yesterday, we had Trump and Putin standing together; now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela.”

This was Obama’s first trip to Africa since leaving office in 2017. Earlier this week, he stopped in Kenya, where he visited the rural birthplace of his late father.

Obama’s speech noted how Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa’s harsh system of white minority rule.

Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990 and became president four years later, died in 2013 at the age of 95. He left a powerful legacy of reconciliation and diversity along with a resistance to inequality — economic and otherwise.

Since leaving the White House, Obama has shied away from public comment on the Trump administration, which has reversed or attacked his notable achievements. The U.S. under Trump has withdrawn from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal while trying to undercut the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.”

Obama’s speech drew on his great admiration for Mandela, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner whom America’s first black president saw as a mentor.

When Obama was a U.S. senator, he had his picture taken with Mandela. After Obama became president he sent a copy of the photo to Mandela, who kept it in his office. Obama also made a point of visiting Mandela’s prison cell and gave a moving eulogy at Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, saying the South African had inspired him.

Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the U.S. and around the world.

Stremlau, who attended the speech, called it “a tough, strong condemnation of Trump and all that he stands for.”

“Obama hit out at lying, insecurity and putting down others. Obama said he can’t believe it is necessary to once again speak up for equality and human rights,” Stremlau said. “He pulled it together in a carefully worded, measured speech, which urged all to live up to Mandela’s standards and values.”

___
Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

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Ethiopia’s Young, New Leader Shakes Up One-Party System — Wall Street Journal

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shatters political taboos, such as calling for national reconciliation amid violent ethnic discord. (Photo by HILINA ABEBE)

Wall Street Journal

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In this strategically vital nation of 100 million, a charismatic young leader is delivering shock therapy to one of the world’s most entrenched one-party systems.

In the four months since Abiy Ahmed—a 42-year-old former army officer—emerged as prime minister from an opaque power struggle in Ethiopia’s ruling party, he has riveted this East African nation with announcements that have shattered political taboos.

The premier has smiled, hugged and glad-handed his way across the country, calling for national reconciliation in the midst of violent ethnic discord, ordering the release of thousands of political prisoners and legalizing opposition groups long classified as terrorists.

He has conceded that Ethiopia’s ruling EPDRF coalition—in power since overwhelming the communist junta in 1991—is tainted by corruption and accused the powerful security services of conducting “terrorism” against their own population. He has angered hard-liners by launching a fast-track end to the two-decade conflict with Eritrea, removing a barrier between neighbors that came to be known as Africa’s Berlin Wall. Mr. Ahmed recently visited Eritrea to sign a peace agreement and he hosted Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, who formally reopened Eritrea’s embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday for the first time in more than two decades.

Mr. Ahmed has also pledged to liberalize Ethiopia’s tightly controlled economy and partly privatize state-owned enterprises, including Ethiopian Airlines, one of the world’s fastest-growing carriers. Market analysts expect him to tighten commercial and investment relations with the West over China, which has so far dominated the Ethiopian economy and owns most of the country’s massive debt load.

The outcome of Mr. Ahmed’s breakneck overhaul agenda could fundamentally reshape politics across the Horn of Africa, a strategic coastline perched on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and site of mounting geopolitical competition between the Gulf monarchies, Iran, China and the U.S. His agenda has been supported by U.S. policy makers hoping to move a crucial counterterrorism partner closer to Washington and away from Beijing.

Mr. Ahmed’s message—and his telegenic delivery—has won him adulation from young and marginalized voters in a country where the median age is 18. Taxi buses in this traffic-choked highland capital are plastered with stickers of the premier smiling or holding his arms aloft. Souvenir shops sell T-shirts bearing his image.

But his sharp rhetorical shift comes with significant risks, lifting the veil on Ethiopia’s existential challenges. “It’s difficult not to be carried away by the euphoria about Abiy,” said Rashid Abdi, an analyst with Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group. “But he’s still struggling with significant pockets of discontent internally, and the frenetic pace of reform is upsetting his conservative critics.”

Behind the headlines, Ethiopia’s challenges are immense. Lauded internationally for sky-high growth rates, the economy has amassed unsustainable debt to fund an infrastructure spree, while many of its people still face hunger and extreme poverty. A crippling shortage of foreign currency has slowed production in factories and marquee construction projects including the $4.2 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile, which has been only temporarily alleviated by a $1 billion cash infusion from the United Arab Emirates.

Analysts say Mr. Ahmed’s pledge to sell stakes in two of Ethiopia’s largest state-owned enterprises—Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines—has more to do with resolving the currency crisis than a damascene conversion to free market capitalism. Auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers are valuing the assets of EthioTel, and Deloitte, Ernst & Young and others will help advise on the share sale. McKinsey is advising Ethiopia’s government on regulatory overhaul in preparation.

Read more »


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopian Shelves Plane Deals, Maps Out Privatization Plan – Bloomberg

(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines Facebook)

Bloomberg

Ethiopian Airlines Group has shelved plans to establish a fleet of smaller jetliners as gains in demand suggest that the routes where they’d be deployed would be better served using larger planes.

Africa’s biggest airline had been looking at Bombardier Inc.’s C Series aircraft — since taken over by Airbus SE and renamed the A220 — together with Embraer SA’s E195. An order, which had been mooted as likely at this week’s Farnborough air show, is now off the agenda, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam said in an interview.

“We have decided to suspend the evaluation of the 100-seater regional aircraft acquisition project, since the market size of the selected regional routes is growing faster than we expected,” he said. Boeing Co. 737 jets from the current fleet will instead be used while the airline studies passenger trends.

Tewolde also said there’s no prospect of an order for the Airbus A350-1000 wide-body or Boeing’s rival 777X at the Farnborough expo, with Ethiopian still evaluating the two planes for its latest long-haul requirements. A purchase of more of the U.S. company’s current-generation 777s or the 787 Dreamliner remains an alternative, he said.

The CEO said that privatization plans, sanctioned by Ethiopia’s ruling politburo last month, are more likely to see foreign involvement in various operating units than an outright stake sale, given that Ethiopian Air already makes a significant economic contribution to the nation while being efficient, competitive internationally and able to raise capital for growth.

Of the group’s seven or eight business units, some will be “very attractive” to investors and could also benefit from outside involvement, he said. He cited the airline’s hotel business, airports and aerospace manufacturing division where negotiations are underway with companies including Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier. The carrier’s logistics arm, which has a venture with Deutsche Post AG’s DHL brand, could be transformed into a joint holding giving the German company a 49 percent stake “within weeks.”

Read more »


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Ethiopia Hails Its Charismatic Young Leader as a Peacemaker

Dancers welcome Eritrea’s leader, Isaias Afwerki, to Addis Ababa. (Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Guardian

The flags of the two nations flew bright and sharp. The two leaders waved at the happy crowds. The formal meetings overran, amid ostentatious displays of bonhomie. Even the hatchet-faced security officials appeared relaxed.

The meeting of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s 41-year-old prime minister, and Isaias Afwerki, the 71-year-old president of Eritrea, in Addis Ababa on Saturday left seasoned Africa observers gasping for breath.

“The pace of this is simply astounding,” said Omar S Mahmood, of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Ethiopia’s booming capital.

The meeting between Abiy and Isaias concluded an intense bout of diplomacy that appears to have ended one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. “Words cannot express the joy we are feeling now,” Isaias said, as he had lunch with Abiy. “We are one people. Whoever forgets that does not understand our situation.”

Many Ethiopians expressed their exhilaration on social media. “The events of these past … days between Ethiopia and Eritrea are like the fall of the Berlin Wall. Only amplified 1,000 times,” Samson Haileyesus wrote on Facebook. The reaction in Eritrea has been equally ecstatic.

Analysts say such hyperbole may be justified. The bid for peace with Eritrea is just the latest in a series of efforts that may bring revolutionary reform to Africa’s second most populous nation, transform a region and send shockwaves from the Mediterranean to the Cape of Good Hope.

Since coming to power in April, Abiy has electrified Ethiopia with his informal style, charisma and energy, earning comparisons with Nelson Mandela, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama and Mikhail Gorbachev. He has reshuffled his cabinet, fired a series of controversial and hitherto untouchable civil servants, including the head of Ethiopia’s prison service, lifted bans on websites and other media, freed thousands of political prisoners, ordered the partial privatisation of massive state-owned companies, ended a state of emergency imposed to quell widespread unrest and removed three opposition groups from a list of “terrorist” organisations.

Read more »


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Eritrea’s President Arrives in Ethiopia for First Visit in More Than Two decades
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With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
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Eritrea’s President Arrives in Ethiopia for First Visit in More Than Two decades

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki is welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon arriving for a three-day visit, at the Bole international airport in Addis Ababa, July 14, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki said on Saturday history was being made as he started his first visit to Ethiopia in more than two decades, days after the two neighbors declared an end to their “state of war”.

Arriving for three days of meetings, Isaias was greeted warmly at the airport by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and thousands lined Addis Ababa’s main thoroughfare Bole Road, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both leaders.

The visit comes just days after Abiy visited Eritrea and signed a pact with Isaias on resuming ties, a move that ended a near 20-year military standoff after a border war.

“Words cannot express the joy we are feeling now. History is being made as we speak,” Isaias said during a lunch hosted by Abiy.

“Lives have perished but we are lucky to observe today … We are one people – whoever forgets that does not understand our situation.”

Abiy introduced Isaias to guests attending the lunch as an “esteemed and missed guest”.

Eritrea formally seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long battle for independence, but the two went to war in 1998 over a border dispute. Though a peace deal was signed two years later, Ethiopia refused to implement it, saying it wanted more talks.

Reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea could change politics and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region, which hundreds of thousands of young people have fled in search of safety and opportunities in Europe.

During the lunch, Abiy presented Isaias with a gold ring, while a painter handed Isaias a giant portrait of the Eritrean leader.

Ethiopia’s government spokesman said Isaias and his delegation would visit an industrial park in the southern Ethiopian town of Hawassa later on Saturday. Isaias was also due to give a speech in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have so far agreed to open embassies, develop ports and restart flights.

Eritrea is due to reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday for the first time since 1998.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter Isaias was accompanied by several ministers and other senior government officials.

Abiy, who is also trying to bring stability to a country that has been torn by protests since 2015, survived a grenade attack last month.


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Q&A: How Timnit Gebru Brought Diversity to Artificial Intelligence (Forbes)

Timnit Gebru. (Forbes)

Forbes

Meet Timnit Gebru. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Gebru immigrated to the US at 16 to earn her PhD from Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and just finished her year as a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research in New York. While she was still a PhD student, she co-founded Black in AI, an organization fostering collaboration and discussing initiatives to increase the representation of Black people in the field.

Was there a moment where you questioned your path?

All the time. I mean, when I first did analog circuit design, I was very much into hardware and that was my main focus while at Apple. Then, I went back to school to get my master’s in hardware. After I took many classes in device physics and did research with device physics for over a year I ultimately decided that device physics wasn’t for me. At first, I was a bit hesitant to change paths, but I was trying to see what I was interested in.

Do you follow your passion with everything?

Sort of. When I was doing research, I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on. I changed from device physics to a completely different thing, optics. It was still applied physics, but I didn’t know as much about optics. Learning something new like optics or image processing sparked a new interest in how my research could change the world for the better — for instance, how could I think of new ways of doing low-cost image processing from a phone for developing countries, because I am also from a developing country. I’m always thinking about that in whatever I do. I found myself really interested in computer vision. At the end of the one year in research, I decided, you know what? This is not for me. I’m just not going to do a PhD. So, I left, and worked on a startup instead. Eventually, I left that too, pursued Hacker School just for fun, and eventually asked myself, what am I doing with my life?

I had to do a lot of soul searching. I really enjoyed computer vision, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to spend my time doing something I wouldn’t still be passionate about. I was so confused. Am I a software person or am I a hardware person? Should I go back to Apple? Should I interview for jobs? What should I do?

If you work so hard on something and you put so much investment in your education, to not feel like you have a path can feel very defeating.

I think it’s important for people to understand that you have difficult times. Even successful people. In Ethiopian culture, not 100% of your identity is based on your achievement or work. I think it’s dangerous when that’s the case, and I think at that point too much of my identity was tied to what sort of career I was doing.

Read more »


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PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th

Ethiopia's new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, will meet the Ethiopian Diaspora community at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. on July 28th, 2018. (photo: Wikipedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 14th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. and metropolitan area in collaboration with the Ethiopian Embassy has announced a public gathering on July 28th to greet PM Abiy Ahmed at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The event is free and open to the public and is scheduled to take place in the afternoon from 1pm-4pm.

Dr. Abiy will also be traveling to Los Angeles, California on July 29th and Minnesota on July 30th to meet the Ethiopian Diaspora community.


Artwork by Solomon Asfaw

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia the trip is “aimed at boosting the involvement of all Ethiopian Diaspora living in the U.S. in the ongoing reforms, development, and democratization in their country of birth.” Organizers emphasize that all Ethiopians are “invited to participate in the meeting, regardless of their political ideology, religion, and ethnic background.”

PM Abiy Ahmed’s upcoming trip to the United States, follows in the heels of a successful and long-awaited peace summit between Eritrea and Ethiopia that officially ended the decades-long protracted border war between the two nations. PM Abiy Ahmed has also called for the formation of a Diaspora Trust Fund encouraging Ethiopians abroad to invest a dollar a day to support current reform initiatives, assist in development projects, and support innovative ideas in all fields to help Ethiopia accelerate its mission of becoming a more peaceful, democratic, united and free society.


If You Go:
Public Convention to Meet PM Abiy Ahmed
Date: Saturday, July 28th, 2018
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Location: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington, DC 20001

This event is free and open to the public.


Related:
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy

A rally in Bahir Dar to support the reform measures that are currently being implemented in Ethiopia by the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on July 1st, 2018. (Photo via Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Updated: July 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — “Diaspora, here is a call to you. A dollar a day to help children get an education, our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers get health service, and above all, consider this as ‘paying back’ to your people who gave you future while they had no one,” said PM Abiy Ahmed in a recent comment while defending Ethiopia’s 346.9 billion Ethiopian birr ($12.71 billion) budget and inviting fellow Ethiopians who reside overseas to become part of the solution.

As we prepare to welcome Dr Abiy here in the United States in a couple of weeks we encourage our readers not only to heed his call to establish a “Diaspora Trust Fund” to support the ongoing reform initiatives to take root and to assist in other development projects, but also to think outside the box and offer fresh and innovative ideas in all fields to help the country accelerate its mission of becoming a more peaceful, democratic, united and free society with a prosperous economy that respects the natural human rights of all its citizens.

It’s remarkable that so much has changed in Ethiopia in such a short time that it almost feels like we are living through one of those rare moments that take place once in a blue moon in Ethiopia’s ancient and mystical history, such as the building of Lalibela in the 13th century; the founding of the cities of Harar in 1216 and Gondar in 1635. Or for that matter the victory at the Battle of Adwa in 1896 and the triumphant return of Emperor Haile Selassie to Addis Ababa in 1941 from exile to reclaim Ethiopia’s throne after the defeat of the occupying fascist Italian forces during World War II. And we can’t be more happier than to be part of this incredible time in 2018.

Just barely five month ago — during a desperate period in Ethiopia amid relentless unrest, a deafening chorus of skepticism, talk of civil war and gloomy predictions of an imminent collapse of the Ethiopian state — we wrote a brief and hopeful editorial titled Seize the Moment Ethiopia in hopes of encouraging our generation to rise to the occasion and “assure the continuity of Ethiopia’s long history as well as our shared and sovereign culture” and noting that “building a true democracy requires transparency, a responsible and free press, and the maturity to think about the common good, beyond our own selves and group interests, both at the grassroots and leadership levels.”

Today, thanks to Dr. Abiy and his team, events of the past three months have exceeded our wildest imagination. As President Obama would say: “We are the generation we have been waiting for!”

We are delighted that Ethiopia has a confident, good-hearted and educated leader who fully understands that he serves at the will of the people and for the people. More importantly Dr. Abiy is open to new ideas, open dialogue, free press, constructive criticism and debate, which are all the basic foundations of a working democracy. Now we are optimistic that “Ethiopia is on the right track to a more democratic society.”

Below is a media round up of the latest developments from Ethiopia including the historic peace deal with Eritrea and the announcement that Ethiopian Airlines is preparing to resume flights to Asmara next week.

Ethiopia and Eritrea Declare End of War (BBC)
The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a declaration saying that the state of war between the two countries is over. A peace deal ending the 1998-2000 border conflict has never been fully implemented and there has been tension between the neighbours ever since. The countries have also agreed to re-establish trade and diplomatic ties. The declaration came at a landmark meeting between the two countries’ leaders in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. The summit between Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed marked the first time the neighbours’ heads of state had met for nearly two decades. Read more »

Ethiopian to Resume Flights to Asmara Next Week (FANA)
Ethiopian Airlines will resume flights to Eritrean capital Asmara next week. Ethiopian will also purchase a 20 percent stake in Eritrean Airlines, Dr Workneh Gebeyeu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, told journalists today, following Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Eritrea. During the visit the two countries have signed a number of agreements to resume diplomatic relations. According to the Foreign Minister, the two countries have established a technical committee tasked to follow up on the implementation of the agreements reached between them, including use of ports and air links. Flights to Asmara are scheduled to resume next week. Read more »

Ethiopia Fires Prison Officials Over Human Rights Abuses Amid Torture Report (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia’s attorney general announced the dismissal of five top prison officials for alleged human rights violations, hours before the Thursday release of a Human Rights Watch report on torture in one regional prison. Berhanu Tsegaye said the top prison officials “were relieved of their post for failing to discharge the responsibilities and respect prisoners’ human rights,” according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting late Wednesday. The announcement came hours before the release of a harrowing report by Human Rights Watch describing systematic torture in Jail Ogaden, a prison in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region. Read more »

PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Dr. Abiy Ahmed, will be traveling to Washington D.C. on July 28th and Los Angeles, California on July 29th, 2018 to meet the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States. “The objective of his trip is to hold face-to-face meetings with Ethiopian Diaspora in the U.S., according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia,” reports Fana Broadcasting Corp. “It is also aimed at boosting the involvement of all Ethiopian Diaspora living in the U.S. in the ongoing reforms, development, and democratization in their country of birth.” According to the announcement all Ethiopians are “invited to participate in the meeting, regardless of their political ideology, religion, and ethnic background.” Read more »


Related:
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Is This the Ethiopian Spring? An Interview With Eskinder Nega (Washington Post)

Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was released on February 14, 2018, after serving nearly seven years in prison. (Photo: Befekadu Hailu)

The Washington Post

Just a few months ago, Ethiopia — a vast country of 100 million people — was still mired in dictatorship and war. But dramatic shifts are taking hold and they appear to be moving the country in the right direction: toward freedom.

This week, Ethiopia’s democratically elected prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, signed a peace treaty with Eritrea, its long-standing enemy. The news was one more sign that the change promised by the new government is real.

Ethiopia still has a long way to go. But Eskinder Nega, a leading Ethiopian journalist and former political prisoner, recently told me that he sees democracy as the inevitable destiny of his homeland. Now, he said, it’s “Ethiopia’s turn.”

He doesn’t make such claims lightly. Nega has spent a total of nine years in prison, most recently serving a 6½-year stint on a terrorism conviction for supposedly inciting violence against the government and having ties with the West. In reality, of course, the government targeted him because he was a vocal advocate for democracy, demanding an end to years of one-party rule.

Amid growing protests, he and several other political prisoners were released in April in a bid to “foster national reconciliation,” authorities said at the time.

In the months since, Ethiopia has been undergoing rapid reform, with Ahmed promising greater freedoms. For Nega, though, the only acceptable outcome is a representative democracy respecting the rights of all people.

Read the interview at washingtonpost.com »


Related:
Eskinder Nega Makes Surprise Appearance at 2018 PEN America Literary Gala in NYC

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People in Ethiopia Are Calling Strangers in Eritrea as Phone Lines are Opened After 20 Years — CNN

In this grab taken from video provided by ERITV, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki as he disembarks the plane in Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (CNN)

CNN

Frehiwot Negash picked up the phone and called a random number.

The Ethiopian finance manager was trying to test if indeed she could now place a call to Eritrea after 20 long years of being cut off from the neighboring country in the aftermath of a bloody border war.

The person on the other line answered. It was a hotel.

Negash, 33, told CNN: “The receptionist picked up. So I said ‘I’m calling from Ethiopia.’ Then I passed the congratulations message to her, and I told her that I am very happy and she also said ‘I am happy too.”

Negash says she now plans to visit Eritrea later this year.

After it was announced on Monday that phone lines would be restored between both countries, Ethiopia’s telecoms company, Ethios, sent text messages to its 57 million subscribers, saying they could now call Eritrea.

Negash was one of the people who quickly picked their phones to check if it was true. She and others in Ethiopia spent the day placing calls to friends and long-lost family members in Eritrea.

And the occasional stranger too.

“Oh gosh, I am so excited over this EthioEritrea thingy, I just called on a random number in Asmara and had a nice chat with a lady named Frtuna and she speaks Amharic,” Twitter user Henok Karvonen posted.

It has been 20 years since a war led to a shutdown of communication between the two countries.

But a diplomatic breakthrough was reached this week following a two-day summit between Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, 41, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, 71, in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.

The two leaders delighted their citizens after declaring an end to the war between both nations on Monday.

Read more »


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Make America More Like New Zealand, Costa Rica and Ethiopia

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand with her new baby girl (left), President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica (center) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

Boston Globe

FOR DECADES, AMERICANS have accepted rule by a mendacious and meretricious elite. Today we have reason to believe that our situation is worse than ever. Our president is a hate-mongering bully who promotes foreign wars, the destruction of our natural environment, the further enrichment of the rich, and the impoverishment of everyone else. Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress are cynical money-grubbers who grovel before corporate power. The Supreme Court twists the Constitution to promote the most anti-democratic forces in our society. Founders of our republic would howl in anguished rage if they could see how fully our political leaders have defiled their liberating vision.

The decline of democracy in the United States might logically lead us to conclude that our political system has failed — that democracy is intrinsically unable to resist the power of those who profit from undermining it. That view, however, is contradicted by what other democracies have recently achieved. With hardly any notice in the American press, three very different countries have recently produced leaders who are unapologetically pursuing policies that benefit their people and the world. They are magnificent examples for the United States — unless they lead us to weep in envy…

Just one day after Alvarado was inaugurated in Costa Rica on April 1, another exemplar of democratic will became prime minister of Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed, 41, comes from the country’s Muslim minority and also from a persecuted ethnic group, the Oromo. He took over a country that has long been ruled by repressive tyrants, is divided along ethnic, religious and regional lines, and has been in constant conflict with neighboring Eritrea. “Expect a different rhetoric from us,” he said upon taking office. “If there is to be political progress in Ethiopia, we have to debate the issues openly and respectfully.”

In just three months as prime minister, Abiy has cut a radical swath through Ethiopian politics. He fired five senior officials who were known for corruption and brutality. Then he announced that he would accept the ruling of a border commission as a way of making peace with Eritrea, even though it requires handing over territory that many Ethiopians consider theirs. He ordered the release of more than 1,000 political prisoners. When a member of Parliament protested that his order was unconstitutional, he replied: “Jailing and torturing, which we did, are not constitutional either. . . Does the Constitution say anyone who was sentenced by a court can be tortured, put in a dark room? It doesn’t. Torturing, putting people in dark rooms, is our act of terrorism.” On June 25 Abiy’s enemies tried to kill him in a grenade attack. “The people who did this are anti-peace forces,” he said afterward. “You weren’t successful in the past and you won’t be successful in the future.”

Over the brief history of the United States, Americans have shown ourselves ready to seize anything we covet, anywhere in the world. If we could maintain that tradition, we might now arrange an “extraordinary rendition” operation to kidnap Jacinda Ardern, Carlos Alvarado, or Abiy Ahmed so one of them could be installed in the White House. Lamentably, that is impossible. The alternative is to concentrate on encouraging homegrown leaders who share their humanistic vision. Americans once believed that we could inspire and lead the world. Now we can only hope to catch up with New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia.

Read the full article at bostonglobe.com »


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With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is welcomed by Erirea’s President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @fanatelevision)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — With laughter and hugs, the leaders of longtime adversaries Ethiopia and Eritrea met for the first time in nearly two decades Sunday amid a rapid and dramatic diplomatic thaw aimed at ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in Eritrea’s capital and a live broadcast by Eritrean state television showed President Isaias Afwerki greeting him at the airport in scenes unthinkable just months ago.

“A brotherly embrace,” Eritrea’s information minister said on Twitter, sharing photos .

Crowds danced and sang for the leaders, and Asmara’s streets were hung with Ethiopian and Eritrean flags. Abiy and Afwerki traveled across the capital in a large motorcade as people wearing T-shirts with the images of the leaders cheered. The leaders then met one-on-one, with a smiling Abiy leaning toward Afwerki under a wall hung with their portraits.

The visit comes a month after Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal that ended a two-year border war between the two East African nations that killed tens of thousands. Ethiopia and Eritrea have not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998, with Abiy himself fighting in a town that remains contested today, and the countries have skirmished since then.

Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter that the visit aims to “further deepen efforts to bring about lasting peace.” He shared photos of the leaders’ meeting and said Abiy, 42, was “very warmly received” by the 72-year-old Afwerki.

“Our two nations share a history and bond like no other,” he said. “We can now overcome two decades of mistrust and move in a new direction.”

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry called the visit “part of efforts to normalize relations with Eritrea” and said Abiy was expected to talk with Eritrea’s leadership about “how to mend fences.”

One Eritrean diplomat, the ambassador to Japan Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter that “no leader has received such a warm welcome like today in Asmara in the history of Eritrea.”

Ethiopians expressed a welcome shock at the meeting, which was shown live by Ethiopia’s state TV.

“Historic … the beginning of the end. The glass ceiling has been broken,” one resident, Shewit Wudassie, wrote on Facebook. Another Facebook user, Djphat Su, wrote: “Am I dreaming or what?”

The decision to fully accept the peace deal was the biggest and most surprising reform yet announced by Ethiopia’s prime minister, who took office in April and quickly set off a wave of reforms, freeing journalists and opposition figures from prison, opening up the state-run economy and unblocking hundreds of websites after years of anti-government protests demanding more freedoms.

Eritrea’s Afwerki days after the announcement noted “positive signals” from Ethiopia and sent the first official delegation in two decades to “gauge current developments directly and in depth” to plan future steps. Ethiopia used the visit to announce that the flagship Ethiopian Airlines would soon begin flights to Eritrea, and already Abiy has expressed interest in landlocked Ethiopia having access to Eritrean ports.

While Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation, with more than 100 million people, and one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, tiny Eritrea, with 5 million people, is one of the world’s most closed-off nations, ruled by Afwerki since gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after years of rebel warfare. But the two countries share close cultural ties.

Eritrea has become a major source of migrants fleeing toward Europe, Israel and African nations in recent years as human rights groups criticize its harsh military conscription laws. Observers of the diplomatic thaw have asked whether peace with Ethiopia would lead Eritrea to loosen up and drop its long defensive stance.

“Reconciliation would deprive President Isaias of an excuse for maintaining his country in a permanent state of military readiness” that has blocked Eritrea from developing any form of democracy, said Martin Plaut, author of “Understanding Eritrea” and a senior research fellow with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London.

Abiy’s move broke a long stalemate between Afwerki and the long-dominant Tigrayan party in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition. “Abiy represents the majority of Ethiopians rather than the Tigrayan ethnic group” and is not beholden to it, Plaut said, adding that Afwerki accepted the peace gesture “since it allowed him to portray it as a triumph over his Tigrayan rivals.”

Not everyone has welcomed Ethiopia’s embrace of the peace deal, with some residents in the northern Tigray region bordering Eritrea holding protests.


Related:
Pictures: PM Abiy arrives in Asmara


A warm welcome to Ethiopian Premier in Asmara, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting @fanatelevision via Twitter)


(Photo: Fana Broadcasting @fanatelevision via Twitter)


Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting @fanatelevision via Twitter)

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