Author Archive for Tadias

DC Workshop on African Diaspora Marketplace Business Plan Competition 2015

(Photo Courtesy: USAID)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, January 31st, 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 After 32 Killed in Sinai

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 drama-documentary 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.

Read more »

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Accra: Ethiopian Cargo Plane Crash-Lands

An Ethiopian Airlines cargo plane traveling from Lome, Togo to neighboring Accra, Ghana is said to have crash-landed at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. (Photo credit: Lodestar)

Sahara Reporter

JAN 10, 2015

Eyewitness accounts say the plane skidded off the runway in the process of landing at about 10:00 am local time on Saturday.

All three crew members said to have been on board cargo plane flight no. ETEQV survived the incident and are currently receiving treatment at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra.

Bad weather is thought to have contributed to the crash landing incident although Ghanaian authorities have not confirmed this.

Ethiopian Airlines is top rated in Africa and has one of the continent’s best airline accident records. As of January 2014, the Aviation Safety Network has recorded 60 accidents/incidents totalling 322 fatalities since 1965.

This incident has prompted members of the public to begin asking questions on safety standards at the Kotoka International Airport. In 2012, a Nigerian Cargo plane skidded off the tarmac and run into a passenger vehicle killing about ten passengers.

Read more »

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Missing Teen in Canada Back With Family

As friends and family gather outside their apartment, Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso (second from right) recently immigrated from Ethiopia with her mother to join her father, Zeleke Tuloro, in Winnipeg, Canada. (WFP)

Winnipeg Free Press

By: Carol Sanders

An Ethiopian girl who went missing on her first day of school in Canada Monday was found safe and sound Tuesday after she took shelter from the deadly cold overnight in a vacant house in Elmwood.

Police took 17-year-old Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso home to her distraught parents early Tuesday evening to whoops of joy from her family and church members, who’d been holding a vigil at the family’s apartment on Talbot Avenue since she was reported missing Monday.

“She’s lucky to be alive,” said her exhausted, emotional and relieved father, Zeleke Tuloro.

It was the second tearful reunion for the family in less than a month. In December, he was reunited with his wife and three children for the first time in 12 years after having fled Ethiopia in 2002.

Monday morning, Tuloro drove Bethelihem and her 15-year-old brother, Nathanael, to school from their home in the 200 block of Talbot Avenue. Bethelihem was last seen Monday around 11:45 a.m. leaving Elmwood High School alone, her dad said. Later, she was spotted on a surveillance camera walking along Union Avenue several blocks away, he said. The petite 5-5 teen was wearing a red coat.

“I think she went to go home, and she missed the way,” said Tuloro, who’d been up all night and was driving around the area looking for his daughter Tuesday.

At the time she went missing, Environment Canada reported it was -33 with the wind chill.

Police on Tuesday asked Elmwood-area residents and businesses to check outdoor storage sheds, garages, vehicles, behind buildings and along any fence lines and treed areas where she might have sought shelter. Her mother, Zenebach, and older sister, Kalkidan, 22, were distraught and in tears. Her father calmly said he had faith Bethelihem was OK — that she’d found shelter or someone had taken her in out of the bitter cold.

He was right.

She found a vacant home without any furniture and spent the night inside, her dad said. The homeowner showed up Tuesday and found the Ethiopian girl, who spoke little English.

“The owner of the house said ‘What are you doing here?’ ” said Tuloro, recalling what the police told him.

Read more »

Related:
Teen From Ethiopia Goes Missing During First Day of School In Winnipeg, Canada

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African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril

Voters queue to cast their ballots at a polling station in Ethiopia during the 2010 elections. (AP photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release

U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

2015 is a critical year in the governance and political landscape of Africa, with national and parliamentary elections taking place across the continent. There are currently 14 legislative and presidential elections scheduled for 2015, including those in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Lesotho, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia.

While nations such as Tanzania and Zambia seek to extend their advancements in peaceful, democratic transitions in 2015; other African nations face the prospect of holding elections in the context of conflict or post-conflict settings with significant ethnic and/or regional tensions, such as those in Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. These elections could present serious challenges to internal and regional stability across the continent, and will require vital technical, logistical and security-related support from the African Union and the international community.

In addition to these challenges, close attention should be paid to the issue of electoral term limits continent-wide. While there are several African nations where strong adherence to constitutional term limits has taken root – such as Ghana, Namibia and Mozambique; there is an unsettling trend towards constitutional amendments to extend term limits in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some African leaders argue that without a competent and organized opposition; they are justified in extending their terms in the best interest of their nations. The rejoinder to this argument, from many in African civil society, and the international community is that this logic creates a perennial excuse for African leaders to suppress dissent and political opposition in order to retain power. This same trend was the root cause of the civil unrest late last year in Burkina Faso, which ultimately led to the removal of President Compaore from office.

As Africans across the continent engage in the democratic process, African governments and regional bodies must work to provide maximum transparency and security; as well as mechanisms for electoral grievances and support for the acceptance of results. They should not however, be expected to do this alone. US foreign assistance agencies, the broader international community, and the relevant agencies of the United Nations system must be poised to provide necessary support in this year of numerous African elections.

Related:
The Role of Civil Society in Upcoming Ethiopia Elections: CREW Conference in Washington DC

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The Role of Civil Society in 2015 Ethiopia Elections: Women Conference in DC

Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw (R) President of Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women CREW. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Organizers of the fourth annual International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora, which is scheduled to take place on March 7th, 2015 in Washington DC, are calling for presentation proposals regarding “The Role of Civil Society Organization (CSOs) in the Upcoming Elections in Ethiopia.”

“The main objective is to create an understanding of the magnitude of the negative impact of the Societies and Charities Law on the activities of nongovernmental organizations,” states the event host, U.S.-based Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW). “As a women’s civil society organization, CREW will also pay special attention to Ethiopian women’s participation in the political process. Thus, one of the major questions that the conference will address will be the role of women’s organizations in mobilizing women to seek their rights for fair and free elections.”

The announcement notes that between the early 1990′s and mid-2000s civil society organizations had actually flourished in Ethiopia, but that changed following a 2009 law called “the Societies and Charities Proclamation” that, organizers point out, neutralized the activities of such associations. The press release added: “Individual initiatives through CSOs are based on the inalienable right to participate in addressing vital political and socio-economic issues, without belonging to political parties. Civil society organizations are autonomous means of participating in public life. They are systems promoting initiatives to ensure that people have the opportunities to pursue their preferred directions in their political, economic or social lives. Without the active role of CSOs therefore, creating awareness of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and having fair and free elections is going to be impossible.”

Organizers emphasize that the conference is intended to address the following themes: “Assessment of the Societies and Charities Law and its impact on the activities of civil society organizations in the upcoming elections: lessons learned from previous elections and challenges and opportunities for the upcoming elections; women’s participation in the political process and women’s advocacy for free and fair elections; plans of action and advocacy strategies for encouraging women to seek political leadership positions; and encouraging the international community to promote free and peaceful elections in Ethiopia.”

If you are interested in presenting papers on any of these areas, CREW asks that you submit a one-page proposal by January 30th, 2015. Learn more at www.centerforethiopianwomen.org.

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Folio Prize Longlist: Dinaw Mengestu

Three African writers are among the nominees for the 2015 Folio Prize: Damon Galgut, Kenyan Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Ethiopian-American Dinaw Mengestu. (Books Live)

Books Live

The £40,000 prize was initiated last year, unofficially as a more literary alternative to the Man Booker Prize.

Galgut has been nominated for Arctic Summer, Adhiambo Owuor for Dust and Mengestu for All Our Names.

In contrast, the longlist for the 2014 Booker Prize, although much shorter at 13 books, featured a complete absence of African authors.

The Folio Prize longlist comprises 80 books, and is open to any work of fiction published in the UK. The books are selected by the Folio Prize Academy’s 235 members, which include JM Coetzee, Teju Cole, NoViolet Bulawayo and Helon Habila. Bulawayo and Galgut are also Academy members, but are recused from this year’s prize.

Read more »

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Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku & Fatuma Sado Head Houston Marathon Field

Ethiopia's Bazu Worku and Fatuma Sado are among the expected headliners at the 43rd Houston Marathon on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 (Photo credit: African Athletics and gbtimes)

Houston Chronicle

By Dale Robertson

Bazu Worku will return to attempt a rare three-peat in the 43rd Chevron Houston Marathon, and Meb Keflezighi, the reigning Boston Marathon champion, will be seeking his third U.S. Half Marathon championship in the Aramco Half Marathon on Sunday, Jan. 18.

Keflezighi, a naturalized American citizen born in the East African country of Eritrea, won the Aramco this year and used the victory as a steppingstone to become the first U.S. runner to conquer Boston in 31 years…Worku, who is from Ethiopia, won a year ago with a time of 2:07:32, significantly faster than his first-place time of 2:10:17 in 2013. The only other runner to triumph in three consecutive races was Worku’s countryman, Stephen Ndungu, from 1998-2000.

The top woman in the field will be Ethiopia’s Fatuma Sado, who is making her Houston debut. Sado ran a personal-best 2:25:39 in winning the 2012 L.A. Marathon. Biruktait Degefa, last year’s fourth-place finisher with a personal-best 2:26:33, figures to contend as well. Defending women’s half marathon champion Serena Burla will be the fastest American in this year’s marathon field.

Read more »

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French Police Kill 3 Gunmen to End Hostage Crises

A security officer directs freed hostages to safety after police stormed a kosher market to end the situation in Paris, Jan. 9, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Lisa Bryant

January 09, 2015

PARIS—French authorities say the two armed suspects in this week’s Charlie Hebdo attack have been killed and their hostage freed during a police raid northeast of Paris. A separate raid in the capital killed another gunman holding multiple hostages at a kosher supermarket in the capital, but police said three hostages died in that operation.

Explosions and gunfire sounded as police moved in Friday afternoon, almost simultaneously, on the supermarket in Paris and on the industrial town of Dammartin-en-Goele, near Charles DeGaulle international airport. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, named as the principal suspects in Wednesday’s bloody attack on the satirical magazine in Paris, came out of hiding in a warehouse and began firing as police moved in. They were cut down in return gunfire from a large force of police on the scene.

In the Paris shootout, security forces stormed the supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood. They killed gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who had stormed into the market hours earlier and held customers and staff hostage. Authorities said that there had been “at least five” hostages and that three were killed, but it was not clear who killed them and when.


Brothers Chérif Kouachi, left, and Said Kouachi, right, appear in photos released by police in Paris..


French police released these images of suspects Hayat Boumeddiene, left, and Amedy Coulibaly, on Jan. 9, 2015.

French President Francois Hollande called Friday’s violence a “horrible anti-Semitic attack.” He said France will not give in to any pressure or fears.

Hollande thanked the security personnel who ended the standoffs and neutralized the terrorists. He urged the French people to show vigilance and unity, which he called the country’s best weapon to fight against terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism.

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking from Knoxville, Tennessee, said the United States stands with France in supporting liberty and subverting extremism.

He congratulated French law enforcement for ending the standoffs and said the spirit of solidarity “will endure forever, long after the scourge of terrorism has vanished from this world.”

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve thanked police for their efforts to end the standoffs. He did not offer specifics about the police raids, but he vowed that France will remain mobilized to ensure security.

A police official said the gunman in the supermarket attack, 32-year-old Coulabaly, is believed to be the same man who shot and killed a policewoman south of Paris on Thursday.

Authorities also are seeking a woman described as his accomplice, Hayet Boumeddiene. Initial reports from teh scene said she may have escaped in the confusion as other shoppers fled the store.

Police sources have linked Coulibaly to the Kouachi brothers, who were shown in a video of the Charlie Hebdo attack carrying high-powered weapons. They killed a dozen people – 10 members of the magazine’s staff and two policemen – in what the French news agency AFP described as “the bloodiest attack on French soil in half a century.”

The brothers and Coulibaly apparently knew each other through a common network to recruit jihadists.

Ready for martyrdom

Before gunshots and explosions erupted Friday afternoon in Dammartin-en-Goele, French security forces said they were in contact with the Kouachis. The brothers reportedly told police negotiators they were prepared to die as martyrs.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, surrendered to police on Wednesday. His relationship to the Kouachis remains unclear.

Before Friday’s events, nine people had been taken into custody for questioning about their possible knowledge of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The satirical magazine, known for making fun of all religions, including Islam, has announced it will resume publication Wednesday, despite the loss of its director and leading cartoonists.

Massive manhunt

More than 88,000 police and security forces had been searching for the brothers.

In Thursday’s shooting, a policewoman was gunned down while responding to a traffic accident in the Montrouge area just south of the capital.

As a precaution, police on Friday also ordered the closing of all shops in central Paris’ famed Jewish Marais neighborhood. It’s about a kilometer from the Charlie Hedbo offices and farther from the now-resolved hostage situations. As The Associated Press reported, the district’s Rosiers Street usually teems with tourists and with French Jews in the hours before the Sabbath.

Radical Islamist ties

Both Kouachi brothers had links with radical Islam. Said, 34, received terrorist training in Yemen in 2011, The New York Times reported. Cherif, 32, was a former rapper who served prison time for his involvement in a Paris terrorist cell.

Hundreds of French nationals have headed to Iraq and Syria to join jihadist fighters.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-right National Front party, on Friday insisted the country must fight Islamic fundamentalism.

According to The Associated Press, she said Hollande had “assured me that a profound debate on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in our country will take place and that all the political parties will be listened to” regarding steps “to ensure the security of the country and our people.”

The brothers appear to have been radicalized for some time, unlike other recent French jihadists, according to Franck Fregosi, a political scientist and expert on Islam.

Fregosi said the brothers’ radicalization reflects a new trend, a sort of family event in which brothers and sisters may jointly turn to radical Islam.

Charlie Hebdo continues

Also Friday, the French newspaper Liberation made room for the surviving Charlie Hebdo journalists to prepare the satirical weekly’s next edition. The newspaper plans to print 1 million copies, 30 times its regular run.

Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists have returned under heavy police protection, Reuters said.

“Since a long time, Charlie Hebdo and Liberation are seen, are like brothers. It’s like a fraternity,” Liberation editor Pierre Fraidenraich said. His paper had welcomed Charlie Hebdo staff after the newspaper was fire-bombed in 2011.

Fraidenraich said his newspaper would host the Charlie Hebdo team for “all the time they want.”

Grieving for victims

Meanwhile, mourning continues for those killed at the satirical magazine known for making fun of all religions, including Islam – and for two policemen who were among the dead.

Parisians stood in silence in a chilly rain Thursday, holding up pens and pencils as a sign of the right to free speech. The lights of the Eiffel Tower dimmed Thursday night to honor the victims.

The U.N. Security Council held a moment of silence before Thursday’s meeting.

President Barack Obama signed a book of condolence at the French embassy in Washington. He called the killings cowardly and evil.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, AFP and Reuters. VOA’s Peter Vaselopulos contributed to this report from near Dammartin-en-Goële.

Video: American Satirists Speak Out Against Terror Shooting at French Publication


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Kumera Genet Reviews Rebel Music: Youth Led Social Movements and Their Sounds

In the following article Ethiopian American writer Kumera Genet, pictured above speaking at NPC, reviews the book "Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture." (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

The Huffington Post

By Kumera Genet

Hisham Aidi’s book, Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture, newly released on paperback, is an exploration of the diverse ways that Muslim youth around the world search for what he terms a “non-racist utopia”. This cultural search often takes political, social and musical forms. The source material for the book is a combination of anecdotes, interviews and detailed research. In wide ranging segments, Aidi recounts stories of European Muslim youth who pay homage by visiting the grave of Malcolm X when passing through New York, young Afro-Brazilian Muslims who use the traditional carnival in Bahia to celebrate the Malê Revolt (a rebellion of enslaved African Muslims in Brazil during Ramadan in 1835), or young Moroccans who are increasingly rediscovering their historical relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Diaspora through Gnawa music.

It is often advocated that music is apolitical or that it transcends political divisions. However, for many musicians, creating music is not only rooted in musical talent and personal experience, but also in a political ideology and belief system which inspires the art. Islam and the long history of Islamic practices among black Americans was one of the foundations of the social culture in hip-hop’s “Golden Age” of conscious political rap in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

The high output of popular political music in this period of hip-hop is acknowledged throughout the book as a continuing source of artistic inspiration for Muslim youth and black youth in Europe, Latin America and Asia who feel stigmatized by racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, or the war on terror. These youth are often living in marginalized communities like the favelas of metro Brazil or the economically depressed suburbs of major European cities.

Read more at The Huffington Post »

Related:
By Kumera Genet: The Dominican Government Cementing Foundations of Apartheid

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US Updates African Diaspora on Ebola

Medical supplies from the U.S. delivered in Monrovia, Liberia to assist in the fight against Ebola. (AP Photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs

Last month, the State Department’s Bureaus of Public Affairs and African Affairs, in coordination with interagency colleagues, hosted a conference call with Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and approximately 200 representatives of the African diaspora community from across the United States. Together with officials from USAID, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, provided an update on the ongoing response to the crisis.

In December 2014, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield was part of a U.S. delegation to Liberia, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Lumpkin, to assess the current state of Liberia’s fight against Ebola and U.S. response efforts on the ground. On this call, she reviewed her trip and commended the efforts of U.S. Embassy personnel in Monrovia, who are working around the clock, to support the anti-Ebola effort. She also stressed that the U.S. Government response to Ebola has been a “whole of government” effort.

In response to questions from call participants, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield noted that, after several very difficult months, Liberia has made significant gains in the fight against Ebola. She also added that more work remains to be done until Liberia is Ebola-free. To that end, she urged Liberians not to change the practices that have been put in place to ensure the eradication of this disease.

The Assistant Secretary also remarked that Ebola is a “regional problem,” not a Liberian problem, and one that requires tremendous teamwork and international coordination. In that regard, she described the collaborative efforts of the U.S. embassy, USAID, the CDC, the African Union and Liberians as nothing short of “impressive.”

Thomas-Greenfield remains engaged in coordination efforts with other U.S. Government agencies and colleagues in the international community around the recovery program in the region, the state of the health sector, and the conditions for improvement in education and infrastructure.

The U.S. Government continues to stand with Liberia, and knows that this is a situation that they cannot fight alone. Liberia and other Ebola-affected countries need the support of the international community and we are committed to providing that support. President Obama made that very clear when he said that this is a national security crisis, not only for the region, but for the world.

For more information on the ongoing U.S. response to the virus, please visit the State Department page here.

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

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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
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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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Ethiopian Christians Celebrate Christmas

Night masses were conducted at churches across the country. At dawn, a cannon was fired nine times to mark the occasion. (Photo: AA)

Anadolu News Agency

By Abebech Tamene

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on Wednesday – along with other Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world – on Jan. 7, some two weeks after December 25, when their Western counterparts celebrate Jesus’ birth.

“Celebrating Christmas on this day [Jan. 7] makes our church unique,” Abba Haile Mariam Melese, the church’s deputy general manager, told The Anadolu Agency.

Two main versions of the Christian calendar are currently in use around the world – the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, for its part, uses the former, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

The difference between the two calendars lies in the way they estimate the length of the tropical year, and how they calculate when Easter falls.

“The [Ethiopian] church follows the Julian calendar because it believes it is the most appropriate for counting days and years,” Melese told AA. “Besides, the Julian calendar is derived from the Bible; it is not good to deviate from it when counting days and years.”

Late Tuesday, nighttime masses were conducted at churches across the country. At dawn, a cannon was fired nine times to mark the occasion.

Read more »

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A 40-Day Vegan Fast, Then, At Last, A January Christmas Feast

Ethiopians around the world celebrated Christmas on Wednesday, January 7th. The following is NPR's highlight of the Ethiopian holiday feast that follows 40 days of vegan fast. (Photo: NPR)

NPR

By Gregory Warner

An Ethiopian kitchen can be a place of both succulence and self-denial.

In the kitchen of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, the owner, Abebe, demonstrates how his cook prepares the dish called kitfo. It’s raw minced beef whipped together with cardamom and chili and a spicy butter, with a texture and taste closer to delicate cheese than to steak tartar.

Kitfo is actually Abebe’s favorite food, but it’s one he hasn’t been allowed to eat for the past month. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the world’s oldest, observes Christmas on Jan. 7, following a calendar similar to the Coptic Church. The 40 days prior to Christmas (including Dec. 25) are observed with a vegan fast.

This 40-day Nativity Fast — also observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic and Coptic Church, among others — typically prohibits meat, dairy, eggs, oil and wine. (Some traditions are ambiguous about whether fish may be eaten.)

The church considers refraining from some meals and some foods to be a form of purification and spiritual preparation. While the term “vegan” was coined only 70 years ago, prohibitions against eating meat and dairy for extended periods have been around for millennia. But no church has as many fasting days as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Abebe says that at a time of year when others are gorging, there’s something gratifying in self-denial.

Read more »

Listen to the story:


Related:
Ethiopian Christians Celebrate Christmas

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Liccardo Inaugurated Mayor of San Jose

San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo high-fives supporters after the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Photo: Bay Area News Group)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

San Jose (TADIAS) – The City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony for the new Mayor Sam Liccardo took place at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, California on Tuesday, January 6th. Liccardo, who was endorsed by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), was elected Mayor of San Jose following a hotly-contested race against county Supervisor Dave Cortese during the 2014 midterm elections in November. The city, which is home to tens of thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia and their first generation American-born children, is the 10th most populous city in America and the largest in Silicon Valley.

Below are a few photos from the event via Bay Area News Group.


San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo waits on stage before being sworn in next to his wife Jessica García-Kohl during the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)


The audience listens to speakers during the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)


San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, right, takes a “selfie” with Melvis Cruz, left, after the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

1420674255_SJM-LICCARDO-0107-007-L
San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo greets supporters after the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony in the lobby of the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

See more photos at San Jose Mercury News »


Sam Liccardo to be Inaugurated New Mayor of San Jose, California


The newly elected Mayor of San Jose, California Sam Liccardo. (Photo: The Ethiopian American Council)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian American friends and supporters of the new Mayor of San Jose Sam Liccardo, who officially takes office today, are expected to attend his inauguration ceremony this evening. The Office of the new Mayor has already moved the inauguration venue once due to capacity issues. “Tuesday evening’s inaugural ceremony surprisingly outstripped the 1,100-seat California Theatre even before Liccardo officially took office,” reports The San Jose Mercury News. “Fortunately, this was an easy one to fix, and the ceremony has been moved to the roomier Center for the Performing Arts.” The newspaper adds: “With the extra space, registration has been reopened for the free event, which starts at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.).

Liccardo, who was endorsed by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), was elected Mayor of San Jose, California following a hotly-contested race against county Supervisor Dave Cortese during the 2014 midterm elections in November. The city, which is home to tens of thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia and their first generation American-born children, is the 10th most populous city in America and the largest in Silicon Valley.

Regarding the inaugural ceremony today, the San Jose Mercury News notes that you can “register in advance online until noon Tuesday, http://conta.cc/1BC91R6, or by emailing mayorevents@sanjoseca.gov or calling 408-535-4800. Anyone interested in seeing the event without joining the audience Tuesday can watch the ceremony on CivicCenterTV at www.sanjoseca.gov.”


(Photo: Courtesy The Ethiopian American Council)
—-
Related:
Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose
Sam Liccardo Wins San Jose, California Mayoral Primary Election
San Jose Mayoral Candidate Liccardo Releases Amharic Campaign Literature
Ethiopian American Council Endorses Sam Liccardo for San Jose Mayor

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Teen From Ethiopia Goes Missing During First Day of School In Winnipeg, Canada

Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso. (Police Handout photo)

Sun News Network

By KRISTIN ANNABLE | QMI AGENCY

WINNIPEG – Police are looking for a 17-year-old girl, newly arrived to Canada from Ethiopia, who failed to return home from her first day at a new school.

Police say Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso moved to Winnipeg last month and was last seen leaving school for the lunch hour Monday.

Const. Eric Hofley said police are concerned for her well-being because she’s new to the city and doesn’t know many people.

Hofley said teen runaways often leave to be with friends or other family members.

But in this case, Eliso didn’t seem to have those options, he said.

“Sometimes it is just miscommunication, but in this case, with being so new to the country, that is less likely.”

Eliso is 5-foot-5, with a thin build and medium-length black hair.

She was wearing a pink jacket, red pants, and pink gloves.

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Army of Women Educates on Trachoma in Ethiopia

Mebrit Kasua and one of her children at her home in the Tigray Province of northern Ethiopia. Mebrit is a leader in the health development army of women in the Tigray province of northern Ethiopia. (VOA)

VOA News

By Kim Lewis

January 06, 2015 6:10 AM

An army of women” in Ethiopia has been recruited to teach friends and neighbors how to prevent trachoma, an eye disease that’s preventable but still very common in many parts of Ethiopia. The confederation of national development NGO’s — Light For The World – has been working to implement national eye health initiatives to prevent trachoma and other eye diseases through the World Health Organization’s initiative “VISION 2020—the right to sight”.

One major step in preventing trachoma is to educate local communities on the causes and prevention of trachoma.

Light For the World and its partners train at the local level, through such initiatives as Ethiopia’s “Army of Women.” Mebrit Kasua is a 20-year-old wife, mother of two small children and a leader of the Health Development Army in her community, “an army of women” fighting diseases with medicine and knowledge.

A Light for the World program officer who helps train the “Army of Women, Kalikidan Ketsela, translated Mebrit’s description of the day’s work in the Tigray region, as a member of the family and a soldier in the Health Development Army.

“After she wakes up, she directly goes to the cleaning of the latrine, the compound, and the house and the materials. After that she goes with her husband to the field for plowing, for weeding, and for whatever activities. After that she returns back to home…preparing coffee,” explained Ketsela.

Even after these morning activities, the day is still young for Mebrit. Ketsela added that in addition to preparing meals for the day, Mebrit is a role model for her family and community.

“Above all, she has a social role. She’s the head of the Women Development Army, so whenever she gets a chance she goes to the people and sees that if there is a pregnant mother, if there is a sick mother, she counsels them and advises them to go to the health posts,” highlighted Ketsela.

She also pointed out that Mebrit wants to make sure the other mothers understand the importance of keeping the family’s hands and faces clean, as well as the home environment.

“First, she says that I will focus on the cleaning of the compound and face washing. I will tell them that you have to wash your faces because trachoma comes through flies and if there is a dirty face it will be a good place for trachoma transmission. So, I just tell them to wash their faces and to construct latrines and to use latrines. So this is like the key message for the discussion,” said Ketsela interpreting for Mebrit.

It is a big responsibility to head the Women’s Development Army for her community, but Mebrit takes her job seriously because she knows she is looked upon as an example.

“I am the key leader for the 13 householders and I am one of the examples for the other group members and when we have meetings, I just share my experience to the group members and invite them to see what I am doing, and to learn by seeing what I am doing,” Mebrit explained through Ketsela.

Light For The World and its partners work in Ethiopia and other developing countries where Trachoma is the primary cause of blindness. Light For The World emphasis that acting now to prevent trachoma will help them reach their goal of eradicating the disease worldwide by 2020.

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The Zone9 Trial Adjourned for 15th Time

The Zone9 bloggers trial has been adjourned until January 14th, 2015. (Photo: trialtrackerblog)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Monday, January 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The trial of the Zone 9 Bloggers and journalists in Ethiopia has been adjourned for the 15th time. The next court date is set for January 14th, 2015.

The trialtrackerblog.org, which publishes an up-to-date information on the legal status of the Zone9ers, reports that there were more people in the courtroom on Monday than at previous hearings. “Families and friends of the detained stood in line waiting to get inside of the court room,” the blog states. “Today, it was more crowded than usual outside of the court. Many people had gathered to follow the rape case of Hanna, which was held in the same place.”

The website adds: “Having several court hearings in the same court room and on the same day makes the court too crowded. Also, the session was delayed with the result that detainees, loved ones and people following the case online needed to wait for a long time for the session to begin. Furthermore, the space for families and friends in the court room was (as always) very limited. Just a few of them could attend.”

The report notes that “during earlier sessions an amendment of the terrorism charges were ordered (read more below). The amended charges were presented today, but according to the judges some details had not been amended. However, the court accepted the amended charge regarding planning of terrorism acts. The court ordered further amendment on other details. The situation in the court room became intense after the attendants were asked not to make eye contact with the bloggers.”



Related:
Court Adjourns Ethiopian Bloggers’ Trial for 15th Time (VOA News)

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Model & Designer Hiwot Bekele Represents Ethiopia at 63rd Miss Universe Pageant

Hiwot Bekele Mamo, 24, is the current Miss Universe Ethiopia. (Photo: Miss Universe )

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – 24-year-old Hiwot Bekele will represent Ethiopia at this year’s Miss Universe contest, which will be held on January 25th, 2015 at Florida International University (FIU) in Doral, Miami. Hiwot was crowned Miss Universe Ethiopia in November following a competition held at the Radisson Blu hotel in her hometown of Addis Ababa.

According to the Miss Universe Organization:

Hiwot Bekele was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At a very young age, she fell in love with pageants and fashion design. At 16, she started modeling and doing pageants. When she turned 17, she joined Next Fashion Designing Institute to develop her knowledge and her passion fashion designing. She is a hard worker. She graduated high school first from her department and joined Addis Ababa University School of Commerce. She had one of the best GPA’s at her university, and on top of school and modeling she started working for a production company as a marketer. After a few months she was promoted to Marketing Manager. After graduating from AAUSC, Hiwot started developing her own fashion line. She won several prizes over the years working as a model, designer and a pageant girl. She is now 24 years old, working as one of the top models in Ethiopia and running her own line as a fashion designer.


Left: Hiwot Bekele designing a dress. Right: celebrating her third birthday. (Credit: Miss Universe)

Per the the announcement the upcoming 63rd annual Miss Universe pageant in Florida features 88 participants from around the world and the crowning of the new queen by last year’s winner Gabriela Isler of Venezuela. Organizers add: “Thomas Roberts and Natalie Morales will host the event with live musical acts performing during the show.”

In the United States the competition will be televised live on NBC from the FIU Arena on Sunday, January 25th at 8/7c.



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Pope Francis Names 20 New Cardinals, Including Head of Ethiopian Catholic Church

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, the leader of the Ethiopian Catholic church, is one of the new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis on Sunday January 4th, 2015. (Photo: The Catholic Herald )

BBC News

Pope Francis has named 20 new cardinals, including churchmen from Tonga, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Fifteen of the new appointees are under 80, making them eligible to enter a conclave to elect the Pope’s successor.

Pope Francis said the appointment of cardinals from 14 countries from every continent in the world showed the Vatican’s “inseparable link” with Catholic Churches around the world.

They will be formally installed on 14 February.

Pope Francis also announced on Sunday that he would lead of meeting of all cardinals to discuss reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s administrative body, on 12 and 13 February.


The College of Cardinals is made up of the Church’s most senior officials who are usually ordained bishops.

Read more at BBC News »

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Tsion Cafe in Harlem Combines Ethiopian & American Cuisine with Community Art

Tsion Bakery and Cafe is located in the historic Sugar Hill section of Harlem at 763 St. Nicholas Avenue between 148th and 149th Street in New York City. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The newly opened Tsion Cafe in Harlem — which is owned by the founder of the annual Sheba Film Festival, Beejhy Barhany, and her husband Padmore John — will launch the Art at Tsion Series event at a reception on January 22nd featuring four up-and-coming local artists including Brooklyn-based Maro Haile of deseta.net, the Addis Ababa-born and NYC-raised painter and fashion artist Miku Girma (Rep1), graphic designer Jason Auguste, and photographer Feruze Zeko. Tsion Café is extending an invitation to all emerging and established artists to submit artwork for future exhibitions at the cafe.

In addition to serving the residents and visitors of this historic neighborhood a delicious combination of Ethiopian and American food, the owners envision Tsion growing as a platform to showcase new and established artists, both locally and internationally. “Tsion Café is a hip cosmopolitan community space dedicated to serve as a cultural platform where local and traveling musicians, poets, writers and artists can present their work,” the announcement stated.

Tsion Cafe is at a historic location where Malcolm X once worked, we are told, and beginning in February during African-American History Month the place will also introduce open mic poetry evenings.



If You Go:
Art at Tsion Series
Opening Reception January 22nd, 2015
6:30pm to 8:30pm
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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From Ethiopia to Sweden and New York: A Chef’s Three-Country Odyssey to Stardom

Chef Marcus Samuelsson shares an omelet with his wife, Maya Haile, at their home in Harlem (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal

Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson , 44, owns four New York restaurants, with a fifth—Streetbird Rotisserie—opening in the spring. He is author of “Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home” ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ), which features 150 dishes inspired by his travels and background. He spoke with Marc Myers.

I was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Sweden, which wasn’t as big a culture shock as you’d imagine. I was 3 when my older sister and I were adopted by a couple from Göteborg who taught me to fish, cook and prioritize my life—lessons that remain with me today.

I don’t recall much from my earliest years in Meki, Ethiopia. I was too young. My mother had died from tuberculosis during an epidemic and my father was a priest and couldn’t take care of us. The hospital where my mother had died was affiliated with Sweden, which is how my sister and I came to be adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson.

Marcus Samuelsson and his sister Anna, in undated photo, make Christmas cookies in their childhood home in Sweden.

Göteborg is a major city on the southwestern coast of Sweden, but we lived in a residential area with many two-story homes. My father was a geologist and my mother was a homemaker. When they brought my sister and me home, they already had another daughter who was 8 and also adopted, but we all got along perfectly from the start.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

Video: Tadias Interview With Marcus Samuelsson About His Latest Book “Marcus Off Duty”


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Who is Gedion Zelalem and Why Do Soccer Fans Care that He’s a U.S. Citizen?

Gedion Zelalem. (Getty Images)

USA Today

By NATE SCOTT

On Tuesday morning American soccer fans got very excited indeed when the Washington Post’s Steve Goff broke that Gedion Zelalem had gotten his United States citizenship and would be declaring his intent to play international soccer for America. President of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati then sent out a tweet confirming it, and USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann welcomed him as well.

Let us now answer your questions.

So who is Gedion Zelalem?

Zelalem is a 17-year-old midfielder who currently plays for Arsenal’s reserve team. Arsenal has a pretty decent track record of developing young talent, so if they think that Zelalem is worthy of a spot on their reserve team, he’s someone that soccer fans are understandably going to be excited about.

And he’s going to play his international soccer for the U.S., which is a good thing.

How did he become a United States citizen?

Zelalem was born in Germany, and his father is from Ethiopia, so he could have potentially played for either of those countries. As a child, though, Zelalem moved with his family to Maryland and started playing soccer for club teams in the area. At a Dallas Cup match, an Arsenal scout spotted Zelalem and the club flew him over to London for a trial, and he’s been there more-or-less since.

With his family having a strong base in the States, he was able to apply for and receive citizenship. He received his passport this week.

Read more at USA Today »



Related:
Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem is a U.S. citizen (The Washington Post)

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Ethiopia Denies Pilots’ Defection to Kenya

File photo. (worldbulletin.net)

World Bulletin / Turkey

The Ethiopian government on Friday denied reports about the defection of four Air Force pilots to neighboring Kenya.

“This report is a baseless fabrication,” Ewnetu Blata, State Minister of Government Communication Affairs Office, told The Anadolu Agency.

“I can confirm that the report is untrue,” Ewnetu said.

Media reports alleged that four pilots in an airbase in eastern Ethiopia had defected to Kenya.

Read more »

Related:
Foreign Ministry Denies 70 Ethiopian Migrants Died in Yemen Boating Accident
Ethiopian Pilot Hijacks Military Helicopter, Lands in Eritrea (AP)

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In US New Minimum Wage Laws Take Effect

FILE - U.S. workers participates in a rally in support of raising the minimum wage University City, Missouri.

VOA News

About 2.4 million low-paid workers in the United States are getting a pay raise on New Year’s Day as new minimum wage laws take effect.

In the United States, the minimum pay is $7.25 an hour, which translates to a yearly salary of $15,080.

But 20 of the country’s 50 states and the national capital of Washington passed new laws in recent months or had already imposed requirements that now will boost wages above the national level, to an average of $8 an hour, or $16,640 annually.

The wage increases are expected to pump about $1.5 billion annually into the accelerating U.S. economy, the world’s largest, because low-wage workers tend to spend most of their paychecks.

President Barack Obama last year called for a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, but encountered stiff opposition from Republican opponents in Congress and the proposal failed.

Numerous new state laws also took effect Thursday in the United States, including one in California that requires college students to give affirmative consent to their partners before engaging in sex. In Michigan, the sale of cough and cold medicines for the purpose of making the drug methamphetamine is now banned, while New York is requiring its residents to recycle old computers and televisions rather than throwing them in the trash.

Some information for this report came from AP.

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Ethiopia Dam Project Could Start Power Generation by June – Official

Construction site of the Gilgel Gibe III dam in Ethiopia. (Photo: grandmillenniumdam.net)

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

ADDIS ABABA — A much-delayed $1.8 billion dam project under construction along Ethiopia’s Omo river could begin generating power by June and be fully operational by early 2016, an official said on Thursday.

Gilgel Gibe 3 will nearly double the country’s energy output, helping to resolve chronic power outages and sustain a booming economy. Work started in 2008 and was due to be completed around three years later, but the project has faced funding shortages over concerns about its environmental impact.

“88 percent of the work for the Gibe 3 hydropower project has already been completed,” Azeb Asnake, chief executive officer of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, told Reuters.

Two of ten units would be ready by June, Azeb said, while one additional unit would come on line each month after that. Upon completion the project will generate 1,870 MW of power.

Ethiopia plans to spend a total of $12 billion to tap the rivers that cascade down its craggy highlands over the next two decades in a bid to beat energy shortages and become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Read more »

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Local Ethiopians Miss Out as Big Agriculture Firms Struggle in Gambella

Guards near Saudi Star’s farm in Gambella, which was attacked by gunmen two years ago. (Photograph: William Davison)

The Guardian

By William Davison

Gambella, Ethiopia — As dusk envelops the grasslands of Gambella in western Ethiopia, a weary Jakob Pouch sits on a jerry can, resting his chest against a wooden staff. The 45-year-old evangelical preacher from the Nuer community has just made the three-hour walk from the banks of the Baro river, where he tends to his large family’s small plot of corn. His daughters are preparing cabbage and cobs to be cooked on an open fire.

In the opposite direction, across the asphalt road that leads to South Sudan, lies the farm of BHO Bioproducts, an Anglo-Indian company growing rice and cotton on the 27,000 hectares (67,000 acres) it has leased.

Pouch says the company doesn’t care about the people of his village, Wath-Gach. Grazing land has been lost, and BHO has built a wooden cage around a water pump to prevent locals using it. “From the beginning we did not have a good relationship,” he says. “It was given without consultation. There has been lots of negative impact.” The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.


Jakob Pouch says his community in Gambella hasn’t benefited from a nearby commercial farm. (Photograph: William Davison)

Read more at theguardian.com »

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Celebrating the New Year Around the World

From Sydney, Australia's iconic Opera House (above) to New York's Times Square, people across the globe held New Year celebrations last night welcoming 2015. (Photo: VOA News)

VOA News

Published: Thursday, January 1st, 2015

People around the world welcomed the New Year with fireworks, glitter, song and dance, and well-wishing. At least for this day, the world seemed to have one unique goal – to join in celebration, although it was subdued in Indonesia, where people mourned those killed in this week’s AirAsia plane crash.

VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports that world leaders took the opportunity to broadcast messages of peace.

Watch: Celebrating the New Year Around the World (VOA Video)


Related:
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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Foreign Ministry Denies 70 Ethiopian Migrants Died in Yemen Boating Accident

The Spokesperson for Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is denying that seventy migrants drowned in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, as claimed by the Yemeni Interior Ministry in December. (Photo: Reuters)

World Bulletin / Turkey

Ethiopian authorities have denied media reports about the drowning of around 70 Ethiopian migrants off Yemen’s coast.

“Media reports that 70 people died, mostly Ethiopians, while being ferried to Yemen is baseless,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Media reports earlier said that around 70 Ethiopian migrants had drowned off southwest Yemen’s coast earlier this month.

Mufti said that the Ethiopian embassy in Yemen mustered support from the Yemeni 17th Brigade and “conducted extensive search on a perimeter of 250– 300-km at coastal areas such as Bab-el Mendab, Dubab and Muha”

“[It] proved that no boat capsized or sunk and no life lost,” he said.

Read more »

Related:
Seventy Ethiopian migrants drown off Red Sea coast of Yemen (Reuters)

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

The brightly colored and evocative traditional style of the Bana people of Ethiopia's Omo Valley is attracting the attention of international fashion designers like Dolce & Gabbana. (Photograph credit: Eric Lafforgue)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The colorful hairwear of the people of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is inspiring international fashion — just take a look at the 2015 collection by style powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana that’s taking the world by storm. “When Dolce & Gabanna sent models sporting piles of colourful hair accessories down the catwalk during their S/S15 show, the fashion world swooned in delight,” notes the Daily Mail. “But the designers’ source of inspiration for the look is an unlikely one – the colourful Bana people of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, who like nothing better than intricate piles of brightly coloured hair clips.”

The Daily Mail also points out Japan’s Kawaii girls also share a similar tradition of adoring their hair with colorful clips, but the Japanese seem to prefer different shades of a single color – pink.

For Ethiopia’s Bana tribe “getting dressed is less about showing individuality and more about looking as bright and cheerful as possible. Beadwork has long been part of their culture, with many opting for colourful beaded headbands – sometimes combined with the hair clips. Others, regardless of sex and age, adorn themselves with piles of arm bands, heavy metal necklaces and beaded belts in eye-popping shades of yellow and crimson. However they are worn, piles of colourful hair clips have proved one of the most universally popular trends of 2014, with devotees also spotted at Glastonbury in the summer and at festivals across the globe. And with scores of colourful hair accessories cropping up on the S/S15 catwalk, it is probably just a matter of time before they show up on a high street near you.”


Beautiful: Bana woman in Ethiopia — As this photo reveals, her simple t-shirt is almost hidden by her beaded belt and breast plate and she also carries an umbrella. ((Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue)

Read more at www.dailymail.co.uk »

Related:
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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New Year’s Eve at Queen of Sheba NYC

Abay Mengist will perform live at this year's New Year's Eve party at Queen of Sheba NYC. (Photo: QS)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in Manhattan will hold its annual New Year’s Eve celebration on Wednesday, December 31st with live music featuring Abay Mengist, champagne toast and great Ethiopian food. The evening will also include broadcast of The Dropping Of The Ball.


If You Go:
Ring in the New Year at Queen Of Sheba NYC
Featuring Live Performing by Abay Mengist
Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
650 10th ave
B/N 45 & 46th Street
New York , NY 10036
Rsvp 212.397.0610
www.shebanyc.com

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US Foreign Policy Battles Loom Between Obama, Republican-led Congress (Video)

The Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama. (Photo: EPA & Reuters)

VOA News

Updated: December 30, 2014

Some of President Barack Obama’s loudest critics on foreign policy will have new powers as chairmen of various Senate committees when Republicans assume control of both houses of Congress in January. VOA Senate correspondent Michael Bowman reports, from Ukraine to the Middle East, the Obama administration can expect enhanced scrutiny of its outreach to the world.

Video: Foreign Policy Battles Loom Between Obama, Republican-led Congress


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Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures

On the eve of the historic US-Africa Summit, Michelle Obama speaks at the summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington on July 30th, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 29th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – This year President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) launched the first annual Mandela Washington Fellowship, which included 13 young professionals from Ethiopia. Closing events for the fellows coincided with the historic U.S.-Africa Summit held in Washington D.C.

There was more uplifting news as Ethiopia nominated Dr. Catherine Hamlin for the Nobel Peace Prize. And it was a pleasure to root for Genzebe Dibaba who shattered multiple world records in 2014. The 23-year-old running star, who has yet to reach the pinnacle of her career, went on to earn a nomination for the prestigious annual IAAF Athlete of the Year award, getting a well-deserved seat as one of the finalists at the World Athletics Gala held in Monaco on November 21st, 2014. The award-winning film Difret also sparked a great deal of praise in our community, not to mention the ads directed by David Mesfin, in collaboration with Wondwossen Dikran and Ezra Wube, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup multi-platform commercials for Hyundai car company.

This year also brought a significant share of difficult news, from the arrest of the Zone Nine blogging collective to the violence against student protestors in the Oromia region, as well as the recent hard-hitting television documentary by Dan Rather exposing “The Shameful Side of International Adoption,” which focuses on adopted Ethiopian children in the United States who have been “re-homed, and moved to new adoptive families with little oversight and assistance.” And certainly a review of the past twelve months would not be complete without mentioning the deployment of 187 Ethiopian medical professionals to Ebola-hit West African countries.

Indeed 2014 was also a year where social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter played a key role in bringing global attention to the maddening and heartbreaking case of a 16-year-old girl in Ethiopia who died after being kidnapped and raped by a gang of five men in Addis Ababa a few weeks back: The Yellow Movement at Addis Ababa University Update on Abduction of Hanna Lalango.

The most viewed photograph of the year on our website was our highlight of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fun dining experience at an Ethiopian restaurant in Bay Area, California this past summer: Cool Moment – Zuckerberg Enjoys Ethiopian Food at Walia Restaurant in San Jose.

We wish all of you the best in the new year! And we look forward to covering more stories in 2015.

Photos: Tadias Year in Review – 2014 in Pictures


Related:
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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CPJ: Ethiopian Journalists Must Choose Between Being Locked up or Locked Out

One of the exiled Ethiopian journalists that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met in Nairobi holds up a newspaper report on a study criticizing independent publications. (Photo: CPJ/Nicole Schilit)

CPJ

By Nicole Schilit/Journalist Assistance Associate

A sharp increase in the number of Ethiopian journalists fleeing into exile has been recorded by the Committee to Protect Journalists in the past 12 months. More than 30–twice the number of exiles CPJ documented in 2012 and 2013 combined–were forced to leave after the government began a campaign of arrests. In October, Nicole Schilit of CPJ’s Journalist Assistance program and Martial Tourneur of partner group Reporters Without Borders traveled to Nairobi in Kenya to meet some of those forced to flee.

The group of reporters, photographers, and editors we met had all been forced to make a tough decision that has affected them and their families–a life in exile or prison. All of the journalists spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, out of concern for their safety. During meetings to discuss their cases, one of them told us: “I hope one day I can bring my family. Maybe in the future. I want to secure myself first. Now is not secure.”

Since July, a large number of Ethiopian journalists have left behind their families, homes, and a steady income to seek safety. The reason for this sharp increase is a government crackdown on the independent media. In January, the state-controlled Ethiopian Press Agency and Ethiopian News Agency carried out a study to “assess the role of [seven] magazines in the nation’s peace, democracy and development.” The results were illustrated in two charts that claimed the magazines were promoting terrorism and damaging the economy.

Read more at cpj.org »

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

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From Chicago to Ethiopia: Dr. Gelila Goba Improving the State of Women’s Health

Dr. Gelila Goba is a resident at Northwestern University and is the impetus for a group of physicians setting up an ob/gyn residency program at an Ethiopian hospital. (Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Tribune

By Bonnie Miller Rubin

Dr. Gelila Goba hasn’t forgotten where she came from.

Instead of joining a comfortable practice in the U.S. after completing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, Goba instead will be caring for patients in her native Ethiopia, where in many communities light and heat qualify as luxuries.

After she graduates in May, Goba plans to move back to Ethiopia to implement a new initiative that she hopes will improve the state of women’s health in the desperately poor country of 90 million.

“A lot has been given to me,” said Goba, during a break at Prentice Women’s Hospital. “I must make sure that I use those gifts wisely.”

The Mela Project is a partnership between Northwestern and Mekelle University in Ethiopia. It provides medical education, clinical training and research in sub-Saharan Africa, where acute doctor shortages and women’s health continue to be vexing problems.

In Ethiopia, the maternal mortality rate is twice the global average, and the rate of death from cervical cancer is almost seven times higher than in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. The entire country has about 220 OB-GYNs nationwide — roughly the same number as Northwestern Memorial Hospital alone, according to university officials.

Read more at chicagotribune.com »

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Ethiopia: Booming Business, Underpaid Workers

Low wages have attracted foreign players to Ethiopia, but labourers are hoping for better salaries. (Photo: Within a few years foreign companies have helped build up Ethiopia's nascent industry/Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

By Simona Foltyn

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Lunch break is over at the Huajian shoe factory and workers assemble in perfectly aligned two-row formations, march, salute, and return back to their work stations.

“Our factory is a bit like a military organisation. The labour here is not highly educated so we have to use a very simple way to communicate and organise them,” said Nara Zhou, Huajian’s spokeswoman, as she walks through the aisles of the large factory hall.

Red banners with writing in Chinese, Amharic and English hang from the ceiling, bearing lofty slogans such as “China-Africa friendly and harmonious enterprise, to win honour for the country”, and “High level of democracy”.

They are excerpts of speeches given by the company’s president, Zhang Hua Rong, a former military officer who established Huajian’s operation in Ethiopia in 2012, Zhou explained.

Within a few years, foreign companies such as Huajian have helped build up Ethiopia’s nascent footwear industry from scratch.

Today, the company employs about 3,000 workers in Ethiopia and generates $20m worth of exports by producing shoes for international brands such as Guess, Naturalizer and Toms destined for US and European markets.

With a growing number of brands such as H&M starting to source from Ethiopia and existing companies ramping up production capacity, the three percent of Ethiopia’s exports that came from textiles and leather in 2013 may well double in the next couple of years, according to government estimates.

Read more »

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Briton killed in Ethiopian Shooting ‘Accident’

Briton killed in Bahir Dar after man accidentally fires a gun, government spokesman says. (Photo: Alamy)

The Telegraph

A 47-year-old British tourist was killed in a church in a northwestern Ethiopia after a man accidentally fired a gun, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

The incident occurred on Wednesday morning in Bahir Dar, a leading tourist destination about 300 miles from the capital Addis Ababa and famed for the nearby Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile.

“It appears that a resident of Bahir Dar, who was licensed to carry a gun, accidentally discharged his gun while changing the gun position from one shoulder to the other,” government spokesman Shimeles Kema said.

“The gun is an old rifle,” he said, adding that the man did not know it was loaded.

“He is a civilian. He has been arrested and the investigation is ongoing. The accident happened in a church,” he said.

The British embassy confirmed that a national had died but gave no details.

Related:
Briton shot dead in Ethiopia (The Guardian)

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Lemma Guya: Ethiopian Painter Still Going Strong at 87

Lemma Guya: "I am an African and my Africanness is uniquely rooted in my Ethiopianness." (Photo: AA)

Anadolu Agency

By Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA – Renowned Ethiopian painter Lemma Guya has just put the finishing touches on his goat skin-mounted portraits of the 53 African leaders who founded the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.

“I am an African and my Africanness is uniquely rooted in my Ethiopianness,” the 87-year-old Guya told The Anadolu Agency from his mansion-turned-gallery in Bishoftu, located some 40km south of Addis Ababa.

“Throughout my career I have shuttled between these two mutually complementary identities,” he added. “In my paintings I have tried to depict and narrate our acceptable and unacceptable traditions and lives.”

Maybe that’s why visitors to his mansion, which sits on 10,000 square meters of land, will find a yellowish bronze bust of a smiling Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader, as soon as they step into the place.

“Mandela is the most perfect embodiment of Africa’s rise,” Guya asserted. “He radiates dauntless moral courage, a peaceful transition of state power, equality, justice, inclusiveness and democracy.”

Guya traces Mandela’s story to Ethiopia, where the liberation icon received his first military training and his first handgun.

“This is why he stands here as a philosophical inspiration of my works and our lives,” he said.

The veteran painter, who looks much younger than his age, established his “African Art Museum” in 1983 inside his gallery.

“I wanted to make it an African visual art center of excellence,” he said. “But its fundamental objective was to initiate dialogue about African art with the aim of achieving Africa’s rebirth.”

“The then Organization of African Unity joined the vision and it was inaugurated by its then secretary-general, Ahmed Salim Ahmed,” Guya said.

Yet the pan-African body’s promises to financially support the center and turn it into a hub for African painters never materialized.

“I was disheartened by the backpedaling on promises. After years of waiting, I decided to go my way,” he said.

But despite the passage of years, Guya never forgot his artistic engagement with Africa.

“I have presented a project that aims to produce the portraits of the founding fathers of the African body on goat or gazelle skin,” he said.

The idea – along with some sample portraits – was well received by African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in 2013.

In a hand-written note, she promised to stand foursquare behind the artist and his project.

“We are grateful for all the works of art you have produced in authentic African style for the history of Africa, the OAU and AU in a unique way,” Dlamini-Zuma wrote. “Our support is guaranteed.”

Guya has already completed the portraits to be displayed at the AU’s Addis Ababa headquarters.

Read more »

Related:
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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Ethiopian Pilot Hijacks Military Helicopter, Lands in Eritrea

Facilities of the Asmara International Airport in Eritrea. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Associated Press

Dec 23, 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian Defense Ministry charges that a pilot hijacked to Eritrea an attack helicopter which went missing a few days ago.

In a statement issued late Monday the ministry said the pilot of the Ethiopian attack helicopter forced his co-pilot and technician to land in Eritrean territory.

The helicopter was conducting a routine training flight when it disappeared on Friday morning, prompting a massive military search across northern Ethiopia.

It’s unusual for Ethiopian army personnel to flee to Eritrea though Eritrean troops often across the border into Ethiopia, citing harsh conditions and forced conscription into the military.

Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been consistently strained since Eritrea gained its independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 following a 30-year guerrilla war.

Read more »

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Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

The late artist Asnaketch Worku in the new film "Asni," which chronicles her life. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Published: Monday, December 22nd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – As we wrap up the year we wish our audience around the world a happy and safe holiday season. And, as always, we look back at some of the top arts & culture stories that captured our attention in 2014. The list is organized in no particular order. Enjoy and see you in 2015!

‘Asni’: A Documentary on the Legendary Ethiopian Performing Artist Asnaketch Worku

The movie Asni was, hands down, one of the best Ethiopian documentary films released in 2014. Directed by Rachel Samuel and edited & co-produced by Yemane Demissie (Associate Professor of Film & Television at New York University), the documentary features the life and times of legendary Ethiopian musician and actress Asnaketch Worku. The captivating narrative gives us a glimpse into the performer’s popular and controversial past through her own words as well as those of her peers. The interview was recorded inside her humble home in Addis Ababa, while she was in bed-rest, a few years before she passed away. After watching the film my first thoughts were “What a woman Asnaketch was!” Free spirited, talented, curious, stylish, beautiful, outspoken and a trailblazer on the stage. It’s moving that at the end Asni — whom in her younger age was in many ways ahead of her time from the rigid and conservative societal norms of her generation — left us a lasting legacy that was built on passion for her profession and pure labor-of-love instead of on feckless pursuit of money and fame. That’s why, I personally believe, that today as Ethiopians everywhere we should cherish and celebrate Asni for she is our cultural treasure and irreplaceable. They did not call her The Lady with the Kirar for nothing. Asnaketch Worku was a born Ethiopian star.

Watch the trailer here: Asni – Courage, Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia

Dinaw Mengistu’s New Novel ‘All Our Names’


Dinaw Mengestu, author of the new book ‘All Our Names.’ (Photograph credit: Michael Lionstar)

Dinaw Mengistu dropped another of his mesmerizing and culturally-transcending novels this year (his third), firmly establishing himself as one of the most important writers of our generation. His latest book All Our Names was published in 2014. The New York Times notes: “All three of Dinaw Mengestu’s novels are about people who, for various reasons, come to this country and fashion new lives…For while questions of race, ethnicity and point of origin do crop up repeatedly in Mengestu’s fiction, they are merely his raw materials, the fuel with which he so artfully — but never didactically — kindles disruptive, disturbing stories exploring the puzzles of identity, place and human connection.” In addition I would say that All Our Names is a great read so share it with friends and family.

Difret Wins Audience Awards at Two Major International Film Festivals: Sundance & Berlin


(Photos credit: Haile-Addis Pictures)

The year started off with a bang for Ethiopian cinema on international big screens with Difret by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari winning two audience awards — at Sundance and Berlin film festivals. And it ended with the feature drama becoming Ethiopia’s 2014 official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film. Although there could be no doubt that Difret was the most talked-about Ethiopian movie of the year, I hope the film continues to invite conversations about the inherent cruelty of child marriage. (Here is a great review by The Los Angeles Times).

Taitu Cultural and Educational Center Celebrates 14th Anniversary


(Photo courtesy: The Taitu Cultural and Educational Center)

The Taitu Cultural Center marked its 14th anniversary in 2014. Perhaps it speaks more to the vision and determination of Ethiopian actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo, the Founder & Director, that the organization survived for more than a decade without much resources in comparison to institutions of the same category in the Washington. D.C. metropolitan area. Over the last decade-and-half the center has become a staging-ground for established and aspiring Ethiopian artists, including poets, painters, musicians, comedians and Amharic book authors residing near the U.S. capital and beyond. The 14th anniversary celebration took place on November 2nd at Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington. The event’s program featured a play called Yasteyikal. A comedy and selected poems of the year were also recited by legendary performers, including Alemtsehay Wedajo herself and Tesfaye Sima. Wishing Taitu much success for many years to come!

Aida Muluneh’s Addis Photo Fest


Photo courtesy: Addis Foto Fest (AFF)

The Addis Photo Fest, founded by Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh, held its 4th exhibition in Addis Ababa this year. It’s not an easy task to curate an annual show not only because photography as an art form is still a complex subject, but also because choosing the right theme and artists is an even more daunting challenge. The reward, when done properly, is that photography exhibitions could actually be an effective medium to explore pertinent and timely social issues (both local and global) beyond the abstract and academic that are positive, as well as negative, and require the public’s attention. We congratulate Aida on her efforts and we look forward to the Addis Photo Fest continuing to receive the international recognition that it deserves.

Marcus Samuelsson’s Latest Book: “Marcus Off Duty”

Marcus Samuelsson never stops! And that’s not surprising given that he lives in a city that never sleeps either. The New York-based restaurateur and celebrity-chef, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, highlights in his latest book, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home, the eclectic tastes and cooking-sensibilities of the world’s most diverse ethnic communities found right here in the United States. The following video is our interview with Marcus during his book talk and signing event last month in Washington D.C. where he was hosted by Joe Yonan, the Food & Travel Editor of The Washington Post. His book is available at Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon.com.

Ethiopia Habtemariam: Billboard Women In Music 2014


Ethiopia Habtemariam is President of Motown Records, President of Universal Music Group’s urban music division, and co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group. (Photograph: Universal Music Group)

When it comes to climbing the corporate ladder in the American music industry, it almost can’t get any better than reaching the helm of the country’s historic label — Motown Records. In 2014 34-year-old Ethiopia Habtemariam was promoted to President of Motown Records following a major reorganization at Universal Music Group. It was announced over the summer that Ethiopia will also remain in her previous role as Head of Urban Music division at Universal Music Publishing Group. She was one of Billboard magazine’s “Women in Music 2014″ honored in New York this month along with Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Swift and many more. We congratulate Ethiopia on her accomplishments and wish her continued success!

Ethiopian American Painter Julie Mehretu at the Tate Modern in London


Julie Mehretu at her studio in New York. (Photograph: Tim Knox)

Ethiopian-born American painter Julie Mehretu, who was also one of the Executive Producers of the film Difret, was the featured guest speaker at the fifth American Artist Lecture Series at the Tate Modern in London on September 22, 2014. The program, a partnership between Art in Embassies, Tate Modern and US Embassy London, “bring the greatest living modern and contemporary American artists to the UK.” Julie, who was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977, is one of the leading contemporary artists in the United States. She 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. She had residencies at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (1998–99), the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2003), and the American Academy in Berlin (2007). Julie is an inspiration for many young people around the world and we look forward to more brilliant work in the future.

The 2014 Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia


The 3rd Hub of Africa Fashion Week was held in Addis Ababa in October 2014. (Courtesy photograph)

The 2014 Hub of Africa Fashion Week took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 23rd and 24th at Galani Coffee and Gallery. The international runway show is getting bigger and stronger. The event this year was dubbed the “Editorial Edition” and included a special event at Monarch Hotel on October 25th targeting buyers and fashion industry players. The participating designers included Modanik (DRC); Ruald Rheeder (South Africa); Katungulu (Kenya) Yohannes Sisters (Ethiopia); Abugida (Ethiopia); Cepha Maina (Kenya); Mela (Ethiopia); Sandstorm (Kenya), Assi’s Collection (Ethiopia) Rooi (Nigeria/London): and Mataano (Somalia). (Click here to see some wonderful photos)

UNICEF Ethiopia Appoints Young Rap Star Abelone Melese as its New National Ambassador


Abelone Melese. (UNICEF video)

Last, but not least, in November 2014 UNICEF Ethiopia named young rap star Abelone Melese, a citizen of Norway with Ethiopian origin, as its new National Ambassador at a signing ceremony held at the UNICEF Ethiopia office in Addis Ababa. The organization notes that “the event was attended by Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Mrs. Tove Stub, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy, members of the media and UNICEF staff.” Big congratulations to Abelone Melese!
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EY Ethiopia’s Zemedeneh Negatu Among Africa’s Top 15 CEOs to Watch in 2015

In its January 2015 issue The African Business magazine honors Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia, Zemedeneh Negatu, as one of Africa's top 15 CEOs to watch in the coming year. (Courtesy: EY)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 22nd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Zemedeneh Negatu, the highly regarded Ethiopian American Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia has been named among “The Top 15 CEOs of Africa to watch in 2015″ by the London-based African Business magazine. In their January issue the magazine’s editors announced that they have “identified 15 African business leaders positioned to take advantage of the continent’s opportunities in 2015 and are well equipped to ride the technological, demographics and social trends that will drive Africa’s development”.

“In selecting EY’s Zemedeneh Negatu, the only one on the list from Ethiopia, the magazine said that he has been at the center of many of the country’s high profile investment deals and turnarounds and cited the work he had done for Ethiopian Airlines, the $225 million Meta Brewery M&A deal for Diageo Plc of the UK, the world’s largest spirits drinks maker and several other major cross boarder investment transactions in Africa,” EY Ethiopia said in a statement. “Zemedeneh has won numerous other awards recently in including CEO magazine’s award for Finance and was recognized as one of the ’100 Most Influential Africans’ of 2013 by New African magazine. The firm he heads, has recently won several awards including ‘M&A Deal Maker of the Year’ from Acquisition International magazine of the U.K.”

“African Business said that 2015 could be a great year for sub-Saharan Africa for investment deal making since private equity funds will be investing the money they raised in 2014, meaning that professionals like Zemedeneh will play a key role.”

Related:
Tadias Interview With Zemedeneh Negatu

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Former US Diplomat Calls for Free, Fair Elections in Ethiopia (VOA Interview)

Herman Jay Cohen is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. (Photo: YouTube)

VOA News

By James Butty

Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen said Ethiopia should not be afraid to have free and fair elections or a free press.

Cohen said the government is doing good things that it can win an election on, such as creating jobs, carrying on infrastructure development and boosting trade. But he cautioned that the government has made no move to implement his suggestions.

“Ethiopia, I believe, should open up more toward multiparty democracy. Right now, you have opposition parties that exist, but they really do not have much access to the public. The press really does not give them much voice, and journalists have been imprisoned for saying things that the government doesn’t like. So, I think it’s time for the government to loosen up because they are doing good things in Ethiopia,” he said.

But Berhanu Nega, professor of economics at Bucknell University and former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia, said the government can never have free and fair elections.

“The reason why there’s so much repression, the reason why there’s so much muzzling of the press, the reason why the Ethiopian government is arresting opposition figures inside the country is precisely because they know that this is a despised government. It cannot last a day in an environment of freedom. This is a government that will lose catastrophically if there were [a] free and fair election,” Nega said.

Cohen also said he wanted to set the record straight about his recommendation during a London Conference on Ethiopia and Eritrea and Port Assab.

He said he did not say the port belongs to Ethiopia, contrary to what some in Ethiopia had attributed to him, and that he only recommended Ethiopia and Eritrea maintain a common economic union after Eritrea’s independence allowing Ethiopia to use the port.

“There are some people in Ethiopia who said that during the London Conference of 1991 I recommended that the Port of Assab belonged to Ethiopia. This is not correct. What I recommended was Ethiopia and Eritrea maintain a common economic union after Eritrea’s independence and, in that way, Ethiopia could use the Port of Assab,” he said.

Cohen said that before the war of 1998, Ethiopia used a section of the port for their imports and exports, which means that Assab did not belong to Ethiopia, but it had access to an exclusive zone.

He said the port should be the sovereign territory of Eritrea, but that Ethiopia should have the right to use it.

Audio: VOA interview with Amb Herman Cohen


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PM Hailemariam: African Nations Should be More Engaged in Ebola Fight

British health workers lift a newly admitted Ebola patient onto a wheeled stretcher in to the Kerry town Ebola treatment center outside Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 22, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

AFP

Addis Ababa – African nations need to be more engaged in the fight against the Ebola virus and stop relying on aid from Western governments, Ethiopia’s prime minister said Monday.

Hailemariam Desalegn said the response to the epidemic in west Africa should not be “only for the non-Africans”, urging African states to respond to an African Union appeal to send medical staff to affected areas.

“We should show that there is a solidarity within the African countries,” he told reporters.

“Usually the notion is that whenever this kind of epidemic happens, it is the Western countries and other big countries that have to be involved,” he said.

But he added: “We have to break this and show that Africans also are there for Africans. We should try our best to bring African solutions to African problems.”

Last week Ethiopia sent 187 health volunteers to Sierra Leone and Liberia, the largest contingent of medical professionals from any African country since the Ebola crisis began. Desalegn said a further 1,000 volunteers were ready to go.

A number of African states, however, are reluctant to send volunteers, due to either a lack of means or fears they are not equipped to deal with any who return infected with the virus.

Read more »

Related:
WHO: Ebola Death Toll Passes 7,500
Africans Give Back: How the U.S. African Diaspora is Fighting Ebola Back Home
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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Poll: President Obama Ends 2014 with Highest Approval Ratings of the Year

President Obama greets students at Glencliff High School in Nashville where he spoke earlier this month. (Photo: The Associated Press)

The Los Angeles Times

By DAVID LAUTER

Perhaps it’s just holiday cheer, but a few weeks after his party suffered painful losses in the midterm election, President Obama is ending 2014 with his highest approval ratings of the year.

The evidence comes from new polls that show not only rising approval of Obama’s performance in office, but also a warming trend in Americans’ perception of the economy.

It’s way too soon to claim a major shift. The evidence for more than a year has shown that the vast majority of Americans have strongly held views about Obama and that, as a result, changes in his approval ratings don’t last. His ratings have been stuck at a tepid level through most of 2014.

But there are a couple of reasons to think that the latest upswing might prove to be the beginning of something lasting.

First, the numbers: A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday showed 48% of Americans approved of Obama’s job performance. Although that still leaves him somewhat underwater, it’s a 20-month high and up 4 percentage points from the previous month.

Similarly, Gallup’s weekly tracking poll put Obama’s approval at 45% through Sunday, the highest since May. Gallup’s more volatile three-day average had Obama at 47% over the weekend, the highest level of the year.

Three factors seem to be bolstering Obama’s ratings and could carry over into the new year.

Read more »

Watch: CNN/ORC Poll: Obama ends year on an upswing (CNN)


Related:
President Obama’s Best 2014 Moments (The Root)

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President Obama’s Best 2014 Moments

If the end of 2014 was any indication, we may be finding out that this supposedly lame-duck president has no intention of going gently into that good night. (Getty Images)

The Root

BY: DIANA OZEMEBHOYA EROMOSELE

This is by no means an exhaustive list. And I’m not suggesting that there’s consensus about the positives and negatives of President Barack Obama’s various initiatives—although I’m guessing that folks on both sides of the aisle were tickled by his exchange with that overzealous boyfriend in the Chicago voting station—but here are a few notable moments from the president’s past year that pleased a lot of people.

1. The Reconciliation with Cuba

Wednesday, Obama announced restoration of “full diplomatic relations” with Cuba, a plan that includes opening a U.S. embassy in Havana, easing restrictions on financial transactions such as remittances and banking, and encouraging Congress to start a legitimate conversation about lifting the embargo against Cuba, since that would require congressional action.

When asked to explain his decision, the president stressed that the status quo had not worked over the past 50 years, and it was that realization that inspired him to seek a change. That approach—when something isn’t working, try a something else—made sense even to some of the president’s political adversaries.

2. Support for #BringBackOurGirls and Fighting the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Obama understood that a crisis for one country could reach the doorstep of the United States in no time. In May, he sent about 80 military personnel to West Africa to help Nigerian officials in the search for the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.


President Obama visited the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health on Dec. 2, 2014, in Bethesda, Md., to discuss the ongoing fight against Ebola. (ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES)

And in September, the United States spent more than $100 million to help curb the spread of Ebola in three West African countries.

3. Addressing African Americans’ Distrust of Law Enforcement

When the nation learned that a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Obama spoke from the White House minutes later to reassure Americans who were angered by the outcome.

Read more at theroot.com »

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WHO: Ebola Death Toll Passes 7,500

The World Health Organization (WHO) says as of last week the 2014 Ebola epidemic, which is the largest in history, has killed more than 7,500 people in West Africa. (AP Photo)

VOA News

Updated:December 22, 2014

The World Health Organization says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to more than 7,500 people and the number of cases is nearing 20,000.

The latest data, posted Friday, reflects recent trends with Liberia and Guinea seeing a decrease in the rate of Ebola transmissions, while Sierra Leone’s cases continue to rise. Those three West African countries account for almost all the Ebola deaths.

The death toll in other countries remains the same with six deaths in Mali, eight in Nigeria, and one in the United States. Spain and Senegal have both had one case each, but no deaths.

Also Friday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the international community needed to better prepare for the next global outbreak of disease, which he said was “a test that is sure to come.”‘

Ban recently returned from visiting the West African countries hit hardest by Ebola. He said the world must learn the lessons from this outbreak, which he said go beyond strengthening public health systems.

“The international community needs better early warning and rapid response. I intend to engage member states in a serious effort to explore what more we can do to stay ahead of the next outbreak of disease — a test that is sure to come,” he said.

The secretary-general said his presence at the United Nations should send an important message that people without signs of Ebola infection should not be shunned.

“People who have travelled to Ebola-affected countries and have no signs of infection, are no threat. I also repeat my call to avoid travel restrictions, border closures and other counter-productive obstacles. As we fight the Ebola virus, it is equally crucial to combat the contagion of fear,” said Ban.

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

Related:
Up to one million facing hunger in Ebola-hit countries: UN
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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Africans Give Back: How the U.S. African Diaspora is Fighting Ebola Back Home

Africa Responds is an online Ebola response initiative launched by TMS Ruge, a U.S.-based entrepreneur from Uganda and Ethiopian-born Solome Lemma, Founder of the NYC-based NGO Africans in the Diaspora.

The Deseret News National Edition

By Kimberly Curtis

The idea came to TMS Ruge one evening in September while at home in New York, skimming Twitter for stories on Ebola. A native of Uganda who grew up in East Africa and the U.S., Ruge was struck that much of the coverage depicted Africans only as victims. Little mention was made of their potential role in wiping out the deadly epidemic.

As an entrepreneur and communications consultant, Ruge, 38, understands the power of ideas and information. He figured Americans needed to be made more aware that Africans were providing most of the frontline care. He was also determined to do something about it.

He approached his friend Solome Lemma, an immigrant from Ethiopia who is executive director of Africans in the Diaspora, an organization based in New York that works to connect Africans living in the U.S. to development projects back home.

Together they launched Africa Responds, an online fundraising initiative that partners with four African-led organizations working in Liberia. In less than two months, their campaign raised nearly $20,000 and significantly raised the profile through social media of African efforts against Ebola.

Ruge and Lemma are among a new generation of the U.S. African diaspora determined to contribute to the development of their home continent, including the fight against Ebola.

“We want to insert ourselves into the conversation because the Africans on the ground are the ones really doing the work, but it is the international organizations getting the credit,” said Ruge. “If people are too busy trying to stay alive, they don’t really have the ability to tell their stories. But if we are here to share those stories, it helps in the fight.”

The U.S Census Bureau estimates that 1.5 million people born in Africa now live in the United States. Another 2 million self-identify with the diaspora because they have dual citizenship or grew up in Africa. Almost half of the diaspora has arrived since 2000, with Liberia and Sierra Leone — two of the countries at the epicenter of the Ebola crisis — making up 20 percent of these recent arrivals.

Africa Responds and its partners have an advantage in fighting Ebola that most international aid agencies lack: Knowledge of local languages and culture goes a long way in educating people about the disease and convincing them to change daily habits.

Above all, these groups enjoy Africans’ trust, gained through years of living and working in local communities, many of which are suspicious of outsiders and therefore often bypassed in international aid efforts.

Read more »

Related:
Ebola Deaths Reach 6,900 in West Africa, UN Says One Million Face Hunger
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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Addis Ababa Metro Set for Completion in January (Reuters)

The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) overseas the Addis Ababa Light Railway project (LRT) backed and to be operated by Chinese firms. (Photo: Addis Fortune)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

December 18th, 2014

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to complete the Chinese-backed construction of a $475 million metro rail system in the capital Addis Ababa next month, the head of the project said.

The project, built by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and mostly financed through a loan from China’s Exim Bank, is a rarity on a continent plagued by poor transport links.

Beijing is a major partner in Ethiopia’s bid to expand its infrastructure, with cumulative investments by Chinese firms reaching well over $1 billion, official figures show.

The Horn of Africa country is building a new rail link to neighbouring Djibouti and wants to complete 5,000 km of railway lines by 2020. It will also aims to almost treble the size of the road network by next year, from less than 50,000 km in 2010.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, expanding by about 9 percent a year and attracting overseas investment with its with rock-bottom wages, cheap and stable electricity and transport projects such as the metro.

A country where many still rely on subsistence agriculture, Ethiopia is nonetheless developing a reputation for producing clothes, shoes and other basic goods that have attracted firms from China, as well as India and the Gulf.

The metro system will transform the lives of the more than 5 million people in the capital, where commuters currently wait in long queues before they are crammed onto buses and minivans.

Project manager Behailu Sintayehu told Reuters nearly 80 percent of the tracks had been laid and he expected it to be completed by the end of January 2015, three years after the plan was launched in January 2012.

“We believe that it will have a great impact in alleviating the problem of transportation in the city,” Behailu said.

Stretching for a combined 32 km, two lines dividing Addis Ababa north-south and east-west will serve 39 stations, in underground and overground sections.

The state-run Ethiopian Railways Corporation signed an agreement this month that will see Shenzhen Metro – the enterprise managing the Chinese city’s subway system – operate the lines for a period of 41 months alongside CREC.

CREC will carry out a trial phase of up to three months and then the teams will decide when to start operating the system, Ethiopian Railway Corporation’s spokesman Dereje Tefera said.

Other African capitals with either subway systems or light rail networks are Cairo, Algiers and Tunis. South Africa has an extensive system linking several cities.

(Editing by James Macharia and Alison Williams)

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Pictures: Chester Higgins’ Stunning Photos of Ethiopia & His New Project ‘Apparitions’

Retired New York Times photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. (left) took the above photos of the St. George church in Lalibela & the Sof Omar Cave in Bale region (bottom right), two of Ethiopia's iconic religious sites.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – From the spectacular images of Lalibela to the beautiful portraits of people in the Omo region, from the profile of the late Poet Laureate of Ethiopia Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin to Nelson Mandela, you may have seen some of the timeless photos captured by international photographer Chester Higgins, who retired this year from The New York Times after nearly four decades with the prominent U.S. newspaper.

Higgins is already busy with new photography projects — his latest is entitled Apparitions. “My new imagery comes from a decade of falling in love with dead plant leaves,” Higgins says. “I’ve experimented with different leaves and settled on the Elephant Leaf because it’s bigger and tends to dry down in a much more interesting way than others.” He adds: “Each year, I’ve planted the bulbs, tended them and when they die, harvest them and hang them inside the house to dry out for a few months before I start making photos. I make the photos in a most unique way, without the use of the camera but using the computer scanner. I cut the leaves, position them so and use a software to produce a more abstract look.”

“You see, like the people who believe in nature, I believe in the equality of the complexity of nature. To me, the dried plant leaves represent the remains of a once fuller spirit that possessed the plant. Like all living things, we cannot stay forever, but in our departure the spirit that occupied the vessel is the only thing that has the ability to transit time and space. So, when I make images of this leaf that makes my heart smile, I name them after some ancestor. Right now, I name them after ancient Egyptian mummies.”

You can view images from Apparitions at chesterhiggins.com. Below is a slideshow of photos by Higgins previously featured in Tadias Magazine:



Related:
A Dance of Rivers – By Chester Higgins (NYTimes.com)

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

Zone9 bloggers and Reeyot Alemu. (Photos: International Women's Media Foundation and Zone 9 Tumblr)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopia has once again earned the unflattering distinction of being one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world along with Eritrea, Iran, Egypt, Burma and China. The 2014 Census of Imprisoned Journalists released today by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found that the number of journalists imprisoned in Ethiopia more than doubled since the previous year.

Overall CPJ said it identified 220 incarcerated journalists globally in 2014. “Worldwide, 132 journalists, or 60 percent, were jailed on anti-state charges such as subversion or terrorism,” the report said. “Online journalists accounted for more than half, or 119, of the imprisoned journalists. Eighty three worked in print, 15 in radio, and 14 in television.” The annual census shows “roughly one-third, or 67, of the journalists in jail around the world were freelancers, around the same proportion as in 2013.”

In Ethiopia, the survey points out that “a state crackdown on independent publications and bloggers this year more than doubled the number of journalists imprisoned to 17 from seven the previous year, and prompted several journalists to flee into exile.”

Next to China, with 44 journalists in prison, “the list of the top 10 worst jailers of journalists was rounded out by Eritrea, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Syria, Egypt, Burma, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. CPJ notes that the tally marks the second highest number of journalists in jail since the independent free-press advocacy organization began taking a yearly census of imprisoned journalists in the early 1990s.

You can read the full report at CPJ.org.

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U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba

Fidel Castro with Che Guevara in 1959, the year Mr. Castro took power after leading a communist revolution in Cuba and toppling the American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. (Photo: Roberto Salas)

The New York Times

By PETER BAKER

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret negotiations that produced a prisoner swap brokered with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

Read more at The New York Times »

Video: Obama Announces Historic Re-establishment of US-Cuba Relations (NBC News)


Related:
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (The New York Times Editorial)
Obama Announces U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Relations (The New York Times)
Cuba Frees American Alan Gross, Held for Five Years (NBC News)
Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba (The Associated Press)
The Untold Story of Ethiopians in Cuba (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia Holds Farewell Gala for Volunteer Doctors Headed to Ebola-Hit Countries

A farewell gala in Addis Ababa on December 15th, 2014 for the Ethiopian health care workers that are deployed in West Africa. (Photograph: Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – One hundred eighty-seven health professionals from Ethiopia will be arriving in Ebola-hit West African countries this week. According to Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr. Kesete Admasu, who made the announcement via Twitter on Monday, the Ethiopian volunteers will assist in the global efforts underway in the region. Dr. Kesete tweeted: “[Ethiopia] is now the largest volunteer contributor to the Ebola response in Africa.”

The health care workers will be deployed in the three most-affected nations — Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Dr. Kesete stated: “The Ambassador of Liberia to Ethiopia on behalf of the 3 countries thanked the volunteers and the government of Ethiopia for the solidarity.”



Related:
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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview With Award-Winning Poet From Ethiopia Liyou Libsekal

Liyou Libsekal is a recipient of the prestigious Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: Monday, December 15th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Liyou Libsekal, a 24-year old Ethiopian-born poet is taking great strides in establishing herself as a prominent member of the new generation of African poets. There is no doubt writing is a natural outlet for Ms. Libsekal; her work is decked with traces of her “nomadic life so far and the growth and development that comes with it.” We enter Liyou’s world with Riding Chinese Machines: a dedication to the booming economic and physical transformations of her hometown Addis Ababa – a city swelling with construction, noise, asphalt roads, and congestion.

Riding Chinese Machines
There are beasts in this city
they creak and they crank
and groan from first dawn
when their African-tongued masters wake
to guide them lax and human-handed
through the late rush
when they‘re handled down and un-animated
still as we sleep, towering or bowing
always heavy
we pour cement through the cities
towns, through the wild
onwards, outwards
like fingers of eager hands
stretched across the earth
dug in

With a nostalgic tribute to what-once-was, she narrates her pilgrimage through dislocation, childhood, and tradition. Her techniques often vary – her poems are partly constructed in realms of fantasy and abstraction, and on the other hand, they open sensory valves with images so clear and realized we become full partakers of her stories. Her identity exists as an ongoing project, unconcluded, yet beautifully narrated, as a byproduct of things seen, overheard, spoken, and observed. Her work earned her the prestigious Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2014, an annual poetry award for the development and promotion of African poets.

TADIAS: First and foremost, congratulations on The Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Your poems have incredible sensory engagement, with such rich imagery that we partake in your world fully, and occasionally your work is abstractly delivered. Is that intentional? Are you always in negotiation between those two styles?

Liyou: I wouldn’t say it’s intentional, I’m still finding my voice so I tend to let things flow naturally. When I’m writing something I know how I want it to sound so I go off of that, I’m letting that be my guide, instead of any set intention.

TADIAS: You often write about “home” – its transformations, “poured in concrete” with “beasts” that “groan from first dawn when their African-tongued masters wake”– creating collage of a ever-forward moving city – do you ever get nostalgic about the Addis you and many of us grew up in?

Liyou: A lot of my childhood was spent outside of Ethiopia but Addis was always my family’s home base, so I do have a lot of memories of what the city was like before all this growth. To be honest, as happy as all those memories are, I don’t miss the old landscape because even though the city is somewhat chaotic right now, and everything is changing, it’s a moniker of progress. Living here, you see things change constantly and we’re moving so fast and people’s lives are improving and that’s more important than my memories of a less cluttered or chaotic city.

TADIAS: Any writing rituals?

Liyou: Not really, all I need is quiet and my laptop so I just need to isolate myself so I can write. If I’m having trouble writing I step away and clear my head, usually through meditation, just to find focus and clarity.

TADIAS: Are there things that are too personal to write about?

Liyou: I think everyone has things they many not want to address; I’m working on being as honest as I can with myself. I wouldn’t say there are things I wouldn’t write about because they’re too personal, just because I don’t have to show them to anyone but it’s a process. Being honest with ourselves and putting things on paper can be so powerful but it takes time and courage, it’s a work in progress.

TADIAS: Readers are one thing but family is a different audience – how has your reception been coming from a country where the Arts are somewhat underrepresented?

Liyou: I’ve had a lot of positive responses; it’s been great for the most part. I have talked to people who feel I should write in Amharic but considering my background, that’s not necessarily the best course of action for me; I couldn’t do that justice at the moment.

TADIAS: What/who do you think has had the most contribution to you becoming a great writer?

Liyou: I’ve always had really supportive people around me who value creativity and the arts. It has definitely been helpful to have encouraging people around me, people who are understanding about the fact that I might be off writing for a while and who give me room to do so.

TADIAS: In Hair (published below), a “black child in a white playground” where they “flock to touch a tamed head,” you tackle issues of identity and belonging – growing up, how were you able to negotiate your heritage in a world where you became a cultural ‘outcast’?

Liyou: It is difficult as a child to suddenly not know where you fit in your current world, it can cause a lot of different types of conflict, I touch on that a little bit in the poem. My parents were always very much involved in helping my sister and I understand our culture, we always traveled home when we could so we were never too far from where we came from; but at the same time, they understood our childhood was so different from theirs so they were also learning how to raise us in a new environment. I was very lucky to have parents that always gave me guidance but also let me make my own mistakes because it helped me figure myself out, where I stood and who I was in an otherwise undefined set of circumstances.

Hair
I left Africa carrying my skin
and my father’s thick ringlets
braids were for children,
tussled locks for grown women
eleven and unaware
a black child in a white playground
learns new words
girls flock to touch a tamed head
weaved by loving hands
and chemical cravings set in
It’s your crown says my mother
whose gorgeous mane gets wrapped tight
rolled ready for feverish waves
who convert to straight
what a word


About the Author:
Hasabie Kidanu covers arts and literature stories for Tadias Magazine. She is an artist and art historian living in New York City. Born in the United States, Hasabie was raised in Addis Ababa, where she attended Sandford International School. She is a graduate of The University of North Carolina where she studied Art History and French. She currently resides in Brooklyn and works in an art studio and as a freelance writer.

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From NYC to DC Tens Of Thousands Demand an End to Police Violence (Video)

Some youth activists say they were excluded from speaking at ‘Justice for All’ demonstration in Washington, D.C. (Crowds gathered Saturday in downtown Washington, D.C./TWITTER)

The Root

BY: JAMAL WATSON

‘A Movement, Not Just a Moment’: Thousands March to Call for an End to Police Violence

Armed with posters and a camera, Delores and Shannon King made the three-hour trek from Portsmouth, Va., to the nation’s capital on Saturday to join thousands of people gathered for the “Justice for All” demonstration protesting the recent deaths of several unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.

“We are here to support the cause,” said Delores King, who has an 18-year-old son. “This has to become a movement and not just a moment.”

The Kings and a sea of protesters marched east on Pennsylvania Avenue chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” After the march, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on Congress and the U.S. Justice Department to intervene on behalf of protecting black men from law enforcement.

“State grand juries have suspended the right of due process,” said Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network, the civil rights organization he founded in 1991. “We need national intervention.”

Protesters came from across the globe to demand an end to police violence and a change in the justice system. Interracial and intergenerational crowds gathered on a brisk winter afternoon—soccer moms next to union members, who were sandwiched between activists and such celebrities as filmmaker Spike Lee and television judge Greg Mathis, all connected through the tragic deaths of unarmed black men.

Read more at theroot.com »

Video: Thousands March Across U.S. to Protest Police Killings (NBC News)


The New York Times

By BENJAMIN MUELLER and ASHLEY SOUTHALL

More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan on Saturday, police officials said, in the largest protest in the city since a grand jury declined this month to indict an officer in the death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island.

Just before 2 p.m. they began spilling out of Washington Square Park, and after an hour and a half, the park still had not emptied. Walking north toward 34th Street, the protesters filled the cold air by chanting “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man, who died from a chokehold after an officer dragged him to the ground on a hot day in July.

The protest, which at times stretched for over a mile, highlighted growing anger nationwide over recent police deaths, including that of Mr. Garner, 43, who officers accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.


More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan in New York on Saturday, police officials said. Protesters held up 8 panels depicting Eric Garner’s eyes, created by an artist known as JR. (Getty Images)

Read more at NYT »

Related:
Tens Of Thousands March On NYPD Headquarters To Protest Police Killings
In DC, Congressional Staffers Walk Out Protesting Garner & Brown Decisions

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Ethiopia Habtemariam: Women In Music 2014

Ethiopia Habtemariam is President of Motown Records, President of Universal Music Group’s urban music division, and co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group. (Photograph: Universal Music Group)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, December 13th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Billboard magazine has named Ethiopia Habtemariam, President of Motown Records and Head of Universal Music Group’s urban music division, as one of the 2014 top women in music. Ethiopia was among the leaders honored at the Billboard Women in Music luncheon held at Cipriani Wall Street on Friday, Dec. 12th in New York. The honorees included Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Jessie J and Ariana Grande.

Billboard states: “The luncheon was a celebration of the music industry’s most successful women, from pop stars to major record label executives, who all appear on Billboard’s annual Women in Music power list.”

“Habtemariam helms dual rosters of both established and next-gen stars,” the music publication adds. “UMPG’s streak on the Billboard Hot 100 has been led by Eminem’s “Monster,” Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and Chris Brown’s “Loyal.” Alongside such Motown faves as Stevie Wonder and Ne-Yo, in 2014 the label has celebrated the No. 1 R&B Albums debut of Kem’s Promise to Love: Album IV.”

Sponsored by American Express, the event featured performances from Colbie Caillat, Betty Who and Jessie J, and introductions from Billboard’s chief executives, John Amato and Janice Min.”



Related:
Motown Founder Salutes Ethiopia Habtemariam at Heroes & Legends Awards
Ethiopia Habtemariam to be Honored at the 2014 Heroes & Legends Awards
Ethiopia Habtemariam Named President of Motown
Barry Weiss Steps Down as Island Def Jam Motown Reorganizes (The Hollywood Reporter)

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The Oscar Chances of Difret & Timbuktu

Hirut (Tizita Hagare) sits in a halfway house in "Difret." (Haile Addis Pictures / Cineart)

Variety

By Adam Dawtrey

‘Difret’ May Raise Profile of Ethiopia’s Filmmakers During Oscar Race

Only one film from sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) has ever won an Academy Award for foreign-language film. That is “Black and White in Color” back in 1976, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, a French production flying under the flag of the Ivory Coast. Before this year, this vast region of 900 million people had only ever submitted nine films, and Annaud remains the only nominee.

So could 2014 see a breakthrough for authentically African cinema at the Oscars? For the first time, there are two entries, and both are real contenders: “Timbuktu” by Abderrahmane Sissako from Mauritania, which premiered to glowing reviews at Cannes, and “Difret” by Ethiopia’s Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, which won audience awards at Sundance and Berlin.

Sissako, 53, is the more established name, one of a handful of African filmmakers to achieve international recognition. But Mehari, a 38-year-old USC grad making his feature debut, brings the kind of Hollywood experience and trans-Atlantic smarts that could just catch the eye of Oscar voters.

“Difret,” which boasts the endorsement of Angelina Jolie as exec producer, tells the true story of the 1996 trial of a 13-year-old girl for killing a man who abducted and raped her. The problem is that “abduction for marriage” was a tradition in large parts of Ethiopia. Most of the girl’s village didn’t think her rapist did anything wrong, and the government didn’t want to go against tribal tradition. A young woman lawyer from the country’s capital city, Addis Ababa, took up the girl’s cause, and sued the minister of Justice. The case led to the practice of bride abduction being outlawed in Ethiopia.

It’s easy to understand why Jolie, in her role as Special Envoy for the U.N., lent her support. She screened the film in June at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Mehari — known as “Z” — was born and raised in Ethiopia, but came to the U.S. when he was 19 for college. His father expected him to study medicine, law or engineering, but Mehari enrolled instead at the USC film school. His father didn’t talk to him for a year. “I explained to him that I want to tell stories about engineers, doctors, lawyers,” Mehari recalls. “I told him we need storytellers as well.”

For a decade, Mehari worked back and forth between the U.S. and Ethiopia, picking up production experience in America, which he applied to developing his career back home, and to training local crews. He cut his teeth on musicvideos, while Ethiopia’s film industry went from virtually nothing in the mid-1990s to producing around 100-120 films a year today. Most of these cost just a few thousand dollars and are aimed exclusively at the local market, but Mehari had bigger ambitions.

He pitched his script to Mehret Mandefro, an Ethiopian-American physician based in Washington, D.C., whose research on HIV in the South Bronx was the subject of the 2008 feature doc “All of Us.” That led her to set up her own production company, Truth Aid.

Read more »

Related:
Review Effective ‘Difret’ Looks at Abhorrent Practice in Ethiopia – The Los Angeles Times
Difret Los Angeles Premiere at Laemmle Music Hall Theater – Friday, December 12th
‘Difret’ Submitted for Oscar Consideration for Best Foreign Language Film

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

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Sexual Violence Against Women in Ethiopia

A social media campaign was started in Ethiopia after 16-year-old Hanna Lalango died after being sexually attacked on the streets. (Photograph: Facebook)

The Guardian

By Rediet Wegayehu

Kidnapped, Raped and Left for Dead: Who Will Protect Ethiopia’s Girls?

One day in early October, Hanna Lalango, 16, did not return from school to her home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the usual time. Her father Lalongo Hayesso was worried about his youngest daughter.

“We waited for her at her usual time … but we had to wait for 11 days to hear that she had been abandoned on the street. She was incapacitated and couldn’t even get up,” said Hayesso. His daughter had been abducted, gang-raped and left for dead. Hanna was not able to get to hospital until 12 days after her attack, where she was treated for traumatic gynaecological fistula and other injuries. She died on 1 November.

Sexual violence against women in Ethiopia is relatively common. Research from 2012 found that “rape is undoubtedly one of the rampant crimes in Ethiopia”, and linked its prevalence to male chauvinist culture, legal loopholes, the inefficiency of different agencies in the criminal justice system, and “a deep-seated culture of silence”. In October 2011, an Ethiopian Airlines flight attendant named Aberash Hailay lost her eyesight after her ex-husband, Fisseha, stabbed her in both eyes with a sharp knife. And there’s the story of Frehiwot Tadesse, a mother of two, who was shot several times by her ex-husband in a broad daylight in Addis. Since the first reported case involving Kamilat Mehdi and her ex-boyfriend, acid attacks against women have also shown a disturbing increase.

Read more at The Guardian »

Teen’s Death After Kidnapping and Gang Rape Causes Scrutiny of Ethiopia’s Anti-NGO Law


16-year-old student Hanna Lalango died last month after being abducted and gang-raped by five men in Addis Abeba. (Photo: Ethiopian TV)

Vice News

By Johnny Magdaleno

December 7, 2014

The brutal kidnapping and gang rape of a teenage student in Addis Ababa has spurred a movement against gender-based violence in Ethiopia and throughout the country’s diaspora communities.

Sixteen-year-old Hanna Lalango was abducted by a taxi driver and a group of passengers in Ethiopia’s capital on October 1 after she boarded the driver’s vehicle on her way home from school, according to local media reports, activists, and other sources who spoke with VICE News about the incident. A few days later, Lalango’s sisters received a call from the kidnappers, who offered to arrange a meeting to negotiate the release of their hostage.

When the sisters arrived at the meeting, they were asked to board the same taxi used for Hanna’s kidnapping in order to be taken to the house where she was held. The sisters refused, and the assailants drove off, shouting that Lalango would not be released. On October 11, Lalango called her father and directed him to the Kolfe Keraneo district in western Addis Ababa, where the kidnappers had abandoned her. She revealed that multiple men raped her repeatedly over a period of at least five days, and was reportedly able to identify three out of five suspects from her hospital bed. She received treatment at several hospitals in Addis Ababa, but died November 1 from wounds sustained during the attacks.

The incident galvanized activists on social media, and the hashtag #JusticeForHanna became a top trending topic on Twitter in Ethiopia. A “Justice for Hanna” page on Facebook has received more than 20,000 likes. Activists are now demanding that national press outlets in Ethiopia devote extensive coverage to Lalango’s case and the issues that surround it. The UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was observed Tuesday, November 25, has also helped raise awareness of Lalango’s case.

Read more at news.vice.com »

Related:
The Yellow Movement at A.A. University Update on Abduction of Hanna Lalango

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