Author Archive for Tadias

New Film on the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia: ‘If Only I Were That Warrior’

Megabi Woldetensae, an eyewitness to the 1937 massacre at the monastery of Debre Libanos, is one of the characters featured in the new documentary film "If Only I Were That Warrior." (Awen Films)

Press Release

CPL New York

The idea for If Only I Were That Warrior, took shape in February 2013 when director Valerio Ciriaci and producer Isaak Liptzin attended a panel discussion on the recently inaugurated monument to Rodolfo Graziani organized by the Calandra Italian American Institute at CUNY and Centro Primo Levi NY

An Italian army general responsible for war crimes and human rights violations in Africa, Graziani was first denounced by the League of Nations and, after the war, brought in front of the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Due to diplomatic reasons, he was never tried. In 1948 an Italian court found him guilty of war crimes but was relieved from serving his sentence because he claimed to have only obeyed orders. Graziani and his actions remained in limbo in the Italian collective memory. The 2012 dedication of the monument sparked international protests and brought his role in history back to the forefront of public discourse.

The CUNY panel prompted the two young filmmakers to research the Italian occupation of Ethiopia and understand why it was remembered so little and with such radical divergences. Their quest became a film project on the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia and its unresolved legacy exposing it both from an Italian and an Ethiopian perspective.

The film moves from contemporary debate into the history of the invasion through the work of major historians of colonialism like Angelo Del Boca and Richard Pankhurst. Historian of fascist Italy Mauro Canali and cultural historian Ian Campbell accompany the public through the history of the occupation as documented in the Italian and Ethiopian national archives.

In recent years, scholars have placed Italian war crimes in Greece, Yugoslavia and Africa under the spotlight allowing, among other things, a new approach to the study of fascist racism and a debate on international intervention, post-war justice as well as the effect of lingering prejudice and an unspoken past.

The Massacre of Debre Libanos – If Only I Were That Warrior CLIP from Awen Films on Vimeo.


If You Go:
Screening of excerpts and discussion with the director & producer
Reception to follow.
March 28 | 7:30 pm
March 29 | 2:00 pm
CPL at SF Vanni’s
30 West 12 Street
New York City
RSVP: info@primolevicenter.org
www.primolevicenter.org

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Photos: Abyssinian Fund’s NYC Event

(Photo Courtesy of The Abyssinian Fund)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, March 27th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Abyssinian Fund held a successful fundraiser last week during its Young Professionals event held at Madiba Harlem on Thursday, March 12th. Organizers said they raised over ten thousand dollars.

The evening, which was sponsored by Uptown Magazine, Tadias Magazine and Madiba Harlem, included live music by Arki Sound, food and a silent auction including Ethiopian coffee pots from Azla Vegan, gift certificates to local Harlem businesses, signed photos of legends such as Muhammad Ali, Walt Frazier, and Willie Mays, an Eli Manning signed helmet, and fantasy experiences such as a trip to Napa Valley or a Rao’s dinner for 10. And a grand prize raffle of a round trip ticket to Africa courtesy of Uptown Magazine and South African Airlines.

Proceeds go to support the Abyssinian Fund’s programs in Ethiopia in coffee production “supplying training, equipment, educational, and economic support to coffee farmers who are producing the world’s best coffee.”



Related:
Tadias Interview With President of Abyssinian Fund Reverend Nicholas S. Richards

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With Big Projects, Ethiopia Shedding Famine Stereotype

Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares to take off from the airport in Addis Ababa. (AP photo)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s planned new airport on the outskirts of the capital is still years from becoming a reality but Tewodros Dawit can already envision how grand it will look.

“The airport we are planning to build is going to be huge. Very huge,” Tewodros said one recent afternoon as he examined project plans in his office in Addis Ababa. “It will be one of the biggest airports in the world. I don’t know what other countries are planning in this regard for the future but no country has created this much capacity so far in Africa.”

Ethiopia, once known for epic famines that sparked global appeals for help, has a booming economy and big plans these days. The planned airport is one of several muscular, forward-looking infrastructure projects undertaken by the government that have fueled talk of this East African country as a rising African giant.

Addis Ababa increasingly looks like an enormous construction site, with cranes and building blocks springing up in many corners of the city. Britain, long a source of charitable aid for Ethiopia, announced last month that Ethiopia’s growing economy means the time has come for “transitioning support toward economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth.”

Over the last decade Ethiopia’s economy has grown at an average of 11 percent, more than double the rate for sub-Saharan Africa, according to U.N. figures. The growth is fueled in part by huge public expenditure on energy and infrastructure projects that make the country attractive to long-term private investment. The projects are being funded mostly through loans obtained from partners such as China, India and the World Bank.

Tewodros, the chief executive of the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise, said the planned new airport would have the capacity to handle up to 100 million travelers per year, a figure that he said dovetails with the ambitious plans of national carrier Ethiopian Airlines.

Read more »

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Don’t Torpedo The Dam, Full Speed Ahead For Ethiopia’s Nile Project (NPR)

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia. (AP Photo)

NPR

Gregory Warner

I once met a popular spoken word poet in Ethiopia who was asked by a government official to write a poem about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (He politely explained that he didn’t do poetry about infrastructure.) But it’s not surprising that Ethiopia would like to inscribe this dam into the Ethiopian epic.

When completed, the Renaissance Dam promises to be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa. Funded without help from America or the West, the “renaissance” in the dam’s title refers to a 70-year-old vision of Africa rising on the strength of its own abundant resources. Independence and self-reliance in the so-called “dark continent” begins with electricity.

But since Ethiopia began construction in 2011, Egypt has spun the dam as a threat. Egypt’s way of life depends on the Nile River. Former president Mohammed Morsi once warned that every drop of water stolen from the Nile would be defended by a drop of Egyptian blood.

In fact, a hydropower dam doesn’t steal water from downstream. It only draws power from its flow. Except during one crucial period: just after the dam is built and the reservoir is filled. A reservoir this huge will hold 63 billion cubic meters — roughly as much water as Egypt gets from the Nile over the course of a year. If the basin were to be filled too fast, Egypt’s farmers would plunge into drought and its own hydropower dams would stop producing electricity.

Fear of that scenario is why Egypt’s former president almost went to war with Ethiopia over the dam.

Instead, on Monday, Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn signed a “Declaration of Principles” with Sudan’s president as broker. Egypt approved the project and will have rights to some of the electricity that will be generated. The key negotiations to come will be over the pace of filling that giant reservoir when it’s completed in the next few years. Fast enough to satisfy Ethiopia’s grand ambitions but slow enough not to hobble Egypt’s economy.

Read more at NPR »

Related:
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Deal to End Nile Dispute (Video)
Egypt’s President Addresses Ethiopian Parliament

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Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon (Part Two)

This is the second in a two part interview with Farah Salka of the Migrant Community Center in Lebanon. (Photo courtesy of MCC)

Huffington Post

By Kumera Genet

The attack and subsequent suicide in 2012 of Alem Dechasa-Desisa–an Ethiopian Domestic worker in Lebanon–was a turning point in the consciousness of the Ethiopian and African Diaspora. The video of Ali Mafuz–Alem’s employer beating her in front of the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut was one of the first widely shared visual examples of the exploitation that faces many African migrants in the Middle East. Due to a lack of resources and political organization, there have been few coordinated efforts by the African Diaspora to directly support migrant workers in the Middle East in three years since Alem’s death.

Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts in Lebanon–led by activists and the migrant worker themselves–to support the migrant worker community. I feel this is important context to better understand how individuals living outside of the Middle East can assist in improving the lives of migrants. The news that reaches the Diaspora is normally about the tragedies. This is an unsustainable way of engaging in the issue and in the interim between public abuses, there is little real relationship building with potential allies.

To this end, I spoke recently with Farah Salka who is the general coordinator of the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon which manages the Migrant Community Center in Beirut. The Migrant Community Center is one of the few open spaces for the migrant communities and domestic workers in Lebanon. There are more than 800,000 migrant workers in Lebanon and more than 250,000 serve as domestic workers.

They are currently fundraising to keep up, and hopefully expand, the services offered and donations can be made on their IndieGogo page:

Read the interview at Huffingtonpost.com »

Related:
Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon (Part One)

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9 Ethiopian Artists on World Music Scene

The website Culture Trip highlights nine Ethiopian international musicians . (Theculturetrip.com)

The Culture Trip

By Simon Ayalew

Ethiopia is home to a wealth of promising artists, especially musicians, who look to redefine the quintessential narrative of Ethiopia to more inclusively portray the culture and talent of its people. We look at 9 modern day artists who lend a progressive edge to the country’s music, pushing boundaries and exploring the nuances of its distinct and diverse sounds.

Formal practice of music in Ethiopia is believed to be one of the oldest in Africa – in an interview with Afropop.com, Kay Kaufman Shelemay, a Harvard professor of ethnomusicology and a scholar of Ethiopian music, says ‘Ethiopia is the only African country with an indigenous system of musical writing and musical notation’. And just as the history of Ethiopian music is extensive, its modern day adaptations are wide ranging and defies being siphoned into a single category.

The evolution of Ethiopia’s music has had its share of ups and downs, but it has proved to be resilient in adapting to the times. This is evident in the works of visionary artists such as the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke, who promulgated Ethiopia’s mostly pentatonic scale-style music when he established Ethio-jazz as a standalone genre back in the 1970s, proving that Ethiopian grooves can be popular worldwide.

Read more »

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The Nile Project’s Mesmerizing New York Concert at Lincoln Center (Audio & Photos)

The Nile Project performing at the Lincoln Center in New York on Thursday, March 19th, 2015. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The power of music to unite people beyond borders was in full display in New York last week during the Nile Project’s unforgettable performance at Lincoln Center on March 19th and at Pace University’s Schimmel Center on March 20th.

The Nile Project is made up of over a dozen singers and instrumentalists from the Nile Basin countries. As the program notes the group “weaves together the deep grooves of Ethiopia with the Arab classical traditions of Egypt and Sudan, and the rarely heard music of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.”

Ethiopian artists include Meklit Hadero, Selamnesh Zemene, Jorga Mesfin, Endris Hassen, Dawit Seyoum, Mekuanent Melese and Asrat Ayalew.

Below is an audio and photo slideshow of the concert at Lincoln Center:



Related:
Lincoln Center & Pace University Present The Nile Project in New York

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Sissi Addresses Ethiopian Parliament

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, middle, on the far left table seated, addresses the Ethiopian parliament Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. (AP Photo)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA — Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed his hopes and concerns about sharing waters of the Nile River while addressing the Ethiopian parliament Wednesday, during his first official state visit to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is building Africa’s largest hydropower dam, using waters of the Nile.

Sissi said he understands the need for Ethiopia to develop, but warned that conflict should be avoided when utilizing resources and seeking progress.

He says your Egyptian brothers also have the right, not only to development, but also the right to life itself. And to live in safe haven on the banks of the River Nile.

Ethiopia says that the $4 billion dam will not affect Egypt’s access to Nile water. The energy produced from the dam is to be used for Ethiopia’s domestic market and for export to countries in the region.

Sissi’s speech comes two days after he signed an agreement on the Nile with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

No details were released but the agreement is believed to focus on resolving misunderstandings between Nile countries, causing no harm to one another and promising to work out detailed procedures in the near future.

Sissi called on leaders of all Nile countries to work together on reaching a consensus about the waters.

He says, “one that allows us to overcome the differences and outstanding points in the Nile Basin Initiative Framework Agreement, for it to include all the basin countries and to address all their needs.”

Tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt rose after Ethiopia started dam construction in 2012. Although most of the Nile’s water originates in Ethiopia, an old colonial-era agreement gives Egypt the right to over 80 percent of Nile water.

Ethiopia’s dam, named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, is now about 40 percent completed.

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Dollar’s Rise Stings Africa

The consequences range from empty store shelves to a closed oil refiner to delayed infrastructure improvements. (Photo: Some empty store shelves at a store in Kampala, Uganda. Credit: WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal

By NICHOLAS BARIYOand PATRICK MCGROARTY

March 24, 2015

KAMPALA, Uganda — The consequences of a soaring U.S. dollar are trickling down to empty shelves at Quality Supermarkets in Kampala, where clerks turn away shoppers seeking clothes and backpacks the store can’t afford to import.

As Uganda’s shilling has hit a record low against the dollar, Quality Supermarkets and its competitors have struggled to find enough U.S. dollars to buy the packaged foods and manufactured goods they import from abroad.

“We are waiting for new arrivals, but they are taking long,” said Emily Orishaba, a 25-year-old shop attendant pointing at empty shelves. “We are worried our customers may run away.”

Central bankers’ efforts to boost growth in Europe and Asia are driving up the dollar’s value against currencies ranging from the euro to the Indonesian rupiah, as higher interest rates in the U.S.—and expected increases as the Federal Reserve prepares to raise rates—attract investors seeking potentially bigger returns. African currencies are caught in the riptide, hurting companies that rely on dollars to buy foreign goods.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

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Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Deal to End Nile Dispute (Video)

Egypt's leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (Left), Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (Center) and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Halemariam Desalegn signed the deal in Sudan's capital Khartoum. (Photo: EPA)

BBC News

Three African leaders have signed an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia.

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the agreement in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Egypt has opposed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, saying it would worsen its water shortages.
Ethiopia says the dam will give it a fairer share of Nile waters.

In 2013, Ethiopia’s parliament ratified a controversial treaty to replace colonial-era agreements that gave Egypt and Sudan the biggest share of the Nile’s water.

Egypt’s then-President Mohamed Morsi said he did not want war but he would not allow Egypt’s water supply to be endangered by the dam.

Mr Morsi’s successor, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi signed the deal with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Halemariam Desalegn and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

Read more at BBC News »



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Pictures: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Meets With Ethiopian Community

The Mayor of San Jose, California, Sam Liccardo greets the Ethiopian community on Saturday, March 21st, 2015 in San Jose at an event hosted by the Ethiopian American Council. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Wearing a traditional Ethiopian scarf Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California thanked his supporters Saturday evening during a dinner celebration hosted by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC).

The program was sponsored by Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant, Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant, Selam Ethiopian Restaurant, Mudai Ethiopian Restaurant, Abby’s Ethiopian Delights and Lunch Box Ethiopian Restaurant.

It was the Mayor’s first meeting with the community since taking office in January. The event included a music performance and remarks by EAC officials and Liccardo. “It was a packed house; the event was well attended,” said Abebe Hailu from EAC.

Liccardo was the mayoral candidate endorsed by EAC. Winning a narrow election victory last November by a few thousand votes, Liccardo was in a hotly-contested race against County Supervisor Dave Cortese. Liccardo was one of the first candidates in the United States to release campaign literature translated into Amharic targeting the Ethiopian American community.


Mayor Sam Liccardo posed for a photo with Ethiopian American youth group. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)


The event was held at 2500 Masonic Center in San Jose on Saturday, March 21st, 2015. (Courtesy of EAC)

Related:
Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

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African History Scholar Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan Has Passed Away at Age 97

Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan was a scholar of ancient African History. (Photo: Melanindvds)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Ben-Jochannan, a renowned scholar of ancient African history, passed away on Thursday, March 19th in New York at the age of 97. Dr. Ben was a professor of history at Cornell University and at City College in New York City, and the author of nearly 50 books mostly covering the Nile Valley.

The American historian and prolific writer was born in Ethiopia. His mother was Puerto Rican and his father was an Ethiopian. Before immigrating to the United States in the 1940s Dr. Ben attended school in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba and Spain, and has obtained degrees in Engineering, Architectural Engineering and Cultural Anthropology.

“He lived almost a century to teach and he taught us right,” said Professor Ayele Bekerie, who was one of Dr. Ben’s students at Cornell University. “I learned how to focus on the original rather than the copy. He showed me how to pursue knowledge that empowers, knowledge that provides agency.”

Professor Bekerie added: “Dr. Ben shifted the paradigm back to Africa and declared once and for all that the origin of Ancient Egyptian history lies in the deep south, and that is in and of Africa, namely in Nubia and Ethiopia. He, together with John Henry Clarke and Cheikh Anta Diop shattered the long-held myth of the Egyptologists, who moved the Pyramids out of Africa and placed them in the so-called Middle East. The contemporary and global African-centered movement has its foundations in the teachings and writings of Dr. Ben. He was truly an intellectual giant. His intellectual legacy is going to remain with us forever.”

Professor Bekerie noted that “Dr. Ben was a fellow Ethiopian. His father was the Ethiopian Ambassador to Brazil in the time of Lij Iyasu and his Ethiopian relations come from the great historic city of Gondar.”

“As the Ethiopians say Igzabeher Nefsachewen Yemar.”


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Ethiopia Burns 1.6 Tonnes of Ivory – Video

Over six tonnes of ivory was burned in Addis Ababa on Friday in what the government said was an effort to deter elephant poaching. (AP photo)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Black smoke billowed into the air of the Ethiopian capital Friday as 6.1 tons of illegal elephant tusks, ivory trinkets, carvings and various forms of jewelry went up in flames on a wooden pyre. Government officials had started the blaze to discourage poaching and the ivory trade.

Ethiopia becomes the second African country this year to burn its ivory stockpile as global efforts increase for the conservation of elephants, a vulnerable species whose numbers are quickly dwindling as they are killed for their ivory tusks.

Dawud Mome, Director General of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Conservation Authority, said the ivory being burnt was confiscated from various people in the last 20 years. Most of the ivory was being smuggled through Ethiopia to a third country, he says.

Read more at ABC News »

Video: Ethiopia burns 1.6 tonnes of ivory (The Guardian)


Related:
Ethiopia destroys six-tonne stockpile of poached ivory (BBC News)

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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo To Greet Ethiopian Community – March 21st

(Photo courtesy of The Ethiopian American Council - EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, March 19th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Mayor of San Jose, California, Sam Liccardo, will greet the Ethiopian community this weekend at an event hosted by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC).

The gathering, which is open to the public, will be held at 2500 Masonic Center San Jose on Saturday, March 21st. It will be the Mayor’s first meeting with the community since taking office earlier this year.

Liccardo was the mayoral candidate endorsed by EAC. Winning a narrow election victory last November by a few thousand votes, Liccardo was in a hotly-contested race against County Supervisor Dave Cortese. Liccardo was the first candidate in the country to release campaign literature translated into Amharic targeting the Ethiopian American community.

Organizers note that Saturday’s program starts promptly at 5:30pm and includes dinner, traditional music performance and remarks by Mayor Liccardo and EAC officials.

The evening is sponsored by Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant, Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant, Selam Ethiopian Restaurant, Mudai Ethiopian Restaurant, Abby’s Ethiopian Delights and Lunch Box Ethiopian Restaurant.


If You Go:
Saturday, March 21st
5:30 – 8:30 (Official program)
8:30 – until (Entertainment)
2500 Masonic Center San Jose
Phone: 408-753-1314

Related:
Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

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BAMcafé Features Dinaw Mengestu in Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015

Dinaw Mengestu. (Illustration by Nathan Gelgud)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Acclaimed Ethiopian American writer Dinaw Mengestu returns to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) on April 1st as the featured speaker at the multi-arts institution’s book talk program Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015.

“Ethiopian-born writer Dinaw Mengestu is the author of the novels How to Read the Air, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, and All Our Names,” organizers note. “He has contributed writing to Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Harper’s, among other publications, and is the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 Award, The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 Award, and a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He lives in New York City and teaches at Brooklyn College and Georgetown University.”

“For more than 150 years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas — engaging both global and local communities. With world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.”

If You Go:
Wed, Apr 1, 2015
6:30pm
LOCATION:Peter Jay Sharp Building
BAMcafé
RUN TIME: 2hrs
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE: $51
SINGLE TICKET PRICE: $60
www.bam.org

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Meet Chef Chane, Ethiopia’s Version Of The Infamous ‘Soup Nazi’

Customers enjoy a meal at Chef Chane's in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He runs his restaurant like a fiefdom, dispensing food and insults majestically from the kitchen, which doubles as a serving station. (NPR)

NPR

By Gregory Warner

I didn’t travel all the way to Ethiopia just to meet a character out of the sitcom Seinfeld.

But when I heard Ethiopians describe a particular popular restaurant called Chane’s, I couldn’t help recognize a resemblance, in its owner and lead chef, to the famously brusque soup man.

Just like his New York doppelganger, the 71-year-old Chef Chane runs a restaurant with its own unwritten rules. Rule No. 1: Come on time. Lunch is served only from 12 to 1 and he always runs out of food. Rule No. 2: Don’t ask for a menu. You’ll eat whatever dish the chef decided to cook that day. Rule No. 3: When you step up to the counter and face the imperious chef in his tall white hat, don’t, whatever you do, hold up the line.

When I arrived at his restaurant — in the Kazanchis neighborhood of Addis Ababa — well before the noon open, I found the line already 40 long, snaking inside a crumbling courtyard across from a bunch of new high-rises. In the line, Nebiat Mebea is prepping his girlfriend, Kehalit Nikusei, for her first visit, like Seinfeld preps Elaine. He warns her that the 71-year-old Chef Chane might suddenly berate his assistant when the spongy sourdough, called injera, isn’t placed perfectly on the plate. Or he’ll tell talkative customers to “praise God and eat!” (In super-polite Ethiopian culture, this apparently equates to “shut up and get out of my kitchen.”)

“He’s mean in a good way!” says Nebiat, with a grin.

Read more at NPR.org »

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Ethiopia Denies Temesghen Desalegn Access to Medical Care in Jail

Temesghen Desalegn is jailed in connection with a 2012 defamation case. (CPJ)

CPJ

Nairobi — Authorities in Ethiopia have denied medical attention to Ethiopian journalist Temesghen Desalegn, who has been imprisoned since October, according to sources close to the journalist.

Temesghen Desalegn, owner of the now-defunct newsmagazine Feteh (Justice), is serving a three-year term in Ziway Prison, outside Addis Ababa, on charges of defamation, incitement, and false publication in connection with a series of opinion pieces he wrote in Feteh in 2012, according to news reports and a translation of the charge sheet that CPJ reviewed.

Sources close to Temesghen, including two who visit him in prison, told CPJ that Temesghen suffers from stomach and back pain for which he used to receive weekly medical support before he was jailed. The sources said that Temesghen has been denied medical access since he was imprisoned and that his back pain has worsened to the point that walking is difficult for him.

Read more »

Related:
Ethiopian Editor Convicted for Inciting Public With Articles (Bloomberg)

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Ethiopian Airlines Pilot Found Guilty of Hijacking His Plane

Passengers evacuated from Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET-702 on February 17th, 2014 in Geneva after it was hijacked by its co-pilot Hailemedhin Abera and diverted there with 202 people aboard. (Getty Images)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA – An Ethiopian Airlines pilot has been convicted in absentia of hijacking his own plane and flying it to Geneva, 13 months after he surrendered to police there and sought asylum.

The high court in Addis Ababa issued its ruling on Monday and said it would sentence Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn on Friday. If he ever returns to his home country he could face up to 20 years in jail.

Hailemedhin, second-in-command on the Feb. 17, 2014 flight to Rome, took control of the aircraft when the main pilot left the cockpit for a toilet break, Swiss police said.

He then sent a coded signal announcing he had hijacked his own plane.

With the jet on the tarmac, an unarmed Hailemedhin scrambled down an emergency rope and surrendered to police without harming the 193 passengers on board the Boeing aircraft, 139 of them Italians, 11 Americans and four French.

Swiss police have said Hailemedhin asked for asylum because he did not feel safe in Ethiopia.

Opposition politicians and rights campaigners often accuse the government of stifling dissent, a charge dismissed by the government.

Authorities say there have been growing numbers of people from north and east Africa travelling to Europe to flee poverty and conflicts — though Hailemedhin left behind a well-paid job on the flagship airline in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Ethiopian officials said at the time Addis Ababa may ask for his extradition.

There were no details on his current whereabouts.

Video: Co-Pilot Hijacks Ethiopian Airlines Plane


Related:
Ethiopia Pilot Was Distraught Over Death in Family (AP)
Hear Cockpit Audio From ET-702 Hijacking (CNN Video)
Evacuation of Ethiopian Airlines plane ‘went well’ (BBC News)
Rome-bound Ethiopian flight hijacked by co-pilot (AP)

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Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon

(Photo courtesy: The Migrant Community Center in Beirut)

Huffington Post

By Kumera Genet

The attack and subsequent suicide in 2012 of Alem Dechasa-Desisa, an Ethiopian migrant domestic worker in Lebanon, was a turning point in the consciousness of the Ethiopian and African Diaspora. The video of Ali Mafuz — Alem’s employer — beating her in front of the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut was one of the first widely shared visual examples of the exploitation that faces many African migrants in the Middle East. Due to a lack of resources and political organization, there have been few coordinated efforts by the African Diaspora to directly support migrant workers in the Middle East in three years since Alem’s death.

Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts in Lebanon and other countries — led by activists and the migrant worker themselves — to support the migrant worker community. I feel this is important context to better understand how individuals living outside of the Middle East can assist in improving the lives of migrants. The news that reaches the Diaspora is normally about the tragedies. This is an unsustainable way of engaging in the issue and in the interim between public abuses, there must be more real relationship building with potential allies.

To this end, I spoke recently with Farah Salka who is the general coordinator of the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon, which manages the Migrant Community Center in Beirut. The Migrant Community Center is one of the few open spaces for the migrant communities and domestic workers in Lebanon. There are more than 800,000 migrant workers in Lebanon and more than 250,000 serve as domestic workers.

They are currently fundraising to keep up, and hopefully expand, the services offered. This is the first in a two-part interview with Farah to share more about the Migrant Community Center, and Anti-Racism efforts in Lebanon:

Kumera: Hi Farah. Thank you for the time to speak. What is the Migrant Community Center and why is there a need for this in Beirut?

Farah: The Migrant Community Center (MCC) is a free and open space for migrant workers in Lebanon. For the past three years, MCC has been offering free and very low-cost classes, activities, services, and events to migrant workers in Lebanon. During this time, MCC has assisted hundreds of migrant workers individually, and has also helped strengthen their communities in Lebanon. In this time, MCC has become a local hub of migrant workers’ activities and a launching pad for their efforts.

MCC users are all migrant workers who live in Lebanon. They are men, women, and children, hailing from a multitude of African and Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria, Egypt, Liberia, and many more. Most of them are women employed as domestic workers in Lebanese households. There are at the very least 250,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, which is a country of 4 million people.

Migrant workers unfortunately make up one of the most vulnerable demographic groups in the country, mostly due to exploitative labor policies. They are excluded from the labor law and are instead governed by the oppressive sponsorship (Kafala) system, a system akin to modern-day slavery. For migrant workers, there is an absence of legal protection and basic rights like freedom of movement or the ability to change employer, etc. And there are widespread discriminatory practices in many public and private institutions. These factors created a climate where migrant workers have difficulty communicating and working together, seeking help, or just living a normal life with their rights and freedoms protected. This climate has contributed to the high rate of abuse of migrant workers, the alarmingly high death and suicide rates, and daily detention and deportation of workers who escape abusive employers.

Read the rest of the interview at Huffingtonpost.com »

Related:
Support the Migrant Community Center in Beirut (Indiegogo)

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Ethiopia: Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Country Development Aid Money

Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn at World Economic Forum. Back home his government has been accused by rights groups of wielding the hammer against opponents. (WEF/Flickr)

Mail & Guardian Africa

By WILLIAM DAVISON, BLOOMBERG

Ethiopia’s crackdown on journalists, opposition ahead of May polls leads to funds cut

THE UK ended support for a programme funding public services in Ethiopia partly because of the Horn of Africa nation’s crackdown on journalists and opposition politicians in the run-up to May elections, the Department for International Development said.

The Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening decided to “accelerate” DfID’s withdrawal from the multi-donor funded Promotion of Basic Services (PBS) in January after making an initial decision in May 2014 to focus more on supporting economic development, according to a statement made to the UK High Court on March 4 and e-mailed to Bloomberg by DfID’s press office two days later.

“This was as a result of ongoing concerns related to civil and political rights at the level of the overall partnership in Ethiopia,” DfID told the court. “And in particular recent trends on civil and political rights in relation to freedom of expression and electoral competition, and continued concerns about the accountability of the security services.”

Ethiopia will hold parliamentary elections on May 24. Rights groups including Amnesty International and donors such as the US have criticized Ethiopia’s government for criminalizing dissent using a 2009 anti-terrorism law. Ethiopian officials say cases against the media and political activists haven’t infringed on constitutionally protected civil rights.

Ethiopian State Minister of Communications Shimeles Kemal wasn’t available to comment when contacted on Tuesday.

Read more »

Related:
Ethiopia’s Growth Program Cuts Out Dissent (The Wall Street Journal)

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Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Virginia Launches Afro Diaspora Business Mixer

Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro is a family run restaurant based in Springfield, Virginia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, March 12th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In Ethiopia’s Gurage language Merkamo is an all-encompassing word meaning beautiful, says Alex Habte Cherein, the founder of Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Springfield, Virginia. “But when literally translated, it’s more than a physical beauty.” He adds: “It depicts a wholesome being radiating purity of heart and ‘joie de vivre’ to all who come in contact with that beauty.”

Next week, Merkamo is launching a monthly event called “Afro Diaspora Mixer” that will take place every third Friday from 5:30 – 8pm.

“The purpose of the Afro Diaspora Mixer is to bring together change agents and business people in the Afro Diaspora community in an informal but intimate environment,” Alex tells us. “The Afro Diaspora community has achieved admirable progress in the U.S. and the community has significant high caliber individuals who are doing amazing things. Unfortunately, these individuals are not as connected as they should be.”

“The idea,” he notes, “is to create a space where Afro Diaspora business people and professionals connect and share their story and hopefully collaborate in mutually beneficial projects.”

The mixer will be followed by an after-party “for those who want to stick around and dance the night away,” says Alex.

The first mixer is scheduled for Friday, March 20th featuring DJ Quajah, as well as happy hour drink and food specials.


If You Go:
Address: 7020 Commerce St, Springfield, VA 22150
Phone:(703) 639-0144
Hours: Open today · 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
merkamo.com

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How an Ethiopian Priest Changed His Views on Child Marriage

Priest Melak Birhan Ewenetu Yetemegne in Debre Markos, Ethiopia. (PRI)

PRI

BY Colin Cosier

The Orthodox Church dominates life in Ethiopia, and its priests are some of the country’s most respected figures. So when priests take child brides, often age 15 or younger, it’s not something that’s questioned by the community. Rather, it’s expected. Tradition dictates that a priest must marry a virgin.

Before, the priests used to think that marrying a girl over 15 years old, after her menstruation starts, is a bad thing, it lowers her quality,” says Melak Birhan Ewenetu Yetemegne, the second top priest in his region, a rural area in southern Amhara in the cool Ethiopian highlands. His district includes 56 churches and more than 2,000 priests. And his experience with child marriage is personal. When he was 22, he married a girl who was only 9.

“She didn’t really understand she was married,” the 45-year-old says. “She considered me as a brother or father and until she was 15, she never understood that we were married.”

He says though sexually tempted by his new wife, he waited until she was 16 before consummating the marriage. He tells the story of his friend, also a young priest at the time, who was de-robed after injuring his 11-year-old bride with a traumatic fistula. Melak Birhan says he was careful not to make the same mistake.

“He was misguided by the tradition, rather than by the Bible. That was a bad story, while my tolerance is a good story,” he says.

The priest and his wife are still together today. In the years since their wedding, Melak Birhan has blessed countless child marriages. But about a year ago, the priest’s position on child marriage was challenged. A group called Finote Hiwot: End Child Marriage ran a workshop for the top priests in the district. Over five days, the priests were asked to reinterpret the Bible.

Read more at PRI »

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Ethiopia’s Unique Lions Facing Extinction

A group of lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia have dark manes that cover their chest and belly. (Photo: Livescience.com)

News24

Holeta – Ethiopia’s black-maned lions once represented a former emperor, “Lion of Judah” Haile Selassie, and were immortalised in a song by reggae legend Bob Marley. Today, they struggle for survival.

A booming human population, widespread habitat destruction and growing livestock numbers mean the animal that once graced Ethiopia’s flag, and is still a potent symbol for Rastafarians through the song ‘Iron Lion Zion’ is on the wane.

They live on in only small pockets of the Horn of Africa nation, and conservationists warn that without action, all that will remain of the powerful creatures are the stone sculptures and statues dotted in the flourishing capital, Addis Ababa.

“There were lions everywhere in Ethiopia, but their habitat is shrinking,” said Zelealem Tefera, country head of the Born Free Foundation, a conservation group.

“Human settlements are expanding, prey is disappearing and there is nothing to eat for the lions,” he said.

In decline across Africa, lions have been put on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of threatened species, but Ethiopia’s rare lions, seen as unique though debate continues over their DNA are even more vulnerable.

Read more at News24: Ethiopia’s ‘Iron Lion Zion’ cats fading fast »

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Bitcoin Goes After African Diaspora Remittance Market Share

The multi-billion dollars African Diaspora remittance market is currently dominated by Western Union and MoneyGram, but the arrival of digital currency Bitcoin might mean a new era of lower sending fees. (BBC)

BBC News

By Tom Jackson

Over 30 million Africans live in the diaspora. They sent almost $40bn (£26.5bn) home in 2014, a figure that is likely to grow significantly in the coming years.

While north African countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Egypt receive the most, east African countries are particularly dependent on remittances.

The average per migrant is almost $1,200, representing 5% of GDP on a country-by-country average.

Yet the cost of sending this money is high.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) reports Africans in the diaspora pay an average of 12.3% to money transmitters to send $200 home, while the cost of sending money between African countries is also high. Each year, the ODI says total fees amount to $1.4bn.

Part of the reason for these high costs could be a lack of competition; Western Union and MoneyGram control 50% or more of the remittance market in most Sub-Saharan African countries. But help may be at hand from an unlikely source: digital currency Bitcoin.

Read more at BBC News »

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Abyssinian Fund Event at Madiba Harlem

(Photo courtesy of The Abyssinian Fund)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember our interview with the President of the Abyssinian Fund, Reverend Nicholas S. Richards, and his organization’s partnership with a farmer’s co-op in Ethiopia to produce premium coffee for export — a project that was born out of the historic first trip to Ethiopia in 2007 by members of the legendary Harlem-based Abyssinian Baptist Church during the celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium and the church’s bicentennial anniversary. The Abyssinian Fund is the only African American non-governmental agency operating in Ethiopia.

This week, the nonprofit organization is hosting a fundraiser at Madiba Harlem on Thursday, March 12th in order to support its ongoing programs in Ethiopia that includes “supplying training, equipment, educational, and economic support to coffee farmers who are producing the world’s best coffee.” The event will feature live music by Arki Sound, wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres from Madiba Harlem.

Organizers add: “There will also be a silent auction including exciting items such as Ethiopian artifacts and foods, gift certificates to local Harlem restaurants and businesses, signed photos of greats such as Muhammad Ali, Walt Frazier, and Willie Mays, an Eli Manning signed helmet, and fantasy experiences such as a trip to Napa Valley or a Rao’s dinner for 10 in your home. A grand prize raffle winner will receive a round trip ticket to Africa courtesy of Uptown Magazine and South African Airlines.”

The evening is sponsored by Uptown Magazine, Tadias Magazine and Madiba Harlem. Abyssinian Fund is a registered 501 C3 tax-exempt charity.


IF You Go:
The Abyssinian Fund Fundraiser
Thursday, March 12, 2015
From 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
46 W. 116th Street
New York
Tickets at theabyssinianfund.eventbrite.com
More info at www.abyfund.org

Video: Harlem Ethiopia Connection — Featuring President of the Abyssinian Fund

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Ethiopia’s Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

Thousands of Ethiopian opposition activists demonstrate in Addis Ababa on June 2, 2013. The demonstrations were organized by the newly formed Blue Party opposition group. (AFP/Getty Images)

NPR

By Gregory Warner

Feven Tashome is a study in blue. The 21-year-old’s toenails are painted a rich cobalt, her scarf is baby blue and her leather handbag is ultramarine. To ordinary passersby in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, it’s a fashion statement; to members of Ethiopia’s beleaguered political opposition, it’s a secret handshake.

Feven (Ethiopians go by their first names) is showing her allegiance to an opposition party with an odd name, and an even odder theme song.

The Blue Party is one of Ethiopia’s few remaining opposition parties. Ethiopia is technically a multiparty parliamentary democracy, like Britain, but it is effectively run like a one-party state, with 99.8 percent of parliamentary seats controlled by one ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF.

After the Blue Party was founded three years ago, it organized a peaceful anti-government protest in a country that hadn’t permitted public rallies for a decade. The parade of young Ethiopians demonstrating in jeans and blue T-shirts seemed a sign that the government was relaxing its grip. But with new elections this May, the Blue Party claims that subsequent rallies have been met violently by police. They say hundreds of their delegates have been fired from their jobs or beaten up by thugs.

Blue Party spokesman, 27-year-old Yonatan Tesfaye, says blue is a symbol of two powerful unifying images for Ethiopians: the Blue Nile, and the Red Sea (which is actually turquoise most of the year). Blue is also the color of Twitter and Facebook; social media are one of the last remaining outlets for relatively uncensored expression in the country.

But to the Ethiopian government, “blue” is a symbol of rebellion, like the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine or the failed “Green Movement” in Iran.

Read more at NPR »



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New York Screening of ‘Difret’ Features Q&A with Aberash Diriba, the Film’s Subject

Hirut (Tizita Hagare) plays the role of Aberash B. Diriba in "Difret." (Photo courtesy: Haile Addis Pictures)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – Aberash B. Diriba who is the subject of the award-winning Ethiopian film Difret will be present at the New York Screening of the movie on Thursday, March 12th at the Ford Foundation.

The Q&A and discussion segment of the screening also includes producer Mehret Mandefro, director and writer Zeresenay Mehari, Too Young to Wed founder and executive director Stephanie Sinclair, Feminist Majority Foundation executive director Katherine Spillar, and Ford Foundation program officer Louis Bickford.

“In Difret a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl is abducted by a group of men who intend to force her into marriage, one of the country’s oldest traditions,” the Ford Foundation highlights in its announcement. “In an attempt to escape, she shoots and kills her would-be husband and faces a death sentence in the ensuing trial. Based on real events, Difret captures the tensions of a country in transition as it moves toward equal rights, and portrays the courageous people leading the transformation.”

“If there is a villain in my film, it’s not a person, it’s the tradition,” the director, Zeresenay, told The Los Angeles Times, as the newspaper declared Difret “effective” and “compelling” in a review published this past December.

“This ability to encapsulate multiple viewpoints is critical for presenting the different strata of a country of multiple divides, not only between the traditions of rural life and the mores of the modern metropolis of Addis Ababa but also the differing attitudes toward women and justice that exist even among the country’s educated elite.”


If You Go:
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015
5:00 pm
Reception
6:00 pm
Discussion, Screening, and Film Q&A
FORD FOUNDATION
320 East 43rd Street, New York, NY
Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 11th Difret2015.eventbrite.com.

Related:
Review Effective ‘Difret’ Looks at Abhorrent Practice in Ethiopia – The Los Angeles Times

Video: Audience Reaction at 2014 New African Films Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland

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NYC Medhanialem Church “Kebre Baal”

The new church at 302 East 206 Street in the Norwood Section of Bronx, New York. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — It’s already been a year since members of the New York Medhanialem Church, one of the oldest Ethiopian churches in NYC, moved into a new building that they purchased in the Bronx. The milestone came after three decades of persistent efforts from a rental space inside the Riverside Church in Uptown Manhattan.

“We have planned to celebrate “Medhanialem Kebre Baal” on April 4, 2015 which also falls on the one year anniversary of our new church,” the Board of Trustees said in a letter announcing the upcoming event. “The joy of the anniversary celebration should be shared among friends and supporters like you and we cordially invite you to join us.”


If You Go:
302 East 206 St
Bronx, NY 10467
email: info@medhanialem.org
website: www.medhanialem.org

Related:
Historic New York Medhanialem Church Moves into New Bronx Home (Video and Photos)

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Spyware Vendor Again Helps Ethiopian Government Target US-Based Journalists

(Photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files)

The Washington Post

By Andrea Peterson

The Ethiopian government appears again to be using Internet spying tools to attempt to eavesdrop on journalists based in suburban Washington, said security researchers who call such high-tech intrusions a serious threat to human rights and press freedoms worldwide.

The journalists, who work for Ethiopian Satellite Television in Alexandria, Va., provide one of the few independent news sources to their homeland through regular television and radio feeds — to the irritation of the government there, which has accused journalists of “terrorism” and repeatedly jammed the signals of foreign broadcasters.

The struggle increasingly has stretched into cyberspace, where malicious software sold to governments for law enforcement purposes has been observed targeting the journalists, researchers said. The most recent documented case, from December, came several months after The Washington Post first detailed the government’s apparent deployment of the Internet spying tools, which though far cruder, offer some of the same snooping capabilities enjoyed by the National Security Agency and the intelligence services of other advanced nations.

Read more at The Washington Post »

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A Rare Los Angeles Solo Performance by Pianist & Composer Girma Yifrashewa

Ethiopian Pianist & Composer Girma Yifrashewa will perform live in Los Angeles on March 25th, 2015 at the Carriage House and in San Francisco on March 22nd, 2015 at the Lab. (Photo by Victor G. Jeffreys II)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 8th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — A rare Los Angeles solo performance by Ethiopia’s renowned pianist and composer, Girma Yifrashewa, is being presented by Radio Afrique, Dexter Story, and Azla Vegan on Wednesday, March 25th at the Carriage House in South Pasadena.

“This intimate performance hosted at The Carriage House will be Yifrashewa’s only Los Angeles appearance on this tour,” organizers announced.

Girma is also scheduled to play in San Francisco on March 22nd at the Lab.

“Born in 1967 in Addis Ababa, Girma Yifrashewa combines the ecstasy of Ethiopian harmony with the grandeur of virtuoso piano technique,” noted the press release. “Yifrashewa has trained at renowned institutions including the Yared School of Music in Ethiopia, Sofia State Conservatory in Bulgaria, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Hochschule fur Music und Theater in Germany. A highly accomplished performer of classical repertoire, Yifrashewa has chosen to remain in Ethiopia, helping to forge a classical tradition for his country.”

“Currently, Yifrashewa works to promote Ethiopian and classical music through cultural commissions and tours throughout Africa, Europe and beyond.”


If You Go:
An Evening of Ethiopian Classical Music with
GIRMA YIFRASHEWA
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25
7pm / 2 Sets / $20
The Carriage House
1215 Garfield Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030
Tickets available here
Light fare & coffee ceremony by Azla Vegan
Presented by Radio Afrique, Dexter Story & Azla Vegan
More info at https://www.facebook.com/events

Related:
Photos: Ethiopian Pianist Girma Yifrashewa’s Stellar Performance in Bethesda

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Ethiopia’s Growth Program Cuts Out Dissent — The Wall Street Journal

Girma Seifu Maru, the sole opposition-party representative in Ethiopia’s 547-member Parliament, in a cafeteria near his private office in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Petterik Wiggers for The Wall Street Journal)

The Wall Street Journal

By HEIDI VOGT

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—The sole voice of opposition in Ethiopia’s 547-member national legislature will soon fall silent—the latest in a long line of people who have given up the fight as the government actively mutes dissent while pursuing populist economic expansion.

Since 2010, Girma Seifu Maru has tried to raise his voice against political abuses while 546 fellow legislators consistently support the government.

But in February, the government electoral board replaced the leadership of Mr. Girma’s Unity for Democracy and Justice party with its own people, effectively making him a man without a party and further weakening an enfeebled opposition.

The board said the party violated its own internal bylaws for appointing leaders. Mr. Girma said the government wanted to break the party, as it has so many others, before campaigning for an election in May kicked off last month.

“The ruling party has already completed the election,” said Mr. Girma, who has decided he won’t run again for a seat in the legislature.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

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Obama Family Marks 50th Civil Rights March Anniversary in Selma

President Obama and his family joined the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, March 6, 2015. (Photo: TwitterWhite House)

VOA News

President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of two Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights marches Saturday with a call to Americans to work together to make the country better.

While acknowledging that the race for equal opportunity “is not yet won,” Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, told thousands gathered in Selma, Alabama, that he rejected the notion that nothing has changed.

The anniversary came as the U.S. has been struggling with renewed racial tension over police treatment of African-Americans. Much of the focus has been on Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August during a street confrontation.

In November, heated protests erupted in Ferguson and across the country after a grand jury cleared the officer charged in Brown’s death. Adding to the nationwide outcry were several other high-profile incidents, including the police chokehold death of a black man in New York.

But Obama said a Justice Department report this week concluding that Ferguson police had routinely violated black citizens’ rights did not erase the nation’s progress.

“What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic, it’s no longer sanctioned by law or by custom, and before the civil rights movement, it most surely was,” Obama said. He called on Americans of all races to try to ensure the U.S. criminal justice system “serves all and not just some.”

“Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on — the idea that police officers are members of the community they risk their lives to protect — and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, they just want the same thing young people here marched for 50 years ago: the protection of the law,” he said.

After speaking near the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Obama and a massive crowd walked across the bridge, where police and troopers attacked demonstrators on March 7, 1965, when they tried to march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights for all races.

Two weeks after that day, known as “Bloody Sunday,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a successful Selma-to-Montgomery march. The demonstrations helped spark the Voting Rights Act of 1965, prohibiting discrimination based on race.

On the flight from Washington, Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the marchers, whom he called “foot soldiers” who participated in the two marches.

Thousands of people gathered in Selma ahead of the president and first lady Michelle Obama. The president’s predecessor, George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura, also attended the event.

Also present: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a leader of the “Bloody Sunday” march who was severely beaten himself. Lewis expressed disappointment that Republican congressional leaders would be absent from the commemoration.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

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Meet the New Director of D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs Mamadou Samba

Mamadou Samba is the Director of the D.C. Mayor's Office on African Affairs, (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, March 6th, 2015

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Last week, we sat down for an interview with the new Director of the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office for African Affairs, Mamadou Samba, who was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January 2015. Prior to his current job Samba was Commissioner of the DC Commission on African Affairs, and worked as a Capital Budget Administration Analyst at the DC government Office of the Chief Financial Officer. He moved to the U.S. in the early 1990′s from Dakar, Senegal as a young adult (his father worked at the Senegalese embassy). After his dad’s term ended, Mamadou said, he chose to stay in order to finish his education, and went on to earn a Master of Public Administration degree from Kennesaw State University, and a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina Aiken, where he was awarded an NCAA athletic scholarship.

When we arrived at his office inside the Reeves Center at the corner of 14th and U Street, Samba had been working on a speech that he would deliver the following evening at the Ethiopian Community Center on the eve of the 119th Adwa anniversary. “I have a lot of respect for the Ethiopian community in D.C., for Ethiopian history and Ethiopians in general,” he told us. “You guys are the reason why we now have such a strong African community in Washington.”

The D.C. Mayor’s Office for African Affairs, which is the first of its kind in the United States, was created in 2006 following a series of community demands. Samba explained: “There was a need to have an office to help support the fast-growing African immigrant community and also serve as a liaison between the African population and the district’s government.” The task, he added, was to open “an office that was aware of the barriers — language and cultural barriers — and the challenges of dealing, for instance, with lack of information on jobs, health insurance, and immigration matters. So our office came as result of that,” he said. “We may speak different languages and have different taste in music, but employment is a challenge in all of our communities not only just in the Ethiopian community; immigration is a problem not just in the Ghanaian community. So the point is unless we come together as a community we will always remain separated. And we have to be inspired by the Latino community, by the Asian community and other immigrant communities.”


Mamadou Samba. (Tadias Magazine photo)

In the past, Samba emphasized, “People who have served as directors before me have done a really good job making sure that the office is stable over time.” He added: “So we will keep building on that to make sure that the African immigrant community is more aware than before and has more access than before to services that every resident of the district has access to. We do that by putting in place several types of programs. We have a grant that we use to fund non-profit organizations that serve in different sectors, it could be health, education and other key areas in line with the Mayor’s priorities.”

Aside from that Samba noted that his office also conducts activities that are particularly geared towards empowering young people. “These programs are designed to get African youth engaged, trying to provide them with work experience, leadership opportunities, and just really trying to give them a platform to be part of the discussion,” he said. “But the most important program is our capacity building program where we support small business entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations.” He noted “We do that through workshops an business trainings so they can learn where to find funding, what kind of funding is out there and available for them, how to research and write grants, really put them in touch with each other and to resources.”

“So what’s your goal as the new director?” we asked. “I am going for a more collaborative approach,” he said. “Because I find that as someone who has been here for a long time that our community is not as united as we want it to be.” He added: “There isn’t a lot of intercultural interaction. What I mean by that is Ethiopians are doing things on their own, Nigerians are doing things on their own, Ghanaian are doing something on their own, Senegalese are doing something on their own.” Samba continued: “But when you look at it each one of them is doing the exact same thing that the other one is doing. The only difference is that these are cultural or country focused efforts. So I think there has to be a way for us to work together on commons issues.”

“The Ethiopian community has to be able to go walk with the Ghanaian community because they are more experienced, they outnumber all other immigrants from the continent, so there is something there that we can learn from the Ethiopian community,” Samba said. “There is something that we can learn from the Ghanaian community.”

“The other thing I want to contribute to the office is in raising the visibility of the success within our community,” he said. “We have to tell our own stories. We have to highlight the positive things that your organization is doing, we have to talk about the positive things that other Africans are doing to balance the bad news that we hear daily about Africa.” Samba points out that his office has published a business directory listing African owned businesses in Washington, D.C. covering many sectors from hair braiders to restaurateurs, to proprietors of parking lot management companies, realtors, lawyers, and insurance agents.

“We know that the African Diaspora sends 50 billion dollars annually in remittances to Africa, and that’s projected to reach 250 billion in the next two decades,” Samba said. “What I want to make equally visible is the huge economic impact that African immigrants are making right here in Washington, D.C. in terms of job creation, tax revenue and cultural enrichment of the District.”

You can learn more about the D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs at oaa.dc.gov.

Related:
Good Question: Where Do African Immigrants Live in US? Interactive Map

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Ethiopia’s $5bn Project That Could Turn It Into Africa’s Water Powerhouse (CNN)

Each week, CNN's "Africa View" explores the trends, figures and initiatives shaping Africa, it showcases topics and influential sectors driving countries on the continent. (CNN)

CNN

It’s called the Grand Renaissance Dam — and the clue is in the name.

With some 8,500 laborers working around the clock on its construction, the imposingly-named dam is surely one of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure projects, reaffirming Ethiopia’s ambitions of becoming a big regional player and a major exporter of power.

When completed, the project will generate around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for both domestic use and exports.

The most striking aspect of the nearly $5 billion enterprise is, however, that it is entirely funded by Ethiopia, without any foreign investment. According to the authorities, 20% of the project is financed from bond offerings to Ethiopians, and the remaining 80% from tax collection.

“It was seen as a strategically important initiative that the government and the Ethiopian people are financing it 100%,” says Zemedeneh Negatu, managing partner at Ernst & Young Ethiopia.

“They have come up with a very creative and innovative way that I think will be a lesson for other African countries who want to embark on such large infrastructure projects, and want to have the flexibility to do it themselves,” he adds.

Read more at CNN.com »

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Oldest Human Fossil Unearthed in Ethiopia

Scientists have unearthed the jawbone of what they claim is one of the very first humans. (BBC News)

SMITHSONIAN.COM

MARCH 4, 2015

One January morning in 2013, while climbing an eroded hill in Ethiopia’s Afar region, Calachew Seeyoum came across a broken tooth. The graduate student knew at once that it was a fossil, and it was important. The thick enamel was a surefire sign that the premolar had come from one of our extinct hominid relatives. Squatting in the silty soil, Seeyoum found more teeth and half a lower jaw that confirmed his first impression.

Plenty of hominid remains have been unearthedS in the scorched land of Afar, including the first Australopithecus afarensis ever discovered, nicknamed Lucy. What made this particular outcrop at the Ledi-Geraru site special was its age. Layers of volcanic ash beneath the surface, dated by the reliable decay of natural radioactive crystals in the ash, put the mandible at between 2.75 and 2.80 million years old—neatly in between the last of Lucy’s apelike kin and the first-known example of our own genus, Homo

Read more »

Related:
‘First human’ discovered in Ethiopia (BBC News)

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Ethiopian Cinema Tackles Prostitution

Price of Love, in Amharic, has been nominated for Africa's top film award at the Fespaco festival. (BBC)

BBC News

By Emmanuel Igunza

Addis Ababa – Ethiopian scriptwriter and film director Hermon Hailay says she grew up close to prostitutes.

“I know them as young, beautiful women, mothers, sisters and friends,” she tells me at a popular cinema in the middle of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

“I always wanted to tell their story, because I know it well. As a kid, I did not see the shame in what they do.”

At just 28, Ms Hermon has already written and directed three feature films all tackling social issues like poverty and the perils of rural to urban migration.

She was getting ready to travel to Burkina Faso for the Fespaco awards, where her latest film, Price of Love, has been nominated for the top prize.

It follows the life of a young taxi driver who in the course of his job falls in love with a prostitute.


Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa.

Read more at BBC News »

Related:
New Animation Movie Features Bilal the Ethiopian: Islam’s First Muezzin
Crumbs: ‘Outlandish & Imaginative’ Sci-Fi Romance Film From Ethiopia

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Engaging the African Diaspora Community in the U.S. Ebola Response

Ambulance drives through the city of Monrovia, Liberia. (AP photo)

Press Release

U.S. Department of State

The State Department’s Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response Andrew Weber recently spoke, via conference call, with members of the U.S.- African diaspora community to discuss progress in the international Ebola response and the transition to the next phase of U.S. efforts. The call was a fourth in a series of conference calls hosted by the Bureau of Public Affairs with African diaspora members about the international response to the Ebola crisis.

Mr. Weber opened the call by highlighting important milestones that have been reached in our response to the epidemic. After approximately 10 months since the first U.S. personnel deployed to West Africa to fight Ebola, the vast majority of the U.S. troops assigned to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will return home by April 2015. Having completed their mission, only 100 will remain deployed in West Africa.

While U.S. troops are coming home, Mr. Weber emphasized that the United States is not leaving West Africa. In keeping with President Obama’s charge that we tackle Ebola as a national security priority, the United States will continue to be a leader in the international response we helped to build to fight the disease at its source. More than 10,000 U.S.-supported civilian responders will remain on the ground in West Africa to fight the disease.

The transition represents a shift from an emergency military response to a more conventional and sustainable civilian-led effort in concert with our African partners. Mr. Weber outlined the next phase in our Ebola response which will include sustained, targeted involvement as we work to achieve zero cases in West Africa, while building the capacity within the region to prevent, detect and respond to future outbreaks before they become epidemics.

Expressing their appreciation to the U.S. Government for its leadership in responding to the Ebola crisis and for its continued engagement of the community, diaspora representatives were eager to discuss how the community can continue to assist in this next phase of our Ebola response. Recognizing the current efforts of diaspora groups and the resources that they have devoted to help their communities of origin to end the crisis, Karen Richardson, a representative from the Bureau of Public Affairs who also joined the call, noted the critical role the diaspora has played since the outset of this crisis.

While we have succeeded in controlling the exponential growth of the disease, getting to zero cases will require a sustained and targeted international response. Mr. Weber underscored that the fight is far from over and that we remain committed to achieving an Ebola-free West Africa.

About the Author:
David Duckenfield serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Public Affairs.

For more information on the ongoing U.S. response to the virus, please visit the State Department’s Ebola Response webpage.

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International Women’s Day: Interview With Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

As we approach International Women’s Day, ILO News talks to Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who created one of the world’s fastest growing footwear brands. (Courtesy photo)

ILO news

ADDIS ABABA — “It was pretty basic. We self-financed. Five workers plus myself working inside a workshop situated on my grandmother’s plot of land inside our village of Zenabwork,” recalls Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, now CEO and managing director of soleRebels, one of the first global footwear brands to emerge from a developing country.

“Right from the start of 2004, we aimed to create, grow and control a world class footwear brand that would bring even more jobs and prosperity for the workers by leveraging the artisan skills of our community.”

Alemu, 34, was born and raised in Addis Ababa’s impoverished and marginalized Zenabwork area. Her mother and father, who worked as a cook and an electrician, respectively, had a huge influence on this woman who has recently become a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship.

Today, the eco-sensitive company she runs sells shoes through numerous retail outlets across Europe and Asia, and employs more than 100 workers locally who are paid over three to five times the local industry average.

“There are people who started with us earning a modest training salary of about ETB 900 (US$ 45) and now earn more than a (medical) doctor,” she told ILO News.

The company has 18 stores around the world, including in Silicon Valley (USA), Japan, Singapore, Austria, Greece, Spain and Switzerland, along with an aggressive e-commerce marketing strategy. It expects to open another 50 to 60 stores in next 18 to 36 months.

Creating jobs, empowering communities


The shoes are made of non-traditional materials, such as recycled tires, organic
cotton, jute and hemp.

Before starting her business, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu – also known as “BTA”– went to college at Unity University in Addis Ababa and worked with various companies in the leather and apparel sector. “This gave me a good knowledge of the industry, which was extremely useful in terms of setting up the company and making it grow,” she said.

But after working in the private sector for a while, she developed a strong desire to focus her business skills on her community.

“I knew that there were so many talented people out there who could do great things if only given a chance. However, due to extreme poverty, stigma, and marginalization,…many of them could not even get simple jobs. This was devastating for me, as I had grown up with them. They were my neighbours, my family members.”

“That’s why we have always said that this company is about maximizing local talent and local resources to create good paying jobs, that in turn would create extraordinary footwear,” she added.

Footwear platform

The shoes are made of non-traditional materials, such as recycled tires, organic cotton, jute and hemp. And they are handmade through a low-tech, zero-carbon production process.

Named one of the top 12 women entrepreneurs of the last century by CNN, Alemu knew that the initial designs of the shoes (inspired by the selate/barbasso sandals worn by Ethiopian soldiers against the colonial occupation) needed to take advantage of the creative platform of the footwear industry.

The shoes are made of non-traditional materials, such as recycled tires, organic cotton, jute and hemp. And they are handmade through a low-tech, zero-carbon production process.

Moreover, the company sustainability policy extends beyond its products to its workers and the entire production process. The company is now the world’s number one footwear brand to be fair-trade certified by the World Fair Trade Organization (a designation that certifies the sustainability of a company’s entire operation — not just its products).

Between 2007 and 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) supported the Ethiopian Women Exporters Association, of which BTA is part of the senior management team. The support consisted of several training sessions on issues such as business management (using the ILO Gender and Entrepreneurship Together/GET Ahead tool), exhibition and fair skills (using the “Improve Your Exhibiting Skills” tool) and the development of strategic plans for the Association.

Produce locally, sell globally

“I wanted to show that it is possible to be a local person, in Ethiopia and in Africa, and to be globally successful,” she said. “It is possible to deploy local resources while creating a market-leading global brand, and to do it all from scratch.”

The construction of a state-of-the-art eco-friendly production facility has already begun. Last week BTA welcomed HRH Princess Mary of Denmark at the building site, where she had the chance to witness the impact of the new facility on job creation and cultural preservation.

“This will be the most innovative and unique production facility of its kind in this country, and I believe anywhere,” said BTA, who now also sits on the board of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

The production facility will include a showroom for buyers with a focus on the eco-sensible artisan production methods of Ethiopia. This facility is expected to create thousands of new well-paid jobs while “preserving, promoting and keeping indigenous artisan crafts relevant in the production process,” said BTA.

She also believes that her success story can inspire a whole new generation of young entrepreneurs in Africa.

“If we want to have truly equitable societies, then we need to embrace equity on all levels. And that means women’s economic empowerment and the key to that is women entrepreneurs,” she concluded.


The ILO and International Women’s Day
The ILO will celebrate International Women’s Day with a panel discussion on: “Women and the Future of Work: Beijing+20 and Beyond ” at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva on Friday, 6 March. The theme “women and the future of work” recognizes the importance of the women at work and future of work initiatives launched by the ILO Director-General in 2013 as part of the run-up to the ILO’s centenary in 2019.

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Ethiopia, Long Mired In Poverty, Rides an Economic Boom – The New York Times

Construction at a station on a metro line through Addis Ababa, one of a series of infrastructure projects that Ethiopia, once mired in poverty, hopes will help it mimic Asia’s industrial rise. (Photo: Reuters)

The New York Times

By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH

MARCH 3, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The bulldozers, tractors and cranes are busy day and night, paving new roads, building tall glass buildings and constructing a new light rail system to stitch together the city’s ends.

In less than five years, the city’s skyline has changed drastically. Above the dust, in a seven-story building overlooking Meskel Square, sits Abiy Gebeyehu, a real estate development manager at the Sunshine Construction Company. He is going through files and figures, looking down at the spot where Ethiopia’s former communist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, once smashed to the ground three bottles of what was supposedly blood as a warning to his opponents.

“The government changed its policy,” Mr. Gebeyehu said, explaining how his company became part of Ethiopia’s economic growth. “They are engaging private business.”

Read more at The New York Times »

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Conference of Diaspora Ethiopian Women Focuses on Elections & Civil Society

At last year's International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora. (Photo: by Kebadu Belachew)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — How do you hold elections without the role of civil society? That’s the primary question, organizers say, that panelists will try to answer at the 4th Annual International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora when they gather this coming weekend in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The conference hosted by the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) will be held on March 7th at the Silver Spring Sheraton. The day-long program includes discussions focusing on the impact of Ethiopia’s Societies and Charities Law, which severely restricts the activities of nongovernmental organizations, including women’s associations.

“Because of this Law, these organizations are not likely to have any impact in the upcoming 2015 elections,” CREW said in a statement. “The conference will create an enabling environment for networking among participants to challenge the Society and Charities Law and advocate for the respect of basic human rights, women’s right and the rule of law in the country.”

Guest speakers include Dr. Tsehai Berhane-Selassie, Mr. Kassahun Yibeltal, Dr. Melakou Tegegn, Dr. Erku Yimer, Ms. Soliyana G. Michael, and Mr. Obang Metho.

In addition, CREW said, their event features the screening of Hayal Hayl, a documentary film by Elias Wondimu of Tsehai Publishers, which looks at non-violent movements that brought about fundamental social changes in the 20th century.


If You Go:
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Registration starts at 9:00 AM
Silver Spring Sheraton
8777 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland
centerforethiopianwomen.org

Related:
Photos: 3rd International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora

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Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia’s Image (VOA Video)

Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image. (VOA News)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

March 03, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Not long ago, media reports about Ethiopia focused on war, poverty, famine and drought. Now, the headlines focus more often on the East African nation’s fast-growing economy.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti said the Ethiopian government actively contributed to changing its negative reputation.

“It is a phenomenon that we have had once in the past; it’s something that we have put behind us effectively,” Mufti said. “Everybody works to make sure that that agony won’t recur, won’t come back again.”

And it’s not only the double-digit gross domestic product numbers of the past decade that attract positive headlines. Ethiopia’s role as peace negotiator for regional conflicts, such as in South Sudan, is boosting the country’s diplomatic reputation as well.

And the reputation of being a relatively stable country with an emerging economy and a growing middle class is reaping fruits, bringing back home Ethiopians from the diaspora.

Henock Assefa is one of them, running a consultancy firm called Precise Consult. He said foreign firms still need a bit of convincing to believe Ethiopia is also a place for business:

“Investors that have never been to Ethiopia, it takes a while to convince them, because their mindset is that this is a poor country where you go and help people live a better life,” he said. “They don’t see it as an opportunity so much.”

But not all lives are improving. The U.N. Development Program estimates that a third of Ethiopians still live in poverty. And rights groups frequently criticize the country’s human rights record.

Opposition parties, such as the Blue Party, accuse the government of violating basic democratic principles.

Blue Party spokesman Yonathan Tesfaye said Ethiopia’s new and improved image is an illusion fabricated by the authorities.

“The information comes from the statistics agency, and those guys are not to be trusted,” he said. “The growth that we are having, or the development or the boom or whatever it is, it’s all concentrated in Addis Ababa. If you go to the rural areas, they’re lagging behind. And that’s going to be very problematic in the future.”

Images of poverty have damaged Ethiopia’s reputation for decades. The famine of the early 1980s was made famous through BandAid, a collective of pop music stars raising money by singing “feed the world” while showing images of Ethiopia.



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Dutch Brewer’s Ethiopia Unit to Start Sales

Advertisements for beer brewers Heineken (far left) Brand, owned by Heineken, Bavaria, (center) and Grolsch (far right), are seen in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct. 1, 2007. (AP Photo)

Reuters

March 02, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian greenfield brewer Habesha, majority-owned by Dutch brewer Bavaria NV, said it plans to start selling beer in the second quarter of this year to tap rising domestic demand that has attracted global brands.

Bavaria NV is the latest beer maker lured by Ethiopia’s expanding middle class over the last five years and will compete with breweries owned by Heineken and Diageo.

The world’s leading brewers have turned their focus on emerging markets such as Africa as consumer demand in Europe has stagnated and the United States offers limited expansion opportunities.

“We expect to start selling beer in the second quarter of 2015. Say two or three months from now,” Thijs Kleijwegt, Habesha Breweries’ finance director, told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

Ethiopia’s average annual beer consumption of less than five liters per capita is about half the average for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, offering scope for expansion among the population of 94 million, more than 60 percent of whom are Christian.

Bavaria NV bought a stake in Habesha Breweries in 2012, and has since increased its holding to 60 percent.

Read more at VOA News »

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The World Bank Ethiopia Scandal: Leaked Transcripts of Interviews From Gambella

Inclusive Development International announced today that its releasing leaked transcripts of interviews conducted by the World Bank during its investigation mission in the Gambella region. (Photo: © HRW)

Press Release

World Bank whitewashes Ethiopia human rights scandal

(March 2, 2015) – The World Bank has whitewashed damning evidence of widespread human rights abuses in connection with its flagship program in Ethiopia, Inclusive Development International said today. The evidence, obtained during the course of an internal investigation, appears to have been shelved in order to exonerate the bank and one of it biggest clients of responsibility for mass forcible population transfers that occurred between 2010-2013. To set the record straight, Inclusive Development International today is releasing leaked transcripts of interviews conducted by the World Bank’s Inspection Panel during its investigation mission in the Gambella region of Ethiopia.

The transcribed audio files describe a campaign of intimidation and violence to force farmers to move from their fertile ancestral land to centralized villages, where land was unsuitable for agriculture. Those interviewed during private meetings with the Panel in Gambella described shooting, beating, sexual assault and arrests of local farmers who opposed the move and civil servants who refused to participate in the campaign. They also told the Inspection Panel that they believed World Bank funds were being used to pay for the forced relocations. Yet in its 80-page Investigation Report, the Inspection Panel devotes only one bland sentence to these harrowing testimonies.

The investigation followed a complaint submitted to the Inspection Panel in 2012 by Anuak Indigenous people from Ethiopia’s Gambella region, who are now refugees living in camps in Kenya and South Sudan. The complaint alleges that 2 billion USD in discretionary funding provided by the World Bank under the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) project directly and substantially contributed to the forced population transfers. Under PBS, World Bank and other donor funds are transferred directly into the Ethiopian Treasury accounts to be used at the discretion of regional and local governments to improve access to basic services. In 2010, the Gambella Regional Government decided that the way it would deliver these services was by relocating 70% of the “scattered” rural population into centralized villages. Up to 4 million people in Gambella and other regions of Ethiopia were designated for relocation between 2010-2013. A legal and policy analysis accompanying the complaint, prepared by Inclusive Development International, presents evidence that the World Bank’s failure to track its funds and apply its safeguard policies to the PBS project implicated the bank in the forced relocations in Gambella and the systematic human rights abuses that accompanied them.

Read more »

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New Animation Movie About Bilal the Ethiopian: Islam’s First Muezzin (Video)

Story of a boy who's abducted with his sister. In a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal raises his voice and makes a change. (Image credit: BilalMovie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 2nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The upcoming animated feature film Bilal is based on the true story of the highly trusted Ethiopian companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Bilal, a freed slave, who rose to power during the early years of Islam, was also known as Bilal al-Habashi and Bilal ibn Rabah. He is best remembered for serving as the religion’s first muezzin (caller to prayer).

In their book History Of Islam In Africa, authors Nehemia Levtzion and Randall L. Pouwels, note that the inspiring story of Bilal, who lived between 580 and 640 AD, is often referred by scholars as proof that Islam was originally established on the basis of universal respect for human life and dignity. Per Wiki: Bilal died on March 2, 640 AD at the age of 57.

As to the film, the website This Is Africa points out “As yet, no official release dates have been given but it’s expected to be screening towards the end of 2015.”

In the meantime here is the trailer:



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Zimna Brahani, the Mossad Operative Who Risked His Life for Ethiopian Jewry

Zimna Brahani, a Mossad agent and driving force to bring the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Brahani was born in Gondar in 1940 and died in Israel in February 2015. (Photo by Menachem Waldman)

Haaretz

By Ofer Aderet

Many honorifics were awarded to Mossad operative Zimna Brahani, who was buried on February 22 in Lod.Thousands of people from Israel’s Ethiopian community came to pay their last respects to the man they called “hero,” “saint,” and “angel..

Senior citizens, adults and robed kessim (priests) holding colorful umbrellas mingled with young people in jeans and trendy shirts, remembering the man who had embraced and extended a hand to them on their difficult and dangerous journey from Ethiopia and who for decades acted on the community’s behalf.

“Nearly the entire Ethiopian immigration passed through his hands. He was a classic example of the real Zionist,” said Micha Feldman, who was head of the Jewish Agency delegation to Ethiopia and the Israeli consul in Addis Ababa.

Among the mourners at the funeral were also a number of Israelis who did not come from Ethiopia but had been working there. Some were Mossad people who bid farewell to their colleague, who took to his grave many stories about the operations to rescue Ethiopian Jews.

Read more at Haaretz.com »


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White House Africa Director Grant Harris Speaks at Andrew Young Lecture Series

(Photo courtesy: The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Grant Harris, Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Staff of the White House, is the featured speaker at the first 2015 Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series that starts this week in Washington, D.C.

grant_harris

“The Andrew Young Lecture series features distinguished speakers whose work has impacted and advanced the agenda of issues affecting the continent of Africa and U.S.–Africa relations,” announced The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa who are organizing the event. “Named in honor of the former Chairman of The Africa Society Board [Ambassador Andrew Young] the Series was launched in 2002 and has since rotated through several African embassies.” The 2015 inaugural lecture and reception will be held at the Ethiopian Embassy on Tuesday, March 3rd.

Organizers add: “Since its inception, the series has drawn over 4,000 participants and attendees and served as a platform from which to raise awareness about African issues that require attention, media coverage, and action. Lecture topics have included ‘Good Governance and Development in Africa,’ ‘Africa is Hope: Struggle Against the HIV/AIDS Pandemic,’ and ‘The Niall Mellon Township Initiative in South Africa.’”

Prior to becoming Special Assistant to the President, guest speaker Grant Harris served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor to Susan E. Rice when she served as UN Ambassador. “Previously, Mr. Harris was an associate at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where he focused on international financing and business transactions. Prior to that, Mr. Harris served in the African Affairs Directorate at the National Security Council at the White House and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations during the Clinton Administration.”


If You Go:
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
To RSVP, email Sarah Kuruswo at SKURUSWO@AFRICASUMMIT.ORG
or call: 202-232-3862

Related:
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Ethiopia, Kenya & Nigeria

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Ethiopia: Adwa’s Eternity

The following is our annual exclusive article from Professor Ayele Bekerie of Mekelle University marking Ethiopia's victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896. (Photo: Adwa Mountains by Chester Higgins)

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

Updated: Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Adwa, Ethiopia (TADIAS) –119 years ago, on March 1, 1896, at the Battle of Adwa, the unexpected happened. Ethiopia, an African country, defeated Italy, a European country. The defeat was decisive and the victory was permanent. More than 100,000 Ethiopian troops, who were led by Emperor Menelik II, were mobilized from all corners of the country and marched to victory at the battle that lasted less than half-a-day. The victory was so decisive, according to Fitawrari Tekle Hawariat, the 20,000 Italian and their ‘native’ soldiers were rushing to surrender and to be declared prisoners of war.

On March 1, 1896, Ethiopians not only kept their sovereignty and independence, but they also taught a lesson to Italians, for that matter to European colonizers. The lesson was that their colonization agenda’s last chapter was written at Adwa. Adwa, therefore, marked the beginning of a new chapter of anti-colonialism and decolonization and end of colonial occupation in Africa and elsewhere. Ethiopia unburdened what the poet Kipling labeled ‘the white man’s burden,’ that is, the pseudo civilizing missions of the Europeans in Africa. Adwa has demonstrated that Africans can and should always be perceived and accepted as subjects of their own histories and civilizations.

The whole world has noted the able leadership of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu Bitul, their gallant generals (the Balambrasoch the Girazmachoch, the Dejazmachoch, the Fitawrariwoch), brave soldiers (Geberewoch, Negadewoch, Setoch, Yeigg Balemuyawoch, Yehaimanot abatoch) at the Battle of Adwa. Their remarkable achievements have been recorded in many languages in the leading news outlets of the time. The libraries of the world have beefed up their shelves by including books about the Battle. To this day, like the historian Raymond Jonas’s (2011) The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire, the Battle continues to generate new historical narratives. Persons and institutions in the Americas, Europe and Africa, according to Professor Kifle Selassie Beseat of UNESCO, named themselves Menelik, Taitu, Allula and Mekonnen in an attempt to stamp and permanently record for generations their memories of Adwa. In short, the unexpected and triumphal outcome of the Battle speaks to Adwa’s eternity.

When the people heeded the call of their leader, there were no mass media, no radio, and no television. Once Menelik’s Negarit (War Drum) drummed, the message spread and heard by the people throughout the country. Menelik’s Awaj was positively responded to and able-bodied men and women reported to duties in their respective districts, woreda, awaraja and provinces. The historic march to Adwa took more than two months. Along the way to Adwa, fellow Ethiopians, those who had to remain behind assumed logistical roles and offered provisions, such as food and pack animals, to the troops. The Battle took place at the site and time of Ethiopians’ choosing. The Italians were actually outnumbered and outmaneuvered and by mid-day the War was over and the Italians are rushing to surrender in thousands, as noted by Fitawarai Tekle Hawariat.

Adwa proves the common purpose and determination of the Ethiopians. It is an evidence for putting diverse human and natural resources into effective national use. It was an affirmation of what I call Ethiopian nation-ity with all its imperfections. With Adwa, Ethiopians created a new Ethiopia that belongs to diverse ethnic and religious groups. It is the fundamental basis of our national unity.

Adwa marks Ethiopia’s own state of modernization, despite all its limitations and internal contradictions. Ethiopians made it clear at Adwa that a people who are fully aware of their history are capable and willing to rise up and defend their God-given rights. Adwa will always remain a critical precursor to a just world. Adwa reminds the world that there cannot be a world order in which few are supreme and the majority are mere colonial subjects. It is also a catalyst to the present push to national economic development in the country.

According to the distinguished Ethiopian Studies’ curator and archivist Richard Pankhurst, Ethiopia had won or further affirmed international diplomatic recognition. In the months following the victory at Adwa, Emperor Menelik II signed treaties of friendship with major European powers of the time, such as Britain and France. In other words, the victory secured Ethiopia’s modern borders and its lasting effects extended far beyond Ethiopia to all the lands of colonization and subjugation. As George Berkeley, the pro-Italian historian, puts it, the victory was ‘a military factor worthy of our [the West] closest attention.’ Undoubtedly Ethiopia frustrated and brought it to a halt Europe’s deliberate intention to colonize the entire continent of Africa. Ethiopia became a symbol of dignity, respect and freedom for Africans, for that matter, for all colonized people all over the world.

The celebration of the victory at the Battle of Adwa is just and should take place both at home and abroad. This is because Adwa celebrates the little people, the ignored, the neglected, the negatively stereotyped, the other, the oppressed and the colonized. The victory speaks to the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the people in the world. Adwa rhymes with justice, agency and human equality and therefore, once a year in March, it is celebrated with enthusiasm.

History is characterized by nuances and complexities and it is resistant to hasty generalizations. The full account of historical details enable historians to generate narratives of the past, which is a guide to the present and a source of vision to the future. Some like to cherry-pick only some aspects of historical truths and put them into political spin. I would like to argue that the attempt, in some circles, to discredit the gallant leaders of Adwa would be short-lived. History is progressive and only a careful and studied analysis and interpretation of events and deeds help a society to move forward and to bring about peace, democracy and prosperity.

The victory achieved at Adwa set the stage to our social, economic, and cultural history. The freedom and independence that we enjoy today are informed by the outcome at the battlefield of Adwa. Adwa saved us from becoming an extension of colonial Italian history. Adwa made us remained ourselves. Adwa was possible because we were a people, a nation-state, that is, fully self-conscious.

To conclude, we celebrate Adwa because it was a battle won to affirm the universality of human dignity. Human beings, regardless of their geographical locations and income levels, have certain inalienable rights, which cannot be violated by force. We celebrate Adwa because it ushered to the world that the only peace acceptable is peace with justice. I would argue, in this regard, Adwa has made its contribution to what we call the modern world.

We celebrate Adwa, as it is stated repeatedly, for it is a prelude to decolonization in Africa and elsewhere. We celebrate Adwa for it has charted a new paradigm in international relations and diplomacy. International organizations, such as the United Nations, UNESCO, AU would not have been possible in the pre-Adwa global colonial order. Adwa is celebrated annually for it is an eternal symbol of dignity and freedom.



Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor at the Department of History and Heritage Management at Mekelle University.


Related:
Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa
The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Video: NED Presents Dr. Negasso Gidada

Dr. Negasso Gidada held a presentation on February 24th, 2015 at National Endowment for Democracy in DC entitled “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia.” (Getty)

NED

Dr. Negaso Gidada Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. His primary focus will be recommendations on how to build a democratic, multi-ethnic state in Ethiopia.

Presentations

Georgetown University, “The Role of Democracy Building in a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia,” February 11, 2015.

University of Maryland School of Public Policy, “CISSM Forum/Development Circle | ‘The Role of Democracy in Building a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia’,” February 19, 2015.

National Endowment for Democracy, “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia,” February 24, 2015.

Related:
NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

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Where Rimbaud Found Peace in Ethiopia

The Arthur Rimbaud Cultural Center, a merchant's home now dedicated to the poet and his time in Harar. (Photo credit Michael Tsegaye for The New York Times)

The New York Times

By RACHEL B. DOYLE

In December of 1880, the mercurial French poet Arthur Rimbaud entered the ancient walled city of Harar, Ethiopia, a journey that had involved crossing the Gulf of Aden in a wooden dhow and 20 days on horseback through the Somali Desert. Several years before, the author of the prose poems “A Season in Hell” and “Illuminations” had abruptly renounced poetry and embarked on peregrinations that would take him around Europe, Asia, the Middle East and, finally, Africa. At age 26, Rimbaud accepted “a job consisting in receiving shipments of bales of coffee” with a French trading firm in a thriving corner of what was then called Abyssinia.

Then as now, Harar was a market town threaded with steep cobblestone alleys that wind between high limestone and tuff walls. Today those walls are painted with geometric designs in green, white, pink and blue. As one strolls down the narrow, mazelike streets lined with single-story dwellings, the city, fortified and enigmatic, feels closed off. Donkeys carrying bundles of firewood wait patiently for their owners near the crenelated entrances of the city’s historic gates. In the densely populated Old City, there are over 180 mosques and shrines, some dating to the 10th century. Occasionally one comes upon open-air markets where spices, khat leaves and coffee beans are sold in huge sacks.

Read more at The New York Times »

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UK Withdraws Funds Amid Abuse Allegations in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region

An Anuak woman at work in Abobo, a village in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. It has been claimed that UK money has funded abuses against Anuak people in the area. (Photograph: Alamy)

The Guardian

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

Read more at The Guardian »


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Diaspora Stories: Ethiopian Entrepreneur Loops Back Home To Make Shoe History

(Photo courtesy of Passport ADV)

AFK Insider

By Jessica Harris

Fashion, trends and market value all play a role in the footwear industry — people invest in their feet. Be it Nike, Christian Louboutin, Gucci or Puma, what person doesn’t love a good pair of shoes?

Mikahyel Tesfaye, an Ethiopian shoe designer, was in the fashion industry for more than a decade before he decided to launch Passport Articles De Voyage in 2009 through an exclusive Adidas collection partnership. Spending the early part of his career learning the craft of manufacturing products and working for large New York City-based corporations like Eckō Unltd., Tesfaye was led him into wardrobe styling and eventually design.

Three years after launching Passport ADV in the U.S., Tesfaye decided to take on the ultimate challenge of manufacturing shoes in his homeland.

“But nothing I have learned in ‘the business’ could have prepared me for the experience of working in Africa,” Tesfaye told AFKInsider.

Delving Into Shoe Manufacturing

While Passport ADV is no shoe giant, the brand has made some big steps in the local economy. The brand offers fair wages for employees and business associates, on-site job training that allows factory workers to learn graphic design and mentoring for those interested in entrepreneurship.

Being a native of Ethiopia, it was a no-brainer as to where Tesafaye wanted to permanently root his company. He previously manufactured goods in Asia and Portugal in hopes to create a business model that would be both sustainable and impactful while showcasing the capabilities of Africa.

“My ability to travel and life experience was the ultimate inspiration for this brand,” Tesafaye said. “A [combination] of life experiences around the world were all made possible by my Passport, so the name just seemed perfect. Why not create the ultimate travel brand, built in one of the world’s greatest travel destinations?”

Made In Ethiopia

There are many challenges that most businesses have to overcome such as location, finding skilled workers and even building a facility when working out of Africa. But despite those challenges, many have find working out of Africa to be promising and rewarding.

Prior to Passport ADV’s Ethiopia launch in 2012, Tesfaye spent two years building infrastructure, supply chains and expanding groundwork in Addis Ababa.

“My sister began manufacturing handbags and leather goods in Addis, this created a point of entry for me,” he told AFKInsider.

Read more »

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Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia: New Book on the Remote Churches of an Ancient Land

(Photo credit: Maria-Jose & Bob Friedlander/IB Tauris)

Geographical

By Tom Hart

Ethiopia was among the world’s first Christian countries, but its many remote churches remain hidden – even from the locals.

Ethiopia’s remote churches range from rock-hewn buildings perched on mountains to timber-built caves. These almost forgotten churches contain rich murals and vibrant manuscripts.

‘The churches were looked at by American scholars many years ago, but they only measured them. There was no interest in the paintings,’ says Maria-José Friedlander.

Friedlander set out to document Ethiopia’s most remote churches with her husband, Bob Friedlander. The result Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia has already been published in Ethiopia, and is now available in Europe.


Inside Abraha Atsbeha church (Image: Maria-Jose & Bob Friedlander/IB Tauris)

Read more and see photos at Geographical.co.uk »

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African Fashion Week DC – March 19-21

(Images courtesy: African Fashion Week DC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Washington, DC (TADIAS) — Mark your calendar for the first-ever African Fashion Week DC (AFWDC), which kicks off next month with a reception and art exhibition at Kabin Lounge on March 19th, followed by a runway show at The Washington Post Conference Center on March 21st.

The two-day event promises to showcase emerging and established African designers from the Washington D.C. area and beyond. “The main event leads with an action packed schedule; accompanied by shows featuring African designers, retail vendors, entertainers, art, businesses, models, celebrity appearances and much more,” organizers said in a press release.

The featured brands include: Léonché International, Indigo Tides, Kemris Collection, Kranto Kolection, Levie, Lola, Ohemaa Couture, Pazel, Simply Cecily, SL Fashion Design, Tique Design, Unique By Reelia and Everything Rouge.

“The beauty and intricate detailing of African fabric, textile and design coupled with the latest African fashion trends are the growing source of fascination and demand for African fashion and art,” the press release added. AFWDC attendees are sure to be inspired by the high profile African designers currently working with Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear. Additionally, attendees will be introduced to emerging designers and find eco-friendly, luxury goods and fashion accessories.”

Video: Meet the designers and models featured at African Fashion Week DC (FOX 5 DC)
DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

If You Go:
FWDC Kickoff Industry Networking & Cocktail Happy Hour
Featuring an African Art Showcase by Chris Damola
Location: Kabin Lounge
337 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20036
Date: March 19, 2015
Time: 6:00pm to 11:00pm

AFWDC Runway Fashion Show and Vendors
Location: The Washington Post Conference Center
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC
Date: March 21, 2015
Time: 4:00pm to 10:00pm

AFWDC After-Party
Location: Stone Fish Lounge
1708 L Street NW, Washington, DC
Date: March 21, 2015
Time: 10:00pm to 3:00am

More info about African Fashion Week DC at www.afwdc.com

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Adwa Victory Celebrations in Chicago and Silver Spring, Maryland

(Posters courtesy: EHSNA and ECAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – As Black History Month wraps up in the United States, we highlight two annual events scheduled this weekend in Chicago, Illinois and Silver Spring, Maryland marking the 119th anniversary of Ethiopia’s victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896.

“The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago invites all people to celebrate this magnanimous victory and moment in Black History,” the organization announced, noting that this year’s event will take place at their office (1730 W. Greenleaf Ave.) on Saturday, February 28th.

“The purpose of this celebration is to preserve and promote ancient and modern Ethiopian history and to inspire youth of Ethiopian and African descent to be mindful of their glorious heritage,” ECAC added. “The event program includes historical accounts of Adwa by Ethiopian scholars, educators and historians Dr. Shumet Sishagne of Christopher Newport University and Dr. Haile M. Larebo of Morehouse College. The event will also include film clippings, poems and other entertainment.”

Silver Spring

In Silver Spring, Maryland the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) will hold their fourth annual Adwa celebration in downtown Silver Spring at the city’s Civic Building on Sunday March 1st, 2015.

“EHSNA will celebrate the Victory of Adwa in honor and recognition of the Ethiopian masses who, under the leadership of Emperor Minilik II fought and defeated the Italian invaders who had provoked this war and came with intent to colonize Ethiopia,” EHSNA said in a press release. “EHSNA strongly encourages all Ethiopians, Ethio-Americans and friends of Ethiopia to join us in celebrating the 119th Anniversary of the Victory of the Battle of Adwa.”

In an article published here last March historian Ayele Bekerie reflected on the global significance of the 1896 Ethiopian victory at Adwa:

In the context of world history, “the Battle of Adwa marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the nineteenth century and helped Ethiopia retain its independence during Europe’s Scramble for Africa,” writes Stanford University Historical Education Group. Ethiopia’s retention of its independence paved the way for global anti-colonial movements. Paul Henze describes it best when he states “the defeat at the Battle of Adwa as the beginning of the decline of Europe at the center of world politics.” Film Director and Producer Haile Gerima, framed the event as follows: “The victory ignited a lasting flame of hope, of freedom and of independence in the hearts of Africans throughout the world.” Bahru Zewde, a distinguished historian, understood Adwa’s global historical significance, for it “brought Ethiopia to the attention of the world.” The leading Afrocentrist, Molefi Kete Asante, further reiterates: “After the victory over Italy in 1896, Ethiopia acquired a special importance in the eyes of Africans as the only surviving African state. After Adwa, Ethiopia became emblematic of African valor and resistance, the bastion of prestige and hope to thousands of Africans who were experiencing the full shock of European conquest and were beginning to search for an answer to the myth of African inferiority.” In fact, in 1896, outside of Adwa, there was no good news from the continent of Africa. European colonizers were almost on the verge completing their colonial agenda everywhere. In 1896, France dismissed Queen Ranvalona and later annexed Madagascar to its vast colonial empire. British troops defeated Zanzibar in a 38-minute war — A battle that started at 9:02am and ended at 9:40am, the record shows. It is equally important to note the resistance against colonialism in 1896 as evidenced by the uprising of the Matebeles in what is now the nation of Zimbabwe…When Adwa is studied and understood in the context of world history, we find Adwa as one of the most significant beacons of hope for all oppressed and colonized people of the world. It is a victory that shattered the myth of European supremacy. It is a global historic moment that should be remembered and its bigger story should be shared by young and old in the world. Adwa, we call again, for its inclusion in the World Heritage List.

If You Go:
Chicago – Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm
The 1896 Battle of Adwa Victory Celebration
At the Ethiopian Community Association Center
Admission: Free
1730 W. Greenleaf Ave
Chicago, Illinois
Phone: 773.508.0303
www.ecachicago.org

Silver Spring — Sunday, March 1st, 2015
EHSNA Marks the 119th Victory Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa
At the Sliver Spring Civic Building
Admission and Parking: Free
One Veteran Place
Silver Spring, MD
Phone: 202.596.1964
www.ehsna.org

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Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Ethiopia, Kenya & Nigeria

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on Feb. 20th, 2015. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday February 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Before the end of his second term in 2016 President Barack Obama has the opportunity to become the first sitting U.S. president to address the African Union from its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “A visit to the AU headquarters by the U.S. president would be a significant endorsement of the role of the continental organization and would, indeed, be the best forum in which to hold the next U.S.-African Leaders Summit — building upon the success of the first summit held in Washington in 2014,” stated an article published last week by the Brookings Institution. The piece is entitled “Suggestions for Obama’s Last Trip to Africa as President.”

Historically, Ethiopia has served as the continent’s diplomatic home base ever since the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), was established in Addis Ababa in 1963. In addition to urging the American president to make history by addressing African leaders from the AU podium, the article authored by Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Senior Fellow on Africa at the Brookings Institution, recommended that the next U.S. presidential trip to Africa also pay homage to Kenya, the birth-country of Obama’s father, as well as Nigeria, the most populous African nation.

“As the President’s second “home,” Kenya must be included in the itinerary,” Kimenyi argued. “Previous U.S. presidents have shown great pride by visiting their ancestral homes. Notable are the visits by Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton to their ancestral homes in Ireland.” He added: “It will be an opportunity for the president to demonstrate pride in his African roots. A visit [to Kenya] as president will have great significance not only to him but also to Kenyans and indeed other Africans.”

Regarding Nigeria the writer noted that the country is simply too big to ignore: “It is now the largest economy on the continent and has the largest population there,” Kimenyi wrote. “Despite all its shortcomings, Nigeria has, in recent years, undertaken major reforms that are helping stimulate the economy and shift it away from an over-reliance on oil. By all accounts, Nigeria can be considered the continental anchor: Whatever happens in that country has large spillover effects across the continent.”

But both Nigeria and Ethiopia, Kimenyi pointed out, have poor governance records. In Nigeria’s case, the country is well known for its “high levels of corruption and serious ethnic and religious fractures.” He added: “Ethiopia is another large country also characterized by significant governance problems. The country’s past has been characterized by dictatorships, serious conflict and devastating famines. However, since the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was deposed, Ethiopia has made important progress, including adoption of a new federalist constitution and far-reaching economic reforms that have seen the country achieve one of the highest growth rates in the continent over the last decade. The economic reforms have attracted new foreign direct investments with the consequential emergence of new industrial clusters, especially in leather processing. Not all is perfect though: Like with governance, Ethiopia still lags far behind other countries in deregulating some key sectors of the economy especially telecommunications, land markets, banking, and finance.”

In terms of Obama’s possible follow-up meeting with African leaders in Addis Ababa, which is purely speculative at this point, Kimenyi said: “President Obama and the African leaders could use the summit to discuss strategies to advance the pace of regional integration especially as pertains to involvement of the U.S. private sector, such as in the building of regional infrastructure.”

Related:
Suggestions for Obama’s last trip to Africa as president

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Human Rights Watch Tells World Bank to Come Clean on Ethiopia Findings

The new village of Bildak in Gambella region that was quickly abandoned by the town's forcibly relocated residents because there was no water source for their cattle. (Photo: © 2011 Human Rights Watch)

HRW

Press Release

Washington, DC – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

The Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, found that the bank violated its own policies in Ethiopia. The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint brought by refugees from Ethiopia’s Gambella region concerning the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) projects funded by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank, and several other donors.

“The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals.”

The report, leaked to the media in January, determined that “there is an operational link” between the World Bank projects in Ethiopia and a government relocation program known as “villagization.” It concluded that the bank had violated its policy that is intended to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. It also found that the bank “did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent rollout of the villagisation programme.” These findings should prompt the World Bank and other donors to take all necessary measures to prevent and address links between its programs and abusive government initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

Read more at hrw.org »

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Ethiopian Duo Endeshaw Negesse & Berhane Dibaba Win 2015 Tokyo Marathon

Endeshaw Negesse and Birhane Dibaba won the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. (IAAF)

IAAF

Ethiopian runners Endeshaw Negesse and Berhane Dibaba took the honours at the 2015 Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, winning in 2:06:00 and 2:23:15 respectively on Sunday (22).

It was the first time that runners from the same nation had won both the men’s and women’s titles in the nine year history of the event.

Negesse broke away from Kenya’s defending champion Dickson Chumba just before 40km to become only the second Ethiopian man, after Hailu Mekonnen in 2011, to win Japan’s most prestigious road race.

It was third fastest time in Tokyo Marathon, but just fell short of the twin goals of beating the Japanese all-comers best of 2:05:18, which belongs to Tsegaye Kebede from the 2009 Fukuoka Marathon and who was also in this year’s Tokyo race, and the course record of 2:05:42, which was set by Chumba in 2014.

“It was a good race, although the condition was little bit tough because it was rainy and cold (with temperatures around 5 degrees Celsius),” reflected Negesse.

“The pacing was little slow. If it had been faster, then I could have run faster,” he added. “I knew that the field is formidable when I saw the start list. However, I did not dwell on it. I have done good training including good speed work. So I knew I could win the race.”

Read more at iaaf.org »

Related:
Genzebe Dibaba Sets World Record in Indoor 5000-Meters in Stockholm

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When Fascists Tried to Remake Ethiopia

Picture of Benito Mussolini and Fascist Blackshirt youth in 1935 in Rome. (The American Conservative)

The American Conservative

By JONATHAN COPPAGE

When Mussolini’s army invaded and ultimately occupied Ethiopia, the Italian fascists did more than expand Italy’s African empire; in their eyes, they obtained an opportunity to build a capital from scratch.

As Rixt Woudstra details at Failed Architecture,

The idea of Ethiopia as a tabula rasa — a blank slate — was omnipresent in the writings of architects and urban planners occupied with the designs of the colonial capital between 1936 and 1939, who considered the country devoid of any structures of architectural significance. Contrary to the fascination of Libyan whitewashed courtyard house – their simplicity, colours and volumes perfectly in tune with modern taste – the round houses of the Ethiopians were regarded by Italian architects as irrational and unhygienic.

Modernist architecture’s obsession with rationality and supreme planning looked askance at a city even as relatively new as Addis Ababa for not proceeding out of the geometries and ideals en vogue in Europe. Within months of the Ethiopian capital’s conquest, no less an architect than Le Corbusier, one of the icons and pioneers of modernism, composed a sketch to accompany a letter he sent to Mussolini instructing “how a city for the modern times is born,” and offering his services as a midwife.

Woudstra writes,

Le Corbusier’s sketch shows Addis Ababa literally as a tabula rasa: the rigorously superimposed plan cleared the land of all signs of humanity and centuries of urban culture. In his letter, Le Corbusier described his drawing perfectly by writing that he was attracted by ‘…models so severe, that one might think the colony was a space without time, and therefore, without history, and without any particular geographical meaning.’ Further in his letter he added: ‘…the city is direct dominion; the city becomes the city of government, in which the Palace of the Governor must stand overall…’

As Robare explained the other week, these grand rational plannings have not died with their blackshirted allies. China’s construction of cities out of whole cloth may sometimes be painted with green sustainability, but they neither have the human appeal nor the natural sustainability of an incrementally grown, walkable city.

Addis Ababa was spared a Corbusier-inspired revamp by a combination of bureaucratic foot-dragging and rapid British troop movements that eventually freed the capital from fascist control. The grand colonialism would proceed apace, however, back in the very Western countries that had previously so frustrated Corbusier and his followers.


Plan Voisin for Paris, 1922-1925. photo: Fondation Le Corbusier

Read more »

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AERC Named World’s Most Transparent Think Tank

Professor Lemma Senbet is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi. He is currently on leave from the University of Maryland, College Park. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Nairobi-based African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) led by Ethiopian-American Economist, Professor Lemma Senbet, has received the highest possible rating as the most transparent think tank in the world. According to a report released by Transparify AERC is one of 31 major centers of research worldwide, out of 169 examined, that was given a five-star rating. The list includes several American policy research establishments such as the Center for Global Development, Pew Research Center, Stimson Center, Woodrow Wilson Center and the World Resources Institute.

“We are delighted with this top transparency ranking,” Dr. Lemma, AERC’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “AERC endeavors to observe best global practices in everything it does, and it is encouraging that our outstanding efforts are receiving global acknowledgment.”

Dr Hans Gutbrod, Executive Director of Transparify, said in a press release that “Think tanks can play a positive role producing independent, in-depth policy research to inform politicians, media and the public.” Gutbrod noted: “As key players in democratic politics, they have a responsibility to be transparent about their operations. Encouragingly, our survey shows that think tanks themselves are increasingly sharing this view.”

“While we cherish the global think tank rankings, we also wish to recognize that AERC is not just a think tank,” said Professor Lemma who was appointed two years ago as head of AERC following an international search for the position. Prior to that he served as Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. “[AERC] is a think tank plus,” he said, “with multiple arms, including research, collaborative graduate training, and policy outreach with heavy emphasis in capacity building.”

Related:
Five Questions for Prof. Lemma Senbet
Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of AERC

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Zon 9 Bloggers Not Forgotten (BBC News)

(Photo via Twitter)

BBC News

In April 2014 BBC Trending covered the arrest of six bloggers and three journalists in Ethiopia. The bloggers are part of a group known as Zone 9, and are well known for campaigning around censorship and human rights issues in Ethiopia. Ten months on from their arrest, the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers continues to be used in the country as the trials continue.

That’s not typical – campaigning hashtags often tail off over time. This one is being kept alive by activists both inside and out of Ethiopia who are challenging the government’s decision. The total number of tweets is still only in the tens of thousands, but that is enough to be noticed on the global map (Twitter does not produce an official trending topics list for Ethiopia).

Why are they so focussed on social media? It certainly isn’t the best way to reach the Ethiopian people: the internet is estimated to reach just over 1% of the population there. But it does allow them to network with the global blogging fraternity and the international media. Recently a blog began in support of the nine prisoners, and to report on the hearings. A campaign video has also been released in which complaints are raised over the conditions of Kalinto prison and Kality prison, where the bloggers are being held.

Read more at BBC.com: Ethiopia’s imprisoned bloggers have not been forgotten »

Related:
As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

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How a Trip to Ethiopia Shattered Stereotypes, Spurred Documentary

Amen Gibreab, right, the director of a documentary about Ethiopia, sits next to Fanaye Debalke at Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant in Seattle. (Alex Stonehill/The Seattle Globalist)

The Seattle Times

By Sarah Stuteville

Many Americans think in broad, and often grim, generalizations about Ethiopia specifically and Africa overall. One local Ethiopian-American filmmaker and a small group of college students are hoping to challenge those stereotypes….

Traveling to Ethiopia changed me forever. In the two months I worked there in 2008, I met a proud country that had fought off Italian colonialists, a diverse nation that communicates in more than 80 languages and a complex people who challenged my assumptions and helped shape how I see the world today.

But that wasn’t what I was expecting. I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, decades that saw famine and political unrest in Ethiopia, as well as growth to our region’s significant Ethiopian-American population. For me, Ethiopia was a country that evoked images of starving children, refugees and war.

And I’m not alone. Many Americans think in broad, and often grim, generalizations about Ethiopia specifically and Africa overall. One local Ethiopian-American filmmaker and a small group of college students are hoping to challenge those stereotypes.

“Some students … all they knew of Africa was famine, terrorism, a lion and a tree,” says 25-year-old Amen Gibreab over strong cups of Ethiopian coffee at Gojo — an incense-saturated restaurant tucked into a strip mall in North Seattle.

Two years ago, a group of 15 UW Bothell students met with Gibreab and the founder of the program, professor Panagiotis “Panos” Hatziandreas, in this very spot to discuss the first Seattle-area study-abroad program to Ethiopia. It was a trip that would focus on re-imagining Ethiopia for a new generation, and Gibreab, a media and communication major and aspiring filmmaker, knew he had to document it.

Read more at The Seattle Times »

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Why Immigrant Rights Advocates Aren’t Worried About Texas Judge’s Ruling

(Photo credit: NAM)

New America Media

By Elena Shore

A federal judge this week blocked Obama’s executive actions from going into effect, a move immigration reform advocates are calling only a “temporary setback.”

Texas U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction on Monday, siding with Texas and 25 other states that signed on to a lawsuit against Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The White House announced on Tuesday that the Department of Justice is appealing the decision.

The judge’s ruling was released just two days before the expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was slated to go into effect.

It means that — until the ruling is blocked or overturned by a higher court — individuals will not be able to apply for the new programs announced by President Obama on Nov. 20, 2014. These include the expanded version of DACA, which was slated to start Wednesday, and the new program for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which was expected to start in May.

Together the programs could protect over 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with temporary work authorization.

Monday’s ruling does not affect so-called Dreamers, who can still apply for (and renew) DACA under the program that was announced in 2012.

The chess game

The federal lawsuit in Texas is the latest move in a broader political chess match now being played out between Republicans and Democrats over the president’s recent steps on immigration reform.

Since Obama’s announcement in November, Republicans have attempted to block his initiatives in Congress. But the legislation has not gotten passed the Senate (and even if it did, it would be vetoed by the president).

That left one pathway for the GOP to challenge Obama’s executive actions: through the courts…The case is expected to go next to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel known for its conservative bent. After that, the case would go to a full U.S. court of appeals and even potentially all the way to the Supreme Court.

“The wheels of justice are slow,” said Marshall Fitz [vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress], “but at the end of the track, we will have confirmed legality and the program will be implemented.”

Immigration advocates have several reasons to be confident.

Read the full article at newamericamedia.org »

Related:
US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

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Genzebe Dibaba Sets 5000m Indoor Record

Genzebe Dibaba setting a 5000m world indoor record at the 2015 XL-galan meeting in Stockholm. (IAAF)

IAAF

By A Lennart Julin

A year ago, Genzebe Dibaba demolished the 3000m world Indoor record at the XL-Galan in the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. When she returned this Thursday evening (19) she delivered the best kind of deja-vu experience for almost 10,000 spectators at the penultimate IAAF Indoor Permit meeting of the winter.

Despite having pace making help only for the first two kilometres in the 5000m, Dibaba was still capable of running the third world indoor record* of her career when she clocked a stunning 14:18.86 for 25 laps of an indoor track

She took more than five seconds off the previous mark of 14:24:37 set by her compatriot Meseret Defar on the same track in 2009.

Just like 12 months ago, Dibaba was quickly on world record schedule and gradually distanced herself from the intermediate times in Defar’s world record race.

At 1000m, Dibaba was 1.2 seconds ahead; at 2000m, 3.0; at 3000m, 5.2; at 4000m, 6.0. And even though she couldn’t quite match Defar’s final lap of 30.17 Dibaba still stopped the clock in a time that only two women – her sister and world record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba and Defar – have beaten outdoors.

Her unofficial kilometre splits (to 0.1) were: 2:53.3, 2:51.5, 2:52.4, 2:54.6 and 2:47.1.

More than a minute in arrears, Dibaba’s fellow Ethiopian Birtukan Fente was a distant second in 15:22.56.

The 10th world record performance in the arena was, of course, the main highlight of the evening but there were four more world-leading marks.

Read more at iaaf.org »

Related:
In Pictures: The Dibaba Sisters at the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco

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Amharic Hip-hop Finds its Voice in Ethiopia

Mainstream rappers embrace the country’s dominant language while trying not to upset the government.

Aljazeera

By James Jeffrey

February 19, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopian rapper DJ Same took out a smartphone and played a clip of a man proclaiming passionately in a traditional Amharic style called fukera, used during feudal militaristic times to rouse the populace to go to war.

Then he started to beatbox along to the oration before saying, “Sounds like rap, doesn’t it?”

Nowadays, Ethiopia’s rappers aren’t concerned with stirring people to take up arms, but they still want to have an impact as they explore modern forms of music.

It is a complex picture that is emerging. When Ethiopian rappers perform in English, the comparisons with American rap are clear to see and hear. But when voiced in Amharic, the language of the second-largest ethnic and linguistic group in the country and used as Ethiopia’s official language, Ethiopian rap moves out of America’s shadow toward establishing its own unmistakable voice.

Yet there is a limit to how far that voice can go. Like many forms of artistic expression in Ethiopia, most rap artists use self-censorship when it comes to rapping about domestic politics. Amharic rap can, as a result, seem fairly apolitical compared with some Western rap. But that does not mean Ethiopian rap is without passion or lacking a desire to bear a worthwhile message to audiences.

“The government thinks we have a bad message, but they don’t understand what we are trying to do,” said 22-year-old rapper Ella Man. “A lot of foreign rap is about ‘I have this, I got this,” but we want to present a constructive message. We represent Ethiopia.”

Read more at america.aljazeera.com »



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Lincoln Center & Pace University Present The Nile Project in New York

The Nile Project will perform in New York City at David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center on March 19th and at Pace University on March 20th, 2015. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – The Nile Project, which features a diverse group of talented musicians from several Nile Basin countries — including Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Egypt — will perform in New York City at the Lincoln Center (David Rubenstein Atrium) on March 19th. The Ethiopian artists include Meklit Hadero, Endris Hassen, Dawit Seyoum, Selamnesh Zemene, Jorga Mesfin, Mekuanent Melese and Asrat Ayalew. Organizers note that the event is the first of a two-part concert series to be followed by a performance at Pace University on March 20th.

“The forward-thinking musicians of the Nile Project present a unique performance with an emphasis on new improvisational music structures that mimic ecological relationships found in the Nile Basin,” the Lincoln Center announced. “Each member collaborates to blend aspects of their respective East African environments — whether desert, urban, highland, or tropical, but always distinctly Nile — with one another’s musical systems, thereby creating a series of musical scenarios that explore new sonic terrains.”

The Nile Project began in Oakland, California, in a bar. NPR highlights that Ethiopian American singer and songwriter Meklit Hadero and her Egyptian-American friend Mina Girgis were having a conversation about the relationship between the musical traditions of Ethiopia and Egypt, and the rest is history. “The Nile Project channels the unsung beauty of East African traditions,” adds the press release. “In the collective’s collaborative compositions, resonant harps and lyres from up and down the river have learned new musical modes, while buzzing timbres and ingenious polyrhythms support vocals in more than ten languages.”

“Designed to captivate local audiences but equally accessible to international listeners, the Nile Project uses music to inspire curiosity about and engagement with the cultural, social, and environmental challenges of the world’s longest river.”

Video: Aswan — New Album by the Nile Project


If You Go:
The Nile Project Live in NYC
Thursday, March 19 at 7:30
David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
New York City
Presented in collaboration with Pace University, A Lincoln Center commission
More info at atrium.lincolncenter.org

Related:
Amharic Hip-hop Finds its Voice in Ethiopia

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Ebola-Hit Nations Aim for No New Cases

A Liberian school teacher (L) takes the temperature of students arriving for morning lessons at school, as part of the Ebola prevention measures at the BW Harris High School in Monrovia, Feb. 16, 2015. (AP)

VOA News

The three West African countries hardest hit by Ebola have set a target of reducing new cases to zero within 60 days.

Guinea’s presidency said in a statement Monday that the presidents of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia made the pledge after closed-door talks in Conakry.

The Ebola virus has killed more than 9,000 people in those three countries. Its spread is slowing, but the World Health Organization warned of complacency after a recent uptick in cases.

In its latest update Monday, the WHO reported 183 new cases in the region — 87 in Sierra Leone, 76 in Liberia and 20 in Guinea.

In another development, thousands of Liberian children returned to school on Monday after a six-month school closure during the height of the Ebola epidemic.

Students washed their hands and had their temperatures taken before entering schools. Some schools still remain closed.

Rosemary Grey, a school principal in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, said it is important to reopen the schools even if there is still a danger from Ebola.

“If we wait for the day that Ebola will be eradicated before we can reopen schools, I don’t think that we are ever going to open schools, because even now I heard there is a new outbreak,” she said. “Nobody knows how far it’s going to go. And if schools are going to close perpetually, students are going to remain at home.”

The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person. Health officials have warned people to avoid all direct contact with Ebola patients, including those killed by the disease, who remain contagious.

Related:
A third of Sierra Leone’s Ebola budget unaccounted for, says report
Ebola death toll in West Africa reaches 9,253 — WHO
US Updates African Diaspora on Ebola Response
Ethiopians arrive in West Africa to fight Ebola
Ethiopia Holds Farewell Gala for Volunteer Doctors Headed to Ebola-Hit Countries
Africa Sets Up $28.5m Ebola Crisis Fund
Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: WHO
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

President Obama meeting with young immigrants at the White House this month. (Getty Images)

VOA News

February 17, 2015

A U.S. federal judge in Texas has issued a ruling that temporarily blocks President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration.

District Judge Andrew Hanen announced the ruling Monday in favor of 26 states, including Texas, that had filed a lawsuit seeking to permanently stop Obama’s order.

The president announced in November that he was protecting as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The states had argued that the president had exceeded his constitutional authority, and would impose undue financial burdens on them.

“Judge Hansen’s decision rightly stops the president’s overreach in its tracks,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.

The White House issued a statement early Tuesday saying Obama was well within his authority in deciding how to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

“Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws,” the statement said.

Appeal planned

It added that said the Justice Department plans to appeal Hansen’s ruling.

The president’s executive order included expansion of a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The program was to begin receiving applications on Wednesday.

The president’s order would also protect parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years and have committed no serious crimes.

Obama’s executive actions also angered congressional Republicans, who also claimed the president had overstepped his constitutional bounds.

House Republicans have passed a spending bill that authorizes funding for the Homeland Security Department through September, but would undo the president’s orders. The bill has failed to gain approval in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Democrats have successfully blocked the measure from advancing to a final vote.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the House of Representatives, issued a statement Tuesday that said the Department of Justice, legal and immigration experts, and history support Obama’s executive actions.

A group of 12 states and the District of Columbia filed a brief in support of the Obama administration, saying the president’s orders would economically benefit the states once those undocumented immigrants came out of the underground.

Related:
A Judge’s Assault on Immigration (The New York Times)

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Video: Fox News Visits LA’s Little Ethiopia

Fox reporter Jesse Watters explored Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles Feb. 13th, 2015. (Photo: Fox News)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 15th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters made some quick stops at LA’s famous international neighborhoods last week, including Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia and Little India. The short segment that aired on the O’Reilly Factor on Friday highlights the city’s diverse ethnic communities. The report notes “Four million people reside in America’s second-largest city, and forty percent of those residents are foreign born.”

Little-Ethiopia, which is located on Fairfax Avenue between Olympic and Pico, was officially so designated in 2002 by a unanimous Los Angeles City Council vote. And since then an annual street cultural festival marks the milestone ever year. The host of “Watters’ World” playful trip to Little Ethiopia included a taste of traditional food in the form of Gursha from the restaurant staff.

Watters asked an Ethiopian man: “Why did you come [to the US]?”. The person responded: “Ethiopia [turned] Communist, so I had to run away from home to save my life.” Watters pointed out that the Ethiopian population in LA grew fast in the 1990s. Today, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Ethiopians also make up one of the largest African-born immigrants in the Los Angeles area along with Nigerians and Egyptians.

Watch: Watters’ Hysterical Adventure into LA’s Ethnic Neighborhoods


Related:
Good Question: Where Do African Immigrants Live in US? Interactive Map

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As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

“Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.” (The Guardian Africa network)


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Aurora Delegates Head to Adama, Ethiopia

“A lot of this first trip is to formalize the relationship,” Karlyn Shorb, the executive director of Aurora Sister Cities, said as one of 20 people who left for Ethiopia Feb. 12 for a six-day tour of Adama, Ethiopia. (AS)

Aurora Sentinel

By RACHEL SAPIN

AURORA | The card game is called “Five Tricks.” There is no talking allowed and each team gets a different set of rules to play by. After a few minutes, some members switch to the other team, not even knowing the rules the other team has been told to follow.

Sound impossible? It’s supposed to be, said Karlyn Shorb, the executive director of Aurora Sister Cities.

Shorb was part of a group who took part in the card game as a communication-building exercise at Aurora city hall to prepare for a trip to Adama, Ethiopia — Aurora’s first partner sister city in nearly a decade.

“A lot of this first trip is to formalize the relationship,” Shorb said as one of 20 people who left for Ethiopia Feb. 12 for a six-day tour of Adama. “We’re doing a number of tours so we can get to know the city, their needs, and things we can help them with and work together on.”

Last August, delegates from Adama, which included the city’s mayor, visited Aurora and took part in Global Fest at the Aurora Municipal Center, a celebration of Aurora’s sizable and growing international community.

Read more »

Related:
Pictures: At Global Fest 2014 Aurora, Colorado Welcomes Adama (Nazret) as Sister City

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Crumbs: ‘Outlandish & Imaginative’ Sci-Fi Romance Film From Ethiopia

Advertised as Ethiopia’s first science fiction film, 'Crumbs' is a futuristic romantic drama set following a mysterious global disaster, "Big War, " that wipes out most of the planet's inhabitants. (Photo via Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 13th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Hollywood Reporter calls the new Ethiopian short film Crumbs an “outlandish and imaginative sci-fi” noting that the 68-minute movie makes “potent use of spectacularly extraterrestrial locations in the country’s sunbaked far north around the ghost town of Dallol, the film takes an exotic and sometimes surreal approach to what’s essentially a simple, touching love story.”

The movie, which premiered this month at the 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Netherlands, is being hailed as Ethiopia’s first post-apocalyptic sci-fi romance. Crumbs is directed by the Addis Ababa-based Spanish writer and director Miguel Llanso and features talented Ethiopian actors including Daniel Tadesse and Selam Tesfaye. The producers of the film are Llansó (Lanzadera Films), Daniel Taye Workou and Meseret Argaw (Birabiro Films).

“Set in an unspecified epoch after a “big war” whose consequences have severely depopulated the planet, Crumbs posits a micro-civilization where the mass-produced tat of the late 20th century is revered as valuable, even holy.”

Watch: Crumbs trailer


Related:
‘Crumbs’: Rotterdam Review (The Hollywood Reporter)
Ethiopia’s first post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie looks beautiful and bizarre (The verge)

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Djibouti, Ethiopia Accuse Eritrea of Sabotaging Stability

All three neighbors have been involved in armed conflict in the region. (Photo: Ethiopian peacekeepers/MG)

Bloomberg

By Paul Richardson

Ethiopia and Djibouti accused Eritrea of sabotaging regional stability, a charge denied by the Horn of Africa nation which has fought with both neighbors.

Eritrea’s government has a “continuous destabilization policy” and the international community should tighten sanctions, the leaders of Ethiopia and Djibouti said in a statement following a week of talks that ended on Feb. 9. They didn’t give further details on the accusations. The United Nations in 2009 imposed sanctions on Eritrea after allegations it supported insurgents in Somalia.

The UN Security Council in December 2009 voted to ban the travel and freeze the assets of selected Eritrean government and army leaders accused of being allied with al-Qaeda-linked militants attempting to topple the government in Somalia. The measure imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and authorized inspection of cargo going to or from the country on the Red Sea.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in a report submitted to the Security Council in October that it had found no evidence of Eritrean support for al-Shabaab.

Read more at Bloomberg News »

Related:
Siblings spat as Djibouti, Ethiopia accuse Eritrea of sabotaging Horn of Africa

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Letter to the Editor: Re: Feb. 9 Washington Post Editorial “Ethiopia’s Stifled Press”

(AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

The Washington Post

Letter to the Editor

By Tesfaye Wolde

The writer is a counselor for public diplomacy and communication for Ethiopia’s U.S. Embassy.

The Feb. 9 editorial “Ethiopia’s stifled press” portrayed Ethiopia as a politically repressive country bent on harassing dissenting media outlets. That is far from the truth. For 24 years, the government has been focused on both building a democratic society based on the rule of law and ensuring economic development. Ethiopia’s new and flourishing constitutional order is the expression of the will of its people, and the government has the duty to protect this constitutional order from any subversion.

It is not appropriate to refer to individual cases, but the implication that journalists should be above the law is unacceptable. To suggest that journalists have been targeted under the guise of “terrorism” ignores the fact that Ethiopia is faced with significant and dangerous terrorist threats, including the activities of organizations linked to al-Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen and terrorist operations in Eritrea. Ethi­o­pia takes seriously its responsibility of bringing perpetrators of grave offenses to justice, irrespective of their profession.

Read more »

Related:
Ethiopia’s Stifled Press (The Washington Post Editorial)
2014 Census: Ethiopia Again Ranks Among the Worst Jailers of Journalists in the World

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NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

Dr. Negasso Gidada (R) chats with German First Lady Daniela Schadt during a meeting at the German Embassy in Addis Ababa on March 18, 2013. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Since October 2014 the noted statesman, scholar and former president of Ethiopia, Dr. Negasso Gidada Solan, has been in residence as Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Negasso is now wrapping up his fellowship and will be holding a public presentation on February 24th entitled “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia.” The presentation will include comments by Professor John Harbeson of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and be moderated by Dave Peterson of the National Endowment for Democracy.

“Ever since the formation of the modern state of Ethiopia, the country’s diversity, represented by its roughly eighty ethnic groups, has defied common formulas for unity and democratic development,” states the announcement. “Regimes have come and gone, but the central question — whether to forge a nation-state, a multinational federation, or something else—has dominated Ethiopia’s political agenda for decades.” The press release adds: “Looking ahead to the upcoming 2015 elections and the country’s longer-term stability and development, Dr. Negasso Solan will focus on the need for a constitution that mirrors Ethiopia’s ethnic diversity and that lends itself to developing a truly democratic multinational state. As former president of Ethiopia, he will reflect on his experiences drafting the country’s 1995 constitution and offer recommendations for public confidence-building around future amendments.”

Per NED: “Dr. Negasso Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. Dr. John Harbeson is professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and professor of political science emeritus at the City University of New York.”


Dr. Negasso Gidada. (Getty Images)


If You Go:
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Telephone: 202-378-9675
RSVP (acceptances only) with name and affiliation by Friday, February 20
at http://constitutionforamultinationaldemocraticstatenation.eventbrite.com.
Livestream of the event will be available here.

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Friends of Selamneh Techane Raising Money to Send Body Back to Ethiopia

Selamneh Techane, of Ethiopia, disappeared about five years ago, according to his friend, Jennifer Zilliac. Selamneh's body was found last Sunday in an apartment in Fredericton, Canada. (Photo: Facebook)

Global News

By Richard Dooley and Emily Baron Cadloff

FREDERICTON – A body discovered in the attic of a Fredericton apartment building by firefighters Sunday night may have been in the crawlspace for nearly five years.

Friends of the dead man have identified him as Selamneh Techane, a former Ethiopian taxi driver who sometimes worked with families adopting Ethiopian orphans.

He came to New Brunswick in 2008 and his friends say he lived in the province for two years.

“He was the kindest, hardest working man, for sure. He was a sweet man, and we’re obviously sad to hear that news,” said Louise Reid.

Read more »

Related:
Canada: Body Found in Fredericton Fire IDed as Ethiopian Man (CBC News)

By Shaun Waters

The body discovered in a suspicious house fire in Fredericton over the weekend has been identified as a man from Ethiopia, who seemed to disappear about five years ago, according to a friend.

Jennifer Zilliac, of Oakland, Calif., says she was shocked and heartbroken to learn the body found in the attic of a house on Aberdeen Street on Sunday evening was that of Selamneh Techane.

Zilliac says she received a call from the New Brunswick coroner’s office on Monday after identification was discovered on the body. Officials are still using DNA and medical records to confirm the identity, she said.

Fredericton Police Cpl. Sean Clark has said the body was unrelated to the fire and that foul play was not suspected in the person’s death.

Zilliac had put up a Facebook site dedicated to finding Techane after he seemed to disappear five years ago. She says he was instrumental in helping her adopt a daughter from Ethiopia in 2005.

‘He was loved by so many’

“He was a taxi driver in [Ethiopia's capital city] Addis Ababa and he was connected with people who were adopting children from Ethiopia and connected to everybody,” she told CBC News in a telephone interview from her home in Oakland.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to a foreign country and not spoken the language and not known the culture and needed to rely on somebody to help you with that. Selamneh was that person for me and for a lot of people.”

Zilliac says Techane would translate for people and help them find family members in Ethiopia. She spent two months with him as he took her from home to home and to the embassy, helping pave the way for the adoption of her daughter.

Read more at CBC News »

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Ethiopia’s Stifled Press — Washington Post

Ethiopians read a newspapers in Mercato, Addis Ababa (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

The Washington Post

By Editorial Board

WHILE ENJOYING its status as an international development darling, Ethiopia has been chipping away at its citizens’ freedom of expression. The country now holds the shameful distinction of having the second-most journalists in exile in the world, after Iran. That combination of Western subsidies and political persecution should not be sustainable.

According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, at least 60 journalists have fled the country since 2010, including 30 last year, and at least 19 have been imprisoned. Twenty-two faced criminal charges in 2014. The government closed five newspapers and a magazine within the past year, leaving Ethiopia with no independent private media outlets. With the country headed toward elections in May, the pressure on the media has undermined the prospect of a free and fair vote.

Ethiopia has long been known for its censorship and repression of the media, but the situation has deteriorated in recent years. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the country has since 2009 “banned or suspended at least one critical independent publication per year.” After the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi in 2012, successor Hailemariam Desalegn has tightened the regime’s stranglehold on the press. Even Ethiopia’s rival Eritrea looks better: It released several imprisoned journalists last month.

Read more at The Washington Post »

Related:
2014 Census: Ethiopia Again Ranks Among the Worst Jailers of Journalists in the World

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Good Question: Where Do African Immigrants Live in US? Interactive Map

Map based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. (Image: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, February 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – According to the U.S. Census Bureau New York, California and Texas are the top three states that are home to the majority of residents from the African continent. A five-year estimate of the American Community Survey released last year indicates that there are currently 1.6 million foreign-born Africans residing in the United States. And people from the three most populous countries in Africa — Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia — also make up the three biggest African-born populations in America: Nigeria (14%), Ethiopia (10.4%), and Egypt (9%). Some of the major metropolitan areas with sizable African communities include New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia, Providence, Wilmington, Minneapolis-St Paul, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont.

The numbers further show that foreign-born Africans in the United States tend to be more educated in comparison with other recent immigrant groups. In New York, for example, where the largest number of African immigrants live, The New York Times points out that “30 percent of African-born blacks in [NYC] had a college degree, compared with 22 percent of native-born blacks, 18 percent of Caribbean-born blacks and 19 percent of the nonblack foreign born.” On a national level, according to the same census, 41% of the African-born population in the United States obtained bachelor’s degrees or higher between 2008 and 2012 compared with 28% of the overall foreign-born U.S. population.

The following is an interactive map that illustrates the geographic distribution of the African Diaspora across the U.S. along with the top ten leading countries of birth for each highlighted region based on data gleaned from the American Community Survey.

Hover over the colored flags and click to see more details for the specific location:



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Ethiopia Bets on Grand Projects – Reuters

A labourer walks along a Metro-line construction in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa February 7, 2015. (CREDIT: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI)

Reuters

BY EDMUND BLAIR AND AARON MAASHO

Sunday, Feb 8th, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Chinese workers mingle with Ethiopians putting the finishing touches to a metro line that cuts through Addis Ababa, one of a series of grand state infrastructure projects that Ethiopia hopes will help it mimic Asia’s industrial rise.

Brought to its knees by “Red Terror” communist purges in the 1970s and famine in the 1980s, Ethiopia has been transformed in the last quarter century, becoming one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

At the heart of the state’s “Growth and Transformation Plan” are railway, road and dam projects to give the landlocked nation cheap power and reliable transport, as well as the metro line – the first urban light railway network in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“This is the future,” said Abate Yaye, 27, from the poor south as he helped complete the $475 million system being built by China Railway Engineering Corp, much of it on concrete stilts to keep it above the crowded streets of an expanding capital.

“We will become an example for the whole of Africa.”

Hefty state-led investment has kept the economy of Africa’s second most populous nation growing at more than 8 percent a year for over a decade, but economists say Ethiopia’s rulers need to relax their grip and give room for more private enterprise to maintain momentum.

Read more at Reuters.com »

Related:
Ethiopia’s Inflation Rises 7.7 Percent in January (Reuters)

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Worku Abiy: Ethiopian Israeli Orphan Fulfills Dream of Becoming IDF Officer

Worku Abiy, 23, from Ethiopia in his Israel Defense Forces uniform. (Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)

Ynetnews

By Omri Efraim

Among hundreds of excited cadets at an officer training course graduation ceremony on Wednesday stood one soldier who felt that his presence there was a victory against all odds. Worku Abiy, 23, a lone soldier and orphan from Ethiopia who arrived in Israel at the age of 15, never imagined he would one day wear an IDF uniform.

“If someone would have told me a decade ago, when I was a lonely orphan in Ethiopia, that I would stand here one day with this uniform and these ranks, I would not believe it,” says Abiy

Abiy underwent a long journey to get to where he is today. When he was 3 years-old, his mother died and he lived with his father until the age of 14 – when his father passed away too. Without any parents, Abiy wandered between the houses of various distant family members until 2007. At the time, Abiy was living with his cousin and his family who decided that they were moving to Israel and took Abiy with them.

When they arrived in Israel, Abiy and his relatives were transferred to an absorption center in Afula in northern Israel. Two years later, when Abiy’s relatives left the absorption center, Abiy began to study at the Yemin Orde boarding school near Zikhron Ya’akov.

Read more at Ynetnews »

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National Geographic: Ethiopian Shade Coffee Is World’s Most Bird Friendly

Ethiopian coffee farmer Awol Abagojam and his son Isaac harvest their product near the village of Choche, much the same way their ancestors did a thousand years ago. (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMI VITALE, PANOS)

National Geographic

By Brian Clark Howard

Shady coffee plantations in Ethiopia, where coffee has been grown for at least a thousand years, hold relatively more forest bird species than any other coffee farms in the world, new research shows.

The research suggests that traditional cultivation practices there support local forest bird biodiversity better than any other coffee farms in the world.

In Ethiopia, coffee is traditionally grown on plantations shaded by native trees. These farms boasted more than 2.5 times as many bird species as adjacent mountain forest, according to a study slated for publication February 11 in the journal Biological Conservation.

“That was a surprise,” says study co-author Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a biologist at the University of Utah and a National Geographic Society grant recipient. Further, “all 19 understory bird species we sampled in the forest were present in the coffee farms too, and that just doesn’t happen elsewhere.”

Other studies have shown that shade coffee farms provide better bird habitat than full-sun plantations, but the effect may be more prominent in Ethiopia because farmers there tend to use native trees instead of the exotic species popular elsewhere.

Read more at National Geographic »

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Sudden Flowers by Maaza Mengiste

Radait wants to dance. (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – In an article published by The New Yorker magazine this week Ethiopian American writer Maaza Mengiste, author of the novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, highlights the Sudden Flowers project in Ethiopia as documented by American photographer Eric Gottesman. “In 1999, Eric Gottesman travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to photograph the experiences of children orphaned by AIDS. Sudden Flowers is the collective that he formed with an original group of six children,” Maaza notes. “All of them were between the ages of eight and eighteen, and all of them had lost both parents to AIDS. None had been allowed to attend their parents’ funerals.”

“Each of them had horrible stories to tell, fantastically disturbing, like tragic fairy tales or Biblical fables,” Gottesman recalled.

Maaza adds: “Over the next fifteen years, the collective grew to include more than thirty members. They shot close to three thousand photos, and along the way Gottesman found that the work transformed when the children were given more responsibility. Soon the group developed into a true collaboration, and eventually no one could remember his role in the production and editing process.”


“I tell my family I am HIV+. They forget me and ate at the table.” (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

Read the full article and view the slide show of images from the project at The New Yorker »

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Ethiopia Launches Mobile Money

The Ethiopian government has approved mobile money for banks. (Photo: Africa Telecom & IT)

Reuters

By Edmund Blair

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian banks and microfinance firms are launching mobile money services, helping reach swathes of the population that now have little access to branches or services, the mobile technology providers and banks said.

The launch of the services, which allow customers to make payments or receive money via a mobile that is linked to a bank account, mirrors technology used in other African nations that has drawn millions of people into the financial system.

Netherlands-based BelCash is offering a technology called helloCash, while MOSS ICT, mainly owned by an Ireland-based firm, is rolling out M-Birr in the nation of 96 million people.

In both cases, Ethiopian banks and institutions will offer the service to customers and hold the cash deposited, in line with government policy that bars foreign firms or banks from investing in the financial sector or the telecoms industry.

“One of the things that the government wants to do is ensure there is financial inclusion,” said MOSS ICT deputy general manager Kidist Negeye, adding M-Birr would help reach rural areas. “Another aspect is the mobilization of domestic savings. The government wants to increase the number of deposits.”

Read more at Reuters.com »

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The People’s Choice: Rough Guides Selects Ethiopia Among Top 10 Best Places 2015

A view of the ancient city buildings in Gondar. (Photo by ctsnow-flickr/Wikimedia Commons)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — One of the leading publishers of travel guidebook and reference information, Rough Guides, recently held an online vote allowing its readers to select their top international destination choices for 2015. According to the results Ethiopia ranks number seven on the People’s Choice list that also includes United Kingdom, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Chile, Turkey, USA and Ireland.

“From the dramatic Great Rift Valley to the lush highlands, the diversity of Ethiopia’s landscapes might surprise you,” Rough Guides wrote in its announcement. “This is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, and visitors find themselves entranced by the stunning lakes, sprawling national parks and delicious national cuisine.” The publication adds: “We recommended Ethiopia in 2014, and this year you’ve done the same.”

Rough Guides said it is releasing a new e-book on Ethiopia this Spring.

See the full list at roughguides.com/best-places/2015/peoples-choice/

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US-Africa Commercial Relationship: Time is Running Out for AGOA Reauthorization

The following is an update from the Africa Policy Breakfast held in Washington, DC on January 28, 2015 regarding the renewal of AGOA and the future of the US-Africa commercial relationship. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release – Office of U.S. Representative Karen Bass

Washington, D.C. — “We’re running out of time,” moderator Witney Schneidman, nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, exclaimed as he opened the January 28 panel discussion at last week’s Africa Policy Breakfast entitled AGOA Today and Beyond: The Future of the US-Africa Commercial Relationship. While AGOA technically expires this September, for many African companies exporting apparel to the United States there is less than two months left in the nine month U.S. supply cycle. For U.S. importers, the fact that AGOA is not yet authorized leads to the inevitable question as to when will it be authorized and should the importer source elsewhere.

Against this backdrop, the panel of experts comprised of Ambassador Eliachim Molapi Sebatane of the Embassy of Lesotho – representing the African Diplomatic Corps; Ms. Rahama Wright – Founder of Shea Yeleen – a small US business utilizing AGOA; and Scott Eisner – Vice President for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke in unison about the crucial role that the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act continues to play in strengthening of U.S.-Africa trade relations. Panel Moderator Schneidman described AGOA as “a launching pad for U.S. companies” to do business on the continent, a sentiment echoed by Scott Eisner.

Ambassador Eliachim Molapi Sebatane spoke to the Policy Breakfast audience about recent bipartisan and bicameral meetings an African Union Delegation of Ministers had with Members of the House and Senate on AGOA in January; noting that the delegation left the US with a strong sense of support from all of the members they met and that the real question was when, not if, the reauthorization would occur.

Keynote Speaker United States Trade Representative Ambassador Froman emphasized the growth in exports experienced by AGOA participating countries since the inception of legislation. Exports from the continent have more than tripled, going from $6 billion to $24 billion in a few short years. Ambassador Froman emphasized that we “shouldn’t wait until the last minute to get it renewed,” which drew heavy applause from the audience.

Panelist Rahama Wright was representative of the many small business owners who rely on AGOA as a tool to remove unnecessary barriers to growing their businesses. Ms. Wright, whose skincare products can be found in close to 100 stores in the U.S., noted that she started her company with $6,000 dollars. She stressed that AGOA removed crucial barriers that protected her limited finances and allowed her company to grow. Ms. Wright also spoke of the importance of AGOA to women entrepreneurs in particular.

Ambassador Froman, who testified at two Congressional hearings on January 27 held by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees respectively reiterated the bi-partisan support enjoyed by AGOA. USTR Froman cited the remarks made by House Ways and Means Chairman Ryan in support for a seamless and early renewal of AGOA. Panelists and members of the audience agreed that AGOA could be characterized as the beginning of a strong and expansive trade relationship between the U.S. and the nations of Africa — a “stepping stone,” with the hope of a stronger and more permanent reciprocal relationship in the future.

Video: Africa Policy Breakfast January 28, 2015


Related:
Tadias Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

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Hand-Me-Down Sound From Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, a forward-thinking network of artists are uniting traditional folk and chopped-up beats with whatever equipment they can get their hands on. (Photo of Endeguena Mulu by Pete Kowalczyk)

The Guardian

By Huw Oliver

Tuesday 3 February 2015

In downtown Addis Ababa, most nightclubs have a disappointingly generic, western playlist. But on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, you’ll discover a throng of exciting local producers throwing their own impromptu parties and packing out muggy backstreet bars. Meshing street musician samples and traditional folk sounds with UKG and Burial-inspired beats, they call the movement Ethiopiyawi electronic.

Music equipment is notoriously costly and difficult to get hold of in this part of the world but, recently, modern software like Ableton, along with MIDI controllers and hand-me-down drum machines have become more readily accessible. As a result, scene linchpins Endeguena Mulu (AKA Ethiopian Records) and Mikael Seifu (AKA Mic Tek) are offering their studios and equipment for use to local kids. They encourage them to absorb what they hear around them, while at the same time drawing upon the electronic patrimony of the UK and US. And rather than elevating the EDM sound, they prefer the twitching rhythms of Kode9 and Flying Lotus.

Often consisting of little more than a lyre or lute sample, underpinned by a chopped-up house or garage beat and overlaid with the looped chants of azmaris (folk singer-musicians), the Ethiopiyawi electronic style takes its cues from Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and South African futurist collective Fantasma in the way that it smoothly blends traditional and modern styles. In a country with more than 80 ethnic groups and 40 native instruments spanning horns, percussion and strings, Ethiopian folk music is inherently diverse.

Read more at The Guardian »

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Ethiopian Wins Entrepreneur of Year Prize

Zelalem Gemmeda. (Buffalo News)

Buffalo News

By Emma Sapong

Zelalem Gemmeda arrived in Buffalo in 2005 as a refugee from Ethiopia. The mother of two had to slowly rebuild her life, eventually opening Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine in the West Side Bazaar two years ago.

That business, its growth and Gemmeda’s overall resilience have earned her the inaugural entrepreneur of the year award from the Westminster Economic Development Initiative. She will be honored Friday during the organization’s annual Winterfest fundraiser at Foundry Hotel and Banquet on Elmwood Avenue.

The award, sponsored by Rich Products, includes a certificate and a $500 prize.

“I’m very excited to be honored for my hard work and success,” said Gemmeda, who is receiving assistance from WEDI to open her own restaurant.

Rich Products and WEDI selected Gemmeda because of her business that adds diversity to the community’s food choices, her drive to succeed and overcome obstacles and improve her condition. Gemmeda has emerged as a leader among vendors in the West Side Bazaar on Grant Street, WEDI’s international incubator, which houses food and retail booths. She’s also advocating for the bazaar to open seven days a week, instead of five, and incorporating more of the business owners’ culture into the incubator’s decor.

Read more »

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Email Raises Questions About UK ’s Involvement in Andargachew Tsige’s Case

Andargachew 'Andy' Tsige. (BBC)

BBC News

Emails raise query over Islington ‘terrorist’ held by Ethiopia

1 February 2015

The Ethiopian authorities have broadcast a video of a man from Islington in London, who they have been holding in secret since he was kidnapped in Yemen in June.

Ethiopia claims Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsige is a terrorist and sentenced him to death in absentia.

But a series of internal emails from the UK’s Foreign Office has now raised questions about the British government’s involvement in the case, according to his family and legal representatives.

BBC London’s Ayshea Buksh spoke to Mr Tisge’s partner Yemi Hailemariam, the strategic director of Reprieve, Maya Foa. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, also appears.

Read more and watch the video at BBC News »


Related:
UK Diplomats Clash Over Andargachew Tsege
British MPs to Visit Ethiopia in Bid to Secure Release of Andy Tsege

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At AU Meeting in Ethiopia, UN Chief Urges African Leaders Not Cling to Power

UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, center-right, walks past a wall of photos, at the annual African Union (AU) summit, held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. (AP photo)

Associated Press

BY ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The U.N. secretary-general Friday urged African leaders not to cling to power.

Ban Ki-moon said undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes should never be used by leaders to stay in power.

Speaking at the summit of the 54-nation African Union, Ban urged African leaders to listen to their people saying that modern leaders cannot ignore the wishes of those they represent.

Some African leaders have been in power for decades after altering their countries’ constitutions to extend their tenures in office. Recently Congo passed a law that requiring a national census before elections could be held. The law sparked off violent protests in which dozens were killed as critics accused President Joseph Kabila, who has been president since 2001, of attempting to prolong his stay in office.

Burkina Faso’s president of 27 years, Blaise Compaore, stepped down in October amid mounting opposition to his bid to seek yet another term in office.

Other African countries where leaders are suspected to be planning changes to their constitutions to extend their times in power include Congo Brazzaville, Benin, Uganda and Rwanda.

The African Union’s new chairman, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, 90, has been in power since 1980 and has altered the country’s constitution and has been re-elected in polls widely criticized for rigging and violence.

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DC Workshop on African Diaspora Marketplace Business Competition 2015

(Photo Courtesy: USAID)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – The Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA) in partnership with the U. S. Agency for International Development and Western Union is hosting an informational workshop on the 2015 African Diaspora Marketplace Business Plan Competition next week. “This workshop is part of OAA’s Business Development Program which connects businesses to one another, and to technical assistance, capital, and new opportunities for local and international business,” the D.C. Mayor’s Office announced in a press release. “The African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) aims to encourage sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting African diaspora entrepreneurs. ADM entrepreneurs are individuals with demonstrable connections to or experience in Africa, and who have innovative and high impact start-ups or established businesses on the continent.”

The workshop follows an eight-city tour promoting the African Diaspora Marketplace in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta.

Launched in 2009 by USAID and Western Union the African Diaspora Marketplace is also supported by The George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research (GW-CIBER), which provides support and expertise to the program. On its website ADM notes that “This third round of the initiative will introduce three new resource partners: the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will provide business training and support for potential applicants; Homestrings LLC will provide a platform for awardees to raise follow-on capital; and as an ADM Partner, Deloitte intends to provide up to a maximum of USD 1,000,000 (one million) of in-kind professional technical assistance to either ADM grantees or qualified AWEP members to support the development of the grantees business.”

Information about ADM and past winners can be found at: www.diasporamarketplace.org.


If You Go:
When: Monday, February 9, 2015
Where: Franklin D. Reeves Center Municipal Building
2000 14th Street, NW | 2nd Floor Edna Cromwell Community Room
Washington, DC 20009
RSVP here
Please note that government issued ID is required to enter the Franklin D. Reeves Center. For more information, please email: oaa@dc.gov or call 202-727-5635.
www.diasporamarketplace.org

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Egypt’s Sisi Cuts Short Ethiopia Visit

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (CREDIT: REUTERS/PHILIPPE WOJAZER)

Reuters

BY MAGGIE FICK AND YUSRI MOHAMED

Fri Jan 30, 2015

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cut short a visit to Ethiopia for an African Union summit on Friday after Islamic State’s Egyptian wing claimed the killing of at least 30 soldiers and police officers in the Sinai Peninsula.

The four separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai on Thursday night were among the bloodiest in years and the first significant assault in the region since the most active Sinai militant group swore allegiance to IS in November.

Militant attacks in Sinai, while far from Cairo and tourist attractions, has crimped government efforts to project an image of stability to woo back foreign investors and tourists driven away by frequent political violence since a popular uprising four years ago that overthrew veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi left Addis Ababa after meeting with the Ethiopian premier following the AU summit’s opening session, an Egyptian official there told Reuters.

Read more at Reuters.com »

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If You Have a Meeting in Ethiopia, You Better Double Check the Time

People walk through the streets of a shopping area in Addis Ababa. (Credit: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

PRI

By Reporter Dalia Mortada

January 30, 2015

Things always get lost in translation. Sometimes, words or phrases just cannot be converted word-for-word from one language to the next. But in most places, the date and the time works pretty much the same all over the world.

Not in Ethiopia. There, it’s currently the end of the fifth month of 2007. It isn’t so strange for countries to have different calendars — Israel officially works according to the Jewish calendar and Saudi Arabia has an Isalmic calendar. But, what about having your own time? That’s the case in Ethiopia.

In the back of a cab in Addis Ababa, a colleague and I ask our driver for the time. The time on my phone, which is set to the correct time zone, reads 8:30 p.m. But that’s not what the cabbie tells us. “It’s two o’clock, 30 minutes,” he replies. He chuckles and adds, “In Ethiopia.”

That’s because in Ethiopia, there are two ways to tell the time.

Because Ethiopia is close to the Equator, daylight is pretty consistent throughout the year. So many Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle of 1 to 12 — from dawn to dusk — and the other cycle from dusk to dawn.

Most countries start the day at midnight. So 7:00 a.m. in East Africa Time, Ethiopia’s time zone, is 1:00 in daylight hours in local Ethiopian time. At 7:00 p.m., East Africa Time, Ethiopians start over again, so it’s 1:00 on their 12-hour clock.

If you think this is confusing to read about, imagine trying to do business in In Ethiopia.

Kemal Oznoyan was baffled.

He helped open a factory in Addis Ababa for the Turkish textile company, Ayka, seven years ago. He laughs remembering the headaches Ethiopian time caused. “When we organize meeting, they were talking about Ethiopian time, but we were talking about European time,” he recalls.

Once, for example, he and his colleagues set up a meeting for 6 o’clock. Oznoyan thought, “6 p.m., no problem.” But a bit after noon he got a call from the guy he was meeting. “He calls, ‘Where are you? I’m waiting in the downstairs.’” Oznayan says. “[I ask him] ‘Why?’”

It turns out, Oznayan’s colleague meant 6:00 in Ethiopian time, which is noon by Oznoyan’s clock.

It’s not a problem for him anymore. In fact, he finds it pretty impressive that Ethiopians have stuck to it. As Addis Ababa booms, welcoming international businesses and organizations from all over the world, one would think that international standards would take over and locals would start telling time the way the rest of the world does.

But Oznoyan says, not so fast. “I’m also feeling that, why they have to do it?” In fact, he says, Ethiopians should be proud of their unique ways. For one thing, they’re one of only two African nations never to be colonized.

Also, Professor Wudu Tafete says, the Ethiopian way of telling time is practical. He explains that because Ethiopia’s daylight hours stay consistent throughout the year, it makes sense to start the day at 1, when the sun comes up. “The day is 12 hours, because Ethiopia is three degrees north of the Equator,” he explains.

In Europe, he goes on, winter days are really short and the nights are really long, and in the summer it’s the opposite: days are long and nights are short. In Ethiopia, people have chosen to stick with what’s simple — 12 and 12. He says it only makes sense.

Sure, he says, it can be confusing for foreigners at first. But he says they all get it eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

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Top Energy Players Meet in Washington to Develop Obama’s Power Africa Initiative

The president’s emphasis on Africa’s electricity crisis is triggering action as Washington plays host to seven unique sessions that will outline the global commitment to improving access to power in Africa. (Getty)

The Root

BY: DIANA OZEMEBHOYA EROMOSELE

NEPA take light!”

It’s a popular phrase used by Nigerians when the lights go out. The country’s now-defunct National Electric Power Authority wasn’t the only energy company that struggled to provide reliable power to its citizens. Access to consistent electricity is a widespread problem in Africa, and the U.S. has identified the crisis as one of its top international development goals. That’s why senior U.S. energy officials, their counterparts from several African nations and private companies looking to strengthen Africa’s power grids are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week for the Powering Africa Summit.

“Seven unique sessions will outline the global commitment to improving access to power across the African continent,” according to a press release issued by EnergyNet, the organization hosting the summit.

The statement went on to describe the initiative’s goals. It’s hoping to power the homes of 75 percent of the sub-Saharan Africans currently living without electricity. “[The summit] will also serve as a platform to encourage deals to be brokered between governments and power companies with the end goal of delivering power to the 2 out of 3 sub-Saharan Africans who live without access to electricity,” the press release explained.

During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by the Obama administration in Washington in August, President Barack Obama introduced the Power Africa initiative—a global commitment to “increase electricity access” and add “cleaner, more efficient electricity” throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more at theroot.com »

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On This Day 1962 Mandela Visited Ethiopian Embassy in Nigeria for Visa to Ethiopia

(Photo © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation tweeted Thursday that “On this day, 29 January 1962 Nelson Mandela visited the Ethiopian Embassy in Nigeria for a visa for Ethiopia.”

Mandela’s trip to Ethiopia and other African countries that year is also the subject of an upcoming documentary-drama entitled Mandela’s Gun, which he received as a gift from the government of Ethiopia. “He was given a Makrov pistol by the then Emperor Haile Selassie and he apparently buried it at a farm in Johannesburg before he was arrested,” says the filmmaker Jeremy Nathan. “It was a ceremonial weapon, which is reportedly the first weapon of the armed struggle against the regime.”

Mandela arrived in Ethiopia under the alias David Motsamayi and disguised as a journalist. In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, he shares: “I felt myself being moulded into a solider and began to think as a soldier thinks – a far cry from the way a politician thinks.” In Ethiopia Mandela’s instructors were Colonel Tadesse Birru, Colonel G.E. Bekele and Lieutenant Wondomu Befikadu. In an article published by Think Africa Press last year, Joseph Hammond writes: “Wondomu, a former fighter, led the physical training while Tadesse lectured Mandela in the philosophy of guerrilla warfare.”

Nathan adds: “Everybody thought it was one of the great untold stories [about Mandela]…He was being followed by the CIA, MI6 and the South Africans. And they were obviously sharing information amongst themselves about the activities of ANC and its leadership. So we bring in those elements as far as we can. We trace his journey through Ethiopia, down to Khartoum, Sudan to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, back to Botswana and into South Africa. The film is not only a feature film but a documentary feature. It includes testimony of people who knew him at the time.”

Among the Ethiopians who knew Mandela was Captain Guta Dinka, a young soldier who was assigned to protect him during his stay in Ethiopia. Captain Guta, now 79, lived to tell the dramatic story of how he exposed an attempt to assassinate Mandela by mysterious foreign agents who had approached him to carry out the killing in exchange for cash payment.

The director John Irvin told The Guardian: “There is an aspect of the political thriller, the spy thriller in the story, because he was being monitored by western intelligence services, a lot of whom still had an allegiance to some pretty odd ideas.”

Nathan shares that since they started working on the film the story has blossomed with more research. The filmmakers “delve into the debates for and against armed struggle (within the ANC).” In addition, Nathan notes that the film is “a metaphorical search for the gun starting with Mandela leaving South Africa in 1962 to go and get support across Africa and he under went training in Algeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Egypt, across West Africa. We actually have gone out of our way to shoot in the exact locations where he trained, where he slept, where he lived.”



Related:
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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Ethiopia Says New Railway to Djibouti to Start in Early 2016

(Photo: Erta)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to open a new railway line linking the capital Addis Ababa with the Red Sea state of Djibouti in early 2016, a project at the centre of plans to create new manufacturing industries, the head of the state railways said.

The 700-km (450-mile)line is being built at a cost of $4 billion by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC). Ethiopia is seeking to have 5,000 km of new lines working across the country by 2020.

“By October 2015, a considerable portion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti project will be finished,” Getachew Betru, chief executive of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, told Reuters, adding trains would run soon after. “We will start early 2016.”

Read more at Reuters.com »

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Bloomberg: Ethiopia Bloggers to Enter Pleas in Terrorism Case Next Week

Edom Kassaye, jailed journalist & member of Zone 9 group. (Drawing by @melodysundberg via Twitter)

Bloomberg

By William Davison

Addis Ababa — Ethiopian bloggers accused of plotting acts of terrorism will probably enter pleas next week after a court accepted amended charges from the prosecution.

The Federal High Court accepted most of the charges against 10 bloggers and journalists, Ameha Mekonnen, a defense lawyer for the writers, said on Wednesday from Addis Ababa, the capital. The defendants will enter pleas on Feb. 3, he said by phone.

Nine of the accused were detained in April and charged under a 2009 anti-terrorism law that the U.S. and United Nations said criminalizes legitimate dissent. The prosecution has said that the group participated in the planning of a plot with the U.S.-based Ginbot 7, which is classified as a terrorist organization in Ethiopia.

In November, the court rejected earlier charges and asked prosecutors to present more specific and clear accusations.

“They’ve said now it’s sufficiently clear but for us it’s not yet clear at all,” Mekonnen said.

Related:
Zone 9 Trial Resumes in Ethiopia: Court Accepts Most Charges Against Bloggers

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Zone 9 Trial Resumes in Ethiopia

The Zone 9 bloggers being escorted to court in Addis Ababa, January 28th, 2015. (Photo: Trial Tracker)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – Members of the Zone 9 blogging collective appeared before the Lideta High Court in Addis Ababa today for their 16th hearing where the presiding judges decided to accept most of the accusations against the bloggers and journalists. “The charge not accepted was the point regarding the individual role of each defendant,” reports the Trial Tracker blog.

At previous appointments the court had repeatedly ordered prosecutors to amend their terrorism charges against the defendants. Following the hearing on Wednesday, however, the perplexed Zone 9 defense lawyer held a briefing for journalists and family members at the court compound. The Trial Tracker blog notes that the defense attorney “said that the charges had not been amended at all. He found it to be very strange that the judges accepted it.”

The three journalists and six bloggers, who were arrested last April, are being held on suspicion of attempting to incite violence while utilizing social media as the crime tool. The attorney for eight of the nine defendants, Ameha Mekonnen, says Ethiopia’s contentious anti-terrorism law, under which his clients are charged, is very vague. “It has got only six types of human behaviors that are regarded as terrorist acts,” Ameha told Voice of America earlier this month. “The law itself is not clear – simply, if someone plots to cause damage to the community, it amounts to terrorism.”

The next court date is scheduled for February 3, 2015.


Tesfalem and Zelelem today at court hearing. (Photo via trialtrackerblog.org)

Related:
Ethiopia Bloggers to Enter Pleas in Terrorism Case Next Week (Bloomberg News)

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Police Attack Protesters in Addis Ababa

Police brutally attacked and dispersed peaceful demonstrators in Addis Ababa last Sunday. (Photo: TDJ)

The Daily Journalist

By Betre Yacob

Police brutally attacked and dispersed peaceful demonstrators in the capital Addis Ababa on Sunday as they try to protest against the ongoing government repression on opposition political parties and dissents in run-up to the countries general election..

Political activists say the Sunday’s attack against the peaceful demonstrators is further evidence of the authorities’ determination to clamp down the activities of opposition political parties ahead the election.

In this latest brutal attack against peaceful protesters, dozens of members and supporters of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) were seriously injured. The incident is the most blatant and massive case of lethal police brutality in Ethiopia.

According to reports, demonstrators were brutally beaten with baton, stick and iron rod in the head, face, hands, and legs. One of the victims is said to have been a pregnant woman. Reports show the victims were taken to hospital right away, and some of them are still receiving medical treatment.

Among seriously injured was Sileshi Hagose, the member of the general assembly of the party and editor in chief of a weekly newspaper. Recently released photographs show that he was wounded in the face and head, and his both hands were seriously broken.

UDJ is the main opposition political party struggling in the narrowing political landscape in Ethiopia and is one of the few parties working at national level with an inclusive structure by bringing different ethnic groups all together.

Read more »

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Sisi Goes to Addis Ababa (Opinion)

(Illustration by Anthony Russo)

The New York Times | The Opinion Pages

By ALEX DE WAAL

On one of the last occasions an Egyptian president visited Addis Ababa, he got no further than the road from the airport: In 1995 the motorcade of President Hosni Mubarak came under fire from Egyptian jihadists. Mr. Mubarak was saved by his bulletproof car, his driver’s skill and Ethiopian sharpshooters.

After that, Ethiopian and Egyptian intelligence officers worked together to root out terrorists in the Horn of Africa, contributing, along with pressure from the United States government, to Osama bin Laden’s expulsion from Sudan in 1996. But that was the limit of their cooperation.

Egypt and Ethiopia have otherwise been locked in a low-intensity contest over which nation would dominate the region, undermining each other’s interests in Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan. A quiet but long-sustained rivalry, it is one of those rarely noticed but important fault lines in international relations that allow other conflicts to rumble on.

This week, however, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt is expected to fly to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to attend a summit of the African Union. He will also meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, a rare chance to shift the political landscape in northeastern Africa.

The heart of the rivalry hinges on how to share the precious waters of the Nile River. Running low is Egypt’s nightmare, and more than 80 percent of the Nile’s water comes from rain that falls on the Ethiopian highlands and is then carried north by the fast-flowing Blue Nile. (Ethiopia is nicknamed “Africa’s water tower.”) Yet management of the Nile is formally governed by a 1929 treaty between Egypt and colonial Britain, and a 1959 treaty between Egypt and Sudan that awarded most water rights to Egypt, some to Sudan and none explicitly to Ethiopia or the other states upstream. This arrangement is widely considered unfair, especially to Ethiopia, which was never colonized, and on whose behalf Britain could not even claim to have spoken. This legal framework also limits the right of upper riparian states to build dams or irrigation systems even though they were sidelined from helping shape it.

Read more at NYT »

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Ethiopia’s Women Vow to Turn Tide of Violence, Rape and Murder

Justice for Hanna was launched after the murder of 16-year-old Hanna Lalango, who was repeatedly raped after being abducted in Addis Ababa. (Photograph: JusticeForHannah)

The Guardian

William Davison in Addis Ababa

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Tejnesh Leweg’neh, a 15-year-old from Ethiopia’s mountainous northern Shoa region, was abducted by three men on her way to market in October. They tried to force her to agree to marry one of them. She refused, and, a day later, they pushed her off a cliff. Now Tejnesh is paralysed from the waist down.

That same month, 16-year-old Hanna Lalango, from Ethiopia’s cosmopolitan capital, Addis Ababa, was abducted by a group of men from a minibus on the outskirts of the city. She was raped over several days and died in hospital about a month later from her injuries. Five men have been convicted and are awaiting sentence for the attack. Hanna reportedly identified her assailants before she died.

Both these crimes were brought to light by an energised network of mostly female Ethiopian activists trying to advance women’s rights and reduce sexual harassment in the Horn of Africa country.

“What united us is we believe this is our problem, it’s our responsibility to change this,” says one of them, Selam Mussie. “We all are Hannas – this could have been any of us.”

ussie, an administrator at the International Community School in Addis Ababa, is part of the Justice for Hanna campaign.

Activists view these violent attacks as a consequence of a culture that places women in subordinate positions to men, which often manifests itself in the form of the frequent petty harassment they endure on the capital’s streets.

“There are certain places that most of us are terrified of passing through because there are tens of men sitting around to purposely make a woman passerby uncomfortable,” says Mussie, 24. “It starts from common catcalls, to dissing, to a physical level where they could follow to grab or touch private parts.”

We believe this is our problem, it’s our responsibility to change it. We all are Hannas – this could have been any of us
Selam Mussie, Justice for Hanna campaign

Liya Hailemariam, a 24-year-old activist who works in PR, says she frequently suffers attention on public transport. “And it’s not just words – people somehow just slide in their hands,” she says. “We sort of consider it normal, we pass it off as this stupid guy, this pervert.”

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Post-Ebola Plan Needed to Avert “Double Disaster” in West Africa

Ebola testing at the African Cup of Nations football tournament in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. (Getty Images)

By Magdalena Mis

January 27, 2015

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The three West African countries worst hit by Ebola risk a “double disaster” unless a multi-million dollar plan is put in place to help their economies recover, Oxfam said on Tuesday.

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone people were struggling to make ends meet having seen their incomes plummet, the aid agency said.

“The world was late in waking up to the Ebola crisis, there can be no excuses for not helping to put these economies and lives back together,” Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s chief executive, said during a visit to Liberia.

He said a post-Ebola “Marshall Plan” should address three areas of urgent need: cash for families affected by the crisis, investment in jobs and support for basic services.

“People need cash in their hands now, they need good jobs to feed their families in the near future and decent health, education and other essential services,” Goldring said.

Research by Oxfam in three Liberian counties found that three in four families had seen their incomes decline, with an average income drop of 39%.

Coupled with a loss of income, food prices in Ebola-affected areas have risen. In Liberia, rice prices were 40% above the seasonal average.

As a result, some adults said they were cutting back on food in order to feed their children. Oxfam said that 60% of people interviewed told them they had not had enough food in the past seven days.

Liberia and Sierra Leone were two of the fastest growing economies in Africa before the Ebola crisis, but in both countries more than half of the population lived below the poverty line.

According to World Bank, since the outbreak of the disease nearly 180,000 people have lost their jobs in Sierra Leone, and half of household heads in Liberia were out of work.

“Failure to help these countries after surviving Ebola will condemn them to a double-disaster,” Goldring said.

The Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 8,600 lives since it was detected in Guinea in March, the World Health Organisation said last week. It said West Africa’s outbreak is ebbing.

In the countries directly affected, the virus will result in at least $1.6 billion in lost economic growth this year or over 12% of their combined GDPs, according to the World Bank.

Oxfam called for an international pledging conference to discuss recovery plans backed by financial support to help rebuild lives and help crisis-affected economies recover.

Related:
WHO Vows Reform After Ebola ‘Shocks’ (BBC News)
Ambassador Samantha Power Briefs African Diaspora On Ebola Crisis Response
US Updates African Diaspora Communities on Efforts to Fight Ebola
WHO: Ebola Death Toll Passes 7,500
Ethiopians arrive in West Africa to fight Ebola
Ethiopia Holds Farewell Gala for Volunteer Doctors Headed to Ebola-Hit Countries
Africa Sets Up $28.5m Ebola Crisis Fund
Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: WHO
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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