Author Archive for Tadias

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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Ethiopian Cinema Focuses on 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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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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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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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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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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Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia’s Image (VOA Video)

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

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

March 03, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Dutch Brewer’s Ethiopia Unit to Start Sales

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

Reuters

March 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at VOA News »

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

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

Press Release

World Bank whitewashes Ethiopia human rights scandal

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 2nd, 2015

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

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

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

In the meantime here is the trailer:



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

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

Haaretz

By Ofer Aderet

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

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

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

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

Read more at Haaretz.com »


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 2nd, 2015

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

grant_harris

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

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

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


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

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

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Ethiopia: Adwa’s Eternity

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

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

Updated: Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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Video: NED Presents Dr. Negasso Gidada

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

NED

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

Presentations

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

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

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

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

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Where Rimbaud Found Peace in Ethiopia

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

The New York Times

By RACHEL B. DOYLE

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

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

Read more at The New York Times »

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

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

The Guardian

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian »


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

(Photo courtesy of Passport ADV)

AFK Insider

By Jessica Harris

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

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

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

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

Delving Into Shoe Manufacturing

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

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

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

Made In Ethiopia

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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

Geographical

By Tom Hart

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

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

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

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


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

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

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African Fashion Week DC – March 19-21

(Images courtesy: African Fashion Week DC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Adwa Victory Celebrations in Chicago and Silver Spring, Maryland

(Posters courtesy: EHSNA and ECAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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

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

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

Silver Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Ethiopia, Kenya & Nigeria

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday February 23rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HRW

Press Release

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

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

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

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

Read more at hrw.org »

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Ethiopian Duo Endeshaw Negesse & Berhane Dibaba Win 2015 Tokyo Marathon

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

IAAF

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at iaaf.org »

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

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When Fascists Tried to Remake Ethiopia

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

The American Conservative

By JONATHAN COPPAGE

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

As Rixt Woudstra details at Failed Architecture,

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

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

Woudstra writes,

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

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

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


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

Read more »

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AERC Named World’s Most Transparent Think Tank

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Zon 9 Bloggers Not Forgotten (BBC News)

(Photo via Twitter)

BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

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How a Trip to Ethiopia Shattered Stereotypes, Spurred Documentary

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

The Seattle Times

By Sarah Stuteville

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Seattle Times »

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

(Photo credit: NAM)

New America Media

By Elena Shore

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

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

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

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

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

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

The chess game

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

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

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

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

Immigration advocates have several reasons to be confident.

Read the full article at newamericamedia.org »

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

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Genzebe Dibaba Sets 5000m Indoor Record

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

IAAF

By A Lennart Julin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at iaaf.org »

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

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Amharic Hip-hop Finds its Voice in Ethiopia

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

Aljazeera

By James Jeffrey

February 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at america.aljazeera.com »



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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

Video: Aswan — New Album by the Nile Project


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

Related:
Amharic Hip-hop Finds its Voice in Ethiopia

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Ebola-Hit Nations Aim for No New Cases

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

VOA News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

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

VOA News

February 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appeal planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Video: Fox News Visits LA’s Little Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 15th, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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Aurora Delegates Head to Adama, Ethiopia

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

Aurora Sentinel

By RACHEL SAPIN

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 13th, 2015

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

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

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

Watch: Crumbs trailer


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

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Djibouti, Ethiopia Accuse Eritrea of Sabotaging Stability

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

Bloomberg

By Paul Richardson

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

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

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

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

Read more at Bloomberg News »

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

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

(AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

The Washington Post

Letter to the Editor

By Tesfaye Wolde

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

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

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

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


Dr. Negasso Gidada. (Getty Images)


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

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

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

Global News

By Richard Dooley and Emily Baron Cadloff

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

By Shaun Waters

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

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

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

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

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

‘He was loved by so many’

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

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

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

Read more at CBC News »

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Ethiopia’s Stifled Press — Washington Post

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

The Washington Post

By Editorial Board

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

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

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

Read more at The Washington Post »

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

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, February 9th, 2015

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

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

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

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



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Ethiopia Bets on Grand Projects – Reuters

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

Reuters

BY EDMUND BLAIR AND AARON MAASHO

Sunday, Feb 8th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Reuters.com »

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

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

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

Ynetnews

By Omri Efraim

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

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

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

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

Read more at Ynetnews »

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

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

National Geographic

By Brian Clark Howard

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at National Geographic »

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Sudden Flowers by Maaza Mengiste

Radait wants to dance. (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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Ethiopia Launches Mobile Money

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

Reuters

By Edmund Blair

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Reuters.com »

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tadias Magazine
News Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Africa Policy Breakfast January 28, 2015


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

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Hand-Me-Down Sound From Ethiopia

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

The Guardian

By Huw Oliver

Tuesday 3 February 2015

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian »

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Ethiopian Wins Entrepreneur of Year Prize

Zelalem Gemmeda. (Buffalo News)

Buffalo News

By Emma Sapong

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

Andargachew 'Andy' Tsige. (BBC)

BBC News

Emails raise query over Islington ‘terrorist’ held by Ethiopia

1 February 2015

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

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

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

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

Read more and watch the video at BBC News »


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

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

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

Associated Press

BY ELIAS MESERET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DC Workshop on African Diaspora Marketplace Business Competition 2015

(Photo Courtesy: USAID)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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Egypt’s Sisi Cuts Short Ethiopia Visit

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

Reuters

BY MAGGIE FICK AND YUSRI MOHAMED

Fri Jan 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

Read more at Reuters.com »

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

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

PRI

By Reporter Dalia Mortada

January 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kemal Oznoyan was baffled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Root

BY: DIANA OZEMEBHOYA EROMOSELE

NEPA take light!”

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

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

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

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

Read more at theroot.com »

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

(Photo © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Related:
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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Ethiopia Says New Railway to Djibouti to Start in Early 2016

(Photo: Erta)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

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

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

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

Read more at Reuters.com »

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

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

Bloomberg

By William Davison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Zone 9 Trial Resumes in Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Police Attack Protesters in Addis Ababa

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

The Daily Journalist

By Betre Yacob

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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Sisi Goes to Addis Ababa (Opinion)

(Illustration by Anthony Russo)

The New York Times | The Opinion Pages

By ALEX DE WAAL

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NYT »

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

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

The Guardian

William Davison in Addis Ababa

Tuesday 27 January 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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

By Magdalena Mis

January 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Castro Breaks Silence on Ties With US

Fidel Castro pictured in in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 11, 2014. (AP Photo)

NBC News

HAVANA, Cuba — Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro ended his long silence over his country’s restoration of diplomatic ties with the United States, indicating that he backs the talks even though he distrusts politics in Washington.

The comments were the first by the 88-year-old revolutionary leader on the talks with the U.S. since the historic December 17 declaration that the countries would move to restore ties broken more than a half century ago.

“I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” he wrote in a letter to a student federation read at the University of Havana. It also appeared in Communist Party newspaper Granma.

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries,” he wrote.

A serious illness forced Castro to step down from duties as president, handing over leadership to his younger brother Raul. Two weeks ago, Fidel Castro sent a letter to soccer legend Diego Maradona to quash rumors of his death.

Watch: NBC News Special: Nightly News’ Brian Williams Reports From Cuba


Related:
First US-Cuba Talks Conclude in Havana
US & Cuba Hold Historic Talks in Havana
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (NYT Editorial)
U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba (NYT)

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Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

Pedestrians walk bundled against the blowing snow during a winter snowstorm in Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 27, 2015

A massive winter storm dropped up to 60 centimeters of snow in some parts of the northeastern U.S. Monday and Tuesday, but fell short of forecasters’ worst predictions.

Massachusetts and Connecticut saw some of the heaviest snow. Blizzard warnings remained in effect in Massachusetts Tuesday afternoon, as well as coastal areas of Maine and Rhode Island.

High winds, snow

Snow was not the only danger from the storm, which also carried powerful winds. The highest reported winds reached 126 kilometers per hour on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket. Power outages and flooding were also reported in the state.

In New York and New Jersey, it was a different story, as officials and forecasters were forced to defend their strong warnings after the storm produced less snow than anticipated.

The governors of New York and New Jersey began lifting travel bans after dawn Tuesday, while the National Weather Service canceled its blizzard warning for New York City.

“This is nothing like we feared it would be,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN. De Blasio had earlier warned the storm could be one of the worst the city has ever faced.

The New York Stock Exchange was operating normally Tuesday, and subways, trains and buses began moving again. But United Nations headquarters and many schools and businesses across the northeast were closed.

Travel across the region also remained crippled Tuesday, with more than 4,500 flights canceled, according to FlightAware.com.

The only reported death in the storm occurred on New York’s Long Island, which was hit much harder than Manhattan. The victim was a teenager who crashed into a light post while snow tubing.

Washington escapes blizzard

The brunt of the storm missed the nation’s capital, which saw only light snow mixed with rain, but federal offices and public schools in the city opened two hours late Tuesday to give people extra travel time.

On social media, Americans waiting out the snowstorm posted photos and videos of their cities blanketed in white. Hashtags such as #blizzardof2015 and #Snowmageddon2015 quickly gained traction.

As officials and residents prepared for the worst, Broadway theater productions in Manhattan went dark Monday night, New York-area NBA (National Basketball Association) teams postponed games and store shelves cleared out quickly as people scrambled to pick up supplies. Drivers largely heeded orders to stay off the streets in both New York and Boston overnight.

Originally, up to 90 centimeters of snow was expected to fall in some regions of the Northeast, accompanied by near hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding.

Related:
New York City Is Spared Worst Effects of Snowstorm (The New York Times)

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U.S. Exhibition Highlights the Vibrant Art and Storied History of Ethiopian Icons

(Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, January 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — 60 Ethiopian church icons and artifacts are currently on display at The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts. The paintings, mostly gathered from a European private collection, date back to the 16th century and represent Ethiopia’s ancient Christian tradition. The exhibition, which is on view through April 18th, features “60 small scale icons triptychs, larger icons and illuminated manuscripts. There will also be several cast-brass hand-held processional/benediction crosses with intricate designs for the Museum’s own collection as well as some small pendant/pectoral crosses worn by priest as part of their sacred vestments.”

The announcement adds: “The majority of paintings are religious in nature, often decorating church walls and bibles. From the 16th century, Roman Catholic church art and European art in general began to exert some influence. However, Ethiopian art is highly conservative and retained much of its distinct character until modern times. The production of illuminated manuscripts for use continues up to the present day. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, where there has long been an Ethiopian clerical presence, also allowed some contact with a wider range of Orthodox art.”


If You Go:
The Vibrant Art and Storied History of Ethiopian Icons
On View January 23 through April 18, 2015
The Museum of Russian Icons
203 Union Street
Clinton, Massachusetts 01510
Telephone 978.598.5000
ADMISSION
Adults $10, Seniors (59 and over) $7
Students (with ID) & children (3-17) $5
Children under 3 FREE
Group Rates: CLICK HERE
museumofrussianicons.org

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UK Diplomats Clash Over Andargachew Tsege

Family torn apart: Andargachew Tsege with wife Yemi and their children. (The Daily Mail)

The Daily Mail

By Ian Birrell

An explosive row has erupted between diplomats and Ministers over their reluctance to help a British man on death row in Ethiopia.

A series of extraordinary emails, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, reveal officials’ increasing frustration at political inaction over Andargachew Tsege.

Tsege, 59, a father-of-three from London, was snatched at an airport in Yemen last June and illegally rendered to Ethiopia. There are concerns he may have been tortured.

Yet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he could not ‘find time’ for a phone call to raise the issue and did not want to send a ‘negative’ letter.

In one email, an exasperated official asks: ‘Don’t we need to do more than give them a stern talking to?’

Read more at The Daily Mail »

Related:
British MPs to Visit Ethiopia in Bid to Secure Release of Andy Tsege

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First US-Cuba Talks Conclude in Havana

Roberta S. Jacobson (Right), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 23, 2015

A U.S. official has wrapped up a visit to Havana, saying her talks there mark an “important step forward” in restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, but noting they are “just a first step” and that the road ahead is long and complex.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, made the comments Friday after two days of talks with Cuban officials. She said in addition to discussing their shared interests, the two delegations addressed continuing areas of “deep disagreement,” including human rights.

Jacobson, however, said such differences do not mean the two countries cannot have a relationship.

“We will continue to both speak out about human rights publicly and directly now with the Cuban government,” said Jacobson. “I think that it is obviously part of what we’re talking about when we say we have profound disagreements with the Cuban government, when we talk about democracy and human rights and support for civil society and independent actors.”

This week’s meetings come a month after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the two countries were prepared to normalize ties after more than 50 years.

Jacobson also held talks Friday with leading Cuban dissidents. The head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sanchez, said the meeting was “cordial” and that the dissidents were satisfied despite the fact that not all civil society members were present.

The leader of the Patriotic Union for Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer, said the question of whether everyone in the opposition agrees with the new dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba should be a secondary issue.

“What’s important is for us to maintain unity in (our struggle for) freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, which are the fundamental issues in this case,” said Ferrer.

Jacobson said her discussions with Cuban government officials were also “cordial and respectful.” She said the U.S. is “extremely committed” to moving ahead with the dialogue.

Jacobson said the first day of discussions centered on the two nations’ regular migration talks. The second day focused on the steps for re-establishing relations and went beyond the reopening of embassies to cover a range of shared interests, including global health, counternarcotics, environmental cooperation and human trafficking.

Jacobson also stressed the importance of ensuring that the Cuban people have the information they need to make their own decisions. She said the new U.S. regulations put in place this month to allow greater telecommunications exports to Cuba was one of the subjects raised.

A Cuban diplomat told state news agency Granma the process of “normalizing” relations between Washington and Havana will take longer than merely re-establishing a diplomatic dialogue.

The unnamed official said, “We must not pretend that everything can be resolved in a single meeting.”

Last month’s diplomacy breakthrough occurred after secret negotiations that involved the Catholic Church. The talks led to Havana’s release of U.S. government contractor Alan Gross after five years behind bars. Cuba has also released 53 political prisoners, followed by the Obama administration easing some travel and trade restrictions.

Watch: US diplomat: Normalization will take time (MSNBC Video)


Related:
US & Cuba Hold Historic Talks in Havana
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (NYT Editorial)
U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba (NYT)

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‘Ethiopia’s Media Crackdown is Bad News for Africa’ (The Guardian)

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

The Guardian

By Simon Allison

It’s not easy being a journalist in Ethiopia. In fact, it’s nearly impossible, according to a new 76-page Human Rights Watch report that documents the scale of the state’s censorship apparatus. As a journalist, it makes for highly disturbing reading.

“Ethiopia’s government has systematically assaulted the country’s independent voices, treating the media as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis,” says Leslie Lefkow, the organisation’s deputy Africa director.

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

The authors of the report spoke to 70 Ethiopian journalists, many in exile, who painted a dismal picture of the state of Ethiopian media. The government exerts control in many different ways – some subtle, some quite the opposite.

Read more »



Related:
HRW Accuses Ethiopia of Journalist Crackdown Ahead of Elections (VOA News)
Ethiopia Media Being Decimated: Reforms Crucial Prior to May Elections (HRW)
African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril (U.S. Congress)

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Double Delight for Ethiopia in Dubai Marathon

Lemi Berhanu set a world-leading 2:05:28 to defeat a distinguished field in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon but Kenenisa Bekele dropped out at the 30km mark with injury. (IAAF)

World Running

Jan. 23, 2015

Lemi Berhanu was the unexpected winner of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, which produced another slew of super-fast times on Friday (23).

With former three-time champion and ex-world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie on duty as part of the commentary team for international TV coverage, Berhanu – the winner of the Zurich Marathon last year in 2:10:40 – left some of the biggest names in marathon-running trailing in his wake.

In fine but relatively warm conditions, the 20-year-old clocked a world-leading time of 2:05:28. Lelisa Desisa, who won this race on his debut two years ago, took second in 2:05:52 while Deribe Robi completed an all-Ethiopian podium with a time of 2:06:06.

In contrast, Bekele lost contact with the leading group around the 28km mark and dropped out a few kilometres later. The world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder was hoping to improve his lifetime best of 2:05:04 which he set on his marathon debut in Paris last April.

“Kenenisa suffered hamstring problems in both legs,” explained his coach Renato Canova. “But I think the real problem is in his right Achilles tendon. At the end of November he had to reduce training because of this. But then it got better and actually his final training sessions looked encouraging. A world record was never a realistic target, but a 2:04 time seemed realistic.

“However when I saw him running today he did not look relaxed; he looked tight. And I think this is the reason why he developed hamstring problems. Something must have happened in the final few days before the race. We now have to solve this tendon problem. But for his future marathon career I remain very confident. I think he will do really well,” added Canova, whose charge is due to run in the London Marathon on 26 April.

With Bekele out of contention, Desisa and Berhanu duelled for the title and with one kilometre remaining, the relatively inexperienced marathon exponent Berhanu forged a decisive gap on the former winner of the Boston and Dubai Marathons.

“I would never have thought that I could win this race. It was my dream to do this in Dubai one day, but not this year! With around one kilometre to go I sensed that I could succeed,” said Berhanu, who won some $200,000 for his efforts.

“I never thought about the money,” said Berhanu, who is hoping to represent Ethiopia at the IAAF World Championships in August. “I really don’t know what I will do with it.”


Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia. (IAAF)

Aselefech Mergia secures hat-trick on marathon return

Contesting her first marathon in nearly three years, Aselefech Mergia returned to the top-table of women’s marathon-running with her third victory in the Dubai Marathon.

Mergia, who represented Ethiopia at the 2012 Olympics, has largely been absent from the international circuit since then through injury and childbirth but the Ethiopian looked back to her best as she became the first woman to win three titles in the Dubai Marathon.

Read more »

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In Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, The ‘Hipsters’ Have A Unique Style All Their Own (Video)

(Photo credit: Alex Franco)

Aplus.com

By ISAAC SAUL

In the Omo Valley of Ethiopia, a community of stylish men and women caught the attention of a photographer.

Alex Franco was struck by the Hamer, Mursi, Banna and Bodi ethnic groups, all of which have what the BBC World Service described as a “hipster cool” kind of style. They dress in elaborate colors, stand in graceful poses, and alter their hair.

“Resilient local traditions are combined with Western fashion in an original, quirky way,” the BBC told A+ in an email.

Check out Franco’s pictures and hear him talk about his experience in the short video.

Alex Franco is a Spanish-born fashion photographer and filmmaker.



Related:
People of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley Inspire Dolce & Gabbana 2015 Collection

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HRW Accuses Ethiopia of Journalist Crackdown Ahead of Elections

Human Rights Watch report on Ethiopia media. (Photo: Public domain)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

January 22, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses the Ethiopia’s government of systematically cracking down on media ahead of the May 2015 elections. The report, released Thursday, details how Ethiopia has restricted independent reporting since 2010.

Researcher Felix Horne says there are patterns of government abuses against independent journalists.

“After articles are written, harassment comes from government officials, security officials and cadres in the form of threatening phone calls and SMS messages [text messages] and in person visits trying to get the individual to tone down the writings to comply with government perspectives on different issues,” Horne notes. “The next level is threats and harassment against family members, quite often arbitrary detention to intimidate and to pressure the journalist into censoring their writings. If that doesn’t work, the next step seems to involve criminal charges.”

According to the report, “Journalism Is Not A Crime”, six independent publications closed down in 2014 because of government pressure, 22 journalist, bloggers and publishers were criminally charged and more than 30 journalist fled the country. Most journalists are charged under the widely criticized anti-terrorism proclamation. Currently there is a high profile terrorism case going on in Ethiopia against bloggers of the Zone9 group.

HRW says the repression described in the report is leading to self-censorship. The rights group also claims that citizens and junior government officials are afraid of speaking to media, out of concern of being disciplined.

Horne says the repression has led to a reality where alternative views about the upcoming elections are rarely discussed in the media.

“It is crucial and critical that there will be a vibrant and flourishing independent media that can contribute to the political discourse and the political dialogue within the country that can provide critical information and critical analysis about the political issues of the day,” Horne says. ” But sadly, given the decimation of private media that we’ve seen since 2010, that’s just not happening.”

The ruling party, which has been in power since 1991, won over 99 percent of the votes in the 2010 elections, with only one parliament seat going to the opposition.

Responding to the report’s accusations, Getachew Redda, Special Advisor to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister said “HRW had lost their credibility long time ago, even by their own supporters, so there is no point for us to respond to their remarks.”

Asked about the issue of imprisoned journalist, Redda responded that “You can be anything, a journalist or pretending to be a journalist, but being involved in criminal activity is still a crime and they will be held responsible.”

HRW is calling on the Ethiopian government to release those imprisoned journalist and bloggers and to amend legislation such as the anti-Terrorism proclamation.

Video: Ethiopia Media Being Decimated: Reforms Crucial Prior to May Elections (HRW)


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Ethiopia Media Being Decimated (HRW)

Human Rights Watch says "Legal, policy reforms crucial prior to May elections." (Getty Images and HRW)

Human Rights Watch

JANUARY 22, 2015

(Nairobi) – The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media has created a bleak landscape for free expression ahead of the May 2015 general elections, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In the past year, six privately owned publications closed after government harassment; at least 22 journalists, bloggers, and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country in fear of being arrested under repressive laws.

The 76-page report, “‘Journalism is Not a Crime’: Violations of Media Freedom in Ethiopia,” details how the Ethiopian government has curtailed independent reporting since 2010. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 70 current and exiled journalists between May 2013 and December 2014, and found patterns of government abuses against journalists that resulted in 19 being imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression, and that have forced at least 60 others into exile since 2010.

“Ethiopia’s government has systematically assaulted the country’s independent voices, treating the media as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.”

Most of Ethiopia’s print, television, and radio outlets are state-controlled, and the few private print media often self-censor their coverage of politically sensitive issues for fear of being shut down.

The six independent print publications that closed in 2014 did so after a lengthy campaign of intimidation that included documentaries on state-run television that alleged the publications were linked to terrorist groups. The intimidation also included harassment and threats against staff, pressure on printers and distributors, regulatory delays, and eventually criminal charges against the editors. Dozens of staff members went into exile. Three of the owners were convicted under the criminal code and sentenced in absentia to more than three years in prison. The evidence the prosecution presented against them consisted of articles that criticized government policies.

Read more at HRW »



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Obama’s Biggest State of the Union Zinger

At the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama had one especially memorable moment when he said to applause and laughter: “I have no more campaigns to run. I know because I won both of them."

NBC News

By Aliyah Frumin

In front of the new, Republican-controlled Congress, a forceful and determined President Obama used his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night to push for a program of “middle class economics.” With his pitch, also came a slew of zingers – some scripted and some ad-libbed – that received applause, laughter and some GOP scowls. Here’s a look at his five best lines.

1. “I know because I won both of them.” Towards the end of his speech, Obama called for Republicans and Democrats to work together, acknowledging “I have no more campaigns to run.” But when Republicans began to clap, the commander-in-chief shot back, off-the-cuff: “I know because I won both of them” he said, to applause and laughter from Democrats.

Read more at MSNBC »

Video: Obama’s biggest zinger of the 2015 State of the Union (USA Today)


Related:
Gloom Lifts And Obama Goes All Out (The New York Times)
Why History Will Be Very Kind to President Obama (New York Magazine)

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From Ethiopia to Israel to Harlem: Q&A with Beejhy Barhany, Owner of Tsion Cafe

Beejhy Barhany. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – In the historic neighborhood of Sugar Hill, Harlem we celebrate one of its newest additions — Tsion Café and Bakery. Formerly known as Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, 763 St. Nicholas Ave had housed the famous eatery and hangout frequented by jazz musicians, writers and poets; Malcolm X worked there washing dishes. Now converted into a trendy cafe and bakery Tsion is located a few doors away from the former St. Nick’s Pub – a renowned jazz club established in the 1940s. That’s where, according to The New York Times, “The musicians Frank Lacey, Olu Dara, Sarah Vaughn and Wynton Marsalis played through Harlem’s ups and down. The pub drew famous faces and busloads of tourists.”

Today, the most delicious Ethiopian food with a Mediterranean and Israeli twist comes out of the same kitchen as Jimmy’s Chicken Shack. It’s a space where you can finish your novel, meet a friend for lunch, sip on fair trade, organic coffee, or simply hang out.

The owner and founder, Beejhy Barhany, was born in Ethiopia, raised in Israel and moved to New York fifteen years ago. Beejhy says her mission is to carry on the essence of the establishment’s former identity – a meeting place for wholesome food, art, culture and musical performance. Behind Tsion Café is an incredibly rich life story that led her here; from bungee and cliff jumping in the Amazon, to trading diamonds in New York, to serving in the army in Israel. Her passion to communicate her Ethiopian heritage, while highlighting her Jewish upbringing has led her to establish a space and platform where the richness of her life experience can be heard, seen, tasted, and experienced. Tsion Café is the physical manifestation of Beejhy Barhany’s personal story spanning continents and cultures.

With sweet traditional tunes humming in the background, we start our chat.

TADIAS: What was the inspiration behind Tsion Café, and why did you choose a location in Harlem?

Beejhy Barhany: It is important for me to highlight Ethiopian culture and its rich heritage, and paying homage to my Jewish background. I moved to New York in 2000, and after living and working here for a few years, I founded BINA (Beta Israel of North America) as a way to create a platform to raise greater awareness about Ethiopian Jews. I started organizing events, film screenings, showcasing cuisine, stories, and music. It kept growing, expanding, I had an office, but I always wanted a venue. And I always wanted something in Harlem; it’s historical, it has some connection to Ethiopia. I was looking at a lot of different places, and I was interested in this particular venue. Jimmy’s Chicken Shack was once this exact place, where all the poets and musicians were spending time, I wanted to bring that back and carry on the tradition, I wanted to honor writers, artists, have readings and performances, and this place simply worked.

TADIAS: Your drive to highlight the beauty of Ethiopian culture is so heavily influenced by your life; you’re Ethiopian, Jewish, a New Yorker. It seems Tsion is a byproduct of your experiences, and even with heavy revision, you’ve had a jam-packed life so far, so I wanted to start at the beginning, tell us a bit about your childhood.

Beejhy: I was born in Tigray, in a small village; I don’t have much memory of Ethiopia since I left at a very young age. From the stories and vague memories, it was a peaceful life, surreal; I remember rivers, cornfields, eating fruit, climbing trees. I left the country with my family and started a journey to Israel, the holy land; we did it because of a strong determination connected to our religious ideology. In a way, we escaped with a mission in mind. We had people show us the way, make sure we didn’t bump into roadblocks, maneuver between villages, take us to Jewish villages to stock up with food and water.

TADIAS: I think this particular journey that you have partaken in comes in story form to the rest of the country and the West, do you think the stories of the Ethiopian Jewish community may be somewhat misrepresented?

Beejhy: I think it is something that is a bit exaggerated, we didn’t suffer in Ethiopia, I think that history needs a bit of revision. It depended on what area you came from. The image of Ethiopia in general that is exported into the West is not completely accurate. Surely, it was a difficult journey but it was a pure and spiritual passage that Ethiopian Jews carried out, not for economic opportunities, not because we were unhappy in Ethiopia, but because we wanted to be in Israel. The level of devotion was incredible, it was difficult on various levels but the people had an unbelievable drive. For instance, there was a pregnant woman walking among us, when she gave birth, people waited until she recovered to continue. We wouldn’t walk during Shabbat – the group had that level of devotion.

TADIAS: I would imagine you had to take intentional detours, to avoid roadblocks and dangers?

Beejhy: Yes, so we walked to Sudan and we stayed there for almost three years. I had a few family members and a cousin who worked with different NGOs and Mossad (the national intelligence agency of Israel) who had secret missions to get families to Israel. So, we were told to prepare, take pictures, pack, and one night we were picked up with a Land Rover and a Scottish and Kenyan driver, all under a secret operation. At the age of 7, I continued this epic journey, I remember sitting on the roof of the truck amongst suitcases looking at wild animals in the safari. It was magnificent time for me, but surely, for the elders it was frightening, especially passing through borders with a Scottish driver who was up for much interrogation. He was consistent in claiming he was a “tour guide.” The authorities wanted to know more, but with the connection and good sum of money, they were able to transport us through multiple borders. At some point I could see Ethiopia from Kenya, but that was the route you used to smuggle. We arrived in Uganda and hid there two weeks, until proper documentation was ready, from there we flew to Israel.

TADIAS: So, after several years, you were finally in Israel. How was the first reaction, reception, and adjusting to a new life?

Beejhy: It was a group of incredibly sincere people who had carried out this journey, and it was an absolutely emotional moment for us. The reception was two-pronged. There were so many who were excited to welcome us, the new Jewish Diaspora! Yet, there was some discrimination. The whole interaction between white and black was not easy – there was name calling on both sides. There was also the notion that you were not good enough, even after that level of devotion during the trip you had to reclaim your religion anew with Mikveh (the ritual immersion in a bath to symbolize the conversion into Judaism, to regain purity before entering the Temple). I was young, but I understood the process of the ‘new immigrant.’ I started a new life, new language, new home. I was integrated into all of it. I learned Hebrew. I met kids form Ethiopia and Russia, and after some time I started taking regular classes – I grew up. I learned to be very independent since all of my family members were integrating into a new life as well. I had to do homework by myself for instance. I decided to do my high school in a Kibbutz (a collective community based on agriculture, a co-operative life where everything is shared). Then I decided to join the army, and I served for three years. After that I wanted to travel the world, so I started with the U.S.

TADIAS: Okay, so now we are getting closer and closer to New York and Tsion. Tell us about the journey that ended in you moving to New York City in 2000.

Beejhy: I had saved some money and went backpacking. I was twenty-two. I traveled a bit in the U.S., the Islands, then to Latin America. I traveled to Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, hitchhiking and backpacking. I did the Machu Picchu trail for a week. I mean the adventures were endless – I bungee-jumped, trekked snow mountains, did 100 feet jumps from bridges into rivers, walked the jungles of Peru. It was madness. I went back to Israel and I could not stay. I had seen too much. I went back to New York in 2000 and started babysitting for a Jewish family. I soon started a job in the diamond district managing an office. I started designing jewelry and trading diamonds while going to school, and graduated with a Liberal Arts degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

In 2003 I founded Beta Israel of North America Cultural Foundation (BINA). Throughout my encounters in life, people did not know about Ethiopian Jews or Ethiopia in general. I wanted to create a platform to bring that richness to the world. I started organizing events and BINA was incredibly important in its role of discarding the negative images of Ethiopia; we are strong people with such a magnificent history, and it was important to underline that. After some years, it was clear that I wanted a venue, so the scouting for Tsion Café started.

TADIAS: How did you decide on this particular location?

Beejhy: It is quite ironic because when I first moved here, people told me not to go to Harlem. Now I live and work here. It was serendipity that we ended up here. I wanted a location that was near to home, because of my family, but also a place that demonstrated the history of Harlem. When I first saw the space I felt there was something to it, but didn’t know what. It was only just before construction began that we learned of the historic significance — any lingering doubts about the space was removed at that time. But, the place was like a junkyard, layers of flooring had to be taken out, walls taken down, everything had to be cleaned up. But eventually, it was up and running.

TADIAS: Your staff is a creative bunch; the head chef is Samson Kebede, a bass player for ARKI sound, an Ethiopian Jazz band. Beniam Asfaw is the Art Director and curates work for the Tsion Art Show. Was that intentional when it came to things like designing the menu or the general ambiance?

Beejhy: The food celebrates my upbringing, so we wanted to craft up something that was Ethiopian with a Middle Eastern, Jewish twist, a sort of hybrid. So we have something like Firfir (a dish made from shredded Injera, in a spicy buttery sauce) that is traditionally Ethiopian/Eritrean, but we also have the Malawa (a layered puff pastry dish served with eggs and tomato dip or honey), which is more of a reference to Yemen/Israel. We also try to be efficient with our ingredients; we serve fresh, organic food. The Ethiopian influence is there for sure, but we add a bit more to it. Soon, we will have some fresh bread and pastries to sell. We also have Ethiopian honey wine, and of course, we will have the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

TADIAS: What are your hopes for Tsion Café in the coming years?

Beejhy: I see it becoming a gathering place for the community – where writers can be comfortable to come here and finish their books for instance. We want to highlight art and culture. I see it as a place where we celebrate the diversity within Harlem, a place for growth of ideas, spirituality, and respect for one another, and in a way you will have a better understanding of Ethiopia. It is a space that is envisioned as a positive addition to Harlem. A gift from my family and me to the Harlem community. Tsion means the ‘ultimate spiritual place.’ You come here, and we fill you with good food and a good cultural grounding to all things Harlem — old and new.



If You Go:
Tsion Cafe
763 St. Nicholas Ave.
Harlem, NY 10031
www.tsioncafe.com

To submit artwork: Please be ready to provide your artist bio and artwork list (i.e. title, medium, dimensions and retail price for each artwork). Please include your name, address, email and phone number on your artist bio and artwork list and submit your art to Tsioncafe@gmail.com to be considered.

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Ethiopia’s Coffee Rank Among Best (Video)

(Photo: voanews.com)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

January 21, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride.

International coffee experts travel the world to find the best tasting cup. They keep coming back to Ethiopia, where importers like Morton Wennersgaard say the climate produces quality coffee beans.

“You have different ancient varieties referred to as Ethiopian heirdom. They are grown in places with perfect soil, perfect altitude, and micro climates that are really suitable for coffee processing, such as drying and things like that,” he explains.

Finding the best beans is a matter of taste, literally. The intense process is known as cupping – tasting and comparing coffee from different roasted beans, grading and then pricing them.

Coffee labs

But before international experts come to taste, coffee beans go through analysis in small coffee labs, where Helen Assefa describes the process.

“When the coffee comes to the lab, we assess the coffee quality first by recording the details. Then we weigh the moisture level and we screen the beans for analysis. After that we grind the coffee beans and taste the samples. At the end we check for defective beans,” Assefa explains.

And that screening is a very difficult and lengthy process, says lab worker Mubarik Abaoli.

“We sort out the defects manually, by hand. And we sort out the defect according to the defect types. The types are immature, paste damage, foxy, black – all has to be sorted out according to the severity of the defects,” Mubarik Abaoli says.

Cashing in abroad

Nevertheless, Ethiopia is cashing in on its coffee reputation with consumers in more than 120 countries and a yearly export revenue of more than $840 million.

But not all the best coffee leaves Ethiopia. With 40 percent of the coffee production consumed at home, it remains an important part of everyday life at work, at home and at ceremonies just to celebrate that special cup.

Video: How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee


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Ambassador Samantha Power Updates African Diaspora On Ebola Crisis Response

Man offloads relief supplies for Ebola response in West Africa. (AP photo)

PRESS RELEASE

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs

The State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs recently hosted a conference call with Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and representatives of African diaspora communities from across the United States to discuss the international response to the Ebola crisis. Officials from USAID, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) joined the call, the third in a series hosted by the Bureau of Public Affairs with the African diaspora community. These calls have provided an opportunity for the U.S. government to coordinate effectively with diaspora communities across the United States to combat this epidemic and to connect individuals seeking to volunteer in various capacities with the NGOs working directly in the Ebola-affected communities in West Africa.

In October 2014, Ambassador Power traveled to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to demonstrate U.S. support for these nations, review the response effort and emphasize the need for increased support for the international response. Ambassador Power stressed that, despite the gains seen in Liberia, Ebola remains a major threat and she also warned of the risk of complacency. She also noted that in Sierra Leone, the disease continues to spread at a rapid pace. Some 18,000 people have been reported infected in West Africa and 7,000 people have died. And the economic and social toll of the disease is staggering. The outbreak has caused profound suffering and long-lasting effects on the lives of the people of West Africa.

Ambassador Power reinforced that the U.S. government understands what it takes to end the epidemic, and that it is a matter of “mobilizing resources and will.” The U.S. response has been the largest to any global health crisis in history. Currently, there are 3,000 U.S. government personnel in the region working to curb the spread of the epidemic. Even with this robust response, the United States alone cannot curb the epidemic’s deadly spread. Other countries have joined the response effort as well, including the United Kingdom which has committed somet 230 million pounds to tackle Ebola.

Diaspora representatives, grateful for the opportunity to share their views, were eager to ask questions on how their community can assist with responding to the needs of those in affected countries. Thanking the Obama Administration for its response to the crisis, one diaspora representative originally from Sierra Leone asked Ambassador Power to identify how the diaspora can be engaged in Sierra Leone. Prefacing her response to the caller with “we need you,” Ambassador Power underscored the vital role the diaspora can play in education, social motivation and galvanizing the diaspora community to help those in Sierra Leone where behavioral change is slower than in Liberia.

Ambassador Power emphasized that the diaspora have a critical role to play in carrying messages back to relatives in West Africa and helping with the response. With their sophistication, will, and capabilities, they are uniquely positioned to helping conquer the fears and stigma that the epidemic has generated. Ambassador Power ended the call by urging the diaspora community to continue to put their skills to work in ending this outbreak and to know that they have the support of the U.S. government as they work to eradicate this deadly disease.

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

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

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Leaked Report Says World Bank Violated Its Own Rules In Ethiopia

This article was reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a Washington DC-based global network of 185 reporters in 65 countries who collaborate on transnational investigations.

The Huffington Post

By Sasha Chavkin

01/20/2015

The World Bank repeatedly violated its own rules while funding a development initiative in Ethiopia that has been dogged by complaints that it sponsored forced evictions of thousands of indigenous people, according to a leaked report by a watchdog panel at the bank.

The report, which was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, examines a health and education initiative that was buoyed by nearly $2 billion in World Bank funding over the last decade. Members of the indigenous Anuak people in Ethiopia’s Gambella province charged that Ethiopian authorities used some of the bank’s money to support a massive forced relocation program and that soldiers beat, raped and killed Anuak who refused to abandon their homes. The bank continued funding the health and education initiative for years after the allegations emerged.

The report by the World Bank’s internal Inspection Panel found that there was an “operational link” between the World Bank-funded program and the Ethiopian government’s relocation push, which was known as “villagization.” By failing to acknowledge this link and take action to protect affected communities, the bank violated its own policies on project appraisal, risk assessment, financial analysis and protection of indigenous peoples, the panel’s report concludes.

“The bank has enabled the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands,” said David Pred, director of Inclusive Development International, a nonprofit that filed the complaint on behalf of 26 Anuak refugees.

Read more at The Huffington Post »

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World Bank: Poverty in Ethiopia Down 33 Percent Since 2000

More than three-quarters of Ethiopia's population derive their income from agriculture. (Photo: USAID)

PRESS RELEASE

The world bank

January 20, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Agricultural growth was the main driver of poverty reduction in Ethiopia since 2000, according to the World Bank Group’s latest Poverty Assessment. Poverty in Ethiopia fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011, which translated to a 33 percent reduction in the share of people living in poverty. This decline was underpinned by high and consistent economic growth.

Since 2005, agricultural growth has been responsible for a reduction in poverty of 4 percent a year, suggesting that the agricultural growth strategy pursued by the Government of Ethiopia has paid off. High food prices and good weather ensured that increased use of fertilizer was translated into higher incomes for poor farmers with access to markets. Government spending on basic services and effective rural safety nets has also helped the least well-off in Ethiopia. The Productive Safety Net Program alone has pushed 1.5 million people out of poverty.

“Although Ethiopia started from a low base, its investment in pro-poor sectors and agriculture has paid-off and led to tremendous achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction, which in turn have helped improve the economic prospects of its citizens,” says Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Group Country Director for Ethiopia.

The pace of poverty reduction in Ethiopia has been impressive, especially when compared with other African countries; only Uganda has had higher annual poverty reduction during the same period. Health, education, and living standards have also improved, with undernourishment down from 75 percent to 35 percent since 1990 and infant and child mortality rates falling considerably since 2000. Ethiopia is one of the most equal countries in the world, and has remained so during this period of economic development and poverty reduction.

A number of challenges remain, and 37 million Ethiopians remain either poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty in the wake of a shock. In addition, the very poorest in Ethiopia have become even poorer. The high food prices that improve incomes for many poor farmers make buying food more challenging for the poorest. Moreover, the majority of Ethiopians still live in rural areas and work in agriculture; enabling mobility across sectors and locations needs to be one of the main areas of focus going forward to continue the country’s movement toward ending poverty. As urban centers grow, policies to address poverty in these areas will become increasingly important.

“Ethiopia is often unfairly seen as emblematic of poverty and deprivation—but the progress it has seen over the past decade should help change that,” says Ana Revenga, Senior Director for Poverty at the World Bank Group. “If this progress continues over the next decade, Ethiopia can propel itself and most importantly, its people into a new era of prosperity.”

The report indicates that while Ethiopia should continue focusing on agricultural growth and investments in basic services, the potential of migration and non-agricultural growth has been largely missed. Alongside ongoing efforts to support self-employment, encouraging the entry and growth of firms and helping households overcome constraints to urban migration could also further help Ethiopia to reduce poverty and promote prosperity for all of is people. Poverty reduction has been fastest in the regions where poverty was highest a decade and a half ago, and the remaining poor live in every district across the country. Safety net programs, which have been effective, will need to adapt to the changing landscape of poverty in Ethiopia.

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Israeli Company to Construct Solar-Hybrid Power Plants in Ethiopia

Israeli company AORA to provide solar-biogas hybrid power solutions for rural communities in Ethiopia. (Photo: ynetnews)

Homestrings.com

The hybrid plant adjusts itself to a variety of weather conditions, utilizing both solar energy and biofuels.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy had entered an agreement with an Israeli solar-hybrid power company to provide “power solutions” in rural Ethiopia.

The Israeli developers, AORA, promise “significant social and economic impact on off-grid communities, helping to provide power to schools and medical facilities, refrigeration for food processing and post-harvest storage, groundwater pumping, and much more,” according to Tazpit News Agency.

Ethiopia often suffers from blackouts; two-thirds of the country’s citizens do not have electricity.

Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, said the deal transforms “the Green Economy Strategy into action”, referring to a 2011 initiative that aims to turn Ethiopia into a middle-income, green economy nation by 2025. “AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is… well suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic development in Ethiopia,” Tegenu added.

AORA’s technology combines solar radiation, gaseous and liquid fuels including biodiesel and natural gas, enabling a flexible variety of operational modes which adjust themselves to all weather conditions, 24 hours a day.

Construction of the first plant is expected to begin by mid-2015.

Related:
Israeli solar power technology to light up Ethiopia (Ynet News)

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US & Cuba Hold Historic Talks in Havana

A woman walks past a bicycle taxi displaying the U.S. and Cuban flags in Havana, Dec. 17, 2014. (Reuters)

Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States will urge Cuba to lift travel restrictions and agree to establishing U.S. and Cuban embassies in historic talks in Havana this week aimed at restoring diplomatic ties, a senior State Department official said on Monday.

Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, will lead the talks scheduled Wednesday through Friday. It will be the first visit to Cuba in 38 years by a U.S. assistant secretary of state.

“We are looking forward to the Cubans lifting travel restrictions, to trying to lift the caps on the number of our diplomatic personnel, to trying to gain unimpeded shipments for our mission and to the free access to our mission by Cubans,” the official said in a conference call.

The official said the outcome of the first round of normalization talks would depend on how far Cuba was willing to go.

“It is hard to know exactly what will come out of this first conversation,” the official said. “I am not oblivious to the weight of history.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on December 17 announced plans to restore relations between the Cold War foes, with a view to ending the 54-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the communist-led island.

Cuba has released 53 political prisoners it had agreed to free and last week the United States announced the first easing of trade and investment restrictions against Havana.

Washington has said it will press Cuba to release more political prisoners and end short-term detentions.

The official said Obama’s new policy depends on “mutual consent” between the United States and Cuba. “We are ready to accelerate the pace of engagement as it regards our interests and the Cuban people, but a lot will depend on the tolerance of the Cuban government for that engagement,” the official said.

Washington intends to raise its concerns over Cuba’s human rights record, and the U.S. delegation hopes to meet with human rights and dissident groups while in Havana, the official added. “It has always been our practice to engage with civil society. … I really don’t see any need to change that.”

Related:
Why History Will Be Very Kind to Obama (New York Magazine)
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (NYT Editorial)
U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba (NYT)

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Ethiopians Win 2015 Houston Marathon

Marathoners go past the starting line during the beginning of the Houston Marathon, Sunday, January 18, 2015 in Houston. (Photo By Eric Christian Smith/For the Houston Chronicle)

Houston Chronicle

By Dale Robertson

Yebrgual Arage’s personal-best time a year ago in the Chevron Houston Marathon gained her a second-place finish. This time, another personal best won her the race and later – pay attention, breaking news! – Arage credited her affinity for fast times on the city’s streets to the delightfully temperate climate.

The air in Ethiopia, she said through a translator, “is very heavy. It’s much nicer here.”

The nearly 25,000 local runners, a vast majority of whom were still huffing and puffing on the course when she donned her new champion’s cowboy hat and met with the media, would have all fainted hearing that. We only thought Houston was the king of humidity. Maybe if Arage returned in July…

It was indeed a perfect Sunday morning, at least for the world-class athletes in the field. None were still running when the temperature finally nudged above 50 degrees and the finishing times showed it. Although no records fell, Arage missed by a mere nine seconds and Birhanu Gedefa, claiming victory in the men’s race, shaved nearly 3½ minutes off his previous fastest time.

Gedefa, 30, crossed in 2:08:03 and Arage, 24, in 2:08:03 to extend Ethiopia’s reign for another year. From 1972 through 2007, no Houston runner had cracked 2:10, but four did it this day alone. The runner-up, Gebo Burka (2:08:12), and third-place finisher Debebe Tolossa (2:09:07) also established personal bests.

Also, going back to 2007, only one athlete of another nationality – David Cheruiyot of neighboring Kenya in 2008 – has triumphed in either the men’s or women’s race. With Arage and Gedefa now in the winner’s circle as well a seventh woman and a sixth man will be declaring Stetsons when they go through customs back in the Horn of Africa.

Read more »


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Azarias Reda, GOP’s Chief Data Officer, On Forbes 30 Under 30

Ethiopian-born Azarias Reda is the Republican Party’s New Chief Data Officer. (Photo: Forbes Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 19th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Azarias Reda, The Chief Data Officer for the Republican party, has been named by Forbes Magazine as one of thirty promising young leaders below the age of thirty in Law & Policy. The Wall Street Journal notes: “The 28-year-old data evangelist is helping lead the effort to transform the GOP’s knowledge of voters into the power to win elections. Republicans got thumped in the 2012 elections in no small part because of a voter-data failure. The Obama team crushed the Romney campaign and the RNC: on turnout, on targeting and in social media.” Since then, of course, as evidenced by the GOP’s recent takeover of the U.S. Senate, the party’s voter operation has dramatically improved.

Forbes editors of the 2015 list share that “Reda was born in Ethiopia and moved to the U.S. while he was in college.” In its profile of Reda published this past Fall The Wall Street Journal stated: “He and the nearly 50 data scientists and engineers he has recruited to an in-house tech incubator—Para Bellum Labs—are a mind-blowing sight at RNC headquarters. Hipsters in T-shirts and jeans wade through besuited politicians toward a digital room that sports rows of computers and dry-erase walls…The RNC line is that it intends to leapfrog Democrats in the technology of turnout.”

We congratulate Azarias Reda on a well deserved recognition.

Related:
Presenting the 30 Under 30 2015 in Law & Policy (Forbes)
Azarias Reda Helps Republicans Leapfrogg the Democrats’ Tech Advantage (WSJ)

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US Observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

FILE - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaks to residents at the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago's South Side, July 24, 1965. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 19, 2015

Americans across the country are pausing Monday to observe the federal holiday marking the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

King first rose to prominence in 1955 when he led a successful boycott of the public buses in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, forcing the city to end its practice of segregating black passengers. He became the central figure of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, inspiring millions with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the same year a landmark civil rights bill was signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had traveled to assist striking black garbage workers who were seeking equal pay.

The holiday was created in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill designating the third Monday in January to honor King, who was born on January 15, 1929. Congress designated the King holiday as a national day of service in 1994, a move aimed at encouraging Americans to take part in community projects.

In honor of Dr. King, cable television’s MTV is airing its programming Monday in black and white for twelve hours to encourage viewers to have conversations with their friends and family about race. The monochrome broadcast is a first in the youth-oriented channel’s 34-year history.

MTV programming on Monday will include reflections on race from entertainers and public officials.


Editors of the root are featuring a quote from the iconic civil rights leader in honor of today’s MLK
Day. Read about an effort to portray Martin Luther King Jr. authentically on-screen here.


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Spectacular Photos of Timket Festival

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Timket at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and city of Gondar.

Daily Mail

By RUTH STYLES

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

While for most of us, January means cutting down on alcohol and getting to grips with a new workout regime, for Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians, it marks one of the most colourful celebrations of the year. Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox take on Epiphany, brings thousands of pilgrims flocking to the ancient rock-hewn churches at Lalibela and to the ancient city of Gondar nearby each winter.

Taken by French photographer Eric Lafforgue, who has travelled widely in Ethiopia meeting local people, the images offer a unique insight into one of the world’s oldest Christian ceremonies. And as the incredible photos reveal, there’s more to the celebration than prayer and contemplation, with colourful parades and late night dips in the river all part of the plan.

Read more at Daily Mail »

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Julie Mehretu Awarded 2015 Medal of Arts by U.S. State Department

Julie Mehretu has been awarded the 2015 US State Department Medal of Arts. (Photo: ©Sarah Rentz)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 16th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – The U.S. Department of State has named Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehretu as a recipient of its 2015 Medal of Arts in recognition of her internationally acclaimed work and her impact in promoting cultural diplomacy. Julie is one of seven artists who is receiving the recognition for her “outstanding commitment and contributions to the Art in Embassies program and international cultural exchange” a State Department spokeswoman told ARTnews.

“The 2015 winners are Xu Bing, Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Pedro Reyes, and Kehinde Wiley. The biennial award began in 2013 and that year went to Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems.”

Julie, who lives and works in New York City, was the featured guest speaker at the 2014 American Artist Lecture Series in London this past September sponsored by the Art in Embassies program, Tate Modern and US Embassy London, which brings “the greatest living modern and contemporary American artists to the UK.”

Julie, who was also one of the Executive Producers of the film Difret, was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. She is one of the leading contemporary artists in the United States, and has received numerous international recognition for her work including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the prestigious MacArthur Fellow award.

Congratulations to Julie Mehretu!

———-
Related:
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

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British MPs to Visit Ethiopia in Bid to Secure Release of Andy Tsege

Mr Tsege has been held in solitary confinement for the past six months. (Photo via independent.co.uk)

The Independent

By JONATHAN OWEN

Thursday 15 January 2015

A delegation of British MPs will visit Ethiopia next month in a bid to secure the release of Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, a British father of three who is under a death sentence.

Mr Tsege, 59, a leading critic of the Ethiopian government who came to Britain as a political refugee more than 30 years ago, has been held in solitary confinement for the past six months.

He vanished during a stopover in Yemen last June, during a trip from Dubai to Eritrea, in what campaigners say was a politically motivated kidnapping. Weeks later it emerged he had been imprisoned in Ethiopia.

His precise whereabouts remain unknown.

The Briton, who is the secretary-general of a banned Ethiopian opposition movement, is facing a death sentence imposed at a trial held in his absence in 2009.

The announcement of the visit by British Parliamentarians, yesterday, is in stark contrast to the efforts of Prime Minister David Cameron, whose response to desperate pleas for help from Mr Tsege’s family last year was to write a letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister.

Jeremy Corbyn, vice-chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, and Mr Tsege’s constituency MP, will lead the delegation. “He is a British citizen so there is no reason on earth why the British government should not take a very robust view on this,” he said.

Read more at The Independent »

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Ethiopia: Two Britons Jailed for Terrorism

Pedestrians walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa. (AP file photo)

Associated Press

Jan 15, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian radio station says a court has sentenced two British nationals and a Somali man to between four and seven years imprisonment for terrorism related charges.

Fana Broadcasting Corporate, a state affiliated media house, reported Thursday the three were charged with attempting to establish an Islamic state in Ethiopia and were found recruiting, taking part in military trainings and conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in the country.

According to the broadcaster the three men who were convicted are Ali Adros Mohammad, Mohammad Sharif Ahmed, and Mohammad Ahmed. The first two reportedly have lived in London and the third is from Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.


Related:
Ethiopia jails Britons and Somali in ‘terror plot’ (BBC News)

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Tigray Region of Ethiopia Focuses on Reducing Trachoma in 2015

Dr. Amir Bedri Kello, senior consultant for Light For The World, conducts a presentation at the Light For The World country office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (VOA)

VOA News

By Kim Lewis

January 15, 2015 7:51 AM

The federation of NGOs known as Light for the World is committed to stopping the transmission of the eye disease trachoma in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray. The federation’s strategy includes mapping the mountainous region, and teaching people how to apply the SAFE strategy — Surgery; Antibiotics; Facial cleanliness and Environmental change.

The organization says it has carried out mapping in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Somali regions to collect and analyze data that will help them treat the 4.5 million people who live in places where trachoma is endemic.

Dr. Amir Bedri Kello, senior consultant for Light for the World, explained that mapping is important in determining the prevalence of trachoma, which in turn allows the SAFE strategy to be applied more effectively.

“Tigray region is one of the regions that has very high endemicity for trachoma. Almost 4.4 million people in Tigray live in trachoma endemic areas. From the region itself we have a backlog of over 30,000 trachoma– trichiasis cases—this is the late complication of trachoma whereby you have inverted lashes that touch the cornea. It is a painful condition that will eventually lead to blindness unless it is treated by surgical intervention,” explained Dr. Bedri.

The biggest focus for 2015 is on districts with the highest rates of trachoma and trichiasis.

“When you have very high trachoma infection rates which are 30% and above, this would require five years of intervention with full WHO recommended SAFE strategy. That would mean for 2015 that we would be doing surgery for delayed complications of trachoma, over 3,500 trachoma surgeries for next year, (2015), and also implementing activities that would promote hygiene and sanitation,” Dr. Bedri pointed out.

He also emphasized that the biggest challenge of these activities will be behavioral changes towards personal hygiene and sanitation. He said the medical aspect of treating trachoma is readily accepted. However the doctor said when it comes to teaching the importance of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation, efforts are more challenging.

“It requires a lot of extensive health education, provisional hardware, meaning construction of latrines, water points, but also having to convince the population to change their behavior to better sanitation and hygiene,” said Bedri.

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Paris Attack: African Newspapers Apologise for Publishing Cartoon Cover

A sign at a newsstand says the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine has sold out on 14 January 2015 in Paris. The first run of copies of the magazine were sold out within hours. (Getty Images)

BBC News

15 January 2015

Two African newspapers have apologised for publishing Charlie Hebdo’s cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad, after an outcry from Muslim readers.

Kenya’s The Star and South Africa’s The Citizen said they regretted any offence caused to Muslims.

Kenya’s media regulator has summoned The Star’s owner after accusing it of breaching decency. It did not single out the cartoon.

In Senegal, the government has banned Charlie Hebdo’s distribution.

A second Kenyan newspaper, Business Daily, has also published the French satirical magazine’s cover.

In its Thursday morning edition, the Star said many Muslim readers had complained over a “small reproduction” of Charlie Hebdo’s cover on Wednesday.

Apologising, the paper, Kenya’s third biggest, said it “sincerely regrets any offence and pain caused by the picture”.


Apology published by Kenya’s The Star on 15 January 2015

Read more at BBC News »


Buyers Rush to Snag New ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Issue (VOA News)

By Al Pessin, Lisa Bryant

January 14, 2015

PARIS— There were long lines at Paris newsstands that had copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which lost eight staff members in a militant Islamist attack on its offices last week.

The latest edition, published Wednesday, features a caricature of a weeping Muslim Prophet Muhammed holding a sign that reads “I am Charlie” under a headline reading “All is forgiven.”

All across the city, copies of the magazine sold out within minutes.

One kiosk near the Champs Elysees, open at 6 a.m. (0500 UTC), was sold out by 6:05. Another, near Saint-Lazar, reported fisticuffs among customers.

“Distributing Charlie Hebdo, it warms my heart because we say to ourselves that he is still here, he’s never left,” said Jean-Baptiste Saidi, a van driver delivering copies well before dawn on Wednesday.

Additional copies ordered

The printers promised an initial run 3 million copies, compared to their normal print run of about 60,000, but they’re only delivering half a million a day. According to a spokesman for Charlie Hebdo’s distributor, high demand Wednesday, prompted an additional 2 million copy print order.

“It’s essential to buy it, to support them. And it’s of interest to me what’s in the paper,” a retired psychotherapist told VOA.

“It’s a great gesture, but we expect much more. Most important is that Charlie continues to exist,” said Philippe, a train driver.

David Sullo, standing at the end of a queue of two dozen people at a kiosk in central Paris, said, “I’ve never bought it before, it’s not quite my political stripes, but it’s important for me to buy it today and support freedom of expression.”

Emilienne, an administrative secretary, had the future in mind as she stood in line to buy the magazine.

“To keep it for my grandchildren,” she explained. “One day I will be able to say to them ‘See, this happened when you were young. I tell you so that it never happens again.’ ”

Inside the station, as travelers poured off the morning trains, they found signs telling them “Charlie Hebdo is sold out.”

Bookstore manager Magalie saved one copy for herself.

“We opened at 6 a.m. There were already people in line outside. In less than an hour, all 125 copies we had were gone,” she said.

Simon, a kiosk owner in Paris, said he wrote down names of at least 100 people who are expected to line up outside his kiosk early on Thursday to purchase what some are calling the “survivors issue.”

All proceeds from the sale of this week’s edition will go directly to Charlie Hebdo, after distributors decided to waive their fee. The cover price was three euros ($4).

At a news briefing on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “We absolutely support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish things like this. Again, that’s what happens in a democracy. Period.”

History of lampooning religions

Charlie Hebdo had angered Muslims in the past by printing cartoons lampooning the prophet and Islam.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo has maintained the intentionally offensive tone that made the newspaper famous in France, although global news organizations have differed in their decisions to run images of the cover.

For Wednesday’s issue, staff members defiantly put a caricature of the Prophet Muhammed on the front page. Inside, they published some of the last editorial cartoons drawn by their colleagues who were killed.

The new issue has already caused controversy within the Islamic world, raising fears of a repeat of the violent 2006 protests over the cartoons of Mohammed printed in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

The drawings “stir up hatred” and “do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies,” the Cairo-based Al-Azhar’s Islamic research center said in a statement, reported by the French news agency AFP.

In Turkey, police guarded the offices of secular newspaper Cumhuriyet Wednesday, after it included a four-page pullout section featuring some of the cartoons and editorials featured in the new Charlie Hebdo edition.

According to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, police on Wednesday raided the Cumhuriyet printing press as it prepared to release the excerpts. Authorities allowed distribution of an abbreviated edition after verifying no cartoons of Mohammad were included.

Iran reaction

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif said on Wednesday serious dialogue with the West would be easier if it respected Muslim sensitivities, ruffled by the latest Charlie Hebdo cartoons, as he began nuclear talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

In explaining why Iranians are dismayed by the cover of magazine’s latest issue, Zarif said, “We believe that sanctities need to be respected and unless we learn to respect one another, it will be very difficult.

“In a world of different views and differing cultures and civilizations we won’t be able to engage in a serious dialogue if we start disrespecting each other’s values and sanctities. I think we would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogues, serious debate about our differences and then we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us,” he said shortly before meeting with Kerry.

“We are now faced with very serious problems of extremism, not only in the Middle East but unfortunately in Europe. You’ve seen demonstrations here in Europe which are extremely dangerous and we need to be able to deal with that,” Zarif added.

Conviction vs fundamentalism

Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard said the magazine has not only spoofed Islam, but all kinds of religious fundamentalism.

Biard said the newspaper respects personal religious convictions, but not religion that becomes politicized. “That’s what revolts us,” he said, “that’s what we’re mocking.”

Turkish journalist Defne Gursoy is a regular Charlie Hebdo reader. She said she loves what she calls its “out of limits humor.” And Gursoy approves of the new Mohammed cover.

“It’s probably the best cover to do … continuing this anarchic kind of disturbance of everything that’s taboo. There’s no other way out. You can’t be complacent,” Gursoy said.

But the cover has angered some Muslims, both overseas and in France.

M’hammed Henniche, secretary general of UAM93, a Muslim association in the Saint Denis region outside Paris, said leaders like himself have told Muslims to stay calm and not to react.

Henniche described the Muhammed cartoons as an irresponsible act by Charlie Hebdo, given the tense national climate. It’s not considered free expression in France to mock the Holocaust, he said, nor should it be to mock the Muslim prophet.

People looking to buy the magazine Wednesday didn’t necessarily agree with Charlie Hebdo’s views, but said buying this issue was a form of protest.

“A magazine like Charlie Hebdo belongs to a tradition of laughter, derision and seeing the truth in things,” noted Christian Delporte, a history professor and expert on political cartoons at the University of Versailles.

“Everyone also recognizes that these cartoonists are deeply attached to freedom,” Delporte added.

Vow to press on

And the attack survivors have made clear they will continue with their brand of satire, whose overriding message of freedom of expression is close to the hearts of millions of French people.

“In the end, it’s a matter of tolerance. If you don’t want to read Charlie Hebdo, don’t buy it,” Delporte said.

If Wednesday was any indication, millions of people will be buying it, at least for a while.

Pamela Dockins contributed to this report from Geneva. Some information for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

Video:French Magazine Charlie Hebdo’s New Prophet Muhammad Cartoon Reignites Debate


Related:
In France Citizens Flock to Buy Charlie Hebdo in Support of Free Speech
French Police Kill 3 Gunmen to End Hostage Crises

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Ethiopian Opposition Faces Difficulty in Entering Upcoming Elections

Voters at a polling station in Ethiopia during the 2010 elections. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

January 14, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian opposition parties say they are facing roadblocks in their efforts to register for the May elections. The parties say the National Election Board is complicating procedures for no good reason, and raising doubt that the elections will be free or fair.

The Unity for Democracy and Justice party has the only opposition member in Ethiopia’s 547-seat parliament. But it is unclear if the party will be allowed to participate in the May elections, as the National Election Board has rejected UDJ logos.

Wondimu Golla of the National Election Board said it was not about the logos, but about procedural rules.

“According to their bylaws it says, the president of the party shall be nominated or elected by the general assembly. But they nominate by some few persons, the high officials there. So we oppose this. They have to strictly follow the bylaws, their own bylaws,” said Golla.

The National Election Board has given UDJ two weeks to organize a general assembly, and if its conduct is approved the party will be allowed to participate in the May elections. But the UDJ has decided to not hold another general assembly.

UDJ vice chairman Girma Seifu — the only member of parliament not affiliated with Ethiopia’s ruling party — said the election board’s actions were not justified.

“They do not have any legal ground or moral ground or administrative guideline to do these things. Because this is just an interference just to put a block on our active participation in the election,” said Seifu.

Voter registration in Ethiopia began last week and up to 60 parties may run for seats in the upcoming elections.

The Blue Party, formed in 2012, will be contesting elections for the first time. Blue Party chairman Yilkal Getnet said he was pessimistic about the elections as the party has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to work with the election board on certain issues.

“They are reluctant, and they did not give us any positive report or signs to improve these things. We did not get any signs that improve the political climate. Now for the coming elections to be free and fair we need to discuss about the political climate, to have a free media, to have international observers to observe the election, and including the budget sharing systems, and so on,” said Getnet.

During the 2005 elections opposition parties won about a third of the seats, but accusations of vote rigging led to mass demonstrations in which at least 200 protesters died and thousands were arrested.

The ruling Ethiopia’s Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front has been in power since the overthrow of the military junta in 1991.
—-
Related:
The Role of Civil Society in Upcoming Ethiopia Elections: CREW Conference in Washington DC
African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril

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In France Citizens Flock to Buy Charlie Hebdo in Support of Free Speech

The new issue of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo being prepared for delivery. French distributors said the initial printing of three million copies had been increased. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By David Carr

For people who are supporters of not just free speech but newspapers, too, the images of Parisians queued up at dawn Wednesday to get their hands on a printed artifact was heartening. The French distributors of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo said the latest issue’s initial printing of three million copies had been increased to perhaps five million, and there were reports that the now-precious editions were being auctioned on eBay for hundreds of dollars.

The image on the cover was of a weeping Prophet Muhammad, framed by two thoughts: “I am Charlie” and “All is forgiven.” But the sentiment that drove the sales probably had less to do with those messages and more to do with the impulse to preserve a world in which the speech of the many cannot be held hostage by a few.

The overwhelming response to the special issue of the newspaper, which normally has a print run of 60,000, is a sign that the citizens buying it wanted more than just a totem memorializing the fallen journalists; they were making an affirmative, political act, a vote in support of free speech. Just last month, consumers had responded in large numbers to the opportunity to stream “The Interview,” the Sony film that had been withdrawn from theaters after the studio was hacked by forces supported by the government of North Korea.

Read more at NYT »

Buyers Rush to Snag New ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Issue (VOA News)

By Al Pessin, Lisa Bryant

January 14, 2015

PARIS— There were long lines at Paris newsstands that had copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which lost eight staff members in a militant Islamist attack on its offices last week.

The latest edition, published Wednesday, features a caricature of a weeping Muslim Prophet Muhammed holding a sign that reads “I am Charlie” under a headline reading “All is forgiven.”

All across the city, copies of the magazine sold out within minutes.

One kiosk near the Champs Elysees, open at 6 a.m. (0500 UTC), was sold out by 6:05. Another, near Saint-Lazar, reported fisticuffs among customers.

“Distributing Charlie Hebdo, it warms my heart because we say to ourselves that he is still here, he’s never left,” said Jean-Baptiste Saidi, a van driver delivering copies well before dawn on Wednesday.

Additional copies ordered

The printers promised an initial run 3 million copies, compared to their normal print run of about 60,000, but they’re only delivering half a million a day. According to a spokesman for Charlie Hebdo’s distributor, high demand Wednesday, prompted an additional 2 million copy print order.

“It’s essential to buy it, to support them. And it’s of interest to me what’s in the paper,” a retired psychotherapist told VOA.

“It’s a great gesture, but we expect much more. Most important is that Charlie continues to exist,” said Philippe, a train driver.

David Sullo, standing at the end of a queue of two dozen people at a kiosk in central Paris, said, “I’ve never bought it before, it’s not quite my political stripes, but it’s important for me to buy it today and support freedom of expression.”

Emilienne, an administrative secretary, had the future in mind as she stood in line to buy the magazine.

“To keep it for my grandchildren,” she explained. “One day I will be able to say to them ‘See, this happened when you were young. I tell you so that it never happens again.’ ”

Inside the station, as travelers poured off the morning trains, they found signs telling them “Charlie Hebdo is sold out.”

Bookstore manager Magalie saved one copy for herself.

“We opened at 6 a.m. There were already people in line outside. In less than an hour, all 125 copies we had were gone,” she said.

Simon, a kiosk owner in Paris, said he wrote down names of at least 100 people who are expected to line up outside his kiosk early on Thursday to purchase what some are calling the “survivors issue.”

All proceeds from the sale of this week’s edition will go directly to Charlie Hebdo, after distributors decided to waive their fee. The cover price was three euros ($4).

At a news briefing on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “We absolutely support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish things like this. Again, that’s what happens in a democracy. Period.”

History of lampooning religions

Charlie Hebdo had angered Muslims in the past by printing cartoons lampooning the prophet and Islam.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo has maintained the intentionally offensive tone that made the newspaper famous in France, although global news organizations have differed in their decisions to run images of the cover.

For Wednesday’s issue, staff members defiantly put a caricature of the Prophet Muhammed on the front page. Inside, they published some of the last editorial cartoons drawn by their colleagues who were killed.

The new issue has already caused controversy within the Islamic world, raising fears of a repeat of the violent 2006 protests over the cartoons of Mohammed printed in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

The drawings “stir up hatred” and “do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies,” the Cairo-based Al-Azhar’s Islamic research center said in a statement, reported by the French news agency AFP.

In Turkey, police guarded the offices of secular newspaper Cumhuriyet Wednesday, after it included a four-page pullout section featuring some of the cartoons and editorials featured in the new Charlie Hebdo edition.

According to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, police on Wednesday raided the Cumhuriyet printing press as it prepared to release the excerpts. Authorities allowed distribution of an abbreviated edition after verifying no cartoons of Mohammad were included.

Iran reaction

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif said on Wednesday serious dialogue with the West would be easier if it respected Muslim sensitivities, ruffled by the latest Charlie Hebdo cartoons, as he began nuclear talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

In explaining why Iranians are dismayed by the cover of magazine’s latest issue, Zarif said, “We believe that sanctities need to be respected and unless we learn to respect one another, it will be very difficult.

“In a world of different views and differing cultures and civilizations we won’t be able to engage in a serious dialogue if we start disrespecting each other’s values and sanctities. I think we would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogues, serious debate about our differences and then we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us,” he said shortly before meeting with Kerry.

“We are now faced with very serious problems of extremism, not only in the Middle East but unfortunately in Europe. You’ve seen demonstrations here in Europe which are extremely dangerous and we need to be able to deal with that,” Zarif added.

Conviction vs fundamentalism

Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard said the magazine has not only spoofed Islam, but all kinds of religious fundamentalism.

Biard said the newspaper respects personal religious convictions, but not religion that becomes politicized. “That’s what revolts us,” he said, “that’s what we’re mocking.”

Turkish journalist Defne Gursoy is a regular Charlie Hebdo reader. She said she loves what she calls its “out of limits humor.” And Gursoy approves of the new Mohammed cover.

“It’s probably the best cover to do … continuing this anarchic kind of disturbance of everything that’s taboo. There’s no other way out. You can’t be complacent,” Gursoy said.

But the cover has angered some Muslims, both overseas and in France.

M’hammed Henniche, secretary general of UAM93, a Muslim association in the Saint Denis region outside Paris, said leaders like himself have told Muslims to stay calm and not to react.

Henniche described the Muhammed cartoons as an irresponsible act by Charlie Hebdo, given the tense national climate. It’s not considered free expression in France to mock the Holocaust, he said, nor should it be to mock the Muslim prophet.

People looking to buy the magazine Wednesday didn’t necessarily agree with Charlie Hebdo’s views, but said buying this issue was a form of protest.

“A magazine like Charlie Hebdo belongs to a tradition of laughter, derision and seeing the truth in things,” noted Christian Delporte, a history professor and expert on political cartoons at the University of Versailles.

“Everyone also recognizes that these cartoonists are deeply attached to freedom,” Delporte added.

Vow to press on

And the attack survivors have made clear they will continue with their brand of satire, whose overriding message of freedom of expression is close to the hearts of millions of French people.

“In the end, it’s a matter of tolerance. If you don’t want to read Charlie Hebdo, don’t buy it,” Delporte said.

If Wednesday was any indication, millions of people will be buying it, at least for a while.

Pamela Dockins contributed to this report from Geneva. Some information for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

Video:French Magazine Charlie Hebdo’s New Prophet Muhammad Cartoon Reignites Debate


Related:
French Police Kill 3 Gunmen to End Hostage Crises

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Pictures: Taitu Hotel A Precious National Treasure Burns in Ethiopia

A painting of Empress Taitu hangs inside the now burned-out historic Itegue Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa at the conference room located on the top floor of the building called "Ergebe Bete." (Photograph: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 13h, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — For more than a century Ethiopia’s iconic Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa, which was badly burned by a raging fire last weekend, had stood tall bearing the namesake of its founder and the most admired woman in Ethiopian history — Itegue Taitu Bitul who was also one of the leading architects of Ethiopia’s winning strategies at Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896.

Empress Taitu opened the hotel a few years after Adwa as the nation’s first full-service hotel prompted by the increasing number of international dignitaries and travelers visiting Ethiopia after the country’s decisive victory against Italian colonial powers at Adwa. Encyclopaedia Aethiopica notes that for a time the Hotel was nicknamed Bollotatos Hotel for its Greek manager. Taitu Hotel was favored by Emperor Menelik as well as Ethiopian students returning from overseas and the political elite of the times. According to historian Ayele Bekerie, an Associate Professor at the Department of History & Cultural Studies at Mekelle University, Ethiopia hosted a reception at Taitu Hotel in 1903 in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Haitian revolution. Furthermore, Taitu Hotel was where war correspondents and photojournalists from around the globe covering the second Italian invasion of Ethiopia were housed in 1935.

Professor Ayele had written extensively about the significance of that era in modern African history and beyond. “Following the war Taitu and Menelik shared the enormous task of building a newly reconstituted country with diverse population and cultures,” notes Professor Ayele. He shared an article honoring Taitu for Women’s History Month two years ago published here. “Empress Taitu Bitul was actively involved in Menelik’s government. It is worth mentioning that she was married to Menelik at the age of forty-three and she was four years older than him,” Professor Ayele states. “Taitu’s pioneering and enduring work in politics, economics, culture, social welfare, military have added to the definition and implementation of a national agenda. The founding of Addis Ababa as a new capital city allowed people to migrate and settle in this new town from all regions of the country.”

Professor Ayele says the Taitu Hotel is a monument not only to the timeless legacy of our forefathers and mothers who kept Ethiopia free, but also stood as a tribute to the woman who established the capital city that today millions of residents call their home. “Taitu Hotel is one of the most important historic landmarks of Addis Ababa,” he said. “Terribly saddened by what happened. It is a precious national treasure. I am hopeful that the building will be restored as soon as possible.”

Below are photos courtesy Professor Ayele, who visited Taitu Hotel’s burned site on Monday morning along with images from Facebook and other media sources.



Related:
Ethiopia’s Historic Landmark Taitu Hotel Sustains Fire Damage

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Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015 Featuring Acclaimed Writer Dinaw Mengestu

Dinaw Mengestu. (Illustration by Nathan Gelgud)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 12th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Acclaimed Ethiopian-born writer Dinaw Mengestu is the featured guest speaker at this month’s “Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015″ program presented by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in partnership with the National Book Foundation, which celebrates today’s most renowned authors.

Dinaw’s latest book All Our Names tops The New York Times’ list of 100 notable books published last year. The editors of NYT’s Book Review state: “With great sadness and much hard truth, Mengestu’s novel looks at a relationship of shared dependencies between a Midwestern social worker and a bereft African immigrant.”

In addition, Dinaw is the author of the novels How to Read the Air and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, and is a recipient of the 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He currently teaches at Brooklyn College and Georgetown University.

Dinaw is scheduled to appear at BAMcafé on Tuesday Jan 27th, 2015. The announcement states: “each event begins with a buffet dinner, including wine and dessert, accompanied by live music. Following dinner, the evening’s featured author reads from his or her work and discusses the creative process. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and have their book signed at the conclusion of the evening.”

All events begin at 6:30pm. Doors open at 6pm, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Incomplete parties are not permitted to save seats.

If You Go:
Tue, Jan 27, 2015
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Peter Jay Sharp Building
BAMcafé
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Subscription Price: 51
Single Ticket Price: $60
Ticket price includes wine, dinner, tax, and tip
www.bam.org/programs/2015/eat-drink-and-be-literary

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Cuba Releases Political Prisoners

Military guards at the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, Cuba in 2013. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 12, 2015

The U.S. government said Cuba has released 53 of its political prisoners, complying with a promise made last month as the two countries announced efforts to normalize diplomatic ties.

A senior administration official said the Cuban government held some of the detainees for promoting political and social reform in Cuba. The United States shared the names of those prisoners with Cuban authorities after consulting with human rights groups and dissident activists in Cuba.

“We welcome this very positive development and are pleased that the Cuban government followed through on this commitment. Our Interests Section in Havana was able to verify these releases,” the U.S. official said.

Senior U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the release over the weekend of detainees was a milestone, but the officials said the United States would continue to press Havana to free more people it considers political prisoners.

Names kept secret

Intense secrecy surrounds the 53, whose names have been withheld by both countries.

Leading Cuban dissidents told Reuters that as of Sunday they had not received word that the prisoner release was complete and only knew of up to 35 people freed since Dec. 17, including a popular hip-hop artist.

“We have heard nothing new today,” said Elizardo Sanchez, president of the dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which monitors detentions. “We’ll see in the next few days if they complete the list.”

Washington and Havana simultaneously revealed in late 2014 that they were taking concrete actions to resume a diplomatic relationship after a decades-long political stand-off.

President Barack Obama could exercise executive powers “in a matter of days and weeks” to begin easing some business and travel restrictions, one U.S. official also told Reuters.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson begins high-level negotiations on issues ranging from investments to immigration in Havana Jan. 21-22.

Mutually beneficial relationship

U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio said in an appearance Monday on CBS This Morning that while he supports improving ties with Cuba, he said he’s worried that the Cubans are getting virtually everything they want from the United States for “these minimal changes.”

Rubio represents the state of Florida, which has the largest Cuban population in the country.

He said he wants to be certain that improved relations between Washington and Havana provides equal benefits to the U.S.

VOA’s Pamela Dockins contributed to this report. Some material for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.



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Historic Taitu Hotel Sustains Fire Damage

The fire-hit Taitu hotel in Addis Ababa. (Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, January 11th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The historic Itegue Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa sustained serious fire damage today. The blaze also destroyed Jazzamba, the popular jazz club located inside the legendary hotel. Located in the Piazza neighborhood Taitu Hotel is the country’s first establishment providing accommodations, meals, and other services both to travelers and locals since 1898 (Ethiopian Calendar).

No deaths were reported in the incident, but commander Tadesse Gemechu, a fire department official, told the Associated Press that “two people were taken to the hospital after being rescued from the fire at the Taitu Hotel which was built in 1907.”


A fire department official says the fire has damaged the hotel which featured the city’s famous jazz club “Jazz Amba”, now destroyed, which was frequented by foreigners and locals alike. (AP)


Firemen walk through wreckage at the Taitu Hotel following a fire at the historical landmark, built in 1907, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Elias Asmare)

AP adds: “Tadesse says the cause of the fire is being investigated. Many of the hotel’s rooms, its historic pieces and a bank office were completely burned down before firefighters put out the fire. The city’s famous jazz club that used to be frequented by foreigners and locals alike, Jazz Amba, was also completely destroyed by the inferno. Addis Ababa’s Deputy Mayor Abate Sitotaw said efforts will be made to restore the Taitu Hotel.”

—-
Related:
Fire Damages Historic Hotel in Ethiopia (AP)

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Think Africa’s New Coffee Culture? Ethiopia Has Been Doing That for Centuries

(Photo: Steve Evans)

Mail & Guardian Africa

By SAMANTHA SPOONER

KALDI was an Ethiopian goat herder from Kaffa who is said to have “discovered” coffee after he noticed his goats dancing, unable to sleep at night and acting strange after they had eaten red berries from a certain tree.

Many believe the legend, thought to have taken place around 850AD, has elements of truth to it. After all, there is now a consensus amongst historians and botanists that coffee is indigenous to Ethiopia where it still continues to grow wild in the highlands where Kaldi lived. Having tried the beans himself, and feeling a novel elation, Kaldi shared his findings with a nearby monastery, believing it to have been a gift from the heavens. Slowly the discovery of the magic beans spread – but not inland, it spread across seas and oceans.

Trendy chain

Coffee culture is considered to be a novel phenomenon in Africa, recently brought back by Africans that have studied and worked abroad. The demand in coffee-producing countries and emerging markets is now expanding significantly and coffee consumption within households is on the rise, as are the number of cafes in major cities.

Cafe Neo, a trendy Nigerian chain, recently hit headlines as it hopes to conquer Africa’s major cities with 100% African coffee before the giants of the international coffee industry do.

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