Author Archive for Tadias

Daniel Abebe Appointed as Dean of Columbia University Law School

Daniel Abebe joins Columbia Law School from the University of Chicago, where he currently serves as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Governance. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: June 19, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — Columbia University announced this week that Daniel Abebe will assume the role of Dean of the Law School and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law starting August 1st. Abebe’s appointment marks a historic moment as he becomes the first Black dean to serve in this prestigious position, succeeding Dean Gillian Lester.

Abebe joins Columbia Law School from the University of Chicago, where he currently serves as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Governance and holds the Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professorship of Law. At Chicago, he has made significant contributions to the academic community through his research and leadership roles. His scholarship focuses on the intersection of U.S. constitutional law regarding foreign affairs and public international law, with notable publications in the University of Chicago Law Review, Supreme Court Review, and the Virginia Journal of International Law.

In addition to his academic achievements, Abebe brings extensive experience in institutional governance and disciplinary matters. He previously served as Deputy Dean at the University of Chicago Law School, where he played a pivotal role in shaping policies related to disruptive conduct and institutional discipline.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik expressed confidence in Abebe’s ability to lead Columbia Law School, highlighting his diplomatic and inclusive leadership style. She remarked, “I am confident that Professor Abebe will be an exceptional Dean for Columbia Law, one of the most highly regarded law schools in the world. His commitment to academic excellence and his strategic vision will foster an environment where faculty, students, and staff can innovate, succeed, and flourish.”

Abebe holds a BA from Maryville University of St. Louis, a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He clerked for Judge Damon J. Keith of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and practiced at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP before embarking on his academic career. He is a member of the American Law Institute and a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago.

As Columbia prepares for Abebe’s leadership, outgoing Dean Gillian Lester will transition back to full-time teaching at the Law School this fall. President Shafik acknowledged Lester’s decade-long tenure with gratitude, noting her significant contributions to the institution.

Abebe’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment for Columbia Law School as it navigates disciplinary actions and campus activism. His background in constitutional law and international relations is expected to provide valuable insights and leadership during these critical times.

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For more information about Daniel Abebe and his upcoming role at Columbia Law School, please visit Columbia Law School’s official website.

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‘Bygone Fruit’ in NYC: Banna Desta & Antu Yacob Lead the Way at the Women in Theatre Festival

Wrapping up its 9th Annual Women in Theatre Festival this weekend at Theatre 154 in NYC, Project Y Theatre Company highlights the remarkable talents of Banna Desta and Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: June 19th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — As the Project Y Theatre Company concludes its 9th Annual Women in Theatre Festival this weekend at Theatre 154 in New York City, it is a perfect time to highlight two remarkable talents featured in this year’s event: Banna Desta and Antu Yacob.

The play, titled “Bygone Fruit,” centers on Blake and Selam, a seemingly perfect couple whose harmony is tested as they prepare for their families to meet for the first time. During a tense cook-off, subtle and startling revelations about their respective heritages and views on the diaspora emerge, creating a divide that might be too great to overcome.

Banna Desta is an Eritrean and Ethiopian-American writer known for her compelling work for the stage and screen, crafting stories about and for the African diaspora. Desta’s stage work has been supported and developed by esteemed institutions such as SPACE on Ryder Farm, Audible Theater, Rattlestick Theater, Project Y Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, National Black Theater, and the Dramatists Guild Foundation. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, where she currently teaches undergraduate students. Her latest work, premiering at the Women in Theatre Festival, exemplifies her commitment to telling authentic and impactful stories.

Antu Yacob, an Ethiopian-American artist raised in the U.S., has an impressive list of onscreen credits, including roles in “Rob Peace” (written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor), “Inventing Anna,” “The Other Two,” “Night Comes On,” “Daredevil,” “Gypsy,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Adieu Lacan,” and “Signs of Aging.” Her theater credits are equally distinguished, with performances in The Fire This Time Festival, American Slavery Project, Primary Stages, Sheen Center, Goodman Theatre, Luna Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Pangea World Theatre. As an Associate Producer at Project Y Theatre, Yacob curates the All Hands on Deck series and is slated for a world premiere under The Philly Cycle play commission in 2025. She holds an MFA from MGSA/Rutgers University.


Landon G. Woodson and Antu Yacob. (Photo courtesy of Anthony Artis)

“Bygone Fruit” also features Landon G. Woodson, a native of Passaic, New Jersey, and an MFA graduate from Rutgers University, alongside Celestine Rae, a director, actress, dancer, and educator. Rae’s artistic journey began as a modern dancer in her hometown of Philadelphia, where she studied at Philadanco!, Koresh, and Soliloquy in Motion Dance Studios. Her multi-faceted background brings a unique depth to her performances and direction.

Project Y Theatre’s Women in Theatre Festival, running from June 6-23, is dedicated to presenting works by and about women. This year’s festival features two World Premiere productions, including one by Banna Desta, alongside an evening of one-act plays adapted from a work by the first woman playwright.

Don’t miss the chance to witness the extraordinary talents of Banna Desta, Antu Yacob, Landon G. Woodson, and Celestine Rae, and celebrate the culmination of the Women in Theatre Festival this weekend.

If You Go:

Tickets for the festival are available at www.witfestival.projectytheatre.org.

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Historic Debut: Pianist Girma Yifrashewa Takes Center Stage at Carnegie Hall

Tonight, Ethiopian pianist and composer, Girma Yifrashewa, will make his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. At Zankel Hall, he will present "Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes." (Photo by Josh Sisk)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: June 17, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — Today, Carnegie Hall will witness a historic moment as Girma Yifrashewa, the first African classical pianist, takes center stage. His groundbreaking performance marks a significant milestone for the world of classical music, heralding a new era of recognition for African musicians in the classical genre.

The concert, titled “Peace Unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes,” is a poignant and timely composition by the esteemed Ethiopian ethnomusicologist Dr. Ashenafi Kebede.

Girma Yifrashewa, a celebrated Ethiopian pianist, is known for seamlessly blending Western art music with Ethiopian folk melodies, showcasing his artistry and commitment to sharing Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage.

The Message

The concert serves as a powerful, non-political reminder of the universality of peace, extending to individuals, nations, continents, and the entire world. It also highlights the all-encompassing nature of peace, extending even to wildlife.

Background

Ethiopia has a rich history in the arts, contributing notable figures like Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, a legendary composer and pianist who left an indelible mark on the world of music.

This concert is not just a performance; it’s a call to unity, inviting a diverse audience to celebrate the power of music to bridge divides and promote peace.

Video: Watch Girma Yifrashewa Live in Ethiopia January 30, 2020

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If You Go:

The organizer, African Symposium, is dedicated to producing socially responsible events in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

For tickets and more information, please visit Carnegie Hall.

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Celebrating Creativity in Africa: Julie Mehretu’s Vision for the 20th BMW Art Car

Julie Mehretu and her BMW Art Car #20 at the world premiere at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 21, 2024. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW)

Tadias Magazine

By Selam Amare

Updated: June 19th, 2024

Paris (TADIAS/Habeshaview) — The unveiling of the 20th BMW Art Car in Paris last week was a significant event, with representatives from Tadias magazine and Habeshaview in attendance. This collaboration between BMW and world-renowned New York-based, Ethiopia-born artist Julie Mehretu represented a major milestone in the Art Cars series and a broader cultural initiative designed to foster creativity across Africa.

Julie Mehretu, one of the most influential artists of our time, has made an indelible mark on the global art scene. “Julie Mehretu’s vision for a racing car is an extraordinarily strong contribution to our BMW Art Cars series,” stated Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Julie Mehretu has created more than an amazing Art Car. Her ideas provided the impetus for us to expand the cultural commitment of our Art Cars to promote the creativity of young artists in Africa.”


Unveiling of the BMW Art Car #20 designed by Julie Mehretu at the world premiere at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, 21 May 2024. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW)


BMW Art Car #20 by artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG)


Julie Mehretu signs her BMW Art Car #20 at the world premiere on May 21, 2024, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW)


World premiere of the BMW Art Car #20 by Julie Mehretu, Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 21, 2024. Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG and Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Andre Josselin © BMW AG)


Julie Mehretu and Hervé Poulain (initiator of the BMW Art Car Collection and former French motorsports racing driver) Photo: Courtesy of BMW


World premiere of the BMW Art Car #20 by Julie Mehretu, Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 21, 2024. F.l.t.r.: Oliver Zipse (Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG), Mehret Mandefro (producer, writer and co-founder of the Realness Institute), Julie Mehretu, Koyo Kouoh (Member of the BMW Art Car Jury and Executive Director and Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town) and Laurent Le Bon (President of the Centre Pompidou).

Fostering Creative Collaboration in Africa

The project aspires to create a collaborative space for artists and filmmakers across the continent, facilitating exchanges of ideas and fostering the development of new pathways toward a just civic future. This initiative includes a series of PanAfrican Translocal Media Workshops, organized by Emmy-nominated producer, writer, and co-founder of the Realness Institute, Mehret Mandefro. These workshops will tour various African cities throughout 2025 and 2026, strengthening the media ecosystem in Africa and culminating in a major exhibition at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. The PanAfrican Translocal Workshop series will visit Dakar (Senegal), Marrakech (Morocco), Kigali (Rwanda), Lagos (Nigeria), and Cape Town (South Africa). The outcomes of these workshops will be showcased alongside the 20th BMW Art Car at the Zeitz Museum in the first half of 2026.

Ethiopia still on the list

Given Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro’s Ethiopian heritage, the question arose about the Art Car’s absence from Ethiopia. “That was the intention, it was always going to be Addis Ababa,” Mehretu explained. “Then things got complicated. Ethiopia is still on the list if we can make it happen. We would love to do something in Addis; it’s just so complicated at the moment, and that is sad for us Ethiopians.”

Julie’s “performative painting” for the Art Car manifests kinetically, transitioning from canvas to the race car. The artwork evolves with the car, only reaching completion at the finish line. This unique challenge required a balance between artistic vision and technical regulations, as traditional painting or airbrushing could affect the car’s aerodynamics. “We had 3D renderings, digital models, and a one-fifth scale maquette in the studio,” Julie explained. “We printed onto foils, applied them to the maquette, and made numerous adjustments. This digital process allowed the car to ‘inhale’ the painting and travel through it.”


BMW Art Car #20 by artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: André Josselin © BMW AG)

“Peace (ሰላም) is essential for any progress”

Julie Mehretu’s work often addresses socially conscious themes, including social justice and activism. Reflecting on the current state of the world, she expressed, “We keep repeating patterns of conflict and inequality. It’s ludicrous that in the 21st century, we still face starvation and war. We all strive for liberation, but peace (ሰላም) is essential for any progress.”

By innovatively reinventing the wheel, Julie highlights the vital role of artists in society. They contribute to the overall health, development, and well-being of our communities, providing joy, interaction, and inspiration, while also critiquing political, economic, and social systems to drive social progress.


BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu in Munich. (Photo: Jackie Furtado © BMW AG)


BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG)


BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu and BMW factory drivers Sheldon van der Linde, Rene Rast and Robin Frijns (f.l.t.r.). Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG


Julie Mehretu working on the BMW Art Car #20 in New York City. (Photo: Jackie Furtado © BMW AG)


BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG)

Reflecting on her creative process with the Art Car, Julie shared, “This experience outside of painting allowed my imagination to explore new possibilities. The idea of a vehicle moving through a painting and transforming it was profound. It taught me to complicate my paintings further and significantly impacted my work.”

Her advice to future generations of artists is clear: “Focus on your work, and it will take care of you. There is no formula for success. Read everything, pay attention to the world beyond algorithms, and be committed to evolving your craft.”

Julie Mehretu is a source of immense pride for Ethiopia, an asset to the continent, and an inspiration for young artists in the Ethiopian diaspora for generations to come.


Selam Amare is a reporter based in the UK.

Related:

A Conversation Between Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro

Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car Makes its World Premiere in Paris

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Bitcoin Mining in Ethiopia: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

In the following article, Dr. Nemo Semret, co-founder of QRB Labs, the pioneering company that introduced Bitcoin mining to Ethiopia, shares insights on the benefits and drawbacks of the Bitcoin potential in the country, alongside the recent global media attention on this subject. (Photo: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam serves as an abundant power source for Bitcoin miners/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

BY NEMO SEMRET

In the last few months, media have been buzzing about Bitcoin mining in Ethiopia. For Bitcoiners, it is part of the story of Africa as the new frontier in the much desired geographic diversification of Bitcoin mining – a perspective I agree with. In mainstream Western media, it’s sometimes framed as yet another example of China in Africa. That framing, while not inaccurate, I think casts a geopolitical shadow that obscures the national perspective. Others portray it as a desperate attempt by Africans for a “quick fix” to foreign currency shortages — not false but a bit condescending and missing the bigger picture. So, let’s shine a bit more light on it from the Ethiopian point of view (Shadow, light… sorry I couldn’t muster some “dark clouds” to complete the trifecta of clichés!)

Full disclosure: I’m a co-founder of QRB Labs, the first company to introduce Bitcoin mining to the country. We’ve been quietly working since 2021 to do this the “right way” against tremendous odds. But this post is not our company’s story. It’s a skin-in-the-game opinion about how this industry should evolve for the benefit of the country. To highlight the good it can do. But also the risk of bad, and ugly.

The Good

First let’s talk about the positive. Energy in Ethiopia and Bitcoin mining are a match made in heaven.

In Ethiopia, electricity generation capacity is growing very rapidly. From 2GW in 2020 to over 10GW in the next couple of years. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (which I’ve written about before) is the biggest and most famous step in that growth, but there are many projects contributing to it. All of course phenomenally good. Indeed, practically nothing is better for economic growth and broadly improving lives than electrification. For comparison, the average Ethiopian has 1/50th the electricity of an American. So, until we get to 100GW at least, another 1000% growth, increasing generation is unquestionably necessary.

But there’s a catch. It is extremely difficult and expensive to deliver that energy to users. In the case of Ethiopia, some estimate that $10B of investment and years of hard work are needed for transmission and distribution to catch up to generation. In the meantime, up to half of the generated energy remains unused. Which means the investment in generation takes longer to pay for itself. Meanwhile how do you finance the transmission and distribution? It’s a huge chicken and egg problem, and it’s unavoidable when there is rapid growth.

In more developed countries, capacity may not be doubling or quadrupling but a similar problem exists with solar and wind power. Huge investments in supply are needed, but the demand may not match up with the supply, since consumption peaks don’t line up perfectly with the times when the sun shines or the wind blows. Whether caused by the difference between the time of generation and consumption, or by the distance, this is the problem of “stranded energy”.

Now what if there was a way to make money from stranded energy? In Ethiopia, this revenue could help accelerate electrification! That’s where Bitcoin comes in:

Read the full article at nemozen.semret.org.

Related:

Ethiopia To Become The First African Country To Start Bitcoin Mining (Forbes)
Ethiopia’s $250 Million Tech Expansion In Bitcoin And AI (Forbes)
In Ethiopia, Chinese Bitcoin Miners Find a Xanadu: Next Africa (Bloomberg)

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Group Exhibition Showcasing Ethiopian and Diaspora Artists Opens in New York

Tadesse Mesfin, Column of Rhythm I, 2022. (Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: May 7th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — This week a captivating group exhibition featuring paintings, textiles, and mixed-media works by artists from Ethiopia and its diasporas will take place at the NADA Exhibition Space in New York City. The exhibition’s private view kicks off on May 8th from 6 to 9 pm.

Hosted by the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) at their gallery in the Lower East Side, this showcase brings together a diverse array of artists at various stages of their careers. Among the talents featured are Dawit Adnew, Adiskidan Ambaye, Tesfaye Bekele, Merikokeb Berhanu, Tizta Berhanu, Noah Beyene, Henok Getachew, Engdaye Lemma, Tadesse Mesfin, Helina Metaferia, Selome Muleta, Nirit Takele, and Tesfaye Urgessa.

This exhibition serves as a poignant tribute to the enduring contributions of artists from the Horn of Africa, both within the region and across the globe. At a time when Ethiopia’s rich artistic heritage is gaining widespread recognition, this showcase provides a platform for dialogue and celebration. It is an exciting opportunity to showcase the diverse talent and cultural wealth emanating from the region, characterized by its transnational and cross-generational connections.

Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in this vibrant exhibition, which promises to be a testament to the richness and dynamism of contemporary Ethiopian art.

If You Go:

8 May – 31 May 2024
Private View: 8 May, 6 – 9 pm
NADA Exhibition Space
311 E Broadway, Floor 2, New York, NY
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 6 pm
CCONNECTED THREADS: NADA EXHIBITION PREVIEW

Related:

Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car to Make its World Premiere in Paris

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Art Talk: A Conversation Between Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro

Julie Mehretu, the World renown Ethiopia-born artist, is the creator of the 20th BMW Art Car, which is set to make its official world premiere in Paris on May 21, 2024. (Photo: courtesy BMW Group)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 27th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — Artist Julie Mehretu and producer Mehret Mandefro are slated to hold an engaging conversation facilitated by the Realness Institute, in Cannes, France next month.

Julie is the creative force behind the 20th BMW Art Car, set to make its official world premiere at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on May 21, 2024.

The discussion, as announced, will center on “building artist-led collectives that prioritize fellowship and knowledge sharing as avenues to empowerment,” showcasing initiatives such as the Pan African Translocal Media Workshop, a collaborative effort involving Realness, the artist-founded residency Denniston Hill, and BMW. Moderated by Dr. Thomas Girst, Head of Cultural Engagement at BMW Group, this conversation promises to delve into the intersection of art, community, and social change.

Following its unveiling, the 20th BMW Art Car will embark on a global tour, captivating audiences in museums and art platforms across the world. As emphasized by the BMW Group’s Cultural Engagement office in its press release, Julie Mehretu’s artistic vision transcends the confines of the vehicle itself.

A pivotal aspect of the project is the PanAfricanTranslocal Media Workshop Series, slated to continue the collaboration between Julie Mehretu and BMW in 2025. Teaming up with Mehret Mandefro, an Emmy-nominated producer and co-founder of the Realness Institute, Mehretu will lead workshops in eight African cities over nine months, providing a platform for artists to connect, exchange ideas, and collaborate. The culmination of these workshops will be showcased alongside the 20th BMW Art Car at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.

An essential partner in realizing this ambitious program is the artist residency Denniston Hill in Upstate New York, founded in 2004 by Julie Mehretu, Lawrence Chua, and Paul Pfeiffer.

Julie Mehretu’s selection to design the 20th BMW Art Car in 2018, endorsed by a jury of esteemed representatives from the international art world, underscores her exceptional talent and creative vision.

If You Go:

Related:

Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car to Make its World Premiere in Paris

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Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car to Make its World Premiere in Paris

World-renowned New York-based, Ethiopia-born artist Julie Mehretu working on her 20th BMW Art Car. (Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen © BMW AG)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 27th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — Renowned Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu is set to make history as the creator of the 20th BMW Art Car, marking a thrilling fusion of art, automotive design, and speed. The culmination of Julie’s creative vision will be unveiled at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on May 21, 2024, before making its racing debut at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. This groundbreaking collaboration promises to redefine the intersection of art and motorsport, as artist translates her monumental motifs onto the dynamic canvas of the BMW M Hybrid V8 racing car prototype.

Julie’s approach to the BMW Art Car project exemplifies her unparalleled ability to capture dynamism and translate it into form. Drawing inspiration from her extensive body of work, she employs a diverse palette of colors and forms, including obscured photographs, dotted grids, and neon-colored spray paint. The result is an abstract visual narrative that seamlessly integrates with the contours of the vehicle, creating a stunning work of art on wheels.


Detail shot of the 20th BMW Art Car by Julie Mehretu in the creation process. (Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen © BMW AG)

Central to Julie Mehretu’s creative process is the collaboration with the German Race Spirit team, led by Manuel Eberl and Gertraud Brenninger, who are responsible for realizing the intricate design on the BMW M Hybrid V8. Through a meticulous process of 3D mapping and high-resolution imaging, Julie’s artwork is transformed into a dynamic foil wrap that adorns the racing car, ensuring both aesthetic excellence and compliance with FIA regulations.

The unveiling of the BMW Art Car at the Centre Pompidou marks a momentous occasion in the history of the BMW Art Car Collection. Following in the footsteps of iconic artists such as Alexander Calder and Jeff Koons, Mehretu’s creation will be showcased alongside masterpieces of contemporary art, reinforcing the close connection between art and motorsport.


Julie Mehretu working on her 20th BMW Art Car. (Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen © BMW AG)

Beyond its racing debut at Le Mans, Julie’s BMW Art Car will embark on a global journey, becoming an exhibit in museums and art platforms worldwide. However, Julie’s's vision extends far beyond the confines of the racing track, as she seeks to inspire a new generation of artists through the PanAfricanTranslocal Media Workshop Series. In collaboration with Emmy-nominated producer Mehret Mandefro, Julie will host workshops in eight African cities, providing young creatives with a platform for collaboration and exchange.

Julie Mehretu’s selection as the designer of the 20th BMW Art Car reflects the BMW Group’s commitment to fostering creativity and innovation. With unrestricted creative freedom, Julie has reimagined the BMW Art Car as a symbol of artistic expression and technological innovation, setting a new standard for the intersection of art and automotive design.

As the world eagerly awaits the unveiling of Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car, the BMW Group invites enthusiasts to follow its cultural engagement initiatives on Instagram at @BMWGroupCulture, offering exclusive updates and deeper insights into its global initiatives.

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Related:

Art Talk: A Conversation Between Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro

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QWANQWA from Ethiopia Kicks off 2024 Spring Tour of North America: A Celebration of Unity Through Music

The musical ensemble includes Bubu Teklemariam (krar), Endris Hassen (masinko), Selamnesh Zemene (vocalist), Misale Legesse (kebero) and Kaethe Hostetter (violin). Courtesy photo.

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 23rd, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — This month, QWANQWA, the traditional musical ensemble from Ethiopia, launched their highly anticipated 2024 Spring Tour across North America. With an extensive lineup of 39 concerts spanning numerous states from New York to California, this tour promises to be a vibrant celebration of cultural diversity, musical prowess, and the unifying power of music.

The ensemble includes Endris Hassen (masinko), Kaethe Hostetter (violin), Bubu Teklemariam (bass krar), Selamnesh Zemene (vocalist), and Misale Legesse (kebero).

Founded by California native Kaethe Hostetter, QWANQWA, originating from the vibrant nightlife scene of Addis Ababa, represents a fusion of diverse musical influences and talents. The essence of QWANQWA lies in its diverse ensemble, featuring traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the masinko and krar, alongside sounds of violin and electronic beats.

Hostetter, who lived in Ethiopia for more than a decade, says each member brings their unique background and expertise, enriching the ensemble’s sound and creating a dynamic musical experience.

“My journey with Ethiopian music began in the early 2000s, around 2002, when I met Danny Mekonnen [Ethiopian-American saxophonist and leader of Debo band],” Hostetter recalled in an interview with Tadias Magazine. “We shared a similar musical taste and had friends in common. My exploration of Ethiopian music with him evolved from an interest into a practice group, then a performing group, which led to a band invitation to Ethiopia, where I discovered traditional instruments. This journey ultimately led to the formation of QWANQWA. I was so captivated by everything in Ethiopia that I found myself there for 11 years.”


Selamnesh Zemene and Kaethe Hostetter. (Courtesy photo)

Reflecting on the significance of this tour, Hostetter emphasizes the universal language of music in fostering connections across cultures. “We want this to be a place where differences are set aside, and we come together in the name of music as a universal language,” she said. “That’s why we chose the name QWANQWA, symbolizing unity and peace.”

New Album

In addition to their live performances, QWANQWA is releasing a new live album during the tour, capturing the energy and spirit of their electrifying concerts. This vinyl release offers fans a chance to experience the magic of QWANQWA’s music in the comfort of their homes, further extending the reach of their message of unity and harmony.


Courtesy photo

QWANQWA invites music lovers everywhere to follow them on social media for behind-the-scenes glimpses and updates on their journey. Through Instagram and Facebook, fans can join in the excitement and be part of this extraordinary musical experience.

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If You Go:

For more information and tour dates, visit QWANQWA’s official website and follow them on social media.

Related:

Girma Yifrashewa Makes Carnegie Hall Debut with ‘Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes’

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Update: Tickets Go on Sale April 22 for Girma Yifrashewa’s Carnegie Debut

Tickets will be released on Carnegie's website starting Monday, April 22nd, 2024. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 18th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — Secure your seats for Girma Yifrashewa’s eagerly awaited performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City this summer. Tickets will be released for purchase on Carnegie’s website starting Monday, April 22nd. The concert, entitled “Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes,” marks Girma’s inaugural appearance at this prestigious venue and is slated for June 17th at Zankel Hall.

Organizers have disclosed that Girma will present a repertoire of original compositions and pay homage to Ethiopian composers Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou and Dr. Ashenafi Kebede. Renowned for his seamless fusion of Ethiopian and African folk melodies with Western classical music, Girma will also feature works by Louis Moreau Gottschalk alongside his latest compositions.

About Girma Yifrashewa

As detailed on his website, Girma Yifrashewa, hailing from Addis Ababa, discovered his passion for music in his formative years, mastering the Kirar before transitioning to the piano at the age of 16. His musical journey led him to the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa and later to the Sofia State Conservatory of Music in Bulgaria, where he pursued a Masters in Piano under the tutelage of Professor Atanas Kurtev. Despite facing numerous challenges, Girma’s determination brought him back to Bulgaria, where he distinguished himself as a solo pianist, interpreting renowned classical works. Returning to Ethiopia in 1995, Girma shared his expertise by teaching at the Yared School of Music while continuing to showcase Ethiopian and classical music on the global stage. His international tours and collaborative ventures have graced prestigious venues worldwide, garnering acclaim from The New York Times and invitations to esteemed festivals and symposiums.

This year, Girma will make his debut at Carnegie Hall, a testament to his international recognition and artistic brilliance. Additionally, as a faculty member at Addis Ababa University and the director of the Ashenafi Kebede Performing Arts Center, he spearheads a new wave of music, solidifying his position as a distinguished pianist and ambassador of Ethiopian music and heritage.

Video: Watch Girma Yifrashewa Live in Ethiopia January 30, 2020

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If You Go:

Reserve your seat at carnegiehall.org when tickets become available on April 22, 2024.

Related:

Girma Yifrashewa Makes Carnegie Hall Debut with ‘Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Girma Yifrashewa Makes Carnegie Hall Debut with ‘Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes’

This summer, Ethiopian pianist and composer, Girma Yifrashewa, will make his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. On June 17th, 2024 at Zankel Hall, he will present "Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes." (Photo by Josh Sisk)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 29th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — The acclaimed Ethiopian pianist and composer, Girma Yifrashewa, is set to grace the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City this summer. Scheduled for June 17th at Zankel Hall, the concert, titled “Peace unto Ethiopia: An Anthology of Original Works and Tributes,” marks Girma’s debut performance at the prestigious venue.

Born in Addis Ababa in 1967, Girma’s musical journey began at a young age with the Kirar. His passion for music led him to the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa, where he was introduced to the piano at the age of 16. Despite facing challenges, including the loss of his scholarship due to political turmoil, Girma’s determination led him to continue his studies at the Sofia State Conservatory of Music in Bulgaria, where he graduated with a Masters in Piano.

Girma’s time in Bulgaria shaped his career as a solo pianist, where he showcased his talent through performances of classical works by renowned composers such as Schumann, Schubert, Chopin, and Debussy. His preference for the music of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven reflects his well-determined approach to classical music.

Returning to Ethiopia in 1995, Girma taught piano at the Yared School of Music and furthered his studies through scholarships in London and Leipzig. Today, he works tirelessly to promote Ethiopian and classical music across the globe.

As Girma Yifrashewa prepares to captivate audiences at Carnegie Hall, his performance promises to be a celebration of Ethiopian music and a testament to his remarkable journey as a pianist and composer. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

Video: Watch Girma Yifrashewa Live in Ethiopia January 30, 2020

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If You Go:

Find out more at carnegiehall.org when tickets become available.

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Dr. Lia Tadesse: Former Ethiopian Health Minister to Head Harvard Leadership Program

Dr. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin. (Photo: Kent Dayton/Harvard)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 12, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – Dr. Lia Tadesse emerged as a pivotal leader in Ethiopia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, assuming her role on March 12, 2020, the day after the virus was classified as a global health emergency. In the face of adversity, she swiftly moved to announce the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus and outlined the various measures her office was implementing to mitigate the emerging crisis, showcasing her adept leadership. Dr. Lia is credited for approaching the pandemic not only as a challenge but also as a chance to improve the nation’s healthcare infrastructure. “We aimed to respond not just in the short-term, but also for the long-term,” she explained. “It was an opportunity to bolster the entire health system.”

Ethiopia’s proactive measures, including the expansion of the public health workforce and enhanced access to critical care, proved instrumental in mitigating the virus’s impact.

This month, Harvard University announced that Dr. Lia would lead its Ministerial Program, a collaborative initiative involving the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Lia, an OB/GYN by training, brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having previously served as Ethiopia’s Deputy Minister of Health, a provost at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, and a program director for various international maternal and child health projects. Before assuming her role at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse held the position of Program Director at the University of Michigan’s Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During her tenure, she effectively collaborated with various institutions in Ethiopia and Rwanda to enhance the quality of reproductive health services and training.

Reflecting on her extensive leadership experience, Dr. Lia emphasized the importance of visionary leadership in bringing about meaningful transformation. I” know that the ability to make positive change is related to how strong a leader is,” she said. “Anything I can contribute to improving leadership around the world truly excites me.”

Read more »

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At Columbia University in NYC: ECMAA Shines Spotlight on Adwa & Yekatit 12

The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Ethio-Eritrean Student Association at Columbia University co-hosted an event commemorating Adwa and Yekatit 12 on Saturday, February 24th, 2024. (Photo courtesy of ECMAA)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 27th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – This past weekend in New York, the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) collaborated with students at Columbia University to celebrate Adwa and commemorate Yekatit 12.

The event, held at Learner Hall on the Columbia campus, drew a full house and featured filmmakers, scholars, community leaders, and various award presentations. Notable guest speakers included Dr. Aklilu Habte, historian David B. Spielman, and NYC professor and filmmaker Yemane Demissie.

The program was both entertaining and educational, featuring engaging trivia competitions about Adwa and Yekatit 12 organized by the Ethiopian and Eritrean students association at Columbia University. Below are photos from the event, courtesy of ECMAA.


(Photo courtesy of ECMAA)

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(Photo courtesy of ECMAA)


Dr. Aklilu Habte and professor and filmmaker Yemane Demissie. (Photo courtesy of ECMAA)


Liben Eabisa, Co-founder & Publisher of Tadias Magazine was honored at the event held on Saturday, February 24th, 2024, at Columbia University, New York. (Photo courtesy of ECMAA)


(Photo courtesy of ECMAA)


ECMAA honored the late Mr. Tesfaye Asfaw posthumously for his tireless advocacy for Ethiopian immigrants in the New York tri-state area. Mrs. Asfaw graciously accepted the award on behalf of her late husband during the event held on Saturday, February 24th, 2024, at Columbia University, New York. (Photo courtesy of ECMAA)


Berhane Tadese, Advisory Board Member of ECMAA, addressing attendees during the event held on Saturday, February 24th, 2024, at Columbia University, New York. (Photo courtesy of ECMAA)

The event also honored distinguished individuals: Dr. Zergabachew Asfaw, a founding member of the Hakim Workineh and Malaku Beyan Society of Physicians in North America; Mr. Nicola A. DeMarco, JD, for his dedicated commitment to advancing the goals of the Global Alliance for Justice and the Ethiopia Cause (CAJEC) and contributing to the Yekatit 12 annual program; Dr. Wolde G. Mariam, a founding member of ECMAA; and Professor Ayele Bekerie, in recognition of his outstanding research and writing on the historical significance of Adwa.

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Learn more and get involved at www.ecmaany.org

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Ethiopia’s Adwa Legacy: A Comparative Reflection by Prof. Ayele Bekerie

Mountains of Adwa. (Photo: by Ayele Bekerie)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 25, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – In the following article, Professor Ayele Bekerie, Coordinator of the PhD Program in Heritage Studies at the Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation at Mekelle University in Ethiopia, reflects on the international significance of Ethiopia’s 128th anniversary of the victory at Adwa this coming week. In his piece, Professor Ayele – who is the author of “One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years” – compares, Ethiopia’s success at Adwa with Haiti’s triumph over Napoleon’s French army much earlier in the Western Hemisphere, which, like Adwa, also inspired global Pan-African movements. However, as Professor Ayele points out, despite their well-deserved and proud history, both countries have yet to achieve the peace, stability, and long-term economic prosperity that follow for this and future generations.

Special thanks to Professor Ayele Bekerie for his years of research and dedication to educating all of us about the importance of preserving Ethiopia’s Adwa legacy, including through his annual articles in Tadias Magazine for the past 20 years, and his call for Ethiopia’s victory at Adwa to be included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This weekend at Columbia University here in New York, Professor Ayele, who used to live in New York and taught at Cornell University before returning to Ethiopia, was honored with a Certificate of Recognition by The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) for his commitment to the topic. We congratulate Professor Ayele on a well-deserved recognition. Below is his latest article

Haiti and Ethiopia: Triumphs Against Colonialism, Inspirations of Pan-Africanism”

By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

February 25, 2024

Ethiopia — The Haitian Revolution, a revolution that started as insurrections, resulted in the abolition of enslavement and the establishment of an independent Black state in the then Santo Domingo and now Haiti. The revolt that included “coalition of Africans, Mulattoes, Maroons, Commanders, House Slaves, Field Slaves and Free Blacks” began in 1791 and culminated in 1804 with perhaps the first successful abolition of slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean.

The Battle of Adwa, on the other hand, dealt a deadly first blow against expansive settler or non-settler colonialism in Africa and elsewhere. The victory at Adwa scrambled the agreements made among Europeans on “smoking table” at Berlin in 1884/85. It was twelve years later, in 1896, an Ethiopian army decisively defeated the Italian army, thereby inscribing the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa and elsewhere. The Battle took place at a time when the colonial era was well advanced throughout the African continent. The Haitian Revolution and the Battle of Adwa represent epic struggles and successful resistance against a global system of oppression, otherwise called European colonialism.

According. To Ngugi Wa Thiango, under the Slave Trade, the African body is commodified, under the Slave Plantation System, Africa supplies unpaid labor that works the sugar and cotton fields, under colonialism, Africa supplies raw materials, such as gold, diamonds, copper, uranium, coffee, cocoa – without having control over the prices. He further explained that, at present, the neocolonial system set to prevent complete decolonization and agency through the entanglement of debts, debt servicing, and conditionalities that turn Arica into a net exporter of the very capital it most needs.

In Haiti, the enslaver and the enslaved are outsiders. The island originally belonged to Arawak Indians, who were almost wiped out by the new colonizers: the Spaniard and the French. After they decimated the Indians, the French, the British, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the Spaniards were engaged in trade in enslavement. Millions were captured and loaded on ships for horrendous journeys to the Americas and the Caribbean to work in various plantations under brutal conditions. “Of all the major Caribbean islands, Haiti was the most brutal towards the enslaved Africans with 10% of the population dying every year under French colonial rule” .The passage over the Atlantic was called the Middle Passage in which large numbers of captured Africans lost their lives before they even reached their final destinations.

Haitians were originally from West Africa and Central Africa, spanning from Senegal to the Congo. Most Haitians practice both Vodoun and Roman Catholicism, in syncretic form. Secret societies were formed to fight against enslavement under the cover of traditional religious practices. Secret gatherings gave the enslaved moments of seeing each other as fellow human beings. Even for few hours, those moments enable the enslaved to plan and act on living free. The enslaved successfully conducted a revolt that resulted in the formation of a Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere.

The successful revolt in Haiti just like the successful and irreversible victory at the Battle of Adwa, became a source of inspiration for all enslaved Africans and colonized people in the Caribbean, the Americas as well as Africa. Resistance against the systems has increased after the Haitian Revolution and victory at Adwa. For instance, the Louisiana territories carried out armed resistance against the French system of enslavement. Napoleon, as a result, was forced to sell the territories to the United States.

Early in the 19 th century, Haiti helped Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Bolivia to obtain their independence. Various modes of resistance proliferated right after the successful revolt in Haiti. Some managed to self-liberate themselves, others mutinied by burning the sugar cane or cotton plantations. In Haiti, the uprisings against enslavement was led by leaders such as Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), Henri Christophe (1767-1820) and Jean Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806).

Santo Domingo was regarded by far the most profitable colonial estate to France. France prospered from exploited labor. Enslaved Africans worked hard and died young and penniless. As property of the system, they were denied basic rights. They were condemned to forced and harsh labor for life. Any attempt to veer off from the orders and the master meant harsh deadly punishment. They were treated inhumanely and = subjected to daily humiliations.

France managed to accumulate enough wealth to become a global power of the era. A system that relied on brute force is, however, bound to face resistance. Human beings are created to live free and, therefore, Haitians conducted a series of insurrections until they were able to dismantle slavery and form their own independent state. Traditions that were brought from Africa formed the basis of their resistance. Enslaved Africans and their supporters would hold a series of secret meetings to organize and act against the system of slavery.

Among the main causes of the Haitian Revolution was the French Revolution. The revolt for equality, dignity and brotherhood of the French people was taken to heart by the enslaved in Haiti. The French Revolution of 1789 “touched off uprisings among enslaved Africans in the Caribbean.”

Haiti and Ethiopia, who were regarded as unresolved problems of European colonization, have been suffering “considerable political and economic repercussions ever since.” The majority of the people in both countries have been leading precarious lives. Stability and peace are remote and internecine conflicts continue to undermine the quest for leading the lives the people want.

Dr. Benito Sylvain of Haiti had the opportunity to establish contact with Ethiopia when he travelled to Addis Ababa from Paris immediately after Adwa victory in 1896 and he met with Emperor Menelik II. Sylvain sought leading roles for Ethiopia and Haiti in Pan-African movements. He also represented the two countries at the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900.

The symbolic and historic significance of Haiti and Ethiopia to the protracted struggle against colonialism cannot be ignored nor underestimated. The people of Haiti and Ethiopia have changed the course of global history. Pan-African Movements were immensely inspired by Haitians’ victory over Napoleon’s army and Ethiopians’ decisive defeat of the would-be Italian colonizers.

The historic accomplishments of Ethiopians and Haitians did not get as much coverage and recognition. It is time that a new Pan-African movement draw a workable plan of cooperation so that the people of Haiti and Ethiopia lead meaningful lives.

Happy 128th Adwa Victory Anniversary!

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Ethiopia at the MET, Part Two: Q&A with Curator Dr. Andrea Achi

Theo Eshetu, The Return of the Axum Obelisk, 2009, Video, Collection of the artist, courtesy of The Met

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 23rd, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York is currently hosting its inaugural exhibition exploring the intersections between African and Byzantine art, with a significant focus on Ethiopia. In our ongoing interview series, we delve deeper into this topic with Dr. Andrea Achi, Curator of this groundbreaking exhibition at the MET.

TADIAS: What significance does Ethiopia hold within the context of this exhibition?

Dr. Andrea Achi: Ethiopia was closely connected to the Romans and Byzantines religiously, politically, and through shared artistic traditions. The Axum Empire became a Christian nation even before the Roman Empire. The Axumites were close political allies to the Byzantines, participating in proxy wars to help secure the Byzantine borders and remained close partners with the Byzantines for centuries.


Installation view of Africa & Byzantium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Anna Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met


Photo by Anna Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met


Photo by Anna Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met

TADIAS: Could you elaborate on Ethiopia’s rich artistic and cultural heritage and how the exhibition redefines conventional perceptions of Byzantium and Africa, particularly in its portrayal of Ethiopian art and culture?

Dr. Achi: Africa & Byzantium showcases Ethiopia’s rich artistic and cultural legacy extending over nearly two millennia. The Aksumite city of Adulis connected the Mediterranean trade with the Red Sea and the Indian ocean, facilitating transregional exchange. From there, the Axumites exported locally made objects such as worked glass, ivory, and metal, which circulated throughout the Mediterranean basin.

By beginning with Roman North Africa and ending with Ethiopia, Africa & Byzantium situates Ethiopian art and culture directly within the context of Byzantine artistic legacies. Previous exhibitions of Ethiopian art, particularly in the United States, have rightly focused on tracing the history of Ethiopian visual and material culture across the centuries. Africa & Byzantium places Ethiopian art in conversation with the artistic traditions of neighboring regions in East Africa, including Nubia and Egypt, demonstrating not only the liturgical concordances between these area through their shared Orthodox faith, while also encouraging the visitor to draw visual parallels between these artistic traditions. Although Ethiopia was never formally part of the Byzantine Empire, this context is important to further understand Ethiopia’s global connections with the regions that were within the domain of Byzantium, such as Egypt. It also complicates our understandings of the art of Byzantine Egypt and North Africa – rather than seeing the artistic tradition of these regions as a monolith, seeing these various regional artistic legacies in the same space encourages our audience to highlight the differences as well as the similarities between these distinct, yet related, visual expressions.


Photo by Anna Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met

TADIAS: The discussion among the featured contemporary artists, including Tsedaye Makonnen and Theo Eshetu, reflecting on the exhibition was truly captivating. Given the exhibition’s exploration of the lasting impact stemming from interactions between North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and Byzantium, could you provide further insights into how these artistic exchanges have shaped contemporary artistic practices?

Dr. Andrea AchI: Many of the Christian communities of North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and Byzantium are linked through their shared Orthodox faith, which shaped these region’s artistic traditions. In Africa & Byzantium, we see artists responding to this legacy, such as with Tsedaye Makonnen’s light sculptures, which feature incised forms of Ethiopian crosses on their modular structures. Other artists, such as Azza El Siddique, who is Sudanese-American, are thinking about how these cross-regional connections are shaped through shared ritual practices, such as through her work on Nubian and Egyptian perfume and scent. As a result of their shared geography, many of these regions also experienced colonial occupation, which profoundly affected how medieval art and heritage from the region is viewed and understood. In his work in the exhibition, The Return of the Axum Obelisk, and others, Theo Eshetu is reflective of this legacy: his work directly considers issues of provenance, repatriation, and cultural heritage, which are front of mind for many of the nation states that are in the regions of North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia. These regional colonial histories have also in part resulted in the migration of these communities to North America and Europe – many of these artists hold dual nationalities. Tsedaye and the Ethiopian-American artist Tariku Shiferaw are also thinking about this history of immigration, and Shiferaw’s work deals with what it means to exist as an immigrant in the West, and how to fit this explicitly transnational practice within the canon of Western art history.


Installation view of Africa & Byzantium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Anna Marie Kellen, courtesy of The Met

TADIAS: Lastly, for those unable to attend the exhibition in person, are there alternative avenues for accessing its content?

Dr. Andrea AchI: The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue available for purchase, featuring the research of over forty contributors spanning from the subfields of medieval art history, history, archaeology, and literary criticism. Photographs of the exhibition’s objects are included in the catalogue, accompanied by scholarly texts. A virtual tour of the exhibition, led by the show’s curator, is also available online. Other digital offerings on the museum’s website include the exhibition’s full audio guide, as well as photography of the exhibition objects with accompanying explanatory text. These are arranged in order of their display in the galleries to best simulate the in-person visitor’s experience.

Special thanks to Michelle Al-Ferzly at the MET for her assistance with the Q&A.

Video: Exhibition Tour—Africa & Byzantium | Met Exhibitions

If You Go:

Next week, the MET will present Tsedaye Makonnen for a “site-specific performance that journeys through the history of the Byzantine Era’s African diaspora.” This show coincides with the display of her Astral Sea textiles as part of The Met’s Africa & Byzantium exhibition.

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Related:

Ethiopia at the MET & the Walters Art Museum: TADIAS Interview Series on its Breakthrough Moment in Major U.S. Museums (Part One)

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Ethiopia at the MET & the Walters Art Museum: Interview Series on its Breakthrough in Major U.S. Museums

At the MET in New York, Ethiopia's artistic legacy takes center stage in the pivotal exhibition titled "Africa & Byzantium," showcasing its profound influence, extending even to contemporary art. (Photo: TADIAS)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 22nd, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopia’s rich history is finally receiving the recognition it deserves in major U.S. art institutions, ranging from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. At the MET in New York, Ethiopia’s artistic heritage assumes a central role in the seminal exhibition dubbed “Africa & Byzantium,” spotlighting its profound influence, extending even to contemporary artists. Ethiopia stands as a significant contributor alongside other influential ancient African kingdoms, whose interactions with Byzantium have left an indelible mark on the Mediterranean world.

“This is Ethiopia’s moment,” declares Tsedaye Makonnen, a multidisciplinary Ethiopian American artist who serves as the guest curator of contemporary art for the Walters exhibition. Her captivating artwork features prominently in installations at both museums. At the MET, Makonnen’s pieces are showcased alongside Theo Eshetu’s compelling video montage, which commemorates the return of the Aksum Obelisk to Ethiopia from Rome in 2005, rich with symbols and iconic imagery.

Next week, the MET will host Tsedaye Makonnen for a “site-specific performance that journeys through the history of the Byzantine Era’s African diaspora.” This show coincides with the display of her Astral Sea textiles as part of The Met’s Africa & Byzantium exhibition.

Hailing from the vibrant Ethiopian community in the Washington, DC metropolitan area — home to the largest Ethiopian population in the United States and outside of Ethiopia — she brings a unique perspective to the exhibition’s narrative. In a recent conversation with Tadias Magazine, she described the DC region as a place where Ethiopian culture thrives alongside robust ties to Black American culture. Embracing this dual identity, Tsedaye emphasized how it shapes her approach to art making as well as curating.


Tsedaye Makonnen’s installations at the MET in New York. (Photo: TADIAS)


(Photo: TADIAS)


At the MET, Theo Eshetu’s video, showcased alongside Tsedaye Makonnen’s installations, juxtaposes footage of the 2005 return of the Aksum Obelisk to Ethiopia from Rome with images of Ethiopian painting. The multi-channel presentation unveils the intricate nuances of restitution, a topic currently dominating conversations among museum experts and art historians, under the theme “Legacies & Reflections.” (Photo: TADIAS)

Watch: Artists on Artworks—Africa & Byzantium


In this video, moderated by Hannah Giorgis, a staff writer for The Atlantic, Tsedaye Makonnen and Theo Eshetu are joined by fellow artist Azza El Siddique to discuss the exhibition “Africa & Byzantium” and explore its significance in relation to their own artistic pursuits.

“Ethiopia at Crossroads” at Walters Art Museum

In Baltimore, the traveling exhibition titled “Ethiopia at Crossroads,” currently on view at the Walters Art Museum, is the first major art exhibition in America to explore Ethiopian cultural and artistic traditions comprehensively, from their origins to the present day. It charts the ways in which engaging with surrounding cultures manifested in Ethiopian artistic practices.


Photo: The Walters Art Museum


Photo: The Walters Art Museum

The exhibition, which is set to travel to Ohio and Massachusetts this Spring and summer, also showcases artworks by contemporary Ethiopian painters and photographers from the diaspora, as well as those from Ethiopia, curated by Tsedaye Makonnen.

TADIAS: You’re an Ethiopian American multidisciplinary artist yourself, and how did your own experiences and perspectives influence your curation process?

Tsedaye Makonnen: That’s a great question. I think, well, having parents who migrated here in the ’70s, being born in DC.. at Howard, but then growing up in Silver Spring, definitely shaped how I moved through the world, because I really do feel like I grew up in a little Ethiopia in Silver Spring. But then also having really strong roots and being influenced and raised by Black American culture from being in the D.C. area. And even how much of that my parents and their crew of a lot of the Ethiopians who came here around the same time where they expressed, ‘We landed here and felt comfortable here because this is a very Black city, and we were welcomed. So it felt like a second home.’ And I carry that. So I’m very much aware of my Ethiopianness and my Blackness, and I’m very proud of both of those things. And I mean, to me, they’re the same thing.

But having those roots are, I realize when I leave and go elsewhere, how I’m so grounded, and I’m grateful for that grounding. Because my mom will always says, ‘You have to know who you are,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, I know who I am.’ So I think all of that, I brought that to this creation with the Walters, and just seeing that in all of the artists that are a part of the show, that it’s not only that they’re making these very contemporary works that are reflecting the times, but they’re also sharing all of the different identities that exist within themselves. Right? So someone like Theo Eshetu, not only do I just visually love his work, it’s so stunning. And I’ve never seen a video artist make work in that way. So he’s clearly making a new visual language that hasn’t existed in video art.

But also, his background, his history to me is so fascinating. Someone who was born in the UK but of Ethiopian parents also has roots in Italy and has lived in Berlin. He’s a man of the world. But even with that, he’s Ethiopian, he carries that with him. And I think all of these artists who are in this show, as global as they are, that it’s really fascinating and telling how the presence of being Ethiopian or Ethiopia is so important to them. Because, Faith Ringgold isn’t Ethiopian, but as a Black American, the history of Ethiopia means so much to her, so yeah.


Tsedaye Makonnen, Walters Museum, Senait and Nahom installation, Smithsonian loan. (Walters Art Museum)

TADIAS: So how do you see contemporary art contributing to the broader narrative of Ethiopian culture, artistic tradition?

Tsedaye: Well, I think contemporary art, usually if it’s done well, it’s pulling from the present, but then also the past, and kind of bringing the two together. And it has the ability to see the future. So I think that a lot of these contemporary Ethiopian artists that are working now are doing that really well, as you can see in the Walters Show. And part of what this show is talking about is this literal crossroads, which also implicates migration.

So I think what’s so cool and important about the show is it really is highlighting not just Ethiopia, for Ethiopians on the continent, but for the diaspora as well. And as you know, you live here in the US, you have a child here. I keep thinking about the generations that are continuing to be born here and in other parts of the world outside of Ethiopia that really do, I think it’s so important for them to see themselves in these spaces outside of Ethiopia as well, because that’s their identity, and it reflects their existence.

And also, I think what’s so important about Ethiopian contemporary art is the fact that there’s generations, currently and in the past, that have been influenced by the art school in Addis, but then who’ve come from there and then come here, and have taught a whole new generation of artists. Somebody like Skunder Boghossian, for example. And it’s just this gift that keeps on giving. And that trajectory is so important to follow and to document because it’s now influencing outside of itself. Ethiopia has always been so influential towards the world, and I think there’s a contemporary version of that that’s happening actively now and has been happening since the ’60s and ’70s, that it’s just important to really document that for future generations. And then it’s important for obviously why something like Tadias Magazine exists. So we have to do that for ourselves, and force the narrative to shift as well, to acknowledge us.

If You Go:

The event at the Walters Art Museum culminates with a festive program during the Adwa celebration in the first week of March, featuring an evening of art-making, music, performances by Ras Band, a special appearance by Dereje Bekele, delectable treats from local Ethiopian vendors, and a fashion show organized by the Walters’ College Student Advisory Group. Visitors can savor the last weekend of the exhibition with special late-night hours.

Related:

Video: Artist Talk, Tsedaye Makonnen | The Walters Art Museum

Podcast: Ethiopia at the Crossroads featuring curator Christine Sciacca | The Walters Art Museum

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Q&A: Real Estate in Ethiopia – Opportunities for U.S. Diaspora Investors

The ET Real Estate and Home Expo, an annual event bringing together top local and international home developers held its 6th edition at the Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, January 01, 2024, (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 7th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – In Ethiopia, the demand for housing continues to surge, offering significant investment prospects for the private sector, including the Diaspora. This was evident at the recent 6th Annual Real Estate and Home Expo in Addis Ababa. The event attracted over 2000 participants, comprising developers, homeowners, buyers, sellers, and various stakeholders from diverse sectors.

Tadias Magazine reached out to learn more and explore the opportunities and growth potential showcased at the ET Real Estate and Home Expo.

Nigist Berta serves as the PR Manager at 251 Communications, an Addis Ababa-based Public Relations firm responsible for organizing the annual real estate expo:

TADIAS: For diaspora investors in the U.S. considering the Ethiopian real estate market, how would you describe the unique opportunities and potential for growth showcased at the ET Real Estate and Home Expo?

Nigist Berta: The ET Real Estate and Home Expo served as an exclusive platform, providing diaspora investors with a captivating insight into the burgeoning opportunities within Ethiopia’s dynamic real estate market. The event meticulously curated a diverse array of projects, encompassing everything from innovative residential developments to promising commercial ventures. This carefully curated showcase was instrumental in bringing to the forefront the robust growth potential inherent in Ethiopia’s real estate sector.

The Expo distinguished itself by placing a spotlight on key elements essential for future-forward investments. It emphasized a commitment to modern infrastructure, showcasing projects that incorporated cutting-edge architectural designs and sustainable practices. This thematic focus not only aligned with global standards but also underscored the Ethiopian real estate market’s evolution towards sustainability and innovation.

In essence, the ET Real Estate and Home Expo went beyond being a mere exhibition; it emerged as a catalyst for diaspora investors, offering them a distinctive chance to actively participate in and contribute to Ethiopia’s ever-expanding real estate narrative. This immersive experience not only showcased the present vibrancy of the sector but also hinted at its future potential, positioning Ethiopia as an attractive destination for diaspora investments in the realm of real estate.


Image courtesy of 251 Communications

TADIAS: What message would you like to convey to potential investors and stakeholders interested in participating or exploring opportunities within Ethiopia’s dynamic real estate sector?

Nigist: To potential investors and stakeholders keen on exploring Ethiopia’s dynamic real estate sector, we would emphasize the resilience and innovation witnessed at the ET Real Estate and Home Expo. The sector not only promises solid returns but also serves as a catalyst for economic development. Investing in Ethiopian real estate presents an opportunity to be part of a transformative journey, contributing to the country’s growth story while benefiting from a burgeoning market.


The 6th edition of the annual real estate and home expo showcased a wide range of real estate properties, services, developers, and financial institutions to potential home seekers.(Photo courtesy of 251 Communications)

TADIAS: The ET Real Estate and Home Expo, organized by 251 Communications, has once again achieved success. Congratulations on this accomplishment. Please tell us more about how this annual event contributes to bridging the gap between developers, homeowners, buyers, sellers, and the broader business community, including the Diaspora?

Nigist: The success of the ET Real Estate and Home Expo is indeed a testament to 251 Communications and Marketing. This annual event serves as a pivotal platform, facilitating meaningful connections and collaborations within the real estate ecosystem. By bringing together developers, homeowners, buyers, sellers, and the broader business community, including the Diaspora, the Expo fosters an environment conducive to networking and knowledge exchange. It plays a crucial role in bridging gaps, creating synergy, and enhancing the overall growth of Ethiopia’s real estate sector. For the Diaspora, it provides a direct avenue to engage with key stakeholders, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

Thank you once again for your interest, and I look forward to any further collaboration.

TADIAS: Thank you, Nigist. We appreciate the insights into the sector’s growth potential and the abundant opportunities available in Ethiopia’s real estate market for U.S. Diaspora investors. We look forward to the next Expo.

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Video: A Retrospective Journey Through 8 Remarkable Years with Addis Fine Arts

Over the years, Addis Fine Art has played a pivotal role in championing African artists on the global stage, emerging as a significant influencer in the contemporary African art market. (Photo: AFA)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 2nd, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – This year commemorates the 8th anniversary of Addis Fine Arts, an enduring commitment to showcasing and garnering global recognition for artists from Ethiopia and its diasporas, with a specific focus on “shedding light on the region’s rich artistic history.”

As stated on its website, Addis Fine Art stands as a prominent African contemporary art gallery, featuring locations in both Addis Ababa and London. Founded in 2016 by Rakeb Sile and Mesai Haileleul, the gallery has centered its focus on artists hailing from Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, and its diasporas. Over the years, Addis Fine Art has played a pivotal role in championing African artists on the global stage, emerging as a significant influencer in the contemporary African art market.

Distinguished by its international program, the gallery showcases mid-career artists through its London gallery space, making it one of the few Black and African-owned art galleries in the city. Simultaneously, the Addis Ababa location has transformed into a regional incubator for undiscovered talent, serving as a platform for exhibiting and nurturing the careers of emerging artists

In this video, founders Rakeb Sile and Mesai Haileleul take a retrospective look at the gallery’s remarkable journey.

8th Anniversary Video – Addis Fine Art from Addis Fine Art on Vimeo.

Related:

Addis Ababa’s Runway to Cultural Nexus: HAFW 2024 Shaping the Global Fashion Scene

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Addis Ababa’s Runway to Cultural Nexus: HAFW 2024 Shaping the Global Fashion Scene

The 2024 Hub of Africa Fashion Week (HAFW) was held in Addis Ababa from January 9 to 14, 2024. (Photos: Mekbib Tadesse via Vogue)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 2nd, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – Last month, the 14th edition of the Hub of Africa Fashion Week (HAFW) took place in Addis Ababa, capturing attention as a significant milestone. Vogue, in its coverage, highlighted the annual showcase of African and Diaspora designers in Ethiopia’s capital as surpassing the traditional boundaries of a fashion runway. Instead, it transformed into a “cultural crossroads” and a dynamic catalyst, fostering fresh connections and opportunities within the global fashion landscape.

Founded by siblings Mahlet Teklemariam and Natanem Teklemariam, HAFW has grown to become an artistic nexus for the continent, going beyond its original aim of featuring up-and-coming talent. Vogue’s coverage underscored the event as a platform for positive change, serving as a channel to build new connections and opportunities globally, seamlessly blending tradition with modernity and fashion with culture.


Natan Couture, Tibebu Collection and Samra Leather: by Mekbib Tadesse via Vogue.

At this year’s event, ten designers, including the Tibebu Collection, were prominently featured, earning recognition from Vogue. Tibebu, meaning wisdom in Amharic, encapsulates the essence of the brand. Bezawit Tibebu, harboring dreams of becoming a designer from a young age, directs her brand toward the modernization of traditional Ethiopian textiles with a couture and contemporary twist. The utilization of a pastel color palette, complemented by traditional hand-woven fabrics, imparts a distinctive and refined touch to Tibebu’s creations.

Among the other showcased designers were Mastewal Alemu, Natanem Couture, Afthoro, Afropian, Zemenay, Metii Upcycled Collection, Dann, Samra Leather, and Alexander Akande. Each designer brought their unique perspective to the runway, contributing to the diverse and innovative showcase celebrated by both the event and Vogue.


Photo: Courtesy of Hub of Africa Fashion Week (HAFW)

As HAFW continues to grow and evolve, it stands as a testament to the vibrancy of the African fashion scene, showcasing not only the region’s rich creativity but also its potential to influence and connect with the global fashion community.

Read the full article at vogue.com: These Are the 10 Designers to Know From Addis Ababa’s Hub of Africa Fashion Week

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UCLA Presents Ethiocolor: A Mesmerizing Journey into Ethiopia’s Cultural Legacy

With roots nurtured by a diverse array of Ethiopian traditions and enriched by their own lived experiences, Ethiocolor's ecstatic performances have the remarkable ability to unite audiences in a profound way that transcends cultural boundaries. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: September 29th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) – Prepare to be transported to the heart of Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage as UCLA proudly presents Ethiocolor, a captivating 9-member ensemble led by the charismatic Melaku Belay.

Ethiocolor’s performance, which is set to take place this evening in Los Angeles at the UCLA Nimoy Theater in Westwood, is a deep dive into Ethiopia’s 2000-year-old Azmari culture, a treasure trove of artistry that has captivated hearts for centuries. Their practice is an awe-inspiring fusion of dance and music, effortlessly bridging the gap between ancient traditions and contemporary innovation.

With roots nurtured by a diverse array of Ethiopian traditions and enriched by their own lived experiences, Ethiocolor’s ecstatic performances have the remarkable ability to unite audiences in a profound way that transcends cultural boundaries.

Melaku Belay, a talent described by The New York Times as a “walking earthquake,” stands as Ethiopia’s foremost contemporary interpreter of eskista, a rhythmic and shoulder-shimmying dance that embodies the nation’s spirit. His star shines brightly both within his home country and as a global cultural force.

Belay’s Fendika Cultural Center in Addis Ababa has become a vibrant hub where artists, musicians, and enthusiasts from around the world gather to celebrate Ethiopia’s rich artistic heritage. It’s a testament to his unwavering dedication to preserving and sharing the essence of Azmari culture.

Presented as part of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ethiocolor’s performance receives funding from the U.S. Government and is administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.

If You Go:
Ethiocolor at the UCLA Nimoy Theater
Click here for Tickets

Related:

DC: The Kennedy Center Presents Historic Musical Tribute to Ethiopian Icon Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

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DC: The Kennedy Center Presents Historic Musical Tribute to Ethiopian Icon Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

(Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: September 26th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) – This fall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. will host an extraordinary musical tribute in commemoration of the 100th birthday of the late Ethiopian pianist and composer, Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru. Emahoy, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 99, left an indelible mark on the world of classical music.

This historic event, scheduled for Tuesday, November 7th in the illustrious Terrace Theater, promises to be an unforgettable evening of classical music celebrating the legacy of a remarkable artist. The highlight is the debut of never-before-performed compositions by the late pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru. Audiences will also be treated to the premiere of a previously unreleased recording featuring selections performed by the virtuoso herself.

At the heart of this celebration is Thomas Feng, a renowned classical pianist and composer. Mr. Feng has dedicated himself to the preservation of Emahoy’s extensive archive of written and recorded music. During the event, he will provide insights into the technological marvels employed to safeguard and showcase this musical treasure trove.

The stage will be graced by exceptional performers, each with their own connection to Ethiopia and classical music:

John Paul McGee, a Jazz Pianist of remarkable talent.
Meklit Hadero, a Jazz/Blues Vocalist whose voice captivates hearts.
Thomas Feng, the Classical Pianist devoted to honoring Emahoy’s legacy.

If You Go:
TICKETS AVAILABLE OCTOBER 2nd, 10:00am!

Related

Watch: Labyrinth of Belonging – Documentary about Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

Pianist & Composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru Passes Away at Age 99

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 28th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, the renowned Ethiopian nun Pianist & Composer, has passed away at the age of 99 in Jerusalem, where she had been living at the Ethiopian Monastery for almost 40 years. According to Fana Broadcasting, she died on March 23rd.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam was born as Yewubdar Gebru in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923. She was sent to Switzerland at a young age, where she studied the violin and then the piano at a girls’ boarding school. After returning to Ethiopia, she was taken prisoner of war with her family during the Italian occupation and deported to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.

After the war, Yewubdar resumed her musical studies in Cairo and returned to Ethiopia accompanied by her teacher, the Polish violinist Alexander Kontorowicz. She then became a nun and took the title Emahoy and her name was changed to Tsege Mariam.


Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)


Left: Yewubdar Gebru, 1940s. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)


Yewubdar Gebru as prisoner of War on the Italian Island of Azinara. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Although she was raised in privilege with her father, Kantiba Gebru Desta, a former mayor of Gonder and Addis Abeba, Emahoy’s life was marked by struggles beyond her musical pursuits. She was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italian forces, and after their defeat, she faced obstacle from Ethiopian officials, who blocked her from obtaining a scholarship to study music in London.

Despite these challenges, she maintained a resilient attitude and famously remarked:

“We can’t always choose what life brings. But we can choose how to respond.”


(Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

After releasing her debut album in 1967, Emahoy Tsege Mariam dedicated the proceeds to charitable causes benefiting children. With the assistance of her family members residing in the United States, she eventually established the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation, which aimed to provide children with opportunities to study music.

Emahoy gained international recognition through her solo compositions, which were published in the “Ethiopiques 21″ CD series by the French label Buda Musique in 2006. She is known for her classical and jazz music compositions, which are reflective and pensive, with ‘Homeless Wanderer’ being one of her most notable works.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam’s life has been one of resilience and commitment to her art. When she was denied the chance to study music in London, she entered the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wello region at the age of 19. Within two years, she was ordained as a nun. During the 1960s, she studied the music of Saint Yared in Gonder, and in 1967, her first album was released in Germany.

Album: Éthiopiques 21 – Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru ‘The Homeless Wanderer’

Later Emahoy survived Ethiopia’s Marxist revolution in the 1970s and continued to create music, with her piano compositions being released in 1973 to raise funds for orphanages.

Her niece Hanna M. Kebbede emphasizes the teaching moments that can be drawn from Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s life, stating that “It is a uniquely Ethiopian story, but at the same time the lessons are universal.”

Emahoy’s music has been featured in several films, including the Oscar-nominated documentary Time and Rebecca Hall’s Netflix drama Passing. Journalist and author Kate Molleson made a documentary about Emahoy Tsege Mariam for BBC Radio Four called ‘The Honky Tonk Nun.’

In her interview with Alula Kebede on his Amharic radio program on the Voice of America, Emahoy said, “Although I did not have money to give them, I was determined to use my music to help these and other young people to get an education.”

The music and life of Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru continue to inspire young people, artists, and students around the world. Her unwavering commitment to using her talents for the betterment of others is a legacy that will endure.

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In Washington DC, Helen Show Hosts 7th Annual Empower the Community Weekend

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 28th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — The Helen Show on EBS TV is set to host its 7th annual Empower the Community Weekend in Washington DC on Saturday.

This highly anticipated event brings together the largest East African community in the Washington DC metro area, providing a platform for networking, panel discussions, entertainment, and invaluable information on education, career development, finance, health, wellness, giveaways, and much more. The event aims to equip individuals and families with the resources they need to lead productive lives and thrive.

The event is designed to be family-centered, ensuring that attendees of all ages can participate in activities that promote growth and well-being.

This annual gathering also serves as a catalyst for personal and community growth, providing a platform for individuals and families to come together, network, and gain knowledge that will positively impact their lives.

The Empower the Community Weekend will take place on Saturday, July 1st, from 11 am to 7 pm at the Washington Convention Center.

The producers of the Helen Show on EBS TV launched the inaugural Empower the Community Weekend in 2017. As a highly acclaimed program with 24 successful seasons, the Helen Show has established itself as a trusted source of information, empowerment, and community engagement within the Ethiopian community. Covering diverse topics ranging from business and health to family and self-help issues, the show has garnered a loyal following.

The Empower the Community Weekend serves as an extension of the Helen Show’s commitment to empowering individuals and fostering community growth. Through this groundbreaking event, the producers aim to provide a platform for the Ethiopian and larger East African community in the Washington DC metro area to come together, network, and gain valuable knowledge and resources.

Since its inception, the Empower the Community Weekend has evolved into a highly anticipated annual gathering embraced by the community. Attendees can look forward to a diverse array of activities and invaluable opportunities for personal and professional growth, while also having the chance to connect with individuals who share similar aspirations. The event places a strong emphasis on fostering collaboration and aims to empower individuals, while simultaneously nurturing the bonds within the East African community.

As the Helen Show continues to make a significant impact on EBS TV, attracting over 30 million viewers weekly in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora worldwide, the Empower the Community Weekend further solidifies its dedication to serving as a reliable and influential voice. The event serves as a testament to the show’s commitment to informing, empowering, and engaging the Ethiopian community, both at home and abroad.

If You Attend:

Empower the Community Weekend 2023
July 1st
Walter E Washington Convention Center
VIRTUAL REGISTRATION & LIMITED IN-PERSON SEATING
Registration Here
More info at: www.empowercw.com

—-

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In Ethiopia Mobile Money License to Safaricom M-Pesa Signals New Era for Digital Finance

Ethiopia has granted a license to Safaricom, a telecommunications company based in Kenya, to launch its mobile money service M-Pesa in the country. Ethiopia is considered to be a highly promising market for mobile banking services, making this license approval a major development. (Photo: Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 12th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — In a significant development, Ethiopia has granted a mobile money license to Safaricom’s M-Pesa, making it the first foreign player to gain entry into the country’s digital finance market.

The license approval is expected to provide millions of unbanked Ethiopians with access to various mobile banking services such as mobile wallet, internal banking, and card banking.

The move is seen as a significant boost for both the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), which issued the license, and M-Pesa, which gets immediate access to one of the largest untapped telecom markets in Africa.

According to NBE, this decision aligns with its goal of “fostering financial innovation and inclusion in the Ethiopian market.”

Despite Safaricom’s M-Pesa reporting a net loss of Sh21.7 billion, the company anticipates breaking even in its fourth year of operation in Ethiopia.

The service is expected to roll out before the end of the year, signaling the start of a new era for digital finance in Ethiopia.

Related:

Tadias Celebrates 20th anniversary: Learn more and support our book project.

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Habeshaview Signs Agreement With Ethio Telecom to Provide IPTV Service

Habeshaview CEO Tigist Kebede (right), stated that the partnership would offer a user-friendly and cost-effective option for accessing live news and entertainment channels. (courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 4th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Habeshaview Technology and Multimedia, a leading media, entertainment, and advanced technology company, has signed a partnership agreement with Ethio Telecom to provide IPTV (Internet Protocol television) services to Ethio Telecom’s mobile and data customers as a value-added service.

The agreement was signed on Thursday in Addis Ababa and the service is set to launch immediately.

According to the CEO of Habeshaview, Tigist Kebede, the partnership will provide an easily accessible alternative way of watching live news and entertainment channels at an affordable price. Tigist also added that the partnership will provide a home for many talented Ethiopian filmmakers and support them to showcase their work and earn revenue in the process.


At the Habeshaview and Ethio Telecom IPTV launch event in Addis Ababa on Thursday, May 4th, 2023. (Courtesy photo)

Habeshaview is a versatile media, entertainment, and technology company with its main office located in Virginia and additional branches in London and Addis Ababa.


Habeshaview and Ethiotelecom signed the agreement in Ethiopia on Thursday, May 4th, 2023. The announcement highlights that the collaboration also gives audiences access to exclusive Ethiopian films straight after their cinema release on any internet connected devices. (Photo: Courtesy of Habeshaview)

The press release noted that the service will offer a wide variety of national and international content, including video on demand, games, audio channels, and a catch-up service of original content sourced from a wide variety of studios worldwide with multiple language options at affordable prices.

Habeshaview is a multi-faceted media, entertainment, and advanced technology company that provides a user-friendly OTT platform and apps to provide a premium viewing experience. Established in 2015, Habeshaview is headquartered in Virginia, United States of America, with offices in London, United Kingdom, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has a data center and technology development office in The Netherlands.

You can access the Habeshaview App at habeshaview.tv.

Related:

Watch: Tadias Conversation with Tigist Kebede of Habeshaview

WATCH: Q&A with Cast and Crew of “Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) Live From Ethiopia

Spotlight on ‘Enkopa’: New Ethiopian Movie Based on True Story of a Young Migrant

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Ethiopian Airlines to Take Off to New US Destination: Atlanta!

This month Atlanta will become Ethiopian Airlines' latest passenger destination in the United States, joining the ranks of Chicago, Newark, New York, and Washington. (Photo: @flyethiopian)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: May 2nd, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Airlines is all set to commence its new service connecting Atlanta with Addis Ababa this month.

The airline, which is the biggest in Africa and already operates over 130 international passenger and cargo destinations, has announced that it will provide four flights per week on the new U.S. route starting May 16th.

According to Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew, the new service will boost tourism, investment, and socio-economic ties between the two regions. Atlanta will become the airline’s latest passenger destination in the United States, joining the ranks of Chicago, Newark, New York, and Washington.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens welcomed the move, calling the new connection a “win for our City” and expressing optimism about a successful partnership with Ethiopian Airlines.


The General Manager of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Balram “B” Bheodari added: “We are thrilled to welcome Ethiopian Airlines to ATL.” (Photo: @flyethiopian)


Ethiopian Airlines is the fastest growing Airline in Africa. (Photo: @flyethiopian)

“We are truly delighted to open our sixth gateway in North America with the new flight to Atlanta,” said Ethiopian CEO Mesfin Tasew, “We have been connecting the U.S. and Africa for 25 years now, and the new service will help boost investment, tourism, diplomatic, and socioeconomic bonds between the two regions. As a pan-African carrier, we are committed to further expanding our global network and connecting Africa with the rest of the world. We are also keen to better serve the U.S. by increasing our destinations and flight frequencies.”

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Demystifying the Nile: Book Launch & Panel Discussion at Georgetown in DC

This Weekend in DC Georgetown University's Nile House is hosting a book launch by Dereje Tessema and panel discussion on April 29th entitled "How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile - History and Events Leading to the Realization of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam." (Photo: (PILPG)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 28th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Last month, Ethiopia announced that it had made significant progress in constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River, with 90% of the project completed. In a new book entitled “How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile,” Dereje Tessema, an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University, documents the complex history of this milestone achievement.

This weekend, Dereje will launch the book and lead a panel discussion on Saturday April 29th at Georgetown University’s Nile House, where he serves as a research fellow. The event is titled “How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile – History and Events Leading to the Realization of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

Dereje’s book is presented in six parts, providing readers with an overview of the science of the Nile River, the relationship of riparian countries to the river, the project management aspect of the dam, and his experiences on the Nile River. The panel discussion will bring together experts, policymakers, and scholars to delve into these domains. The event will take place in person at Georgetown University’s Intercultural Center (ICC) from 2:00 to 5:00 PM EST. Public parking will be available at the Southwest Garage. For those who cannot attend in person, the event will be accessible virtually through Zoom, and registration is required to participate.

With 11 riparian states sharing the Nile River and a total population of over 530 million, the Nile River is the second riskiest basin for hydro-political issues, according to a 2018 European Joint Research Center report. The completion of the GERD has been a subject of controversy, with concerns raised by downstream countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, over the dam’s impact on water resources and downstream water availability. This book launch and panel discussion offer an opportunity to learn more about the history and politics surrounding the Nile River and the construction of the GERD.


If You Go:

Topic: Book Launch and Panel Discussion – ‘How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile
Date: April 29, 2023
Time: 2:00 – 5:00 PM EST
Venue: In person – Georgetown University, Intercultural Center (ICC)
Parking: Public parking is available at the Southwest Garage. Use 3611 Canal Road as the address for GPS direction to the parking garage. Sign posts will be available to direct guests to the Center.
Virtual – Zoom Link (Registration Required)

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Art Talk: Tizta Berhanu at AFA London

Tizta Berhanu is known for her powerful figurative paintings that explore the full range of human emotions. Her first European solo show opens at AFA London on Thursday, April 27th. (Photo: Courtesy Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 13th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Today Addis Fine Art announced the opening of Tizta Berhanu’s first European solo show, Synthesis of Souls. The exhibition will be held at their London space, with the opening on Thursday, April 27, and will run until Saturday, May 27.

Tizta Berhanu, an Ethiopian artist born in Addis Ababa in 1991, is known for her powerful figurative paintings that explore the full range of human emotions. Her work depicts narratives of love, intimacy, kinship, and motherhood, all flowing across gestural compositions. Tizta’s figures, bathed in swathes of jewel-like primary colors, are painted with expressive brushstrokes, often interlaced in each other’s embrace. Her work showcases the beauty of human touch and connection.


(Photos: Addis Fine Art)

According to the press release the exhibition, curated by Claudia Cheng, an independent art advisor and curator based in London and Hong Kong, is a recent collection of Tizta’s figurative paintings. The artworks are infused with lucid colors, and their heavy, undefined brushstrokes add to the dreamlike atmosphere. The paintings’ subjects express a range of emotions, some comforting and embracing one another, while others are found isolated and searching in the backdrop of the enigmatic canvases. Tizta’s compositions allude to the importance of community in providing support for one another, an essential trait in Ethiopian culture.

Tizta Berhanu’s work possesses its own distinctive emotional tone, with each painting infused with bold, vibrant colors. The lustrous red paintings conjure images of love and passion, while the oceanic blue works wash the viewer in a wave of despondency.

The exhibition marks an important moment for Tizta, as it is her first solo show in Europe. Her artistic talent and unique perspective on humanity’s emotions make her one of the most exciting artists to watch in the contemporary art scene. Synthesis of Souls is a must-see exhibition for art lovers and collectors looking to discover exceptional new talent.


If You Go:

More info at addisfineart.com.

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DA Mekonnen’s New Single “Unicode 1200″ Tribute to Ethiopic Script, Comes to NYC

DA Mekonnen's new album features "Unicode 1200" and is set to release this month on FPE Records. The project's name 'dragonchild' is inspired by the 2008 film "Teza" by Haile Gerima. Mekonnen will premiere his new project at the National Sawdust in Brooklyn on April 15th. (Photo: by Drum Fernandez)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 11th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Danny (DA) Mekonnen’s new single, “Unicode 1200,” pays homage to the first letter of the Ethiopic script, which is assigned the unique number U+1200 as part of the international encoding standard. This standard ensures that the language is accessible across all computer platforms, programs, and devices.

As Mekonnen explained to Tadias Magazine: “The title is a nod to communication in the information age and the universal system for encoding and text, which was developed in part by Ethiopian-American Engineer Fesseha Atlaw. “U+1200″ is the first character, “Ha,” of the Ethiopic alphabet.”

As a first-generation Ethiopian-American, DA Mekonnen spent his formative years in Texas before studying music at Harvard University. He gained recognition as the founding member and leader of Debo band, whose innovative approach to Ethiopian music has earned them invitations to perform at prestigious venues and events worldwide. Some of these include the Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, South by Southwest, Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar, and the Ethiopian Music(s) Festival in Addis Ababa.

Mekonnen’s new album, “dragonchild,” features “Unicode 1200″ and is set to release this month on FPE Records. The project’s name is inspired by the 2008 film “Teza” by Haile Gerima. Mekonnen will premiere his new project at the National Sawdust in Brooklyn on April 15th.

“I will present a 75-minute concert of new music and video,” Mekonnen told Tadias. “The video includes original artwork by the photographer Michael Tsegaye and found footage by Olani Ewunnet.”

The title of the project, “dragonchild,” refers to a line in the film “Teza,” where the protagonist returns to his small village after spending a long time in Germany and Addis Ababa. The movie ends on an optimistic and mysterious note: “we are children of the dragon, do not despair.” The dragon in reference is Erta Ale, an active lava lake in Ethiopia. Michael Tsegaye’s photographs of Erta Ale are included in the album artwork.

In his conversation with Tadias, Mekonnen described how “Unicode 1200″ utilizes clapping and tom-tom drums to provide a solid foundation for the lilting saxophone and dancing keys. The song’s stripped-down arrangement serves to accentuate the beauty of the Ethiopic language and honor its worldwide accessibility thanks to modern technology.

More about the album (Excerpts from Press Release)

Dragonchild takes the exploration of Ethiopian music Mekonnen began with Debo Band and explodes it into vivid, three-dimensional space. Where Debo called back to the sounds of 1970s Addis and added original material along those same lines, dragonchild shatters traditions and boundaries, incorporating sampled material, field recordings, experiments in high and low fidelity, and the throughline that unites the diverse sounds, layers of Mekonnen’s rich and ecstatic saxophone. “I’ve been thinking a lot about ego death and being willing to let certain things go,” he says. “Things that made you feel good about yourself, made you feel really successful. I think artistically those things can be really dangerous. They can be dangerous crutches.” In moving beyond what brought him success in a fickle industry, he is braving new territory to bring us something more, something vulnerable and alive.

The name of the project derives from Haile Gerima’s 2008 film Teza, the story of an Ethiopian lab researcher who returns to his small village after long sojourns in both Germany and Addis Ababa. Near the end of the film, there is the hopeful but enigmatic line “do not despair – we are children of the dragon,” which evokes the resilience of the people and of the earth. It’s a nod to Erta Ale, the active lava lake in Ethiopia photographed by Michael Tsegaye for his Afar series, included as part of the album artwork and recognized instinctively by Mekonnen as “portraits of the dragon.”


(Photo: by Michael Tsegaye)

Although the seeds of this music were solitary, collaborations abound in the dragonchild universe, with artists as diverse as ambient producer claire rousay, the Addis Ababa based multi-instrumentalist Ethiopian Records, and percussionist Sunken Cages. These duets fly freely across the borders of genre, stretching out like long late-night conversations between close friends, work created as an expression of community, abundance, and freedom. The physical form of the record is an eight channel, four LP mix of the final track and centerpiece of the album, a twenty-minute-long saxophone meditation. It is no coincidence that this mix is impossible to listen to alone. In order to experience it fully, you will need three friends and four turntables.

The photograph that occupies the front cover, also taken by Michael Tsegaye, is of another photo, one placed under glass in a cemetery as part of a common practice in Addis Ababa. Over time, water damage cracked and weathered the glass, and at first what you see are the sharp and irregular fractures, rendered with extreme clarity. It is only on second glance that you see the true subject of the portrait, the ghostly ancestor gazing out from the past. “We have to fight for our lives,” Mekonnen says. “That’s the thing that I feel most adamant about. Our creativity is our birthright.” With dragonchild, he gives voice to a new sound, hundreds of years of Ethiopian and American music all resonating at once. “The record feels and breathes to me like the Ethiopian music I’ve been trying to figure out my whole life.”

If You Go:

TOUR DATES

4/15 – Brooklyn, NY @ National Sawdust

5/12 – Northampton, MA @ Collider Fest *

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An Eco-Tech Company from Ethiopia Kubik Wins Global Startup Awards

Kidus Asfaw (right), CEO and co-founder of the Ethiopian company Kubik, with Bram van den Bosch, chief executive and co-founder of the Uganda-based Emata. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 4th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — An Ethiopian environmental technology company, Kubik, has been named winner of the 2023 Global Startup Awards, the largest independent startup ecosystem competition in the world.

Kubik, which turns plastic waste into low-carbon, low-cost buildings, won the GSA’s Startup of the Year category. The award highlights the company’s contribution to sustainable development.

Kubik’s chief executive and co-founder, Kidus Asfaw, told Tadias Magazine the award serves as an inspiration for African entrepreneurs. He expressed hope that the world takes note and recognizes the continent’s potential for groundbreaking innovations.

“I hope this serves as an eye opener to the world for what Africans can do,” Kidus said. “And I hope African entrepreneurs draw inspiration on what they can achieve on the global stage.”

The venue for the event was Copenhagen, Europe’s celebrated green capital, which is also the location of the GSA’s headquarters.

This year’s awards ceremony also included investor delegation and meet-ups. These events provided startups with the chance to connect with potential investors and like-minded individuals who could offer support and resources for their growth and development.

Emata, a Ugandan fintech startup, won the Best Newcomer award for its innovative approach to providing affordable digital loans to smallholder farmers. The company has revolutionized the loan process by automating data collection, credit scoring, and loan disbursement. Emata offers loans as small as UGX 60,000 (approximately $15), providing previously inaccessible financing to farmers.

According to Jo Griffiths, co-founder of the GSA Africa and the Global Innovation Initiative Group, these awards serve to identify and celebrate future-shapers while building a global network of innovation organizations. She said that startups mastering technology and innovation will shape the future.

In a message to Tadias, Kidus emphasized the capability of Africa and his home country of Ethiopia to become a hub for innovative solutions and contribute to the promotion of global ingenuity.

“The potential of our continent and country to serve as launchpads for global innovations is tremendous,” Kidus stated in his message.

“It deeply humbles our team at Kubik to showcase one of so many of these African innovations.”

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This Ethiopian Brand Is Brightening Homes With Its Colorful Textiles

(Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles)

The Spruce

Updated: April 5th, 2023

Hana Getachew turned her passion for home textiles that were both vibrant and meaningful into a home decor brand, Bolé Road Textiles. Getachew combines her own style of sketching and knowledge of fine arts with the traditional motifs from her home country of Ethiopia to create her one-of-a-kind home decor collections. Each collection is curated through a process of playing with different color schemes and thoughtful motifs.

In collaboration with her local group of skilled artisans in Ethiopia, they bring Getachew’s designs to life using ancient weaving traditions. Each individual product is handwoven one by one, making it as unique and personal as it can be.

What’s the Story Behind Bolé Road Textiles?

Hana Getachew: I worked in commercial interiors for ten years, it was a career I loved. However, I was curious about what it would be like to carve a path of my own based on my background and interests. It was a huge leap of faith but I’ve always enjoyed sharing my culture, now it’s part of what I do!

Where Did the Name Bolé Road Textiles Originate From?

HG: I was born in Ethiopia, and I lived in a neighborhood called Bole (no accent but pronounced the same). Bole Road was a main street that connected our neighborhood to the rest of Addis Ababa.


(Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles)

What Kind of Cultural Impact Do Your Products Have?

HG: I hope our textiles could be a conduit for cultural connection. I love telling stories of Ethiopia through our collections and I love that our clients get to share that and have a little piece of Ethiopian tradition in their homes.

What’s the Creative Process of Making Designs?

HG: I focus each collection around a concept or idea inspired by Ethiopia. Sometimes it’s about a particular region, as with the Heritage, Konso, and Harar Collections; sometimes, it’s about a landscape, such as the Admas Collection. The patterns and colors are all derived from the initial inspiration and concept.

Read more »

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Spotlight: Ten Great Musicians From Ethiopia

Hello Music Theory highlights ten popular artists from Ethiopia including Aster Aweke, Teddy Afro, Mulatu Astatke, Gigi, Abinet Agonafir, Mahmoud Ahmed, Ali Birra, Zeritu Kebede, Betty G, and Abby Lakew. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 3rd, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Which Ethiopian musicians would make it to your top ten list?

According to a recent compilation by Hello Music Theory, created by music students in London, the list includes Aster Aweke, Teddy Afro, Mulatu Astatke, Gigi, Abinet Agonafir, Mahmoud Ahmed, Ali Birra, Zeritu Kebede, Betty G, and Abby Lakew.

While there are many other new and established talents that could be added to the list, Hello Music’s selection is impressive and highlights the increasing popularity of Ethiopian music beyond its borders.

Aster Aweke:

Legendary musician Aster Aweke is considered one of the best Ethiopian singers of all time. She is celebrated for her compelling vocals and captivating lyrics. Although born in Gondar, Aster spent her formative years in Addis Ababa, where her father worked. She began singing at the age of 13, driven by her passion for music. In her youth, she even performed alongside prominent bands in clubs throughout the city.

In 1981, Aster Aweke made a significant move to the United States, and that proved to be a pivotal moment in her career. That same year, she released her debut album on a US label, titled “Aster.” The song that brought her international acclaim, “Anteye,” has sold millions of copies, firmly establishing her as a star.

Teddy Afro:

Teddy Afro (real name Tewodros Kassahun Germamo) is one of the most popular contemporary musicians among Ethiopians worldwide. The renowned Singer-songwriter is admired for his exceptional songwriting abilities and revolutionary tracks. Teddy, who grew up in Addis Ababa, released his debut album in 2001. Four years later he dropped his third CD, Yasteseryal, which gained widespread attention due to the political turmoil in Ethiopia at the time. Although  four of the songs on the album were banned, it still managed to sell millions of copies, solidifying Teddy Afro’s place as a prominent figure in Ethiopian music.

Mulatu Astatke:

Of course, Mulatu Astatke, the pioneer of Ethiopian Jazz, is also on the list. The composer and arranger is indeed a trailblazing figure in Ethiopian music. He is credited with creating a unique fusion of Ethiopian traditional music and jazz, which he called “Ethio-jazz.” Mulatu Astatke is known for his distinctive sound, which features complex rhythms and harmonies, and incorporates traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the krar and the washint.

Mulatu’s music gained international recognition in the 1960s and 70s, when he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and performed with jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. He went on to release a series of influential albums, including “Afro-Latin Soul” and “Mulatu of Ethiopia,” which helped to establish him as a leading figure in the world music scene.

Today, Mulatu continues to tour and perform around the world, and his music has influenced a new generation of Ethiopian musicians. He is widely regarded as a cultural ambassador for Ethiopia and a pioneer in the development of African jazz.

Gigi:

Ejigayehu Shibabaw, known by her stage name Gigi, is a renowned vocalist. Her early exposure to traditional Ethiopian music came from an Orthodox priest during her upbringing.in northwestern Ethiopia.

Gigi rose to fame with the release of her self-titled album “Gigi” in 2001, which featured collaborations with several American jazz musicians. The album was a fusion of traditional and contemporary music, and it received critical acclaim and commercial success, making waves in her home country.

Following the success of her debut album, Gigi went on to release two more albums in 2003 and 2006, which further solidified her position as a prominent musician in Ethiopia. Notably, her captivating vocals were featured in the movie Beyond Borders, where the famous actress Angelina Jolie played the lead role.

Mahmoud Ahmed:

Mahmoud Ahmed, an iconic singer, rose to prominence in the 1970s and gained international recognition across Africa and Europe. Mahmoud began his singing career at an early age while residing in the Mercato district of Addis Ababa.

Initially, he started as a band singer and performed with various prominent groups of that era. Later on, he embarked on a solo music career and released several successful singles that gained him recognition in Ethiopia.

However, his global recognition came after the release of his album Ere Mela Mela, which was a compilation of tracks from two of his LPs. This was a time when Ethiopia was going through political turmoil. His most significant achievement was in 2007 when he won the BBC World Music Award.

Ali Birra:

Ali Birra.is another legendary Ethiopian singer featured by Hello Music. He was born in Dire Dawa. He is one of the few notable artists who popularized funk, jazz, rock, and reggae beats in East Africa.

Ali Birra was only 13 when he joined a cultural group to promote Oromo music and culture. His first singing engagement involved him singing “Birra dha Bari’e,” which gave birth to his nickname. Ali is from his first name, while Birra is from the song.

Ali Birra began his singing career in Addis Ababa after relocating from his native home. He met various nationalists, such as Ahmad Taqi, who influenced his music career. His big break came in 1971 when he released his first album, which was also the first album in Oromo music history.

Zeritu Kebede:

Zeritu Kebede represents the new era of Ethiopian music. Listening to her voice is a sure way to ignite a love for music.

Zeritu grew up in Addis Ababa and had a passion for music from an early age. She used to listen to her parents’ collection, which featured renowned  musician Mahmoud Ahmed.

After completing high school, Zeritu pursued her passion for singing professionally, and she released her debut album in 2005. The album’s standout track was “Yane,” which quickly became a fan favorite in Ethiopia and propelled the album to great success.

Betty G:

Betty G, also known as Bruktawit Getahun, is a renowned Ethiopian singer-songwriter. She was raised in Addis Ababa and pursued higher education in Office Management, but her studies did not deter her from following her passion for music.

Initially, Betty G was not well-known in the Ethiopian music industry. However, after collaborating with prominent musicians like Nhatty Man, she started gaining recognition.

In 2015, Betty G made a name for herself with the release of her first album, Manew Fitsum. Since then, she has worked with other famous musicians such as Teddy Afro and Zeritu Kebede. Her second album, Wegegta, was released to critical acclaim and received six AFRIMA nominations.

Abby Lakew:

Abby Lakew, the final musician on this list, is an artist who sings in both English and Amharic. She was born and raised in Gondar until she relocated to the United States at the age of 13.

Her first album, produced in both English and Amharic, was released in 2005. She went on to release several other albums, including popular tracks like “Shikorina” and “Abrerew.”

In 2015, Lakew’s career skyrocketed with the release of her hit single, “Yene Habesha,” which amassed over 54 million views on YouTube. The song catapulted her to international fame, and in 2016, she was nominated for the Best Traditional Female Artist for Africa award, solidifying her place in the music industry.

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Spotlight: Jomo Tariku, Ethiopian American Industrial Designer and Data Scientist

Tadias first featured Jomo Tariku's work nearly 20 years ago, and since then, he has become one of the leading Black furniture designers in America. (Photo: ©Gediyon Kifle/www.PhotoGK.com)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 29th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — One of the most rewarding aspect of publishing Tadias is to track the continued progress of professionals from diverse fields, including artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists whose work and future aspiration we’ve profiled from an early stage of their career.

Jomo Tariku, an industrial designer and data scientist, is a prime example of this success story. Tadias first featured Jomo’s work nearly 20 years ago, and since then, he has become one of the leading Black furniture designers in America.

Recently, The New York Times asked Jomo to compile a list of designers from the African Diaspora that he believed deserved international attention. Out of over 80 designers, Jomo selected nine, which were featured in The Times earlier this month.

“It took me 30 years to get here, and I don’t want it to die with me.” Jomo told the Times. “We keep saying design is a global language. Well, it did not include us.” He added: “What’s the global part?”

As the Newspaper noted he is determined to boost the careers of other Black designers, including those associated with the Black Artists + Designers Guild, a nonprofit platform and mentorship organization that he helped establish in 2018.

Jomo’s own designs have also received a well-deserved widespread recognition. His Meedo chair, inspired by a hair pick, was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his Nyala chair, modeled after an antelope found in high altitude woodlands in Ethiopia, was featured in the film sets of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

As Jomo continues to push boundaries in his field, he is also lifting up those around him, creating opportunities for emerging talent and ensuring that their potential is not overlooked.

Read his list at nytimes.com »

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Spotlight: The Texas BBQ Joint with Ethiopian Twist

Fasicka and Patrick Hicks, owners of Smoke’N Ash BBQ - Tex-Ethiopian Smokehouse, in Arlington, Texas. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 29th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — How does injera with Texas barbecue sound?

Well, that’s exactly what you get at Smoke’N Ash BBQ – Tex-Ethiopian Smokehouse, a one-of-a-kind restaurant in Texas.

Owned by Fasicka and Patrick Hicks, this joint serves up traditional American BBQ with a unique Ethiopian twist: With a creative menu featuring dishes like Rib tibs, Shiro, brisket, Doro Wat, and Ethiopian veggie combos, it’s no wonder Smoke’N Ash was named one of the top 50 restaurants in America by the New York Times last year.

The couple’s journey started with Patrick’s passion for barbecuing, which soon turned into a thriving business. Customers couldn’t get enough, and the couple decided to take the leap and open their own restaurant.

According to their website: Fasicka, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Patrick, a native of Waco, Texas, met in 1997 and quickly discovered their shared love of barbecuing. They began with a smoker trailer, selling BBQ dishes at weekend pop-ups, and eventually moved into a brick and mortar restaurant as their customer base grew.

As the business expanded, Fasicka added traditional Ethiopian family dishes to the menu, blending the flavors of Ethiopia with Texas-style smoked meats to create Tex-Ethiopian barbecue. Smoke’N Ash BBQ is now the first restaurant in the world to offer this unique cuisine.

Now, customers from all 50 states flock to try their famous Tex-Ethiopian BBQ.

Watch: Smoke N Ash restaurant combines Texas barbecue with Ethiopian spices

Related:

Texas barbecue with an Ethiopian twist: Meet the Arlington couple behind the fusion being recognized nationwide

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Pianist & Composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru Passes Away at Age 99

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, an Ethiopian nun and pianist who composed more than 150 original works of music, has passed away at the age of 99. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 28th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, the renowned Ethiopian nun Pianist & Composer, has passed away at the age of 99 in Jerusalem, where she had been living at the Ethiopian Monastery for almost 40 years. According to Fana Broadcasting, she died on March 23rd.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam was born as Yewubdar Gebru in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923. She was sent to Switzerland at a young age, where she studied the violin and then the piano at a girls’ boarding school. After returning to Ethiopia, she was taken prisoner of war with her family during the Italian occupation and deported to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.

After the war, Yewubdar resumed her musical studies in Cairo and returned to Ethiopia accompanied by her teacher, the Polish violinist Alexander Kontorowicz. She then became a nun and took the title Emahoy and her name was changed to Tsege Mariam.


Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)


Left: Yewubdar Gebru, 1940s. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)


Yewubdar Gebru as prisoner of War on the Italian Island of Azinara. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Although she was raised in privilege with her father, Kantiba Gebru Desta, a former mayor of Gonder and Addis Abeba, Emahoy’s life was marked by struggles beyond her musical pursuits. She was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italian forces, and after their defeat, she faced obstacle from Ethiopian officials, who blocked her from obtaining a scholarship to study music in London.

Despite these challenges, she maintained a resilient attitude and famously remarked:

“We can’t always choose what life brings. But we can choose how to respond.”


(Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

After releasing her debut album in 1967, Emahoy Tsege Mariam dedicated the proceeds to charitable causes benefiting children. With the assistance of her family members residing in the United States, she eventually established the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation, which aimed to provide children with opportunities to study music.

Emahoy gained international recognition through her solo compositions, which were published in the “Ethiopiques 21″ CD series by the French label Buda Musique in 2006. She is known for her classical and jazz music compositions, which are reflective and pensive, with ‘Homeless Wanderer’ being one of her most notable works.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam’s life has been one of resilience and commitment to her art. When she was denied the chance to study music in London, she entered the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wello region at the age of 19. Within two years, she was ordained as a nun. During the 1960s, she studied the music of Saint Yared in Gonder, and in 1967, her first album was released in Germany.

Album: Éthiopiques 21 – Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru ‘The Homeless Wanderer’

Later Emahoy survived Ethiopia’s Marxist revolution in the 1970s and continued to create music, with her piano compositions being released in 1973 to raise funds for orphanages.

Her niece Hanna M. Kebbede emphasizes the teaching moments that can be drawn from Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s life, stating that “It is a uniquely Ethiopian story, but at the same time the lessons are universal.”

Emahoy’s music has been featured in several films, including the Oscar-nominated documentary Time and Rebecca Hall’s Netflix drama Passing. Journalist and author Kate Molleson made a documentary about Emahoy Tsege Mariam for BBC Radio Four called ‘The Honky Tonk Nun.’

In her interview with Alula Kebede on his Amharic radio program on the Voice of America, Emahoy said, “Although I did not have money to give them, I was determined to use my music to help these and other young people to get an education.”

The music and life of Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru continue to inspire young people, artists, and students around the world. Her unwavering commitment to using her talents for the betterment of others is a legacy that will endure.

Watch: Labyrinth of Belonging – Documentary about Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

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Art Talk: ‘Alle Legends’ in Ethiopia & Dawit Adnew’s Show in London at Addis Fine Art

Addis Fine Art in London is currently hosting the first European solo exhibition by Ethiopian artist, Dawit Adnew. The show also marks the gallery's first exhibition of the year at their London location. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 22nd, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Addis Fine Art is currently showcasing the first European solo exhibition by Ethiopian artist Dawit Adnew. The show, which marks the gallery’s first of 2023, opened in February at their London gallery.

Dawit Adnew, born in 1973, presents a series of paintings that transport the viewer to a sumptuous and dream-like world, where languorous figures pose amid lush gardens overflowing with plants, fruits, and flowers. The artworks convey an atmosphere of perpetual calm, suggesting twilight, where color and pattern are sources of pure pleasure, much like Matisse or Gauguin.

Dawit’s works are informed by his studies in African masks and iconography, and his use of patterns and fabric emerges from his background as a textile designer. He is based in Addis Ababa and studied at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design. His artistic career has included participation in various exhibitions in Addis Ababa, Kenya, and Malta.

Addis Fine Art’s exhibition of Dawit’s works is a rare opportunity for European audiences to experience the vibrant, enchanting world he has created. The show is a must-see for art enthusiasts seeking a fresh perspective on contemporary African art.

ALLE LEGENDS: GROUP SHOW

And in Ethiopia, art enthusiasts have only a few days left to catch the ‘Alle Legends’ exhibition at Addis Fine Arts gallery before it closes on Sunday, March 25th.

The exhibition is a large-scale group show featuring works from 19 artists who have played a crucial role in shaping and influencing successive generations of graduates from the Alle School of Fine Art and Design. Each of the exhibiting artists has spent time teaching and instructing at the renowned art school, and their personal experiences have helped to instill an environment of openness and exploration in one of the oldest art schools in East Africa.


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

‘Alle Legends’ serves to illuminate the individual practices of each artist, as well as their lasting impact on Ethiopian contemporary art. The exhibition turns the lens onto the educators, highlighting their contributions to the development of the country’s artistic landscape.

The Addis Fine Arts gallery is known for its focus on contemporary art, and this exhibition is a testament to their commitment to showcasing the best and brightest talents from Ethiopia. The ‘Alle Legends’ exhibition is a must-see for those interested in the evolution of Ethiopian art and the influence of education on artistic practices.

Don’t miss your chance to see this impressive exhibition before it closes on Sunday.


If You Go:

More info at addisfineart.com.

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Spotlight: Athletes From Ethiopia Dominate 2023 Los Angeles Marathon

From left: Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia, Jemal Yimer of Ethiopia, the winner of the Los Angeles Marathon men's elite, and Barnaba Kipkoech of Kenya pose for a picture in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 19, 2023. (AP Photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 21st, 2023

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian athletes dominated the men’s division of the 2023 Los Angeles Marathon held on Sunday, claiming the first and second spots.

Jemal Yimer won the race, completing the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) course in an impressive 2 hours, 13 minutes, 13.58 seconds, with his teammate Yemane Tsegay finishing second.

Barnaba Kipkoech of Kenya secured third place, while Hosava Kretzmann from Arizona was the top American men’s finisher, completing his first marathon in sixth place.

In the women’s division, Stacy Ndiwa from Kenya claimed the top spot, crossing the finish line in 2:31:00.24. Martha Akeno, also from Kenya, finished second, while Grace Kahura secured third place. Ashley Paulson from St. George, Utah, was the top American women’s finisher, coming in fourth place.

The marathon was held on a cloudy day with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees (15 Celsius), starting at Dodger Stadium and ending near Avenue of the Stars in Century City on Los Angeles’ westside.


Jemal Yimer, of Ethiopia, wins the men’s division of the Los Angeles Marathon in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 19, 2023. (AP Photo)

Yimer and Ndiwa each received $6,000 for their respective victories, with Ndiwa earning an additional $10,000 for finishing first. The men’s race began 15 minutes after the women’s race started.

The marathon showcased runners from various countries and backgrounds, making it an exciting and highly competitive event. The Los Angeles Marathon, one of the largest in the United States, is a popular annual event that attracts thousands of runners and spectators from all over the world, and all the participants deserve congratulations for their achievements!

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Art Talk: Aïda Muluneh’s Photos at NYC Bus Stops Aim to Spark Conversations

The photographer's latest images are part of a public exhibition called "Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am," commissioned by Public Art Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit, which has taken over hundreds of bus stops in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Abidjan. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 20th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Aïda Muluneh’s surreal photographs featuring African women with symbols of power, conflict, and history have taken over bus stops in New York City.

Her latest images, which include painted eye motifs and chairs, are part of a public exhibition called “Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am,” commissioned by the New York City-based nonprofit Public Art Fund. The exhibition is on display at hundreds of bus stops in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Abidjan.

The primary symbol of the installation is the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, or jebena, which the artist uses as a call for open dialogue in her birth country. Her enigmatic images aim to spark conversations and break the silence.

The exhibition, which runs through May, is displayed at over 330 bus stops. Below is a highlight from CNN’s African Voices program:

The story behind this surreal portrait of Ethiopian identity


Photo: Nicholas Knight/Public Art Fund NY

CNN African Voices

Former photojournalist, Aïda Muluneh now creates images that pose questions, rather than offering answers.

Muluneh has spent years creating surrealist photographs of stately African women bearing symbols that reckon with conflict, history and power. Painted eye motifs — as well as her subjects’ unflinching gaze — represent the need to bear witness, chairs represent seats of influence, and curtains pull back to show the stagecraft of politics.

Now, the Ethiopian artist’s images have taken over hundreds of bus shelters in New York, Chicago, Boston and her current home of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, through the exhibition “Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am,” commissioned by Public Art Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit.
Though Muluneh’s work has already served as public art, including open-air exhibitions in Europe, “This is where I am” is her largest public installation to date.

Read more »

Related:

Photos: Amref’s ArtBall & Auction Honors Artist Julie Mehretu and Ethiopia’s Youth

Culture: In NYC The Atlantic Catches up with Kelela at Benyam’s in Harlem

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Spotlight: ‘My Grandpa was an Emperor’ at The New African Film Festival

The documentary follows the story of Yeshi Kassa, great-granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie, as she investigates what happened to her family after the 1974 coup. The film looks at a rarely examined slice of history, delving into the complex legacy of Ethiopia's last emperor. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Published: March 18th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — The New African Film Festival (NAFF) at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, celebrates its 19th anniversary with a screening of the documentary “My Grandpa was an Emperor.”

The documentary follows the story of Yeshi Kassa, great-granddaughter of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, as she investigates what happened to her family after the 1974 coup that led to the imprisonment of most of her family. The film looks at a rarely examined slice of history, delving into the complex legacy of Ethiopia’s last emperor.

The festival features 30 films from 22 countries, including six U.S. premieres. The opening night film was “Bobi Wine: The People’s President. The festival also features documentaries that explore the complex lives and legacies of well-known cultural figures from across the continent.

If You Go:
GRANDPA WAS AN EMPEROR
Showtimes: Wednesday, March 22, 2023 07:00 PM
Click here for tickets

AFI Silver Theatre
8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301.495.6720, Fax: 301.495.6777
E-mail: silverinfo@afi.com
Website: AFI.com/Silver

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NASA Honors Ethiopia as Cradle of Humanity as Lucy Spacecraft Heads to Dinkinesh Asteroid

Dinkinesh, which is Lucy's Ethiopian name, means "you are marvelous" in Amharic, reflecting the significance of this mission. (Photo: United Launch Alliance)

Tadias Magazine

Published: March 17th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — NASA’s spacecraft Lucy is on its way to the Dinkinesh asteroid, paying homage to Ethiopia’s place as the cradle of humanity and one of the oldest civilizations on earth.

Dinkinesh, which is Lucy’s Ethiopian name, means “you are marvelous” in Amharic, reflecting the significance of this mission. Named after the famous Lucy fossil, which revolutionized our understanding of human evolution, the Lucy spacecraft is expected to do the same for our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system.

According to NASA’s Lucy project scientist Keith Noll, “We are excited to have another opportunity to honor that connection” between Lucy and Ethiopia. This mission is not only a scientific endeavor but also a tribute to Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage and its contribution to our understanding of our shared human history.

Below is a highlight from Space.com:

Meet Dinkinesh: Asteroid targeted by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft gets a marvelous name


Asteroid Dinkinesh. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

Space.com

The first asteroid to be visited by NASA’s space rock-hopping craft Lucy has finally been given a name. The tiny asteroid in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter has received the moniker “Dinkinesh” or ድንቅነሽ in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, which means “you are marvelous.”

Dinkinesh was discovered in 1999, but like millions of other main-belt asteroids, it didn’t get a name, only receiving a designation number when its orbit was well determined. First known under its provisional designation as 1999 VD57, the asteroid later entered catalogs as 152830. A proper name was only proposed when the rock was selected as a target for NASA’s Lucy mission.

Evolution enthusiasts may recognize the name Dinkinesh as it is the alternative name of the fossilized Australopithecus afarensis skeleton known as “Lucy”, which was discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia.

“This mission was named for Lucy because just as that fossil revolutionized our understanding of human evolution, we expect this mission to revolutionize our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system,” Lucy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Keith Noll, said in a statement(opens in new tab). “We are excited to have another opportunity to honor that connection.”

Dinkinesh will be first up in a packed tour for the Lucy spacecraft when it reaches the tiny asteroid on Nov. 1, 2023. The space rock wasn’t originally part of the 12-year tour that will see the spacecraft visit nine other asteroids and was only added in January.

Dinkinesh was added to Lucy’s itinerary because the spacecraft’s operators think that the tiny asteroid can be used to test the probe’s innovative terminal tracking system. The system will allow Lucy to precisely image the asteroids it encounters as it passes by them at high speeds.

The fact that Dinkinesh is under half a mile (under a kilometer) in diameter means it will provide an excellent test of Lucy’s high-speed imaging capabilities before the spacecraft starts its main science mission of investigating the never-before-explored Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

This large group of asteroids shares the orbit of Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. Astronomers believe that these Trojan asteroids are fossilized remnants of the material that formed the planets of the solar system over 4.5 billion years ago.

“This is really a tiny little asteroid,” Hal Levison, a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Lucy’s principal investigator, said about Dinkinesh in the statement. “Some of the team affectionately refer to it as ‘Dinky.’ But, for a small asteroid, we expect it to be a big help for the Lucy mission.”

The visit to Dinkinesh won’t be just a test of Lucy’s instrumentation. Researchers are also excited about what they can learn from the asteroid itself, which will be the smallest main asteroid belt object ever explored by a space probe.

In terms of size, Dinkinesh is actually more like a near-Earth asteroid than a main-belt object, as these tend to be bigger. Astronomers hope that the rock could help them discover how asteroids change as they leave their position between Jupiter and Mars and head closer to our planet.

“At closest approach, if all goes smoothly, we expect Dinkinesh to be 100s of pixels across as seen from Lucy’s sharpest imager,” Simone Marchi, a senior research scientist at SwRI, said in the statement. “While we won’t be able to see all the details of the surface, even the general shape may indicate whether near-Earth asteroids — which originate in the main belt — change significantly once they enter near-Earth space.”

That means, just as the Lucy skeleton proved revolutionary to our understanding of human evolution, Dinkinesh could be viral in our understanding of the evolution of the solar system.

Related:

NASA’s Latest Asteroid Explorer Celebrates Our Ancient Origins in Space and on Earth (scientific American)

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The Mighty Diaspora: SEED Celebrates 30th Anniversary

SEED is one of the longest-serving Ethiopian nonprofit organizations in the United States. (courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

Published: March 16th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — SEED, the Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a gala event on May 28th, 2023 at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland.

In a press release the organization said the event, titled “The Mighty Diaspora,” will honor visionary leaders and organizations for their outstanding achievements in various spheres, including academics, business, technology, art, humanitarian efforts, exemplary leadership, and distinguished service.

SEED is one of the longest-serving Ethiopian nonprofit organizations in the United States, and its 30th anniversary marks a significant milestone for the community. The organization has been instrumental in providing a platform for Ethiopian-Americans to showcase their talents and achievements and to build a strong community in the United States.

The event will feature a dinner and awards ceremony, where SEED will honor individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to their respective fields. This year the honorees include Prince Asfa-Wossen Assrate, Ph.D, Ustaz Jemal Beshir, Mrs. Rebecca Haile, Ms. Ethiopia Habtemariam, Dr. Lishan Kassa, Dr. Brook Lakew, Mr. Henok Tesfaye, Deacon Yoseph Tafari, Mr. Elias Wondimu, The Habesha Kids and Leadership, and The American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC).

SEED is also committed to continuing its tradition of celebrating and honoring high school graduates. The organization will look back at its past high school honorees to see where they are now and showcase their growth in a special honorary booklet.

SEED’s 30th anniversary gala promises to be a memorable event, bringing together the Ethiopian-American community to celebrate its achievements and honor its leaders. The organization looks forward to continuing its mission of promoting excellence and making a positive impact on the community and the country.

If You Go:

Click here to learn more and buy tickets

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Photos: Amref’s ArtBall & Auction Honors Artist Julie Mehretu and Ethiopia’s Youth

The event held at 26 Bridge in Brooklyn honored Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu and benefited a youth empowerment program in Ethiopia called Kefeta. (Photo: Courtesy of BFA)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 17th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Last month, Amref Health Africa hosted a sold-out ArtBall and Auction in New York, which celebrated the art and culture of African, Pan-African, and Black communities from the United States and Africa. The event honored world-renowned Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu and benefited a youth empowerment program in Ethiopia called Kefeta.

The ArtBall showcased a wide range of artworks including paintings, sculptures, and photographs from various artists, such as Ethiopian American artists Helina Metaferia and Tariku Shiferaw. Tariku presented Julie with the Rees Visionary Award, recognizing her outstanding contribution to the art world.


Julie Mehretu at Amref Health Africa’s 2023 ArtBall & Auction. (Surface Mag)


Brooklyn’s Bunna Cafe hosted an Ethiopian coffee ceremony during the event, which also offered a variety of East and West African cuisine, beverages, and live music for guests to enjoy. (Photo: Courtesy of BFA)

“I am super-humbled by the work that Amref does,” Juile told the gathering. “After these last few years, we know more than ever, including those of us who aren’t usually on the frontline of healthcare, the imperative of healthcare and healthcare equity.”

Julie praised Amref’s work, noting that they have created a possibility where cultural work is made by Africans for Africans. The event brought people together and showcased the beauty of African art and culture while promoting positive change.

We had the privilege of attending the ArtBall and are excited to learn more about the Kefeta project in Ethiopia. We will be sharing an in-depth highlight of this remarkable initiative in the near future. We hope that more events like this continue to bring people together and promote positive change.

See photos: Inside Amref Health Africa’s Annual Auction and ArtBall – Surface Mag


Photo via Surface Mag


Photo via Surface Mag


Photo via Surface Mag


Photo via Surface Mag

More photos: Inside Amref Health Africa’s Annual Auction and ArtBall – Surface Mag

Related:

Culture: In NYC The Atlantic Catches up with Kelela at Benyam’s in Harlem

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A Bank President Who Embraces the Unconventional (Ethio-American Profile)

Priscilla Sims Brown, CEO of Amalgamated Bank. Born in 1957 to Ethiopian parents who were studying in New Mexico, she stayed behind when her mother and father returned to Africa. (Her mother, Marta Gabre-Tsadick, served as Ethiopia’s first woman senator.) Photo: NYT.

Tadias Magazine

Published: March 14th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — In the following article The New York Times profiles Priscilla Sims Brown, the CEO of Amalgamated Bank, the largest union-owned bank in the US. Brown’s Ethiopian heritage (her mother Marta Gabre-Tsadick was the first woman to serve as a senator in Ethiopia) and unconventional upbringing, which included ten years living with an American military family in Germany, instilled in her a confidence to pursue an unconventional path. She rose through the ranks in the finance sector before joining Amalgamated in 2021. Under her leadership, the bank has prioritized issues such as workers’ and immigrants’ rights, racial justice, anti-violence, gun safety, affordable housing, and sustainability. Amalgamated is also the first bank to obtain a merchant category code for gun stores, and was one of the first companies to cover the costs of employees needing abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned abortion rights.

Below is an excerpt and link to the full article:

A Bank President Who Embraces the Unconventional

Priscilla Sims Brown’s atypical childhood has helped her lead a financial institution from a different perspective as Amalgamated Bank’s chief executive.

This article is part of our Women and Leadership special report that profiles women leading the way on climate, politics, business and more.

Priscilla Sims Brown, chief executive of Amalgamated Bank, said it was her uncommon upbringing that put her on the path to running the country’s largest union-owned bank.

Born in 1957 to Ethiopian parents who were studying in New Mexico, she stayed behind when her mother and father returned to Africa. (Her mother, Marta Gabre-Tsadick, served as Ethiopia’s first woman senator.) She spent the next 10 years living with an American military family in a small town between two American bases in Germany.

But after a government coup in Ethiopia in the 1970s, her parents fled the country and returned to the United States. Ms. Brown joined them, and they moved from place to place while establishing a Christian nonprofit to help Ethiopian refugees.

Ms. Brown said her background gave her the confidence to pursue a path that could be difficult for women, and particularly women of color.

“Having spent my formative years in Germany, there were a lot of people from a lot of places,” she said. “People can be made to feel inferior by difference. I was made to feel difference was pretty cool.”

It wasn’t until she was 14 and had returned to the United States that she experienced racism, Ms. Brown said. “I learned that racism existed, but I didn’t own the inferiority, I didn’t own the prejudice. I learned to lean into differences and be somewhat unconventional.”

Ms. Brown studied journalism at San Francisco State University, then landed a job at KQED, the local public radio and television station in the Bay Area. “I was first hired on the nightly news and I remember getting promoted to $4 an hour,” she said.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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Culture: In NYC The Atlantic Catches up with Kelela at Benyam’s in Harlem

This week The Atlantic features an interview with Kelela, an Ethiopian-American musician, providing a perceptive and insightful analysis of her most recent work, while highlighting the significance of her Ethiopian heritage on her music, cultural background, and personal identity. (Photo: Alima Lee)

Tadias Magazine

Published: March 13th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — In the following article the Atlantic magazine features a recent interview with Ethiopian-American musician Kelela and a review of her latest album, “Raven.”

Written by Hannah Giorgis, a staff writer at The Atlantic, the article highlights the influence of Kelela’s Ethiopian heritage on her music and identity. Kelela discusses her upbringing as an Ethiopian-American and how it has informed her creative process, noting that her heritage is an important part of her identity.

In addition, the piece spotlights the cultural significance of the interview location, Benyam Cuisine, an Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem where Kelela and the author meet. This adds depth to the conversation, which further explores Kelela’s connection to Ethiopia and its impact on her music.

Overall, the article offers a perceptive and insightful analysis of Kelela’s latest work, underscoring how her Ethiopian roots have influenced her music, identity, and cultural background.

Below is an excerpt and link to the full article:

Kelela Knows What Intimacy Sounds Like

By Hannah Giorgis

On a Tuesday afternoon last month, I found refuge from the dreary chill of New York’s winter in the cardamom-scented warmth of Benyam Cuisine, a small Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem. The family-run establishment is normally only open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. But that day, a co-owner trekked in from Jersey City to indulge two homesick Ethiopian American women: myself and Kelela, the enigmatic R&B singer whose fan base includes the likes of Beyoncé, Solange, Björk, and, not coincidentally, the Benyam host’s niece.

Kelela, who is 39, has cultivated a mystique that’s exceedingly rare in the modern music business. It’s been nearly 10 years since she released her 2013 mixtape, Cut 4 Me, which earned her an eclectic following of industry heavyweights, R&B purists, dance-music DJs, and indie obsessives. In 2017, she dropped her studio debut, Take Me Apart, which cemented her standing as one of modern R&B’s most inventive vocalists. Take Me Apart is by turns brooding, defiant, and haunting—and in each register, Kelela’s voice wraps itself around the melodies with hypnotic confidence. After that creative leap and the subsequent tour, she essentially vanished…

Before she became a singer so adored that fans Photoshop her face onto missing-persons posters, Kelela Mizanekristos was a student of sociology and of her parents’ record collections. The only child of two Ethiopian immigrants who came to the United States in the ’70s, Kelela was born in Washington, D.C., and raised speaking Amharic…(In Amharic, kelela loosely translates to “shelter.”) Her parents, who never married, lived in separate apartments in the same building until she reached school age and her mother moved the pair to Gaithersburg, a nearby suburb in Maryland.

Much of Kelela’s musical diet when she was a child was shaped by her parents’ transoceanic tastes. Like many second-generation kids, she grew up listening to a mix of American pop and R&B (Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Teddy Pendergrass) and so-called world music (Miriam Makeba, Aster Aweke). In her mother’s basement, which she dubbed the “Conservatory of Kelela,” she immersed herself in the discographies of jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Betty Carter.

Read the full article at theatlantic.com »

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New York Exhibition Features Ethiopian Artists at the Africa Center in Harlem

The traveling exhibition that’s currently on view at The Africa Center in Harlem is curated by Fitsum Shebeshe, a former assistant curator at the National Museum of Ethiopia. The show titled the 'States of Becoming,'features 17 artists from the Diaspora, including several Ethiopian-Americans, who reside and work in various places across the United States. (Photo: The Africa Center in New York)

Okay Africa

Having grown up in Ethiopia all his life, Fitsum Shebeshe had never known what it was like to travel outside of Hawassa where he was born. When he went outside the country for the first time, on a visit to Mozambique for an informal arts training program, his eyes were opened to brand new experiences and he wanted to learn more about the possibilities that were waiting for him beyond the borders of his home country, and, indeed, outside of Africa. While working as an assistant curator at the National Museum of Ethiopia, he applied to arts school in the US. Upon acceptance, he was given a scholarship to complete his Masters of Fine Arts in Curatorial Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art.

Based in the Washington DC area, Shebeshe work has centered on roles as both a curator and painter. He is currently the gallery director at Harmony Hall Regional Center in Fort Washington, Maryland, where he spoke to OkayAfrica about his hopes for the exhibition.

Read the interview at okayafrica.com »

Press release

The Africa Center

States of Becoming On view through February 26, 2023

The concept for States of Becoming evolved from curator Fitsum Shebeshe’s lived experience following his 2016 move from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Baltimore, Maryland and his subsequent firsthand knowledge of the weight of cultural assimilation. Confronted with a different society, Shebeshe encountered a wide range of existential questions that shaped his relationship to institutions and culture. Shebeshe also had the realization for the first time that he was viewed as belonging to a minority because of the color of his skin, and a newfound awareness of the profound impact the traditional and conservative culture he grew up with in Ethiopia had on his personal sense of individuality.

Having found kinship among cultural practitioners from the African Diaspora who shared his experience, Shebeshe has united 17 artists with States of Becoming who either came to the United States over the past thirty years or who are first-generation born. The artists represented in States of Becoming relocated from twelve countries in Africa and one in the Caribbean–Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe–with roots in cities across the U.S., including New York, Washington, D.C., New Haven, Detroit, and Los Angeles.


Video screen shot of artwork by one of the featured Ethiopian artists Kibrom Araya. Other Ethiopian artists highlighted in the show include Helina Metaferia, Amare Selfu and Tariku Shiferaw. (The Africa Center)

Like Shebeshe, each artist in the exhibition has had a unique relationship to the U.S. context, which is reflected in their work. States of Becoming explores these artists’ perpetual process of identifying, redefining, and becoming themselves in both local and global contexts, opening up perspectives into multiple states both geographic and emotional in a constant flux of social and cultural adaptations. The exhibition presents work across mediums including painting, photography, sculpture, installation, and video, that express the many different ways in which identity is remade and reimagined. For instance, Nontsikelelo Mutiti looks to hair braiding salons of the African Diaspora, and Amare Selfu moves from figuration to abstraction to express transformation as a result of relocation. These distinct experiences produce a sense of hybrid culture emerging out of real and imagined genealogies of cultural, racial, national, and geographic belonging.

Artists: Gabriel C. Amadi-Emina, Kearra Amaya Gopee, Kibrom Araya, Nadia Ayari, Vamba Bility, Elshafei Dafalla, Masimba Hwati, Chido Johnson, Miatta Kawinzi, Dora King, Helina Metaferia, Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Yvonne Osei, Kern Samuel, Amare Selfu, Tariku Shiferaw, and Yacine Tilala Fall.

Learn more at www.theafricacenter.org.

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Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Announces Board Vacancy

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund is a U.S.-based non-profit organization established to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora to raise funds and support Ethiopian projects at home. (Courtesy image)

Tadias Magazine

Published: Friday, November 18th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) – The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) is recruiting new board members.

The U.S.-based non-profit said in an announcement that it’s currently seeking applicants who wish to serve on its board.

EDTF was established four years ago to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora to raise funds and support“inclusive development projects” in Ethiopia.

According to the press release the organization said it’s looking for “experience and skills necessary for board level positions, which may include, but not limited to, prior board or nonprofit experience, professional leadership, etc. Additionally, demonstration of skills consistent with the needs of the board, including fundraising, project management, finance, governance, etc.”

Anyone interested in applying for a position on EDTF’s board should visit their website at www.ethiopiatrustfund.org

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In Ethiopia Peace on the Horizon: Truce Agreed to End Hostilities

This week the Ethiopian government and TPLF announced that they have agreed on a permanent cessation of hostilities, hopefully bringing to an end a conflict that begun two years ago this month. The announcement was made by African Union chief mediator following talks between the two sides in South Africa. (Photo: Via Twitter/DIRCO South Africa)

Africa News

The Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces have agreed on a permanent cessation of hostilities to end the war in the northern Tigrayan region.

The announcement was made by African Union chief mediator Olusegun Obasanjo following talks between the two sides in South Africa, Wednesday (Nov 2).

In the first briefing on the peace talks in South Africa, confirmed that both sides agreed on a “restoration services” and of “law and order,” of as well as an “unhindered access to humanitarian supplies.”

In addition to former Nigerian president Obasanjo, who represents the AU in the Horn of Africa, and former Kenyan leader Kenyatta, the mediation team also included former South African vice president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka…

Related:

Ethiopia, Tigrayan Rebels Reach Truce in Two-Year Civil War (WSJ)

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Master Class with Haile Gerima

Haile Gerima (photo credit: Gezaw Tesfaye)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 7th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — A master class led by renowned Ethiopian filmmaker, Haile Gerima, will take place on Saturday, May 14 at 11:30am as part of Film at Lincoln Center Events & Talks during the 2022 New York African Film Festival. The event, which is free and open to the public will be held in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Amphitheater.

The class, titled “Cinema of Liberation: From Inception and Execution to Exhibition,” will center on the content, form, and aesthetics of liberation cinema, empowering one’s particular narrative logic and the construction of audiences for partnership in liberation.

RSVP here for the program.

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Publisher’s Message: Announcing Leave to Focus on Family Matters

I am leaving Tadias temporarily to focus on personal and family matters. As most of you know Tadias has always been a labor of love for me and very proud of the work we've done passionately over the years. Needless to say, I plan to return as soon as I can -- Liben Eabisa. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Publisher’s Message:

Dear Tadias Readers,

After 20 years of uninterrupted service as publisher of Tadias Magazine, I am announcing today I will be taking a temporary leave to focus on personal and family matters.

As most of you know Tadias has always been a labor of love for me and very proud of the work we’ve done passionately over the years.

Needless to say (and God willing) I plan to return as soon as I can.

In the meantime, the website will continue to be periodically updated with timely news and information that’s relevant to our global audience.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please email info@tadias.com.

Thank you and best regards!

Liben Eabisa
Co-Founder & Publisher
Tadias Magazine

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Ethiopia Reads Co-founder Jane Kurtz Receives IBBY Award For Her Work With Ethiopian Children

Jane Kurtz (right), who grew up in Ethiopia, is the Co-Founder of Ethiopia Reads, a U.S.-based non-profit that has been promoting a culture of reading in Ethiopia for more than two-decades. Since it was established in 1998 Ethiopia Reads has published hundreds of popular local children's books and English translations for Diaspora children in addition to opening over 70 libraries in every part of Ethiopia. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 25th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has named Jane Kurtz, the Co-Founder of Ethiopia Reads, the winner of the 2022 iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award.

In a press release announcing the award IBBY said the winners “are inspiring examples of reading promoters who show us how one person can truly make a difference, especially when we work together.”

According to its website IBBY “is a non-profit organization, which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.”

Jane, who was raised in Ethiopia, co-founded Ethiopia Reads in 1998 to promote “a culture of reading in Ethiopia” and to serve as “a model for others to follow in support of the next generation of Ethiopian parents, teachers, and leaders.”

Since it was established more than two-decades ago Ethiopia Reads has published hundreds of popular local children’s books (in several Ethiopian languages) and English translations for Diaspora children in addition to opening over 70 libraries in every part of Ethiopia.

In a statement Ethiopia Reads said its proud of it’s founder’s accomplishments:

60+ years ago, a young Jane Kurtz was raised with her siblings in a far away magical place called Maji in southwest Ethiopia. She grew up to become one of the ultimate creative minds and literacy champion for Ethiopian children! We couldn’t be prouder of Ethiopia Reads’ Cofounder, longtime leader and Advisor @JaneKurtz on her award by @IBBYINT as IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reader Promoter for her 30+ years of consistent work supporting children reading in Ethiopia. We look forward to the second round of 100 Ethiopian local language books coming soon. Please support Jane’s work by checking out #ReadySetGo titles by Open Hearts Big Dreams on Amazon.”

The award announcement added:

Jane Kurtz grew up in Ethiopia and has spent the last 25 years helping to develop indigenous authors and illustrators in Ethiopia—and in multiple languages—while also establishing an infrastructure for publishing books and promoting literacy with training for teachers and librarians. Her work began in 1998 when she co-founded Ethiopia Reads and developed a strategy for starting libraries to support literacy development. In early 2016, Jane initiated a workshop in Ethiopia with artists, children and adult volunteers, which resulted in a prototype for Ready Set Go books—colourful, easy-to-read, culturally appropriate, and published in English and one local language. Jane’s work with literacy addresses the challenges of multiple official languages; lack of books reflecting Ethiopian culture, history, and landscape; obstacles in the translation, publication, and distribution process; and insufficient professional opportunities for educators and librarians. With her vision and collaboration with others, she has planted the seeds of literacy all over Ethiopia.”

For more information, about the winners and about IBBY go to www.ibby.org. And learn more about Ethiopia Reads at www.ethiopiareads.org.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Declares ‘Humanitarian Truce’ in Tigray to Allow Aid, TPLF Agrees

The Ethiopian government on Thursday announced an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in Tigray, saying the action was necessary to allow unimpeded relief supplies into the area. The government said [TPLF] must reciprocate the truce for the situation to improve in the region. It urged TPLF “to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions." (Reuters photo)

LATEST: TPLF agrees to humanitarian truce

UPDATED March 25, 2022

BBC

Rebel forces fighting in northern Ethiopia have agreed to a government offer of a truce to allow aid deliveries to reach millions of people in urgent need of assistance…

The TPLF rebels said they would respect the ceasefire as long as aid deliveries resume “within reasonable time”

In its statement on Thursday, the government said that the truce was “indefinite” and “effective immediately”, but added that it would only improve the lives of people in the north of the country if the move was reciprocated.

It called on the Tigrayan forces to “stop further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighbouring regions”.

In response, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said it “will do everything it can do to make sure this cessation of hostilities is a success”.

Read the full article at BBC.com »

Ethiopia Declares ‘Humanitarian Truce’ in Tigray to Allow Aid

Associated Press

March 24, 2022

Ethiopia’s government on Thursday announced what it called an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in its war-ravaged Tigray region, saying the action was necessary to allow unimpeded relief supplies into the area.

“The government calls upon the donor community to redouble their generous contributions to alleviate the situation and reiterates its commitment to work in collaboration with relevant organizations to expedite the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need,” authorities said in a statement issued by the Government Communication Service.

The government statement said Tigray’s forces must reciprocate the truce for the humanitarian situation to improve in the region.

It urged fighters loyal to Tigray’s fugitive leaders “to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions…”

Although the war has subsided in several places, notably within the Tigray and Amhara regions, concerns remain in the northeastern Afar region.

Aid into the Tigray region has been severely limited under what the United Nations described as a “de facto humanitarian blockade.”

Read the full article at www.apnews.com »

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Ethiopian Airlines Confirms CEO’s Early Retirement Due to Health Issues

Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed that its CEO Tewolde Gebremariam, who is currently in the U.S. receiving medical treatment, has stepped down from his position. In a statement the airline said Mr. Tewolde, who has worked at Ethiopian for 37 years including as CEO for the past decade, "requested early retirement in order for him to focus his full attention to his medical treatment." Below is the full statement. (Getty Images)

Ethiopian Airlines Statement

March 23rd, 2022

Early Retirement of Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Group Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam has been under medical treatment in the USA for the last six months. As he needs to focus on his personal health issues, he is unable to continue leading the airline as a Group CEO, a duty which demands closer presence and full attention round the clock. Accordingly, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam requested the Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines Group(the “Board”), for early retirement in order for him to focus his full attention to his medical treatment.

The Board, in its ordinary meeting held on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, has accepted Mr. Tewolde’s request for early retirement.

Mr. Tewolde led the Airline for over a decade with remarkable success reflected in its exceptional performance in all parameters including but not limited to exponential growth from one Billion USD annual turn-over to 4.5 Billion, from 33 airplanes to 130 airplanes and from 3 million passengers to 12 million passengers (pre-COVID).

Under his leadership, the airline group has grown by four fold in all measurements building more than USD 700 million worth of vital infrastructure like Africa’s biggest hotel, Cargo terminal, MRO hangars and shops, Aviation Academy and Full Flight Simulators. The Board, the Senior Management, employees and the whole Ethiopian Airlines family express their gratefulness for his contribution and wish him full recovery soon.

The Board will announce the new Group CEO and successor to Ato Tewolde GebreMariam shortly. Mr. Girma Wake, former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, has been appointed recently as a new Chairman of the Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines Group by the Ethiopian Public Enterprises Holding & Administration Agency.

Mr. Girma Wake is a highly experienced, successful and well-regarded business leader and a well-known figure in the aviation industry who previously led Ethiopian Airlines for 7 years as a CEO and laid the foundation for the fast and profitable growth of the airline. The combination of his experience, work-culture and drive makes him capable of chairing the board and take the airline to the next level. Mr. Girma’s decision-making skills are tested and well proved.”

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Art Talk: Awol Erizku Unveils New Exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in NYC

Awol Erizku, Lion (body) I, 2022. This month, the Ethiopian-American artist opened a new solo exhibition at Gagosian gallery in New York City called 'Memories of a Lost Sphinx,' an observation of the ancient mythical figure as a borderless metaphor for "riddles, wisdom and divinity." (Photo: ©Awol Erizku)

Hype Art

Awol Erizku Reflects on “Memories of a Lost Sphinx” at Gagosian

Awol Erizku is an Ethiopian-American artist whose work draws on the vast expanse of history to create a counter-narrative to the largely Western discourse on African culture. Last week, the multi-disciplinary artist unveiled a new solo exhibition at Gagosian, titled “Memories of a Lost Sphinx.”

Set against a black-painted interior, a series of six lightbox photographs and an accompanying sculpture ruminates on the fabled sphinx as a complex, cross-cultural symbol that extends between and beyond Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Asian mythologies. “My first encounter with the Great Sphinx of Giza led me to produce my own interpretation of the mystique and essence of the sphinx as a concept. The result is my interpolation of the space between my memory and imagination,” said the artist.

The constellation of images jumps from lions and falcons floating in the cosmos, a tarantula clamped against a man’s face, to the back of Kevin Durant’s head adjacent to a neighboring hyperrealistic portrait of a snake. Instead of presenting any singular narrative, Erizku uses this grouping to explore issues of identity in regards to the sphinx as a hybrid symbol that embodies riddles, wisdom, divinity, thresholds, and the transition between life and death.

Further bridging the symbols into the present, the Los Angeles-based artist illuminates the space with Nefertiti – Miles Davis (Gold) — a glowing disco ball named after the seminal musician’s 1968 album of the same name. Organized by Antwaun Sargent, “Memories of a Lost Sphinx” is on view at Gagosian New York until April 16, 2022.

Read more »

Press Release

AWOL ERIZKU: Memories of a Lost Sphinx


(Artwork ©Awol Erizku. Photo: Rob McKeever)

My first encounter with the Great Sphinx of Giza led me to produce my own interpretation of the mystique and essence of the sphinx as a concept. The result is my interpolation of the space between my memory and imagination.

—Awol Erizku

Gagosian is pleased to announce Memories of a Lost Sphinx, an exhibition of new works by Awol Erizku. Installed in a black-painted interior, a set of six lightbox photographs accompanied by a mixed-media sculpture represent the sphinx as a complex, cross-cultural symbol that extends between and beyond Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Asian mythologies. Organized by Antwaun Sargent, this is Erizku’s first exhibition at the gallery.

Erizku works in photography, film, sculpture, painting, and installation, making reference to spirituality, art history, and hip-hop; in the process, he aims to craft a new vernacular that bridges the gap between African and African American visual cultures. Further developing his “Afro-esoteric” iconography in Memories of a Lost Sphinx, Erizku explores the intersections of ancient mythology, diasporic tradition, and contemporary culture.


(Artwork ©Awol Erizku. Photo: Rob McKeever)

The sphinx is a hybrid creature with human and animal attributes: the head of a human, body of a lion, wings of a falcon, and, in some cases, a serpent-headed tail. According to Egyptian tradition, this guardian figure had a male head, whereas in Greek mythology, the sphinx was female and originated in Aethopia. The most notorious Greek sphinx was bested when Oedipus answered her riddle, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?”

Rather than convey any singular entity or narrative, the constellation of images presents allegories of the creature’s attributes, depicting a lion pacing before a cosmic background, a falcon landing on a gloved hand, a tightly coiled snake, and a menacing tarantula. Replacing a pharaoh’s head is a photograph of NBA star Kevin Durant.

The grouping probes issues of meaning and identity while supplanting the body with compositions that explore the conceptual framework of the sphinx as a hybrid symbol that embodies riddles, wisdom, divinity, thresholds, and the transition between life and death. The images are accompanied by Nefertiti – Miles Davis (Gold), a golden mirrored disco ball in the shape of the Egyptian queen’s iconic bust. Titled after Davis’s 1968 album, the sculpture unites visual art with music, known symbols with new forms, and antiquity with postmodernity, while dynamically illuminating the exhibition space.


(Artwork ©Awol Erizku. Photo: Rob McKeever)

Memories of a Lost Sphinx may be viewed within the gallery during operating hours, and at all times through its storefront windows, with the internally lit images and mirrored sculpture transforming the space throughout the day and night. This opportunity for public viewing of Erizku’s work extends the project of New Visions for Iris (2021), a presentation sponsored by the Public Art Fund of his backlit photographs in bus shelters across New York’s five boroughs and throughout Chicago. The lightbox format of these works also relates to the use of the format by Gregory Crewdson, with whom the artist studied while earning his MFA at Yale—while also evoking the way in which the monumental sphinx in Giza is illuminated for tourists.

Awol Erizku was born in 1988 in Gondar, Ethiopia, and lives and works in Los Angeles and New York. Erizku earned a BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT. Collections include FLAG Art Foundation, New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exhibitions include New Flower | Images of the Reclining Venus, FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2015); Mystic Parallax, FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2020); and New Visions for Iris, Public Art Fund, various sites in New York and Chicago (2021). His photographs of cultural and creative leaders have been featured in the New Yorker, New York, GQ, and Vanity Fair.

If You Go:

AWOL ERIZKU
Memories of a Lost Sphinx
March 10–April 16, 2022
Gagosian Gallery
Park & 75, New York
More info at www.gagosian.com.

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Ethiopia: Aster Aweke’s ‘Mezez Alew’ Among Top 10 Best African Songs of All Time

One of the most talented female Ethiopian singers, Aster Aweke, has made a name for herself [as] one of the most popular artists on the continent...in her native country, she is a musical legend. She has been nominated for many honors and awards throughout her career and enjoys huge mainstream popularity. (Photos via Aster Aweke's Facebook page)

Punch

Top 10 Best African Songs of All Time

African songs are some of the most popular worldwide and typically have a high-pitched melody or vocal pattern with elements of traditional African rhythms and Western pop music styles. Whenever we hear them, they instantly put us in a good mood and make us want to dance the night away. The list of the best African songs of all time is very long, but this blog will showcase only the best with a brief description of each song.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the list of the Top 10 best African songs of all time!

Mezez Alew’by Aster Aweke (Ethiopian)

When it comes to African music, a group deserves special mention: the Ethiopians. They are responsible for some of the greatest music ever recorded in Africa, such as Aster Aweke’s “Mezz Alew.” One of the most talented female Ethiopian singers, Aster Aweke, has made a name for herself after releasing one song with an incredible voice, leading her to become one of the most popular artists on the continent.

Aweke may not have the notoriety of American musical icon Beyonce or international sensation Madonna. Nevertheless, in her native country, she is a musical legend. She has been nominated for many honors and awards throughout her career and enjoys huge mainstream popularity.


(Photo: Aster Aweke/Facebook)


Aster Aweke performing in Washington D.C., July 2015. (Photo via the artist’s Facebook page)

This song, Mezz Alew, is one of several that she has written. All of her songs are considered to be romantic, uplifting, and inspirational. She uses a melodious voice and rich melodies that have become a trademark in the Ethiopian music industry because they are both timeless and catchy. This song is safe for use as relationship advice even though it is from the perspective of a female looking at her life from her lover’s point of view.

The general message of this song is that if you truly love someone, you should enjoy being with them even if it means sacrificing in some way. However, it should be noted that there is a particular context to this song that is not clear to non-Ethiopians or people who are not familiar with the culture and societal norms that are generally accepted.

Mezz is Ethiopian for juice, and Alew’ means “you” in Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia. The message of this song is quite simple and it has attracted a significant amount of popularity due to the perspective on life, and the positivity spread throughout its lyrics. Listeners can find inspiration from her lyrics, and some have even used them as relationship advice.

Read more and see the full list at punchng.com »

Related:

The latest video from Aster Aweke’s YouTube Chanel:

Singer/songwriter Aster Aweke has been entertaining international audiences for over 30 years and winning the hearts and minds of world music lovers everywhere. Her songs are anthems to Ethiopian fans and throughout the Ethiopian Diaspora.

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Q&A: Naomi Girma, U.S. National Soccer Team Prospect, on Her Ethiopia Roots

Big things are expected of the rookie center back, who was selected first overall by the San Diego Wave ahead of the 2022 season. Naomi Girma was born and raised in San Jose, California, and both of her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia. She spoke about how this dual upbring influenced her. (Photo: Wave)

GOAL

USWNT prospect Girma opens up on being the top NWSL pick, training against Alex Morgan, and her Ethiopian roots

Big things are expected of the rookie center back, who was selected first overall by the San Diego Wave ahead of the 2022 season

U.S. women’s national team prospect and top NWSL draft pick Naomi Girma has spoken to GOAL about her experience with the expansion San Diego Wave, training against Alex Morgan and her Ethiopian-American upbringing, among other topics.

Girma was selected first overall by the Wave in the 2022 NWSL Draft out of Stanford University, and is now getting set to embark on her first professional season.

The 21-year-old center back, who was named the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, has starred for the USWNT at various youth levels, and has been called into camp with the senior team on two occasions.

On starting with an expansion team

Girma is expected to feature heavily for the Wave, who will enter the league in 2022 along with Southern California rivals Angel City FC.

“I think [joining an expansion team] makes it easier being a rookie, because I’m not going into a team where everything’s already set and I can help with the beginnings and figuring out how we want things to work and how we want the culture to be,” Girma said on All of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show.

Working with Stoney and Morgan

The Wave have brought ex-Manchester United boss Casey Stoney in as head coach, and Girma has enjoyed working under the former England international defender.

“She’s very personable as a coach and really wants to emphasize she’s here to support us on or off the field, and wants to build relationships with us as people as well,” Girma said of Stoney.

“She’ll be like, ‘OK, center backs come with me after training’ and we’ll do a little extra work on something like defending in the box or like, really small details that you don’t always get from coaches if they don’t have such expertise in that position.”

Girma also spoke about training against USWNT star Alex Morgan, one of the Wave’s biggest acquisitions ahead of their inaugural season.

“I think it’s teaching me [to] play faster, or there are certain things that maybe you can do in college, but you can’t do at the pro level.

“The level is higher, the players are better and playing against one of the top players in the world every day – I feel extremely blessed and grateful that I have this opportunity.”

On her Ethiopian roots

Girma was born and raised in San Jose, California, and both of her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia. She spoke about how this dual upbring influenced her.

“At home… it was a lot of Ethiopian culture and then going to school, [it was] a lot of the American culture. That dual upbringing was definitely interesting and something I had to navigate when I was younger, but I’m really thankful I had that experience now,” Girma said.

“It’s shaped me as a person, my values and the emphasis on community and support. That’s a big thing in Ethiopian culture and it’s something that I highly value.”

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Art Talk: Selome Muleta’s Debut European Solo Show at Addis Fine Art, London

Selome Muleta (b. 1992) is one of the most exciting young female artists to emerge from the Ethiopian visual arts scene in recent years. Her inaugural European solo show opens on March 11th, 2022 at Addis Fine Art gallery in London. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist via Addis Fine Art)

Press Release

Addis Fine Art London

Addis Fine Art, London is pleased to present Selome Muleta’s debut European solo show, Collapsing Space. This exhibition of the artist’s latest works explores womanhood through the playful merging of portraiture and still life, and examines the relationship between the internal self and the external world.

In Collapsing Space, Selome continues her exploration of female figures captured in states of inner reflection in the midst of vibrant environments. With her chosen medium of acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, Selome’s latest body of work interrogates and celebrates the rich interior worlds of her subjects, the stillness of their external forms reverberating against the vivid patterns and blossoming plants that crawl through their backdrops.

In a similar vein to the portraits of Jennifer Packer, Selome employs translucent washes of hue and busy patterns to create a sense of contemplative unity between her subjects and their respective environments. At times, the faces of her characters are obscured or cropped, and the viewer is invited instead to focus on objects that surround them. A drooping plant, a dozing feline companion, a distant crooked framed portrait – these forms stand as both symbolic and literal entry points to the interior self.


(Courtesy of the artist via Addis Fine Art)


Selome Muleta, Collapsing Space VII, 2021. Courtesy of the artist)

Much like the bottles and bowls of Morandi and Hockney’s plant-laden vases, the flattened characters and objects born from Selome’s brush seem to hum serenely with the energy of their very existence.

Biography

Selome Muleta (b. 1992) is one of the most exciting young female artists to emerge from the Ethiopian visual arts scene in recent years. Now based in Addis Ababa, Muleta studied art formally at the Abyssinia Fine Art School (2012) and Entoto Polytechnic College (2013-2014). She has had solo exhibitions at Guramayne Art Center, Fendika Art Gallery, Alliance Ethio-Francaise (2019) and most recently, Tsedal at Addis Fine Art, Addis Ababa (2020), she has also participated in group shows including From Modern to Contemporary, CFHILL gallery, Stockholm, Sweden (2020).

If You Go:
COLLAPSING SPACE | SELOME MULETA
Addis Fine Art, London
11 March – 16 April 2022 (Private View: 10 March from 5-8PM)
More info at www.addisfineart.com

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In New York ECMAA Hosts Virtual Panel Reflecting on Adwa & Yekatit 12

Photos from past events organized by the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in New York City. (Courtesy of ECMAA Facebook page)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 4th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend in New York the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) will host an online panel discussion reflecting on two major defining historical events that to this day influence Ethiopia’s national approach to foreign policy, geopolitics and global affairs: Adwa & Yekatit 12.

Adwa

As historian Ayele Bekerie, who has written extensively about Ethiopia’s consequential victory at the battle of Adwa 126 years ago this month and one of the panelists at the event, explains: “Simply put, Adwa became a turning point in modern African history.”

Professor Ayele notes that not only did the victory against Italian colonial ambitions on March 1, 1896 preserve Ethiopia’s sovereignty and independence as the only Black nation that has never been colonized, but it also inspired freedom movements around the world.

But, for the current generation that’s grappling with Ethiopia’s modern vulnerability to foreign exploitation due to decades of social decay and debilitating ethnic-identity politics “the full meaning and relevance of the victory at Adwa has yet to be realized within Ethiopia,” Dr. Ayele argues in an article published in Tadias last year. “That formula of unity should be repeated now to counter the large-scale displacements and violence encountered by our fellow Ethiopians throughout the country to this date.”

Yekatit 12

Despite Ethiopia’s resounding triumph at Adwa, however, Italy was not finished as it launched a brutal second invasion of the country some four decades later, unleashing a wave of crimes against humanity in another failed attempt to terrorize Ethiopians into subjugation.

Ethiopia, who was a member of the League of Nations at the time, was all but abandoned by its European allies and left to fend for itself against a powerful foreign aggressor.

As warned by then exiled Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, during his famous speech at the League’s headquarters in Geneva the October 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, which was led by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, would eventually set the stage for World War II engulfing Europe and the rest of the globe. Among the numerous crimes against humanity the Italian occupation forces committed in Ethiopia, the massacre of Yekatit 12 remains forever seared in the country’s collective memory.

For the past several years ECMAA, in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Justice, has been hosting an annual event in remembrance of Yekatit 12 and the lives lost at the Addis Ababa massacre on February 19, 1937.

According to the announcement in addition to Professor Ayele the virtual panel discussion on Sunday, March 6th will feature Professor Getachew Metaferia and will be moderated by Hanna Yesuf.

——
If You Attend:
More info and registration at ecmaany.org.

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Spotlight: Three Ethiopian Titles at the 2022 New African Film Festival in Maryland

This year's New African Film Festival features three Ethiopian films including 'A Fire Within [ፍትህ],' the groundbreaking Ethiopian-American courtroom drama executive produced by Liya Kebede, as well as two new documentaries made in Ethiopia: 'Among Us Women' & 'Stand Up My Beauty.' (Photo: @AFireWithinDoc)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 9th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. debut of two recently released Ethiopian documentary movies and an historic Ethiopian-American courtroom drama are part of the lineup at the 2022 New African Film Festival, which is set to kick-off this month in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Organizers announced the “American premieres of powerful Ethiopian documentaries Among us Women and Stand Up My Beauty” in a press release highlighting this year’s program that promises to showcase “the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora to the Washington, DC, area.”

The annual festival, which celebrates its 18th anniversary this year, takes place from March 18 to 31 at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring.

The press release added: “This year’s fully in-person festival features 28 films from 17 countries, including five U.S. or North American premieres.”

The featured films include A Fire Within [ፍትህ], the groundbreaking Ethiopian-American courtroom drama executive produced by Liya Kebede and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Chambers. Organizers note that the screening of A Fire Within will feature a Q&A with Chambers.

Below are descriptions and trailers of the Ethiopian films courtesy of AFI Silver Theatre.

A FIRE WITHIN

Special Features: Q&A with filmmaker Christopher Chambers following the March 20 screening

[ፍትህ]

After suffering through the Red Terror, a dark time in Ethiopia’s history during which many educated young people were tortured and murdered, Edgegayehu “Edge” Taye fled to the United States in 1989 as a refugee. Settling in Atlanta, she found work at a hotel, only to discover that the very man who was responsible for her torture in Ethiopia was also working there. Along with several friends who were victims of the same man and are now all living in the U.S., Taye embarks on a landmark human rights case to bring their tormentor to trial. Executive produced by Ethiopian actress and activist Liya Kebede, this incredible and chilling true crime documentary shines a light on a painful time in Ethiopia’s history and reveals the healing power of restorative justice. Winner, Audience Award, Best Documentary, 2021 Atlanta, Naples and North Dakota Human Rights film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Christopher Chambers; PROD Ermias Woldeamlak. U.S./Canada/Ethiopia, 2021, color, 85 min. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

No AFI Member passes accepted.

Run Time: 85 Minutes
Genre: Documentary
Opening Date: Sunday, March 20, 2022

U.S. Premiere

AMONG US WOMEN

Sat, March 26, 12:25 p.m.; Wed, March 30, 7:00 p.m.

The first feature-length documentary by German director Sarah Noa Bozenhardt and Ethiopian filmmaker Daniel Abate Tilahun follows Hulu Endeshaw, a young Ethiopian farmer who is awaiting the birth of her fourth child and finds herself caught between the modern and traditional systems of midwifery in place in her rural village of Megendi. On one hand, she regularly attends checkups at the local health center, where staff are fighting high maternal mortality rates. On the other, Hulu is apprehensive of a system in which she feels unheard and turns to the traditional midwife Endal Gedif for support and comfort. Surrounded by many varying female perspectives, Hulu wrestles with the roles she is expected to play as a mother, a wife and a woman. To unravel her personal wants and needs, she takes the film’s narrative into her own hands, exploring her burning past and her uncertain future. Both because of her fellow women and despite them, Hulu holds onto the desire to define her own path, and gradually unveils the secrets she has kept close to her chest. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

STAND UP MY BEAUTY

Special Features: North American Premiere

Nardos, an Azmari singer from Addis Ababa, dreams of telling stories about the lives of ordinary people through her music. In her search for stories for her songs, she meets Gennet, a poet who lives on the streets with her children. As Nardos puts the lives of Ethiopian women, their visions and power at the center of her creation, the documentary dives deeper and deeper into a rapidly changing country. (Note courtesy of Deckert Distribution.) Official Selection, 2021 Locarno Film Festival. DIR Heidi Specogna; PROD Heino Deckert, Rolf Schmid. Switzerland/Germany, 2021, color, 110 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Run Time: 110 Minutes
Genre: Documentary – music
Opening Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022

Learn more about the festival at AFI.com

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Q&A: Helen Amelga, US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send

"Taptap Send is an app that lets people send money back home quickly and at very low prices," says Helen Amelga, the company's US-Ethiopia Launcher. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 20th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — In the following interview Helen Amelga, the US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send, explains the newly launched mobile money transfer service, which is considered the first app-based platform to specifically focus on remittances from the Diaspora to people back home.

Helen, whom we have previously featured in Tadias for her public service work in the Ethiopian American community, was most recently the Deputy Area Director at Office of Councilmember Kevin de Leon in Los Angeles, California.


Helen Amelga, the US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send. (Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Helen, thank you for your time and congratulations on your new position as Taptap Send’s US representative for Ethiopia.

Helen Amelga: Hi Liben, thank you for having me back. It is always a pleasure to chat with the Tadias team.

TADIAS: How are you enjoying your transition from public service to business? What are some of the rewards and challenges?

Helen: I always try to focus my work through a lens of service. From my positions working in local government here in California, to the work I do through the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, the focus is always on serving my community. My work as US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send is an extension of that service. Through this role I am able to apply my skill set to serve Ethiopians not only in the diaspora, but those directly on the continent as well.

The work is incredibly rewarding, through connecting people to remittance services I am able to help folks get money to loved ones back home, and beyond the individual, I get to help the larger Ethiopian economy. It’s a win win.

TADIAS: Please tell us about Taptap Send and its recently launched mobile money transfer service to Ethiopia. How does it work?

Helen: Taptap Send is an app that lets people send money back home to Africa and Asia quickly and at very low prices. Since launching in summer 2018, we’ve already moved tens of millions of dollars and reached tens of thousands of customers. We just raised $65 million in a Series B funding. We’re live in the UK, EU, US and Canada, and we support payments into Ethiopia and 21 other countries with more countries launching soon.

How it works is simple, a user in the US just needs to download the Taptap Send app from the Apple Store or Google Play, upload their bank or debit card details, then select a recipient in Ethiopia. The recipient does not need a Taptap Send account. Select a dollar amount and hit send. You’re done! The funds will be deposited directly into your loved ones account that day.

TADIAS: Taptap Send is also the first platform to specifically focus on Remittances from the Diaspora to people back home. How does it differ from other money transfer companies and what are the benefits for us here in the Diaspora?

Helen: Great question. Here at Taptap Send we believe in impact first. We exclusively pursue products and strategies that are in the interests of our customers and the communities we serve, while recognizing the tradeoffs this implies.

Direct benefits to Diaspora are that we offer a great exchange rate and same day transfers at no fee. The app provides quick and easy access to sending money quite literally at the tap of a finger. Many of us have been in a situation where a loved one has an emergency back home, whether it be medical or elsewhere, and we need to get them money fast. Taptap Send gives us the power to get that funds there quickly just by using our phone. No need to go into a bank or brick and mortar institution.

Sending money legally also grows the Ethiopian economy which has been experiencing a cash shortage for some time now.

TADIAS: What are the various financial institutions you are working with in Ethiopia?

Helen: We provide Bank transfers to Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Dashen bank. Mobile money transfers can be made to Amole and HelloCash, both of which provide cash out options at their local service centers. We will expand to include Telebirr mobile wallet in the coming weeks.

E-wallets in particular are great because the recipients can use their wallet to fund transfers, pay bills and pay diverse merchants without needing to cash out. Taptap Send in partnership with these services is revolutionizing the way we send and spend money.

TADIAS: Do people in the U.S. need an account in Ethiopia to send money?

Helen: Nope, all they need is the Taptap Send app and a debit card.

TADIAS: According to a press release from the company “the UN has set a goal for remittance pricing and commissions to be no higher for any company than 3% of the total sent. Taptap Send says that it’s the only company in the space that has publicly committed to that goal.” Please tell our audience about that goal and the various fees involved in sending and receiving money?

Helen: Our CEO put it best:

Cross-border payments are not only a large market — $540B through formal channels alone, with the informal sector estimated to be almost as large — but are also the central source of capital for low and middle income countries: remittance inflows exceeded foreign direct investment plus official development assistance by in 2020. And they’re growing quickly: more than 7x since 2000. So it should come as no surprise that the United Nations included lowering the price of remittances to 3% as a top-level indicator to “reduce inequality” among their Sustainable Development Goals. The cost of global remittances is simply that important to the reduction in inequality. We’re proud to be the only remittance company (of which we’re aware) that has publicly committed to hitting that goal.”


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Given that remittance is an important source of income for Ethiopia and the limitations involved in terms of mobile wallets services outside of major cities, what are your goals in terms of expanding services to the wider population?

Helen: Excellent question. Our goal is to expand our reach to Ethiopians in every corridor. It’s all about creating access and equity. We are currently working on growing our network to partner with banks throughout Ethiopia.

TADIAS: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our audience?

Helen: Don’t just take my word for it, download and use the app yourself. Leave a review and let us know what you think. I am also happy to connect with folks directly and answer any questions. Helen.Amelga@taptapsend.com

TADIAS: Thank you again, Helen, and best wishes from all of us at Tadias.

Helen: Thanks Liben! It’s always a pleasure talking with you. Until next time.

You can learn more at taptapsend.com.

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Bitcoin Magazine: Why Ethiopia Should Turn to Bitcoin

As the U.S. removes Ethiopia from a critical trade program, it’s clear that the nation should focus on finding sovereign value. (Photo via lobalr2p.org)

Bitcoin Magazine

The United States’ recent decision to remove Ethiopia from the African Growth And Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program is a significant and intentional blow to the Ethiopian people and economy.

The country exported around $3 billion worth of product in 2019 — removal from AGOA will cut out approximately half of Ethiopia’s exports to the U.S., which has been the country’s largest export market. According to a recent article in Foreign Policy, this removal will force over 200,000 people, 80% of whom are young women, to lose their jobs. Those most affected by this particular move made by the U.S. are the Ethiopian people, not the Ethiopian Government.

And the reason this is being done to Ethiopia is no secret — it is also no secret to Ethiopians why they were allowed to be a part of AGOA in the first place.

The message of many in Ethiopia to the U.S. regarding this removal has been consistent: It is still not too late to stop what you are doing and start supporting a democratically-elected government. You can reverse the AGOA sanction on Ethiopia and save thousands of people their jobs and life security. This decision also damages Ethiopia’s export market significantly, which will hurt the overall population. America can still support Ethiopia and earn back the trust of the Ethiopian people. We still believe America is capable of standing for its founding values. If this continues, however, it’s clear that America will lose the hearts of Ethiopians to other super power influences.

As Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma from the Republican Party said: Other superpowers are already in Ethiopia, clearly ready to come off as more virtuous and supportive than the U.S. As of now, we still want to believe that it’s not the U.S. as a whole that wants to divide us, but rather a small arm of the current administration which is working hard to lose its longtime friend.

Nothing says “Black Lives Matter” like enforcing the unwanted will of the U.S. onto Africans through unsympathetic and harsh foreign policy on an already impoverished continent.

ETHIOPIA SHOULD CONVERT ENERGY DIRECTLY INTO SOVEREIGN MONEY

For Ethiopia, the only solution is to live outside of the centralized economic system of the world. If, instead of choosing between which foreign superpower should influence us, we want real sovereignty, we will need real, non-fiat, internationally-respected, hard money that we can produce entirely on our own. Freedom and sovereignty isn’t possible when all of the items we seek are audited by the centralized SWIFT system for days before they are allowed or denied.

Our developmental aspirations and wants are controlled by others who say “yes” or “no” based on how it benefits them. We need money we can move when we want to, money we can use to do what we want. We need the most secure, decentralized and incredible achievement of mankind that no superpower can tamper with. We need Bitcoin now more than ever.

ETHIOPIA CAN MAKE BILLIONS FROM MINING BITCOIN WITH LOCAL RESOURCES

Ethiopia doesn’t have much that it can sell without the approval of the superpower nations. The only thing that can be sold without anyone’s approval is energy — not to a nation, but to a network. The Bitcoin network pays energy providers (“miners”) with bitcoin and Ethiopia has enough installed generation capacity to make $4 billion to $6 billion per year, just in the short term — making the damages done by AGOA sanctions seem insignificant.

Ethiopia also has about 60,000 megawatts of untapped potential energy capacity, and with only 6,000 megawatts, Project Mano has projected that bitcoin mining would yield $2 billion to $3 billion annually at $25,000 BTC prices, or more like $4.5 billion to $5 billion at today’s BTC prices. Over 4,500 megawatts of power capacity has been built to support the AGOA-based companies that are leaving. That energy could immediately be used to generate even more money than it was generating while being used by the AGOA manufacturing companies. Ethiopia flagship project, GERD, can generate 6,000 megawatts by itself and remains remote, making it very expensive for internal or external use, but perfect for Bitcoin mining.

Alex Gladstein has written the following about how Bitcoin mining can help developing nations accelerate their growth, while simultaneously increasing their foreign currency and energy access:

Billions of people in developing nations face the stranded power problem. In order for their economies to grow, they have to expand their electrical infrastructure, a capital-intensive and complex undertaking. But when they … build power plants to try and capture renewable energy in remote places, that power often has nowhere to go…

Here is where bitcoin could be an incentives game-changer. New power plants, no matter how remote, can generate immediate revenue, even with no transmission lines, by directing their energy to the Bitcoin network and turning sunlight, water or wind into money…

With bitcoin, any excess energy can be directed to mining until the communities around the plant catch up.”

This is what Ethiopia should be doing to counter the AGOA sanctions: Provide power to the Bitcoin network to generate billions of dollars to use for its own aspirations, with un-sanctionable money that can be converted to any country’s currency at any time without anyone’s approval.

All Ethiopia needs to do to generate billions of dollars is to use its already-installed generation capacity. But that’s not where its potential ends. The 60,000 megawatts of potential energy that the country has is obviously not easy to realize. If Ethiopia invites Bitcoiners around the world to help us realize our energy potential, the kindest souls will come help set up power infrastructure that the population can use, while also helping to convert the excess energy into money that is fully sovereign.

All Ethiopia has to do is open its arms and express its energy aspirations. The nuances of these agreements will matter greatly, but if planned well, all Ethiopians will benefit.

Any power source, no matter how remote, can be used to mine bitcoin. The more energy we realize, the more we will develop our economy, the faster we close our trade deficits — the more bitcoin we will mine, the more energy we will realize, the more our economy grows. And this will all be a repeating cycle.

We sincerely ask the Ethiopian government to seriously look into mining Bitcoin to solve our most challenging problems and say “no more!” to the foreign interference into our culture and economy.

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Spotlight: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About The Weeknd

“Ethiopian music was the music I grew up on,” The Weeknd (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) said in an interview. “Artists like Tilahun Gessesse, Aster Aweke, and Mahmoud Ahmed. These are my subconscious inspirations. ‘The Hills’ was the first time you actually heard the Ethiopian language in my music.” (Photo: @theweekend/instagram)

6ix Buzz

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye started out as a quiet mysterious artist from the 6ix, but eventually grew to become one of the greatest artists of our generations.

With multiple albums under his belt, and with his most recent album “Dawn FM” to add to the collection, the Scarborough native shows no sign of slowing down.

Here are six things you didn’t know about The Weeknd.

1. He is very proud of his Ethiopian heritage

Abel Tesfaye was born to Ethiopian immigrants in Scarborough. He was raised mostly by his mother and his grandmother, which is why the first language he learned was Amharic.

He’s shared in interviews that as he grew older, he learned that his heritage acted as subconscious inspiration.

“Ethiopian music was the music I grew up on,” he told VMan in an interview. “Artists like Tilahun Gessesse, Aster Aweke, and Mahmoud Ahmed. These are my subconscious inspirations. ‘The Hills’ was the first time you actually heard the Ethiopian language in my music.”

2. He and a few other XO members founded a creative arts incubator in Toronto

A few years ago, The Weeknd and business partners La Mar Taylor and Ahmed Ismail launched an incubator in Toronto. Their goal was to create a place that could help encourage young creatives to chase their passions, the same way they did when they were younger.

The founders are responsible for many creative advancements locally and nationally, even participating in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of $221 million to support Black business.

The positive changes made by HXOUSE don’t include the several hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, that The Weeknd has donated on the side.

Read more »

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Notable African Deaths of 2021: Ethiopia’s Alemayehu Eshete

Known as the Ethiopian Elvis, Alemayehu became an iconic figure on Ethiopia's jazz scene from the 1960s and performed right up until his last years. (Getty Images)

BBC

Notable African deaths of 2021: From ‘Ethiopia’s Elvis’ to mega pastors

As 2021 [comes] to a close, it is time to remember some of the pioneering, inspiring and controversial figures on the African continent who died this year.


Getty Images

Here is a look at 10 of those to whom we have said farewell.

MUSICIAN Alemayehu Eshete, 80

Known as the Ethiopian Elvis, Alemayehu became an iconic figure on Ethiopia’s jazz scene from the 1960s and performed right up until his last years. From his young days, he was known for his cover versions of Elvis Presley and told the Guardian in 2008 that James Brown later became a great influence.


Getty Images

“I dressed like an American, grew my hair, sang Jailhouse Rock and Teddy Bear – sometimes we would do Strangers in the Night. But the moment that I started singing Amharic songs my popularity shot up,” he said.

In its notes about one of his albums, record seller Rough Trade said “he didn’t so much sing to his audience as seduce it, working himself and his fans into a sweat-soaked frenzy”.

Read more »

Related:

International Legacy of Ethiopia’s Music Legend Alemayehu Eshete

Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

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Ethiopia’s Superstar Teddy Afro on Obama’s List of Favorite Artists of 2021

In a pleasant surprise and much-needed break from the usual gloomy portrait of Ethiopia we've come to expect from U.S. officials and media, former President Barack Obama announced that the new Ethiopian song 'Armash' አርማሽ (ቀና በል) by Ethiopia's superstar Teddy Afro is among his favorite music of 2021. (Photo: Teddy Afro at Echostage in Washington D.C, 2012/By Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 18th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s superstar Teddy Afro has been named one of President Barack Obama’s favorite artists.

The former U.S. President listed Teddy’s new single ‘Armash’ አርማሽ (ቀና በል) in his annual playlist released this week featuring his favorite songs of the year.

“I’ve always enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music, so it’s no surprise that I listened to a little bit of everything this year,” Obama said in a Twitter post. “I hope you find a new artist or song to add to your own playlist.”

Listen: TEDDY AFRO – አርማሽ (ቀና በል) – [New! Official Single 2021] – With Lyrics

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The Jerusalem Post: Ethiopia and the Legend of the Lost Ark

The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia which is claimed to contain the Ark of the Covenant. A longstanding religious legend in Ethiopia describes how the Ark of the Covenant was brought there 3,000 years ago. (Image via YouTube)

The Jerusalem Post

A fascinating connection between Ethiopia and Jewish history is the belief that the Ark of the Covenant, containing the tablets of the Ten Commandments, may reside to this day in Ethiopia. While a Talmudic source relates that the ark – along with several other of the Temple’s sacred objects – was hidden just prior to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, numerous other theories exist as to its whereabouts.

A longstanding religious legend in Ethiopia describes how the Ark of the Covenant was brought there 3,000 years ago by a man named Menelik, who, according to the legend, was the son of the Queen of Sheba and Israel’s King Solomon. The legend states that the Queen of Sheba was from Ethiopia and that she traveled to Jerusalem, where she was seduced by King Solomon, giving birth to Menelik upon her return home. Menelik later traveled to Jerusalem and studied with his father before taking the ark and bringing it to Ethiopia, where, legend has it, it still resides in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum, where only “The Guardian of the Ark of the Covenant” can view it.

Others maintain that a sect of Jews driven by King Manasseh from Israel took the ark with them and transported it to Egypt, from where they eventually sailed up the Nile to Ethiopia.

Researchers who journeyed to Aksum and made their way to Mary of Zion Church were purportedly introduced to a man referred to as the guardian of the ark. This man was said to live his entire life inside a fenced-off area surrounding the church and will not leave his post until he dies, at which time he will be replaced by the next guardian. In the chapel of the church, 30 robes from 30 previous guardians are on display – and every one of those 30 professed that the object they protected was the true Ark of the Covenant.

While others dispute and debunk this legend – claiming that, at most, the ark in the church is merely a replica of the real thing – it fits neatly with the claim by Ethiopia’s former emperor Haile Selassie that he was a direct descendant of Menelik. Selassie, who ruled Ethiopia from 1930-1974, called himself “the Lion of Judah,” the 225th king descended from King David, and prominently displayed a Lion of Judah motif on the country’s flag and currency.

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History: In Geneva Ethiopia Appealed for Reason, Europe Dropped the Ball

Emperor Haile Selassie speaking at the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 1936. On the eve of this week's controversial EU organized UN hearing there on Ethiopia, which is unanimously opposed by African countries, the historic speech given during the second Italo-Ethiopian War is getting renewed attention in Ethiopian media and online social platforms. Below is text and video of the speech. (Photo: LC)

ETHIOPIA’s APPEAL TO THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS

Haile Selassie
June, 1936.
Geneva, Switzerland.

“I, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, am here today to claim that justice which is due to my people, and the assistance promised to it eight months ago, when fifty nations asserted that aggression had been committed in violation of international treaties.

There is no precedent for a Head of State himself speaking in this assembly. But there is also no precedent for a people being victim of such injustice and being at present threatened by abandonment to its aggressor. Also, there has never before been an example of any Government proceeding to the systematic extermination of a nation by barbarous means, in violation of the most solemn promises made by the nations of the earth that there should not be used against innocent human beings the terrible poison of harmful gases. It is to defend a people struggling for its age-old independence that the head of the Ethiopian Empire has come to Geneva to fulfil this supreme duty, after having himself fought at the head of his armies.

I pray to Almighty God that He may spare nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people, and of which the chiefs who accompany me here have been the horrified witnesses.

It is my duty to inform the Governments assembled in Geneva, responsible as they are for the lives of millions of men, women and children, of the deadly peril which threatens them, by describing to them the fate which has been suffered by Ethiopia. It is not only upon warriors that the Italian Government has made war. It has above all attacked populations far removed from hostilities, in order to terrorize and exterminate them.

Watch: 1936 Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia Addresses League of Nations

At the beginning, towards the end of 1935, Italian aircraft hurled upon my armies bombs of tear-gas. Their effects were but slight. The soldiers learned to scatter, waiting until the wind had rapidly dispersed the poisonous gases. The Italian aircraft then resorted to mustard gas. Barrels of liquid were hurled upon armed groups. But this means also was not effective; the liquid affected only a few soldiers, and barrels upon the ground were themselves a warning to troops and to the population of the danger.

It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makalle were taking place that the Italian command, fearing a rout, followed the procedure which it is now my duty to denounce to the world. Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory, a fine, death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as from the end of January, 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain. In order to kill off systematically all living creatures, in order to more surely to poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare.

Ravage and Terror

The very refinement of barbarism consisted in carrying ravage and terror into the most densely populated parts of the territory, the points farthest removed from the scene of hostilities. The object was to scatter fear and death over a great part of the Ethiopian territory. These fearful tactics succeeded. Men and animals succumbed. The deadly rain that fell from the aircraft made all those whom it touched fly shrieking with pain. All those who drank the poisoned water or ate the infected food also succumbed in dreadful suffering. In tens of thousands, the victims of the Italian mustard gas fell. It is in order to denounce to the civilized world the tortures inflicted upon the Ethiopian people that I resolved to come to Geneva. None other than myself and my brave companions in arms could bring the League of Nations the undeniable proof. The appeals of my delegates addressed to the League of Nations had remained without any answer; my delegates had not been witnesses. That is why I decided to come myself to bear witness against the crime perpetrated against my people and give Europe a warning of the doom that awaits it, if it should bow before the accomplished fact.

Is it necessary to remind the Assembly of the various stages of the Ethiopian drama? For 20 years past, either as Heir Apparent, Regent of the Empire, or as Emperor, I have never ceased to use all my efforts to bring my country the benefits of civilization, and in particular to establish relations of good neighbourliness with adjacent powers. In particular I succeeded in concluding with Italy the Treaty of Friendship of 1928, which absolutely prohibited the resort, under any pretext whatsoever, to force of arms, substituting for force and pressure the conciliation and arbitration on which civilized nations have based international order.

Country More United

In its report of October 5th 193S, the Committee of Thirteen recognized my effort and the results that I had achieved. The Governments thought that the entry of Ethiopia into the League, whilst giving that country a new guarantee for the maintenance of her territorial integrity and independence, would help her to reach a higher level of civilization. It does not seem that in Ethiopia today there is more disorder and insecurity than in 1923. On the contrary, the country is more united and the central power is better obeyed.

I should have procured still greater results for my people if obstacles of every kind had not been put in the way by the Italian Government, the Government which stirred up revolt and armed the rebels. Indeed the Rome Government, as it has today openly proclaimed, has never ceased to prepare for the conquest of Ethiopia. The Treaties of Friendship it signed with me were not sincere; their only object was to hide its real intention from me. The Italian Goverment asserts that for 14 years it has been preparing for its present conquest. It therefore recognizes today that when it supported the admission of Ethiopia to the League of Nations in 1923, when it concluded the Treaty of Friendship in 1928, when it signed the Pact of Paris outlawing war, it was deceiving the whole world. The Ethiopian Government was, in these solemn treaties, given additional guarantees of security which would enable it to achieve further progress along the specific path of reform on which it had set its feet, and to which it was devoting all its strength and all its heart.

Wal-Wal Pretext

The Wal-Wal incident, in December, 1934, came as a thunderbolt to me. The Italian provocation was obvious and I did not hesitate to appeal to the League of Nations. I invoked the provisions of the treaty of 1928, the principles of the Covenant; I urged the procedure of conciliation and arbitration. Unhappily for Ethiopia this was the time when a certain Government considered that the European situation made it imperative at all costs to obtain the friendship of Italy. The price paid was the abandonment of Ethiopian independence to the greed of the Italian Government. This secret agreement, contrary to the obligations of the Covenant, has exerted a great influence over the course of events. Ethiopia and the whole world have suffered and are still suffering today its disastrous consequences.

This first violation of the Covenant was followed by many others. Feeling itself encouraged in its policy against Ethiopia, the Rome Government feverishly made war preparations, thinking that the concerted pressure which was beginning to be exerted on the Ethiopian Government, might perhaps not overcome the resistance of my people to Italian domination. The time had to come, thus all sorts of difficulties were placed in the way with a view to breaking up the procedure; of conciliation and arbitration. All kinds of obstacles were placed in the way of that procedure. Governments tried to prevent the Ethiopian Government from finding arbitrators amongst their nationals: when once the arbitral tribunal a was set up pressure was exercised so that an award favourable to Italy should be given.

All this was in vain: the arbitrators, two of whom were Italian officials, were forced to recognize unanimously that in the Wal-Wal incident, as in the subsequent incidents, no international responsibility was to be attributed to Ethiopia.

Peace Efforts

Following on this award. the Ethiopian Government sincerely thought that an era of friendly relations might be opened with Italy. I loyally offered my hand to the Roman Government. The Assembly was informed by the report of the Committee of Thirteen, dated October 5th, 1935, of the details of the events which occurred after the month of December, 1934, and up to October 3rd, 1935.

It will be sufficient if I quote a few of the conclusions of that report Nos. 24, 25 and 26 “The Italian memorandum (containing the complaints made by Italy) was laid on the Council table on September 4th, 1935, whereas Ethiopia’s first appeal to the Council had been made on December 14th, 1934. In the interval between these two dates, the Italian Government opposed the consideration of the question by the Council on the ground that the only appropriate procedure was that provided for in the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928. Throughout the whole of that period, moreover, the despatch of Italian troops to East Africa was proceeding. These shipments of troops were represented to the Council by the Italian Government as necessary for the defense of its colonies menaced by Ethiopia’s preparations. Ethiopia, on the contrary, drew attention to the official pronouncements made in Italy which, in its opinion, left no doubt “as to the hostile intentions of the Italian Government.”

From the outset of the dispute, the Ethiopian Government has sought a settlement by peaceful means. It has appealed to the procedures of the Covenant. The Italian Government desiring to keep strictly to the procedures of the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928, the Ethiopian Government assented. It invariably stated that it would faithfully carry out the arbitral award even if the decision went against it. It agreed that the question of the ownership of Wal-Wal should not be dealt with by the arbitrators, because the Italian Government would not agree to such a course. It asked the Council to despatch neutral observers and offered to lend itself to any enquiries upon which the Council might decide.

Once the Wal-Wal dispute had been settled by arbiration, however, the Italian Govemmcnt submitted its detailed memorandum to the Council in support of its claim to liberty of action. It asserted that a case like that of Ethiopia cannot be settled by the means provided by the Covenant. It stated that, “since this question affects vital interest and is of primary importance to Italian security and civilization” it “would be failing in its most elementary duty, did it not cease once and for all to place any confidence in Ethiopia, reserving full liberty to adopt any measures that may become necessary to ensure the safety of its colonies and to safeguard its own interests.”

Covenant Violated

Those are the terms of the report of the Committee of Thirteen, The Council and the Assembly unanimously adopted the conclusion that the Italian Government had violated the Covenant and was in a state of aggression. I did not hesitate to declare that I did not wish for war, that it was imposed upon me, and I should struggle solely for the independence and integrity of my people, and that in that struggle I was the defender of the cause of all small States exposed to the greed of a powerful neighbour.

In October, 1935. the 52 nations who are listening to me today gave me an assurance that the aggressor would not triumph, that the resources of the Covenant would be employed in order to ensure the reign of right and the failure of violence.

I ask the fifty-two nations not to forget today the policy upon which they embarked eight months ago, and on faith of which I directed the resistance of my people against the aggressor whom they had denounced to the world. Despite the inferiority of my weapons, the complete lack of aircraft, artillery, munitions, hospital services, my confidence in the League was absolute. I thought it to be impossible that fifty-two nations, including the most powerful in the world, should be successfully opposed by a single aggressor. Counting on the faith due to treaties, I had made no preparation for war, and that is the case with certain small countries in Europe.

When the danger became more urgent, being aware of my responsibilities towards my people, during the first six months of 1935 I tried to acquire armaments. Many Governments proclaimed an embargo to prevent my doing so, whereas the Italian Government through the Suez Canal, was given all facilities for transporting without cessation and without protest, troops, arms, and munitions.

Forced to Mobilize

On October 3rd, 1935, the Italian troops invaded my territory. A few hours later only I decreed general mobilization. In my desire to maintain peace I had, following the example of a great country in Europe on the eve of the Great War, caused my troops to withdraw thirty kilometres so as to remove any pretext of provocation.

War then took place in the atrocious conditions which I have laid before the Assembly. In that unequal struggle between a Government commanding more than forty-two million inhabitants, having at its disposal financial, industrial and technical means which enabled it to create unlimited quantities of the most death-dealing weapons, and, on the other hand, a small people of twelve million inhabitants, without arms, without resources having on its side only the justice of its own cause and the promise of the League of Nations. What real assistance was given to Ethiopia by the fifty two nations who had declared the Rome Government guilty of a breach of the Covenant and had undertaken to prevent the triumph of the aggressor? Has each of the States Members, as it was its duty to do in virtue of its signature appended to Article 15 of the Covenant, considered the aggressor as having committed an act of war personally directed against itself? I had placed all my hopes in the execution of these undertakings. My confidence had been confirmed by the repeated declarations made in the Council to the effect that aggression must not be rewarded, and that force would end by being compelled to bow before right.

In December, 1935, the Council made it quite clear that its feelings were in harmony with those of hundreds of millions of people who, in all parts of the world, had protested against the proposal to dismember Ethiopia. It was constantly repeated that there was not merely a conflict between the Italian Government and the League of Nadons, and that is why I personally refused all proposals to my personal advantage made to me by the Italian Government, if only I would betray my people and the Covenant of the League of Nations. I was defending the cause of all small peoples who are threatened with aggression.

What of Promises?

What have become of the promises made to me as long ago as October, 1935? I noted with grief, but without surprise that three Powers considered their undertakings under the Covenant as absolutely of no value. Their connections with Italy impelled them to refuse to take any measures whatsoever in order to stop Italian aggression. On the contrary, it was a profound disappointment to me to learn the attitude of a certain Government which, whilst ever protesting its scrupulous attachment to the Covenant, has tirelessly used all its efforts to prevent its observance. As soon as any measure which was likely to be rapidly effective was proposed, various pretexts were devised in order to postpone even consideration of the measure. Did the secret agreements of January, 1935, provide for this tireless obstruction?

The Ethiopian Government never expected other Governments to shed their soldiers’ blood to defend the Covenant when their own immediately personal interests were not at stake. Ethiopian warriors asked only for means to defend themselves. On many occasions I have asked for financial assistance for the purchase of arms That assistance has been constantly refused me. What, then, in practice, is the meaning of Article 16 of the Covenant and of collective security?

The Ethiopian Government’s use of the railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa was in practice a hazardous regards transport of arms intended for the Ethiopian forces. At the present moment this is the chief, if not the only means of supply of the Italian armies of occupation. The rules of neutrality should have prohibited transports intended for Italian forces, but there is not even neutrality since Article 16 lays upon every State Member of the League the duty not to remain a neutral but to come to the aid not of the aggressor but of the victim of aggression. Has the Covenant been respected? Is it today being respected?

Finally a statement has just been made in their Parliaments by the Governments of certain Powers, amongst them the most influential members of the League of Nations, that since the aggressor has succeeded in occupying a large part of Ethiopian territory they propose not to continue the application of any economic and financial measures that may have been decided upon against the Italian Government. These are the circumstances in which at the request of the Argentine Government, the Assembly of the League of Nations meets to consider the situation created by Italian aggression. I assert that the problem submitted to the Assembly today is a much wider one. It is not merely a question of the settlement of Italian aggression.

League Threatened

It is collective security: it is the very existence of the League of Nations. It is the confidence that each State is to place in international treaties. It is the value of promises made to small States that their integrity and their independence shall be respected and ensured. It is the principle of the equality of States on the one hand, or otherwise the obligation laid upon smail Powers to accept the bonds of vassalship. In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Have the signatures appended to a Treaty value only in so far as the signatory Powers have a personal, direct and immediate interest involved?

No subtlety can change the problem or shift the grounds of the discussion. It is in all sincerity that I submit these considerations to the Assembly. At a time when my people are threatened with extermination, when the support of the League may ward off the final blow, may I be allowed to speak with complete frankness, without reticence, in all directness such as is demanded by the rule of equality as between all States Members of the League?

Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment.

Assistance Refused

I have heard it asserted that the inadequate sanctions already applied have not achieved their object. At no time, and under no circumstances could sanctions that were intentionally inadequate, intentionally badly applied, stop an aggressor. This is not a case of the impossibility of stopping an aggressor but of the refusal to stop an aggressor. When Ethiopia requested and requests that she should be given financial assistance, was that a measure which it was impossible to apply whereas financial assistance of the League has been granted, even in times of peace, to two countries and exactly to two countries who have refused to apply sanctions against the aggressor?

Faced by numerous violations by the Italian Government of all international treaties that prohibit resort to arms, and the use of barbarous methods of warfare, it is my painful duty to note that the initiative has today been taken with a view to raising sanctions. Does this initiative not mean in practice the abandonment of Ethiopia to the aggressor? On the very eve of the day when I was about to attempt a supreme effort in the defense of my people before this Assembly does not this initiative deprive Ethiopia of one of her last chances to succeed in obtaining the support and guarantee of States Members? Is that the guidance the League of Nations and each of the States Members are entitled to expect from the great Powers when they assert their right and their duty to guide the action of the League? Placed by the aggressor face to face with the accomplished fact, are States going to set up the terrible precendent of bowing before force?

Your Assembly will doubtless have laid before it proposals for the reform of the Covenant and for rendering more effective the guarantee of collective security. Is it the Covenant that needs reform? What undertakings can have any value if the will to keep them is lacking? It is international morality which is at stake and not the Articles of the Covenant. On behalf of the Ethiopian people, a member of the League of Nations, I request the Assembly to take all measures proper to ensure respect for the Covenant. I renew my protest against the violations of treaties of which the Ethiopian people has been the victim. I declare in the face of the whole world that the Emperor, the Government and the people of Ethiopia will not bow before force; that they maintain their claims that they will use all means in their power to ensure the triumph of right and the respect of the Covenant.

I ask the fifty-two nations, who have given the Ethiopian people a promise to help them in their resistance to the aggressor, what are they willing to do for Ethiopia? And the great Powers who have promised the guarantee of collective security to small States on whom weighs the threat that they may one day suffer the fate of Ethiopia, I ask what measures do you intend to take?

Representatives of the World I have come to Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of the duties of the head of a State. What reply shall I have to take back to my people?”

June, 1936. Geneva, Switzerland.

Related:

UPDATE: At the UN Africa Stands With Ethiopia Amid EU’s Latest PR Stunt

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UPDATE: At the UN Africa Stands With Ethiopia Amid EU’s Latest PR Stunt

This week at the United Nations African countries unanimously sided with Ethiopia opposing the EU-led planned special session on the internal matter with TPLF. As The East African newspaper notes: "On Tuesday, none of the continent’s 13 representatives in the 47-member body of the UN, based in Geneva, backed a proposal to have the Human Rights Council discuss Ethiopia as had been proposed by the European Union." (UN photo)

The East African

Africa backs Addis protest against UN session on Ethiopia human rights

African countries have rallied behind Ethiopia in protesting against a planned special session at the UN Human Rights Council, which is aimed at reprimanding Addis Ababa’s alleged war atrocities in Tigray region.

On Tuesday, none of the continent’s 13 representatives in the 47-member body of the UN, based in Geneva, backed a proposal to have the Human Rights Council discuss Ethiopia as had been proposed by the European Union.

The session was due to be held later on Tuesday but the suggestion lacked African support.

Those pushing for the debate were mostly Western members of the Council, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Denmark.

The revelations emerged a day after Ethiopia issued a call to members of the Council to reject what it called a “regrettable” move to have the Tigray war discussed for the possibility of creating a special team to investigate war crimes in the country.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the move had a “politically motivated objective” and accused some members of the human rights body of choosing “to advance their political agenda through the work of the Council.”

“Ethiopia therefore calls on members of the Council to categorically reject and vote against the special session and its politically motivated outcome,” it said on Monday in a statement.

“What should have been a priority for the Council instead was the urgent task of carrying out investigation into the violations of human rights and atrocities committed by the TPLF terrorist group in the Afar and Amhara regional states. It is unfortunate to witness that no such call has come forth from some in the Council.’

The proposal to discuss Ethiopia emerged last Friday, pushed by the European Union.

On Monday, EU’s Head of Delegation to the UN in Geneva, Lotte Knudsen, wrote a joint letter with Slovak Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Anita Pipan, asking for a special session “because of the importance and urgency of the situation” in Ethiopia.

They said the request had the support of both members and observer states of the Human Rights Council, such as the US (which only returned to supporting the body after President Donald Trump left power.)

As is the rule, such a move required at least a third of the members supporting and according to the letter, 17 members of the Council and 35 non-members endorsed the call to have it go on later on Tuesday.

None of Africa’s members of the Council endorsed the move and none of the non-members who support the call came from Africa.

The continent is currently represented by Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Eritrea, Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Togo.

They are all serving three-year terms on the Council, although their start dates are staggered as is tradition with the Council.

The call though has been endorsed by other members, including South Korea, Fiji, Ukraine, Japan, Poland, Netherlands, Mexico and Bulgaria.

“The Human Rights Council has to stand up to its responsibilities,” Knudsen said on Monday, amplifying the call by EU High Representative Josep Borrel who had said the world has not reacted “properly to the large-scale human rights violations, mass rapes using sexual violence as a war arm, killings and concentration camps based on ethnic belonging.”

The problem though, says Ethiopia, is that discussing the country’s war problem appears to repeat what has already been done.

Earlier in August, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted a joint investigation into alleged rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law and refugee law.

It found that both the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government forces and allied militia had committed atrocities, including killings, rape, forcible displacement and torture. But it did not find evidence of genocide.

Ethiopia says it has since formed a multiagency taskforce to implement some of the proposals in the report, including prosecution, rehabilitation of those who surrender, humanitarian service as well as assisting those who were sexually violated.

The problem though is that the war hasn’t stopped.

The government and the TPLF, once a ruling party and now a proscribed group, have been fighting since November last year.

The war has led to a large-scale humanitarian crisis, besides deaths of civilians, according to the UN.

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In Jamaica Pan-Africanists Rally in Defense of Ethiopia Outside US Embassy

Peaceful protesters outside the US Embassy in Jamaica this weekend. Organizers of the gathering, which included pan-Africanists, Rastafarians and Ethiopians, said they were calling out the widely panned and misguided US posture in Ethiopia's conflict with TPLF. (Photos: Jamaica Observer & Jamaica Gleaner)

Jamaica Observer

By Observer staff reporter

‘America must mind its own business’

Local Rastas march on US Embassy protesting its backing of Ethiopia rebel forces

“Leave Ethiopia alone and mind your own business.” That was the message wrapped up in the chants of scores of Rastafari, Ethiopian, and pan-Africanist representatives yesterday as they staged what they called a peaceful protest outside the US Embassy in St Andrew.

The demonstration signalled the groups’ disapproval of the USA’s backing of rebel forces in Tigray, Ethiopia, who are fighting against Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Veteran Rastafarian reggae artiste Tony Rebel, who was part of the protest, said the move was to show solidarity with their black brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.

“When His Majesty Haile Selassie came forward, he said Ethiopia and Jamaica, we are one. We are saying to the United ‘snakes’ of America that they should take their hands out of Ethiopia,” he said.

One female protester, who requested anonymity, directed her rebuke not only at the US Government, but also Western media, which she asked to “back off of Ethiopia”.

“America must mind their own business. They are promising sanctions on Ethiopia and trying to demonise the prime minister. The US has been backing the rebel forces and demonising the Ethiopian Government. We in Jamaica have always seen ourselves as Ethiopians abroad because Halie Selassie came here in 1966 and said that Ethiopians and Jamaicans are blood brothers, so when there is a crisis in Ethiopia it affects all of us,” she said.

She stated that the average Jamaican will watch news from foreign outlets and think it is a tribal war that they should not care about.

She however said it’s our business, and Jamaicans should stand up to the USA and its propaganda.

“We were sending the US a message that they should leave Ethiopian people alone and stop taking sides with a terrorist group. Last week the Ethiopians in America went to CNN headquarters telling them to stop telling lies in the media that Ethiopia is creating genocide. Nothing like genocide is happening. All the prime minister is doing is defending the sovereign rights of the people,” she said.

Rastas protest US meddling in Ethiopian conflict

The Gleaner

Inspector Earle Grant speaking with Rastafarian protesters during a demonstration in front of the United States Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew, yesterday. The group said they were objecting to what they termed as the meddling of the United States in the yearlong conflict between the Ethiopian government and rebels.

One of the leaders of a protest staged yesterday across from the United States (US) Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew, objecting to what is said was that country’s meddling in the current Ethiopian conflict, has declared that he would have no objection to the US yanking his visa for his stance.

There have been mounting global concern and calls for a peaceful resolution to the yearlong conflict between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and rebels, who have joined a coalition of opposition groups, threatening his hold on power.

The United States has been one of the harshest critics of the Ethiopian government during the crisis, repeatedly calling for an end to the conflict as it urges the parties to hammer out a ceasefire agreement.

The United Nations has said that all parties to the conflict had violated international humanitarian law, citing reports of massacres, gang-rapes and ethnic cleansing with most of the offences carried out by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.

Yesterday, Haile Mikael Brissett, a deacon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica and one of the leaders of the protest, blasted Western media for what he said was its spread of propaganda regarding the conflict as he and scores of Rastafarians gathered across from the American embassy.

“We are proud Ethiopians abroad and we stand in solidarity with what’s going on in Ethiopia. We say, ‘All for one and one for all’. Ethiopia was the only African country that wasn’t colonised. Ethiopia also is the Horn of Africa, so we here in Jamaica want the world to know that Africans at home and Africans abroad should be saying the same thing,” Brissett told The Gleaner.

“What we are doing here today is very symbolic. It’s a peaceful protest and we really appreciate the solidarity of our brothers and sisters – not just Rastafarians, but also Pan African members, Maroons; members who really want to see freedom,” said Brissett.

Some of the Rastafarians told The Gleaner that they chose to protest across from the US Embassy as a form of outcry at the position they said the US has taken, along with its allies, mainly in Europe, which are in support of the rebel forces.

The protesters said they were standing in solidarity with the people of Ethiopia in their efforts to restore law and order and to put down armed insurrection from the rebel group led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and against all forms of foreign interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.

Brissett, who still holds a US visa, once travelled to Ethiopia in 2012 for clergy training and he had a connecting flight from Jamaica in Washington DC before arriving in Ethiopia.

“You have to lose some things to gain some things, so if a visa is lost, no problem with that for me, personally,” he said. “So if they want to revoke my visa, Jamaica is full of so much potential, Jamaica is so rich, Jamaica has so much wealth, so if I’m to stay here for the next 20, 30, 40 years, or the rest of my life, I am good with that because Ethiopia is within me.”

Brissett’s view was shared by other members of the Rastafarian community who were protesting.

Although the permit granted by the police to the protesters outlined that they should have been located on a parcel of land across from the US Embassy and at the entrance to Standpipe, some minutes after 10 a.m., some protesters walked on to the sidewalk immediately in front of the US Embassy, with cops advising them to leave.

Inspector Earle Grant, Matilda’s Corner Police Station commander, also instructed the protesters repeatedly to go within the boundaries of the area within which they applied for 10 persons to protest, while observing social distancing, but they refused and took to the sidewalks of Liguanea with their placards, some of which read ‘United Nations and America Need to Repent’, ‘War in Tigray’, ‘Hands off Ethiopia’, and ‘Defend Ethiopia Now’.

“They were given permission to demonstrate within the perimeters of the fencing area. It was in their application to the commissioner of police, hence permission was granted for them to demonstrate within that land space and not on the outskirts,” Grant told The Gleaner.

“The police can take some action, but we don’t want to ignite the situation. We just want to have a peaceful protest with respect for the rule of law, and we ask for compliance, not to obstruct pedestrians and using the sidewalk, and not to cause a traffic congestion,” he added.

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These Stone Monoliths in Southern Ethiopia Are 1,000 Years Older Than Thought (WSU)

Published in the Journal of African Archaeology, the team applied radiocarbon dating to monoliths from the Sakaro Sodo archaeological site in the Gedeo zone.“This is one of the most understudied archaeological sites in the world, and we wanted to change that,” said Ashenafi Zena, lead author of the study and a former Washington State University doctoral researcher now at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. (WSU))

WSU

Ethiopian monoliths are 1,000 years older than previously thought

Researchers from Washington State University have suggested that the giant stone monoliths of southern Ethiopia are 1,000 years older than previously thought.

Published in the Journal of African Archaeology, the team applied radiocarbon dating to monoliths from the Sakaro Sodo archaeological site in the Gedeo zone.

Sakaro Sodo is known to have the largest number and highest concentration of megalithic stele monuments in Africa, with an estimate of more than 10,000 stelae in sixty or more clusters.

The monoliths were first studied by French researchers in the 1990’s, where they proposed a construction date of around AD 1100.

With the results obtained from the latest study, this has been revised to sometime during the first century AD.

“This is one of the most understudied archaeological sites in the world, and we wanted to change that,” said Ashenafi Zena, lead author of the study and a former WSU doctoral researcher now at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Zena, an Ethiopian native, originally decided to conduct a study of the stones after traveling to the region with his doctoral advisor Andrew Duff, a WSU professor of anthropology, in 2013.

“It was shocking to see such a large number of monuments in such a small area,” Zena said. “Looking at the stones, many of which had fallen to the ground and some have broken into pieces, I decided to focus my dissertation work there instead of investigating cave sites in southern Ethiopia.”

In addition to pushing back the date of the earliest monoliths’ construction by a millennium, the researchers also determined where the ancient builders of the site likely quarried raw stone for the project. They also identified, for the first time, the earliest known sources of obsidian artefacts that were recovered from the Gedeo stele sites.
Surprisingly, most of the obsidian the researchers identified at Sakaro Sodo originated some 300 km away in northern Kenya, illustrating that the people at Sakaro Sodo obtained most of their obsidian raw materials through some form of exchange or trade.

While little is known about the pastoral and/or agricultural people who populated the Sakaro Sodo region of southern Ethiopia at the turn of the first millennium, the new construction dates of the stele monuments identified by Zena and Duff appear to coincide with the arrival of domesticated animals in the region and the beginnings of more complex social and economic systems.

“One of the reasons why this research is important is because it has the potential to shed new light on what the earliest people in this area were doing for a living as well as what their cultural and social practices were,” Duff said.

Existing archaeological, ethnographic, and living megalithic stele traditions in the region suggest that the oldest stele sites in Ethiopia at Sakaro Sodo and other nearby locations were likely created for two purposes: to commemorate the transfer of power from one generation to the next or to record and commemorate group achievement.

“The diversity of function of the stele in Ethiopia is really fascinating,” Duff said. “For example, we know that the more recently constructed stele monuments of Tuto Fela in the north part of Gedeo were used as burial markers. While the linear placement pattern of the earliest stones at Sakaro Sodo makes us think they may have been markers to signify the passing of generational leadership.”

While the political situation and the recent escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia make following up on the investigation in the near term difficult, the researchers have several future projects in the works that they hope to continue as soon as possible.

One project involves more additional archaeological investigations at other stele sites in the areas with colleagues at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. The other is a project led by Duff and current WSU doctoral student Addisalem Melesse who are working with the Ethiopian Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management to determine how the stele sites can be better managed to both preserve the heritage of the region and generate tourism.

“Developing a better understanding of the function of these stones and how they were erected is really useful in terms of gaining a UNESCO World Heritage designation,” Duff said. “This could in turn help generate tourism revenue, which is a major economic factor for the country.”

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Warning to Democrats: Ethiopian American Voters Ready to Bolt Over Foreign Policy

Across America Ethiopian American voters, who are traditionally a reliable democratic base, are mobilizing on social media and other platforms - as they did in Virginia this past November -- to support the Republican take over of the U.S. Congress next year. As the following report from North Carolina indicate the community at large feels deeply disappointed as well as ignored and betrayed by the Biden administration's now ridiculous approach towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Ethiopians protest in Raleigh, North Carolina/Indy week).

Indy week

Ethiopian Americans Dissatisfied with the Biden Administration’s Foreign Policy Positions Towards the African Nation Could Mean Democrats Can’t Rely on Their Votes in Next Year’s Elections

Last month, Teshale Gebremichael helped organize a protest for members of North Carolina’s Ethiopian American communities who condemned the U.S. government’s support of what they describe as a “terrorist” group that is attempting to usurp their country’s democratically elected government.

On November 21, the demonstrators assembled in front of the old state capitol grounds near the intersection of Hillsborough and Salisbury Streets at about three p.m. before marching to the front of the old Wake County Courthouse on Fayetteville Street. There, a man with a bullhorn exhorted the crowd to a call-and-response protest.

“African solutions for African problems!” he shouted into the bullhorn.

“African solutions for African problems!” his countrymen and women replied in unison.

“We are united!”

“No more! We say no more!”

“We stand with Ethiopia!”

“We stand with the Ethiopian government!”

Gebremichael, an Ethiopian American, has been living in the Triangle for over a decade.

“Why is the Biden administration standing with bad people? Why is Biden standing with gangsters?” Gebremichael asked, while speaking with the INDY last week. “And now our country is about to fall apart.”

Nearly 200 Ethiopian Americans, many of them wrapped in the red-green-and-gold flags of one of the world’s oldest nations, assembled at the old state capitol and voiced their disapproval on a day when similar protests were taking place across the globe.

The Ethiopian American protesters were joined by expatriates from neighboring Eritrea and gathered under a banner stating #NoMore to denounce what they described as the Biden administration’s “disastrous foreign policy” by way of sanctions that have hurt their country; the threat of sending U.S. ground troops into the country, and a disinformation campaign carried out by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to discredit the current government.

It’s a complicated issue.

A civil war erupted late last year between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and inhabitants of the country’s Tigray region…

That conflict is more than 8,000 miles away in the country’s northern region. The fighting and subsequent U.S. government sanctions could have dire consequences for Democratic Party candidates during the 2022 election. If President Joe Biden does not lift the sanctions, Ethiopian Americans here and across the United States are threatening to vote for Republicans next year.

Ethiopian Americans typically cast their votes for Democratic Party candidates, but they are deeply hurt by the Biden administration’s decision on September 17 to authorize sanctions that do not single out specific factions but hold the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Tigray forces responsible for participating in a civil war that has left “nearly one million people living in famine-like conditions” while “millions more face acute food insecurity as a direct consequence of the violence,” according to a White House statement.

“I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations,” stated President Biden, who added that the “sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster.”

But Ethiopian Americans here in the Triangle, and across the globe, say the sanctions are hurting their families and neighbors back home in an impoverished country that ranks 173 out of 189 countries and territories in human development, according to the 2020 Human Development Report.

On November 2, Biden suspended Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) “for gross violations of internationally recognised human rights,” according to Reuters. Days later, officials with the global fashion giant PVH Corp. announced that the company was shutting down a manufacturing factory in Ethiopia, owing to the loss of duty-free access to the United States because of the war.

Muna Mengesha, one of the organizers of the Raleigh protest and a real estate agent and mother of two, told the INDY the factory closing has left 150,000 people without work, but according to Reuters, officials in her homeland warned the shutdown “could take away 1 million jobs, disproportionately hurting poor women, who are the majority of garment workers.”

Mengesha says that in addition to factory workers losing their jobs in Addis Ababa, the country’s suspension from AGOA is also being felt in the rural parts of the country.

“Without AGOA, small farmers can’t send what they produce to the United States tax free,” she explains. “That’s their livelihood. That’s how they send their kids to school. That’s how they provide for their family.” Raleigh’s protest organizers say there’s currently a global movement among Ethiopia expatriates to heed Prime Minister Abiy’s call to return home for the Christmas holidays with the aim of supporting their country’s economy to offset the Biden administration’s sanctions.

“It’s a big movement right now,” Gebremichael said. “I’m not going because I went back last year. But I wish I could.”

Ethiopian expatriates point to last month’s gubernatorial election in Virginia where the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, narrowly beat incumbent governor Terry McAuliffe. According to reports, a coordinated effort from Ethiopian expatriate voters helped contribute to Youngkin’s narrow margin of victory.

“That’s the plan here, too,” Mengesha said. “Personally, I don’t want to vote Republican, but at the end of the day that’s my homeland. In Virginia, people who don’t ever vote voted just because of the Biden administration and the way they handled the situation.”

Another Raleigh protest organizer, Fitsum Kedebe, 37, is a native of Ethiopia now living in Durham. During the past presidential election, Kedebe helped Democratic Party candidates by canvassing in Bull City neighborhoods.

“Donald Trump was saying things no world leader should ever say,” Kedebe, a married father of two children, told the INDY. “But I was never expecting Biden to go this extreme. I never expected him to go this far to support Tigray. Even [the U.S. government] has been saying since 1992 that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is a terrorist group.”

Kedebe acknowledged the Sisyphean irony of casting a vote for an American political party enamored with misinformation to help bring about the downfall of a political party in his native country that also thrives in a false news ecosystem. He brushes aside the suggestion that a Republican administration may feel more comfortable with TPLF holding the reins of power in his country.

“The Democratic Party says it looks out for the poor, but it’s fractured,” he said. “It’s losing ground. The only reason Biden was elected was because of Black Lives Matter, and 79 million people still voted for Trump. We should be united. We see freedom losing.”

Read the full article at indyweek.com »

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Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Marcus & Maya Expecting Daughter Grace Ethiopia

"We will be welcoming a baby girl in the new year and naming her Grace Ethiopia," the family announced in an Instagram post. "Our fellow Ethiopians have experienced such a difficult year, so it means a lot to us to honor and celebrate our country of origin through the birth of our daughter. We are sending our joy and light to you and our community." (Getty Images)

People

Marcus Samuelsson and Wife Maya Expecting Baby No. 2 — Find Out the Meaningful Name

Marcus Samuelsson is adding to his family!

The Top Chef Family Style judge, 50, took to Instagram on Friday to reveal that he and wife Maya Haile Samuelsson are expecting their second baby together, and the name they’ve chosen for their little bundle of joy has a sweet and special meaning behind it.

“Maya and I are very excited to share that Zion is going to be a big brother!” the award-winning chef captioned an adorable picture of Maya, their son and himself, who are all wearing matching white tops. The couple welcomed their son in 2016.

“We will be welcoming a baby girl in the new year and naming her Grace Ethiopia,” Marcus, whose native country is Ethiopia, continued. “Our fellow Ethiopians have experienced such a difficult year, so it means a lot to us to honor and celebrate our country of origin through the birth of our daughter. We are sending our joy and light to you and our community.”….

In September, the No Passport Required host joined the PEOPLE Every Day podcast hosted by Janine Rubenstein to talk about some of the challenges he faced as a young Black chef working in all-white kitchens.

“One of the … challenges when you’re a Black chef coming into a space and you’re very, very ambitious was finding role models,” said Samuelsson. “I worked in all-white kitchens and the chefs very upfront said to me, ‘You have to lower your ambition, because there is no Black chefs that owns restaurants like ours.’ ”

However, the lack of diversity in the kitchens he worked in only pushed Samuelsson to further challenge the status quo and be an advocate for those under-represented in the industry.

“I didn’t see a lot of women in the kitchen,” Samuelsson, who co-owns Red Rooster Harlem with chef Andrew Chapman, told Rubenstein. “I made a commitment to make sure that we have 50% women in our kitchen. Everything I did not see, I can now create.”

Read the original article on People »

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Forbes: Still Time for US to Reverse ‘Huge Mistake’ on Ethiopia AGOA Exit

Under stark review, the concept of exiting the Ethiopian AGOA partnership is possibly a huge mistake – one that probably should (and could) be reversed. (Photo: An employee at a textile factory in Hawassa, Ethiopia, on Oct. 12, 2021/by Michael Tewelde/Getty Images)

Forbes

The United States announced a plan to remove Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by the first day of January – and shock waves quickly rolled through the U.S. apparel and footwear industries – like a tsunami that no one expected. Manufacturers were alerted that perhaps their good-will African investments – were made in vain, and retailers started to think about pulling out of Ethiopia.

Under stark review, the concept of exiting the Ethiopian AGOA partnership is possibly a huge mistake – one that probably should (and could) be reversed, resolved, extended, or at least peppered with exemptions. America encouraged the apparel and footwear industries to make investments in Ethiopia, and now is potentially leaving “the ask.” Plus, all things considered, an abrupt exit (with only two months’ notice) has frightened other sub-Saharan African investors. They worry that the United States won’t renew AGOA in 2025, and won’t have their back the next time that trouble breaks out.

Of course, China is watching America’s every move and they immediately pounced on the weakness. For years, they have made significant investments in Ethiopia, and the country is sometimes referred as the China of Africa. In keeping with that mindset, they immediately announced a plan to purchase $300 billion worth of goods from Africa over the next three years and invest about $10 billion dollars. China also sent their Foreign Minister Wang Yi directly to Ethiopia’s Capital City (Addis Ababa) to show support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s elected government

America, on the other hand, worked a different strategy. Sanctions were announced, followed by a 60-day notice of a planned AGOA-EXIT. The United States sent U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to nearby Kenya for negotiations, advised US citizens to leave the country, and asked for “precautionary assurances” for USA diplomats. Taking a page from the Administration’s “Diplomacy First” playbook, Secretary Blinken said that all the unrest and atrocities: “Needs to stop.”

Ethiopia’s civil war is constantly marred with accusations of humanitarian, political, and even geopolitical problems, but AGOA’s charter calls for the development of a market-based economy, observing the rule of law, political pluralism, the right to due process and reducing poverty – plus combatting corruption and protecting human rights. There is no right or wrong with considering the cessation of AGOA in Ethiopia – simply because America needs to follow the charter. However, if one takes a holistic view of sub-Sahara Africa, the announced AGOA plug-pulling may be the last straw for the struggling trade program, simply because the Ethiopian exit has reverberated well beyond the country’s borders.

Truth be told, AGOA is not the best trade program that the USA has ever created, but many developing countries have found it to be extremely helpful. For twenty-one years, the AGOA performance has been somewhat lackluster. This year’s trade volume shows little growth from the very first year that the program was created (back in 2001). One explanation is that the program is approximately divided between 55% energy and 45% non-energy sectors. In energy, there is not much duty savings, so oil is shipping to the USA because it is cheap, not because of AGOA

When looking at the results of AGOA, it is more important to focus on the non-energy sector – because that creates the most jobs and helps the most people on a humanitarian level – especially with apparel manufacturing in Kenya, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, and (of course) Ethiopia.

Non-energy shipments were $1.3 billion in 2001 and only $3.8 billion in 2019 – signifying not much growth in 18 years. But, after all this time, it was Ethiopia that finally broke the mold and achieved significant growth in the non-energy sector. That improvement provided thousands of jobs and added to Ethiopia’s growing GDP; exhibiting that the program could really be effective. Now, with America weaponizing AGOA (as a tool to resolve a country conflict), retailers are faced with another significant and growing loss of international supply. To put this in a different perspective, just a few days ago one very large and responsible USA mega-brand announced that they were closing their operations in Ethiopia. Other brands and retailers will probably follow suit.

During the last few years, modern manufacturing facilities were erected, and numerous industrial parks dotted the Ethiopian landscape. Assembled products could now be shipped back to the USA free of duty – which is a significant advantage because (for example) apparel duty rates could average around 20% or higher.

The duty-free incentive was created to offset the cost of development, and the lower worker productivity rates. By accepting the terms of AGOA, the impact on local employment was huge. Ethiopia quickly became the African model for others to follow. However, with AGOA now sitting on the chopping block (along with Mali and Guinea) retailers wonder if the investment was worth the risk, and that line of thinking creates an even bigger problem for all of Africa, because the AGOA program comes up for renewal in just a few years.

The United Nations, the African Union, the United States, and several other countries are working hard to broker a resolution to the Ethiopian conflict. News reports indicate that there is little progress – except for some notice that humanitarian aid is finally reaching the Tigray region. There are also claims that government forces have re-gained control of several key areas that had been overrun by the insurgent Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The USA, for its part, should never approve any country’s bad behavior, but there is a distinct difference in terminology – if skills are being taught and families are being fed. Investors knew that Ethiopia was risky, but they expected America to stand behind their investment. Somehow, over time , there has been a failure to distinguish between a sewing machine operator earning a living, and an insurgent fighting a battle (all within the same country)…

Most everyone hopes that AGOA doesn’t become a missed opportunity.

There is still time between now and January 1st.

Maybe, just maybe, something will change.

Read the full article at forbes.com »

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Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Media: Ethiopia Flipping the Script on Foreign Coverage

Although misinformation in foreign press is still abundant, following the string of victories against TPLF in the past few days it appears that some Western media outlets are trying to adjust their unbalanced coverage of the situation in Ethiopia (See below an excerpt of AFP's latest news explainer). Meanwhile, the Biden administration says its shelving its dangerous 'genocide' PR scheme against the country as its runaway policy is receiving much-needed congressional criticism and oversight. (Photo: Ethiopians protest in DC/Reuters)

AFP

Ethiopia’s military this week regained control of territory previously claimed by [TPLF] rebels, a potential validation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to join soldiers to conflict-hit areas…

Just a month ago, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group appeared to be on the offensive, claiming to have captured Dessie and Kombolcha, towns on a key highway headed towards the capital Addis Ababa.

They reportedly reached as far as Shewa Robit, around 220 kilometres (135 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa by road.

But after Abiy announced last week he would lead operations in the field, the government announced a string of victories and the rebels acknowledged making adjustments to their strategy.

State media has responded with triumphalist wall-to-wall coverage.

There’s little doubt the government can claim to have the “upper hand” in specific areas, said Awet Weldemichael, a Horn of Africa security expert at Queen’s University in Canada…

- A surprise shift -

All the while, though, the exact nature of the TPLF advance was in dispute.

“I don’t know whether we should call it an advance,” one Western security official told AFP in mid-November.

“There’s not a huge column of tanks and armoured vehicles driving down the road towards Addis. It’s more complex than that. There are foot soldiers going into the mountains, they shoot and surround certain areas” but do not seem to fully control cities and towns, the official said.

The latest battlefield shifts unfolded swiftly.

The government first claimed towns in Afar, near a critical highway bringing goods to Addis Ababa, then on Wednesday it declared victory in Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site that fell to the TPLF in August.

On Friday state media announced that towns on the road heading north towards Dessie and Kombolcha had been “liberated”.

The news could be a sign that government forces, as well as many thousands of new recruits who have enlisted in recent months, have more fight than they’ve gotten credit for.

“I was quite surprised by the latest counteroffensive by the government,” said Mehdi Labzae, a sociologist who studies land issues and mobilisation in Ethiopia.

“I have seen all the people who were mobilised… but the thing is I thought they were not trained and I thought they would just be destroyed.”

The path ahead

The African Union is trying to broker a ceasefire to avert further bloodshed, though there has been little progress so far.

The TPLF insists it will have the advantage in whatever fighting is to come…

One possibility, said Awet of Queen’s University, is that the government’s superior air power has turned the tide — at least for now.

“Drones are claimed to have played a decisive role in active combat, the full extent of which we are yet to find out,” he said.

“But so far, it appears like they have helped halt [TPLF] counterattacks and advances.”

Click here to read the full article »

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SPOTLIGHT: Ethiopia’s Lalibela, One of the Wonders of the World

Lalibela is back in the International news after Ethiopia announced a major victory this week that it has recaptured the historic town from TPLF. Home to some of Ethiopia's ancient churches Lalibela, which was designated a Unesco world heritage site in 1978, is considered one of the wonders of the world for its stunning architectural designs. Below is a Unesco description. (Photo: The Church of Saint George in Lalibela/By Chester Higgins, Jr.)

UNESCO World Heritage Centre, United Nations

Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela

The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century ‘New Jerusalem’ are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion.


A pilgrimage to Lalibela’s churches. (Getty Images)


Getty Images


Getty Images

Brief synthesis

In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 645 km from Addis Ababa, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire.

There are two main groups of churches – to the north of the river Jordan: Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael); and to the south of the river, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Gabriel Raphael (House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The eleventh church, Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches.

The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs.

Biete Medhani Alem, with its five aisles, is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, while Biete Ghiorgis has a remarkable cruciform plan. Most were probably used as churches from the outset, but Biete Mercoreos and Biete Gabriel Rafael may formerly have been royal residences. Several of the interiors are decorated with mural paintings.

Near the churches, the village of Lalibela has two storey round houses, constructed of local red stone, and known as the Lasta Tukuls. These exceptional churches have been the focus of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians since the 12th century.

Criterion (i): All the eleven churches represent a unique artistic achievement, in their execution, size and the variety and boldness of their form.

Criterion (ii): The King of Lalibela set out to build a symbol of the holy land, when pilgrimages to it were rendered impossible by the historical situation. In the Church of Biet Golgotha, are replicas of the tomb of Christ, and of Adam, and the crib of the Nativity. The holy city of Lalibela became a substitute for the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and as such has had considerable influence on Ethiopian Christianity.

Criterion (iii): The whole of Lalibela offers an exceptional testimony to the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia, including, next to the eleven churches, the extensive remains of traditional, two storey circular village houses with interior staircases and thatched roofs.

Integrity

The drainage ditches were filled up with earth for several centuries, before being cleared in the 20th century, and have been disrupted by seismic activity. This has resulted in a severe degradation of the monuments from water damage, and most of them are now considered to be in a critical condition.

Structural problems have been identified in Biet Amanuel where an imminent risk of collapse is possible, and other locations need to be monitored. Serious degradation of the paintings inside the churches has occurred over the last thirty years. Sculptures and bas-reliefs (such as at the entrance of Biet Mariam) have also been severely damaged, and their original features are hardly recognisable. All of this threatens the integrity of the property.

Temporary light-weight shelters have now been installed over some churches and these, while offering protection, impact on visual integrity.

Other threats include encroachment on the environment of the churches by new public and private construction, housing associated with the traditional village adjacent to the property, and from the infrastructure of tourism.

Authenticity

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela are still preserved in their natural settings. The association of the rock-hewn churches and the traditional vernacular circular houses, in the surrounding area, still demonstrate evidences of the ancient village layout. The original function of the site as a pilgrimage place still persists and provides evidence of the continuity of social practices. The intangible heritages associated with church practices are still preserved.

Watch: 60 Minutes Features Lalibela: A place where faith, mystery and miracles coexist

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Recaptures World Heritage Site Lalibela From TPLF

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Recaptures World Heritage Site Lalibela From TPLF

In a major victory since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed went to the front lines last week to lead the fight against TPLF Ethiopia said it has recaptured the historic city of Lalibela, a Unesco world heritage site and a popular tourist destination, that was taken by the rebels in August. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen has taken charge of the day-to-day running of government while Mr Abiy is on the battlefield. (Getty Images)

BBC

Ethiopian troops have recaptured the historic town of Lalibela from [TPLF] rebels, the government has said.

This is the latest victory claimed by the government since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed went to the front lines last week to lead the fight-back…

Lalibela, famous for its rock-hewn churches, was captured by the rebels in August.

It is a Unesco world heritage site in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, and was a popular tourist destination before the civil war broke out in Ethiopia last year…

Earlier on Wednesday, government spokesman Legesse Tulu was quoted by state media as saying the military was also confident of retaking the strategic city of Dessie “in a short period of time”.

The TPLF captured Dessie last month…Other towns retaken from the rebels included Shewa Robit, about 220km (135 miles) from Addis Ababa, the government said.

State-linked TV aired footage of Mr Abiy on Tuesday in military jungle fatigues, scanning the horizon with binoculars.

Read the full article at BBC.com »

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History: Toast of the U.S. President at Luncheon Hosted by Ethiopia in America

There was once a friendly, cordial and respectful U.S.-Ethiopia relations going back to 1903 before it was replaced with the modern version of team Biden's duplicitous Horn of Africa diplomacy. The following is a transcript of a speech by U.S. President John F. Kennedy during a luncheon hosted by Ethiopia in his honor at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland on October 2nd, 1963. (Photos: Kennedy Library)

The American Presidency Project, UC Santa Barbara

Note: The President spoke at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. at a luncheon given in his honor by Emperor Haile Selassie…

The Emperor, speaking before him, began by mentioning the warm and friendly relationship between his nation and the United States. He referred to the growing number of Americans who go to Ethiopia–as members of economic and military aid missions, in the Peace Corps, as businessmen, and as tourists. Such associations, the Emperor continued, cannot but help the Ethiopian and American peoples to know each other better. Mutual understanding has also been broadened, he pointed out, by the many young Ethiopian leaders who have studied in the United States. “If their number now declines,” he added, “it will be because of the new university which has, with the generous help of the people and the Government of the United States, now assumed the responsibility for providing higher education in Ethiopia.”

The Charter of Unity recently signed in his capital by African heads of state demonstrates, said Emperor Haile Selassie, the will of their peoples, inspired by America’s example past and present, to prepare for themselves a future of unity and brotherhood.

He concluded with a toast to the President and to the two peoples, who are, he said, distant in geography but proximate in friendship and in spirit.

President Kennedy’s Remarks at the Luncheon

October 02, 1963

Your Majesty:

On behalf of all of my fellow citizens, I want to express our great appreciation to you for having traveled across so many thousands of miles to visit us once again and also for the pleasure that you have brought us all in bringing with you your granddaughter, and the benefit you have brought us in bringing the members of your Government.

As you say, Ethiopia and the United States are separated not only by geography but by history and culture, but I think that they are bound together by necessity, and that is the necessity for all sovereign free countries to maintain the most intimate association.

So we are very proud to have you here because of what your country has done, what it is doing, because of the hospitality you have shown to my fellow countrymen when they have gone there to work or to visit.

Most of all, we are glad to have you here because of your own extraordinary record. Those of us who have held office for a comparatively brief time are somewhat awed to realize that you have borne the responsibility of leadership in your country for more than 45 years. For a good part of this century, with all the changes that it has brought to not only your own country but to the continent of Africa, and so much of the West during this whole period, the central thrust of burden has been borne by you. And to have borne it with such distinction in other days and to still bear it with such force-demonstrated by the fact that your capital was chosen by your fellow leaders of Africa to be the center of this great, cooperative movement which was symbolized by the summit meeting in your capital and which was made a success by your own very patient efforts–brings accord out of what could have been on occasion perhaps a disagreement.

So, looking to a long past, looking to a promising future, we want to say, Your Majesty, that we are proud to have you here, we have been honored by the visit, and I hope that this short time here in Washington will remind you once again of how strongly your place is secured in the affection of all of the people of the United States. I hope all of you will join with me in a toast to His Imperial Majesty.

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

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

Press Release

Montreux Jazz Festival

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

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

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

THE VOTE FOR MESKEREM MEES WAS UNANIMOUS

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

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

— Meskerem Mees

PRIZES AND PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT

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

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

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Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

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

Reuters

Ethiopia Warns US Against Spreading False Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at reuters.com »

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

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

BBC

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at BBC.com »

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

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

The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at apnews.com »

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Finally, Stolen Ethiopia Treasures Begin to Return Home From England

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

Reuters

After a century and a half, Ethiopian artefacts return home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The Washington Post

By Yohannes Woldemariam and Nic Cheeseman

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

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

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

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »

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Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

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

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Considers Withdrawing Licenses of Foreign News Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forbes

Team Biden Should Avoid Harming AGOA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at forbes.com »

Related:

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Press Release

Addis Fine Art

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


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)


(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

Featured Artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Go:

Learn more at addisfineart.com.

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

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

The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

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

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

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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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

Popsugar

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New York Times

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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

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

BBC

Africa’s iconic architecture in 12 buildings

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

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

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

Palace of Emperor Fasilides, Ethiopia – early 17th Century

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

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

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

See the full list at BBC.com »

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UK Celebrities Urge Return of Plundered Sacred Treasures Back to Ethiopia

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

The Guardian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release

WALKER ART CENTER

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

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

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

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

If You Go:

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

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

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

Press Release

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

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

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


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

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


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

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


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

About AMSALE

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


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

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Whistleblower: Facebook Fueling Violence in Ethiopia

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

CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UPDATE: In Ethiopia Parliament Confirms Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister

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

Reuters

By Dawit Endeshaw

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at Reuters.com »

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

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

Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bloomberg

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

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

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

Read the full article at bloombergquint.com »

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

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

The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

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

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

Medium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at medium.com »

Related:

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

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

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

Press Release

By Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia

September 17, 2021

An Open Letter to President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Dear Mr. President,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. President,

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

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

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

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

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

God bless Ethiopia and its people!

September 17, 2021

Related:

Press Release

The White House

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

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Madam President:)

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

—-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The White House

September 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

The White House

Background Press Call By Senior Administration Officials on Ethiopia

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

PRESS BRIEFINGS
Via Teleconference
(September 16, 2021)

12:02 P.M. EDT

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

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

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

And with that, over to our first speaker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the polarization inside Ethiopia deepens; the grievances grow.

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

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

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

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

MODERATOR: Yep. We can open it up.

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, bottom line: This must stop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Q Hello, can you hear me?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.

Q Oh, okay. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

12:43 P.M. EDT

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Faya Dayi. (Courtesy photo)

Interview With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir about ‘Faya Dayi’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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