Author Archive for Tadias

Dear John Kerry: Letter From Prison in Ethiopia by Natnael Feleke of Zone 9

Imprisoned Ethiopian blogger Natnael Feleke of the Zone 9 Collective meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a town hall meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday May 26, 2013. (AP photo/pool)

The Guardian

By Natnael Feleke

Dear John Kerry,

I first came to know about you back in 2004, during the US presidential election, when you were running for office against George Bush. At just 17 years old I knew little about US politics – or politics in general – but I discussed the campaigns with my schoolmates.

A year later, the historic 2005 Ethiopian national election took place. This election differed from previous votes in that the lead up to it was mostly democratic. This left many Ethiopians hoping they would witness the first elected change of government in the country’s history. But it was not to be.

After polling day, we saw civilian bloodshed, and the arrest of thousands – including journalists and opposition leaders.

I was only young then, but the election gave me my first real experience of politics. It also left me with a strong desire to follow the repressive situation that was unfolding in Ethiopia.

It was this interest and commitment that led my friends and I to form the bloggers’ and pro-democracy activist group we called Zone 9.

The birth of Zone 9

All nine members of the blogging group are young and passionate about encouraging Ethiopia’s democracy.

We aimed to create a platform for Ethiopian youth to discuss political, economic and social issues when we launched our blog, with the motto, “we blog because we care”.

Although our arrest came two years after launching, our site was blocked in Ethiopia early on, but we continued to share our views via social media.

Finally, the regime took drastic measures: in April 2014 they arrested six members of Zone9, and three other journalists too.

We are now facing between eight and 18 years imprisonment.

This hasn’t come as a surprise. Whenever Ethiopians exercise their constitutional rights to free expression, the regime resorts to its security apparatus to silence them.

My charges are tied up with our meeting back in 2013. We met in Addis Ababa University: the minister of foreign affairs Tedros Adhanom invited me and a couple of others for a discussion, in which I raised my concerns about the regime’s tactics to push young citizens away from participating in politics.

I highlighted the negative impact this was having on the political sphere. I told you that I was risking a lot merely by expressing my thoughts freely. At that time, my arrest was only an abstract possibility.

Read the full letter at The Guardian »

Related:
Media Crackdown in Ethiopia By JASON MCLURE (Audio)

One Year After Arrest Zone 9 Bloggers Remain Imprisoned as Trial Drags On
Ethiopian bloggers on trial in case seen as crackdown on free expression (Washington Post)
Continued Detention of Ethiopian Journalists Unacceptable – UN Human Rights Experts
U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign
Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Ethiopia Development Aid Money
As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

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How Churches Are The Gatekeepers of Ethiopia’s Forests (Pictures)

(Photo: ©Raïsa Mirz)

Africa Geographic Magazine

By Lori Robinson

24 April 2015

In the highlands of Ethiopia, American scientist Meg Lowman is working with local forest ecologist Alemayehu Wassie to protect ancient church forests.

As in many developing countries, much of Ethiopia’s original forests have been cleared for subsistence agriculture and for harvesting timber and firewood, diminishing northern Ethiopia’s forest cover from 45% of its territory in the early 20th century to less than 5 percent today.

A large portion of the remaining forests is concentrated in the northern part of the country, especially in the Lake Tana area. There, bright-green patches of trees surround 3,500 Orthodox Tewahido Churches – a consequence of the Church’s belief in maintaining a woodland home for all God’s creatures around the place of worship.

The forests are said to be necklaces around the church, and the tree canopy is believed to prevent prayers from being lost to the sky. According to the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, an estimated five to ten percent of wild lands across the globe are currently held by religious organisations.

Ranging in size from five acres to more than 1,000, some of Ethiopia’s church forests are more than 1,500 years old. All are remnants of the country’s Afromontane forests, are cooler and more humid than the surrounding lowlands, and many have fresh water springs. These church forests have become the centerpiece in the struggle to conserve what remains of northern Ethiopia’s biodiversity.

“They are native seed banks for the future of that landscape,” says Dr. Wassie.

Read more and see photos at magazine.africageographic.com »

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Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis

Demonstrators in Ethiopia hold up photographs of some of those who were killed by ISIL militants. (AP)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The despicable ISIL propaganda video that was recently released by terrorists showing the beheading and shooting of at least 30 Ethiopian Christians is the worst in a long series of disturbing violent acts endured by Ethiopian citizens all over the Arab world.

Sadly, today we live in an era where we are accustomed to watching from afar the plight of Ethiopian nationals as they migrate in large numbers every year in search of jobs and better economic opportunities, and are being publicly abused and murdered in foreign lands.

But as we gather this week in our churches, mosques and streets to mourn and honor the victims in Libya, we should also keep in mind those Ethiopians who need our immediate help and protection in South Africa and Yemen.

As Ethiopian American writer and activist Kumera Genet correctly pointed out in a recent interview that he conducted with individuals in the Middle East regarding the migrant issue: “There have been few coordinated efforts by the African Diaspora to directly support migrant workers in the Middle East in three years since Alem Dechasa’s death.” Coincidentally it was three years ago last month that the Alem Dechasa video surfaced in Lebanon showing the 33-year-old Ethiopian domestic worker and a mother of two children being physically abused by her employer outside the Ethiopian embassy in Beirut. The shocking incident took place only days before Alem was officially declared dead “due to suicide.”

“Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts to support the migrant worker community,” Kumera said. “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.” He added: “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.”

In addition to pushing governments to respond to the root causes that force people to migrate under life-threatening conditions, we urge interested individuals and organizations to launch private, independent initiatives and collaborations with both local and international agencies to tackle the problem in a meaningful way — one that acknowledges not just the tragedies of xenophobia or terrorism but also honestly addresses the lack of adequate economic resources faced by those who choose to make these dangerous journeys by land and sea.



Related:
Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Zone 9 Bloggers Mark One Year in Prison

The founding members of Zone9 blogging collective. This photo was taken right after they had participated in digital security training in Ethiopia in December, 2012. (Credit: Endalk.chala)

CPJ

By Kerry Paterson/CPJ Africa Research Associate

It will be one year this weekend since six bloggers were arrested in Addis Ababa, just days after the group announced on Facebook that their Zone 9 blog would resume publishing after seven months of inactivity. As the anniversary of the arrests approaches on Saturday, Soleyana S. Gebremichale, one of the Zone 9 founders who was charged in absentia, told me the situation was not hopeless.

“International advocacy is important not only to pressure the Ethiopian government but also to show solidarity for people in prison,” Soleyana, who is currently based in Washington, D.C., said. “The words and support that we show them are their strength in prison.”

The six Zone 9 bloggers, arrested along with three journalists not connected to the blog, were held in detention until mid-July when a court in Addis Ababa charged all those being held, and Soleyana, with terrorism. Working with human rights organizations and participating in an email encryption training session were among the activities that led to the charges, according to reports. Their charge sheet, translated into English from Amharic, can be found here in full.

The Zone 9 bloggers–Befekadu Hailu, Atnaf Berhane, Natnail Feleke, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kibret, and Abel Wabella–and three journalists–Edom Kassaye, Tesfalem Waldyes, and Asmamaw Hailegeorgis–have now spent a full year in prison.

Among them is a lawyer and lecturer, an economist, and an IT specialist. One of them is a data expert in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, another is an engineer for Ethiopian Airlines. They are writers, advocates, and activists, but the Zone 9 bloggers are not terrorists.

According to reports, these young professionals from a range of backgrounds were united by a desire for a more just, transparent, and democratic Ethiopia. The Zone 9 bloggers used their blog, which is still running, as a platform to write about social justice, democracy, and human rights. They spoke out about censorship and challenged corruption.

“Zone 9 existed because we had a hope that we could contribute for the public discourse,” Soleyana told me.

The trial has been adjourned 26 times, most recently on April 8, according to a site that tracks its progress. The proceedings are scheduled to resume on May 26.

Read more at cpj.org »


Related:
Ethiopian bloggers on trial in case seen as crackdown on free expression (Washington Post)
Media Crackdown in Ethiopia By JASON MCLURE (Audio)
U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign
Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Ethiopia Development Aid Money
As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths

Relatives of the victims attended a rally at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

The New York Times

By Jacey Fortin

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In a downtrodden neighborhood called Cherkos, not far from the headquarters of the African Union, an olive-green tent stands as a tangible symbol of this nation’s grief.

Two bereft families have gathered under its shade to mourn the loss of Eyasu Yikunoamlak and Balcha Belete, Ethiopian migrants who were killed in Libya by militants claiming to represent the Islamic State.

“Eyasu was a good person who just wanted to make money to help our mother, who is very sick,” said the victim’s brother, Seyoum Yikunoamlak, as women in black scarves wailed around him. “He was a follower of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and that is why they slaughtered him.”

Mr. Seyoum said he had helped his brother pay $4,400 to a smuggler for an illegal journey to Italy. But on Sunday, a video surfaced online revealing that his brother was among about 30 people who appeared to have been shot or beheaded by masked militants in Libya. The Ethiopian government is trying to determine how many were Ethiopian citizens.

The killings are the latest warning to Ethiopians seeking passage to foreign countries for economic opportunity.

People trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea risk drowning en route, as happened just days ago when a boat carrying hundreds capsized off the Libyan coast.

Ethiopians traveling to the Middle East for work have faced mistreatment, mass deportations or, as in Yemen, outbreaks of war.

Immigrants to South Africa have endured a surge of xenophobic attacks this month.

Read more at The New York Times »

Related:
Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
Ethiopian Mass Protest Against IS Killings (BBC News)
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia Protest Against Libya Killings Spiral Into Violence (Video)

Ethiopian police clashed with demonstrators during a protest against the recent beheading and shooting of 30 Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya on April 21st, 2015. (Reuters video)

AlJazeera

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have marched in a government-supported rally against the killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, but some demonstrators directed their anger at the authorities, prompting clashes with the police.

Wednesday’s march at Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square turned violent as stone-throwing protesters clashed with the police, who used tear gas against the crowd and arrested at least 100 people.

“We are tired of speeches and propaganda! We want action! Revenge for our brothers!” shouted a group of youths, referring to Ethiopians seen apparently being beheaded or shot in a video released on Sunday by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Libya.

“Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia, Liberia, Burundi, but the government is not capable of protecting its own citizens!” shouted one protester, referring to its peacekeeping roles in the African Union and United Nations.

Read more »



Related:
Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Mass Protest Against IS Killings

Police fired rounds of tear gas at some towards the end of a demonstration in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, AFP reports. (Photo: Reuters)

BBC News

22 April 2015

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have attended a rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, condemning the murders of Ethiopians by Islamic State militants.

More than 20 migrant workers – most thought to be Ethiopian Christians – were killed by the Libyan branch of IS.

It released videos on Sunday of some of the men being beheaded and others shot.

Ethiopia’s prime minister warned the protesters about the dangers of illegal immigration and described the killings as “Satanic”.

IS and other jihadist groups are active in many towns in Libya, which has been torn by civil conflict since last year – and has been unstable since long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

Read more at BBC News »

Protest Held in Ethiopia Over Killings by Islamic Extremists (AP)


Relatives and friends mourn for the Ethiopians who were held captive in Libya and killed by the Islamic State group, in the poor Cherkos neighborhood of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP)

Associated Press

BY ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Hundreds of Ethiopians in Addis Ababa on Tuesday protested the killings of dozens of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic extremists in Libya as parliament weighed a response to the killings.

The killings have roiled this predominantly Christian country in East Africa. Hundreds of protesters departed from the homes of two of the victims and tried to reach Meskel Square, the Ethiopian capital’s main gathering place, but police blocked them. They also tried to go to the Parliament but were blocked again.

Most of the dozens of Ethiopians shot or beheaded by the extremists linked to the so-called Islamic State were migrants. Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told lawmakers that the government will take “all necessary action” to protect citizens and will start repatriating those who wish to come home. He said most of the human traffickers of Ethiopian migrants are themselves Ethiopians.

Some here believe many other Ethiopians are still being held captive in Libya, which has recently become a major transit point for Africans hoping to use a boat to reach Europe — a dangerous journey in which increasingly many migrants are killed at sea.

After the Islamic State video showing the Ethiopian victims was released on Sunday, some here recognized the faces of two men who left an Addis Ababa slum two months ago hoping to reach Europe.

Relatives and friends who spoke during a wake for the men, Eyasu Yikunoamlak and Balcha Belete, said they are believed to have traveled via Sudan and then Libya, where they fell into the hands of the militants who slaughtered them.

The Islamic State video starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran.

Although Ethiopian lawmakers on Tuesday were debating a possible response to the killings, it remains unclear if military action is an option.
—-
Related:
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopians Struggle to Come to Terms With Beheadings of Compatriots in Libya

A woman cries at a gathering of the 30 Ethiopian victims killed by members of the militant Islamic State in Libya, in the capital Addis Ababa, April 21, 2015. (REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI)

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

ADDIS ABABA — Hundreds of grieving relatives gathered outside the homes of two Ethiopians who were among dozens shown being shot and beheaded in a video purportedly made by Islamic State militants in Libya, struggling to make sense of their loved ones’ fate.

Only two of the 30 Ethiopian Christian prisoners displayed being killed in two groups by masked jihadists in a video released over the weekend have been identified by name.

The pair were close friends who grew up as neighbors in the impoverished Cherkos district of the capital Addis Ababa.

“My son is gone. I cannot bear it. I am burning,” a sobbing Ahaza Kasaye, mother of Eyasu Yekuno-Amlak, said at the gathering of family members on Tuesday.

Eyasu’s dreadlocks enabled his family and friends to quickly recognize him in a group of prisoners seen in the video trudging along a beach in orange jump suits before their captors beheaded them as they knelt on the ground.

Though the bodies of the prisoners have not been returned or recovered, mourners erected a tent and a priest delivered a sermon. Wailing mourners held aloft pictures of both victims.

Dozens of others – young men who were both neighbors and friends of the two men – briefly took to the streets and demonstrated in Addis Ababa’s main square before being dispersed by police.

Across town, Ethiopia’s House of Representatives opened an emergency session with a minute’s silence, before voting to observe three days of national mourning and fly the Ethiopian flag at half mast from Wednesday.

Read more at Reuters.com »

Related:
Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopians Among Over 250,000 East African Refugees Stranded in Yemen

Many refugees and asylum-seekers from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia say they have nowhere else to go. (Getty Images)

Aljazeera America

by Michael Pizzi

Tens of thousands of East African refugees and asylum-seekers are at risk of being left behind in Yemen’s roiling violence, deprived not only of safe options for evacuation but also of a home country that might take them in, activists and U.N. officials said this week.

Since pitched fighting between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the ousted president erupted in March, escape from the country has been arduous even for foreign citizens and wealthy Yemenis. Airports are under fire and commercial transportation cut off, forcing the most desperate to charter simple power boats and make harrowing journeys across the Red Sea.

But for the over 250,000 registered Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers, the situation is even more trying. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners have a contingency plan to receive 100,000 refugees in Somalia’s relatively stable regions of Somaliland and Puntland, and another 30,000 in Djibouti, but that process will unfold over the next six months. And it is barely underway.

“The reality is that there are limited options for people to get out,” said Charlotte Ridung, the Officer-in-Charge for the UNHCR in Yemen. “Some have fled by boat, but many ports are closed, and fuel is an issue so the options for escape are indeed limited.”

As gunbattles and aerial bombardment engulf the port city of Aden, at least 2,000 people have fled urban areas to take shelter in the nearby Kharraz refugee camp, Ridung said. Thousands more refugees and Yemenis alike have begun to make the dangerous voyage across the water, including 915 people who fronted $50 each for boats from the Yemeni port of Mukha to Somalia — among them Somalis returning home for the first time in decades.

There, the UNHCR registered “women and children who arrived extremely thirsty and asking for water,” Ridung said. They included a pregnant woman who was immediately transferred to a hospital to deliver her baby.

Meanwhile, asylum-seekers and migrants traveling in the opposite direction from East Africa continue to arrive in war-wracked Yemen. Last Sunday, the UNHCR registered another 251 people, mostly Ethiopians and Somalis, who arrived by boat at the port city of Mayfa’a. Whether they were unaware of the violence in Yemen or hopeful mass evacuations from the country might take them somewhere safer is unclear.

Read more »

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South Africa Turns on Its Immigrants

A man washes his face outside a shelter for displaced foreigners in east of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 21, 2015. (AP photo)

The New York Times

By DANIEL MAGAZINER and SEAN JACOBS

Updated: APRIL 24, 2015

For the third time in seven years, violence against immigrants has broken out across South Africa. Pogroms that began in late March in Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal Province, have now spread to Johannesburg.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, approximately five million immigrants have settled in South Africa; most are Africans from further north pursuing economic opportunity or refugees seeking the political stability of the continent’s most highly developed nation.

Black South Africans, most of whom remain poor and marginalized in the post-apartheid era, have watched warily for years as networks of Malawians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Zimbabweans, Nigerians and Mozambicans have begun to build small businesses and take advantage of South Africa’s opportunities.

The most recent paroxysm of violence appears to have been prompted by derogatory remarks by the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, who demanded that foreigners leave the country, insinuating that they are “lice” and “ants.” The king has since issued a half-apology, saying his statements were taken out of context. Many of his subjects, though, took his words literally.

Read more at NYTimes.com »

Related:
Strong Words Start, May End, South African Xenophobic Attacks (VOA)
South Africans Protest Xenophobia, Violence on Social Media (CNN)
South Africa: Foreign-owned Shops Looted Despite Zuma Call for Peace (BBC News)
South Africa Mob Sets Two Ethiopian Brothers on Fire Inside Shipping Container
Thousands flee after South Africa mobs attack immigrants (CNN)
South Africa grapples with outbreak of anti-immigrant violence (The Los Angeles Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Art Talk: Photography in Ethiopia & Guyana

Image: By Karran Sahadeo of Guyana), Untitled, 2014. Digital Print, 11.7 x 16.5. (Courtesy of the artist)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Award-winning photographers Aida Muluneh from Ethiopia and Grace Aneiza Ali of Guyana will present their work and participate in a conversation about photography in their respective countries at an event hosted by the Independent Curators International (ICI) next week in New York City.

ICI announced that the two artists “will offer their thoughts on the connections and intersections on the contemporary photography coming out of these two regions and the ways in which both photography communities negotiate politics of representation.”

“Via her work as a photographer, and founder/curator of the Addis Foto Fest, Addis Ababa’s first international photography festival, Aida Muluneh has been forging new platforms to explore the ways in which the image of Africa is projected, interpreted, negotiated, and marketed in the global world,” ICI added.

“Through various multi-media projects, Grace Aneiza Ali, a recent Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellow, explores how photographers in Guyana and its diaspora are countering the “picturing paradise” narrative the global public often sees of the Caribbean/South American region and the ways they are moving away from satisfying global appetites for the tropical and the exotic.”

Below is more on the presenters:

Aida Muluneh

Aida Muluneh is the Director/Founder of Desta for Africa. Established in 2010, it is the vision of award-winning photographer Muluneh. Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aida left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985. In 2000, she graduated with a degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in the Communications Department with a major in film. After graduation she worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post and other publications. As an exhibiting artist, a collection of her images can be found in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States. She is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie in Bamoko, Mali, as well as the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of photography in Spilimbergo, Italy. Aida is the founder of the first international photography festival in Ethiopia, the Addis Foto Fest. She continues to curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art) For Africa in Addis Ababa.

Grace Aneiza Ali

Guyanese-born Grace Aneiza Ali is the founder and editorial director of the award-winning OF NOTE, an online magazine centered on art and activism. She is a faculty member in the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the City College of New York, CUNY, and recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award. She was a awarded a Curatorial Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for a 2016 upcoming exhibition on contemporary photography on Guyana. Her essays on contemporary art and photography have been published in Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, Small Axe Journal, among others. Highlights of her curatorial work include: Guest Curator for the 2014 Addis Foto Fest; Guest Editor of the Fall 2013 Nueva Luz Photographic Journal and author of its critical essay on contemporary Guyanese photography; and host of the “Visually Speaking” photojournalism series at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center.


If You Go:
Conversation on Photography in Ethiopia and Guyana
Aida Muluneh and Grace Aneiza Ali
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
6:30–8pm
ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620
FREE and open to the public
RSVP at rsvp@curatorsintl.org with AIDA in the subject line.
www.curatorsintl.org

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Ethiopians Shocked by IS Killings (AP)

Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Libya in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015. (REUTERS)

Associated Press

Monday, April 20, 2015

Many in Ethiopia are reeling from the news that several Ethiopians were killed in Libya by the Islamic State group, which over the weekend released a video purporting to show the killings.

The killings, which have shocked many in the predominantly Christian country, were condemned by Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The victims were planning to go to Europe by boat from Libya but were captured and then killed by the Islamic extremists, said grieving family members and government officials. Ethiopia’s government on Monday declared three days of mourning.

Pope Francis on Monday sent a letter to the patriarch of Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, Abuna Matthias, expressing “distress and sadness” at the “further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya.

The pope has been very vocal in condemning the persecution of Christians across the globe in recent months, and stressed in the letter to the Ethiopian orthodox patriarch that “it makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killings and “utterly deplores the targeting of people on the basis of their religious affiliation,” his spokesman said.

Some people gathered Monday gathered in an Addis Ababa slum to mourn two former residents whose faces were recognized in the Islamic State video. The 29-minute video, released on Sunday via social media accounts and websites used by the extremists, shows many Ethiopian Christians held captive in Libya being shot or beheaded by militants.

Eyasu Yikunoamlak and Balcha Belete left Ethiopia two months ago with the aim of reaching Europe. They are believed to have left Ethiopia through Sudan and later traveled to Libya where they planned to take a boat to Europe but they were seized by Islamic State militants, relatives told The Associated Press on Monday.

Relatives and friends of the two victims in Cherkos Village, a poor neighborhood of the Ethiopian capital, said Eyasu and Balcha grew up together and used to live in the same house.

Seyoum Yikunoamlak, the older brother of Eyasu, said he first learned about the death of his younger brother on Sunday evening while checking the news on Facebook.

“I was very worried how to tell our family but everyone is a Facebook user these days so people in our village told our family that Eyasu was among the group that are on the (Islamic State) video,” a tearful Seyoum said.

Family members stopped getting calls from Eyasu a month ago and grew worried, but news of a violent death was never expected, he said.

“His dream was to go to Italy and then reach the U.K. and help himself and his family members,” he said.

Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman, said on Sunday he believed the victims were Ethiopian migrants trying to reach Europe, an account bolstered by local residents who said impoverished young men are tempted to make the perilous journey to Europe.

“There is no job opportunity here. I will try my luck too, but not through Libya,” said Meshesa Mitiku, a longtime friend of the two victims. “I want to move out. There is no chance to improve yourself here. This is the whole community’s opinion.”
Ethiopia’s three days of mourning start Tuesday, when lawmakers will meet to discuss the killings and consider the country’s possible response, the government said in a statement.

Ethiopia has angered Islamic extremists over its military’s attacks on neighboring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim. A militant in the video said “Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap,” but the video did not specifically mention the Ethiopian government’s actions.

The Islamic State video showing the killing of the Ethiopians starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran.

Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed.


Related:
Ethiopia lawmakers to weigh possible response to ISIS killings (CBS/AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya

Militants from the so-called Islamic State stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Libya, in this still image from an undated video posted to a social media website on April 19, 2015. (Reuters)

VOA News

Last updated on: April 20, 2015

Ethiopia has confirmed that 30 of its nationals were killed by Islamic State militants in Libya.

The confirmation came Monday, a day after the Islamic State group released a graphic video purporting to show Ethiopian Christians being decapitated or shot in the back of the head.

An Ethiopian government statement condemned what it called the “inhuman mass murder of its citizens.” The government declared three days of mourning Monday which will start Tuesday, when lawmakers will meet to discuss the killings and consider the country’s possible response, the government said in a statement.

The national flag also will fly at half-staff during the days of mourning.

The 29-minute video, released on Sunday via social media accounts and websites is similar to one released in February showing militants cutting off the heads of Egyptian Christians.

Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman, said on Sunday that he believed the victims were Ethiopian migrants trying to reach Europe.

The Islamic State video showing the killing of the Ethiopians starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran.

US condemnation

The White House has condemned “in the strongest terms” the mass murder.

“That these terrorists killed these men solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists’ vicious senseless brutality,” a spokeswoman said Sunday, adding that the killings show the urgent need for a political settlement to the chaos in Libya, and a unified rejection of terrorist groups.

Ethiopia long has drawn the anger of Islamic extremists over its military’s attacks on neighboring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim. While a militant in the video at one point said, “Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap,” it did not specifically mention the Ethiopian government’s actions.

Arab League plans Cairo meeting

An Arab League official told the French news agency military chiefs from the region would meet in Cairo this week to discuss creating a joint force against the Islamic State group.

The United States already is leading an international coalition carrying out airstrkes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, allowing Iraqi forces to seize back areas from the militants.

Some material for this report came from AP.

Related:
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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Lelisa Desisa Wins Boston Marathon

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia (Left) reclaimed the title he won two years ago, winning the Boston Marathon by a 31-second margin Monday. Caroline Rotich of Kenya (Right) won the women's race. (Photo: USA Today)

The Boston Globe

By John Powers

APRIL 20, 2015

Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa ran away from the pack to post his second Boston Marathon men’s victory in three years, outkicking countryman Yemane Tsegay Monday to win by 31 seconds in a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 17 seconds on a breezy and overcast day.

“I am happy to win and for a strong Boston 2013,” said the 25-year-old Desisa, who two years won the race that was shattered by terrorist bombings near the Boylston Street finish line.

Desisa, who dropped out of last year’s event that was won by Meb Keflezighi, was content to run with nine rivals into a headwind through the Newton hills. But once he came onto the flats, he pulled away from Tsegay and Kenya’s Wilson Chebet, last year’s runner-up, to win by the largest margin since Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot in 2010.

US Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein finished seventh in his Boston debut in 2:11:20 while Keflezighi was eighth in 2:12:42.

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Ethiopia Mourns Victims of IS Violence

Islamic State militants control large swathes of both Iraq and Syria. (AP photo)

BBC News

April 20th, 2015

Ethiopia has declared three days of mourning following the killing by the Islamic State (IS) of more than 20 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

The Libyan branch of IS on Sunday released a video showing one group of men being beheaded on a beach and another group being shot in a desert.

Ethiopia’s government has now confirmed that the people shown being killed were Ethiopian migrant workers.

IS and other jihadist groups are present in several Libyan towns.

Ethiopians have taken to social media to express their shock, anger and grief following the killings, reports the BBC’s Anne Soy.

The country’s parliament is expected to hold an emergency session.

The African Union, the European Union and the US have also expressed their solidarity with Ethiopia.

Read more at BBC News »

Related:
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Condemns IS Killings of Christians

Men described as Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya kneeling on the ground in front of masked militants before their execution in a desert area at an undisclosed location in Libya (AFP Photo)

April 19th, 2015

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia condemned Sunday the reported killing of Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya, and vowed to continue its fight against Islamist extremists.

“We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians are not,” Ethiopian Minster of Communications Redwan Hussein told AFP.

Ethiopia’s embassy in Egypt was working to verify if those killed were indeed Ethiopians, he added.

The Islamic State jihadist group on Sunday released a video purportedly showing the executions of some 30 Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya.

The 29-minute video purports to show militants holding two groups of captives, described in a text on the screen as “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church”.

A masked fighter in black brandishing a pistol makes a statement threatening Christians if they do not convert to Islam.

A large number of Ethiopians leave their country — Africa’s second largest in terms of population with more than 90 million people — seeking work elsewhere.

Many travel to Libya and other north African nations for jobs, as well as to use it as a stepping stone before risking the dangerous sea crossing to Europe.

Read more »

Related:
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya

A video released on Sunday by the Islamic State appears to show fighters from affiliates in southern and eastern Libya executing dozens of Ethiopian Christians. (Image from AP video)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

By JON GAMBRELL and ELIAS MESERET

CAIRO (AP) — Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians, a video purportedly from the extremists showed Sunday. The attack widens the circle of nations affected by the group’s atrocities while showing its growth beyond a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

The release of the 29-minute video comes a day after Afghanistan’s president blamed the extremists for a suicide attack in his country that killed at least 35 people — and underscores the chaos gripping Libya after its 2011 civil war and the killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

It also mirrored a film released in February showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group’s suspected positions in Libya. Whether Ethiopia would — or could — respond with similar military force remains unclear.

Ethiopia long has drawn the anger of Islamic extremists over its military’s attacks on neighboring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim. While the militant in the video at one point said “Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap,” it did not specifically mention the Ethiopian government’s actions.

The video, released via militant social media accounts and websites, could not be independently verified by The Associated Press. However, it corresponded to other videos released by the Islamic State group and bore the symbol of its al-Furqan media arm.

The video starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran.

It shows one group of captives, identified as Ethiopian Christians, purportedly held by an Islamic State affiliate in eastern Libya known as Barqa Province. It also shows another purportedly held by an affiliate in the southern Libyan calling itself the Fazzan Province. The video then switches between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach. It was not immediately possible to estimate how many captives were killed or confirm their identities.

In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video’s authenticity. Hussein said he believed those killed likely were Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.

“If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,” Hussein said.

Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office, told the AP he also believed the victims likely were migrants.

“I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,” Mulugeta said. “No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.”

Ethiopia’s options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from Libya. However, Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohammed Edrees said his country could partner with Addis Ababa to strike the militants.

“That could be an option,” Edrees told the AP. “We will see and explore what is possible to deal with group.”

Edrees said Ethiopian officials had yet to approach Egypt to discuss the idea.

Read more »

Related:
Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Media Crackdown & Election in Ethiopia

Ethiopian federal police in Addis Ababa prior to the country's last general election in 2010. (AP photo)

KBIA Radio

By JASON MCLURE

Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections are set to be held May 24th, but there is little doubt the ruling party will win an overwhelming majority amidst a crackdown on independent media and political dissidents. This week on Global Journalist, we look at why and how the restrictions on the media in Africa’s second-most populous country began, and speak with a journalist who spent more than a year in prison for reporting.


Related:
U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign
Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Ethiopia Development Aid Money
As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

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SEED: Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora Announces 2015 Honorees

Photo from past award event hosted by Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora. (Photo: Ulf Niskanen)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, April 18th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) will hold its 23nd Annual Awards Gala at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C. on May 24th, 2015.

The organization announced that it will honor ten individuals from the Diaspora this year, including educators, former government officials, artists, activists, journalists and students. The honorees are Aklilu Habtewold, Tamagne Beyene, Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Jane Kurtz, Tesfaye Gessesse, Dr. Zebene Lemma, Dr. Teshome Wagaw and students Elizabeth Elsa Girma, Naomi Fesseha and Woudese Befikadu.

Last year, the awards went to Professor Donald N. Levine, Obang Metho, Menbere Aklilu, Ambassador Zewde Retta and the late Rachel Beckwith.

SEED said it is recognizing former Ethiopian Prime Minister Aklilu Habtewold posthumously “in acknowledgment of his outstanding lifelong public service with integrity, in appreciation of his contribution to the modernization and development of Ethiopia (including building Ethiopia’s defense capability at the time), in connecting Ethiopian Airlines to the rest of the world, in fighting against Italian aggression in his youth, for amicably resolving boarder conflicts with Ethiopia’s neighbors, for being instrumental to making Addis Ababa the home for the AU (OAU) headquarters, for bringing Ethiopia to the world stage by representing it with dignity and resolve in the UN, Europe, the US and Africa, and for his own academic accomplishments, demonstrated love of country.”

In addition, SEED will bestow the accolade on CNN Hero Yohannes Gebregeorgis and Jane Kurtz “as collaborative founders of Ethiopia Reads, an organization that brings books and libraries to rural Ethiopia, in appreciation of the rich and positive contributions they have made by exemplifying the highest ideals and standards education for our young people, as well as in recognition of their own inspiring academic excellence, prolific writings of children’s books, civic responsibilities and continuing the work respectively.”

Artist and Professor Tesfaye Gessesse is being honored “in acknowledgment of his outstanding life-long contributions to the preservation of our culture through his prolific writings, theatrical and poetic talents, as a playwright whose work has inspired many followers of his work, as a founder of Orchestra Ethiopia, as a distinguished role model to the countless young artists in Ethiopia and Ethiopians around the globe, as a venerated teacher with his own stellar academic accomplishments and for all of his lifetime achievements.”

Teshome Wagaw, a founding member of the Ethiopian Mahber of Michigan (EMM) and co-founder of the Ethiopian American Education Foundation (EAF), is also being honored. “Known to a great number of Ethiopians from the 1960s as a pioneer Voice of America Broadcaster, Professor Emeritus, Dr. Teshome Wagaw is an outstanding scholar and exemplary role model to Ethiopians everywhere,” SEED said. “Dr. Wagaw is loved and admired by many across generations.” The organization added: “SEED honors Dr. Wagaw in acknowledgement of his contribution to the development of higher education in Ethiopia (both as respected professor and author), in recognition of his own academic accomplishments, demonstrated patriotism, unselfish devotion to humanitarian causes, unfading interest and love of country.”

For more information on 2015 SEED honorees please visit www.ethioseed.com

If You Go:
23rd ANNUAL SEED AWARDS DINNER
SUNDAY, May 24th, 2015 at 6:30pm
Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center
Washington DC
Tickets: $75 online
$85 on-site, $35 Children under 12
Buy Tickets Online or make check payable to SEED
P.O. Box 848, Pomona, NJ, 082401
Phone: 609- 407-0496 or 234 -380-1533
www.ethioseed.com

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Strong Words Start, May End, South African Xenophobic Attacks

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Anita Powell

JOHANNESBURG — After a protracted silence, South African President Jacob Zuma publicly has condemned a rise in attacks on foreign nationals in two major cities. But critics point out that the leadership in the Rainbow Nation — including Zuma himself — has been less than welcoming to foreign residents, and that a war of words started this conflagration. And the perpetual thorn in Zuma’s side, opposition rabblerouser Julius Malema, says Zuma is to blame for the fact that South Africans increasingly see violence as the solution to their problems.

“We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms,” Zuma said. “The attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu. Our country stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism.”

Strong words from President Jacob Zuma before a nation in the throes of violence against African immigrants. In recent weeks, his nation has seen an upswing in attacks against foreign residents — particularly lower-income residents originally from Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

Criticism

The violence started in the coastal city of Durban and then spread to the economic hub, Johannesburg. But Zuma’s words before parliament failed to satisfy his critics, who immediately pounced on him.

Zuma’s biggest critic, far-left politician Julius Malema, delivered a rousing speech that highlighted — in more ways than one — that the president’s stoic, often stilted rhetoric is an impediment to his message.

“Mr. President, you come here, you want to condemn violence against xenophobia. But the Cubans have taught us that body language speaks volumes than prepared speech,” he said.

“You come with a prepared speech, your body doesn’t suggest any other leader who is concerned about the killings in KwaZulu-Natal. But when you were defending the spending in Nkandla, your body language was very stronger than when you were condemning the violence … activities in the country. Fellow South Africans, we need each other, let us not kill each other. There is no country in Africa that can survive in isolation.”

Fanning the flames

After all, it was a speech that may have sparked this latest round of xenophobic attacks. In late March, the king of the Zulu people, Goodwill Zwelithini, delivered a speech that many construed as being derisive of foreign residents. Zuma’s son later publicly supported and added to the king’s sentiments, adding fuel to the fire.

Among the king’s reported remarks: “We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”

The king claims his words were poorly translated from isiZulu and that he was misinterpreted. He now faces a charge of hate speech.

Activist Tim Flack this week laid a complaint against the king. Flack’s day job is as an organizer for the South African National Defense Union, but he says he laid the hate speech charge in his personal capacity. He says that hate speech is imbedded in South African society.

Apartheid mentality lingers

“South Africa’s come from a very very, sort of, racist past, coming from the apartheid regime and moving over into democracy,” said Flack. “People have still got wounds from all those years back and now those guys that were young then have now had children, it’s sort of carrying on. It’s going to take a very long time before that sort of mentality of us and them … it’s always us and them. And this is mentality that’s been coded into us by the apartheid regime and it’s very difficult, it seems like it’s been very difficult for people to sort of let that go.”

More worrying, Malema says, is the tendency of South Africa’s leadership to react violently — as an example, he mentioned the 2012 mineworkers’ strike in the town of Marikana that led police to shoot dead 34 protesters.

Malema put the blame for this squarely on Zuma.

“It was through the state that our people were taught that the resolution to differences will be through violence,” he said. “It was under your leadership that when you disagreed with people in Marikana, you killed them. Because you never believed in peaceful resolution of differences.”

Rainbow Nation at risk?

This is not the South Africa that many people hoped for in 1994, when the nation ended its racist regime and dubbed itself the inclusive Rainbow Nation. And it’s not the nation that so many immigrants — from Africa and beyond — flocked to in search of a new life and better opportunities.

This, in the words of former President Nelson Mandela, is what that nation was about.

“Let be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. I thank you,” Mandela said.


Related:
South Africans Protest Xenophobia, Violence on Social Media (CNN)
South Africa: Foreign-owned Shops Looted Despite Zuma Call for Peace (BBC News)
South Africa Mob Sets Two Ethiopian Brothers on Fire Inside Shipping Container
Thousands flee after South Africa mobs attack immigrants (CNN)
South Africa grapples with outbreak of anti-immigrant violence (The Los Angeles Times)

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Ethiopia Fires Coach Mariano Barreto

The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) says it is terminating the contract of head coach Mariano Barreto.

BBC Sport

By Betemariam Hailu

The Portuguese, a former Ghana coach, took charge of the Walia Antelopes last year, signing a two year contract.

But a disappointing reign saw Ethiopia finish bottom of their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group.

An official statement, sent to BBC Sport, says the EFF will pay an undisclosed amount of money to Baretto for ending the contract early.

Local media have reported on deep divisions between Barreto and the EFF’s technical department.

Ethiopia are drawn with Algeria, Lesotho and Seychelles in their 2017 Nations Cup qualifying group.
They kick off their campaign against Lesotho in June.

The EFF have declined to suggest who may be in the frame to take charge of the national side for the qualifiers.

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Harvard Portrait: Ethiopian American Computer Scientist Jelani Nelson

Jelani Nelson is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Harvard University. (Photo by Jim Harrison)

Harvard Magazine

By Jonathan Shaw

JELANI NELSON LIGHTS UP when he talks about algorithms. The soft-spoken assistant professor of computer science is a rising star in a field made vital as data proliferate exponentially faster than the growth of computational power or storage. Algorithms, well-defined procedures for carrying out computational tasks, speed the way to answers. Nelson has a knack for speed: online, where he is known as “minilek”—a handle chosen in youth when he was growing up on St. Thomas, and derived from the name of an early ruler of Ethiopia, whence his mother hails—he has excelled with equal ease in coding competitions and typing contests (topping out above 200 words per minute). Though he is a theorist now, solving real problems quickly “cements the concepts in your mind,” he says. Borne of that conviction, every homework assignment in his undergraduate course Computer Science 124, “Data Structures and Algorithms,” includes an algorithmic programming problem. His own student years were spent practically next door, at MIT, where he majored in mathematics and computer science, and remained to earn a Ph.D. in the latter field. He came to Harvard in 2013 after postdoctoral research at Berkeley and Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. Nelson’s specialty is “sketching,” an approach to dealing with problems in which there are “too many data in the input.” He figures out how to create compressed, often exponentially smaller, versions of datasets that nevertheless retain useful, accurate information. His proofs defining the limits of such approaches have illuminated fundamental questions, some of them unanswered for decades. Though he is humble and quiet, his colleagues are less reserved: they call him “simply brilliant.”


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U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman. (Photo: freedomhouse.org)

Freedom House

April 16th, 2015

Washington — In response to today’s comments by Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, in which she referred to Ethiopia as a democracy and the country’s upcoming elections free, fair, and credible, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Under Secretary Sherman’s comments today were woefully ignorant and counter-productive,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president of Freedom House. “Ethiopia remains one of the most undemocratic countries in Africa. By calling these elections credible, Sherman has tacitly endorsed the Ethiopian government’s complete disregard for the democratic rights of its citizens. This will only bolster the government’s confidence to continue its crackdown on dissenting voices.”

Background:
Since coming into power in the early 1990s, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has dominated politics through a combination of political cooptation and harassment. The country experienced a degree of democratization through the early 2000’s, culminating in the most competitive elections in the county’s history in 2005. Since these elections, the EPRDF has restricted political pluralism and used draconian legislation to crack down on the political opposition, civil society organizations, and independent media. In the 2010 elections, EPRDF and its allies won 546 out of 547 parliamentary seats.

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2014.


Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Related:
African Elections & Governance in 2015
African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril

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Ethiopia’s Economic Miracle Is Running Out of Steam (Foreign Policy)

(Getty Images)

Foreign Policy

BY ROBERT LOONEY

Just over 30 years ago, Ethiopia’s famine regularly made the news. Gruesome accounts of up to a million deaths stemming from drought and civil war captured the attention of aid agencies, sympathetic governments, and humanitarian groups around the world. Contrast that with the past decade, when Ethiopia averaged an economic growth rate of slightly better than 10 percent. The about-face has been so dramatic that some seasoned observers have gone so far as to call Ethiopia’s progress an economic miracle, dubbing the country an “African lion” whose success recalls that of Asia’s economic tigers.

Encouraged by its accomplishments, the governing Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) continues to focus on a high-growth strategy aimed at making Ethiopia a middle-income country by 2025. To the casual observer, this goal appears increasingly within reach. Ethiopia is not just growing, but has already met or is coming close to meeting some of its important Millennium Development Goals, including universal primary education and reductions in infant mortality. The country’s poverty rate fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011. Unemployment rates, though still high, have been coming down. And the number of Ethiopian millionaires has increased faster than in any other African country.

But these successes have come at a price. The government’s obsession with meeting high growth targets at any cost has resulted in widespread popular anger and discontent, much of it along regional and ethnic lines. The Ethiopian government claims its practice of cheaply leasing out large tracts of land to major agribusinesses after resettling or displacing the local population are necessary to sustain economic growth. Instead, these “land grabs” have led only to disappointing output levels, human rights violations, and abuses of power. As a result, despite the economic boom, if the EPRDF claims victory in the upcoming May 25 national and regional elections, it will be due only to its repressive political tactics: harassment of the opposition, harsh crackdowns on protests, and jailing of critical journalists in record numbers.

Read more at foreignpolicy.com »

Related:
Africa’s Hegemon: Ethiopia’s Power Plays (Foreign Affairs)

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Ethiopian Airlines Flight From China to Ethiopia Forced to Land Twice in India

A 10-hour flight from China turned into a lengthy delay as an Ethiopian plane diverted twice to India.

Daily Mail

By CHRIS KITCHING FOR MAILONLINE

Ethiopian Airlines passengers were forced to endure a frustrating experience when their plane had to divert to Mumbai’s primary airport twice on the same day.

Indian media reported that the Boeing 777-300ER first diverted to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport to refuel about eight hours into its flight from southern China to Addis Ababa.

After topping up it departed for Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital, but was forced to return after the flight crew declared an emergency shortly after take-off.

Flight ET607 was carrying 283 passengers and 14 crew members from Guangzhou, China when it had to change course and refuel in Mumbai at about 4:15am local time yesterday.

The twin-engine plane departed for Ethiopia at 7:30am, but was forced to turn back as it flew over the Arabian Sea.

It made an emergency landing in Mumbai due to engine trouble, Mid-Day reported.

The plane was taken out of service for an inspection and any necessary repairs, meaning passengers were forced to disembark and enter the airport terminal.

Read more at DailyMail.com »

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New Evidence Ties World Bank to Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

(Photographs courtesy of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

The Huffington Post

By Sasha Chavkin

Thursday, APRIL 16, 2015

The soldiers pointed their guns at Odoge Otiri and led the 22-year-old student into the forest outside his village in western Ethiopia. Then, he says, they began pounding him with their nightsticks, leaving him bloody and unmoving.

“I was unconscious,” he recalls. “The reason they left me is they thought I was going to die.”

That night, soldiers arrested his wife, Aduma Omot.

“The soldiers took me to their camp,” she says. “Then they mistreated me, they raped me.”
They held her for two days, she says, before they let her go.

The soldiers attacked them, Otiri says, because he opposed Ethiopian authorities’ efforts to force him and his neighbors from their homes as part of the country’s so-called “villagization” effort — a massive social engineering project that sought to move almost 2 million poor people to newly built sites selected by the government.

Otiri and Omot are among thousands of Anuak, a mostly Christian indigenous group from the rural Ethiopian state of Gambella, who have fled from Ethiopia’s mass relocation campaign.

The Ethiopian government financed the evictions in part by tapping into a pool of aid money from the world’s most influential development lender, the World Bank, two former Ethiopian officials who helped carry out the relocation program told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The money, the former officials said, was diverted from the $2 billion in funding that the World Bank had put into a health and education initiative.

The World Bank strongly disputes that its money supported the mass evictions in western Ethiopia. Even as Anuak refugees and human rights groups have publicly charged that World Bank money has been used to bankroll brutal evictions, the bank has continued to send hundreds of millions of dollars into the same health and education program.

“We are confident that the money was used for the purposes intended,” Greg Toulmin, the World Bank’s country program coordinator for Ethiopia, told ICIJ in March. “We remain confident that there was no link.”

New evidence gathered by ICIJ undermines the bank’s continuing denials that its money bankrolled the evictions.

Read more and watch video at huffingtonpost.com »

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South Africa Mob Sets Two Ethiopian Brothers on Fire Inside Shipping Container

Men armed with machetes make their way onto a street in Durban, South Africa on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In one of the most horrifying anti-immigrant mob attacks that’s currently rocking South Africa, two young Ethiopian brothers are said to have been locked inside their small shop in a shipping container and set on fire last Friday in a township near Durban.

The Los Angeles Times reported that “Tesema Marcus, 22, died that night at a hospital, while his brother, Alex, 24, remains in a serious condition.”

“It began after the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, told his followers last month that foreigners in South Africa should pack up and leave,” according to LA Times. “President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, had also chimed in that foreigners were “taking over the country.”

The report added: “Last week, violent attacks on immigrant shopkeepers in Durban townships exploded and have continued since. Dozens of immigrants in Johannesburg and other cities shuttered their shops Wednesday as anonymous cellphone text messages warned that Zulu people were coming to kill immigrants in neighborhoods with large migrant populations.”

The spokesman for the Ethiopian Community Association, Dereje Fana, told LA Times that his office “had been pressing South African authorities to take attacks on immigrants more seriously” and to protect them and their property.

Dereje said the Zulu king is to blame for the provocative comments that launched the latest xenophobic violence. “We have heard it’s going to continue,” he said. “We’re trying to highlight it and bring it to the attention of the authorities, to create awareness and protect their lives and protect their businesses.”

CNN noted that “more than 2,000 people fled to South African police stations Thursday after mobs with machetes attacked immigrants in Durban, leaving at least five people dead, an aid group said. The attacks in Durban killed two immigrants and three South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, authorities said.”

“There has been an outpouring of support from ordinary South Africans who are disgusted with the attacks not only because they are foreign, or African, but because they are fellow human beings,” said Gift of the Givers charity, which is helping those seeking refuge at police stations. “We are preparing aid packages for those who may journey onwards to their home countries.”



Related:
Thousands flee after South Africa mobs attack immigrants (CNN)
South Africa grapples with outbreak of anti-immigrant violence (The Los Angeles Times)

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Ethiopia’s Building Boom Masking Poverty?

(Getty Images)

BBC

By Lerato Mbele

Addis Ababa – Whenever we set up our camera and flapped open our sun reflectors in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, passers-by became curious and eager to help.

But getting them to talk on camera was another matter as in general residents of the city are reticent and keep their views to themselves.

We were filming in Addis Ababa for a programme charting the changes in the country, yet it was only on the flight back to South Africa that I met an Ethiopian willing to be candid.

I found myself seated next to an inquisitive elderly Ethiopian woman, who was chatty despite the early morning departure.

However, she was not so open as to be willing for me to mention her name here.

She wore a green twin-set, leggings and woollen socks with her loafers. After the rigorous security checks, she took the socks off, saying she only wears them to keep her feet clean at the end of the security protocols.

She reminded me a bit of my mother, both caring and bossy all in one person.

During the flight, she cut me a portion of her fruit and insisted that I eat every morsel; her stern gaze suggested that I had no choice.

‘Foregone conclusion’

We talked about a lot of things, including my impressions of Nigeria, especially following the ground-breaking presidential election there when the incumbent lost.

She was proud of the manner in which Nigerians had used their vote to make a strong statement about their government.

I replied that perhaps if Ethiopians have strong views about the ruling party – the EPRDF, in power since 1991 – then they could also do the same when elections are held in May.

My neighbour dispelled that notion very quickly and whispered that she believes the result is a foregone conclusion.

I argued that surely Ethiopia’s democracy is deeper than that, and that many support the government as they are grateful for the development in recent years.

She smirked and told me to open my eyes wider during my next visit.

Beggars

I was urged to investigate the economic statistics.

They show an economy growing in near double-digits, but about 40% live below the poverty line.


This photo is from 2007, but homeless people are still seen on the streets of Addis Ababa. (BBC)

She reminded me of the beggars who are on the streets of Addis Ababa.

Then I recalled our filming around the city.

There is a clear image of frantic construction taking place, with a monorail, new roads and apartment blocks all being built.

But I also noticed that many of the buildings are empty.

I asked my new friend why she thought this was.

She reckons the Ethiopian middle-class cannot afford the rents, and that professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, have resorted to using parts of their home as consulting rooms, because they cannot pay for office space.

Read more at BBC.com »

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US to Take Cuba Off Terror-sponsor List

U.S. and Cuban flags waving from the balcony of the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, Cuba. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Michael Bowman

April 15, 2015

WASHINGTON — Congressional reaction to President Barack Obama’s push to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism spans from ardent support to fervent opposition, with many lawmakers of both parties taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Long overdue,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who ridiculed any suggestion that Cuba today poses a security threat to the United States.

“They are riding the last mile of socialism in a ’57 Chevy. They didn’t belong on the list for a while; it was more a political designation,” he said. “That list ought to mean something. Now [with Cuba’s likely removal], it means a lot more.”

By contrast, Cuban-American Republican Senator Marco Rubio issued a video condemning the president’s move.

“Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. They harbor fugitives of American justice,” he said. “It is also the country that is helping North Korea evade weapons sanctions by the United Nations. I think it sends a chilling message to our enemies abroad that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name.”

Cuba will remain on the terrorism-sponsor list for a 45-day review period, during which time Congress could pass a resolution to block Obama’s decision. Other nations on the list are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Tuesday’s White House announcement came as many lawmakers were focused on another foreign policy question – Congress’ role in Iran nuclear talks – and members of both parties say they will use the review period to examine Cuba’s record more closely.

“We are going to review the [administration’s] rationale and use the 45-day period we are allotted to determine whether we stick with the president’s determination,” said Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who nevertheless calls himself a “strong supporter” of normalized relations between Washington and Havana.

Equally cautious is Republican Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who says he is drafting a letter to the White House seeking more information on the president’s decision.

“Before we respond, we want to ask some questions,” said Corker.

Others have made up their minds about the Obama administration’s overall engagement with Cuba’s communist government.

“They don’t give freedom of speech, freedom of the press,” said Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who represents Florida, home to a large Cuban-American population.

“If we are going to have a normal relation with Cuba, they have got to open up, stop human rights abuses, and give the rule of law,” he said.

“I think the president is moving in the correct direction,” said Democratic Senator Edward Markey. “It is time for us to move as quickly as possible toward the normalization of relations with Cuba.”

For decades after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Havana backed insurgents and leftist movements in the Americas and parts of Africa. Analysts say Cuba’s foreign adventurism all but ended in the 1990s, although Havana continues to harbor a handful of fugitives from U.S. justice.

More recently, Cuba has played the role of mediator rather than agitator, hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels.

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Ethiopians Talk of Violent Intimidation as Land Earmarked For Foreign Investors

New report gives damning indictment of the government’s mandatory resettlement policy carried out in a political climate of torture, oppression and silencing. (Photograph: Siegfried Modola/Reuters)

The Guardian

By David Smith

The human cost of Ethiopia’s “villagisation” programme is laid bare by damning first person testimony published on Tuesday.

The east African country has long faced criticism for forcibly relocating tens of thousands of people from their ancestral homes to make way for large scale commercial agriculture, often benefiting foreign investors. Those moved to purpose-built communes are allegedly no longer able to farm or access education, healthcare and other basic services.

The victims of land grabbing and displacement are given a rare voice in We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a report from the California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute.

Some of the interviewees still live in Ethiopia, while others have sought political asylum abroad, and all remain anonymous for their own safety.

‘My village refused to move so they forced us with gunshots’

“My village refused to move,” says one, from the community of Gambella. “So they forced us with gunshots. Even though they intimidated us, we did not move – this is our land, how do we move? They wanted our land because our land is the most fertile and has access to water. So the land was promised to a national investor.

“Last year, we had to move. The promises of food and other social services made by the government have not been fulfilled. The government gets money from donors but it is not transferred to the communities.”

The land grab is not only for agriculture, the interviewee claims, but the community has also seen minerals and gold being mined and exported. “We have no power to resist. We need support. In the villages, they promised us tractors to help us cultivate. If money is given to the government for this purpose, we don’t know how it is used.

“The government receives money from donors, but they fill their pockets and farmers die of hunger.”

Read more »


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1989 and the Era of Relief: Ethiopia and the US at the End of the Cold War

In 1989 at Addis Ababa airport an Ethiopian honor guard carries the casket of American Mickey Leland, a U.S. congressman from Texas, who died when a plane he was on crashed during a visit to Ethiopia. (AP)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

New York — Next week at Columbia University, a “Contemporary Africa Seminar” with historian Benjamin Talton looks at 1989 and the Era of Relief: Ethiopia and the US at the End of the Cold War


Benjamin Talton

Abstract: The international responses to food crises in Africa during the 1980s set the stage for post-Cold War era in which issues related to humanitarian intervention, development, and aid were the central features. As in Europe, 1989 was pivotal in Africa for dismantling the Cold War in symbolic and real ways as a viable framework for international affairs. Drawn from a chapter of my book-project, The End of Altruism: Africa, Aid and U.S. Politics in the 1980s, this paper reconstructs key events during of transformative year 1989 to demonstrate the significance of Western humanitarian relief in the Horn of Africa and Sudan and the Soviet Union’s retreat from African affairs for the advent of the humanitarian turn.

Bio: Professor Benjamin Talton is an associate professor of African history and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Temple University. He specializes in modern Africa and the African Diaspora. He has published on local politics in Ghana, Ethiopia, and the African diaspora, including two books: The Politics of Social Change in Ghana (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010) and Black Subjects in Africa and its Diasporas, with Dr. Quincy Mills—Vassar College—(Palgrave MacMillan, August 2011). In 2005-2006, he served as a visiting senior lecturer and scholar-in-residence at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. Professor Talton is the current president of the Ghana Studies Association


If You Go:
Date: April 23, 2015 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: Columbia University Faculty House
www.columbia.edu

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Africa’s Hegemon: Ethiopia’s Power Plays

Construction workers in a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, March 31, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Foreign Affairs

By Harry Verhoeven

In 1991, as the Cold War drew to an end, the only African country that had never been colonized by European imperialists was but a pale reflection of the Great Ethiopia that generations of the kingdom’s monarchs had pursued. A million people lay dead following two decades of civil war. Secessionist movements in the provinces clamored for self-determination. The economy was in tatters, and another catastrophic famine loomed. The world came to associate Ethiopia with images hoards of starving children, and the country’s regional and domestic decline opened questions about its very survival.

Nationalist historians trace the Ethiopian state’s roots to the second millennium BCE. With the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as one of its founding myths, Ethiopia’s history has between entwined with the development of the Abrahamic faiths: the Jewish presence in the Ethiopian Highlands predates the destruction of the Temple; Ethiopian Orthodox Christians claim that the Ark of the Covenant is located in Axum; and the first Muslim hijra, or flight from Mecca to escape religious persecution, was to Ethiopia. Mystical ancestry and military greatness provided legitimacy to Ethiopia’s rulers for centuries as they controlled their formidably diverse empire through a policy of violent internal assimilation and external expansion.

But ideas of that greatness lay shattered as rebel soldiers from the countryside marched on Addis Ababa in May 1991 and overthrew the (formerly Soviet sponsored) dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam. The leftist liberation movement promised a constitution that would give self-determination to Ethiopia’s ninety-plus nations and nationalities and address the political-economic inequities that had torn the country apart, but observers were sceptical about the ability of the Horn of Africa’s once mightiest empire to reconstitute itself. When the northeastern territory of Eritrea voted for and got independence in 1993, it not only cut Ethiopia off from the sea, but also risked triggering cascading claims for self-rule.

A quarter-century on, though, the mood in Addis Ababa could not be more changed. Between 2001 and 2012–13, Ethiopia’s economy grew more than seven percent per year on average. It was the only African country to move at a pace comparable to the East Asian tigers—and to do so without a hydrocarbons boom or a huge mining sector. The economic miracle resulted in real pro-poor growth, lifting millions of people out of the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, and poor health. While the country’s population soared from roughly 40 million in the 1980s to nearly 100 million today, it achieved the 2000–15 Millennium Development Goals for child mortality and is likely to also meet them for combating HIV/AIDS and rolling back malaria. Ethiopia is also making giant strides tackling income volatility and illiteracy. And, with sequential bumper harvests of Ethiopia’s staple crop, tef (a cereal similar to millet), millions of smallholder farmers might well be able to escape the productivity traps that historically have kept them in abject poverty.

Read more at foreignaffairs.com »

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Sisay Lemma Dominates Vienna Marathon

Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia crosses the finish line to win the Vienna City Marathon in Vienna, Austria on Sunday, April 12th, 2015. (AP photo)

Associated Press

By Eric Willemsen

April 12th, 2015

VIENNA — Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia dominated the Vienna City Marathon Sunday, running on his own for the last 15 kilometers after other pre-race favorites struggled with the wind and injuries.

Lemma surged ahead of the leading group after the final pacemaker had left the race and finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 31 seconds, missing out by 25 seconds on his personal best he set in Doha in January.

“I had to go and run alone because they were not running for me,” Lemma said about the pacesetters, who weren’t fast enough to help reach a target time of 2:06:35.

Despite fierce head winds on the final section, Lemma clocked the third-fastest time in the 32-year history of the event and comfortably beat second-placed Duncan Koech of Kenya by 4:43. Siraj Gena of Ethiopia was another 34 seconds back in third.

“I am very happy to win this marathon. I’ve come here for the first time,” Lemma said. “The people were very good. They said ‘hop, hop’ all the time and they pushed me to run harder.”

It was Lemma’s third marathon victory after winning in Carpi in 2012 and Warsaw the following year.

Getu Feleke of Ethiopia, who set a course record while winning here last year, quit the race after 50 minutes with an apparent right thigh injury.

Feleke was part of a leading group of five, which quickly reduced to three as Beraki Beyene of Eritrea fell behind shortly after Feleke pulled out.

Read more »

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Noh Balcha, Architect From Ethiopia, Wins 2015 African Digital Art Challenge

The winning art work by Ethiopian architect Noh Balcha. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, April 11th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Noh Balcha, a 30-year-old architect from Ethiopia, has won the 2015 African Digital Art Challenge prize. Balcha received the most votes via Facebook to beat the seven top competitors. Second place was awarded to Fatoumata Tioye, a 22 year old photographer and artist from Mali.

Noh and Fatoumata will now be headed to Morocco in May to present their work at the annual “Innovation Prize for Africa” conference where they will join innovators from across the continent expected to attend the inaugural award ceremony at the event.

The competition was organized by the non-profit organization the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) and featured contestants who used photography, graphic design and other visual productions to “showcase the innovation ecosystem” in Africa.

“A heartfelt congratulations to all the finalists and a big thank you to all those who decided to vote,” AIF said. “Their work will be shown at the IPA awards event venue in Morocco, and they will have the chance to continue working with AIF on the Foundation’s creative material.”

Noh describes his digital art submission as a reflection “into the future and seeing a very different Africa where we have taken care of all the difficulties and finally started thinking of other goals to pursue for the first time in our history.”

Below is the final Facebook vote tally:

Noh Balcha – 826 likes
Fatoumata Tioye – 667 likes
Kunle Afolayan’s I Makoko floating school – 272 likes
Mariona Lloreta – 72 likes
Ntombi Kunye – 41 likes
Bumba studio – 30 likes
NJB Zebu v 3 EN – 2 likes

Related:
Ethiopian Architect Noh Balcha: A Finalist for 2015 African Digital Art Challenge

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Thailand Police Say Maid’s Claim Against UN Health Official Dr. Yonas Tegegn False

Ethiopian Dr. Yonas Tegegn of the World Health Organisation, seen here while receiving a five-million baht donation to WHO from Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn last September. (Photo: Chiang Rai Times)

The Bangkok Post

11 Apr 2015

An Ethiopian housemaid who claimed her employer Dr Yonas Tegegn, the World Health Organisation’s representative to Thailand, treated her like a slave, made false allegations, police say.

Dr Tegegn and his wife reported to Pak Kret police in Nonthaburi yesterday, Pol Col Mana Tienmaungpak said.

The Ethiopian couple earlier faced claims they had treated their former housemaid, Annet, as a slave.

Dr Tegegn however gave documents to police as proof that Annet was treated as a family member. The papers included receipts of dental and mobile phone service fees Dr Tegegn had paid for Annet, which showed she was free to go out and communicate with others, Pol Col Mana said.

Five witnesses, two foreign neighbours and three guards were questioned, said Pol Col Mana. All said the housemaid lived freely in the house.

Dr Tegegn said he decided to terminate Annet’s contract which ends on June 13 as he wanted a better maid. But Annet ran away, Pol Col Mana said.

He also told police that a lawyer who claimed to represent Annet asked for 500,000 baht in mid-March after she ran away. She then went to file a complaint with police after he refused to pay.

Dr Tegegn also told police they did not keep her passport but she must have forgotten it when she fled.

After questioning, the employers also left US$4,300 (about 139,000 baht), an air ticket to Ethiopia, and Annet’s passport with police to give to Annet.

No charges have been filed so far, but Annet may face charges related to her expired visa to Thailand and filing false claims to incriminate others, Pol Col Mana said. Annet could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Read more »

Related:
WHO Chief in Thailand Dr. Yonas Tegegn Snared in Maid Abuse Probe

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Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m Running for President’

If elected, Hillary Clinton will become America's first female President. (Photograph by Todd Heisler/NYT)

The New York Times

By AMY CHOZICK

Last updated April 13, 2015

For months, the suspense surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plans to make a second attempt at the White House had little to do with whether, and everything to do with why: What would be her rationale for seeking the presidency?

Yet with her videotaped announcement that she would run in 2016 to fight for American families so they can “get ahead and stay ahead,” Mrs. Clinton has only begun to answer that central question.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she says in the highly polished production, whose release just after 3 p.m. on Sunday after a drawn-out buildup seemed to stop a nation of tweeting political obsessives in their tracks. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

With those words, delivered near the end of a 2-minute, 18-second video, Mrs. Clinton ended two years of public demurrals and private maneuvering and instantly put herself in a strong position to become the Democratic standard-bearer. If successful, she would become the first female nominee from either party, with a serious chance to become the first woman to be elected president.

Continue reading at The New York Times »

WATCH: Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m Running for President’

VOA News

Last updated on: April 12, 2015 5:32 PM

After months of speculation, former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton has officially announced she is running for president in 2016.

Clinton made her long-awaited announcement Sunday in an online video posted on social media, promising to work for the middle class.

“Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by,” she said. “You can get ahead and stay ahead. Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.”

Clinton is the first Democrat to formally announce her candidacy to succeed President Barack Obama, who defeated her in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Recent polls show Clinton beating every other possible Democrat. They also show her winning the 2016 election over all Republican candidates by a landslide.

Clinton, 67, is considered a huge favorite to win the Democrats’ nomination this time.

A recent Gallup poll found 48 percent of those surveyed have a favorable impression of Clinton, her lowest rating since 2008. Forty-two percent of those polled had an unfavorable rating of her.

But Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus said Sunday he believes voters do not trust her.

“Over decades as a Washington insider, Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal and failed policies that cannot be erased from voters’ minds.”

They include the deadly terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and using an unofficial email account for official business as secretary of state. Republicans also are likely to bring up scandals involving her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

If elected, Hillary Clinton would be the country’s first female president. She plans to begin her campaign in the early key voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first caucuses and primaries.

Ahead of the announcement, Republicans tried to link Clinton to Obama, a regular focus of GOP criticism.

“We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies,” said former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a potential Republican candidate, in a video Sunday.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign last week, pointed to the Clinton family’s foundation, saying it was hypocritical for the Clintons to accept from Saudi Arabia, which places public restrictions on female movement and activity.

“I would expect Hillary Clinton if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,” Paul said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.”

Foreign policy

The former Secretary of State could turn out to be a lot more hawkish on U.S. foreign policy – issues like Iran, Israel, Syria and Libya – than Obama, analysts said.

“I think that Secretary Clinton will actually try to convey a sense that she is tougher, stronger, more experienced, more professional,” said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report.

But the road to victory for the former first lady could be rocky.

Clinton is perceived by some as unapproachable. Her decision to launch her campaign on YouTube is not going to help that image, said Lara Brown of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

“I don’t know that I would project this image of ‘I’m prepackaged behind a video’ to start this campaign,” Brown told VOA. “I would think she would want to have real people there, that she would want to be in a boisterous but enthusiastic environment.”

Campaign strategy

Clinton’s presidential campaign will center on boosting economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families, while casting the former senator and secretary of state as a “tenacious fighter” able to get results, two senior advisers said Saturday.

The senior advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss her plans ahead of Sunday’s announcement, provided the first preview of the message Clinton planned to convey when she launches her long-anticipated campaign on Sunday with an online video.

The strategy described by Clinton’s advisers has echoes of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. He framed the choice for voters as between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the 2008 economic collapse.

The advisers said Clinton will argue that voters have a similar choice in 2016. Clinton also intends to sell herself as being able to work with Congress, businesses and world leaders.

That approach could be perceived as a critique of Obama. He has largely been unable to fulfill his pledge to end Washington’s intense partisanship and found much of his presidency stymied by gridlock with Congress.

Speaking on U.S. news shows Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry praised his predecessor for the “terrific job” she did in repairing global ties while she was America’s top diplomat.

Clinton “did a terrific job of rebuilding alliances that had been shredded over the course of the prior years,” Kerry told ABC’s This Week.

But Kerry stressed that as the nation’s top diplomat he was out of politics, and it was not for him to endorse any candidates.

Calling Clinton “a good friend,” Kerry told NBC’s Meet the Press that “she’s highly qualified, and I’m confident we’ll wage no matter what, with or without a primary, a formidable campaign.”

Political past

Clinton’s unlikely path to political office began on the sidelines, as the wife to then Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton who would go onto serve two terms in the White House.

Both Yale Law School graduates, the Clintons were a departure from more traditional political couples. During his 1992 campaign, Clinton promised voters that they would get “two for one,” by voting him into office but quickly dropped that claim when it proved unpopular.

Reporters covering the White House noted Clinton’s involvement, her unofficial role as primary adviser to the president – an observation bared out in thousands of photos of the Clintons deep in conversation.

Her biggest initiative while her husband was president, national health care reform, fell apart without coming to a vote in Congress.

Emerging from the shadow of her husband in 2000, first lady Clinton went on to become candidate Clinton, carving out a career as a politician representing New York in the U.S. Senate for eight years. It was the first for a former first lady, and the start of many firsts in her career.

By the summer of 2008, Clinton, now a failed presidential candidate was ready to consider former rival Obama’s offer to appoint her Secretary of State.

International work

The international stage would prove far more welcoming to Clinton, who appeared to find her stride, crisscrossing the globe for talks with world leaders and demonstrating a command of foreign affairs. In her new capacity as the U.S.’s top diplomat, Clinton saw her approval ratings soar, reaching 66 percent in 2010.

The burst of approval a few short years after the public’s rejection of her presidential ambitions, the triumphs followed by potentially career ending lows, have been a constant in her more than two decades in public life.

By 2012, Clinton was again on the defensive, answering to Republicans in congress about the Obama administration’s handling of attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

So far, no other strong Democratic candidates have emerged in the 2016 campaign, but there are some two dozen Republicans fighting for the chance to defeat her at the polls.

On the Republican side, Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have announced their intention to run for their party’s nomination, and Senator Marco Rubio is widely expected to join them on Monday. Others expected to join what analysts say will be a crowded Republican field include former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

WATCH: Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement video

VOA Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.

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Noh Balcha in Africa Digital Art Challenge

Noh Balcha. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Mahlet Kebede

Published: Friday, April 10th, 2015

College Park, Maryland (TADIAS) — Ethiopian architect Noh Balcha is only a few more Facebook Likes away from winning the next African Digital Challenge organized by the non-profit African Innovation Foundation.

Up for grab is a prize of an invitation to the prestigious Africa (#IPA2015) conference in Morocco next month. Many responded to the challenge to “showcase the innovation ecosystem” around them via photography, graphic design and visual productions.

Among the finalists is the 30-year-old from Ethiopia. Noh’s submission is a digital art, which he describes as a reflection “into the future and seeing a very different Africa where we have taken care of all the difficulties.” He adds: “We have faced the past and have finally started thinking of other goals to pursue for the first time in our history.”

Other participants include Catherine Mirembe and Allan Musije from a design firm in Uganda; Fatoumata Tioye, a 22 year old photographer and artist from Mali; Mariona Lloreta, a 29 year old Egyptian visual artist and filmmaker based between the USA and Nigeria; Mbuotidem Johnson, a 31 year old Nigerian film director and animator; Ismael Mohamadou Djida, a 30 year old Cameroonian artist; and Ntombi Kunye, a 35 year old textile designer and artist from Zimbabwe.

Organizers say the top two winners, who manage to receive the most likes on the prize’s Facebook page, will also have their video image shown at the gala venue in Morocco, as well as the chance to continue working with AIF on the Foundation’s creative material.

This would allow the winners to “gain recognition via our IPA brand, increased opportunities to attract investments, media and social media coverage and attention, and the chance to positively transform the African innovation landscape,” AIF says.


About the Author:
Mahlet Kebede is a 2nd year student at the University of Maryland.

To support Noh Balcha – please visit https://m.facebook.com/AfricanInnovationFoundation

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The Idan Raichel Project NYC Concert

The Idan Raichel Project from Israel weaves together traditional music in Hebrew, Arabic and Amharic. (Photo: Wekimedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 10th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Idan Raichel Project — led by the acclaimed Israeli singer and songwriter Idan Raichel who is known for his trademark electronics fusion of Hebrew, Arab and Ethiopian music — plays at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Sunday, April 12th.

Beacon Theatre announced: “In the past four years, Raichel has released a 3-disc live album set, written numerous songs and toured with GRAMMY winner India Arie, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony, co-written a song calling for racial harmony with Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, performed for President Obama and family at the Kennedy Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, performed at the ceremony inaugurating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall and other major venues worldwide, toured India, South America and Africa and released the highly praised Tel Aviv Session album with Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré.”

“The album title Quarter To Six, is based on a quote by the influential Israeli writer/actor/singer Yossi Banai, who passed away in May 2006. In one of his works Banai describes seeing his mother staring silently out a window. With concern Banai asks if she is doing well, and his mother responds, “It feels like it is quarter to six. It’s going to be dark soon.” This deceptively simple statement resonated with Raichel who states, “This quote really affected me. It’s a way to describe the end of life. People learn to accept this time of the day, to come to terms with their life, in peace. And I thought of this moment in my life as also an interesting junction, a crossroads.” Raichel adds, “After ten years with the Project, I feel we have reached a time of change and reflection, a transition period, both musically and personally.”

If You Go:
Sunday, April 12th, 2015
Beacon Theatre
New York, NY
Price Range: $39.50 – $99.50
Click here to get tickets

Related:
The Nile Project’s Mesmerizing New York Concert at Lincoln Center (Audio)

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Ester Rada Returns to New York

(Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Israeli singer Ester Rada will perform live at SOB’s in New York later this month on Apr 27th.

The singer and songwriter is described by critics as “gracefully combining Ethio-Jazz, funk, soul and R&B, with mixed undertones of black grooves.” She has been nominated for the MTV EMA awards “Best Israeli Act.”

“Ester Rada’s cross-cultural sound is a deep reflection of the Israeli born Ethiopian’s heritage,” SOB says. “Growing up in a highly religious Jewish family in more than modest conditions in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Israel, gave Rada the drive to change her way of life and fulfill her dream of creating music.”

SOB’s adds: “Ester is currently finishing work on her debut album, after releasing her acclaimed first self-written and composed solo EP called “Life Happens” produced by Israeli producers Kuti (Kutiman/ThruYou) and Sabbo (Soulico), at the beginning of 2013. Shortly after releasing her EP the world discovered the potential of singer, songwriter, performer, and persona Ester Rada. Ester’s increasing popularity saw her tour the US, Canada, and Europe, and most recently the highly respected Glastonbury Festival. She warmed up for Alicia Keys at her Israel concert, in front of 8500 people,” with Alicia Keys remarking “She is amazing.”

Her video “Life Happens” has aired on MTV France, in Eastern Europe, and Israel, as well as on VH1 UK.

—-
If You Go:
Monday, Apr 27 2015
7:00PM doors / 8:00PM show
$16 in advance – $18 day of show
(age 21+)
R&B / Soul
www.sobs.com

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Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos

Prof. Donald N. Levine signing his book at Tsehai Publishers journal launching ceremony in Los Angeles -- November 27, 2006 at Ramada Hotel / Culver City. (Photograph courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Professor Donald N. Levine, who passed away on Saturday, April 4th at the age of 83, is being remembered by his friends in Ethiopia and the Diaspora as a beloved Ethiopianist, educator, sociological theorist, author, collaborator, advocate, mentor, sensei and friend.

In addition to his well-known credentials as a respected scholar of Ethiopian studies, Levine was also an Aikido sensei and the co-founder of the first Aikido dojo in Awasa, Ethiopia.

Below are reflections and photos sent to us from Don Levine’s friends and colleagues in the U.S. and Ethiopia. Feel free to send us your own reflections at staff@tadias.com. We’ll keep this page updated.

From Tesfaye Tekelu
Aikido Ethiopia & Awasa Youth Campus

“Don was a mentor, a teacher, a sensei and in many ways a father figure to me. I have known him for more than 12 years and he has taught me, trained me, supported me like a father would a son. He was the architect of our project. He helped me found Aikido Ethiopia and the Awasa Youth Campus (Action for Youth & Community) and supported and guided us until the last day of his life. He loved our country and the people, and he was talking about Ethiopia days before he passed away. We will cherish his work and continue working on what we started in our country. Rest in peace, Ethiopiawiwu ye Selam Arbegna.”

From Dag Andargachew
Washington, D.C.


Dag Andargachew and Don Levine. (Courtesy photo)

I’ve known Don’s work for many years and had the pleasure of meeting him 15 years ago when he was in the Bay Area for a meeting. We kept in touch since then and got to hang out again in 2003 when he came back to California to visit an Ethiopian that was imprisoned. Afterwards we went to Yoga Mandala in Berkeley for their 1st anniversary yoga session which was my first ever yoga class!! After that day I was a regular student at that studio till I left the Bay Area and have been hooked on yoga ever since! Thank you Don!!!!

Fast forward a few years and I was living in Addis for a couple of years and had the honor to help Don with administrative staff – organizing meetings, meet and greet events etc. when he came to Ethiopia in Jan 2008, to meet with human rights activists & leaders as well as recently released journalists. I also had the privilege to organize a meeting for him with Gash Mesfin (Prof. Mesfin), who had also been recently released from prison. It was an awesome opportunity for me to sit amongst these two giants and listen-in to their conversation, debate and old stories.

I have driven with Gash Liben to Awasa to check out AYC’s overall progress as well as the setup of the dojo and saw him in action in his beloved Aikido.

It was a pleasure to be around Don and to see him interact with ease with the young, not so young, important officials/diplomats and not so important people attentively and with respect!

Interestingly I found out that my Dad was an undergrad student at AAU when Don first came to Ethiopia and was one of the people that taught him Amharic. I’m glad they got to hang out after so many years in Chicago when my Dad was visiting, and again in Addis when Don visited last.

Don is a true sensei in the whole sense of the word!!

From Mel Tewahade
Denver, Colorado


Don Levine (second from right) with Menze family in Amhara region of Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

I am blessed to have known Dr. Don N. Levine. The God that created heaven and earth is pleased in this Easter day, to receive his servant and our friend into his kingdom. May his writing and teaching touch many lives forever and ever. He has willingly accepted and loved being Ethiopian. He dedicated 55 years of his life studying, writing, teaching, advocating and praying for Ethiopia and Ethiopians. He encouraged all of us to dig deeper into the spirit of Menze and Shoa. He also showed us to live our lives with abundance. He reminded me that Queen of Sheba took gold and incense when she visited King Solomon in Jerusalem. He motivated us to develop our skill of negotiation that our ancestors had once mastered. He showed us how to express what we want with class and dignity using what our ancestors called Wax and Gold. He wanted to show Ethiopians not to be ashamed of our history and heritage. For that alone I am eternally grateful. Gashe Liben, as he is called by his Ethiopian name, We will continue your work and be true to ourselves. May you rest in peace.

From Elias Wondimu, Founder of TSEHAI Publishers
Los Angeles, California


(Courtesy of Tsehai Publishers)

I was blessed enough to work with Gash Liben on several initiatives. To mention a few, he was an editorial advisor and author of TSEHAI Publishers, editorial board member and regular contributor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, and a founding board member and senior scholar of the Ethiopian Institute for Nonviolence Education and Peace Studies, but most of all he was one of the few people who took time to answer any questions that I may have. For me, I lost a mentor, a major supporter, and a collaborator on all of my projects, and an author extraordinaire that I had the privilege of publishing his very last book (Interpreting Ethiopia) among other writings and his classic book: Wax and Gold.

The reaction of our people from across international borders is not due to one or few of his successful writings, but it is due to his life-long engagement with Ethiopia and his advocacy to her citizens’ dignity wherever they might be. What we lost today is not only an acclaimed scholar, but a dear friend of our people and a citizen of the world who cares deeply for its future.

From Professor Ayele Bekerie
Mekele, Ethiopia

Professor Donald Levine, the Ethiopianist Insider Remembered

It was June 2004 and the Honorary Doctorate recipients for the 2004 Addis Ababa University Commencement were assembled in the Office of the University’s President prior to our march to Genet Hall of the Sidist Kilo Campus where the Commencement ceremony took place. Among the recipients were Professor Donald Levine, the Late Professor Ali Mazrui and Professor Ephrem Isaac. I accompanied Professor Ali Mazrui to the event from the US. As we passed the Ras Mekonen Hall, Professor Levine looked up the door of the Hall and excitedly pointed the motto of the University posted at the top. He asked us if we know the meaning of the motto written in Ge’ez.

Kulu Amekeru Wezesenaye Atsneu,” Professor Levine read the motto loud. He then quickly shared with us the meaning as if to free us from the instant question he posed to us. The motto, which translates to “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good,” was known to Professor Levine since his time as a Professor in the then Haile Selassie I University over fifty years ago. The motto became part of our conversation as we marched to Genet Hall. This anecdote typifies the nature and personality of Professor Levine and his extraordinary immersion into Ethiopian history, culture and society.

Professor Levine has always maintained an insider view, that is, he studied the language, assumed the position of being empathic with the culture and looked at the history and culture of the people Ethiopia from the inside out. Professor Levine was so intimate with the field of Ethiopian Studies that he was able to produce, as most agree, two outstanding and classical books on aspects of Ethiopian culture and society: Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture (1967) and Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of Multiethnic Society (1974).

While Wax and Gold demonstrates the extent and depth of Professor Levine’s understanding of the nuances and complexities in Amharic language and the people who speak it, Greater Ethiopia expanded his scholarly reach within Ethiopian Studies and he ably argued in favor of Ethiopian multiethnic identity. These two books are by far widely quoted and referenced works in the field of Ethiopian Studies. Of course, Professor Levine wrote 5 books and a hundred journal articles. He successfully conducted scholarly works in Social Theory, Ethiopian Studies and the Martial Arts.

Professor Levine to many Ethiopians at home and abroad is known as Gashe Liben. This is an earned name. He earned the most gracious and affectionate title as a result of his remarkable accessibility to Ethiopians and their organizations, be it in social, cultural, educational and political settings. Gashe Liben prefaced many books authored by Ethiopian or Ethiopianist scholars. He contributed a great deal of articles for various journals in Ethiopian Studies. He organized international conferences and gave many media interviews. Gashe Liben helped several Ethiopians with their immigration cases.

More importantly, he always offered his advice, critical but balanced, with regard to current issues of Ethiopia. He always cautioned fellow Ethiopians to seize the moment and get engaged with the modernization of Ethiopia informed by tradition. He urged us to stop missing opportunities.

To me, Professor Levine’s seminal contribution in the field of Ethiopian Studies was his definition and articulation of what he calls the Ethiopian national epic. The professor argued that Kebre Negest is a national epic or mythology. A people with national epic, according to him, are a people with deep-rooted identity. A people confident of their identity are capable and willing to defend it. True, the mythology has to be expanded and should include the multiple mythologies of our people. But as a tribute to Professor Levine, we should all agree that our multiethnic identity is founded on a great epic of a great people.

From Kidist Tariku, Coordinator of Ethiopia’s Long Live the Girls program
Hawassa, Ethiopia

We are very sad to lose such a loving and intelligent man. His name and work always remains in our organization’s history. He is our founder; he will always be respected and loved for what he did for our community. May his soul rest in peace.

Long Live the Girls is a girls’ empowerment program through creative writing initiative founded in 2012 through a partnership between Action for Youth & Community Change & Break Arts: International Arts & Education Collaborative. Using creative writing to spark the imagination and see the world as if it could be otherwise, our model for engagement is unique — we create safe spaces for girls and women to speak and write with freedom, often using both political and poetic documents as the springboard for conversation, writing & performance.

From Dr. Theodore M. Vestal
Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University


Ted Vestal. (Courtesy photo)

A Tribute to Professor Donald Levine

Ethiopia lost a stalwart friend, scholar and benefactor of the common good with the death of Professor Donald Levine this week in Chicago. His books about Ethiopia, especially Wax and Gold and Greater Ethiopia, are classical studies of the society, history, and culture of the Land of Prester John that so fascinated him. His many articles and public addresses about Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa leave a profound legacy for Ethiopians to ponder in the years to come. His thoughts about Ethiopia and prescriptions for its future were informed by his life as superbly trained American academic and public intellectual.

Don came to Chicago fresh out of high school and took advantage of the University of Chicago’s accelerated degree program begun during the university’s presidency of Robert Hutchins. In a seven year span from 1950 through 1957, he completed his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology and went to Ethiopia to undertake field work. He resided in a rural Manz, an Amhara area and learned firsthand about the people and their ways. He studied Amharic and could converse with the subjects of his research. He then became a professor at Haile Selassie I University where he was teaching during the attempted coup in 1960. Levine joined the faculty at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, in 1962 and rose through the academic ranks to become Professor of Sociology and holder of the endowed Peter B. Ritzma chair. He also served as Dean of the College in the 1980s.

Levine’s teaching, speaking, and writing about Ethiopia reflected his grounding in the Chicago method of higher education characterized by independent thought and criticism that is created in the interest of the progress of society. In his continuing dialogue with and about Ethiopia, Don was open-minded and welcomed different points of view. In the process of doing this, he extended the bounds of understanding and wisdom about that ancient land. He epitomized the great professor of cultural studies: one who lived and worked among the people, took part in their festivals and celebrations, learned the language, and studied the literature and great books of their tradition. This “Dean of Ethiopianists” as I fondly called him, set a high bar for those who aspire to study and understand Ethiopia.

I met Don for the first time when we served as international election observers in Addis Ababa during the 1992 general elections. As a two-man team, among other things, we visited several precincts and noted some concerns about electoral activities that were included in the African-American Institute’s An Evaluation of the June 21, 1992 Elections in Ethiopia. We subsequently met in Ethiopian-related meetings all over the world, and he was a pleasure to be with. His devotion to searching for the truth about Ethiopia was inspirational. He will be missed.

From Chuck Schaefer
Valparaiso University, Indiana


(Courtesy photo)

Don Levine will be genuinely missed. He had a profound influence on Ethiopian studies. As his grad student, mention of his name open doors for me in Ethiopia even in the dark days of the Derg in the mid 1980s. Deans and/or Vice Ministers may not have always agreed with Don’s “greater Ethiopia” thesis, but they knew it and respected the deep sociological analysis that was at its core.

He was the father of American Ethiopianists. His rapacious appetite for all things involving Ethiopia meant that he served on dissertation committees of sociologists (of course), anthropologists, religious scholars, historians (including myself), linguists, political scientists and probably in a number of other disciplines both here and in Great Britain. To a degree he defined the Ethiopian character in the waining years of the Imperial era, and his “wax & gold” dichotomy ensured that all subsequent scholars had to reckon with Ethiopians as complex, conniving, compassionate peasants and peers alike.

Perhaps Don’s most enduring contribution was his deep understanding of social mobility up and down Ethiopia’s feudal ladder. This made writing a dissertation that would pass his inspection a difficult task, for the normal tropes like social classes had to bend and mend themselves to the realities of Ethiopia’s multiple paths to upward and, simultaneous, downward mobility. Even simple translation had to either be thrown out or appropriately nuanced. For Don, western univocal translation of texts was like paring down a Rembrandt painting to a charcoal sketch, for he was transfixed by the ambiguity inherent in Amharic, its texture, rich meanings and multiple depths of interpretation.

I dropped by Don’s house to discuss an issue related to the 1960 coup d’etat this past summer while Don and Andrew DeCort were editing proofs of “Interpreting Ethiopia.” To the last he was a scholar and a teacher.

I will miss him.

From Ashenaphy Fentie
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Ashenaphy Fentie. (Google Profile)

Donal N. Levine, a distinguished and great Ethiopianist of all time just passed away at the age of 83. He published important works such as, “Greater Ethiopia”, “Wax and Gold” and “Translating Ethiopia”. GREATER ETHIOPIA is his iconic book that I suggest as a must-read by every Ethiopian. As far as impartiality, evident history and the common past of the Horn are the concerns, I personally do not know any other single writer, both from Ethiopia and abroad that can be credited like Levine. He was much more patriotic to Ethiopia than even those Ethiopians, who think they are historians.

Those of you, who are not familiar with Levine and his works, please, read “Greater Ethiopia” and some of his journals on Ethiopian Studies, then you will find out for yourselves who this man really was. He actually was one of the very reasons that brought me into the study of history. I’m so so inspired by him, and very sad we lost him so soon. Regarding the history of Ethiopia and the Horn in general, I believe, no other single writer has ever taken us as far as Levine already did. His sociological studies of the Horn conducted in the late 1960s and his related conclusive theory of the study were incredibly proven to be accurate 40 years later, by the young and contemporary science of Population Genetics.

Rest in peace, our hero Donald Nathan Levine. Thank you for your irreplaceable and immortal contributions in the history and sociology of our beloved Ethiopia.

From Mulugeta Wodajo
Bethesda, Maryland

I had known Don for close to 60 years when we were both graduate students at Chicago and Columbia University, respectively. His two books on Ethiopia, Wax and Gold and Greater Ethiopia have been considered “must read” classics about our country’s society, history and culture ever since they were first published in the 1960s and ‘80s, respectively. He had recently completed another book for publication also on Ethiopia. He had shown me the finished manuscript of that book less than a year ago; hopefully it will see the light of day very soon. Additionally, he had previously published three major books and numerous articles in professional journals in his field of expertise, social anthropology, that were highly valued by experts in that field. He was a highly regarded professor of sociology at Chicago University until his retirement a few years ago and continued to do so from time to time, even after his retirement..

While doing field work for his first book, Wax and Gold, in Menz in the late 1950’s, he took on the name “Liben”, after a close Menzie friend he got to know well during his field work. Many of his Ethiopian friends, including myself, used to call him by that name until the very end. That pleased him a great deal as one could see from his reaction when called by that name. More recently, he also adopted the name of “Gebre Ethiopia” as he considered himself a genuine servant of our country.

I will greatly miss Don. He was one of the few friends left from those bygone years. He has now joined the great Ethiopian scholars – Ethiopian as well as foreigners – gone forever from our midst. May he rest in peace!

From Alemayehu Fentaw Weldemariam
Boston, Massachusetts


From right: Don, Alex and Hans. (Courtesy photo)

In memoriam: Donald Nathan Levine, 1931-2015

I have known Donald Levine at close range. He was a great friend, spiritual father, and mentor. I would have called him “an intellectual soulmate,” as he has referred to me in a note he wrote on his last book, Social Theory As Vocation (2015). To give you a sense of his generosity, when he learnt that I ended up jobless and without a means to support myself and my family in Addis Ababa after my return from Europe as a result of Jimma University’s decision to dismiss me from my teaching job in absentia, he extended his helping hand. He sent me money and books on several occasions whenever he finds people traveling to Addis Ababa. He was a frequent interlocutor from a distance and we used to exchange tones of emails between Addis Ababa where I was living and Chicago where he was based. Then I came to the US upon his invitation in October 2011. I audited one of his seminar courses on George Simmel at the University of Chicago, practiced aikido on the matt under him at the University of Chicago Dojo, arranged for me to audit Nathan Tarcov’s seminar course on Leo Strauss at the Committee on Social Thought, and generously vetted me to be part of one of the panels in the International Conference on George Simmel in 2011. It was also a great honor and pleasure to have helped him with two of his last books, Interpreting Ethiopia and Social Theory As Vocation, in which he has generously acknowledged my assistance.

Levine was a keen student of Ethiopian civilization for over half a century. His initial scholarly encounter with Ethiopia dates back to 1958 when he, as a young postdoctoral fellow, started his ethnographic work living among the “extraordinarily handsome people in a setting of great natural beauty and [an] [idyllic] climate” of North Shoa, Ethiopia, which “offers a gate through time to a state of being that is richly medieval.” (1965). That ethnographic fieldwork resulted in his Ethiopian classic Wax & Gold (1965). In the realm of Ethiopian studies, he is also most famous for his magisterial book Greater Ethiopia (1974), which has long been considered a major contribution to understanding the phenomena of ethnic diversity and national unity in Ethiopia. Shortly before his death, he managed to put together a collection of essays on Ethiopia, Interpreting Ethiopia (2014), in which he offers his observations on the ethos and worldview, education and literature, history, politics, and cross-national connections of the cultural area that he calls Greater Ethiopia. Levine’s oeuvre is the outcome of a serious scholarly odyssey through Ethiopian civilization over space and time. He has travelled extensively through every quarter of the cultural area that he fondly calls “Greater Ethiopia” –from Massawa to Jimma, from Addis to Aksum. His intellectual odyssey pushed the frontiers of Ethiopian Studies, extending the reach of his research from the culture of the Amhara, in Wax & Gold, to that of a multiethnic society, in Greater Ethiopia, from Aksum As a Seedbed Society to Reconsidering Ethiopian Nationhood, as necessitated by the advent of the internet and immigration.

In explaining what provided the bond that has continued to link him with Ethiopian over the years, he went on record, in one of his personal communication with me, saying: “the greatest thing in life is “aimless camaraderie,” as Frank H. Knight called it. Much of what has bonded me to Ethiopians over the years has been the joy of aimless camaraderie in their company.” Those of us who had the privilege to meet him in Chicago or Addis know what he means by the joy of the interaction in aimless camaraderie with fellow Ethiopians.

Besides his scholarly engagement with Ethiopia, Levine was also an activist. His more activistic engagement dates back to his critical 1961 article on Haile Sellassie’s authoritarianism, which cost him his teaching job at the Haile Selassie I University. He was an ardent advocate of freedom in Ethiopia. More often than not, he voiced his concerns for academic freedom, free press, free association, free and fair elections, and loyal opposition in Ethiopia. It was in the spirit of public service that he gave a testimony before the U.S. Congress on the human rights abuses of the Dergue in 1976, engaged himself in a critical analysis of the Addis Ababa University fiasco in 1993, gave a spirited acceptance speech in defense of academic freedom at the award of an honorary doctorate from Addis Ababa University in 2004, where he emphasied the traditional mission of AAU as a university by reciting the Geez motto: “Kulu Amekeru Wezesenaye Atsneu” (Examine everything, and hold fast to what is best). Indeed, the dialogic turn that he brought to bear upon sociology and Ethiopian studies has also oriented his activistic engagement. It has been his lifelong wish and prayer for Ethiopians of all generation and walks of life to transcend the limitations inherent in their cultures soda as to dissolve the either/or metazez wey meshefet (“obey or rebel”) mentality through dialogue.

In both his scholarly and activistic odysseys, what always strikes me as quite distinctive of Levine is the strength of his character. He was as much courageous in his scholarship as much as he was in his activism. In his activism, he never succumbed to fears of retribution. He criticized the incumbent as well as the opposition in an even-handed manner. In his scholarly pursuits, he refused to succumb to political correctness, which he once described to me in a personal communication as: “Political correctness is the hobgoblin of little minds. That’s the kind of statement that corrupts the search for truth, IMHO. The Janjero who committed human sacrifice can be glossed as culturally inferior to the Dorzes who created polyphonic music and beautiful weavings as central expressions of their cultures.”

Donald Levine is a towering figure in Chicago sociology and social thought in the same league as Robert Park, George Mead, Albion Small, John Dewey, Edward Shils, and Arnaldo Momigliano. Hi sociological oeuvre includes critical interpretations of Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton, S.N. Eisenstadt, and above all Georg Simmel. In the realm of social theory, his work focused on bringing into fruitful dialogue, if not reunifying the sociological traditions and imaginations, in a book venture that he titles Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995). One evening during my visit at the University of Chicago in November 2011, as we were walking to his home where he generously hosted me for the first week, he started telling me how sociology used to be as big as Humpty Dumpty and how it had a terribly great fall in the 1960s. And after Humpty Dumpty had that fateful fall and it broke into pieces, all sociologists and social theorists that came “couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty in his place again.” That was exactly what he wanted to do with his magisterial book Visions of the Sociological Tradition in which he wrote, “For most of its first century as an institutionalized discipline, the proponents of sociology envisioned it as a unified field. The vision was elusive and consensus hard to come by. Yet for all their profound differences about what sociology should be and do, its principal spokesmen —figures like Durkheim, Simmel, Weber, Park, and Parsons—agreed that sociology should be framed as a coherent enterprise demarcated by clear and defensible boundaries. The narratives constructed by Park and Burgess, Sorokin, Parsons, and others were part of the more general effort to justify’ such a unified vision.”(259)

In his Festschrift, Hans Joas and Charles Camic extol Levine’s achievements in the field of social theory as follows:

the idea that dialogue among different intellectual perspectives is a paramount cognitive and ethical objective in its own right, particularly in the context of the current postdisciplinary age—receives its fullest development at the hands of University of Chicago sociologist Donald N. Levine, whose extensive writings on the subject provide the point of departure for the twelve essays in this volume. As a distinguished theorist and historian of sociological thought, Donald Levine has been closely familiar with these pluralist currents within sociology throughout his career….


Related:
Donald Levine, sociologist and former dean of the College, 1931-2015 (UChicago News)‎
Friend of Ethiopia Don Levine Passed Away

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Setbacks Press Somalia’s Shabab Fighters to Kill Inexpensively in Kenya (NY Times)

Ethiopian troops as part of an international force in Somalia. (Photo: The New York Times)

The New York Times

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

APRIL 6, 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya — They have lost their leader, their ports, their checkpoints and their territory.

They have lost thousands of men and much of their money.

They have no fleet of armored personnel carriers like Boko Haram’s. Or poppy fields like the Taliban’s. Or oil fields like the Islamic State’s.

In the pecking order of the world’s leading terrorist groups, the Shabab militants, based in Somalia, operate on a shoestring budget. But as the attack on a Kenyan university last week showed, they have become proficient in something terrible: mass murder on the cheap.

In the past two years alone, bare-bones Shabab teams of young gunmen have struck across Kenya, at a mall, on buses, at a quarry, in a coastal village and last week at a university, where four militants with rudimentary assault rifles killed 142 students.

In all, they have slaughtered hundreds of people and shaken Kenya, an economic powerhouse and cornerstone of stability in this part of Africa, with just a few men and a handful of light weapons.

Read more »

Also at NYT: Kenya Bombs Shabab Training Camps in Somalia

—-
UPDATE: Son of Kenyan Official Identified Among Gunmen in Garissa Terror Attack


A nun prays during the service at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked with grenades by militants almost three years ago, in Garissa, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

The son of a Kenyan government official was one of the masked al-Shabab gunmen who massacred 148 people at Garissa University College.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry said Abdirahim Abdullahi was among four attackers killed Thursday during the attack. A spokesman said the government official had earlier reported his son missing.

The news came as Kenyans dedicated Easter Sunday services to the massacre victims and Pope Francis prayed for those killed by Islamist gunmen who hunted down Christians while sparing Muslims.

Many churches in Kenya hired armed guards to protect their Easter congregations. The country also began a three day mourning period.

Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told VOA Somali Service on Sunday that Somalia-based al-Shabab is a regional enemy that needs to be confronted. He says al-Shabab’s aim to target mostly Christians in Kenya is intended to separate Muslims and Christians, but he says that objective has failed as Kenyans understand the militants’ tactics.

President Mohamud says al-Shabab “has no dignity” and can only attack “vulnerable targets.” He told VOA there is nowhere in Islam that says“kill non-Muslims.”

For the several hundred members of Garissa’s Christian minority, which is fearful following the attack by the al-Shabab militants, Sunday’s service was laden with emotion. The gunmen who attacked Garissa University College on Thursday singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years.

“We just keep on praying that God can help us, to comfort us in this difficult time,” said Dominick Odhiambo, a worshipper who said he planned to abandon his job as a plumber in Garissa and leave for his hometown because he was afraid.

In Garissa, where masked gunmen in 2012 killed more than a dozen people in simultaneous gun and grenade raids on two churches, six soldiers guarded the town’s main Christian church and about 100 worshippers ahead of Sunday mass.

“Thank you for coming, so many of you,” Bishop Joseph Alessandro said to the congregation at Our Lady of Consolation Church. He said some of those who died in Thursday’s attack would have been at the service, and he read condolence messages from around the world.

Video: Picking up the Pieces in Garissa After Terror Attack (VOA)

‘Nowhere is safe’

“Nowhere is safe, but here at church you can be with God and console yourself,” said Meli Muasya at Garissa’s walled Catholic Church.

In Mombasa, “we are very concerned about the security of our churches and worshippers, especially this Easter period, and also because it is clear that these attackers are targeting Christians,” Willybard Lagho, a Mombasa-based Catholic priest and chairman of the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics (CICC), told Reuters.

Lagho said churches in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa were hiring armed police and private security guards for mass on Easter Sunday. Christians make up 83 percent of Kenya’s 44 million population.

During a televised address Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a three-day mourning period to begin Sunday, appealing to Kenyans to safeguard the nation’s “peace and stability.”

Kenyatta stressed his belief that “Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.” He said “the radicalization that breeds terrorism” is conducted “in the full glare of day.”

Criticism of special forces

Also Sunday, Kenya’s security chief defended the response by special forces to the attacks.

The French news agency AFP reported that it took at least seven hours for special forces to arrive at the scene of the massacre after flying from the capital, Nairobi, hours after other security personnel fought with the militants.

Some journalists who drove the same 365-kilometer distance are reported to have arrived before the special forces.

Several Kenyan newspapers on Sunday were strongly critical of the government’s response.

“This is negligence on a scale that borders on the criminal,” the Nation wrote in its editorial on Sunday, recalling how survivors said “the gunmen, who killed scores of students with obvious relish, took their time.”

Interior Minster Joseph Nkaissery has said the attack was “one of those incidents which can surprise any country,” while President Kenyatta paid his tribute to the three police and three soldiers killed, who paid “the ultimate price in their selfless service to Kenya.”

But newspapers on Sunday were deeply critical of the government response.

But Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed defended the response, telling AFP on Saturday that “fighting terrorism … is like being a goalkeeper. You have 100 saves, and nobody remembers them. They remember that one that went past you.”

Interior spokesman Njoka also dismissed the criticism.

“If you look at how we responded it was not bad at all, say, compared to Westgate,” Njoka told the Nation.

“It takes time to assess and make the decisions, escalating it from National Security Advisory Committee to the National Security Council and then to scramble the elite units, get them to the airport and fly them to Garissa which is a two hour flight. There were many moving parts,” he added.

Four masked militants from the Somali Islamist group stormed the university campus in Garissa on Thursday, seeking out Christian students to kill while sparing some Muslims.

Revenge attack

Al-Shabab group said the assault on Garissa, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the Somali border, was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight alongside African Union peacekeepers against the al Qaeda-aligned group.

The militants have threatened to turn Kenyan cities “red with blood” with more attacks. Police have stepped up security at shopping malls and public buildings in the capital Nairobi, and in the eastern coastal region which has been prone to al Shabaab attacks.

Kenya has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in four counties along its 700-kilometer (420-mile) border with Somalia and deployed helicopters along its palm-fringed coast, popular with Western tourists and the scene of Islamist attacks in the past.

Coastal Region police chief Robert Kitur told Reuters extra uniformed and plain-clothes police officers had been deployed.

“What happened in Garissa must never be seen in Mombasa or anywhere else in the region and country,” he said.

Late on Saturday, 613 students and 50 staff from Garissa University College arrived in Nairobi to an emotional welcome by parents and relatives. Parents of missing students attempted to identify bodies at the city’s mortuary.

Some material for this report came from AP, Reuters and AFP.

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Harar: Ethiopia’s City of Mosques (CNN)

Harar, Ethiopia. (Photo: CNN)

CNN

By James Jeffrey

The ancient walled city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia is a hard place to forget: the silent maze-like alleys, the scents of the markets, the handsome women carrying intricately woven baskets atop heads, the muezzins calling the Muslim faithful to prayer.

It’s remained seared in my consciousness since my first visit in 2004.

I wasn’t the only one impressed; the city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

A decade later, following much development and change in Ethiopia, I was curious to see if the city still retained its exotic finesse and character that so affected me before.

So I returned.

From my hotel room’s small balcony I could see the Asmaddin Beri (beri means gate, as well as, rather more grandly, portal).

It’s one of six punctuating the thick five-meter-high walls running 3.5 kilometers around the Jugal, the name for the 16th-century fortification that lies within the modern town that developed from the 19th century onward.

Once through the Asmaddin portal the 21st century vanished, replaced by a sense of antiquity and a heaving, shambolic outdoor market, one of many dotted around the Jugal.

Harari women in colorful dresses squatted beside neat piles of onions, tomatoes, green peppers, bananas and more.

Sweet smells wafted from where women sold pots of itan (incense), while samosas cooking on small stoves and baskets full of fresh bread rolls added to the pleasant stimulation.

“Feranju! Feranju! Amantekhi?!” the women called in the local Harari dialect, which roughly translates as: “Foreign guy, foreign guy, how are things?!”

Read more and see photos at CNN.com »

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Friend of Ethiopia Don Levine Passed Away

Donald N. Levine was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of Chicago. (Photos: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, April 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — We are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, a contributor to this magazine and a great scholar of Ethiopian history, Don Levine, has passed away.

His family announced that Levine died yesterday afternoon. He was 83-years old.

Levine, who was affectionately known as “Gash Liben” among his Ethiopian friends, is the author of several books and academic papers on Ethiopia including Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture., Interpreting Ethiopia: Observations of Five Decades (2014), Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society.

“Gash Liben, Ethiopian scholar, lover of Ethiopia, founder of the Aikido Ethiopia Project has passed away today at 1pm,” his son Bill Levine said via Facebook.

According to his biography: “Levine was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1931. For his post-secondary education, he attended the University of Chicago. There, he earned a BA in 1950, MA in 1954, and PhD in 1957. His intellectual development was greatly shaped by the teachers and curriculum of the “Hutchins College” at Chicago.”

Wiki adds: “For five decades Levine has also been active in the area of Ethiopian Studies. In this field he published two seminal books and dozens of papers. He organized the Fifth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies at the University of Chicago in 1978. For his expertise as an Ethiopianist he has served as consultant to public and governmental organizations, include the U.S. Department of State, the United States Senate, and the Peace Corps. Before joining the Chicago faculty in 1962, he taught at Ethiopia’s University College of Addis Ababa. Levine eventually received a Doctor of Letters honoris causa in 2004 from Addis Ababa University, where his citation read: ‘Ethiopianist, sociological theorist, educator: you have succeeded in all three vocations. Your pioneering work, Wax and Gold, has become an Ethiopian classic. As manifested in its title, yours is an exceptionally imaginative quest to reach an understanding of Amhara society from the internal point of view. The very concept of “Wax and Gold” has taken a life of its own: it figures at once in our understanding of Ethiopia’s pre-modern culture and in our coming to grips with Ethiopia’s reception of modernity. Greater Ethiopia draws attention to the deep fact that Ethiopian life is rooted in multicultural identities, and it also demonstrates the salient bonds that hold them together.’”

At the time of his death he held the status of Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Chicago.


Related:
Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos
Donald Levine, sociologist and former dean of the College, 1931-2015 (UChicago News)‎
Coming to America by Professor Donald Levine (2003)
The Obama Presidency & Ethiopia: Time for Fresh Thought (2009) by Don Levine
Five Reasons for Ethiopian-Americans to Support Obama (2008) by Don Levine

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Feedel Band, Reviving a Robust Sound

Feedel Band performs every month at Bossa Bistro and Lounge in DC's Adams Morgan. (Courtesy photo)

The Washington Post

By Aaron Leitko

By the second half of Feedel Band’s gig at Bossa in January, you could tell the group had struck a chord with the audience. It was past 11 p.m. on a cold Thursday night, yet nobody was leaving. Glasses continued to clink and it was a struggle to find an open seat — not exactly a small feat for a work night.

The band, which takes heavy inspiration from the sounds of Ethio­pian jazz during the 1960s and ’70s, a style that some of its members had a formative role in developing, managed to summon the feel of a geographically distant time and place, but also a lost moment that hit closer to home. There was something about Feedel Band’s set that made Adams Morgan feel a little more like its old self.

Stylistically speaking, there’s not much out there like Ethiopian jazz. The songs are a moody hybrid of classic R&B grooves and harmonies built atop distinctive minor-key Ethiopian scales. It’s the kind of music that has become rare in the post-Internet everybody-knows-about-everything world — a hybrid born of cultural exchange but nursed and enhanced by isolation. These could be the backing tracks for James Brown in a bizarro reality in which Brown was reserved and moody rather than explosive and effusive.

Read more »



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In Israel, New Ethiopian Knesset Member Prioritizes Immigrant Community

Newly elected Knesset Member Avraham Neguise at a Likud party meeting during the election campaign, Feb. 2015. (photo by Office of Avraham Neguise)

Al-Monitor

By Mazal Mualem

March 31, at the age of 57, 30 years after he left the town of Gondar in Ethiopia, Avraham Negusie was sworn in to the Israeli Knesset. He was elated the entire day.

Until election night, Negusie, 27th on the Likud list, watched the polls, which predicted barely 22 seats for the party and thought he was a long way from his dream of becoming a Knesset member. He was therefore surprised when, a half hour before television stations called the elections, he got an urgent call from Likud headquarters with the announcement, “Come to the exhibition gardens. There’s drama. It looks like you’re in.”

On his way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, Negusie took dozens of phone calls from well-wishers, and since then, he has been busy planning his first term as one of Israel’s 120 elected representatives. It is clear to him that he’ll work on social issues and that he’ll be the advocate and voice for immigrants from Ethiopia on Knesset committees.

Negusie will be the only Knesset member with an Ethiopian background in the twentieth Knesset. Six members of the Ethiopian community have preceded him, among them the first woman Knesset member of Ethiopian descent, Penina Tamanu-Shata of Yesh Atid. Like his predecessors, Negusie seems to be an atypical, unrepresentative symbol for the integration of his ethnic group, most of which lives at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale in Israel, trapped in impoverished neighborhoods.

Negusie, who holds a doctorate in education, built his civic life mostly through political activism, including successful battles he led in the past two decades to bring Falash Mura to Israel. Today, according to Negusie, there are about 5,000 of them in Ethiopia who have families in Israel, and they will celebrate the traditional Seder dinner for Passover far from them in camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar.

“I hope that as a member of the Knesset I can influence the decision to bring them to Israel as soon as possible,” said Negusie in an interview with Al-Monitor. He also explained why the left hasn’t succeeded in becoming the political home of the Ethiopians in the full interview below:

Read the interview at Al-monitor.com »

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Smithsonian Exhibition Features 19 Artists From Africa & the Diaspora

(© Aïda Muluneh)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 3rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Several contemporary artists from Africa and the Diaspora — including Ethiopia-based photographer Aïda Muluneh and NYC-based Ethiopian American painter Julie Mehretu — are part of an upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.

The show, which is entitled The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists, includes video, photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, fiber arts, and mixed media installation that “probe diverse issues of politics, heritage, history, identity, faith, and the continued power of art to express the unspoken and intangible.”

The exhibition opens on April 8th with a ‘Curator’s Talk’ featuring Simon Njami and Karen E. Milbourne and remains on display until August 2nd, 2015.

“Curated by the internationally acclaimed writer and art critic Simon Njami, this dramatic multi-media exhibition reveals the ongoing global relevance of Dante Alighieri’s 14th century epic as part of a shared intellectual heritage,” the Smithsonian announced. “Including original commissions and renowned works of art by approximately 40 of the most dynamic contemporary artists from 19 African nations and the Diaspora, this visually stunning exhibition will be the first to take advantage of the museum’s pavilion and stairwells, as well as galleries on the first and third floors.”


If You Go:
Location, Hours, and Admission
950 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20560
202.633.4600
202.357.4879 (fax)
nmafaweb@si.edu
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except December 25.
Admission is free
www.africa.si.edu/exhibition

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Ethiopia: Holy Days & Highland Churches

Bet Giyorgis Church, Lalibela. (Photo: Alamy)

The Telegraph

By Anna Murphy

You know you are somewhere very special when even a drive to the airport is enrapturing. It was our last day in Ethiopia, and we were on our way to catch an internal flight from Lalibela to Addis Ababa, en route to London.

We had been to Lalibela – one of the most celebrated stops on the so-called northern circuit of the Ethiopian Highlands – to see its stone churches. And remarkable they were, carved into and out of the pink-hued rock between the 12th and 15th centuries, both delicate and monumental, and still very much alive – full of priests and monks and nuns and hermits and worshippers, all of them wrapped in white, as every good Ethiopian Christian is when he or she visits church.

Virtually every day of the year there will be a church somewhere in Ethiopia celebrating its saint’s day, but it’s best to time your visit to coincide with one of the great Orthodox Christian festivals, such as Easter. Known as Fasika, it usually occurs a week to two weeks after the Western Church’s Easter. It follows eight weeks of fasting from meat and dairy, and culminates in a church service on Easter eve lasting several hours and ending at 3am. Afterwards, worshippers break their fast and celebrate the risen Christ.

My own visit coincided with Timkat, in January, one of the most important festivals of the year. It’s a kind of mass baptism in which locals gather early in the morning by their church’s pool (each church has one) to be splashed and sprayed with holy water. It was such a joyous thing to witness, as everyone – from very young to very old – excitedly waited en masse for jugs of water to be thrown out over the crowd.


Faithful dressed with traditional clothes attend the Timkat celebration on January 18, 2015 in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Alamy)

Read and see more photo at Telegraph.co.uk »

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African Elections & Governance in 2015

(Courtesy photos)

Tadis Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Washington, D.C (TADIAS) — U.S. Congressmember Karen Bass announced that the April 2015 Africa Policy Breakfast, hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives, will focus on “African elections and governance in 2015 and beyond.”

“With over two dozen elections taking place in Africa in 2015 and 2016, African governments face the challenge of administering peaceful and credible elections; while journalists and citizens continent-wide call for increased political space for dissent and debate,” the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Congresswoman Bass, said in a press release.

“Please join us for a discussion of the electoral landscape in Africa; including assessments of continental elections taking place in 2015 and beyond; as well as the prospects for peaceful transitions and democratic governance with senior representatives from leading U.S. agencies, international non-governmental Organizations and the African diaspora.”


If You Go:
THURSDAY, April 23, 2015
8:30 am – 10:30 am
The Members Room (LJ162)
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20515
Click here to RSVP

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Exciting Fashion Fusion Takes Off in Ethiopia: Could It Go Global? (Video)

Local fashion designer Fikirte Addis is starting to get attention from buyers abroad. She cites Ethiopian fabric - and the stories woven into them -- as her source of inspiration. (CNN)

CNN

By Colin Hancock and Daisy Carrington

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — The country has an international supermodel. It has a world-renown designer, a centuries-old textile industry, and its very own fashion school. It’s Ethiopia, and it’s perched to hit the global fashion industry by storm.

“I do see a trend of Ethiopian fashion going abroad,” admits Mahlet Teklemariam, the organizer of Addis Ababa Fashion Week.

“(Fashion in) Ethiopia in the past was mostly local. It wasn’t known on the international market,” she notes. That, she says, is starting to change.

“A lot of international companies are investing in Ethiopia. The Turkish have a lot of big companies producing here and H&M are producing here.”

Many companies are drawn by Ethiopia’s textiles — stunning woven cotton with a range of rich designs. However, there is also an increasing number of homegrown designers hitting the scene.

Fikirte Addis studied child psychology, but ultimately the pull of her mother’s sewing machine proved too powerful for her.

“I loved cutting (fabric),” she recalls. “I had a box full of dresses that I would reuse.” The self-taught seamstress ultimately changed career, and she hasn’t looked back. For her, Ethiopian fabrics give new meaning to the concept of weaving a story.

“When you look at (Ethiopian fabrics), you might see, for example, the eye of an ox, which is bold and beautiful, and has a lot of history in it,” she says.

Addis’ designs have hit the international market in recent years, and she’s seen an increasing number of sales from abroad.

“The industry is in the making. We have a very rich tradition, good stories and amazing products,” she says, adding, “I think we have a very good shot.”

Watch the video at CNN.com »

Related:
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia

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Development Without Freedom? Africa Conference With Big Ethiopia Focus

A house in Rema, Ethiopia gets fitted with solar panels. (Photo: Stiftung Solarengie/IIED)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, March 31st 2015

New York (TADIAS) — An upcoming academic conference at the NYU Global Center in New York explores a timely question: Development Without Freedom? Justice, Human Rights, and Foreign Aid in Africa.

Presentations include a focus on elections in Ethiopia by Frehiwot Samuele entitled “Not What They Wanted to Hear: A Supreme Court Judge Investigates Post-Election Violence in Ethiopia,” as well as a talk by Soleyana Shimeles Gebremichael (Zone9 Blogging Group, Ethiopia) on “The Cost of Exercising Rights and Bringing Alternative Narration, The Case of Zone9 Bloggers.”

The conference, which takes place on Thursday, April 16th, 2015, is organized by DRI, the Bard College Human Rights Project, and the Rift Valley Institute.

A press release regarding the conference states: “The international community, mainly the OECD countries, have been providing project-specific foreign aid, investment and general budget support to the governments of African countries. This funding helped improve many development indicators on the continent, yet fundamental values of freedom and democracy that the giving nations profess are often dismissed. Government forces have imprisoned, tortured, exiled, and even taken the lives of their critics. In rural areas across Africa, people have been displaced, making way for development projects that often fail to bring promised benefits.”

The press release adds: “What are the consequences of these rights abuses for long-term development in Africa? What is the role of development agencies and foreign investors in ensuring that recipient governments make progress on human rights and justice? The conference will explore research findings on these questions and feature dissenting voices that do not often receive a hearing in international development forums.”

Additional confirmed speakers and topics include: Helen Epstein (Bard College Human Rights Project and DRI), Human Rights Problems in International Development Practices; David Pred (Inclusive Development International), Aiding and Abetting: How the World Bank Enabled Mass Forced Population Transfers in Ethiopia and Evaded Accountability; Stefan Dercon (University of Oxford), Barking Hyenas, Roaring Lions and Predatory Tigerfish: Aid in Troublesome Places; Jean Ensminger (California Institute of Technology), Aid Fraud: A Kenyan Case Study; Godber Tumushabe (Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies), The Tragedy of Aid in Quasi-Democracies: Case Study of the Peace, Reconciliation and Development Program in Northern Uganda; Mareike Schomerus (London School of Economics and Political Science), The Betrayal of ‘South Sudan’: Could Development Work without Imagining the State?; and Hugh Roberts, South Sudan: A Dream Deferred.

Moderators are William Easterly (DRI), Helen Epstein, Yaw Nyarko, and John Ryle (Rift Valley Institute)

If You Go:
Thursday April 16, 2015
8:30 AM to 4:30 PM EDT
The Grand Hall
238 Thompson St
NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
5th Floor
New York, NY 10012
Click here to register

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Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird Rotisserie Opens in Harlem

Marcus Samuelsson. (Photo: Melissa Hom/Grub Street)

Grub Street

By Sierra Tishgart

It was only a month ago that Marcus Samuelsson told Grub: “All I can think about is chicken: How to cook it? Who does it best? Should I brine it? Do I have the right seasoning?” The result of all his pondering is Streetbird Rotisserie, Samuelsson’s new kitchenette in Harlem that focuses on — surprise! — chicken. But this isn’t a classic French rotisserie restaurant, or an extension of the luxury chicken boom: Streetbird’s more eclectic, with dishes that reflect Samuelsson’s Ethiopian and Swedish heritage.

The menu includes General Ye’s chicken, with crispy chicken, green beans, mango, and peanuts; something called the “Swediopian,” made from doro wat; C. Chavez, with ripped rotisserie chicken and mole; and non-chicken-based items like fried rice and cabbage-scallion noodles. (Plus, for dessert: a delicious-sounding “Ooey Gooey Cookie” with green tea, candied ginger, peanuts, and marshmallows.

Because this is Samuelsson, the design is a stand-out, too: Graffiti culture served as his inspiration, and Cey Adams (the founding creative director of Def Jam Recordings) created the art on the walls. There’s also an interactive boom-box installation, benches covered in vintage designer textiles, and windowed garage doors — perfect for the warmer weather.

Opening day is April 2, and the restaurant will serve food every day from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. It’s intended to be a casual, drop-in kind of place: Tables are only available for walk-ins, but there is a separate area for takeout orders.

Read more and see photos at grubstreet.com »

Related:
Tadias Interview With Marcus Samuelsson About His Latest Book

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Trinity: Amazing 3 Young Ladies From Ethiopia in UniverSoul Circus Touring U.S.

(Photo courtesy: UniverSoul Circus)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 30th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Their stage name is “Trinity” and the three young female athletes from Ethiopia — Wentana Gebremeskel (16), Azalech Asino Sore (18) and Kidist Keshimo Wereka (22) — are currently in New York as part of the traveling UniverSoul Circus show highlighting global pop culture through an energetic cast of international performers. The circus will perform in the New York area until May 25th, and Kaldidan Zebene Haile of the Gamo Circus in Ethiopia will also be part of the cast.

“Three young ladies from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia mark their first ever United States appearance with the UniverSoul Circus in 2015 with an amazing hand balancing act we call, Trinity,” UniverSoul Circus said in press release. “This precision based act features three female acrobats performing slow, enfolding movements, performed with great fluidity and grace. It’s a combination of strength and flexibility that helps them balance on top of each other while doing handstands. They have performed their act on three continents: with the Gamo Circus in Ethiopia, Lee Academy in Australia and Salto Circus in the Netherlands.”

UniverSoul describes 23 year-old male Ethiopian performer, Kaldidan Zebene, as a “Rolla Bollo performer extraordinaire,” and notes that “Kalkidan, performing since the age of 16, has presented his Bollo act with the Global Village Circus in Dubai, Avrasya Circus in Turkey and Salto Circus in the Netherlands.” This is Kalkidan’s first time performing with UniverSoul Circus.


If You Go:
UniverSoul Circus plays the Bronx
WHEN: Wednesday, March 18 thru Monday, April 6, 2015
WHERE: Across from Bronx Terminal Market at 149th St & Exterior St next to bridge/50 East 150th Street
Bronx, NY 10451

UniverSoul Circus plays Brooklyn
WHEN: Wednesday, April 8 thru Sunday, April 26, 2015
WHERE: Floyd Bennett Field @Aviator Sports, just down from Kings Plaza Mall
3159 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11234

UniverSoul Circus plays Queens
WHEN: Tuesday, April 28 thru Sunday, May 17, 2015
WHERE: Roy Wilkins Park at Merrick Blvd & Baisley Blvd
177th St & Baisley Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11434

UniverSoul Circus plays Newark, NJ
WHEN: Tuesday, May 19 thru Monday, May 25, 2015
WHERE: Across from Broad St Train Station next to Old Bears Stadium
430 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Visit www.universoulcircus.com for more info, show times, and schedules.

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President Obama to Visit Kenya

President Barack Obama. (AP photo)

VOA News

March 30, 2015

President Barack Obama is planning to visit his ancestral homeland of Kenya, in what would be his first visit there as president.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters Monday that Obama will go to Kenya at the end of July to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

Schultz said the president will hold bilateral meetings while in Kenya, but had no information on the exact dates of the trip, or whether Obama plans to see family members while in the country.

President Obama has made three trips to Africa as president but never to Kenya, where his father, Barack Obama, Senior, was born and spent the majority of his life.

The president went to Kenya before winning the White House, including a visit while he was a U.S. senator.

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

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U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign

Reeyot Alemu is one in a number of journalists who have been prosecuted under the vaguely worded and broad-reaching anti-terrorism laws passed by the Ethiopian legislature in 2009. (IWMF/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Students from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and their professor — Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Dana Priest — have launched the Press Uncuffed campaign to raise awareness about journalists imprisoned around the world.

The campaign, which kicked off last week at the Newseum in Washington, D.C, is being conducted in partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). It features jailed reporters from nine countries, including Ethiopian Reeyot Alemu, winner of the 2013 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Reeyot is currently serving a 5-year prison term under Ethiopia’s controversial terrorism law.

“These journalists were imprisoned for doing their jobs by governments fearful of a free press,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch in a statement. “By recognizing these nine intrepid journalists-most of whom were jailed on anti-state or retaliatory charges-we hope to increase public pressure for their release and draw attention to the hundreds of others who have been silenced by their governments.”

CPJ added: “The journalists featured in the campaign have been imprisoned on anti-state or retaliatory charges. Two are being held without charge.”

They are: Ilham Tohti (China), Bheki Makhubu (Swaziland), Reeyot Alemu (Ethiopia), Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan), Jason Rezaian (Iran), Yusuf Ruzimuradov (Uzbekistan), Mahmoud Abou Zeid Shawkan (Egypt), Ta Phong Tan (Vietnam) and Ammar Abdulrasool, (Bahrain).



Learn more at www.pressuncuffed.org.

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Photos: Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro Inaugural Diaspora Business Mixer

At Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Springfield, Virginia on Friday, March 20th, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last week, Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Springfield, Virginia hosted its first monthly event called “Afro Diaspora Mixer” that will take place every third Friday of the month.

The inaugural event held on Friday, March 20th brought together business professionals in an informal and intimate environment. “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,” says Alex Habte Cherein, owner of Merkamo. “The idea is to create a space where Afro Diaspora business people and professionals connect and share their story and hopefully collaborate in mutually beneficial projects.”

Below are photos courtesy of organizers:



Related:
Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Virginia Launches Afro Diaspora Business Mixer
Meet the New Director of D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs Mamadou Samba

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Birhanu Legese Wins Berlin Half Marathon

Birhanu Legese wins Berlin half marathon on Sunday, March 29th, 2015. (AFP)

AFP

March 29, 2015

Berlin – Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese won the Berlin half marathon on Sunday as African runners dominated the top ten finishers in the men’s race.

Legese came home in a winning time of 59 mins 45 seconds having held off the challenge of Kenya’s David Kogei, who finished just a second behind, and fellow Kenyan Abraham Cheroben, who crossed the line three seconds back in third.

In the women’s race, Kenya’s Cynthia Chepchirchir Kosgei won in one hour, 10 mins and 52 seconds with compatriot Elizeba Cherono second at four seconds back and Sweden’s Isabellah Andersson in third at 39 seconds back.

Read more »

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Ethiopia Eyes Gas Exports by 2017 – PM

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. (File Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to start producing and exporting natural gas from under-developed reserves in its southeast by 2017, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Friday.

Several firms have already acquired licenses to explore more than 40 blocks throughout Ethiopia in the past four years, the vast majority of them in the southeastern Somali Region.

“Studies show the existence of natural gas reserves in several places, and they will all be gradually developed,” Hailemariam told a press conference in the Ethiopian capital.

Officials from the mines ministry say the Calub and Hilala fields in the Ogaden Basin have deposits of 4.7 trillion cubic feet of gas and 13.6 million barrels of associated liquids, both discovered in the 1970s but not yet exploited.

“For the time being, a Chinese firm is carrying out activities on the Calub and Hilala reserves,” Hailemariam said. “In the next two years, we plan to start exporting and using the natural gas from these areas.”

Read more »

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

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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Egypt, Ethiopia & Sudan Sign Nile Deal

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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