Featured Section

The Dangerous Route of Ethiopian Migrants

Migrants taking shelter from the heat in the town of Fantahero, Djibouti. Ethiopian migrants withstand harsh conditions and harsh treatment on the journey to Saudi Arabia. (PHOTOGRAPH BY LEX NIARCHOS)

The New Yorker

The other day, on the outskirts of Fantahero, a small village in the desert of northern Djibouti, Sebhatou Mellis was sheltering from a-hundred-and-four-degree heat in the shade of an acacia tree. Mellis, who is twenty-six and has the rangy build of a runner, was about a thousand miles away from his home, in the impoverished Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. There, he and his family had taken a government loan to help improve his farm, tried to invest it, and failed, he told me. “At the end, the money was finished, and all the people began to insult us and say that we took the money from the government and used it badly,” he said.

Mellis had come to Fantahero four days earlier, walking and hitching rides through the Danakil Desert with about a dozen other Tigrayans, a journey that took them about three weeks. Mellis’s ultimate destination, he hopes, will be Saudi Arabia, where, if he’s lucky, he’ll be able to work illegally. To get there, he will have to cross the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Middle East from the Horn of Africa, and navigate his way through war-torn Yemen. “I left to repay my debts, not to die,” he said. “But if I die, at least I will liberate myself from poverty.”

The route through Djibouti and Yemen to Saudi Arabia is an ancient one. Some seventy thousand years ago, early man left Africa across the Bab el-Mandeb. The migration began the process by which modern humans settled the Eurasian continent. The historical connection between this part of Africa and the Middle East stretches through history. Fifteen hundred years ago, the Ethiopian Aksumite Empire extended into the modern Middle East and controlled parts of Yemen.

Read more at The New Yorker »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

2016 P2P Ethiopian Diaspora Healthcare & Medical Education Conference

P2P honors founders of Ethiopia's Project Mercy Woizero Marta Wolde-Tsadik & Ato Demeke Tekle-Wold (Center) in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday, September 26th, 2015. (Photograph by Tsedey Aragie for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The 2016 Ethiopian Diaspora Conference on Health care and Medical Education will be held on September 17th in Springfield, Virginia.

The annual conference, which celebrates its eighth anniversary this year, is organized by People to people (P2P), Inc., a U.S.-based NGO established in 1999 in the state of Kentucky as a non-profit organization to serve as network of Ethiopian health care professionals practicing abroad.

P2P announced topics scheduled to be discussed at the upcoming gathering include “Promoting Neuroscience in Ethiopia; The Global movement to scale up mental health care: The case of Ethiopia; Diaspora Partnership Projects; as well as Abstract and Poster Presentations on Health Related Topics relevant to Ethiopia.”

The 2016 Scientific Conference Chair is Professor Yonas E. Geda of Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

If You Go:
Saturday, September 17th, 2016
7:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Location: Hilton Springfield
6550 Loisdale Road,
Springfield, Virginia 22150

P2P Survey Studies Use of Complementary Medicine Among Ethiopians in U.S.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia for First Time, Dr. Jill Biden Speaks at Girls Can Code Graduation

Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the U.S., is making her first visit to Ethiopia, where she attended a graduation ceremony of the Girls Can Code Project run by U.S. Embassy on Sunday. (Photo: U.S. Embassy)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, July 18th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, was in Ethiopia this past weekend where she spoke at a Girls Can Code graduation ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Although this was Dr. Jill Biden’s first travel to Ethiopia, she was quick to point out that she is familiar with the country through her own interaction with Ethiopian students in the U.S.

“This is my first trip to Ethiopia but I’ve heard so much about your country from my own students — many of whom are from Ethiopia,” Dr. Biden, a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia, told the graduates in Ethiopia. “They’ve shared with me their hopes and dreams through their journals and writing assignments.”

According to the project description posted by The Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, the Girls Can Code program, which is funded by the U.S. government, is “designed to teach high school girls essential computer technology skills that will help them succeed in higher education, specifically in STEM-related courses, and help position them to succeed in careers in STEM fields.”

In her commencement speech Dr. Biden, who has been a teacher for over 30 years, added: “Programs like Girls Can Code are helping high school girls around the world learn computer and IT skills. It’s designed to empower and inspire young girls — not only to join STEM fields at the university level, but to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM fields and become future leaders in technology.”

Image from video shared on Twitter by Dr. Biden (@Dr. Biden)

Photo via Twitter (@Dr. Biden)

(Twitter: @Dr. Biden)

Below is the full text of Dr. Jill Biden’s speech at the Girls Can Code Graduation Ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 17, 2016:

Remarks of Dr. Jill Biden at a Girls Can Code Graduation Ceremony as Prepared for Delivery

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Hi, everyone! Thank you, Lidia, for that great introduction! It’s truly a pleasure to be here in Ethiopia this afternoon and to meet all of you.

I know it’s graduation day, so let me start by saying congratulations! And I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank your families who have supported you along the way. Let’s give them a round of applause.

I’d also to recognize some pretty amazing women and men traveling with me across Africa this week to help highlight the importance of economic empowerment and educational opportunities for women and girls.

I’m so pleased to be joined by Cathy Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Phil Karsting, from the Department of Agriculture; Shannon Smith, from the State Department; Susan Markham, from USAID; my Chief of Staff, Sheila Nix; Eric Doucette; Special Advisor to my husband Joe, the Vice President; and two of my sisters, Bonnie Jacobs and Kim Snow.

This is my first trip to Ethiopia but I’ve heard so much about your country from my own students — many of whom are from Ethiopia. They’ve shared with me their hopes and dreams through their journals and writing assignments. I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years. I love helping students navigate their future, and see it grow bright before their eyes.

That’s exactly what’s happening to all of you. I’m so excited to see the projects that you have been working on. From what I’ve heard, you’ve worked so hard on them — coming together with your mentors and fellow students to make a difference not only in your own lives but in lives of so many in your community.

Because of the education you are getting, you are setting out on a lifelong path where most of all, you will have the confidence and tools you need to succeed. And, that’s one of the reasons why I’m traveling across Africa this week, to Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger.

During my trip, I’ll emphasize my country’s commitment to making sure girls and young women — like you — all around the world have the opportunities they deserve — to go to school, get the education they need and become whoever they aspire to be. Because when women and girls are included, they expand our economies, enrich our communities, and our countries are better off for it. It’s really that simple.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to help launch TeachHer — a partnership led by UNESCO and the State Department — to close the gender gap for girls in science and technology in schools and in careers. These programs will provide girls with valuable job skills and access to inspiring women leaders as mentors. Ethiopia — which will host one of the first TeachHer trainings later this year — is leading the way in the region to close the education gender gap. I’m excited to see the results of this program.

Fifteen years ago, boys were 20 percent more likely than girls to go to school. Today, this gender gap in Ethiopia has been cut in half. That’s an incredible accomplishment — and it’s because of you.

Despite the progress being made, there’s more work to be done. We know girls and boys are equally interested in STEM education and careers. But, as we’ve seen all around the world, gaps that start in secondary school widen at the college level. Currently, fewer than 20 percent of university STEM graduates in Ethiopia are female. None of our countries are there yet. We must change this. We have to convince more girls and their families that these careers are not just for boys.

That’s why I’m proud to be here with you all today. Programs like Girls Can Code are helping high school girls around the world learn computer and IT skills. It’s designed to empower and inspire young girls — not only to join STEM fields at the university level, but to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM fields and become future leaders in technology.

I am happy to announce that because of the success of this pilot program here in Addis — because of your success — the U.S. Embassy will be expanding Girls Can Code to four new cities. This means an additional 200 female students will soon have access to the same classes and lessons that you have had so that they can reach their full potential.

Through partnerships like these with Ethiopia and other African governments, we hope to improve the lives of women and girls through educational opportunities. And we’re going to keep pushing until all children — girls and boys — have the same pathways to success and the same chance to go as far as their dreams will take them.

It’s clear to me that you understand the importance of your education. And you should be proud of the paths you are setting for yourselves. I urge you to be confident, to always believe in yourself and to never forget that education is the key to success. In the words of Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, “If they are educated, they will educate their communities. If they are healthy, they will ensure others grow up healthy. If they are empowered, they will change the world.”

Each of you can and will change the world. But it’s up to you to seize the opportunity — to rise to the occasion. To take risks. You’re women of action. And I know there’s nothing you cannot do if you have confidence in yourself and don’t let anything stand in the way of your goals.

You are already making a difference in your own life and in the lives of your family members. Continue to challenge yourselves to make a difference in your school, your communities, and your country. You’re trailblazers. You’re leading the way for the generations of students who come after you. As you have found mentors here, be a mentor for others.

Once again, congratulations. You all are my inspiration, and I’m excited to see what you do in the future. Thank you so much for inviting me to your graduation ceremony.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Hosts Renowned Ethiopian Poet Lemn Sissay at Ginny’s in Harlem

Lemn Sissay. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, July 15th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) – Our second event in the Tadias Salon Series is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, August 9th as we host internationally renowned British-born Ethiopian Poet and Author Lemn Sissay in partnership with Ms. Ethiopia Alfred and Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem. We invite you to a fantastic evening of spoken word, poetry, live entertainment, and a conversation with Lemn along with a dinner feast at Ginny’s.

Lemn is the author of several books of poetry alongside articles, records, public art, and plays. He was an official poet for the London Olympics four years ago, and received an MBE from the Queen for Services to Literature. His poetry has been installed in various historic locations in Manchester and London including at The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park. Lemn’s inspiring life story, which is depicted in the BBC documentary Internal Flight, includes growing up in England’s foster care system, yet rising to become a widely acclaimed playwright and author. Lemn received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Huddersfield in 2009, and currently serves as Chancellor of the University of Manchester.

In addition to an evening of dinner and spoken word with Lemn Sissay, Tadias invites you to a VIP reception to meet the artist through our diamond and platinum sponsorship packages.

Join us in welcoming Lemn Sissay to Harlem, New York as part of our continuing Tadias Salon series and honoring this amazing literary artist.

If You Go:
Date: Tuesday, August 9th, 2016
Time: 6-7pm VIP reception; 7-10pm Dinner, Spoken Word & Entertainment.
Location: Ginnys’s (downstairs at Red Rooster)
310 Lenox Ave (between 125th & 126th)
New York, NY 10027
Purchase Tickets: $75 for Event & Dinner (seating is limited, no tickets at the door, RSVP required)

For sponsorship of Tadias Salon Series at Ginny’s on Tuesday, August 9th please contact us at 646-595-7344, or email us at info@tadias.com.

Video: Lemn Sissay installed as the new Chancellor for The University of Manchester – 2015

Lemn Sissay installed as the new Chancellor for The University of Manchester

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Kenenisa Bekele Among Greatest Olympic Athletes of all Time

Kenenisa Bekele who holds the Olympic and World record in both the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres events is considered one of the greatest long-distance runners of all time. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele is among the world’s “Greatest Olympic Athletes Of All Time,” according to a new athletics statistics handbook for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games published this week by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The handbook, which also highlights the records of Ethiopian greats such as Abeke Bekila, Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter and Haile Gebrselassie, points out that Kenenisa is by far the most successful male Ethiopian Olympic athlete of his generation, topping the “All Male Events” category as well as leading in “Individual Events” and the “Best Athlete by Country.” Kenenisa is currently the Olympic and World Record holder in both the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters categories.

The publication, released only four weeks ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, includes “all-time medals tables, statistics on the oldest and youngest athletes in Olympic history and a full country index,” according to IAAF.

“Athletes often speak about the ‘record books’ in a figurative sense, but this publication is as close as you can get to a definitive book of records for track and field at the Olympic Games,” says IAAF President Sebastian Coe writing in the book. “In short, each and every significant athletics moment in Olympic history is covered.”

In the Olympic records book Kenenisa is closely followed by fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the current 10,000 meters Olympics record holder in the women’s category, who is also listed among the world’s “Greatest Olympic Athletes Of All Time” along with her cousin Derartu Tulu, Gete Wami and Meseret Defar.

IAAF adds: “The 420-page book has been produced in collaboration with the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS) and edited by renowned athletics statistician Mark Butler.”

The 2016 Olympic Games commences in Rio from 12-21 August.

Rio 2016 Olympic Games Athletics Statistics Handbook (IAAF)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama Speaks at Dallas Memorial Service

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend a memorial service for the fallen police officers and members of the Dallas community in Dallas, Tuesday, July 12, 2016. (AP Photo)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu Speaks at UN Global Compact Leaders Summit

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu speaking at the UN Global Leaders Summit in New York on June 22nd, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, July 8th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu addressed the 2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York last month. Bethlehem, who is the Founder and Executive Director of soleRebels — an award-winning green shoe-brand based in Ethiopia — was one of more than 1,000 leaders from business, finance, civil society, labour, academia, the UN and Government that attended the two-day global gathering on June 22nd and 23rd.

According to the UN News Center “The UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, supports companies to do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption; and to take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.”

Bethlehem, who was born and raised in a low-income Addis Ababa neighborhood of Zenabwok/Total area, established SoleRebels in 2005 hoping to increase job opportunities in her community. Since then not only has SoleRebels created hundreds of local jobs, but it has since become an internationally recognized eco-fashion brand. Solerebels opened its first U.S. retail shop two years ago at the upscale Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, California.

In his remarks at the Summit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon “stressed that achieving the aims of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would require finding new ways of living that would end the suffering, discrimination and lack of opportunity for billions of people around the world,” reports the UN News Center. “As such, he called on all stakeholders – from world leaders and chief executives, to educators and philanthropists, and across all sectors and industries – to work together in broader and deeper partnerships.”

Below are photos from the Summit:

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu takes the stage to address the 2016 United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit at the UN headquarters in New York June 22nd, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu addressing the 2016 United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit at the UN headquarters in New York June 22nd, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)


Video: 2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit (UN WEB TV)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Sammy Ethiopia & Mafi to Present at Nolcha Shows During NY Fashion Week

Clothing by Ethiopian designer Mafi are made exclusively with hand-woven fabrics. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This year’s lineup of independent fashion designers scheduled to present their Spring/Summer 2017 collection at the Nolcha Shows — a runway event held during New York Fashion Week in September — features two apparel brands from Ethiopia: Sammy Ethiopia and Mafi.

The Ethiopian designers are part of a four-brand showcase by the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, which is also highlighting Kenyan designers APRELLEDUANY and Ami Doshi Shah.

“The Nolcha Shows is one of the city’s leading platforms for global independent fashion designers and now in its eighth consecutive year,” the announcement says. “Designers presenting their latest collections at the Nolcha Shows Fashion Media Lounge include returning brands Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, EL VOYAGE and Taylord Blu and debuting brands Riley Versa, DELA EVA, Marshelly’s, James Carletons and Oysby.” The press release added: “The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub will be showcasing APRELLEDUANY, Ami Doshi Shah, Sammy Ethiopia and Mafi.”

Sammy Ethiopia

Sammy Ethiopia “creates fresh and contemporary pieces with the dual aim of preserving the country’s long history of weaving, while infusing the tradition with new inspirations,” states the designer’s website. “Each product is hand-woven, dyed, and embroidered by skilled artisans, ensuring integrity, beauty, and uniquenes.”

Ethiopian designer Mafi. (Courtesy photo)

From her headquarters in Addis Ababa, Mafi has won several accolades including “the 2012 Origin Africa’s design award, showcasing her work at African Fashion Week New York 2012, and winning the 2010 Designer of the Year award from Alliance Ethio-Française at European Fashion Day in Addis.” According to her website “Mafi works exclusively with hand-woven fabrics made by women” producing “contemporary pieces with ancient fabrics, giving visibility to the diversity and depth of Ethiopian culture and tradition.”

Nolcha Shows Announces Bryant Park Hotel as an Official Partner for the Spring/Summer 2017 Season

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Airlines Re-launches Flight to Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Photo by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias File)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, July 4th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Airlines Sunday re-launched service between Addis Ababa and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The three-times per week Addis Ababa – Lome – Newark flights are to be operated by Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the airline announced. Ethiopian Airlines had previously operated service to Newark, canceling the route in 2004 and using Dulles International Airport in Washington DC.

“This new service enables passengers to connect between New York-Newark and many cities throughout Africa,” Ethiopian Airlines said in a press release. “At Lomé, passengers enjoy seamless connections to/from points in West Africa with ASKY, Ethiopian partner airline based in Lomé. Connections are available to/from Abidjan, Bamako, Bissau, Brazzaville, Conakry, Dakar, Douala, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, N’djamena, Niamey, Ouagadougou and Yaoundé.” In addition, at Addis Ababa airport travelers will have further options for connections “to/from points in East and Southern Africa, including Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Khartoum, Kampala, Kigali, and Johannesburg.”

Ethiopian Airlines inaugurates the new flight at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Sunday, July 3rd, 2016. (Photos: by Kidane Mariam for Tadias)

The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said in a statement: “We are thrilled to resume our service to New York, our fifth gateway in the Americas. New York is one of the world’s most economically powerful cities and including it in our ever expanding network will play a critical role in the expansion of trade, tourism and investment between the fast growing continent of Africa and the United States. I would like to thank all who strived hard to make the route possible.”

New York-Newark is Ethiopian’s 93rd international gateway and 4th destination in North America. “Ethiopian currently operates daily nonstop flights from Washington DC to Addis Ababa, as well as three weekly nonstop flights from Toronto to Addis Ababa and three weekly flights from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa via Dublin. Ethiopian is expanding its network rapidly, and in the past year has introduced services to Tokyo, Manila, Dublin, Los Angeles, Cape Town, Durban, Gaborone, Yaoundé, and Goma.”

Photos: Ethiopian Airlines Inaugurates Flight Connecting Addis, LA, Dublin

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

P2P Survey Studies Use of Complementary Medicine Among Ethiopians in U.S.

Traditional and herbal medicine from Ethiopia. (Photo: World Health Organization)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 30th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A new online survey recently launched by an association of Ethiopian doctors based in the United States aims to study the use of supplemental traditional medicine among the Ethiopian Diaspora population in North America.

The survey, which is managed by complementary medicine experts from People to People (P2P) — an Ethiopian Diaspora Health Care Organization — will look at the “use of herbals, supplements and other traditional modalities by the Ethiopian Diaspora in the USA,” the announcement said, hoping to investigate any interactions between traditional and modern prescribed medications.

“It is our hope that the results of the study will provide a clearer picture of the practice, and help clinicians and other healthcare professionals consider this aspect of medication history when they provide care to their patients,” P2P added. “As part of the Ethiopian Diaspora community we invite you to participate in this study.”

The Ethiopian American physicians’ group said that it anticipates compiling and analyzing the data, and making it available to the public in less than a year. They emphasized that “no personally identifiable information will be stored or shared,” and that the privacy of participants will be protected.

To learn more and take the survey click here » Complementary Medicine by the Ethiopian Diaspora in the USA

Herbal medicine and medicinal plants in Fiche, Ethiopia (Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedcine)
Shiro, The Sure Thing: Why It’s Good For You By Dr. Asqual Getaneh (TADIAS)
Our Beef with Kitfo: Are Ethiopians in America Subscribing to the Super Sizing of Food? (TADIAS)
Gomen for Breakfast? By Nesanet T. Abegaze (TADIAS)
Video: 2015 P2P Ethiopian Health Care Conference & Award Ceremony

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet Ambassador Daniel Yohannes: The U.S. Rep to OECD

Ambassador Daniel W. Yohannes, Permanent Representative of the United States to the OECD since May 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, July 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ambassador Daniel Yohannes is currently the most senior Ethiopian American U.S. public official. He is the United States Permanent Representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Appointed by President Obama on September 11, 2013, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 9, 2014 to his present diplomatic post.

“A former banker from Englewood, Colorado Mr. Yohannes has more than 30 years of experience in banking and economic development,” notes the U.S. State Department. “Prior to his appointment, Mr. Yohannes served for more than four years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the State Department adds. “Under his leadership, MCC started or completed investments of more than $9 billion in 25 countries on projects that lifted more than 173 million people out of poverty. In 2013, Mr. Yohannes was awarded the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in recognition of his outstanding leadership at MCC.”

Per OECD: “Mr. Yohannes graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Economics and earned an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he is fluent in Amharic. Prior to his government service, Mr. Yohannes was the President of M&R Investments, a firm specializing in financial services and the renewable energy sector. Before launching M&R Investments, Mr. Yohannes was a leader in the financial services industry, working in various roles throughout his career including as Vice Chairman and member of the Management Committee of U.S. Bank, President and CEO of Colorado National Bank, and as the Executive Vice President of Security Pacific Bank (now Bank of America). Passionate about protecting the environment and creating practical methods for implementation, in 2006, Mr. Yohannes co-founded the New Resource Bank in San Francisco, California, to invest in green projects and environmentally sustainable businesses in the community. He also served as Chairman of the Greenprint Council, a leadership group established by the Mayor of Denver focused on improving the environment of cities and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

During his remarks delivered at the Ethiopian American Policy Briefing hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement on June 8th, Ambassador Daniel told the audience: “While I’m very proud of my heritage, history, culture, and tradition of Ethiopia, I am equally proud of the unmatched opportunity that this country, the country that I chose, has provided to me. America’s melting pot is the recipe for success, and as daughters and sons of Ethiopia born there, or the first, second and third generation born here we’re a part of that mix. I stand before you precisely because I’ve been where you are today. I can tell you first-hand that what we make of our immigrant experience is up to us. So I encourage you to get informed, get educated, and get involved.”

Audio: Meet Ambassador Daniel Yohannes: An Ethiopian American U.S. Representative at OECD

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Tsehai Publishers’ Temsalet DC Book Signing at Library of Congress

Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University hosted a book signing for 'Temsalet' at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC on Saturday, June 25, 2016. (Photo: Yoseph Wondimu )

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, July 11th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Below are photos from last month’s Temsalet Book Signing at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. hosted by Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University.

The program, which was held on Saturday, June 25th included a presentation by Founder of Tsehai Publishers Elias Wondimu and a book talk by Editor Mary-Jane Wagle featuring Temsalet: Phenomenal Ethiopian Women published by Tsehai last year.


Photos: Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers Presentation in New York City

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian-Israeli Artist Hirut Yosef’s “Mulu & the Beta Clan” Exhibit at Tsion in Harlem

Artwork by Hirut Yosef. (Courtesy of the artist)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 27th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — When Ethiopian-Israeli artist Hirut Yosef returned to Ethiopia in 2002 the trip “sparked a new connection to my roots,” she says, describing her paintings currently on display at Tsion Cafe in Harlem (Opening reception is scheduled for Friday, July 1st). “Inspired by my vivid childhood memories, I began exploring both traditional and modern Ethiopian culture,” Hirut shares. “That trip, the first of several, sharpened my memories and focused my attention on what would become the inspiration for my work – my mother and grandmother.”

Hirut left Ethiopia with her family at the age of five. “As the affairs of immigration and absorption filled our lives over the next several years, the memory of my African roots came only in flashes – games, songs, tastes, smells, and color,” says Hirut in her artist statement. “Growing up in Israel I found myself drawn to American hip-hop and soul, street art and fashion. As I entered school for fashion design, I needed to develop a creative identity – but where would I start?”

‘Afro Punk Mulu,’ by Hirut Yosef. (Courtesy of the artist)

‘Four Women,’ by Hirut Yosef. (Courtesy of the artist)

Hirut adds: “From Ethiopia to Israel, through immigration and absorption, my mother and grandmother continued the traditional crafts of fine embroidery and basket weaving using colorful threads. Those simple geometric patterns have become a strong graphic motif in my paintings. Combining these patterns with images of strong women create the series I call MULU and the BETA CLAN. Mulu is a female name in Amharic, meaning ‘whole’ and ‘perfection.’ Mulu is my alter ego; she represents the special women in my life. In my work, I seek to empower women and build a visual bridge between my native origins and contemporary art and culture, reflecting my connection to fashion, street art and graphics. In doing so, I created a language of my own, redefining a place where the vast influences of my life can coexist.”

Artwork by Hirut Yosef, Nanye and Tatey. (Courtesy of the artist)

Artwork by Hirut Yosef, 1984 and Mimi. (Courtesy of the artist)

Artwork by Hirut Yosef, ‘Fly.’ (Courtesy of the artist)

If You Go:
Friday, July 1st, 2016
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Tsion Cafe
763 St. Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10031
Mulu and the Beta Clan Exhibit

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Julie Mehretu: The Addis Show at Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Center

Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Jean-Philippe Boucicaut)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 24th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Renowned Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehretu returns to Ethiopia this Summer for her inaugural show at The Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Center in Addis Ababa. The exhibition entitled Julie Mehretu: The Addis Show — which is jointly presented by the Gebre Kristos Desta Center and the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa — is scheduled to open on July 8, 2016 and will remain on display through August 6, 2016.

“The show will feature 17 of Mehretu’s paintings, ranging from her earliest paintings to her most recent works,” the announcement said. “The Museum is especially pleased to host this show as it will mark the first time that Mehretu will exhibit her work in Ethiopia, where she was born and raised until she was 7.”

Mehretu, who lives and works in New York, was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. She has received numerous international awards for her work including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. She had residencies 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 Mehretu is widely considered one of the finest painters of her generation,” the Gebre Kristos Desta Center added in a press release. “She is known for her densely layered and mesmerizing abstract paintings, which often gesture to the language of architecture and geography as inspiration for abstract compositions, as well as commentary on the complex social worlds we inhabit. Mehretu’s work offers not only a new form of visual abstraction, but also a new perspective of the social and geographic networks that underpin the modern world.”

(Artwork by Julie Mehretu, Entropia (review) 2004 32-color Lithograph and screenprint 33 1/2 x 44 inches.)

In addition, this Spring Julie Mehretu was honored by the prestigious U.S. arts institution, The Skowhegan School of Painting, receiving the medal for painting at the 70th anniversary celebration and 2016 Awards Dinner that was held in New York City on April 26th. Last Fall, Julie was the only living female artist whose work was featured at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale, according to a New York Times article highlighting “The Resurgence of Women-Only Art Shows” in the United States. The Times notes that “The Ethiopian-born painter was offered at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale, alongside 18 living male artists.”

A series of events is planned in conjunction with the Addis Show exhibition in Ethiopia next month “including a day-long symposium featuring artists, architects, curators, art historians, and workshops and lectures at Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar Universities.”

Julie Mehretu: A Trailblazing Artist Honored with Skowhegan Medal of Painting
Julie Mehretu: An Abstract Artist Absorbing Multiple Identities (NBC News)
Julie Mehretu Awarded 2015 Medal of Arts by U.S. State Department
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tsehai Publishers & LMU Host DC Book Signing of Temsalet at Library of Congress

Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University will host a book signing for 'Temsalet' at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC on Saturday, June 25, 2016. (Photo: Cover image of the book Temsalet)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Continuing their East Coast ‘Experience TSEHAI’ presentation series, California-based Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University announced they will be hosting a book talk and signing at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. this weekend. Tsehai Publishers is one of the only remaining independent presses affiliated with a university that focuses on African literature and Pan-African voices.

The program at the Library of Congress on Saturday, June 25th also includes a book talk by Editor Mary-Jane Wagle featuring Temsalet: Phenomenal Ethiopian Women published by Tsehai in 2015 and a presentation by Founder of Tsehai Publishers Elias Wondimu.

(Poster courtesy of Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University)

The book Temsalet highlights 64 remarkable Ethiopian women photographed by award-winning Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh including Amsale Gualu, the first female captain at Ethiopian Airlines; Meaza Ashenafi Mengistu, Founder of Enat Bank and prominent lawyer who was depicted in the award-winning film Difret; Marta Mesele Woldemariam, Ethiopia’s first female construction tower crane operator; Meshu Baburi Dekebo, women’s activist and founder of the Jalala Women’s Association; actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo; children’s television program creator and producer Bruktawit Tigabu Tadesse; and art curator and cultural activist Meskerem Asegued Bantiwalu.

If You Go:
Experience TSEHAI at the Library of Congress
Saturday, June 25 at 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
The Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, D.C.
Click here for tickets
More info at: https://www.facebook.com/events/647690702062320/


Photos: Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers Presentation in NYC

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia

Some of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia. (Courtesy: Mandela Washington Fellowship)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This year’s class of Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia includes a diverse group of 50 young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 hailing from various regions of Ethiopia. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, filmmakers, human rights activists (including Zone9 blogger Zelalem Kibret), social workers, Ethiopian sign language & deaf culture experts, non-profit directors, public health employees, entrepreneurs, engineers, software developers, and human resource managers are among some of the sectors represented by the new Fellows.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI), which is conducted annually as a merit-based open competition by U.S. Embassies across the African continent, was launched by President Obama in 2014. “Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week academic and leadership Institute at a U.S. university or college in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management,” states the announcement from YALI. “The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. Fifty percent of Fellows were women; and for 76 percent of Fellows, it was their first experience spending substantial time in the United States.”

In addition, Fellows will receive the opportunity to meet and interact with President Obama as well as other U.S. leaders during a town hall session. Furthermore, the announcement notes that “100 selected Fellows will remain in the United States to participate in a six-week professional development experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.”

Below are the names and biographies of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia.

Aklile Solomon Abate

Aklile Solomon Abate has been working as a women’s rights activist for more than five years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Law from Addis Ababa University. Aklile is a co-founder of a youth-led initiative called The Yellow Movement AAU, which works on women’s rights advocacy and empowerment. She is responsible for managing campaigns, coordinating events, handling partnerships, and raising awareness about gender-based violence. Aklile also volunteers at a public elementary school by tutoring young children and creates awareness on gender inequality in her community. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Aklile plans on continuing her work on women’s rights by focusing on young children in order to reshape the future generation.

Gebeyehu Begashaw

Gebeyehu Begashaw has been working as a lecturer at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia, for seven years. His work focuses on teaching graduate and undergraduate students, conducting research projects, and rendering community services. He also currently serves as research officer at the College of Social Sciences, where he oversees research projects undertaken by the faculty and students. His research interests center on different public health issues such as mental health, maternal health, health economics, and health systems. He advocates protecting the human rights of the mentally ill, which includes the right to appropriate mental health care, and the right to education and employment. Gebeyehu has a master’s degree in Social Psychology from Addis Ababa University and in Organizational Behavior from Paris V Descartes University. After the Fellowship, Gebeyehu plans to continue his work in the public health arena with a focus on improving the mental health care system through evidence-based decisions.

Molalign Belay

Molalign Belay has approximately eight years of experience working for an academic institution in Ethiopia. Born and raised in a rural village of Ethiopia, he used to be engaged in farming activities and local tour guiding. Currently, Molalign is a lecturer of Sociology. As director of the Alumni Relation and Partnership Office of University of Gondar, he initiates communications and strategic team work, organizes events and alumni workshops, seeks opportunities and networks for alumni/students, and undertakes alumni and employers surveys, to name a few. Molalign has an MA in Sociology (Health and Well-being) from Addis Ababa University. He works for local organizations as a volunteer trainer, project designer and trustee. He is a Rotarian, an educator and a social analyst on the local FM radio program. Upon the completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Molalign plans to create a scholars community through establishing community-based youth centers to engage and empower students.

Alemseged Woretaw

Alemseged Woretaw has almost 12 years experience as an educator in the health professions, contributing greatly towards a competent health workforce development. Currently, he is a technical advisor for the National Board of Examinations at the Ministry of Health. He also works closely with universities to improve student assessment and learning by synchronizing licensure exam preparation with faculty development efforts. Alemseged is a medical doctor with a master’s degree in Medical Biochemistry, and is passionate about educating and training future health professionals. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Alemseged plans to continue his work with the exam board, impacting the teaching-learning process, especially student assessment. He will also help to fill the gap in academic leadership skills in medical schools, and plans to design high-impact academic leadership training, promoting mentorship and partnership among academic leaders.

Girum Assefa Akriso

Girum Assefa Akriso realized very early that he wanted to become a storyteller. Everyday life dragged him far from his boyhood dream, and he pursued studies in computer and information systems to earn his BSc. Having found himself drifting from his life’s purpose, three years ago he decided that enough was enough! Enena Bete, a film written by Girum was produced and then selected as the opening film in the 9th Ethiopian International film Festival. Girum regrouped, starting Rusty Town Films with three talented young men, and started writing serial radio dramas on migration, stag plays on religion and culture, and several documentaries on community services. They also work on commercials and music videos. Girum’s skill set is best described as a mixture of creativity, storytelling, education, consulting, and entrepreneurship.

Abraham Mekonnen Alemu

Abraham Mekonnen Alemu has over six years experience in human capital management in different sectors. Currently, Abraham is a human resources manager responsible for HR activities and operations such as planning, acquisition, talent development, performance management, and staff compensation. In doing so, he ensures the efficiency and effectiveness of the HR and organizational systems. He also volunteers in his local community’s fundraising activities to build school facilities, and teaches management at different colleges. Abraham holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with distinction, and an International Management award with distinction from The Institute of Leadership and Management, London. He is currently doing a master’s program in Human Resources and Organizational Development. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Abraham plans to continue creating job opportunities for the youth, people with disabilities, and women by filling the gap between industry needs and university curricula.

Tigist Getachew

Tigist Getachew has seven years experience in business strategy and related fields. In parallel with the UN job where she worked for four years, she also provided pro bono services to several local startups on financing, strategic planning, and business plans, while also managing the first fast-moving consumer goods industry analysis for Ethiopia for Euromonitor International. In 2013 she returned full time to the business world to co-found and lead East Africa Gate (EAGate), a boutique foreign investment and business advisory firm. She also works in youth entrepreneurship by mentoring Ethiopian entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to life. She is also a mentor for Ethiopian applicants to the African Entrepreneurship Award – an initiative powered by BMCE Bank of Africa. Tigist holds a BA in Economics from the University of Toulouse, France, and a Master’s in International Management from IAE Toulouse, Graduate School of Management with business strategy as her major.

Zemdena Abebe

A pan-Africanist, Zemdena Abebe is a visionary Political Science and International Relations graduate, activist, and budding writer engaged in women rights in particular and social justice in general. Zemdena volunteers for the African Union at the Academy of African Languages, Mali, as a marketing and research assistant. She consulted for UNICEF Ethiopia for six years in their ‘Speak Africa’ initiative (youth advocacy), as well as in environmental education, hygiene, and sanitation. She chaired the Addis Ababa Girls’ Forum, which facilitates discussion on issues regarding girls’ vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and lays the foundation for legislative intervention against sexual abuse. Zemdena was President of Addis Ababa Students’ Union, and was among 22 young African women writers selected for ’Writing for Social Change’, organized by AWDF and FEMRITE, Uganda. After completing the Fellowship, she will continue writing about social justice and aims to influence society’s behavior towards women by using multimedia platforms and research.

Addis Abera

Addis Abera has a decade-long experience in different public enterprises operating in areas of agro-industry, maritime and logistics services, commodity exchanges, and agricultural transformation. Addis’ professional experiences and skills primarily include market research, product development, strategic planning, and project management. Currently, he is a project officer of the Rural Financial Services Program at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), which focuses on the strategic issues of strengthening rural financial institutions and ensuring liquidity in the rural sector. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Addis will return to the ATA and be part of the national endeavors of agricultural transformation in his country, Ethiopia. Addis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Haramaya University.

Kalkidan Ayele

Kalkidan Ayele has over three years experience in disabled and deaf women’s empowerment and HIV/AIDS prevention. Currently, Kalkidan is a manager for the Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf where she focuses on promoting sign language and advocates for a better life for the deaf in Ethiopia. She manages different projects and monitors the overall work of the association. Kalkidan holds a Master’s degree in Gender Studies from Addis Ababa University, where she focuses on gender and disability issues and their impact on the employment opportunities of deaf women and youth. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Kalkidan plans to continue her work with the association by focusing on the challenges of the deaf in Ethiopian society. She aims to find solutions through different projects, advocacy works and networking with similar organizations for the better life of the deaf in Ethiopia.

Zelalem Kibret

Zelalem Kibret has over six years of experience in various legal and communal affairs. Currently, Zelalem is trying to build his own virtual law office to help the poor. Moreover, Zelalem is an activist and a blogger who regularly campaigns and writes on the issues of constitutionalism and good governance. He volunteers on the university teaching Law and organizing debates, and has established a dialogue platform. Zelalem holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Addis Ababa University, with a focus on individual responsibility in International Law. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Zelalem plans to establish a nationwide legal office in Ethiopia that helps peoples who can’t afford to pay for legal services.

Tinbit Daniel

Tinbit Daniel is a law graduate, dedicated to contributing to the improvement of the lives of children, especially young girls. She is now the Girls Empowerment programs director, leading a new innovative project to launch the new African animation series called Tibeb Girls. This series is intended to change the way girls are seen by society and by themselves. Tinbit is also wrapping up another project on the education of girls. She is challenging herself with the hope to work on much more progressive programs on the upliftment of females. She received the Youth Champion award by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Public Health Institute. She was selected as one of 18 youth champions. This award recognized Tinbit for being a leader and doing innovative and excellent work on the empowerment of girls, such as education and sexual and reproductive health rights.

Abrhame Butta

Abrhame Butta has more than nine years of experience working in academics and entrepreneurship. He focuses on agripreneurship, rural innovation, and smallholder livelihoods. Currently, Abrhame owns and manages his own company, Green Agro Mechanization, which offers services including mechanization, crop chemical and pesticide supplies, a farm credit service, and financial-literacy training. It aims to provide a one-stop farming solution and introduce a farm credit service in which poor farmers pay 40% in cash, with 60% paid without interest after the harvest. Abrhame received an MBA from Addis Ababa University and engaged in various consultancy, community, and entrepreneurship programs. Upon his return from the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he will expand on the farm service center project, with a focus on harmonizing all company services and reaching out to more young and women smallholders.

Linda Lapiso

Linda Lapiso is an electrical engineer and construction consultant with over eight years of work experience in the sector. Currently, Linda is a freelance consultant, who specializes in designing electrical building services for residential, commercial, and industrial developments. She also volunteers in community-development programs and speaks against the sidelining of women in society. Linda has received her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Addis Ababa University Institute of Technology. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she hopes to implement lessons learned from the program in her day-to-day consulting services and share newly acquired business skill in order to explore opportunities and inspire growth in her community.

Mehret Amsalu

Mehret Amsalu has over five years experience leading multiple maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) projects. Currently, Mehret is a PhD candidate in Public Health and Water at Addis Ababa University, where she is researching feasible solutions to water, sanitation and hygiene-related public health challenges among Ethiopian mothers and children. Mehret collaborates with international volunteers to end preventable maternal and child death in Ethiopia. She is focused on initiating, designing and implementing cost-effective MNCH units in her role as a project manager for Voluntary-Service-Overseas. She is also a volunteer mentor in a girls’ public school. Mehret holds a master’s degree in Public Health from University of Gondar, where she focused on public health challenges and their impact on development. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Mehret plans to continue her work in public health with an emphasis on access to quality health services for pregnant women, mothers, and children.

Enque Deresse Endeshaw

Enque Deresse Endeshaw has worked as medical doctor for over five years in different capacities, mostly in mental health. Enque did her specialization in psychiatry at Addis Ababa University. Currently, she is working at Lebeza Psychiatry Consultation PLC, where her main focus will be organizing training and treatment for Ethiopian migrant workers living in the Middle East and refugees. Enque has worked as the clinical head at a substance rehabilitation center, which was the first of its kind in Ethiopia. In her tenure as a clinical head, she trained and supervised other staff members. She was involved in the management aspect of the center, in addition to carrying out clinical work. So as to give back to society, she was involved in an outreach program that provided free mental health care to patients. Enque plans to apply and share the experiences she has acquired with both governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Lulayn Awgichew

Lulayn Awgichew is an entrepreneur who co-founded an agribusiness company. She is a deputy general manager of Bislet Agritech PLC, where she carries out the duties of setting strategies, marketing, and the management of company activities. She built on her extensive experience in development work to become an entrepreneur. Currently, she volunteers for several nonprofit organizations to support women and children and help them have better lives. She has vast experience in and passion for advocacy and child protection. Upon returning from the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Lulayn plans to continue her work to achieve her company goal of making food affordable to everyone in Ethiopia.

Minase Tamrat

Minase Tamrat has over 12 years of experience in software development, technologies, finance and sustainable development. Currently Minase is a general manager of a software development firm which he founded, where he also works as a systems architect and project manager. He has two startups underway which focus on an open financial framework and on integrated sustainable agriculture. Minase is a computer science graduate from HiLCoE School of Computer Science and Technologies. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Minase plans to continue to create a seamless, transparent, integrated and stakeholder-inclusive financial system framework for his country, Ethiopia.

Fanaye Feleke

Fanaye Feleke has 10 years of experience in law and development with a focus on gender. Currently, Fanaye is partnerships manager for Girl Effect Ethiopia, which works to positively reframe the image of Ethiopian girls. She focuses on identifying, initiating, building, and managing partnerships. She is also a partner in Setaweet, a feminist establishment which aims to bring about a positive change in the social positioning of women. Setaweet activism takes the form of public forums, women-only study groups, media engagement, and ‘Arif Wond’, an exciting program working with men to challenge patriarchy. Setaweet also delivers high-quality, tailor-made training and research. Fanaye holds a master’s degree in Law in Development from the University of Warwick, where she focused on gender and development. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Fanaye intends to focus full time on her Setaweet work in feminist activism.

Mekbib Ayalew

Mekbib Ayalew is a social work and development-management professional. He has worked for the past three years in various NGOs, focused particularly on human subject protection and social development. Currently, he is working in the Africa Union Commission as a culture officer focused on assisting and managing the Campaign for African Cultural Renaissance and promoting the spirit of pan-Africanism and shared values on the continent. He also volunteers at the Addis Ababa Correctional and Rehabilitation Center of Juvenile Offenders (Remand Home), where he is responsible for coordinating social reintegration and rehabilitation for juvenile delinquents. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Mekbib plans to engage in increasing youth involvement in the promotion and protection of African world heritage, both nationally and within the African Union system.

Fregenet Zekiewos Gichamo

Fregenet Zekiewos Gichamo has over two years experience in a government university working mainly as a dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. As such, he is the chief executive officer directing and coordinating activities of the department and other units of the faculty. In addition, Fregenet works on youth development in her community by organizing a program called ‘Generation Empowerment Program’. She is also a volunteer in blood-donation campaigns in her local community and schools. Fregenet is a medical doctor working as a general practitioner in a hospital. She wants to study obstetrics and gynecology in order to strength her contribution against the harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Fregenet plans to continue her work on faculty development and against traditional harmful practices.

Yitemgeta Fantu Golla

Yitemgeta Fantu Golla has over four years experience in the energy sector, mostly in project design and management. Having graduated with his master’s degree in Energy Engineering from the Engineering School in France, he has been exposed to the production, optimal distribution and rational use of conventional and renewable energy in buildings, civil engineering, transportation, manufacturing, and the transformation industries. With his specialization in electrical energy, he is knowledgeable in the monitoring and control of electrical energy, as well as the design of projects that include generation, distribution, and renewable energy. In his most recent roles, he has obtained the title of procurement head and energy adviser at Herfazy Consult. He also leads the design and development of innovative acoustic panels and local solar food dryers. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Yitemgeta plans to strengthen his involvement in the energy sector in Ethiopia and East Africa.

Rigbe Hagos

Rigbe Hagos has over five years experience working on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. She has worked as a volunteer legal-aid counselor for women seeking free legal aid services. Rigbe is currently involved in her own private practice carrying out social consultancy for vulnerable groups. She focuses on awareness raising and disability mainstreaming training, counseling on self-esteem development, technical assistance on accessibility, and mainstreaming disability, and conducts research on related issues. She also works as a manager for a private limited company. Furthermore, Rigbe serves a board member and volunteer for the Association for Women with Disabilities Living with HIV, and takes part in other community-service projects. Rigbe holds a master’s degree in Social Work and an LLB. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work towards promoting the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Bethlehem Haileselassie

Bethlehem Haileselassie has four years experience coordinating a street-child rehabilitation project in her home city, Addis Ababa. Currently, she works as a freelance writer but she also volunteers in two organizations that work on child care and education. In addition, she is in the process of establishing a social enterprise that produces leather handicrafts to create jobs for impoverished single mothers. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Bethlehem plans to launch the social enterprise and establish its social wing, which will initially comprise a community day care and after-school program for children of the single mothers who are trained and hired by the business. Eventually, the project will reach out to other children in the community who live in difficult circumstances.

Masresha Hirabo

Masresha has over six years experience in software development, especially in the area of machine learning. Currently, she works as a deputy general manager for eNet ICT Solutions, a software company that she co-founded. As deputy general manager, her responsibilities include administering the everyday operations of the organization, preparing schedules, and providing both managerial and technical support to all projects. In addition, she oversees the progress of projects and coordinates with managers, clients, and supervisors to evaluate approvals. She also works as a part-time research programmer, where she is responsible for the research and development of advanced systems. Masresha holds an MSc in Computer Science from University of Kerala, India, where she focused on Machine Learning and Image Processing. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Masresha plans to lead and expand the company to work on the development of more advanced systems that can solve daily problems.

Maryamawit Kassa

Maryamawit Kassa has four years of experience in various fields especially law, human rights, leadership, and peacebuilding. Currently, Maryamawit works with the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in relation to preparation for the 5th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa. Maryamawit works at the Center for African Leadership Studies, as a part-time research coordinator focusing on legal research and organizational assessment for leadership training. She also did volunteer work with the African Union Youth Volunteer Program and is now a member of Global Shapers, Addis Ababa hub, where she dedicates her spare time to shaping and effecting change in the community. Maryamawit holds a master’s degree in Peace and Security Studies from Addis Ababa University, which focused on African solutions for African problems. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Maryamawit plans to focus on homegrown leadership as a means for conflict prevention.

Muluken Nega

Muluken Nega is the founder and managing partner of Zana Landscape Design and Contractor PLC. Before starting Zana he worked with local and international businesses in the area of market research, business management, and entrepreneurship. This helped him develop the entrepreneurial and leadership skills necessary to start Zana. In addition to that, he has been taking online landscaping classes since 2009 from experts on landscape design, landscape planning, and planting. More than eight years of work with nonprofits that focus on youth development in Ethiopia has given him the awareness and passion to work in youth empowerment, mentoring, and social entrepreneurship. He volunteers in his community street-boys’ programs, and leads an informal network that inspires ideas, facilitates conversation, and stimulates positive action for changemakers in the community. Upon completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Muluken wants to focus on growing Zana into a leading landscape and social business in Ethiopia and Africa.

Selam Kebede

Selam Kebede graduated from Aalto University, Finland, with a master’s degree in Communications Ecosystem. Originally from Ethiopia, she also holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. During her college days, she was actively involved in organizing events related to startups, technology, and entrepreneurship, including the Slush event. She passionately believes in the potential of technology to change lives in emerging countries. She loves the ‘Africa-rising’ narrative and holds a black belt in World Taekwondo from Kukkiwon. She is currently working as a senior associate for Africa at Seedstars, and has traveled to more than 20 countries finding the best tech-based startups and bringing them to the world stage. When she isn’t working, she spends her time researching Ethiopian history and contemplating quantum physics.

Admasu Lokaley

Admasu Lokaley is a young peace practitioner who has worked for over eight years in the field of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Admasu currently works as field facilitator for CEWARN/IGAD, with a work station in Nyangatom district. His work focuses on collecting and discussing information regarding the outburst and elevation of violent conflict among pastoralists. By analyzing and processing the gathered data, he comes up with alternative routes of local response. Admasu is the co-founder of a community-based organization called Atowoykisi-Ekisil Pastoralists’ Development Association (AEPDA), where he served as program coordinator and executive director. Admasu earned his MA in Peace and Security Studies from Addis Ababa University of Ethiopia, where he focused on the complex inter-ethnic interactions along a disputed piece of land called the Ilemi Triangle. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Admasu is inspired to continue his work on peacebuilding and advocacy for pastoralists’ rights to land.

Mesay Barekew

Mesay Barekew has been a lecturer at Adama Science and Technology University (ASTU) for the last 10 years and teaches business management courses. He is a founding member of ASTU’s entrepreneurship development center. Mesay has been involved in volunteering activities in his local community where he helps children in need to get access to education and required materials. Mesay holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Addis Ababa University, focusing on business development strategies. After completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Mesay plans to continue with his business development activities. He will work on establishing an incubation center for business startups in ASTU. He also plans to establish his own primary school with a special focus on creativity, science, and math. At his school, he intends to support children in need through a fee waiver and, depending on their situation, monthly subsistence allowances to support their living expenses.

Amanuel Lomencho

Amanuel Lomencho has over four years experience in community development and medical education apart from his work as a physician. He is the founder and general manager of Emerald Medical, a firm engaged in medical education, public education and promoting healthy and environmentally friendly cities through bike diplomacy. He volunteers in Educate Underprivileged Students of Ethiopia, a non-profit organization supporting education for Ethiopian students. Amanuel holds a doctorate degree in Medicine from University of Gondar. Following the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his work in promoting healthy and eco-friendly cities, linking cities with a shared culture of biking, upgrading the quality of medical education through software based medical education, and serving as a bridge between Ethiopian medical schools and their counterparts overseas.

Mizan Welderufael

Mizan Welderufael has over eight years of experience in the electrical power sector. She currently serves as automated meter-reading lead at the Ethiopian Electric Utility, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program management office, where she manages the installation of automated energy meters on the outgoing feeders of substations. Prior to her ERP office, she worked in the Energy Management department as energy portfolio and logistics manager. She also worked for about four years as a system operation engineer at the National Load Dispatch Center of Ethiopia. Mizan received her degree in Electrical Engineering from Addis Ababa University, and is currently doing the thesis for her post-grad in Electrical Power Engineering. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she plans to open her own business that fills the gaps related to power quality and reliability, energy efficiency, energy audit, and micro-grids that can improve access to electricity in Ethiopia.

Anteneh Asefa

Anteneh Asefa has more than nine years experience in the field of public health. Anteneh was a fellow of the Maternal Health Young Champion fellowship of the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he mainly focused on promoting respectful childbirth services in Ethiopia. Anteneh has also been part of the Emerging Voices for Global Health Fellowship, in addition to being featured in New Voices in Global Health during the World Health Summit, 2013. Anteneh is currently an assistant professor at Hawassa University, Ethiopia, where he provides academic service, research, and technical support to various organisations. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he strongly aspires to be one among the committed young leaders who will be shaping the future of African health systems by responding to the health needs of communities, especially women’s and children’s health.

Milha Desta Mohammed

Milha Desta Mohammed was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has worked in the development policy field for over eight years, particularly in the climate change, water security, and agriculture sectors. She has worked at local level with nonprofit organizations and at regional level in intergovernmental organizations, namely the African Union Commission and the United Nations. Milha graduated from Addis Ababa University with a bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences, and from the University of East Anglia with a master’s degree in Climate Change and International Development, focusing on water security. She currently serves as chair of the board for a youth environmental rehabilitation organization, where she promotes sustainable transportation and river rehabilitation. Upon her return from the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she will continue to advocate for a greener urban environment by promoting cycling in the city and river rehabilitation through sustainable waste management.

Rania Ibrahim

Rania Ibrahim, the service development director for Telemed Medical Services, is responsible for planning, supervising, organizing, and managing product development activities. At Telemed, a startup company that aims to increase access to health care for Ethiopians, she honed her skills of forging creative working partnerships with different organizations and individuals. She was a co-developer of the first TB/HIV patient-tracking system that helps patients adhere to their medication, and she is also the strategic and networking advisor for St Paul’s Hospital, one of the largest public hospitals in the country. Rania also volunteers with Berhan Yehun, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve living conditions for impoverished children. As a Mandela Washington Fellow, she intends to further develop her skills in business development, aiming to expand access to medical technology and to learn ways to fully develop different possibilities of public-private partnerships to improve the health care system in her country.

Nurhassen Mensur Mudesir

Nurhassen Mensur Mudesir has over seven years experience in business development and community organizing. He is an electrical engineer by training, an entrepreneur and business development professional by practice. Nurhassen is a founding member and managing partner of the first online payment platform company in Ethiopia: www.yenepay.com. He coaches and consults startup and ongoing businesses under the Entrepreneurship Development Center, Ethiopia. He is a certified project management professional and business development adviser as well as a certified trainer and technical adviser for businesses and community organizations. Nurhassen provides professional and life skills training to business professionals and business owners. As a volunteer, he is passionately engaged in the designing and implementation of development programs that empower women and youth. Upon his return, he wishes to establish renowned international business leadership training, and a consultancy center and a venture capital firm that will enhance entrepreneurship and innovative leadership across multiple sectors.

Selamawit Wondimu

Selamawit Wondimu has over six years of experience in urban planning. Currently, Selamawit is a senior analyst at the Ethiopian Industrial Park Development Corporation, which is driving the country’s large-scale industrialization initiative. She works closely on a daily basis with her counterparts on the development of guidelines and standards for industrial-park developments, supporting capacity building, and supporting the operations of the parks. She owns and runs a maker space in Addis, where she provides cutting and engraving services for young entrepreneurs and makers. Selamawit holds a Master of Science degree in Human Settlements from the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she focused on spatial planning and networked governance and how it can enhance coordination in regional and urban development in Ethiopia. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Selamawit plans to continue to expand her business while supporting the country’s industrialization and studying its impact on Ethiopian cities.

Loza Ruga

A graduate of Haramaya University College of Law, Loza Ruga has proven herself to be a person gifted with passion and multiple talents. In her early career, she has had an outstanding record of engagement in various sectors, including advocating for women’s empowerment, and volunteering in organizations working for the well-being of disadvantaged and disabled communities in sub-Saharan Africa. She was part of a team at African Union Headquarters that conducted extensive research on accessibility assessment for the inclusion of people with disabilities. Currently, Loza is launching the Ethiopian Association of Girls Guides and Girls Scouts, the first of its kind in Ethiopia. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to establish an inclusive community-based platform aimed at enabling and capacitating vulnerable segments in Addis Ababa and then in the whole of East Africa.

Liyuwork A Shiferaw

Liyuwork A Shiferaw has over seven years of work experience. Currently, she is the director of the Maritime Administration Directorate, where she oversees the registration of ships and seafarers; the training, assessment, and certification of seafarers; the follow-up of inland water transportation; and the implementation of international maritime conventions at the Ethiopian Maritime Authority. She also headed the Policy and Legal Department, where she participated in the preparation of national policy, strategy, and legislation. Liyuwork received an LLM degree in International Maritime Law from IMLI, Malta, and an LLB degree from Addis Ababa University. Upon completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue empowering women in the maritime sector and using best practices to strengthen the maritime sector in Ethiopia.

Alem Gebru

Alem Gebru has over eight years of experience in diverse fields within the community-development sector, specifically on changing attitudes on disability issues. At present, Alem is an executive director in Women with Disabilities for Change, where she focuses on capacity building and creating awareness about women and children with disabilities in the community. She also volunteers in similar organizations by offering life-skills training and empowering women with disabilities. Alem holds a master’s degree in Special Needs Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Addis Ababa, where she focused on disability inequality and gender disparity within the education sector and their impact on development in Ethiopia. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Alem plans to carry on her work in disability equality with a focus on encouraging the rights of and equal opportunities for the disabled.

Asmeret Tesfahunegn

Asmeret is an experienced computer programmer, and a pragmatic and visionary entrepreneur with passion for problem solving and technology revolution in Africa and beyond. Self-disciplined and passionate about what she does, she is a talented, ambitious, and self-motivated web and mobile developer with a strong technical background. Asmeret graduated from USIU – Africa with a CGPA 4.0 in Information Systems and Technology. Having been involved in a couple of ventures, she has hands-on experience in business and product development in a typical startup business environment with extensive sales and marketing experience. Currently, Asmeret is the co-founder of IntellSync Ltd. In the company she is instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous IT projects, innovation, and strategic partnership management. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Asmeret plans to continue her work in IT to bring about sustainable, innovative, value- and technology-driven economic growth in Africa.

Dina B Tsehay

Dina B Tsehay is a Sociology graduate from the University of Mumbai, and has over four years’ experience in various fields of community development. Dina currently works as a project officer at a local NGO called MLWDA, where she primarily focuses on designing economic empowerment projects for marginalized women. Dina has also done various volunteer work in fighting against leprosy, child abuse, and violence against women in India, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Dina plans to continue her work in women’s economic empowerment and create a network for women to participate in cross-border business trade in the East African region.

Wachemo Akiber Chufo

Wachemo Akiber Chufo has over nine years of experience in different positions in Arba Minch University, Ethiopia. Currently, he teaches various courses in the field of Environmental Engineering and advises undergraduate and postgraduate students at Arba Minch University, Ethiopia. Akiber Chufo holds PhD degree in Environmental Engineering from Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China. His research areas are production and optimization of renewable energy from biomass wastes and development of solid-waste management methods. Additionally, he works in mitigation of climate change in the community using locally available resources. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Akiber Chufo plans to develop green energy-generation strategies for the community from locally available biomass wastes.

Kibrom Aregawi

Kibrom Aregawi is an assistant professor with over 10 years experience in teaching, research, and consultancy services in the Department of Management at Mekelle University, Ethiopia. Currently, he is the coordinator of the Center for Entrepreneurship Development. He is tasked with promoting an entrepreneurial culture and climate in the university community and beyond by organizing entrepreneurship training and providing support services. Kibrom volunteers in training, mentoring, and extending business-development support services to small and medium enterprise operators and students. Kibrom has also assumed various university leadership positions, including coordinator of the management program and head of quality assurance of the College of Business and Economics. Kibrom holds an MBA and an MPP from Mekelle University, and KDIS, South Korea, respectively. After completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Kibrom plans to continue and scale up efforts to expand community outreach in ways that will impact the lives of millions in the region.

Seifu Yilma

Seifu Yilma is Ethiopian and communicates in Ethiopian sign language. At the age of six he became deaf due to meningitis. He attended regular hearing schools and finished his master’s degree in Special Needs Education. He did his Bachelor of Arts in Ethiopian Sign Language and Deaf Culture. He has been serving in several public service activities voluntarily, that benefits the deaf communities in Ethiopia. Seifu served as chairman of the Deaf Association at the Addis Ababa branch of the Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf. He’s also been serving as a board member for the Federation of National Association of Persons with Disabilities. In these commitments, he effectively discharges his responsibilities on advocating the rights of deaf people in getting decent employment, education and social welfare. He was also chairman of a committee at the Addis Ababa University representing deaf students. He is currently a guidance counselor.

Tirsit Retta

Tirsit Retta has over 10 years of experience in leadership and public mobilization in the community, and academia and charity organizations. She engages herself in humanitarian services through the Red Cross, Family Guidance Association and Missionaries of Charity to deliver medical services and health education to the poor and destitute. In academia she plans, organizes, directs, and monitors medical professionals who deliver health services to the public. Her unwavering interest in research led her to initiate the largest epidemiological study in Ethiopia, which examines 500,000 patient records to determine skin disease trajectories. Tirsit earned her medical doctorate degree from Jimma University and her postgraduate specialty certificate from Addis Ababa University. Her plan after attending the Mandela Washington Fellowship is to establish an evidence synthesis center in Ethiopia to produce high-quality research, and then inspire women and physicians in the areas of science, environment, and education.

Yilkal Yilkal-Wudneh

Yilkal has over three years of experience in various community service activities. Currently, Yilkal is an active participant in Debre Berhan University’s free legal aid center, which advocates cases for vulnerable sections of the society. Yilkal is also manager of the Northern Shoa Zone Blind Teachers’ and Students’ Professional Development and Cooperation Association. In these roles he follows up the legal aspects of its activities and designs and implements its various projects. Yilkal also volunteers in his association and trains blind members of the association on how to use computers with a screen reader program called Jaws. Yilkal has got his LLM from the Ethiopian Civil Service University. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Yilkal plans to continue his work in ensuring the right of access to information for the blind and to advocate for vulnerable sections of the society.

Amel Yimer

Amel is an executive radio producer for a popular and reputable radio station – 702, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Amel has worked in the field of family planning, reproductive health, and HIV/Aids on behalf of key players such as Pathfinder International and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. With over 10 years of experience in public heath communication and training, design, and facilitation, she now uses her media skills to produce a breakfast show that emphasizes the importance of positive leadership, accountability and dialogue about national affairs. Although a sociologist and filmmaker by trade, Amel, enjoys transcending the boundaries of traditional media to create new means of communication that can reach those in need of inspiration, empowerment and most importantly, a platform.

Tawetu Abreha

Tawetu Abreha has over five years of experience in various fields in the educational sector. She has been assistant professor at Mekelle University, system division officer at Meles Aerospace Science and Engineering Dynamics, and gender office head focusing on gender mainstreaming at the Ethiopian Institute of Technology-Mekelle (EiT-M). Currently, Tawetu is head of the school of Electrical and Computer Engineering at EiT-M, where she is responsible for the overall management of the school, including teaching and learning activities, research and community service, and local and international collaborations. She also volunteers in the Tigray Science and Technology Agency to coordinate the Girl’s Camp program. Tawetu holds a master’s degree in Communication Engineering from Addis Ababa University. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Tawetu plans to continue her work as a school head with a focus on school-to-industry and international university linkages, and girl’s empowerment.

Mahlet Tesfaye

Mahlet Tesfaye has over four years of public management experience in higher academic institutions and diplomacy. Her major areas of interest include gender issues and education policy reform advocacy, where she focuses on designing, implementing and researching on learning schemes. Mahlet worked as an educator and researcher signifying the importance of formal and informal education. She also volunteered in a book and database project that documents stories of hundreds of accomplished Ethiopian women, and served as a motivational speaker on different platforms focusing on education and youth. Mahlet currently works in the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Addis Ababa University. Upon return, she aspires to work on education diplomacy, education advocacy and the global initiative on education. Her long-term career plan includes working on influential research that could become recommendations to effectively address the challenges in the Ethiopian education system.

Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Meet the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bishane Whitmore Follows in Footsteps of Ethiopian Grandfather at US Military School

General Tilahun Bishane of Ethiopia and his wife Trisit attend the graduation of their grandson, Major Bishane Whitmore, from the Army Command & General Staff College in Kansas on June 10th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — When Major Bishane Whitmore, an Ethiopian American U.S. military officer, graduated last week with a Masters of Military Art and Science (MMAS) from the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he had a special family member in attendance all the way from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia who was also recognized at the commencement — his 96-year-old grandfather, retired Ethiopian General Tilahun Bishane, who had graduated from the same military school 46 years earlier as one of the institution’s first international students from Ethiopia.

At the ceremony the proud Ethiopian grandfather witnessed his American grandson receive not only a graduate degree in Military Art and Science, but also being honored as the top leadership student, from 1305 joint and international students, as the recipient of the Lieutenant Colonel Boyd McCanna Harris leadership award and an Art of War Scholar.

For Major Bishane Whitmore, who has already been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, the highlight of the day was the presence of his grandparents from Ethiopia. “I was fortunate to have my grandfather pin on my Second Lieutenant rank at my commissioning ceremony 14 years ago,” Bishane told Tadias. “Attending CGSC was my way of saluting him and his legacy of excellence. My grandfather is the gold standard I work everyday to attain and if I am able to be half the person and officer he is I will consider my career and life extremely successful.”

His grandfather is a World War II hero of the Italian-Ethiopian war during which he provided medical assistance to wounded Ethiopian soldiers as a young dresser in his teenage years. He later served as the Director of the Army Medical Center in Ethiopia for 25 years. Prior to that, after independence from Italian occupation, General Tilahun attended Ethiopia’s Holeta Military Academy, where he completed his studies with distinction, and went on to attend Beirut American University where he graduated in Public and Military Health. According to family members General Tilahun Bishane was born in Harar province in the city of Jijiga some 96 years ago in the Eastern part of Ethiopia. During his long career as the Director of Ethiopia’s Army Medical Center, he was instrumental in recruiting and sending young medical doctors abroad and having them serve the Ethiopian Army. Due to the cordial relationship that Ethiopia had with USA at the time, he was able to attend Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth, KS in 1968. Immediately after his return to Ethiopia he was named Brigadier General by Emperor Haile Selassie. He served at the 3rd Army Division in Harar as well as in Eritrea. Two years after the start of the Marxist revolution, he asked for retirement and was approved in 1976. In his retirement age General Tilahun Bishane served as an Ethiopian Red Cross volunteer for over four decades, and became the recipient of Red Cross’ highest volunteer award.

General Tilahun Bishane and Major Bishane Whitmore show their CGSC class rings. (Courtesy photo)

Photo from General Tilahun Bishane’s yearbook at Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC).

His grandson, Major Bishane, added: “The school was gracious enough to recognize him during the opening remarks and as a grandson there is nothing better than offering your grandfather the moment of respect and dignity he deserves.”

Below are more photos from Major Bishane Whitmore’s CGSC Graduation:

Major Bishane Whitmore’s family at his graduation from the Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas on June 10th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

General Tilahun Bishane and his grandson U.S. Major Bishane Whitmore at the Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas on June 10th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Overview of White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing

Ambassador Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), speaking at the White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 17th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — On June 8th, 2016 the White House Office of Public Engagement convened its first Ethiopian American Policy Briefing where leaders representing a diverse sector of the community — including non-profits, small business ventures, young professionals organizations, faith-based groups and academia members — attended and participated in the historical gathering. Tadias Magazine was honored to attend the briefing.

Hosted by senior administration officials Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OECD, and Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff of the White House of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the briefing was organized by Henock Dory of the White House Office of Public Engagement with panels moderated by Dr. Menna Demissie, Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

The briefing focused primarily on the Obama Administration’s domestic policy priorities through panel discussions presented by Administration experts featuring White House initiatives in education, healthcare, criminal justice reform, small business policy and civic engagement.

The purpose of the event was to brief leaders from the growing Ethiopian American community – students, faith leaders, young professionals, and business leaders – on Administration priorities, while also offering a forum for White House officials to hear directly from the community on issues facing Ethiopian Americans in United States.

Ambassador Daniel Yohannes, Permanent Representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and former CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation gave the opening remarks encouraging greater civic engagement among the Ethiopian American community.

“While I’m very proud of my heritage, history, culture, and tradition of Ethiopia, I am equally proud of the unmatched opportunity that this country, the country that I chose, has provided to me,” Ambassador Yohannes shared. “America’s melting pot is the recipe for success, and as daughters and sons of Ethiopia born there, or the first, second and third generation born here we’re a part of that mix. I stand before you precisely because I’ve been where you are today. I can tell you first-hand that what we make of our immigrant experience is up to us. So I encourage you to get informed, get educated, and get involved.”

Ambassador Yohannes summed up his key message of getting informed by stating: “Whether we teach ourselves something new on our own, or attend this country’s best schools, never stop learning. Education is key.” He also called for civic engagement at the local, state, and national levels and emphasized that “we should not stay on the sidelines, insulated or isolated. Rather we must help the community we call home, contributing our talents whether it’s in our schools or communities.”

Henock Dory of the White House Office of Public Engagement. (Photo: Tsehai Publishers)

Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff of the White House of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. (Photo: Tsehai Publishers)

The White House Office of Public Engagement shared helpful resources for further engagement opportunities during the briefing including information on the Reach Higher Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, Health Reform, Criminal Justice Reform, and the Minority Business Development Agency.

Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Yohannes Abraham, gave the closing remarks and encouraged the continuation of this dialogue in the wider Ethiopian American community.

White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing and Civic Engagement

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia’s Zoma Contemporary Art Center

The Zoma Contemporary Art Center was founded in 1982 and took seven years to complete. Each of the center’s buildings has unique features inside and out. (Photo: Meskerem Assegued)

The New York Times


Zoma Contemporary Art Center Links Local and Global

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Outside the walls of the Zoma Contemporary Art Center, the distinct chaotic clatter of Addis Ababa — goats bleating at a nearby market, cars kicking up dust on the dirt road — fills the air.

Yet inside the compound that houses the center is a haven of calm. Birds chirp in the trees that surround the courtyard, which is paved in flagstones decorated with images of turtles and lizards.

“It’s a space that hugs you,” Meskerem Assegued, the center’s co-founder and director, said in an interview in late January as she sat at an outdoor table having coffee, and pointing out some of the artworks created by her co-founder, the artist Elias Sime.

“The whole place is a sculpture,” Ms. Assegued said, describing the architectural space of the center and its programming. “It is not a place where one plus one equals two, but where one plus one equals three.”

Trying to add up what Zoma does is indeed challenging, as the physical space is a work of stunning vernacular architecture and art, while the programming is grounded in Addis Ababa and focused on an international stage.

The noncommercial gallery at Zoma has become one of the most important art institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, funding projects through small grants and the selling of Mr. Sime’s work to collectors and museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The center’s workshop programming has included internationally known artists like David Hammons from the United States and Ernesto Novelo, a Mexican who was so inspired after his residency at Zoma that he developed a similar program in his home country, calling it the ZCAC Yucatán.

Read more at NYTimes.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Lawsuit: Ethiopian American Attorney Death ‘Suicide’ Ruling Doesn’t Add Up

Gugsa Abraham Dabela. (Family photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Two years ago Gugsa Abraham Dabela (also known as Abe), a young and successful Ethiopian-American attorney, was found dead after a car accident in Redding, Connecticut. Gugsa’s body was discovered by police with a gunshot wound to the back of his head, but within hours the authorities had declared his death a suicide — a ruling that has been vigorously disputed by his family and local civil rights organizations. Last Summer the Connecticut NAACP launched its own independent inquiry into the case saying that “it had a lot of questions concerning the incident and the investigation, including whether the Redding Police Department rushed to judgment.”

This month, the family announced that they have filed a lawsuit against the City of Redding and individual police department employees, saying they believe there has been a cover up. “Somebody killed my son. He didn’t kill himself,” says his father Dr. Abraham Dabela.

“The most shocking thing to me is how quickly and unequivocally this was ruled a suicide,” says attorney Solomon Radner. “When a person is found with his car in a ditch and bullet in his head, how is that not going to be investigated as a crime, even if an investigation is done and several months later they conclude this was a suicide?”

Per Crime Watch Daily: “Just as surprising, police made the announcement before even informing Abe’s family, who learned the tragic news in a phone call from his landlady. Doctor Abraham Dabela says he called the police and was told his son had died in a car crash. But the family wouldn’t find out Abe had been shot dead until he was told by the medical examiner, and only learned it was suicide from the news.”

Gugsa was born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland. His father Abraham, a physician, and mother Ellene are both immigrants from Ethiopia. Gugsa was the Dabela’s only son. According to his family, Gugsa, who was 35 years old when he died in April of 2014, moved to Redding in 2011 to open his own law practice.




NAACP Announces Launch of Inquiry Into Death of Attorney Abe Dabela
Family Seeks Answers in 2014 Death of Gugsa Abraham Dabela
NAACP Wants Investigation Into Ethiopian American Attorney Abe Dabela’s Death

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian American Multi-Medium Artist Miku Girma at Pop-Up NYC Street Show

Artwork by Miku Girma, 'Family.' (Courtesy of the artist)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In college, Ethiopian-born artist Miku Girma studied textile surface design, which led him to launch Rep Worldwide — a multi-medium art business venture which produces art, clothing and accessories. This week, Miku (also known by his street name Rep1) along with his mentor Larry Toth will be exhibiting their current and previous art works in a pop-up gallery at 265 Bowery in New York City.

“His curiosity for art came from the many stamps his mother used to get him as a child,” notes the event’s announcement. “Now as an adult he has been showcasing his unique, sometimes political artwork on the streets of New York City and other major cities.”

Miku, who currently lives and works in NYC, was born in Addis Ababa and moved to New York at a young age. He has been part of NYC’s street art scene for more than a decade.

“Mankind has always made art outdoors from cave drawings to Egyptian pyramid hieroglyphics because it is open for everyone to see & read the message,” Miku says.

Artwork by Miku Girma, ‘Collage.’ (Courtesy of the artists)

Artwork By Miku Girma. (Courtesy of the artists)

Artwork By Miku Girma, ‘self portrait.’ (Courtesy of the artists)

The announcement adds that “Miku also took some time off from city life and the art world to learn organic farming where he studied Natural Process Farming. He is staunch believer that we are what we eat and food is our medicine.”

“By mixing his multicultural background with the current underground culture, he comes up with a fusion of edgy art.”

If You Go:
Pop Up Show – “Streets Are Talking”
Miku Girma with Larry Toth
Thursday, June 16, 2016
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
265 Bowery
New York City
NY 10002-1201
More info at www.facebook.com/events/730107777092570/

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Face2Face Africa Honors Marcus Samuelsson at 2016 FACE List Awards

The FACE awards, which celebrates Pan-African achievements, will be held on Saturday July 9th in New York. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Renowned Ethiopian American Chef, Restaurateur and Author Marcus Samuelsson is one of the honorees for this year’s FACE List Awards. The annual awards ceremony, which celebrates African role models from the around the world, will be held on Saturday July 9th in New York City.

“Face2face Africa is excited to announce our incredible honorees for this year’s FACE List Awards, the most prestigious celebration of Pan-African achievement,” the organization said in a press release. In addition to Samuelsson, who will be recognized with the Global Ambassador Award, other recipients of the 5th Annual FACE List Awards include Editor-In-Chief of Essence Magazine Vanessa De Luca (Media Award) as well as Grammy award-winning Artist and Humanitarian Wyclef Jean (Pioneer Award for Impact in Music), and Rosa Whitaker, Founder, CEO and President of The Whitaker Group, who will be receiving the Trailblazer Award.

Besides Marcus Samuelsson the only other Ethiopian-born individual to make the Face2face Africa list is Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who received the Entrepreneur Award in 2014 for her pioneering work as Founder and CEO of the international footwear brand SoleRebels.

“Dubbed the Pan-African achievement honors, The F.A.C.E. List Awards celebrate the icons and heroes of today who have paved the way for the younger generation and impacted the discourse on pan-Africa’s image, its future, and potential,” Face2Face said in a press release. “As the capstone event of the Pan-African weekend, the awards gala brings the business community together for an unforgettable celebration of the success stories emerging within the Pan-African community each year.”

“Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised, and currently residing in New York City, Marcus Samuelsson is a citizen of the world,” the announcement adds. “He learned to love and appreciate local food at a young age and has taken that love to opening up Red Rooster, a vibrant eatery in the heart of Harlem. Samuelsson is also the youngest chef to ever receive two three-star ratings from The New York Times, was the winner of “Top Chef Masters” Season 2, and also served as the guest chef for the Obama administration’s first State Dinner.”

“In the 5th-year anniversary of Face2face Africa, this year’s honorees are a group of inspirational heroes with uniquely fascinating stories to tell,” the press release stated. “They have made a tremendous impact in their respective fields and have left a legacy that will forever shape and influence the Pan-African community.”

If You Go:
2016 FACE List Awards
Saturday July 9th
ESPACE Ballroom
635 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 967-7003
Pre-reception/Red-Carpet will commence at 6:30 p.m.
Promptly followed by dinner and the awards show.
Guests will enjoy a delectable full-course dinner.
The Pan-African Weekend is Presented by Prudential Financial Inc.
Tickets, Group Registration, and Advertising are available.
For more info: E-mail info@f2fafrica.com.

Face2Face Africa Honors Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Alek Wek, Femi Kuti

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight on Ethiopian American Basketball Player Krubiel Workie

Krubiel Workie is an Ethiopian American basketball player currently training with the Denver Nuggets. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A son of refugees Krubiel Workie was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado — a suburb of Denver that is home to a sizeable population of immigrants from Ethiopia. A talented basketball player, Krubiel is presently training with The Denver Nuggets.

“I was invited by former Nugget Anthony Carter and Steve Hess, Coach for Strength and Conditioning, to practice with the Nuggets,” says Krubiel, who graduated from St. Joseph College in Maine in 2015. “I have been with the Nuggets every Summer since 2012. Currently, I am training at Chauncey’s Gym everyday.”

“The game of basketball is not just a game for me, it’s my life,” Krubiel tells Tadias. “I grew up in the rough side of Denver and basketball kept me out of trouble. I would wake up everyday and the only thing I could think about was the game. And I believe that if I can put my mind to it anything is possible.”

Watch: Krubiel Workie College Basketball Highlights:

“I got my work ethic from my immigrant parents. They instilled in me the importance and the sense of hard work,” says Krubiel. “My father used to say: Do you want to have fun now and struggle later? Or you want to work hard now and have fun later? It’s your choice.”

Krubiel’s strong work ethic is helping him prepare for an upcoming basketball boot camp this Summer in Nevada where professional basketball coaches, agents and recruiters will be scouting for new NBA talents.

Krubiel Workie. (Courtesy photo)

Krubiel Workie with his father. (Courtesy photo)

You can connect with Krubiel Workie on Instagram at krubiel_workie or on Twitter @blessed1flight.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing and Civic Engagement

At the White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 9th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Over the years the Obama Administration has made unparalleled efforts to reach out to the African community across the United States, and we’ve had the opportunity to participate in several briefings at the White House. Yesterday, the first Ethiopian-American Policy Briefing was organized by Ethiopian-American White House & Congressional staff and we were honored to attend as one of many community members.

Ethiopian Americans from diverse sectors including youth, professional, and faith-based organizations as well as academia, non-profit and small business ventures participated in the briefing.

We’ll be sharing more details of highlighted White House initiatives focusing on education, healthcare, small business, and civic engagement on our site shortly to continue the dialogue with the wider community.

Overview of White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In 1935, Mussolini Wanted to Make Italy Great Again, So He Invaded Ethiopia

In March 1896, when Benito Mussolini was just 13 years old, Italy suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat at the Battle of Adwa. This was the capstone battle in the First Abyssinian War (1895-1896).

The Daily Beast

The War that Inspired The Daily Beast

In 1935, Benito Mussolini wanted to make Italy great again, so he invaded Ethiopia. The war boosted his popularity but also inspired one of the 20th century’s greatest satires.

I love Italy, and Italians, but I must admit that sometimes their relationship with their history can be confusing. Traipsing across that beautiful peninsula, going from battlefield to castle to landing beaches, I kept running across one item that threw me for a loop… busts of Italian dictator-for-life, Axis leader, enemy of America and founder of the Fascist Party, Benito Mussolini.

Yeah, seriously.

It turns out that in some parts of Italy, most noticeably in the general region south of Rome, “Il Duce” (“The Leader”) is still held in some reverence. This is not the time or the place to dive into the social, political and cultural history of Italy in order to fully grok how it is that one of the three government leaders of the Axis is still admired, in public, in the 21st century. It is enough to notice that there are some parts of their history to which the Italians cling, however illogically. Indeed, one could say that the Italian most affected by this tendency was Mussolini himself. It was an inclination that led to the real opening moves of what would become the Second World War. And it was where this news website would get this unique name, albeit indirectly.

In March 1896, when Benito was just 13 years old, Italy suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat at the Battle of Adowa in what is now Ethiopia. In that battle the Italians had approximately 6,000 of their men killed and about 3,000 captured out of a force that numbered around 15,000, though most of those were not actually Italians. This was the capstone battle in the First Abyssinian War (1895-1896).

Read more »

Interview with the Director & Producer of “If Only I Were That Warrior”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: Israel Honors Ethiopian Jews

A memorial ceremony for Jewish immigrants who died on the way to Israel from Ethiopia, June 5, 2016‏. (Photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Jerusalem Post

Thousands Attend Memorial Held for Ethiopian Jews Who Died On the Way to Israel

At a ceremony Sunday memorializing those who perished en route from Ethiopia to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to eradicate racism in Israeli society.

“This is an alarming phenomenon among us. It’s something that is unacceptable,” he said at the national memorial ceremony held on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. “We are against this with all our might, and it has no place in Israel. You are the flesh of our flesh, an integral part of our nation, equal among equals.”

The names of more than 1,500 Ethiopian Jews who set out for Israel but died on their trip, most in Sudan, are engraved on a monument at Mount Herzl.

Every year a ceremony is held to commemorate them on the eve of Jerusalem Day, in honor of their lifelong – but unfulfilled dream of reaching Jerusalem.

Read more and watch video at Jerusalem Post »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Muhammad Ali the Social Activist: Photo by Chester Higgins

Muhammad Ali around 1971 when he was fighting his prison sentence. (Photo: By Chester Higgins, Jr.)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, June 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The above photograph of Muhammad Ali was taken in the early 1970′s by retired New York Times Photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. at WNET public television station in the New York area during a show called “Soul” hosted by Nikki Giovanni. At the time, Ali was appealing his conviction of draft evasion after he refused the U.S. Army draft based on his religious beliefs and his opposition to the Vietnam War. He had been stripped of his world championship title and sentenced to jail.

“What made Muhammad Ali so special is that he was so smart,” Higgins, who was then working as a studio photographer for WNET, told Tadias. “One thing that I was looking for in that picture is not Muhammad Ali the fighter that people were obsessed about at the time or Muhammad the minster in Islam, none of that would have happened without his innate brilliance and smartness. That’s what I was looking for in that picture. You see him thinking. He was an independent thinker. He didn’t need anybody else telling him what to say. I think the photo captures his brilliance.”

“It took three years for his conviction to go all the way up to the Supreme Court to be overturned,” Higgins adds. “In those three years he went on college speaking tours, and talked on television, radio, to newspapers and everywhere.”

Watch: Nikki Giovanni interviews Muhammad Ali (WNET)

Regarding Ali’s first professional loss against heavyweight champ Smokin’ Joe Frazier, only months after returning to boxing following his suspension, Higgins emphasizes: “Some people suggest that when he went back to fight he was not in good shape because he was not training in those years and his body was not tight anymore because he was living in this period of uncertainty.”

On Ali’s famous ways with words Higgins says “Poetry was his way of expressing his wisdom in parables to make people think deeper about things. It provided him with more like shorthand cut to a much longer discussion on social issues because he wrapped it up in short form. It’s like a piece of food that people can always go back to.”

But Higgins also has his own personal memory of what Muhammad Ali meant to the world.

“Years ago I was almost arrested in Mauritania and just a mention of Muhammad Ali’s name got me out of trouble,” says Higgins whose many iconic photographs of world-renowned historic figures include images of Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Haile Selassie and Kofi Annan.

“This speaks to the universal fame of Muhammad Ali,” wrote Higgins on Facebook. “In 1973 I was spending part of the Summer in Senegal when I heard that the enslavement of African people by the Arabs in Mauritania was still legal. With my camera, I traveled to the northern border to cross over and have a look with the hope to showing this horrible situation. While waiting for my visa application to be approved in the guard compound, I saw this elderly African man whose job seemed to be a caretaker. After gaining his permission, I made a photograph of him. From inside the house, a big uproar could be heard from the Arab Captain of the guards who came to the front and ordered me to be brought to him. The interrogation began and my film was confiscated. With my almost non-existent French, the cold look on the Captain’s face would not soften. A half hour later, I mentioned the name Martin Luther King. No response. Then I put up my fist and said Muhammad Ali. Being Muslim, the Captain’s face went from firmness to a slight bit of openness, perhaps, thinking that I was somehow connected to the most famous Muslim in the world. In the end, my passport was returned, my visa application was rejected, and I was ushered out, back toward Senegal. That half hour made freedom feel so precious.”

Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali: Reflection by Photographer Gediyon Kifle (TADIAS)
Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Dies at 74 (VOA)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali: Reflection by Photographer Gediyon Kifle

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali. who was named Sportsman of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated magazine, passed away late Friday on June 3rd, 2016. He was 74. (Photograph © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 4th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In honor of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who passed away on Friday at the age of 74, Ethiopian American photographer Gediyon Kifle shared with Tadias the photograph above of the former world heavyweight boxing champion. Gediyon took the photo in 2013 at an event in Washington, D.C.

“I always remember his self confidence, his humanitarian work and his uncompromising stand for what he believed in,” Gediyon recalled about the brief time he spent photographing the iconic figure. “He was just a very down-to-earth guy,” Gediyon said. “We were chatting, and at the end he reached out and shook my hand.”

Ali, who had struggled with Parkinson’s disease for the past three decades, died on Friday, June 3rd, 2016 at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by his children and extended family who had gathered around him from across the United States, a spokesman for the Ali family, Bob Gunnell, told the media.

“Parkinson’s is a place that hides you instead of bringing you out,” Gediyon said. “But Ali used his illness to bring awareness to this debilitating disease, which also recently took away one of my mentors Jim Jones, a great photographer. So all the way to the end Ali never stopped being a fighter. And also a peaceful man.”

“He was the greatest fighter of all time but his boxing career is secondary to his contribution to the world,” promoter Bob Arum told the Associated Press early Saturday. “He’s the most transforming figure of my time certainly.”

“‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’, his cornermen exhorted,” writes AP, “and he did just that in a way no heavyweight had ever fought before.”

Photographer Gediyon Kifle. (Courtesy photo)


More photos at Gediyon Kifle Photography

Muhammad Ali the Social Activist: Photo by Chester Higgins (TADIAS)
Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Dies at 74 (VOA)

Watch: Nikki Giovanni interviews Muhammad Ali in the early 1970′s (WNET)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

EDF Announces 2016 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows

From left: Sergut Dejene, Mariam Admasu, Kidist Tesfaye, Bethlehem Mesfin and Aster Mengesha Gubay. (Photos courtesy of the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship -- EDF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 3rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF), which provides Ethiopian American youth with a 6-month fellowship to work in Ethiopia and participate in leadership and creative storytelling programs, has announced its 2016 Fellows.

“After receiving impressive and competitive applications from highly qualified members of the young Ethiopian Diaspora community, the selection committee chose the next five EDF fellows to pave the way for the new generation,” stated their press release. “We are very excited to announce members of the new class.”

Below are the names and bios of this year’s EDF Fellows:

Aster Mengesha Gubay

Aster holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations specializing in African Affairs and a master’s degree in Public Policy (M.P.P) from the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, at George Mason University. Alongside her studies, she served as the VP for the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA) and worked closely with faculty, the student body, and alumni associations to ensure adequate African diaspora representation in policy discussions concerning the continent. Currently, she is an analyst/contractor with the Department of Homeland Security where she is expanding her consulting experience with the federal government. Prior to consulting, she was the lead Research/Grant intern with the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA). As an intern, she researched, compiled, and stratified demographic data, pertaining to African immigrants and coordinated capacity building and informational sessions for the District’s culturally and linguistically diverse African immigrant community. Aster is delighted to be part of the second EDF cohort, and looks forward to contributing to the diaspora’s impact on the continent.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aster-mengesha-gubay-75202138

Bethlehem Mesfin

Bethlehem Mesfin received her BS in Management, with dual concentrations in Marketing and Leadership & Consulting from Binghamton University (SUNY) in New York. Since graduating, she has been employed at Morgan Stanley, and is currently working as an HR Operations Analyst. She first worked on the Executive Compensation team, evaluating and administering deferred compensation. As an analyst on the HR Operations team, she works on the firm-wide Performance Management system by processing the full lifecycle of annual performance evaluations. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Pi, one of the largest co-ed professional business fraternities in the United States. Bethlehem is excited to become an EDF fellow in order to serve in Ethiopia, learn more about her culture, and find ways to contribute towards financial and technological development within the country.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethlehem-mesfin-3609a640

Mariam Admasu

Mariam Admasu is an Ethiopian-American from Portland, Oregon. She graduated from the University of Oregon in Spring 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Family and Human Services. During her undergraduate career she mentored high school students in the community through a program called ASPIRE. She also mentored incoming freshmen at her university campus through a program called IMPACT. She takes pride in mentoring and shaping leaders of the future. For her senior project she worked as a juvenile counselor at the Lane County Juvenile Detention Center where she was given the opportunity to shift mindsets of underprivileged youth. Collectively, her professional and personal experiences have lead her to realize that every adolescent needs a mentor and someone who believes in them. She understands the stigmas facing Ethiopian youth, and acknowledges that equipping our youth with leadership skills can capsize these stigmas. Mariam is thrilled to be able to use her experiences to help youth in Ethiopia break barriers through the development of confident leaders in their communities.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariamadmasu

Sergut Dejene

Sergut is currently a gift officer at the University of Chicago and works with alumni from the college to strengthen annual philanthropic support through the university’s reunion program. Prior to that, Sergut served as a program manager at U. Chicago’s Career Advancement office, and has experience building and leveraging relationships with stakeholders both in the U.S. and in Asia. Additionally, Sergut is the Founder and President of the Auxiliary Board for the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, where she leads young Ethiopian professionals in the planning and execution of various social events. More recently, Sergut founded the city’s annual Ethiopia Fest where she led marketing efforts and established partnerships with Ethiopian-American entrepreneurs. Sergut is elated to join EDF and learn how she can leverage her experiences to tackle challenges facing Ethiopia’s entrepreneurship sector. Sergut holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sergutdejene

Kidist Tesfaye

Kidist Tesfaye is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota where she obtained her Bachelors of Individualized Studies. Her undergraduate studies included focusing on public health, global studies, and strategic communications with a minor Spanish. She has been affiliated with or served on the Board for the Ethiopian Student Association, Students for the Horn of Africa, Black Motivated Women, African Student Union, and the Undergraduate Public Health Association. Her direct involvement in a variety of student and non-profit organizations like the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa is a reflection of her dedication to bridging the gap between the diaspora and her country of origin. Kidist has spent the last five years working at TCF Bank. As a member on the management team she has developed exceptional leadership and operational skills. She also committed over 4 years to volunteering at the Methodist Hospital where she has been a part of innovative expansions and operational efforts valuable for the advancement of healthcare in the United States. Kidist is looking forward to being part of the second cohort of EDF fellows. It has been her lifetime dream to contribute to the growth of hospitals in Ethiopia, and she is eager to be engaged in this effort through the fellowship.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kidist-tesfaye-46647bb1

You can learn more about the program at www.ethiopiandiasporafellowship.org.

EDF’s 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows
Highlighting Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Final Report of ‘Mechachal’ Study on Online Speech in Ethiopia Released

The final report of the 'Mechachal' study regarding the nature and quality of online debate among Ethiopians, led by the University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University, was released on June 1st, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, June 17th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This month, researchers at the University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University released their highly anticipated final report of the Mechachal study on online speech and debates in Ethiopia and the Diaspora. The study, which is the first of its kind to map the frequency of hate and dangerous speech in social media covering an entire country and its diaspora, combed through thousands of comments shared by Ethiopians on Facebook during a four month period last year just prior to and after the controversial 2015 national elections.

The researchers — comprising of an academic team that were either Ethiopian or had prior experience researching and working in Ethiopia — also looked at the nature, quality and behavior of online conversations among Ethiopians worldwide. Their findings call for more informed policy-making with regards to regulating freedom of expression and online discussion on social media platforms.

“These cases, and the findings emerging from the investigation of online debates on Ethiopia in general, suggest how important it is to distinguish between different actors and issues that are often bundled together in the broad label of ‘opposition politics,’” says Iginio Gagliardone, one of the Mechachal study researchers and an Associate Research Fellow in New Media and Human Rights at the University of Oxford.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine researcher Matti Pohjonen noted that “the collaboration with Addis Ababa University had begun in 2012 when we joined forces to understand what impact Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) were actually having in Eastern Africa, beyond the hype that had characterized the campaigns to reduce the digital divide and use ICTs for development.” Pohjonen added: This effort also included other universities in the region, from Kenya to Uganda to Somalia. Mechachal emerged from the many conversations we had as part of that forum and we do hope that our efforts in Ethiopia could be scaled up in the region. We could learn a lot from comparatively analyzing online conversations in those countries.”

Asked about the generational gap in tone, behavior and quality of online debate among Ethiopians both in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora, Gagliardone said “it is difficult to assess the accuracy of data on age provided on Facebook, and the fact that Ethiopia follows a calendar that is different from the one used by Facebook (based on the Gregorian calendar), further complicates things. However, if we use the age of individuals involved in specific events debated on Facebook as a proxy (assuming users tend to be more interested in commenting facts involving individuals of their own generation), some noticeable trends do emerge. Ethiopia’s youth seems more inclined to adopt less contentious tones and embrace more universalistic forms of politics, while older figures and grievances tend to trigger more polarized debates.”

Gagliardone added: “One example is the detention and trial of six members of the Zone 9 collective. Despite the case attracted criticism around the status of freedom of expression in Ethiopia, both at national and international level, almost none of the analyzed statements about the Zone 9 bloggers were antagonistic. Almost at the opposite extreme, in terms of the level of political antagonism that they triggered, were debates bringing back tensions between the current government and long-standing political opponents. Berhanu Nega’s arrival in Eritrea in July 2015, for example, attracted much attention and encouraged a heated debate on Facebook. More than 40% of statements referring to the issue were categorized as going against. As an indication of how polarizing this issue was, and how it did not simply lead to focusing on a particular target, antagonistic statements were equally distributed between those attacking the government and those attacking Ginbot 7.”

The report states that “In terms of where speakers were posting from, most of them were from Ethiopia (42%), but a significant proportion was from outside of the country (22%). These figures could be considered as both confirming and refuting the narrative about online debate on Ethiopia being driven by the Diaspora. On the one hand, twice as many people are posting from within Ethiopia, but the fact that 22% of individuals discussing issues related to Ethiopia are from the Diaspora is a significant number, especially when considered in a comparative perspective.”

The research methodology included the collection of statements that either went against or were in support of an issue. Analysis of the data focused not on whether statements were made “agreeing or disagreeing, but about the tendency to take a viewpoint seriously and engage with it, or, on the contrary, to dismiss it and directly attack a person for his/her affiliation with a specific group…Speakers uttering statements that go against generally use non-insulting language, and they do not suggest, imply or call the audience to physical or nonphysical violence. Nonetheless, there are instances in which speakers use insulting/derogatory terms or metaphors.”

This study is a result of a two-year collaborative work between the University of Oxford & Addis Ababa University under the name “Mechachal,” translated as “tolerance” in Amharic. (Courtesy photo)

Regarding the distinction made in the research between hate speech and dangerous speech, Gagliardone explained that “dangerous speech is speech that builds the bases for or directly calls for widespread violence against a particular group.”

“Distinguishing it from hate speech may be important to understand how likely it is that words may turn into action,” Gagliardone told Tadias. “Our findings indicate that only 0.3% of statements fall in this category. He added: “Distinguishing hate and dangerous speech also enabled the research to spot some specific features that characterize the most extreme forms of expression. When compared to hate speech, as well as to other types of messages, dangerous speech reflects a more deliberate strategy to attack individuals and groups.”

Gagliardone noted that almost all dangerous statements in their sample are uttered by individuals seeking to hide their identity (92%). “This proportion is significantly lower for statements classified as hate speech (33%) and offensive speech (31%),” Gagliardone said. “In addition, while the majority of hateful statements can be found in comments, indicating a tendency for speakers to react angrily to what they read online, there is an equal chance of dangerous statements in posts or comments.”

“Shifting the focus from speakers to targets, dangerous statements appear to focus exclusively on ethnicity,” Gagliardone continued. “The salience of ethnicity can be found also in other types of messages. 75% of hate speech and 58% of offensive speech have ethnic targets, but they also target individuals based on their religion, and, to a much smaller extent, their sexual identity. This finding, more than others, is likely to be specific to the context of Ethiopia, where ethnicity has a central role in national debates, but it also offers new ground to explore some of the distinctive features of dangerous speech as compared to other form of speech.”

Part of the research team attending a methodology workshop in Oxford, December 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Below are the bios of key members of the Mechachal research team:

Iginio Gagliardone is Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of the Witwatersrand and Associate Research Fellow in New Media and Human Rights at the University of Oxford. His research has focused on the relationship between new media, political change, and human development and on the emergence of distinctive models of the information society in the Global South. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Matti Pohjonen is a Research Fellow for VOX-POL, a European Union Framework Programme 7 (FP7)-funded academic research network focused on researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of Violent Online Political Extremism and responses to it. His work focuses on developing comparative and practice-based research approaches to understand digital cultures in the developing world. Previously he worked as an AHRC post-doctorate and a Teaching Fellow in Digital Culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Abdissa Zerai is Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism & Communication, Addis Ababa University, where he focuses on the political economy of the Ethiopian media and ICT in the context of a democratic developmental state. He has been working on issues related to conflict reporting, political economy of communication, and the nexus between media, democracy & civil society.

Zenebe Beyene is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication, Director of Office of External Relations, Partnerships and Communications at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and NAFSA Global Dialogue Fellow. Dr. Zenebe has taught in Ethiopia, Rwanda and the U.S.A. His publications include Media use and abuse in Ethiopia, the role of ICT in peace building, state building and governance in Africa (with Abdissa Zerai), and Satellites, Plasmas and Law (with Abdissa Zerai and Iginio Gagliardone).

Gerawork Aynekulu is reading for a MSc in computer science at University of Belgrade, where he focuses on data mining. He has been working on text analytics of online Amharic textual resources.

Jonathan Bright is Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, which is a department of the University of Oxford. He is also an editor of the journal Policy and Internet. He is a political scientist specializing in political communication, digital government and computational social science.

Mesfin Awoke Bekalu is a Research Fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA. Prior to his current post, he has been a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leuven, Belgium and a lecturer in Journalism and Communications at Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia. His research interests include communication inequalities in the areas of health and development as well as media discourse analysis.

Michael Seifu is an independent researcher based in Ireland and has completed a PhD in politics from Dublin City University. He has been working on issues related to the politics of economic development.

Mulatu Alemayehu Moges is PhD candidate in the University of Oslo, at the Department of Media and Communication, where he focuses on conflict reporting in the Ethiopian media. He has been working as a Journalist in Ethiopian media, and as Lecturer and Researcher in Addis Ababa University, School of Journalism and Communication. 103

Nicole Stremlau is Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on media and conflict in the Horn of Africa. She has worked extensively in Ethiopia, Somaliland/Somalia, Uganda and Kenya. As Head of PCMLP, she also directs the Price Media Law Moot Court Programme and co-directs the Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute.

Patricia Taflan is Research Assistant at the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, University of Oxford. She completed an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, also at the University of Oxford, where she focused on online hate crime.

Tewodros Makonnen Gebrewolde is PhD candidate at the University of Leicester, where he focuses on productivity growth and industrial policy. He has been working on issues related to economic growth and development of the Ethiopian Economy.

Zelalem Mogessie Teferra is PhD candidate in International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. His study focuses on the intersection between national security and the humanitarian norms of international law. He was previously an Instructor of Law at Jimma University (Ethiopia), Michigan Grotius Scholar in University of Michigan (U.S.A).

Below are the links to the final report:

Mechachal – Final Report

Mechachal Online Debates and Elections in Ethiopia. Final Report: From hate speech to engagement in social media (Full Report)

A Collaborative Study of Online Debate in Ethiopia Reports Marginal Hate Speech

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia Give ‘A Chance In Life’ to Young People

At the Boys' & Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia in Emdibir, Ethiopia. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia — located in Emdibir of the Gurage Zone in Southwestern Ethiopia and supported by the New York-based non-profit organization, A Chance In Life — is modeled after the first Boys’ & Girls’ Town that was established 70 years ago by Irish priest Monsignor Carroll-Abbing following the end of World War II to assist orphaned children in Europe.

The towns are designed and organized to empower its members by providing them with basic necessities so they can be “active citizens and productive members of their communities,” explains ​Gabriele Delmonaco, President & Executive Director of A Chance In Life, who this week is wrapping up a trip to the Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia.

“After [World War II], orphaned and abandoned children all over Europe were shining shoes, panhandling and stealing to survive,” The New York Times noted when the founder of the Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Italy, Carroll-Abbing, died in 2001 at age 88. “His concept of giving troubled children love and his motto ‘a chance in life’ grew as he organized such shelters all over the country. All told, he was credited with feeding and clothing more than 180,000 children.”

Today, in Ethiopia “an estimated 4.6 million children” are growing up without parents, states the organization’s website. “Our Towns are vibrant, democratic, self-governing communities run by the young people themselves. These children need the basic necessities to receive a chance in life.”

The Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia was launched in 2015 while working closely with the Diocese of Emdibir and currently runs three main programs. The first focuses on resources for orphaned and vulnerable youth, providing academic supplies and financial support to attend school as well as giving medical assistance, food and clothing. The second assists young girls to continue their education and help them stay enrolled in school by providing homes for approximately 100 girls in proximity to their high schools. The girls also have opportunities to hold monthly community meetings and support each other in achieving their academic dreams. Last but not least, The Boys’ and Girls’ Town of Ethiopia also provides entrepreneurship and business development skills for individuals with disabilities who often face marginalization. Youth with disabilities also attend biweekly gatherings and share their aspirations and the challenges faced in an effort to develop a strong social network for greater self-reliance and broader participation in society. There are currently 100 youth participants in this program.

The Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia’s program for youth with disabilities holding a picnic at Ghibe National Park, May 24th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

The founder of the Boys’ and Girls’ club once said: “Philanthropy means, very simply, an authentic love for humanity.” Monsignor Carroll-Abbing’s words still ring true today, and giving support to youth-led communities not only provides them with much-needed resources, but also encourages agency and transformation while remaining part of one’s home community.

To learn more about the newly inaugurated Boys’ and Girls’ Town of Ethiopia please visit their website.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Race Weekend: Ethiopia’s Dino Sefir and Koren Jelela win Ottawa Marathon

Koren Jelela (L) and Dino Sefir (R) of Ethiopia pose after finishing 1st in the women's and men's category in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, on Sunday, May 29, 2016. (THE OTTAWA CITIZEN)

The Ottawa Citizen

Dino Sefir and Koren Jelela beat the heat and they beat the fields to win Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon titles on Sunday.

The Ethiopian runners pulled away from their nearest remaining competitors with between nine and 12 kilometres remaining and cruised to the men’s and women’s titles and their respective first-place bonuses of $30,000 U.S.

Sefir crossed the finish line on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway with a time of two hours eight minutes 14 seconds, 1:50 faster than compatriot Shura Kitata. The next three spots went to Kenyans Dominic Ondoro (2:11:39), Evans Ruto (2:12:55) and Luka Rotich (2:17:15), who finished second in the Ottawa race two years ago.

Following Jelela to the end of the official 42.195-kilometre course were 2015 champion Aberu Makeria (2:29:51) and two other Ethiopians, Sechale Delasa (2:32:46) and Makida Abdela (2:34:29), with Tarah Korir of St. Clement, Ont., claiming fifth place and top spot among Canadians with her time of 2:35:46.

Read more and see photos at The Ottawa Citizen »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

How Henok Tesfaye Built One of DC’s Largest Parking Lot Empires

Ethiopian-born entrepreneur Henok Tesfaye operates parking lots from Dulles to New York to Ethiopia. (Washington Business Journal)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, May 28th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This week, the Washington Business Journal highlights the inspiring story of Ethiopian American entrepreneur Henok Tesfaye who built his U Street Parking business — which now extends from D.C. to NYC and Addis Ababa — with very little startup capital but big drive to succeed.

“Henok turned $50 and a valet gig into one of D.C.’s largest parking lot empires,” notes The Business Journal’s feature entitled The Triumphant Park King.

“It all started at the surface lot on 18th Street in Adams Morgan adjacent to the bar Madam’s Organ. Now Henok Tesfaye leads a local parking empire.”

Read the full article at www.bizjournals.com »

Washington’s Ethiopian ‘car park king’ (BBC News)
Young parking lot czar is the face of Ethiopian success in the D.C. area (The Washington Post)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Wosene Kosrof’s New NYC Solo Exhibition

Wosene Worke Kosrof, who lives and has his studio in Berkeley, California, is an Ethiopian-born contemporary artist who has achieved international acclaim. (Photo: Wosene.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 27th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Renowned Ethiopian painter Wosene Worke Kosrof returns to New York City next week for his latest solo exhibition at Skoto Gallery, one of the oldest and continuously operating galleries in the U.S. specializing in contemporary African art. Wosene’s upcoming show entitled Words: You Are Always New, features his new artwork that will be exhibited from June 2nd through July 30th, 2016. The artist will be present at the reception from 6-8pm on Thursday, June 2nd.

“Wosene Worke Kosrof’s recent work continues his long-standing exploration of the interplay between language, identity, aesthetic beauty and material using the language symbols of Amharic – one of the few ancient written systems in Africa – as a core composition element,” Skoto Gallery said in a press release. “His work is dense with visual complexity that reflects an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited traditions. He relieves words of conventional meanings and, instead, explores their aesthetic, sensual, and visual content to speak boldly and clearly to a universal audience.” The press release added: “With Amharic calligraphy, Wosene explores the aesthetic dimensions of the script rather than producing legible text.”

“I am seeking the poetic or artistic value of the fidel or language symbols themselves, and I see my work as visual poetry,” says Wosene. “The writing in my painting does not tell a literal story, but rather a visual story. The Amharic fidel are extremely beautiful and have rhythmic and dancing forms. I ‘choreograph’ them on canvas, I cut them apart, turn them upside down, repeat sections of them to discover the beauty of written language and to think about how we communicate. I communicate with color, line and composition, rather than with sounds, conventional words and literal narratives.”

Painting by Wosene Kosrof. Through My Window III, 2015, acrylic on linen, 26×26 inches. (Skoto Gallery)

Wosene Worke Kosrof was born 1950 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and received a BFA from The School of Fine Art, Addis Ababa and a MFA from Howard University, Washington DC in 1980. He is an artist of international reputation, widely exhibited in Africa, Europe, Japan, the US and the Caribbean. Recent exhibitions include the Sharjah Museum Calligraphy Biennial, UAE, 2014; Transformations: Recent Contemporary African Art Acquisitions, Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 2009; Newark Museum, Newark, NJ 2004; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 2004; and Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Gallery, London 1995. Collections include the National Museum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; The Newark Museum, NJ; The Neuberger Museum at Purchase, NY; Birmingham Museum of Art, AL; Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN; the Fowler Museum, UCLA, CA; Samuel P. Harn Museum, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; and The Voelkerkunde Museum, Zurich, Switzerland as well as many international private and corporate collections.

Artist Statement:

I am the first Ethiopian-born painter to transform Amharic script into contemporary abstract art, and these script-images have now become recognized internationally as my ‘artistic signature.’ Amharic, derived from the ancient language Ge’ez and a major modern language of Ethiopia, is one of the few written systems indigenous to Africa. Though Ethiopia has centuries-old traditions of two-dimensional art that include script, such as Coptic icon paintings underscored by written narratives, the script symbols themselves were never developed as a fine art form.

During the past thirty-five years, I’ve produced five major series of paintings in which I have defined an ‘aesthetics of script’: Graffiti Magic (1980-1987); Africa: The New Alphabet (1988-1994); Color of Words (1995-2003); Words: From Spoken to Seen (2004-2008); and, in my current series WordPlay (2009-present), painting has become an intense process of ‘dialoguing’ with the script images, exploring the versatility and playfulness of their surfaces and interiors, dissecting their ‘skeletal’ structures, observing the ways they move, interact, and intersect. I elongate, distort, invert, dissect, and recombine their shapes and volumes, and turn them inside out to discover their moods, tempers, and personalities. On canvas, the script images are divested of their literal meanings to become gesture, dance, music, movement, and stories of the human drama.

I don’t pre-sketch paintings; my process is inchoate and exploratory: the interplay of accident and intention, of mastery and uncertainty, of curiosity and discovery. Quick-drying acrylics allow me to easily build and destroy colors and figures on canvas. I use a wide-ranging palette, from bold primary colors to muted tones that look almost repellent on my palette, but that smoothly integrate into a composition; to black and white paintings with bare touches of color; to works in several tones of a single color.

Since my student years at the School of Fine Art in Addis Ababa (1967-1972), American jazz has asserted a significant influence on my painting. Like jazz music, the script provides a repertoire of dense, yet supple, elements that lend themselves well to visual improvisation. Jazz also influences my sense of composition: like improvisational music, the language symbols can be juxtaposed on canvas in nonverbal ‘word-plays’ to create a visual language of form and color, rhythm and movement.

If You Go:
Skoto Gallery Presents Wosene Kosrof
Recent Paintings: Words: You Are Always New
June 2 – July 30, 2016
529 West 20th Street, 5FL
New York, NY 10011
212-352 8058 or info@skotogallery.com

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Harlem with Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher, Former Mayor of Gonder

Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher, pictured above at his home office in Harlem, New York, is a former Mayor of Gonder and the author of the book 'The Symphony of My Life.' (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Bethelhem T. Negash

Published: Thursday, May 26th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Early in the morning, as the city stirs and the hum of cars and trucks grows more persistent, Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher, 85, makes his slow and careful descent from his bedroom to the ground floor of his brownstone house in Harlem. He grabs the keys from the kitchen counter and heads out to move his car from where it has been parked for the night. He adjusts his reading glasses before he starts the engines, and begins the monotonous task of moving his car to the center of the road until the city sweepers clean the street. He looks at himself in the rearview mirror, and the man who once was the Mayor of Ethiopia’s historic city of Gonder stares back. The Mayor of Gonder didn’t have to bother with parking or driving.

“It is like a jump from the position of a king to that of a pauper,” Dr. Syoum says. An awkward smile plays at the corners of his mouth. He pauses, then continues, “People ask me why I called my book The Symphony of My Life. Well, it is to reflect on the ups and downs and the highest and lowest points of my life,” he says as he makes a motion of rising and falling with his hands.

Gonder has been called the ‘Camelot of Africa’ for it had served as the capital for the Ethiopian Empire during the reign of Emperor Fasilidas in the 17th century and the Begemder Province up until Emperor Tewodros II, who then moved the imperial capital to Magdala at his inauguration in 1855. Gonder holds the remains of several royal castles and enclosures that provide the city with a distinctive atmosphere. During the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie Gonder was a semi-autonomous province, like Asmara and Addis Ababa, run under the municipality administration of mayors. However, the mayor of Gonder fell under the state’s Ministry of Interior and had to answer to the head office.

It was during a lunch break in 1972 that Dr. Syoum — who was then head of the Department of Public Administration and Associate Professor at the University College of Addis Ababa — heard an announcement of new government appointees by the Emperor. His name was on the list following the statement “Lord Mayor of Gonder.” He was dumbfounded. “I bolted out from Campo Asmara and went to the university to find out if indeed it was me,” he recalled.

Dr. Syoum has bittersweet memories of his years in power. In his book he recounts seeing his assignment as a challenge rather than a promotion. It is customary in Ethiopia to celebrate promotions, especially those to governmental offices and state postings. “The Emperor’s appointment was thought to improve the appointee’s destiny – a touch from the divine,” he recalls. Dr. Syoum felt differently. He saw it as “a leash” to keep him in check, but there was nothing Dr. Syoum could do to change the decree. He could neither challenge nor refuse the position. The Ethiopian constitution stated, “The personality of the Emperor is sacred and inviolable.”

“There were moments when I saw it as a form of banishment…. a misplacement,” he says while sipping hot tea one recent afternoon. “But the name was attractive: The Lord Mayor of Gonder.”

At the same time, in his memoir Syoum talks about his accomplishments and success as a mayor with great gusto. He writes, “I had skillfully and patiently, with calculated political risk, survived the intricacies of the centralized and absolute control of His Majesty’s government and succeeded to be popularly the accepted mayor who was able to show results in two turbulent years of Ethiopia.”

Dr. Syoum remembers what the Emperor told him upon his appointment as Mayor of Gonder: “When you know them, you will like them.” Syoum did come to like the city, the province and the people. He tried to recall the gifts he received from the people of Gonder during the farewell party they arranged in his honor. “The Gonder people, either they like you or they don’t. I was chosen.” His face brightens up with a smile, “They liked me.”

Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher. (Courtesy photo)

Growing up as the eldest son out of ten children from his father’s side and also the eldest out of the seven from his mother’s side, Syoum had the responsibility of being a good model to his extended family and relatives. This burden of duty incumbent upon the eldest son is reflected throughout his book. He describes how the role made him too wise and calculating for his age.

His father had always preached the importance of school in one’s life. Determined to make his eldest son a success, he sent him to the United States to study. Syoum recalls that upon returning to Eritrea, where his father was then living, he discovered that his father had published his picture in Eritrea’s Italian language newspaper. The caption read: Rientro di UN altro Laureato, or The return of the UN graduate.

As a child, Syoum didn’t get to spend the time he would have wished with his mother, father and siblings. After his father and mother were divorced, when he was just a few years old, he was sent from Dessie to Addis Ababa to live with a bachelor uncle who had studied in France and was working in the capital at a time when it was rapidly being modernized. His father thought that being surrounded by educated people would help and influence his eldest son. Dr. Syoum recalls himself becoming “a five-year-old boy with European dress and habits; I had become a misfit.”

“The European clothes I had brought from Addis and continued to wear alienated me from other children and caused problems. Children my age ridiculed me incessantly as a ferengi –[white person in the local saying]. I insisted on wearing regular Ethiopian clothes so as I could fit in, but my father was proud of my unique European dress and ignored my request.”

In his book, Dr. Syoum talks about how he he had confronted his mother, as an adult, because she had refused to rescue him by buying him traditional Ethiopian attire, which he had privately asked her for. “Her reluctance devastated me,” Syoum shared. “Later in life I reminded her that this was a crucial demand she should not have ignored.” His mother’s distance shaped and scarred him.

“He always commends me for my role in my daughter’s life. He tells me he wishes he had a mother like me and this really encourages me,” Says Linda Haile speaking about Dr. Syoum. Linda is his daughter-in-law who is married to his dentist son, Dr. Yohannes Syoum. “I love the way he treats his wife. I think this all has to do with the fact that he grew up without a mother.”

Dr. Syoum’s colleague and longtime friend, Dr. Yemane Demissie, adds that Dr. Syoum’s symphonic life is a result of belonging to an era in which seismic technological, social, cultural and political transformations were taking place. “Whether navigating Italian Occupied Ethiopia as a child in the 1930s, the segregated American South in the 1940s and 1950s as a young man, the highly politicized world of labor unions and universities of imperial Ethiopia as an adult, or the violent partition of Ethiopia and Eritrea as a mature individual, he adapts with much agility and wisdom,” Demissie says.

His father’s continuous support and his own tenacity and perseverance drove Syoum to pursue education at home and abroad. There were times when he considered becoming a priest to take advantage of further schooling, for the Italian regime rule didn’t allow locals to acquire schooling more than the fifth grade unless they were in the process of becoming a priest in Catholic church schools. When Haile Selassie came to power and opportunities widened, Syoum continued his secondary school studies. With the help of Dr. Talbot, Chief Editor and Journalist for the Ethiopian Herald, he won a scholarship to college in the United States and graduated from Monmouth College with a degree in History, and later pursued additional graduate studies at other universities. At the time, however, George Washington University had rejected his application as Blacks were not allowed to enroll.

Dr. Syoum shared that the refusal for enrollment taught him a lesson about how to frame other application letters and forms. He now wrote, he recalls, “I am a black, Ethiopian boy from Africa, and I intend to practice law in my own country. Can you give me this opportunity?” Several universities accepted him. He chose the University of Michigan.

There Syoum met his American future wife Juanita B. Green, a postgraduate in Middle Eastern Studies. She was 20 years old, open-minded and confident. Syoum “was impressed with her candor, sincerity and simplicity” and writes “We seemed to have a mutual attraction, both physical and mental. I fell for her.” Juanita remained in his mind as he made his way to Ethiopia after graduation and started working in Addis. All the other girls he dated at home couldn’t displace her in his heart. “I kept idealizing Juanita and continued writing frequently.” At last she agreed to marry him. They were betrothed in a simple ceremony in 1953 and honeymooned in Cairo.

While Mayor Syoum was battling inspectors and dealing with the municipality of Gonder, a movement was underway to dethrone the Emperor and abolish the feudal system. The Derg regime ousted Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. The new regime executed, imprisoned and tortured opponents without a trial or a hearing. In his book, Syoum writes that he was oblivious of the true nature of the revolution and the Derg regime. He was by now an organization and management consultant for the Ministry of Public Works. He worked with his team to abolish urban landlordism and feudalism by setting up a local self-governance system. He met and talked with Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, the chairman of the Derge regime.

“I witnessed a revolution eating its own revolutionaries, as the saying goes,” he says years later. The revolution in Ethiopia was spinning out of control and anyone who could evade the situation did so. Syoum describes the days of terror in his memoir. “Ethiopia nationalized banks, insurance companies and key industrial facilities owned by local and foreign private capital, restricting their sphere of activities in trade and industry by establishing state control over them.”

Syoum began seeking positions abroad. His goal was clear: as long as a new country would accept him and his family, he would work at any level of the economy. “It was an unsavory position and yet a realistic one.”

With the help of a friend working at the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) Syoum managed to get an exist visa from the immigration authorities in Ethiopia and headed to Lusaka, Zambia. From there he made his way to New York to start his life afresh.

It was November of 1978 and Christmas was around the corner when Syoum boarded the plane with a heavy heart. He was almost 60-years-old, a husband and a father of four. He recalls putting his hands in his pocket to make sure that the $200 dollars he bought from the black market were still there, his entire income and property folded in two currency notes. Gone were his four townhouses that were nationalized. The lands he had acquired over the years no longer were his.

The small country house in Nazreth that he and Juanita had sweated to build with the help of her parents was also in doubt.

The flight from Lusaka to New York was long and it gave him plenty of time to contemplate the symphony of his life.

“Nobody wants to help you when you are at your lowest,” he recalls. With a gesture of his hands he tries to emphasis the meaning of his saying, “Nobody.”

He found himself jobless, homeless and depending on his in-laws to sustain his wife and his four children. “It was a hard time; being a refugee and unemployed in the United States was the lowest point of my life.”

He nods his head back and forth as he said this wistfully. “I remember receiving a hundred dollar bill from a friend of mine, he gave me the money and told me to buy gifts for my family since it was the Christmas season.” He blinks his eyes for a second and pauses to collect his thoughts.

“But life has been kind to me and to my family,” he continues, recovering. He stretched his hands to show his accomplishments and his children’s by indicating the display of the family photos and awards all around him. He may have to park his own car, but his family has survived and prospered. It was an unexpected struggle, but he has been the model eldest son his father wanted.

You can learn more about Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher’s book ‘Symphony of My Life’ at Amazon.com.

About the Author:
Bethelhem T. Negash, who graduated this year from Columbia University School of Journalism, is a writer based in New York City.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A With Messay Getahun, Director of the Movie Lambadina’

Messay Getahun is the director of the film 'Lambadina.' (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tesfaye Mohamed

Published: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) – The film Lambadina, directed by Messay Getahun, features 9 year-old Joseph who is abandoned as his father, Solomon, flees Ethiopia during the civil war. Nonetheless he eventually finds refuge in a home and grows up to fall in love with the daughter in the new family (Ruth), and eventually emigrates to the U.S. The film takes us from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles, and shows the resilience of a young man overcoming various obstacles in life.

Screened at the Pan African Film Festival, Lambadina, is scheduled to be released in theaters in Fall 2016.

The film’s director, Messay Getahun, was born in Addis Ababa and raised in Dallas, Texas. He attended Texas Tech, studying computer graphics as well as human sciences and Family Studies. Subsequently he moved to California. Lambadina is Messay’s first full feature movie in which he wrote, directed, produced, edited and sound designed. Lambadina is the work of three crew members. The other two include Justin Dickson (Director of Photography) and Hermon Tekle (Camera and Sound Operator).

Below is a Q&A with the Director of Lambadina, Messay Getahun:

Tesfaye Mohamed: Did you have in mind what your first movie would be about, was there a particular story you wanted to tell?

Messay Getahun: Justin — who works as a DP & Lighting Gaffer in TV shows and feature films in Hollywood — and I have always dreamed of a day where we would make a feature film with a solid content. Media is a powerful tool with an immeasurable impact. Much of the content I often saw wasn’t necessarily positive. Especially when it comes to the representation of Ethiopia and Africa. Every film that comes out of Africa that makes a splash is often coated with the “white savior complex.” It’s a narrative that makes the West look good while on the other hand demeaning Ethiopia or Africa. My heart wanted to tell a different narrative — a contemporary narrative film. An Ethiopian Film for a Western audience. If there is a message, I wanted it to be about life. We wanted to make real life movies. Stories that are honest, real, entertaining and satisfying to the souls of the viewers. In 2011 I decided to save money to start purchasing production equipment needed to produce a quality film. It took me two years to finish writing the script. We wanted to make a universal film. Something the older generation, the younger generation, Africans and non-Africans could watch. Finding a good balance was essential.

Tesfaye: So the movie credits state that it’s based on a true story. Can you say more about that, and whose story is it based on?

Messay: It actually says “based on true events.” Yeah, beginning part of the film has an element of true events. It’s a story of a split that happens between a father and son during uncertain times in Ethiopia. That portion of the story is actually my personal story. My dad was involved in politics. I was about 6 years old and a new government was coming to power, so I based the story from some childhood memories I had of an era that I thought was important for the source of the film.

Tesfaye: Now let’s talk about the name, The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the title was “Teddy Afro’s” music Lambadina, Does it have any relation with the song?

Messay: [laughs]. I do often get this question. I chose the title because of its meaning. Lambadina is an Ethio-Italian word which means “lantern“ or “night light.” The definition represented the theme of the film. The film is about overcoming the obstacles that life throws at you. Life is not always going to be bright and sunny, but our perspective and how we handle those dark moments can be our “LAMBADINA.” I also wanted a one-word title. Something foreign enough but yet easy enough to pronounce for the western audience.

Tesfaye: You shot part of the film In Ethiopia, can you tell me the locations used. Was it all in Addis or was it also shot in other parts of the country?

Messay: All of the locations in Ethiopia were in Addis Ababa.

Photos of scenes from the movie ‘Lambadina’, provided by the director Messay Getahun.

Tesfaye: How long did it take to finish the film?

Messay: We started shooting the film at the end of 2013. We went to Ethiopia and filmed the Ethiopia scenes first. We took a 6-month break for a number of reasons and we started shooting the U.S.-based scenes in late 2014. It took me all of 2015 to edit the film. Once the editing was done, I had to color grade the film, do the music mix, and finalize the subtitles.

Tesfaye: Did you have to ship in equipment from outside the country or did you find everything you needed?

Messay: I was given a filming permit to film in Ethiopia so it made everything easier to bring in our own equipment with us.

Tesfaye: Can you tell me about the budget, about the crew, how many people were involved in the making of the film, and were they Ethiopians and local residents?

Messay: The entire film was self funded. No outside funding was used, nor did I do any crowdfunding. The entire film was also done by 3 crew members which is astonishing when you think about it. When we mentioned this fact during a Q&A at the Pan African Film Festival there was a gasp among the audience. Many executives and jurors from the festival couldn’t believe it. Myself, Justin, and Hermon were the only individuals who worked on the film. Justin was the DP & Chief Camera Operator, Hermon was the Sound Operator and sometimes the Camera Operator. We rotated responsibilities as needed. I would direct and sometimes Justin would be the acting coach, other times Hermon would be the DP. We would work 19-hour shifts. Can you imagine a three-man crew doing all the work in Ethiopia? It was nuts. We would get up at the crack of dawn, load equipment, drive to the location, set up, do scene blocking, coach the actors, pack up, go to the other location and repeat the process. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it made every minute worth it because I was working with people whom I loved and shared the same vision with. The actors in the film were mostly my friends who I knew had a passion for storytelling. I just asked individuals whom I thought would play the character well. Even the little kids were amazing. They were coachable. We did use two professional actors from Ethiopia — Hanan Obid & Seyoum Tefera were recommended to us through a good friend who worked in the film industry in Ethiopia.

Tesfaye: You premiered the film in Ethiopia first. Can you share more on how it was received?

Messay: The premiere in Ethiopia was fantastic. It was a private screening held on the campus of ICS. Michael Yimesgen who plays the “Solomon character” was in charge of putting together the Addis screening. Many people from the diplomatic circles and arts circles were in attendance. About 500 people attended the invitation-only event and it was received with a standing ovation. The screening was featured on EBS on their “Semonun Addis” segment. The trailer has gone semi-viral in Addis. We would get stopped everywhere we went. The demographics of the audience is what really made me happy. Older people, younger people, Ethiopians and non Ethiopians alike kept giving us incredible reviews.

Tesfaye: Was it premiered anywhere else? I know that it will be shown at The San Francisco Black Film Festival in June.

Messay: We are headlining the festival in San Francisco. The world premiere of the film was held at the 2016 Pan African Film Festival held in Los Angeles. We were the only film to have gotten sold out screenings in all our 4 screenings. Due to popular demand, there were additional screenings as well. We were also honored to receive the Audience Award for Narrative Feature as well as Special Jury Recognition-Director for First Feature Narrative at the 2016 Pan African Film Festival. We plan to do our own screening of the film in various cities including in Toronto during the Ethiopian Soccer Tournament as well as in Washington DC, Dallas, Seattle & New York between July & September. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia is also hosting an Ethiopia premiere of the film at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa sometime during this summer. Our goal is to get a distribution deal. Either a theatrical release or a Video on Demand deal would be ideal. Yes, Netflix is likely once we are done running the festival circuit, the theatrical screenings and the inflight entertainment features.

Watch below the official trailer for ‘Lambadina’ [HD]:

You can learn more about the film at www.lambadinamovie.com.

About the Author:
Tesfaye Mohamed is a second year law student at North Carolina Central University School of Law. His interests include Civil Rights Law, Constitutional Law, Employment Law, and Contract Law. Tesfaye was born in Ethiopia and grew up in the United States.

How DC Native Kenny Allen Moved to Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview with the Director & Producer of “If Only I Were That Warrior”

Screenshot from the documentary film 'If Only I Were That Warrior.' (Courtesy of Awen Films)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Initially released last November the documentary If Only I Were That Warrior was shown in January 2016 as part of the “Best of African Diaspora International Film Festival” attracting much attention and dialogue among various communities including the Ethiopian and Italian Diaspora. This week, the documentary was also screened as part of the annual Sheba Film Festival in Harlem.

Following the dedication of a memorial to the Fascist General Rodolfo Graziani in the Italian town of Affile in 2012, and the subsequent outrage expressed by Ethiopians during a roundtable entitled “Honoring War Criminals: The Monument to Rodolfo Graziani” held at the Centro Primo Levi in New York, filmmaker and director Valerio Ciriaci decided to challenge the narrative of how Italians — specifically those supporting the right-wing establishment — continue to downplay the brutality of Italy’s colonial history. Filming interactions with residents and leaders of Affile, and including testimonies from Ethiopian elders who witnessed Graziani’s horrific war crimes, as well as the Ethiopian Diaspora’s mobilization against the memorial, Ciriaci weaves together various conversations in an attempt to reconcile viewpoints and memories without compromising the reality of life under Graziani during the occupation. While public funding for Graziani’s memorial was suspended by a new administration in Affile in 2013 the monument still remains standing.

Tadias recently interviewed Director Valerio Ciriaci and Producer Isaak Liptzin regarding their journey in the making of If Only I Were That Warrior. The documentary originally included interviews of more than 20 individuals with over 100 hours of footage in Amharic, English and Italian. We asked both the director, Ciriaci, and producer Liptzin to tell us more about what motivated them to document the controversy surrounding the Graziani monument and the dialogues that ensued.

“The whole thing happened after the construction of this monument for Graziani,” says Ciriaci. “We heard this news, but we were not surprised. Growing up in Italy we saw those kinds of displays and nostalgic manifestations all the time.” This was not an isolated case. The project really took shape when Isaak and I attended a conference organized by the Primo Levi Center and the Calandra Italian American Institute here in New York City. It was a conference about the Graziani monument and more generally about the fascist war crimes in Ethiopia. And there we met with members of the Ethiopian community and their reaction really shook us. They were outraged and very upset about the construction of the monument. That’s when the idea for making the film was sparked — to make a documentary about history, about memory, this fragmented memory because what we learned while making this film is that this memory is very fragmented — and it changes when you ask someone in Ethiopia or in Italy. We heard many different points of view and memories. We want to create an awareness about the Graziani monument and perhaps spark a dialogue that never took place. Especially in Italy those crimes have never been discussed, so there has been many years of amnesia. It’s a paradox but the monument is actually giving us an opportunity to talk about what happened, and hopefully to reconcile the memory of our two peoples.”

In his Director’s Statement Ciriaci shares that as he continued his research for the film he kept asking himself: “How can Graziani, who is remembered as ‘the Butcher of Ethiopia’ be honored in Italy with a public monument? How was this monument approved in a country where Fascism is constitutionally banned? This film is my attempt to unravel these questions.”

Producer Isaak Liptzin noted that the making of the film “was a mix of situations.” After establishing contact with members of the Ethiopian community in New York, Washington D.C. and Dallas, they met Kidane Alemayehu who was leading the anti-monument protest through his organization called Global Alliance for Justice: The Ethiopian Cause. Kidane had also written a letter to Italy’s Foreign Minister regarding the objection against the building of the Graziani memorial. Kidane Alemayehu’s interviews and mobilization efforts were captured in the documentary.

“Thanks to Kidane we were able to make some connections in Ethiopia,” adds Liptzin. “It was difficult to find eyewitnesses of the Graziani massacres because it took place so long ago. But we were fortunate to find a monk in Debre Libanos, and that was a very important interview because he is one of the few remaining witnesses to the Debre Libanos massacre.” The monk’s testimony is one of the few ever captured on film.

The goal of the documentary includes addressing “examples of revisionism like the monument itself” Liptzin says, “which is only possible because there is such great ignorance on the topic in Italy, abroad and to a certain extent even in Ethiopia. So the goal is really to bring this back into everybody’s mind and into the public discourse, not in a militant way but in a way that explains how this amnesia came to be.”

“80 years after the invasion of Ethiopia, the case of Affile challenges us to take a first step toward better understanding the past and sharing its burdens,” says Ciriaci. “My hope is that If Only I Were That Warrior can spark a dialog about this common history — a dialogue we have avoiding for too long.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: US Alumni Association of Ethiopia’s Tafari Makonnen School

Photographs courtesy of the TMS Alumni Association in North America (TMSAANA).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, May 23rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Established more than 90 years ago in Addis Ababa as one of Ethiopia’s premier modern educational institutions Tafari Makonnen School (TMS) was one of the most prestigious public schools in Ethiopia, graduating students who became the country’s first batch of diplomats, teachers, doctors, civil administrators, economists, senior military leaders, lawyers and professors. Now renamed Entoto Technical & Vocational Education Training College, those enrolled at TMS were recruited and trained from a pool of the nation’s best and brightest students.

“We came from all over Ethiopia,” recalls Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, President of the TMS Alumni Association in North America and retired United Nations official who graduated from the school in 1967. The alumni association is currently preparing to host its third general assembly on May 29th in Washington, .D.C. In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine Dr. Bisrat noted that the alumni association was established in 2011 by some of the school’s former students who currently reside in the United States “as a networking platform and as a way to give back.”

“After all most of us got where we are today because of the solid education that we received at TMS,” Dr. Bisrat added. “So it’s important that we pay back and also give the same opportunities to others who are there now. Obviously, the nature of the school has changed but that does not mean the importance of a world-class education has. In this country, as you know very well, schools basically flourish and survive on the basis of the contribution that they receive from their alumni. So we wanted to do the same for our school.”

What had distinguished TMS during its heydey was not only its focus on high quality education and its diverse multicultural student population, but also that the education system “instilled a sense of duty and service to the community and country” Dr. Bisrat said. “It was not about thinking only of yourself. Those who could not afford it were given allowance and boarding, and most importantly, civic and moral integrity was emphasized as part of the curriculum.”

“It was a very strict education and if you succeeded in finishing 12th grade then you were pretty much guaranteed acceptance to a college,” Dr. Bisrat continued. “And certainly more than 99% if not 100% went on to pursue higher education. Incidentally, the same Canadian teachers, most of them Jesuits, that taught us were later on asked by the Emperor to establish the first University College of Addis Ababa, which is now Addis Ababa University.”

At UN headquarters in New York where he worked for over 30 years Dr. Bisrat headed the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF), which he established in 2004 to “manage the resource of UN-wide bodies with an estimated six billion dollar operation,” he told Tadias. Since his retirement from the UN in 2013 Dr. Bistart said he has found more time to dedicate himself to his role as President of TMSAANA. “One of our efforts is to restore back the school’s name to Tafari Makonnen,” he says. “It’s important to keep the historical legacy of an institution like that.”

TMS was initially inaugurated on April 27, 1925, by its founder Ras Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael who was a regent at the time and later coronated as Emperor. The school’s first Superintendent was Ethiopia’s first medical doctor, Hakim Workneh Eshete, who had previously served as Emperor Menelik’s personal physician.

In addition, it was Dr. Workneh who was chosen to lead an official Ethiopian delegation to the United States in 1927 — just barely a decade before Italy’s fascist invasion of Ethiopia turned everything upside down for his first group of students at Tafari Makonnen School and for Ethiopia as whole. According to historian Bahru Zewde, Hakim Workneh was sent to the U.S. “to negotiate with a New York company, J.G. White Engineering, to build a barrage on Lake Tana; Ras Tafari (later Emperor Haile Selassie) had selected this company in response to the Anglo-Italian agreement two years earlier, which had placed Lake Tana in the British sphere of influence,” Wiki states. “This visit was significant not only for Workeneh’s meeting with the company, and officials of the United States which included President Coolidge, but for arriving in Harlem, where he delivered Ras Tafari’s greetings to the African-American community and Tafari’s invitation to skilled African Americans to settle in Ethiopia.”

TMS’ Alumni Association of North America currently has approximately 280 members and seeks “to identify specific activities and projects to help the school in terms of quality of education and to assist current and future students,” Dr. Bisrat said. “We also coordinate and engage with similar local organizations in Addis Ababa including our counterpart, the Tafari Makonnen School Alumni Charity Association (TMSCA).”

Dr. Bisrat shared with us the following quote from the inaugural speech given at the school by Regent Ras Tafari Makonnen on April 27, 1925:

This school is an instrument which will operate on our country’s behalf through the knowledge which God gives to each of you according to your lot, once you have matured and have become vigorous in intelligence. So, I beg of you to help the school which nurtures you, give you the food of knowledge: to see that it does not shrink but expands, that it does not fall but grows in strength.

If You Go:
TMS Alumni Association in North America (TMSAANA)
3RD General Assembly — May, 29 2016
Washington, D.C.
For more info email: alumni@tmsaana.com

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian-born Actress Ruth Negga Gets Thumbs-up for Lead Role in ‘Loving’

Ruth Negga . (Photo by Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 19th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian-born actress Ruth Negga is receiving high praises for an Oscar-worthy performance in the new British-American feature film Loving, which dramatizes the historic 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in a case called “Loving v. Virginia.”

“If any film has emerged from Cannes thus far as having the necessary legs to last the next nine months of Oscar conversation, it’s Jeff Nichols’ Loving, which premiered Monday night to a rapturous Palais crowd,” Deadline Hollywood reported. “It’s the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple in ’60s Virginia who were arrested and convicted for that state’s anti-miscegenation laws, having married in Washington DC. With the help of Bobby Kennedy and the ACLU, the Lovings took their case all the way to the Supreme Court and won; as Ruth Negga says..they changed the constitution with their fight.”

Deadline Hollywood adds: “The film is made by stunning lead performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. After the premiere, Nichols told me he’d written the parts for Richard and Mildred Loving, and his challenge in casting the movie was finding actors who could live up to that. Edgerton feels like a lock on a nomination for a measured, honest performance, but it’s Negga who proves to be the revelation. This is a major breakthrough for the Ethiopian-Irish star, previously best known for [ABC's] Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Ruth Negga at the red carpet ceremony for the screenings of “Loving” at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, Monday, May 16h, 2016. (Photo: The Globe and Mail)

Irish-Ethiopian Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa in 1982 and raised in the Ethiopian capital until the age of four before moving with her family to Limerick, Ireland. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Acting Studies from Trinity College in Dublin and has been residing in London for the past 10 years. As an actress Negga has appearances in the Academy award winning film 12 Years a Slave as well as the AMC drama series Preacher prior to her lead role in Loving.

Watch: This HBO documentary on the true story of the couple from 2012 inspired the movie ‘Loving’

Read more and watch video at Deadline.com

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

A Collaborative Study of Online Debate in Ethiopia Reports Marginal Hate Speech

This study is part of a two-year collaborative effort led by the University of Oxford & Addis Ababa University under the name "Mechachal," translated as "tolerance" in Amharic. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A new report on online speech and debates in Ethiopia and the Diaspora entitled Mechachal (translated as “tolerance” in Amharic) following a two-year collaborative project by researchers at the University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University is to be released shortly.

An advance preview copy of the final report noted that the project aimed to go “beyond anecdotal evidence that has dominated media debates” concerning the dissemination of online hate speech, and instead presented “a strong empirical base to understand how prevalent the most extreme forms of expression actually are among conversations in social media, how they are received, and what they compare to, in terms of the nature and quality of other types of messages that find space online.”

Contributing to the global debate present in many countries including Ethiopia regarding freedom of expression the researchers sought to analyze and compare online speech that is offensive or may incite violence with other forms of expression including “criticism of public figures, to support for a political party, to engagement across religious or ethnic divides.” Researchers collected and examined over 13,000 statements that were posted online on the Facebook social media platform between February and June 2015 — during a timeframe coinciding with Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections held in May 2015 — and gathering data three months prior to and one month following elections.

The research methodology included the collection of statements that either went against or were in support of an issue. Analysis of the data focused not on whether statements were made “agreeing or disagreeing, but about the tendency to take a viewpoint seriously and engage with it, or, on the contrary, to dismiss it and directly attack a person for his/her affiliation with a specific group.”

While sampling online speech in a multi-lingual nation like Ethiopia was a challenge, the research team developed a comprehensive mapping strategy of Facebook-related discussions and interaction among Ethiopians online, both within the country and the Diaspora. The selection criteria used included having 100 or more followers on a Facebook profile or group page, having some of the content shared using an Ethiopian language, and posting issues and topics related to Ethiopia. Over 1000 Facebook sites addressing issues ranging from politics to religion, travel and sports were examined before making random selections for the general study sample. An estimated 2,000 posts and status updates generated per month were analyzed using the “going against vs going towards” methodology framework. The online statements were then analyzed using three layers of research questions as follows: 1) whether or not an individual or group was being targeted based on ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual affiliation; 2) whether the content of the statement was considered hate speech or dangerous speech; and 3) whether or not the online statements posted encouraged an audience to take action or do something against an individual or group based on their ethnic, religious or gender affiliations. An additional research question focused on the power imbalance between the individual posting the statement and their target.

Among the diaspora the top 10 countries with Ethiopian participants on social media analyzed for this project included the United States (49%), Norway (7.6%), United Kingdom (5.8%), Saudi Arabia (5.1%) UAE (2.7%), Canada (2.5%), Australia (2.4%), Germany (2.1%), South Africa (2.1%), and Kuwait (1.4%).

The initial results of the research findings were shared in meetings with members of Ethiopian government, leaders of opposition parties in the country, media organizations such as Addis Standard and The Reporter, as well as activist groups calling for freedom of expression including Zone 9 and PEN Ethiopia, academic professionals, and representatives of international non-governmental organizations including the African Union and UNESCO. “This process offered a unique opportunity to test the convening power of evidence…that allows academic insights on hotly debated topics,” the researchers stated in the report. “Individuals sitting at opposite ends of the political spectrum found common ground and agreed on the ability of academically informed research to create a space for individuals and groups holding competing views to engage with one another using evidence as their starting point, rather than personal grievances.”

The report had several major findings including the marginal use of statements categorized as dangerous or hate speech. “Only 0.4% of statements in our sample have been classified as hate speech and 0.3% as dangerous speech” the researchers noted. Hate speech was defined in the research as “speech that incites others to discriminate or act against individuals or groups based on their ethnicity, religion or gender” while dangerous speech was defined as “speech that builds the bases for or directly calls for widespread violence against a particular group.”

Additional results reported included the finding that “almost all dangerous statements [were] uttered by individuals seeking to hide their identity (92%)” as well as the widespread disillusionment with Ethiopian parliamentary elections with “the perception that the outcome of the elections was already predetermined.” While the findings also showed that “the political, social and cultural views reflected in social media in Ethiopia are less polarized than might be expected” the few extreme statements made had “the power to shape debates” with statements classified as ‘going against’ receiving the largest amount of comments and shares. The report also noted that “unequal power relationships increase antagonism between speakers and followers.” The least antagonistic discussions among Ethiopians on online platforms were regarding religion.

The researchers emphasized that while Ethiopia’s media environment has been perceived as being highly polarized in the past two decades, “the greatest opportunities for engagement seem to lie in politics that appeal to universalistic values.” Citing the campaign to release Zone 9 bloggers and their quest for greater freedom of expression, which attracted support both nationally and internationally, the researchers found that most of the statements made regarding the Zone 9 bloggers were ‘going towards’ or in support of the issue (96%).

“It seems that a new generation of Ethiopians may be more inclined to adopt less contentious tones and embrace more universalistic forms of politics; while older figures and grievances tend to trigger more polarized debates” the report stated, while noting that the distinction is not entirely clear-cut “between old and new media.”

The research analyzed the tone, behavior and quality of online debate among Ethiopians both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora. (Courtesy Image)

“Our findings suggest..that spaces inciting hatred and violence in Ethiopia remain marginal, and social media as a whole are more likely to be embraced as spaces to experiment with new forms of communication and engagement rather than as spaces for promoting extremist views,” the researchers added. “To our knowledge this is the first time research focusing on an entire country, and its diasporic community, has been able to quantify the proportion of hate and dangerous speech among the total conversations occurring on a social networking platform.”

The Oxford and Addis Ababa University collaborative research and subsequent findings of the nature of online debate among Ethiopians comes in the heels of yet another arrest of a former opposition party spokesperson over comments allegedly made on Facebook. In 2016 the non-profit organization Freedom House also lowered the ranking for Ethiopia from 6 to 7 with regards to freedom of expression citing “new, sophisticated methods of censorship, information control, and propaganda messaging” as well as “increased use of draconian laws to suppress dissent” in the country.

The final report of the Mechachal study to be released soon offers empirical insights on online speech and debate in Ethiopia and the Diaspora, calling for more informed policy-making with regards to regulating freedom of expression and online discussion on social media platforms.

Below are two prior preliminary assessments released from the Mechachal study:

Mechachal – Online Debates and Elections in Ethiopia. Report One: A preliminary assessment of online debates in Ethiopia

Mechachal – Online Debates and Elections in Ethiopia. Report Two: Discussing politics and history in social media

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Coach Woldemeskel Kostre Dies at 69

Woldemeskel Kostre, who's died at the age of 69, coached the likes of Haile Gebrselassie, Keninisa Bekele and Deratu Tulu - all Olympic Champions. (Getty Images)



The Father of Ethiopian Distance Running Woldemeskel Kostre Dies at 69

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Woldemeskel Kostre, the Ethiopian distance running coach who trained greats like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele and was renowned for his strict disciplinarian approach, has died. He was 69.

The IAAF said Kostre died early Monday in Addis Ababa. The cause of death was not announced.

Kostre won the IAAF’s coach of the year award in 2006. He was part of Ethiopia’s distance-running program for more than 35 years, starting as an assistant coach at the 1972 Munich Olympics and working with Ethiopia’s best athletes up until the 2008 Games in Beijing.

He was head coach of the team for 25 years, presiding over Ethiopia’s golden era.

“Dr. Kostre was a very strict man but he showed me how to behave,” said Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic champion and multiple world champion at 10,000 meters. “He gave discipline a top priority. It is very sad he has now left us.”

Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, another Olympic champion and world-record holder, were also among Kostre’s prodigies.

A promising runner in his own right, Kostre had the chance to represent Ethiopia at the 1964 Olympics, but chose instead to take a scholarship to study in Hungary because the Ethiopian federation wouldn’t allow him to do both. Following his studies, he returned home to become the architect of the nation’s success in middle and long distance running. He had a reputation as a coach who was extremely tough, demanding complete discipline, but was also fair.

Tributes paid to father of Ethiopian distance running (BBC Radio)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Diaspora Changing Ethiopia’s Cities

Abezash Tameret, who left Ethi­o­pia as a child and grew up in foster care in the U.S., founded a charity that helps HIV-positive orphans in Ethi­o­pia and recently moved back to Addis Ababa. (Photo: Aida Muluneh)

The Washington Post

They fled Ethiopia amid war and privation. An economic boom is bringing them home

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The first time Abezash Tamerat returned to her native Ethiopia, she walked out of the airport terminal’s sliding doors only to turn around and walk right back in, briefly overwhelmed by the press of beggars and taxi drivers clamoring outside.

Tamerat had left Ethiopia as a child and grown up in foster care in Georgia. Now she was going back as a 20-year-old to rediscover the far-off, unfamiliar place that had shaped her identity.

She arrived with about $40, trusting in a credit card in a country that even then, in 2003, had no ATMs. A week later, she was back at the airport trying unsuccessfully to change her ticket and get an early flight home to Atlanta.

Frustrated, she gave her quest another chance, staying on to find her birth family, learn ­Amharic and start a home for HIV-positive orphans. Later, she founded Artists for Charity, a network of artists, volunteers and donors that supports the home. After many more trips, Tamerat, now 34, finally made the decision that more and more members of the Ethiopian diaspora are making: She returned to Addis Ababa for good last year.

An estimated 2 million Ethiopians live abroad, driven out by years of war, famine and economic hardship. A report by the Migration Policy Institute puts the number of first- and second-generation Ethiopian immigrants in the United States at about 250,000.

Now, courted by the Ethiopian government, many are bringing back money and skills acquired in the West, helping to transform a society still hobbled by the legacy of the 17-year communist dictatorship that ended in 1991. Over the past decade, a country that was once a byword for famine and privation has seen consistently high growth, welcoming foreign investment and pouring money into infrastructure.

The homecoming is not easy for most. Returnees confront not just a complex bureaucracy, but also frequent suspicion from those who stayed and weathered the hard years. Yet they have changed the face of Ethiopia’s cities — launching businesses, opening art galleries, cafes and salons, and founding hospitals.

Read more at The Washington Post »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Music Legend Mahmoud Ahmed Turns 75

Born May 18, 1941, legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed turns 75 years old this month. (Photo: MUI)


By Rafeeat Aliyu

Mahmoud Ahmed celebrated his 75th birthday over the weekend. Ahmed started out with various odd jobs before eventually gaining popularity at home in the 1970s, then rising to international fame. He is renowned for blending traditional Ethiopian music with jazz.

This month, a photo exhibition was held for a week at the Marriott Hotel in Addis Ababa in his honor. Seventy-five photos for each of his years, each taken by different photographers, were shown at the exhibition.

“Aynotche Terabu” is among other songs by Ahmed featured in the Ethiopiques series of compact discs. Collected and released by the French record label Buda Musique, Ethiopiques initially featured compilations of Ethiopian and Eritrean songs from the 1960s and 70s.

From an eponymous album released in 1975, “Ere Mela Mela” is probably the most widely aired Ethiopian jazz track. “Ere Mela Mela” roughly translates to: “I am looking for an answer.”

“Bemen Sebeb Letlash”: This one is a love song as its title means “no excuse for not loving you.” “Bemen Sebeb Letlash” has also been featured in the Ethiopiques series.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Photographer Documenting Ethiopia’s Emerging Skate Scene

(Photo by Daniel Reiter)

I-D Fashion & Culture Mag

A decade ago, there were only a handful of skateboards in the whole of Ethiopia. Today, with the help of non-profit organisation Ethiopia Skate the scene is growing from strength to strength, creating a community and providing access to skate equipment for young Ethiopians. Daniel Reiter, who is a photographer based in Berlin and ambassador for Ethiopia Skate has been following the project for over a year, documenting the passionate youth learning to skate and sharing their talent with the world through exhibitions held in Berlin, Vienna and London. We spoke to Reiter to find out more about the scene in Ethiopia and his experience working with those that skate there.

(Photo by Daniel Reiter)

How did you first get involved with Ethiopia Skate?

In January 2015 I had to travel to Ethiopia to document a friend meeting her mother for the first time after 33 years and support her emotionally. Ahead of the trip I was researching for a second story to document and came across their great website ethiopiaskate.org and immediately got in contact. Several emails later I was confident that these kids were for real and decided to get them as much skate gear and apparel as possible, which I brought with me and then tried to document the few skaters I met on two different occasions.

Read the full article at I-D.vice.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu Among Top African Female Business Leaders

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. (Photo: SoleRebels)


The past few years have seen a rise in the number of women-owned businesses in Africa. Be it in IT, oil, mining, or in the aviation sector, female entrepreneurs are breaking gender stereotypes and showing that what a man can do, a woman can also do, if not better. Bold and fearlessly ambitious, these are some of the female business leaders who shape the future of the continent and inspire not only countless other women, but also anyone who dares to dream.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Growing up in a small neighbourhood in Addis Ababa, beloved entrepreneur Bethlemen Tilahun Alemu discovered that most people in her community were living in poverty and that some of them possessed artisan skills. Spurred by this realisation, she sought to find a way to translate the skills of her people into a business, and thus SoleRebels was born, in 2004. The eco-friendly footwear manufacturer creates hundreds of local jobs.

Not only has Bethlehem’s company grown to be one of the largest footwear companies in Africa, but it has also become a successful world class venture, with flagship stores in Taiwan, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, U.S, Singapore, Japan and many other countries.

Bethlehem has received a number of accolades for the work she has done to empower the Ethiopian youth with opportunities. In 2011, the 36-year-old entrepreneur made it into the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders. She’s also been named by Forbes as one of 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa, and one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Read the full list at Africa.com »

‘SoleRebels’ Launches Flagship US Store

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview With Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie at a press conference at Manly Airport in Jamaica during the 50th anniversary celebration of Emperor Haile Selassie's historic visit to the country, April 21st, 2016. (Photo: Mel Tewahade)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) -- Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, recently made a successful and highly publicized trip to Jamaica, along with his wife Saba Kebede, where he led an Ethiopian delegation from the U.S. to participate in the 50th anniversary of his grandfather's historic visit to the Caribbean nation in 1966. Five decades later, the nine-day commemorative visit by Prince Ermias (from April 21-30, 2016) included a meeting with newly elected Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Michael Holness; a lecture at the University of the West Indies (UWI); a motorcade stop at Heroes Park, Mico College, JC, UTech; and a speech on education at Kingston's Haile Selassie High School that was established by his grandfather during his landmark visit there as a gift to the people of Jamaica.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine this week Prince Ermias described his visit to Haile Selassie High School as "the highlight of my trip" and personally moving. "It was emotional and overwhelming to visit the school that was donated by my grandfather," Prince Ermias told Tadias. "The school has been in existence since the late sixties," he said. "Many have graduated and many have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, government leaders, pastors. Some have migrated abroad and are serving their adopted home well." Ermias added: "My grandfather believed in education. Education enlightens and enriches one’s life and for society there is no better security than to educate its citizens."

Regarding his meeting with Jamaica's head of state, Prince Ermias said: "The newly elected Prime Minster of Jamaica the Honorable Andrew Holness is going to be a great leader for Jamaica. I was happy to congratulate him on his win." Prince Ermias emphasized that their discussion primarily focused on education and the youth. "We all have great concern for our children," he said. "We talked about the opportunities and challenges of our friends in Ras Tefferian community." In addition, Prince Ermias said, "The subject of Jamaican teachers for Ethiopian schools was briefly discussed, I am grateful to the Prime Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet local leaders, my delegation and myself."

In addition to his meeting with Prime Minister Andrew Holness Prince Ermias said he also had an opportunity to meet with the country's opposition party leaders and was given the key to the city of Kingston by Mayor Dr. Angela Brown Burke of the People's National Party. Moreover, Prince Ermias also visited the Ethiopian consulate among other stops. "I am happy to report that we also visited the Governor General Residence," he said. "The visit to all the Ras Tefferian events was exceptional. Ras Tefferians have stood through thick and thin with our family. I am grateful for the warm reception we received in Montego Bay from the residents of that city."

Prince Ermias, who is also the grandson of Dejazmach Habte Mariam Gebre-Igziabiher -- the heir to the former Welega kingdom of Leqa Naqamte, which today is part of Ethiopia's Oromia region -- was barely a teenager when he managed to escape to England after his famous grandfather was deposed from power by a communist junta of junior military officers in the early 1970's. He was just six-years-old when Emperor Haile Selassie made his historic visit to Jamaica 50-years-ago, but Ermias has been on a mission to preserve his family's contribution to the history of modern Ethiopia and beyond. Late last year he mounted a successful legal battle in Geneva, Switzerland against the international auction powerhouse Christie’s demanding that the institution halt its planned sale of Haile Selassie’s personal wristwatch. Lawyers representing the family convincingly argued in a Swiss court that the rare gold-timepiece was likely a stolen property from Ethiopia that belonged in a museum.

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, pictured at the National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica on April 21st, 2016, pursued his academic studies in Ethiopia, Great Britain, and the United States, receiving his undergraduate degree in social studies with a concentration in economics from the University of California, in Santa Barbara (UCSB). He also attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from 1983 to 1985. Prince Ermias speaks Amharic, English and German fluently. (Photo by Mel Tewahade)

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie (Right of center) meetings with Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica (left of center) on Friday, April 22nd, 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Mel Tewahade)

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie (Right) and his wife Saba Kebede with Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica (center) on Friday, April 22nd, 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

In addition, Prince Ermias shared that another memorable moment was the time spent with students at Jamaica College. "Jamaica College is one of the finest boys school in Jamaica that have produced the likes of former Prime Minster Bruce Golding and Dr. Michael Bennett," Ermias pointed out. "My grandfather visited the school on April 21, 1966 on Thursday. I am pleased to report that was able to replicate the event 50 years later. Jamaica College reminded me of my own school [in England] Haileybury College in Hertfordshire. Outstanding curriculum, detail for personal attention, great teachers, center for discipline and self-control, honor and the desire to serve country."

"The floral tribute at the shrine of Jamaican hero Marcus Garvey was reflective of my own identity," Prince Ermias told Tadias. "The visit to Mico University and the Museum in this school was excellent."

Some of our readers had noticed that when Prince Ermias had arrived in Jamaica on April 21st he was wearing a purple tie. Was it in remembrance of Prince, the iconic American musician and artist who had passed away the same day? "It was a coincidence," Prince Ermias clarified. "As you know Prince was pronounced dead at 11 am Central time. We also landed in Jamaica at 11 am. Jamaica is also on Central time. All of this was a coincidence" he said. However, "listening to Prince's music in the 1980s was comforting to me," he added. "As you know the Ethiopian people and our family were being persecuted by the brutal communists during those dark days. Prince's style of mixing funk, dance and rock music was unique, grand and comforting. Rest in Peace, Prince Rogers Nelson."

Regarding his trip to Jamaica Prince Ermias continued: "The visit to the beautiful island was a magical moment for Saba and me." He added: "The entire program was flawless. It is difficult to say what the best moment was. But if I have to identify one, my favorite will be, that no one got hurt during our visit. There is always a chance that something could have gone wrong with our motorcade; while operated by the finest Jamaica Police force the logistics of accommodating such a large crowd could have been problematic. I am grateful for the hard work our Ras Tefferians invested to make the visit a success." Certainly, the warm reception given to Prince Ermias at Norman Manley airport and the subsequent press conference was unprecedented for an Ethiopian delegation since Emperor Haile Selassie himself arrived in the country on April 21, 1966 for a three-day State visit, which the Jamaica Observer notes "remains, arguably, the most momentous of its kind in Jamaica."

"I want to thank the people and government of Jamaica for a successful trip to the Island," Prince Ermias said.

In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie's Historic Visit to Jamaica (TADIAS)

Haile Selassie’s visit was a momentous occasion (Jamaica Observer)
Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch
New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Marcus Samuelsson Hosts 2nd Annual Harlem EatUp Food Festival May 19 – 22

Marcus Samuelsson, pictured at the inaugural Harlem EatUp Food Festival in 2015, is the co- founder of the annual food and cultural celebrations in Harlem along with Herb Karlitz of Karlitz & Co. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The 2nd annual Harlem EatUp Food Festival is scheduled to take place from May 19th to May 22nd, 2016 at various venues in Harlem. The four-day festival, which was launched last year by the Ethiopian-born chef & entrepreneur Marcus Samuelsson and veteran event marketer Herb Karlitz allows participants “to see and taste all Harlem has to offer from the artists of the kitchen, the canvas, the stage and the streets.”

Former President Bill Clinton is the honorary chair of the festival, and the program includes the Dine In Harlem series, where “an array of Harlem restaurants and chefs will host acclaimed chefs from NYC and across the country to collaborate on multi-course menus that showcase the unique feel of Harlem’s landscape.” Participating restaurants include Samuelsson’s Ginny’s Supper Club, Harlem’s famous Sylvia’s Restaurant (the Queen of Soul Food), Melba’s Restaurant, The Cecil, Minton’s and Blujeen.

“Menus will be paired with wines from the Bordeaux Wine Council, and each dinner will feature dynamic Harlem artists and performers, making Dine In Harlem one of the biggest multi-room dinner parties this season,” notes the Times Square Chronicles.

(Photo courtesy HarlemEatUp.com.)

(Photo courtesy HarlemEatUp.com.)

In addition, this year the festival features the Saturday and Sunday stroll at Morningside Park — sponsored by Citi bank and Aetna — highlighting “unlimited tastings of Harlem’s signature dishes, samplings of craft beer, fine wine and bespoke cocktails.”

If You Go:
More info and tickets at harlemeatup.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

7 Ethiopian Films Screening in NYC in May

"Price Of Love" (Amharic/English 2015) is directed by Hermon Hailay and features cast members Eskindir Tameru, Fereweni Gebregergs, Kassahun Getatchew, Solomon Teka and Dawit Gulilat. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, May 2nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — At least seven Ethiopian films are set to screen in NYC in May 2016 as part of the New York African Film Festival and the 13th Annual Sheba Film Festival.

Hermon Hailay’s Price of Love will be featured at Lincoln Center this week at the NY African Film Festival as well as Director Yared Zeleke’s award-winning drama LAMB; Red Leaves by Bazi Gete starring Debebe Eshetu; Afripedia X New York by Ethiopian and Eritrean filmmakers Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe of Sweden; and The Dance of King David by Axel Baumann exploring the Ark of the Covenant. In addition, If Only I Were That Warrior, directed by Valerio Ciriaci about “the Italian occupation of Ethiopia and its unresolved legacy today,” will screen on May 24th at Tsion Cafe in Harlem as part of the 2016 Sheba Film Festival.

Below are the schedules, venues and brief descriptions of the films as shared by festival organizers.

May 6th and May 10th
Hermon Hailay, Ethiopia, 2015, 99min.
In Amharic with English subtitles

Teddy (Eskindir Tameru), the son of a prostitute who grew up on the streets after his mother’s death, desperately tries to avoid the temptation of his old ways of chewing khat and drinking. His only support system is his priest, who bought him a taxi license on the condition that he live a decent life away from his past. But after Teddy intervenes in a fight between a prostitute, Fere (Fereweni Gebregergs), and her ex-boyfriend, who sells women to “work” in the Middle East, his taxi is stolen by the latter as leverage. As a result, Teddy finds himself caught up in a relationship with Fere, and during the search for the car, they discover the price of love..


May 9th
Axel Baumann, USA, 2011, 32min.
In English and Amharic with English subtitles

Over 2900 years ago, King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. When he did, King David, “danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14). The Dance of King David is a documentary film about the history and the contemporary worship of the Ark. This film examines the disappearance of the Ark from Israel and its reemergence in Ethiopia. We witness the “Dance of King David,”—an ancient rite still performed today by Jews and Ethiopians alike and we learn firsthand what it means to believe in the supernatural powers of this sacred object. (Screening with Black Jews: The Roots of the Olive Tree)


May 10th
Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft, Senay Berhe, Sweden/USA, 2016, 12min.
In English

In the first in a series of short films set in the African diaspora, we meet Ethiopian/Eritrean Missla Libsekal, the founder of online publication Another Africa, as she embraces collaboration to counter the assumed perspectives of Africa and Africans. Senegalese/French photographer Delphine Diallo shares her passion and challenges in mindfully shifting her lens between Dakar and New York, while Somalian/Australian world champion Hula Hoop master Marawa continues to perfect her passion in the face of conventional expectations. Welcome toAfripedia, welcome to creativity.


May 26th
Yared Zeleke, Ethiopia/France/Germany/Norway/Qatar, 2015, 94min.
In Amharic with English subtitles

Yared Zeleke’s remarkable debut feature tells the story of Ephraim, a young Ethiopian boy who is sent by his father to live with distant relatives in the countryside after his mother’s death. Ephraim uses his cooking skills to carve out a place among his cousins, but when his uncle decides that his beloved sheep must be sacrificed for the next religious feast, he will do anything to save the animal and return home.


May 27th
Bazi Gete, Israel, 2014, 80min.
In Amharic and Hebrew with English subtitles

Seventy-four-year-old Meseganio Tadela (Debebe Eshetu) immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia nearly 30 years ago, but has zealously chosen to retain his culture, speaking very little Hebrew. When his wife passes away, he sets out on a journey to visit his fully assimilated children, eventually coming to realize that he belongs to a rapidly disappearing class. Ethiopian-Israeli director Bazi Gete’s debut feature is a beautifully acted, movingly rendered portrait of a man struggling with his place in the world. (Screening with Cholo)



763 St Nicholas Ave, New York, New York 10031

May 10th
Directed by Rebecca Shore , Israel/Ethiopia , 2015, 45 mins

The film follows the backstory and personal journey of Mekonen Abebe, a young African-Israeli Jew, once a young shepherd in Africa and now a commander in the Israeli Defense Forces. Mekonen is one of many brave young men and women drafted into compulsory service in the IDF, to defend their homeland and the liberal values of democracy, freedom and equality. Born and raised in an Ethiopian village, Mekonen was a 12-year-old shepherd when his father died suddenly, less than a day before his family was to move to Israel. The film accompanies Mekonen back to Africa on an emotional journey. He explores his roots, makes peace with his past and embraces his future in Israel. After a difficult adjustment period in Israel, Mekonen was fortunate to attend the Hodayot High School, which educates children from troubled backgrounds and helps integrate them into Israeli society. Mekonen became a decorated officer in the IDF, while staying true to his Ethiopian roots and culture. Mekonen is an uplifting and inspiring film that will move audiences and show viewers that anything is possible with the right attitude, tools and support.

May 24th
Directed Valerio Ciriaci, USA/Italy, 2015, 72 mins

“If Only I Were That Warrior” is a film about the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1935 and its unresolved legacy today. Driving this investigation is the story of a recently constructed monument to Rodolfo Graziani, a Fascist general remembered for war crimes committed during the invasion and occupation of Ethiopia, which sparked international protests and brought this chapter of history back to the forefront of public discourse. The film’s primary aim is to offer an unprecedented glance at the controversial memory of the Fascist invasion in Ethiopia. Italy’s uncomfortable relationship with its colonial past has been a matter of discussion in academia, but the general public never engaged in a critical discourse on the real events that took place during Mussolini’s campaigns in Africa. No court ever reviewed the crimes committed. Graziani, a main player during the Ethiopian campaign and later the viceroy of the new colony, was never put on trial for his crimes. To this day many remember him as a hero in his hometown of Affile, the small town not far from Rome where the monument was erected in 2012.

Film followed by Q&A with Director

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

US Deeply Concerned by Charges of Terrorism Against Prof. Bekele Gerba

Ethiopian opposition leader Professor Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

U.S. State Department

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC — The United States is deeply concerned by the Government of Ethiopia’s recent decision to file terrorism charges against Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) First Vice-Chairman Bekele Gerba and others in the Oromia region who were arrested in late 2015.

We again urge the Ethiopian government to discontinue its reliance on the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation law to prosecute journalists, political party members, and activists, as this practice silences independent voices that enhance, rather than hinder, Ethiopia’s democratic development.

We commend Ethiopian officials for pledging to address legitimate grievances from their citizens and acknowledging that security forces were responsible for some of the violence that took place during the protests in Oromia; however, the government continues to detain an unknown number of people for allegedly taking part in these protests and has not yet held accountable any security forces responsible for alleged abuses. This undermines the trust and confidence needed to produce lasting solutions.

We urge the Ethiopian government to respect due process of those detained by investigating allegations of mistreatment, by publicly presenting the evidence it possesses against them, and by distinguishing between political opposition to the government and the use or incitement of violence. We reaffirm our call on the government to protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of its citizens, including the right to participate in political parties, and we urge the Government to promptly release those imprisoned for exercising these rights.

Ethiopia Charges Opposition Leader Professor Bekele Gerba With Terrorism

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo of the Week: Google Co-Founder Larry Page at Walia Ethiopian Restaurant

Larry Page poses for a photo with Walia restaurant staff in San Jose, California. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 29th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Google co-founder Larry Page was the latest Silicon Valley technology leader to pose in front of the green, yellow and red painted sidewall at Walia Ethiopian restaurant in San Jose, California. Page, who is currently the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. dined at the restaurant on Sunday, April 24th with his wife and kids, according to the owners. Page follows in the footsteps of Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, who was spotted enjoying injera at Walia in 2014. Like Zuckerberg, Page also took a moment to pose for a photo with Walia Restaurant staff.

You can learn more about Walia restaurant at www.waliaethiopian.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Associate Creative Director David Mesfin Describes Hyundai 2016 NFL Draft AD

David Mesfin is the Associate Creative Director for the Hyundai 2016 NFL Draft AD. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This past February David Mesfin was behind the 2016 Super Bowl AD for Hyundai Motor Co. Prior to that the Ethiopian American Associate Creative Director was involved in the Korean automaker’s famous 2014 FIFA World Cup commercial entitled Because Fútbol. And this week Hyundai USA kicked-off another nationwide campaign created by David Mesfin and colleagues, this one celebrating American football and the 2016 National Football League (NFL) draft, which take place in Chicago from Thursday, April 28th to Saturday, April 30th.

The new commercial called Draft Day 2031 is a playful mockumentary featuring children vying for the pro-football status under the microscope of celebrity sports broadcasters. “The project was very complex in terms of logistics and partners, but at the end our vision came together,” David shared with Tadias Magazine. “We have an amazing client who believed in the idea and gave us the green light to produce it in a very short period of time.” David added: “This idea aligns with NFL’s focus on families through their ongoing Football is Family Campaign.”

During NFL Draft season the U.S. football league selects and recruits college football players, and David points out that “last year over 200k fans experienced the Draft in person. Over 34 Brands (a record number) activated on-site at the Draft and 37M viewers watched the Draft on NFL Network and ESPN.”

The video stars NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock, Lawrence Timmons from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Sam Young from Miami Dolphins. “Mayock and the players are doing normal player analysis as they would at the NFL Combine leading into Draft, but you soon realize that the players being analyzed are young children,” Hyundai USA explained in its press release. “Users will have the opportunity to pull Facebook images of their own children playing youth football into a video generator on the Destination Hub. The video generated is Mayock analyzing the children.”

“Our Draft Day 2031 digital hub is a fun way for families to engage with the draft and create personalized content of their future football stars,” said Dean Evans, Chief Marketing Officer of Hyundai Motor America. “The goal of our NFL program is to make the fan experience better, whether that’s on TV, on social media or on-site, and we are excited to bring that to life in year two of our official NFL sponsorship.”

David Mesfin (third from left) with his co-workers on the set of 2016 Hyundai NFL Draft AD. (Courtesy photo)

As an Associate Creative Director, David tells Tadias that his main focus was to make sure that the idea was executed on time and on budget. “I managed the client expectation, and made sure internal teams and vendors collaborated,” he said. “I had an amazing team at InnoceanUSA to bring this idea to life. A big credit goes to my writing partner Nick Flora who came up with the original idea.”

Five bold predictions for the 2016 NFL draft (USA Today)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Maaza Mengiste Speaks on Refugee Crisis at Pen World Voices Festival

Novelist and essayist Maaza Mengiste is the author of "Beneath the Lion’s Gaze." (Photo: by Juergen Bauer)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, April 25th, 2016

Maaza Mengiste Speaks on Refugee Crisis at Pen World Voices Festival

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American writer Maaza Mengiste is one of the featured speakers at a panel discussion in NYC this week entitled Country of Nowhere: The Refugee Crisis that will be held at Nuyorican Poets Cafe as part of the 2016 PEN World Voices Festival. Panelists include Naila Al Atrash, Marlon James, Laila Lalami and Sunjeev Sahota.

“What is the responsibility of writers in humanitarian crises such as the Syrian refugee crisis? Few countries have offered shelter. Politicians and pundits have responded with hateful rhetoric and fear mongering,” states the announcement from PEN America. “Join a conversation with writers whose work contributes to an understanding of displacement, dislocation, and collective responsibility.”

Maaza Mengiste is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. Maaza is also the “writer for the Ethiopia segment of GIRL RISING,” a feature film that tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 developing countries around the world. Maaza’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and Lettre International.

If You Go:
Country of Nowhere: The Refugee Crisis
Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 7:00pm
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 East 3rd Street, New York, NY 10009
Tickets: $12 in advance/$15 at the door/$10 students only at the door.
Purchase tickets here.

Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Historic Visit to Jamaica

Emperor Haile Selassie's grandson, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, arrives in Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday, April 21st, 2016 for 50th anniversary of Haile Selassie's historic visit to the country. (Photo: Mel Tewahade)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, April 25th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s historic visit to Jamaica in 1966. According to the Jamaica Observer, “Haile Selassie arrived in Kingston on April 21, 1966 for a three-day State visit. It remains, arguably, the most momentous of its kind in Jamaica.”

Commemorative events and activities that took place in the island nation included an essay competition about Haile Selassie’s landmark visit to the Caribbean, a photographic exhibition, and a special service at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston on Sunday, April 24th.

In addition, an Ethiopian delegation from the U.S. led by the Emperor’s grandson, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, arrived in Kingston on Thursday, April 21st to take part in the festivities. The official schedule for Prince Ermias, shared with Tadias Magazine, included a motorcade from Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) to University of the West Indies (UWI) and a stop at Heroes Park, Mico College, JC, and UTech. Prince Ermias also delivered a speech on education Friday at a high school in the Jamaican capital named for his grandfather as well as an evening lecture at UWI Mona Campus.

Below are a few photos from the celebrations in Jamaica:

At 50th anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s historic visit to Jamaica. (Photo by Mel Tewahade)

Ermias Sahle Selassie, Emperor Haile Selassie’s grandson, with his wife Saba Kebede, at the 50th anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s historic visit to Jamaica, Thursday, April 21st, 2016. (Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

The Jamaica Observer adds: “Selassie’s visit to Jamaica was the second stop in a four-country Caribbean trip that also included stops in Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, and Barbados. During his stay he met acting Prime Minister Sir Donald Sangster and Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante, was awarded an honorary degree from the University of the West Indies (UWI), and addressed Parliament. He also visited Payne Lands in Kingston and made stops in rural areas like Magotty, St Elizabeth and Montego Bay, St James.”

Additional celebrations are planned in Trinidad and Tobago.

Below is a video of Haile Selassie’s visit to Jamaica on April 21, 1966:

Video: Emperor haile Selassie of Ethiopia visits Jamaica part 1

Video: Emperor haile Selassie of Ethiopia visits Jamaica part 2

Interview With Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie (TADIAS)
Haile Selassie’s visit was a momentous occasion (Jamaica Observer)
Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch
New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

David Krut NYC Presents Endale Desalegn

Artwork by Endale Desalegn, Milk and Darkness 5, 2014. (Courtesy of David Krut Projects NYC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 21st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — “Art is a lumpy term, but, in my understanding, it is mystical journey of inner curiosity,” says Ethiopian artist Endale Desalegn whose first solo exhibition with David Krut Projects in NYC opens today.

Endale is the second Ethiopian artist to be featured by the David Krut Projects this Spring. Photographer Aïda Muluneh’s first solo exhibition at the gallery entitled The World is 9 closed last week. Endale’s exhibition will remain on display through June 11th, 2016.

“Endale’s astute visual commentary is heightened by the fact that his home city, Addis Ababa, is becoming more consumerist-driven by the day,” the press release stated. “Gentrification is enacted in the name of urban development and has come with a heavy price for families like Endale’s for whom the city has become increasingly inaccessible to the extent that they are facing possible eviction from their home. This compelling exhibition is packed with subtle visual references to social survival and seeks to provoke contemplation on this unpredictable mode of existence.”

Artwork by Endale Desalegn, Grawa 3, 2014. (Courtesy of David Krut Projects NYC)

Endale has exhibited in Ethiopia, South Africa, Portugal and the United States. Most recently, he exhibited at David Krut Projects in Johannesburg in a solo show titled Two Social Pacifiers (2015), which followed a successful solo exhibition, A Single Vibration (2014), also at DKP. Endale has had artist residencies in Lisbon (2011) and David Krut Projects, Johannesburg, (2014, 2015) and has lectured at Addis Ababa University’s Institute of Architecture (2009) as well as at Hawassa College of Teacher Education in Ethiopia (2013).

If You Go:
David Krut Projects Presents
Endale Desalegn
Apr 21st – Jun 11th, 2016
Opening Reception: Thursday, Apr. 21st, 6pm -8pm
526 West 26th Street, #816
New York, NY 10001

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos: Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers Presentation in NYC

At the NYC book launch for Temsalet -- 64 profiles of Ethiopian women role models -- at the Schomburg Center in Harlem on Saturday, April 16, 2016. (Photograph: By Kidane M. for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, April 18th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Call of Ethiopia — a poem by the distinguished African American writer Langston Hughes — was read by Elias Wondimu during his presentation of Tsehai Publishers on Saturday, April 16th in the lobby of the Schomburg Center in Harlem dedicated to the poet. Tsehai Publishers is one of the only remaining independent presses affiliated with a university that focuses on African literature and Pan-African voices. Saturday night’s program also included a book talk by Editor Mary-Jane Wagle featuring Temsalet: Phenomenal Ethiopian Women published by Tsehai in 2015.

During her presentation Mary-Jane Wagle highlighted some of the 64 remarkable Ethiopian women photographed by award-winning Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh and featured in the book including Amsale Gualu, the first female captain at Ethiopian Airlines; lawyer and women’s bank founder Meaza Ashenafi Mengistu (who was also the attorney and real-life inspiration for the award-winning film Difret); Ethiopia’s first female construction tower crane operator, Marta Mesele Woldemariam; women’s activist and founder of the Jalala Women’s Association, Meshu Baburi Dekebo; actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo; children’s television program creator and producer Bruktawit Tigabu Tadesse; and art curator and cultural activist Meskerem Asegued Bantiwalu.

The presentations by Elias Wondimu and Mary-Jane Wagle were followed by a book signing session. Guests enjoyed Ethiopian food and coffee catered by Bunna Cafe as well as Sheba Tej and wines from Ethiopia, Chile, and South Africa served by Tsion Cafe.

This event was part of the Tadias Salon Series and co-hosted by Tadias Magazine, Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Temsalet: 64 Profiles of Ethiopian Women Role Models — NYC Book Launch April 16

The NYC book launch & presentation for Temsalet takes place on Saturday, April 16th. (Click here to RSVP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 14th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Today “nearly 65 percent of Ethiopians are young people under the age of 25; the future of Ethiopia is in their hands,” states the introduction to Temsalet, an intimate photo journal compilation of 64 women who may serve as role models for the country’s vast, diverse and resourceful millennial generation. “About half, or nearly 30 million, of those young Ethiopians are girls who will share their country and their future with the young boys they are growing up with.”

The women featured in the book range in age from their 20s to 90s, and include many firsts in their professions including the first female captain at Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s first female neurologist, first female professor with full rank, first female Olympic marathon gold medalist, first Ethiopian woman to have a solo art exhibition, and Ethiopia’s first female construction crane operator.

Edited and compiled by Mary-Jane Wagle with photography by Aida Muluneh, Temsalet is a project of the Network of Ethiopian Women’s Association and is published by Tsehai Publishers of Los Angeles, California.

“We started writing this book because we want Ethiopian girls and young women to know that there are phenomenal women,” Saba Gebremedhin, Executive director of NEWA, and Mary-Jane Wagle, the book’s Compiler and Editor, co-wrote in the introduction. “We want them to be able to imagine how they can realize their dreams by reading the stories of some of these women. We hope the women in this book will be Temsalet - role models – for them.”

Join us on Saturday, April 16th for the New York book launch & presentation featuring Temsalet. The editor, Mary-Jane Wagle, will be present to give a book talk followed by a book-signing, and Elias Wondimu will present Tsehai Publishers — one of the only remaining independent academic presses in the United States dedicated to African literature and Pan-African voices.

This event is brought to you as part of the Tadias Salon Series and co-hosted by Tadias Magazine, Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University.

If You Go:
(Click here to RSVP)
Tickets: $17 online, $20 at the door. Kids free.
WHEN: Saturday, April 16, 2016
From 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: Schomburg Center in Harlem
515 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10037

(Ethiopian hors d’oeuvres & wine will be served)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Process and Progression: Solo Exhibition by Leikun Nahusenay at Addis Fine Art

BROKEN MIRRORS II, 2009. Digital Photography. 80 x 80 cm, by Artist Leikun Nahusenay. (Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Leikun Nahusenay’s upcoming solo art exhibition, entitled Process and Progression, will open at the newly inaugurated Addis Fine Art gallery in Ethiopia’s capital on April 16th, 2016. Leikun was recently part of Addis Fine Art’s debut exhibition last December featuring several contemporary artists representing “the breadth and depth of artistic practice” in the city.

“Addis Fine Art gallery is pleased to continue its programme with a solo exhibition of works by multidisciplinary artist Leikun Nahusenay featuring works in photography, painting, mixed media, and sculpture,” the gallery announced in a press release. “Process and Progression is a retrospective of Nahusenay’s work over the last 16 years. Though wide-ranging in his choice of medium, Nahusenay’s exploration of the Himeme Siqlet, a sacred Ethiopian Orthodox text, is what grounds his seemingly disparate pieces together, through its evocation of the world’s opposing forces (light, dark; flesh, spirit; good, evil) and the futility of their reconciliation.”

Leikun Nahusenay was born in 1982 in Addis Ababa and completed his art training from the Ale School of Fine Arts (2006) and Teferi Mekonnen School (2011). As a member of the Netsa Art Village Leikun largely considers himself as a self-taught artist, and has based his multidisciplinary practice at the Nas Gedame Studio in Addis Ababa. His work has been shown at numerous exhibitions including the Addis Calling exhibit in December 2015.

“Nahusenay’s fascination with life’s cyclical nature, and its expression in physical spaces, is evident throughout the collection,” adds the press release. “Informed by the simple yet layered, circular structure of a traditional hut, Gojo Bet (2000) one of his earliest works, features interposed cardboard shapes, each of various textures, sizes, and shades of taupe, suggesting movement, and a certain playfulness of perspective. This playfulness seeps into other pieces where Nahusenay quite literally offers us a window into a dark, tenuous landscape, albeit through the protective shield of a woman’s shawl.”

Founded by Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile, Addis Fine Art gallery aims to represent established and emerging international artists primarily from Ethiopia and the Diaspora. Addis Fine Art Gallery participated in the 2016 Armory Show in New York City this past March.

If You Go:
Process and Progression Exhibit – Leikun Nahusenay
Date: April 16th – June 11th, 2016
Location: Addis Fine Art Gallery, 3rd Floor, Wold-Fikir Building
Bole Medhane Alem, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 913 426553

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview With Hanna M. Kebbede, CEO of Emahoy Music Foundation

Hanna M. Kebbede, CEO of Emahoy Music Foundation, with her aunt Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, April 10th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In 1998 the renowned Israel-based Ethiopian nun, composer, and pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, who was then 75, wrote a pleading letter to her niece in the United States imploring her for assistance in promoting her music. Since then, thanks in large part to the determination of Hanna M. Kebbede — her niece who resides in Falls Church, Virginia — Emahoy’s music has reached an international audience. A compilation of her work was released on the Éthiopiques (Volume 21) CD series in 2006. And now Hanna, who also heads the Emahoy Music Foundation, is preparing to produce a documentary film about her aunt’s fascinating life, spanning more than nine decades and three continents.

“At the time that Emahoy had requested my help she had just lost two of her three surviving sisters, including my mother, within a 6-month period,” Hanna recalled speaking about the letter she received 18 years ago that inspired her to assist her aunt. “She was worried that she may not have much time left of her own and wanted me to distribute her music before she died. She had saved her stipend from the monastery to pay for it and used the proceeds to rebuild a church in Jericho,” Hanna told Tadias.

It would take Hanna another three years before she got in touch with Francis Falceto from the French label Buda Musique — producers of the extensive éthiopiques CD collection. The label agreed to issue Emahoy’s Piano Solo in its 21st volume, and since then Hanna has established the Emahoy Music Foundation, that runs an annual music camp in the summer for children aged 6-12 as well as provide scholarships for low-income kids to receive private music lessons.

“We also invite musicians to play Emahoy’s music to keep her legacy alive,” Hanna added. “We collaborate with other organizations and fund projects related to young people and education. For example, in 2014 we made a financial contribution to a youth program in Ethiopia through the Wegene Foundation.”

In addition, the foundation fields numerous requests for music licensing (Emahoy has over 150 compositions) and calls from filmmakers to do a documentary about Emahoy. “Every time I have conversation with these filmmakers, I think to myself that her story has to be set in the context of her upbringing in Ethiopia,” Hanna said. “There are two sides to her life — one is her music and the other is her religious life.”

How did she navigate the conflict between these two worlds? That’s the central question that Hanna hopes to explore in her upcoming documentary. She plans to start shooting the film in late May both in Ethiopia and Israel.

(Cover of Ethiopiques, Vol. 21 CD)

In many ways Emahoy’s long life mirrors that of the tumultuous history of Ethiopia in the past 90 years. She was taken prisoner of war, along with her family, during the fascist occupation of Ethiopia in the late 1930s. She lived to witness the defeat of the Italians, and became a student of religion in Gondar in the 1960s (studying Saint Yared’s 6th-century music). And barely a decade later she would survive the mayhem following the 1970′s communist revolution. It was not until 1984 that she fled Ethiopia’s Derg era to her current residence at the Ethiopian Monastery of Jerusalem.

According her bio on the foundation’s website, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, was born “Yewubdar Gebru” on December 12, 1923 in Addis Abeba and at the age of six was sent to boarding school in Switzerland where she studied violin and piano. Returning to Ethiopia in 1933 she was taken prisoner along with other family members in 1937 by Italians who sent them to the isalnd of Asinara and later Mercogliana. Following the end of the war Yewubdar resumed her music studies in Cairo, and returned once more to Ethiopia to briefly work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before secretly fleeing Addis Ababa to enter the Guishen Mariam Monastery in Wello at the age of 19. At the age of 21 she was ordained as a nun and received the title of Emahoy Tsege Mariam where she continued her music and wrote compositions for violin, piano and organ concerto. Emahoy’s first record was released in 1967 in Germany through the assistance of Emperor Haile Selassie with subsequent piano compositions released in 1973, the proceeds of which were used to assist orphanages.

At Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s request both her published and unpublished compositions have been donated to her foundation to continue to provide disadvantaged children with the opportunities to study classical and jazz musical genres.

“Her life is full of teaching moments for young people, artists and students,” Hanna said. “She has endured a lot. It is a uniquely Ethiopian story, but at the same time the lessons are universal.”

You can learn more and support the film project at https://www.gofundme.com/pmr3b54k

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Hosts Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers at Schomburg

Temsalet is a book featuring the stories and images of 64 accomplished Ethiopian women. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 08, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Join us on Saturday, April 16th for the New York book launch & presentation featuring Temsalet – a photographic portrait of sixty-four phenomenal contemporary Ethiopian women who have broken through age-old barriers to advance in their fields. Temsalet‘s editor, Mary-Jane Wagle, will be present to give a book talk followed by a book-signing, and Elias Wondimu will present Tsehai Publishers — one of the only remaining independent academic presses in the United States dedicated to African literature and Pan-African voices.

Edited and compiled by Mary-Jane Wagle with photography by Aida Muluneh, Temsalet is a project of the Network of Ethiopian Women’s Association and is published by Tsehai Publishers of Los Angeles, California.

This event is brought to you as part of the Tadias Salon Series and co-hosted by Tadias Magazine, Tsehai Publishers and Loyola Marymount University.

If You Go:
Tickets: $17 per person (Limited space available Click here to RSVP)
WHEN: Saturday, April 16, 2016
From 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: Schomburg Center in Harlem
515 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10037

(Ethiopian hors d’oeuvres & drinks will be served)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

How DC Native Kenny Allen Moved to Ethiopia

The following is a Q & A with Addis Ababa-based artist and businessman Kenny Allen, who moved from his hometown in Washington, D.C. to Ethiopia ten years ago. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tesfaye Mohamed

Published: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Kenny Allen is a musician, songwriter, producer, sound engineer, actor, and bag designer. Born and raised in Washington, DC Kenny has been living in Addis Ababa for the past 10 years, producing and performing music while making his mark in the fashion design sector.

Kenny has hosted a radio show on the first English radio station in Ethiopia (Afro-FM), and has produced music for several artists including Gash Abera Molla’s album Yamral Hagere, which won “Album of the Year 2014″ at Sheger FM’s Music Choice Awards; Sydney Salmon’s Ethiopia is Calling; as well as Wes Felton’s soon to be released The Ultimate Challenge; and Ethiopian-Armenian Singer Vahe Tilbian’s Mixology albums. Currently, Kenny is collaborating with Senegalese Poet Souleymane Diamanka on a full album recorded in his home studio E.A.R.S. (East African Recording Studio) in Addis.

In addition to running his own recording studio, Kenny has recorded three albums of his own, acted in three feature films and launched an iconic bag line called Und Kǝn — roughly translating to “one day” in Amharic. The bags are designed and manufactured in Ethiopia and sold worldwide.

When I learned about Kenny, I wanted to know his story; why he packed up and left Washington, DC, to settle in Addis. I wanted to know more about his career, his successful business, and what attracted him to his new homeland, Ethiopia.

Tesfaye Mohamed: I am really curious as to what prompted you to live and start a business in Ethiopia. Can you tell me about that?

Kenny Allen: I was playing guitar for the Grammy-nominated Ethiopian Singer Wayna, when the promoter of one of her concerts, Emmanuel Mekuria, opened a club in Addis called Harlem Jazz, and asked me to join. I had been touring with two international artists, MeShell Ndegeocello and Raheem DeVaughn, all over the world but I had never been to Africa. The contract was originally for 6 months, and because I felt so professionally embraced, it turned into 10 years. Thanks largely in part to singer Jonny Ragga — who gave me the platform to reach Ethiopians both here and abroad with a song I featured on entited Shiftaw Libu — I was able to brand myself as a public personality.

I also appreciated the various distinct cultures of Ethiopia, was seduced by the year-round mild climate, and appreciated the opportunity to explore many different artistic disciplines. Living in Africa, Ethiopia specifically, allowed me to see the world at large from a different perspective.

Tesfaye: Do you have friends or family members from Ethiopia?

Kenny: When I came here, I didn’t know anyone here. Over the years, in Washington DC, I encountered many Ethiopian individuals, but mainly from a distance. Ethiopian culture is often a very tight-knit bond that sometimes can be hard to break through, but the more I showed my admiration and interest in learning about it, the more people began to open up to me. I learned from some of the best in the music business — from the veteran group, the 4 Star Band, to the Mehari Brothers and a group that I assembled called the 251 Band.

Tesfaye: Why did you move from DC to Ethiopia?

Kenny: Prior to coming to Ethiopia, I had been recording and marketing my own original music for 10 years. I was shopping music and trying to get signed to record companies. When I came to Addis, I felt a sense of isolation and self-containment within the country. For a large, major city back in those times the vibe was more simple; not as tense as life in the Western world. It gave me a chance to live each day fully and enjoy conversation and companionship with friends and acquaintances.

I recognized the opportunity to share my experiences for the purpose of lifting the consciousness of those in my circle, mostly through music, but also more or less become an ambassador for African-Americans, dispelling stereotypes that black people only rapped and played basketball. I have a college degree and have seen many countries around the world while performing at some of the most prestigious venues. I felt that I could make a difference as well as have the mental space to continue to create.

Tesfaye: Can you tell me about your back-pack brand, Und Kǝn, that you launched in Ethiopia?

Kenny: Und Kǝn started very accidentally. One of the most memorable moments in the development of the brand was being on stage at Harlem Jazz having bought a cool new jacket earlier in the day. When I looked out into the audience I noticed a guy had on the exact same jacket. So I began using Ethiopian hand-woven fabrics to design my own stage wear. My shirts caught the eyes of the Desta Brothers, promoters in Washington DC, whenever I would go home to visit. They expressed how much they liked my shirts and suggested that I open a store. Almost immediately the name Und Kǝn came to mind — a play on my name Kenny, and an ode to the dreamers. I have always believed that through hard work, you will always fulfill your dreams, working towards the day where you have that breakthrough moment. I always add the tag “made in Ethiopia” because I feel like Ethiopia has made me the person and the human being I am today.

One day, as Und Kǝn was under development, a friend of mine brought back a laptop cover from the UK. There was one textile on the inside and one textile on the outside. I found this concept very interesting so I contacted a long-time friend from Florida — a performing artist and tailor named Haile Yesus — who began producing similar multi-textile laptop bags using Ethiopian and other African materials, which then became a simple hobby/creative outlet that caught the eyes of people in my social media network and turned into a sustainable business. I have gone on to employ local artisans to create the products featured on our website undken.com, namely two graduates from the Addis Ababa University leather textile program, Admassu Abera and Henok Kasahun as well as seamstress Selam Tesfaye. I quickly discovered that Ethiopia is rich in leather and that many major international companies source their leather from Ethiopia. With Addis Ababa being the home of the African Union there were several sources for West African wax, which I also incorporate in my products.

It is my belief that the only way you can make something original in this day and age is to combine elements that have not been combined. The idea of an African American musician who has always been fashion-minded coupled with the creation of a lush palette of fabrics and textiles using mainly just a great eye for color, is almost guaranteed to be at the least, a little different. I personally go to Merkato — the largest open-air market in Africa — to source and design each piece that we make before giving it to other members of the team to assemble and sew. On a craft level it’s a home-run business, but the global demands are driving it into a potentially globally recognizable brand. We are currently distributing the products on a small scale while shipping internationally and looking to offer wholesale distribution by the end of this year.

Tesfaye: What are your general impressions of Ethiopia, and economic condition of the people?

Kenny: Ethiopia is without a doubt a nation on the rise. What I wish most for the country is to invest more on the skill set and experiences of people. Empower the youth, bringing them into these global times but always stressing and emphasizing the importance of maintaining the tradition. Encourage people to take pride in their works and be aware of all levels of production, both internal and external. Public services should continue to grow in this growing metropolis of Addis Ababa, leaving no person or people behind along the way. Each group should realize a oneness under the age-old proverb, “together we stand, divided we fall.”

About the Author:
Tesfaye Mohamed is a second year law student at North Carolina Central University School of Law. His interests include Civil Rights Law, Constitutional Law, Employment Law, and Contract Law. Tesfaye was born in Ethiopia and grew up in the United States.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Obamas Refuse to Give in to Haters

Detractors have ramped up their hate speech toward President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during the last part of his administration. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The Washington Post

By Petula Dvorak

The most popular license in America now?

A license to hate.

And one of the most popular targets is President Obama, the country’s first African American commander-in-chief.

It’s no secret that America’s first family has received an unprecedented number of threats over the past seven years.

But the fever pitch of hate and bile toward the president and his family have taken an even sharper tone thanks to the primordial swamp that is the current presidential campaign.

It’s impossible to utter a single word about the White House, the first family or the president without a blast from the fire hose of haterade…

Disagree with Obama’s politics and policies, sure. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

But there is a viciousness, a racist edge to the hate-speak that echoes the darkest days of American history.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »

Watch: [A bittersweet farewell to the Obamas at their last Easter egg roll]

President Obama Makes Historic Trip to Cuba: Full Coverage
Proud of Obama’s Presidency, Blacks Are Sad to See Him Go

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

SEED Announces 2016 Honorees

2016 SEED honorees: Nini Legesse, Acha Debela, Benyam Belete and Solomon M. Kassa. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Since the early 1990′s the U.S.-based non-profit organization, the Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED), has been recognizing Ethiopian professionals, artists, students, elders and historical personalities for their “productive roles in society, their communities, and families.” The organization announced this week that it will hold its 24th Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony in the Washington, D.C. area on May 29th, 2016 at College Park Marriot Hotel in Hyattsville, Maryland.

The 2016 SEED honorees include Nini Legesse, founder and president of the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation; artist and educator Achamyeleh Debela; as well as Solomon M. Kassa, host of “Tech Talk” on EBS; and humanitarian Benyam Belete for his work in Ethiopia with Mekedonia, home for elderly and mentally challenged. The student honorees are Emanuel Fetene, Haimanot Shimelis, Sara Belay and Yonas Shiferaw.

Past recipients of the SEED award include Professor Donald N. Levine, Obang Metho, Menbere Aklilu, and the late Ambassador Zewde Retta and Rachel Beckwith.

In addition, SEED will posthumously honor Ras Alula Abba Nega this year. Per wiki: Ras Alula Engida (1827 – 1897), Known by his horse name Abba Nega, was “a general and Ethiopian politician. He was one of the important leaders of the Ethiopian armies of the 19th century and was described by Haggai Erlich as the greatest leader whom Abyssinia produced since the death of Emperor Tewodros II in 1868, and was referred to by Europeans as ‘the Garibaldi of Abyssinia.’ He participated in many battles for the independence of Ethiopia, most importantly Dogali and Adwa.”

If You Go:
Date: May 29, 2016
Time: 6PM – Midnight
Tickets: $75 online per person and $85 at the door
College Park Marriot Hotel
3501 University Blvd. E.
Hyattsville, MD 20783

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Julie Mehretu: A Trailblazing Artist Honored with Skowhegan Medal of Painting

Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: ANASTASIA MUNA via The New York Times)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, April 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This month, Julie Mehretu will be honored by the prestigious U.S. arts institution, The Skowhegan School of Painting, and receiving the medal for painting at its 70th anniversary celebration and 2016 Awards Dinner that will be held here in New York City on April 26th.

Last Fall, Julie was the only living female artist whose work was featured at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale, according to a New York Times article published this week highlighting “The Resurgence of Women-Only Art Shows” in the United States. The Times notes that “The Ethiopian-born painter was offered at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale, alongside 18 living male artists.”

“Celebrated internationally for large-scale, gestural paintings, the Ethiopian-born artist addresses both the formal concerns of color and line and the social concerns of power, history, globalism, and personal narrative,” said the announcement from Skowhegan.

Julie, who lives and works in New York, was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. She has received numerous international recognitions 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 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).

If You Go:
Skowhegan 70th Anniversary Celebration and 2016 Awards Dinner
Tuesday, APRIL 26, 2016

Julie Mehretu: An Abstract Artist Absorbing Multiple Identities (NBC News)
Julie Mehretu Awarded 2015 Medal of Arts by U.S. State Department
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Dibabas: The Fastest Family on the Planet

From left: Sisters Ejegayehu, Genzebe, and Tirunesh Dibaba, and their cousin Derartu Tulu. Genzebe is expected to win gold in Rio, while the other three are already Olympic medalists. (Photo: Vogue, April 2016)



The only sound at the top of the Entoto Mountains is the thwack of a cowherd’s staff against the tree trunks as he leads his small herd of oxen home. I am doing my best to keep pace with Tirunesh Dibaba, 30, and her younger sister, Genzebe, 25, two wisplike Ethiopians with wide smiles and a fiercely close bond who may be the most formidable female track stars in the world. In the late-afternoon light high above central Addis Ababa, we zigzag between the majestic eucalyptus trees, paying heed to the uneven ground below and staying alert for the not-uncommon hyena sighting—no problem, the sisters assure me, as long as you clap loudly and throw a rock in the animal’s direction.

The Dibabas’ dominance in the field of distance running has captivated the track-and-field community. “There are a few running families, but not like the Dibabas,” says the Ethiopian track legend Haile Gebrselassie. These are the only siblings in recorded history to hold concurrent world records, and they are as charmingly unassuming in person as they are fearsome on the track. The sisters were raised three hours south of here, in a tukul, or round mud hut, without electricity—their parents subsistence farmers growing teff, barley, and wheat. Their mother, Gutu, credits her daughters’ success to a loving environment as well as a steady supply of milk from the family cows.

In fact there are seven Dibaba siblings, and all of them run. “What the Dibabas have is what Serena and Venus have, except there are more of them,” says Ato Boldon, NBC’s track analyst. “It’s not a stretch to say they are the world’s fastest family.” Tirunesh is the most decorated, with three Olympic gold medals; Genzebe is tipped to win her first in Rio. Their older sister, Ejegayehu, 34, is an Olympian, too, with a silver from Athens, and their cousin Derartu Tulu was the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold, in the 1992 games. “World records, Olympic medals, world championships—the Dibabas’ accomplishments are unprecedented in this sport,” says Boldon.

With Rio on the horizon, the focus is squarely on Tirunesh and Genzebe. This is Tirunesh’s comeback season after taking a year off to raise her now one-year-old son, Nathan; meanwhile, Genzebe had a record-breaking summer, decimating the competition in August’s world championships and winning IAAF’s Athlete of the Year award, a crowning glory in the sport. “Last year Genzebe was head and shoulders the best athlete in the world,” says race coordinator Matt Turnbull, who has worked with the Dibabas for almost a decade. “And with Tiru being out for so long now, people are excited to see what will happen. They’re a fiercely competitive family, and they really dictate the landscape.”

Read more at Vogue.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Art of Independent Cinema with Filmmaker Haile Gerima

Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima who is based in the United States is also an influential film professor at Howard University in Washington, DC. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, March 26, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — “Haile Gerima is a legend among us, a giant among filmmakers,” says award-winning director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay describing the renowned Ethiopian-born filmmaker. “His work is so nourishing to me and other filmmakers who regard him as a master.” Next week Haile Gerima will be leading a community-based filmmaking workshop in Los Angeles entitled “The Art of Independent Cinema.”

“The workshop will provide a rare opportunity for Professor Gerima to share his vast experience as an independent trailblazer to filmmakers based in Los Angeles,” announced the event’s sponsor, Azla Vegan, an Ethiopian fusion restaurant located in the historic South Los Angeles/USC corridor. “The workshop will focus on the idea of honoring one’s accent in both the technical and creative aspects of the filmmaking process.”

Haile Gerima has produced and directed several works including Harvest: 3000 Years (1976), Sankoka (1993), Adwa: An African Victory (1999) and Teza (2009). He won Outstanding Production for Ashes and Embers at the London Film Festival in 1984; Best Cinematography Award for Sankofa at FESPACO in Burkina Faso; and Best Screenplay and Special Jury Prize for Teza at the Venice Film Festival in 2008. Haile Gerima was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Independence Film Festival in Washington DC in 2003.

Last month, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York hosted the screening of his award-winning 1982 film Ashes and Embers in collaboration with ARRAY, the rebirth of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) founded by filmmaker Ava Duvernay.

“First, study where you come from,” says Haile Gerima. “Accept who you are. It’s normal to think different from the mainstream colonial mode of thinking.” He notes: “And you don’t come to cinema empty-vesseled. You come by genomics, you have many rhythms and things that are put in the vibrations of your mother’s placenta.”

In the upcoming workshop in LA, which takes place over the course of two days — April 8th and 9th, 2016 from 12-3 pm — “Prof. Gerima will share tools to further develop a culture of innovative cinema as a counter to imitative cinema. Great emphasis will be placed on the value of empowering the individual filmmaker to tell stories that stem from one’s particular cultural identity. Previous filmmaking experience is highly recommended for participants. A limited number of scholarships are available for students.”

If You Go:
Master Class: The Art of Independent Cinema w/ Haile Gerima.
Friday, April 8, 2016 at 12:00 PM – Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 3:00 PM (PDT)
Workshop cost: $100
Scholarships are available for students: info@Azlavegan.com
Azla Vegan
Inside the Mercado la Paloma
3655 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Click here to RSVP

Video: TEZA, Trailer, directed by Haile Gerima Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg , Founder of ‘uCodeGirl,’ Wins Bush Fellowship

Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg, Founder & Executive Director of uCodeGirl, wins 2016 Bush Fellowship. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Children’s Book Author Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Bush Fellowship. The Bush Foundation announced Tuesday that Bethlehem — a Software Engineering Manager who works and lives in Fargo, North Dakota — was recognized for her non-profit organization, uCodeGirl, whose mission is to encourage young girls in her region to aim for careers in the high-tech industry.

According to the foundation, which is named for Archibald Granville Bush – an American businessman and former longtime executive at the Minnesota-based multinational conglomerate, the 3M Company — Fellows receive up to $100,000 “to pursue the knowledge, connections and experiences they need to be more effective leaders in their communities.”

This year 24 leaders were selected “for their records of achievement and their extraordinary potential to make significant contributions in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations.” The organization added: “The Bush Fellowship is both a recognition of their accomplishments and a bet on their extraordinary potential to positively impact our region.”

“Inspired by the question, ‘How can I see more people like me in the technology workforce?’” 2016 Fellow Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg told Tadias “I am engaging my vision and passion to create and foster an enrichment program that will inspire and empower young girls to be the driving force, the innovators of the technology they consume.” She added: “I am so honored and humbled to be among an amazing group of individuals who were named the 2016 Bush Fellows.”

Bethlehem described her organization, uCodeGirl, as “a sisterhood of empowerment, an organically growing non-profit organization that strives to decrease the gender disparity that exists in the technology industry. uCodeGirl works to activate the innovator in every girl by equipping them with computational thinking skills, leadership qualities and entrepreneurial mindset.”

A mother of three boys Bethlehem, who is also the author of a children’s book entitled The Alphabet Takes a Journey…Destination Ethiopia, was born and raised in Ethiopia and attended Addis Ababa University prior to working at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) office in the capital. She now resides in Fargo, North Dakota and overseas projects and manages teams working on healthcare related software at Intelligent InSites, a Fargo-based software company.

“We are thrilled to support this class of Fellows as they pursue the knowledge, connections and experiences that will help them be more effective leaders,” said Bush Foundation President Jennifer Ford Reedy in a statement.

The Bush Fellowship counts among its alumni former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, and President Obama’s Special Assistant for Native American Affairs Karen Diver.

Tadias Interview with Children’s Book Author Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Film on Ethiopian Nun Composer Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou

At age of 93, the renowned Ethiopian classical pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru continues to play music. A new film about her life is being produced by the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation.


The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation is producing a biopic of the nun musician. Emahoy’s life spans three continents and nine decades, a study in Europe, the Italian occupation of Ethiopia during WWII, preparing to be a concert pianist and a call to monastic life. It is epic. Little is known about her journey both as a musician and as a spiritual figure. Although she had published vinyl records in the 70s it was her solo compositions in Ethiopiques 21 published by Buda Musique that made her world famous. She was 85 years old then, and at the age of 93 she continues to play music and has a sharp mind.

You can read more and support the project at www.kickstarter.com.

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Blacks Proud of Obama’s Presidency (NYT)

President Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to civil rights leader, Rev. C.T. Vivian, at a White House ceremony in 2013. (The New York Times)

The New York Times


CHICAGO — In his 30s and 40s, the Rev. C.T. Vivian rode with the Freedom Riders, organized sit-ins in Nashville and worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Many years later, before the 2008 election, he traveled the country along with other civil rights leaders exclaiming to voters that a Barack Obama presidency was exactly the kind of prize that they had been fighting for all their lives.

All of that came back to him during a meeting at the White House three weeks ago between President Obama and several of those leaders. Mr. Vivian told the president how proud he was of him, and how sad he was to see him go.

And then he began to cry.

“If there was a way I could keep him there I would keep him there for another term,” Mr. Vivian, 91, said later from his home in Atlanta. “It is difficult for people who are not African-American to understand what it has been to have someone in the White House that you know understands you.”

But a large segment of the country has also been busy gazing upon the presidency that is ending. In interviews, African-Americans around the country said they were counting down the last 10 months of Mr. Obama’s term with pride, with sadness and also with a looming despair.

African-Americans speak about Barack Obama’s legacy, racism and how they feel
about the departure of the country’s first family from the White House. (Times Video)

Read more at The New York Times »

Election 2016: Chickens Come Home to Roost for Trump
Analysis: Chicago chaos tests Trump promises of unity
Trump Resumes Campaign After Chaotic Protests
Donald Trump’s Rally in Chicago Canceled After Violent Scuffles
Update: Michigan Goes to Sanders in Upset; Trump Wins 3 States
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg Says He Won’t Run, Fearing Victory for Trump
UPDATE: Trump, Cruz, Sanders, Hillary All Pick Up Wins on ‘Super Saturday’
‘Super Saturday’: Cruz, Trump Split Wins in Presidential Contests; Clinton Maintains Lead
Hillary, Trump Sweep Super Tuesday Votes
Trump wins push GOP to breaking point
Hillary Wins in Nevada, Trump Solidifies Lead in South Carolina
U.S. Election 2016: Year of The Outsiders
NH primary: Trump Wins, Hillary ‘Feels the Bern’
In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

DC Nightlife: Dawit Eklund’s Dance Floor

Dawit Eklund is a Virginia-born, D.C.-based dance music producer. (Photo: The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

By Chris Richards

There’s room for you on Dawit Eklund’s dance floor

Citizens of the nightlife know that dance music is humanity’s most miraculous form of communication. Think about it: With the help of various sound-machines, an individual creates some artificial rhythms that, upon being dispersed in the open air, compel variegated mobs to register their emotional excitement by shaking their collective tail feather.

So it makes a lot of sense to learn that Dawit Eklund was one of those Beltway kiddos whose parents’ careers required the family to spend big chunks of his childhood abroad — in Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and elsewhere. Now, at 25, Eklund has emerged as one of Washington’s most exciting dance music producers — but it’s not because he’s splicing styles from around the globe, it’s because he spent a lot of his young life learning how to communicate with different kinds of people.

Read more at The Washington Post »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Anti-Doping Agency Targets Ethiopia

World Anti-Doping Agency headquarters in Montreal, Canada. (Photo: Reuters)


March 10, 2016

Ethiopia moves into the doping spotlight

MONACO — This year Olympic Games could feature an athletics program without two of the sport’s most powerful nations – Russia and Kenya – while a third, Ethiopia, is under immense pressure to show it has adequate anti-doping measures.

Ethiopia is the latest to have its credibility questioned after it was announced last month that six athletes, some of them elite performers, are under investigation for doping.

In addition, former middle-distance world champion Abeba Aregawi, an Ethiopian-turned-Swede, has tested positive.

Russia is currently banned from all athletics following discovery of a state-sponsored doping regime and revelations of corruption.

Kenya, having missed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deadline last month, has now been given until May 12 to show it has adequate systems in place after a series of high-profile positive tests by athletes and the suspension of several leading athletics officials.

That is the backdrop to a meeting of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council on Thursday and Friday where President Sebastian Coe will be fighting to restore the credibility of the sport he graced on the track…

Read more »

Ethiopia Confirms 9 Athletes Under Investigation

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Three Ethiopian Films to be Featured at 2016 New African Film Festival in DC Area

'Price of Love,' (Amharic with English subtitles) is a drama film directed by Hermon Hailay. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Three recent films from Ethiopia will be screened at the 2016 New African Film Festival, taking place from March 11th to 18th at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“This year’s festival showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent,” organizers said in a press release. The Ethiopian movies include Yared Zeleke’s award-winning debut drama Lamb, Hermon Hailay’s Price of Love, and Miguel Llansó’s sci-fi Crumbs.

LAMB (2015)
Opening Date: Friday, March 11, 7:15 with post-screening reception from Abol Ethiopian Cuisine. (Also screening Sun, Mar 13, 4:45)

Lamb tells the story of an Ethiopian boy, Ephraïm, who bonds with a sheep as he is sent away from home following the death of his mother. Ephraïm soon learns that the sheep he befriended may have to be sacrificed for a feast and plots a way both to save the lamb and find his way home again. Lamb is the first Ethiopian film to be an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival and won ‘Best Feature Film’ at the 2015 Milano Film Festival.

Sat, Mar 12, 7:15; Wed, Mar 16, 7:15

Price of Love won the Special Prize at the 2015 Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, Best Screenplay at the 2015 Africa International Film Festival as well as the Bi Kidude Award (Chairman’s Award) at the 2015 Zanzibar Film Festival. Silver Spring Downtown publication describes Price of Love as a film where “one of the leading female filmmakers from Ethiopia, Hermon Hailay, examines tough social issues with great finesse in this gripping contemporary drama.”

Tue, Mar 15, 9:30; Thu, Mar 17, 5:15

Crumbs, which is being hailed as Ethiopia’s first “post-apocalyptic sci-fi romance” is a film by Addis Ababa-based Spanish writer and director Miguel Llanso. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the 68-minute movie makes “potent use of spectacularly extraterrestrial locations in the country’s sunbaked far north town of Dallol; the film takes an exotic and sometimes surreal approach to what’s essentially a simple, touching love story.” Crumbs was an Official Selection of the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival and International Film Festival of Rotterdam.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Schomburg Center Presents Haile Gerima

Haile Gerima. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 7th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Schomburg Center in Harlem will be screening the award-winning film Ashes and Embers on Wednesday, March 9th followed by a discussion with its director, cinematic legend and film professor Haile Gerima.

Ashes and Embers, which Haile directed and produced in 1982, “explores a disillusioned Vietnam War veteran’s attempt to come to terms with his past and his current place as a black man in America,” the Schomburg Center announced. “Winner of the 1983 FIPRESCI Prize for the Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival, Ashes and Embers is the American film debut of highly acclaimed Ethopian-born director, Haile Gerima.”

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting the screening and talk in collaboration with ARRAY, the rebirth of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) founded by filmmaker Ava Duvernay.

The two-hour drama was written, produced and directed by Haile Gerima in 1982. (Image: Mypheduh Films)

Haile Gerima has produced and directed several works including Harvest: 3000 Years (1976), Sankoka (1993), Adwa: An African Victory (1999) and Teza (2009). He won Outstanding Production for Ashes and Embers at the London Film Festival in 1984, Best Cinematography Award for Sankofa at FESPACO in Burkina Faso, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Independene Film Festival in Washington DC in 2003, and Best Screenplay and Special Jury Prize for Teza at the Venice Film Festival in 2008.

If You Go:
Films @ the Schomburg:
Ashes and Embers
Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 7 p.m.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,
Langston Hughes Auditorium
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY, 10037
(917) 275-6975

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Five Ethiopian Artists Exhibiting in NYC This Weekend

Image: City Life by Aida Muluneh. (David Krut Projects)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 6th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Several Ethiopian artists are participating in international art fairs this weekend in New York City including sculptor Elias Sime, painters Emanuel Tegene and Dawit Abebe, as well as conceptual artist Awol Erizku. Photographer and artist Aïda Muluneh’s work is also on exhibit at David Krut Projects gallery.

ARMORY SHOW – March 3-6th, 2016

Elias Sime (James Cohan Gallery)

Pier 94 Booth 909

Elias-Sime, Tightrope Trios. (James Cohan Gallery)

Elias Sime is exhibiting artwork at the 2016 Armory Show from his latest series entitled Tightrope, which are designed using recycled parts from machines and retrieved from the Menalesh Tera section of Addis Ababa’s Merkato — Africa’s largest open-air market. In 2002 Sime designed and built The Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis, and has traveled extensively throughout Ethiopia to study diverse indigenous ritual practices. Sime’s artwork has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal. His work is part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Perez Museum in Miami and the North Carolina Museum.

Emanuel Tegene (Addis Fine Art)

Pier 94 Booth 544

Artwork by Emanuel Tegene. Passport Photo, 2014. Acrylic on Canvas 130 x 130 cm. (Addis Fine Art)

Emanuel Tegene’s artwork is part of the Armory’s Focus on African Perspectives highlighting emerging artists and galleries from Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast. Tegene previously worked as a cartoonist for Saloon Ethiopia and resided in Israel before returning to Addis Ababa. According to the Armory site, Tegene is now “largely occupied with exploring the possibilities created by artists who are responding to the changing cultural dynamics of the society around them.” Tegene’s work has been exhibited at the Ethiopian National Gallery as well as the African Union Golden Jubilee, the Institute of Ethiopian Studies Museum, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa.

Awol Erizku (Ben Brown Fine Arts)

Pier 94 Booth 613

Bruktawit by Awol Erizku (Ben Brown Fine Arts)

Artwork from Erizku’s ‘New Flower – Images of Reclining Venus’ is on view at the 2016 Armory at the Ben Brown Fine Arts booth. Erizku strives to re-conceptualize a space for blackness in the contemporary art world and in museums, stirring up a much-need conversation about moving black bodies from the sidelines and bringing them to the foreground in modern art portraiture.

VOLTA NY – March 2-6th, 2016

Dawit Abebe (Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery)

Pier 90

No 2 Background 35 By Dawit Abebe. (Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery)

Dawit Abebe’s work highlights themes of alienation and privacy in contemporary society with a focus on the impact of technology on our environment as well as human behavior. His current series, entitled ‘Background 2’ “takes the analysis a step further to question our ability to convey history when books make way from texting and television” according to Volta NY’s profile of the artist. “The most apparent evidence of this, to his eyes, has been the way in which social interaction has begun to move out of the public sphere and into the technological one through computers and mobile phones.”

DAVID KRUT PROJECTS – March 3 – April 16th, 2016

Aïda Muluneh (David Krut Projects)

526 West 26th Street #816

Image: Aida Muluneh, The More Loving One (David Krut Projects, New York)

Ethiopian photographer and artist Aïda Muluneh’s latest work entitled “The World is 9” opened on March 3rd at David Krut Projects gallery in midtown Manhattan, consisting of images centered around the themes of life, love and history. The title comes from an expression that Muluneh’s grandmother often repeated: “The world is 9; it is never complete and never perfect.” Muluneh says: “I am not seeking answers but asking provocative questions about the life we live – as people, as nations, as beings.” Aïda Muluneh is the recipient of the 2007 European Prize at Rencontre Africaines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali as well as the 2010 CRAF International Award of Photography. Her artwork is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC and the Sindika Dokolo Foundation in Berlin. Muluneh is founder of Ethiopia’s first international photography festival – Addis Foto Fest and the arts organization DESTA (Developing & Educating Society Through Art).

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Aïda Muluneh’s First Solo Exhibition at David Krut Projects

Image: Aida Muluneh, The Morning Bride, 2016, 80 x 80 cm, Edition of 7. (David Krut Projects, New York)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist Aïda Muluneh’s first solo exhibition at David Krut Projects gallery in New York City opens this week.

The exhibition entitled The World is 9 “consists of a selection of images from a brand new series of photographic works in which Muluneh questions life, love, history, and whether we can live in this world with full contentment,” announced David Krut Projects, a Manhatan-based alternative arts institution. “The title comes from an expression that Muluneh’s grandmother had repeated, in which she stated, “the world is 9, it is never complete and never perfect.”

“I am not seeking answers but asking provocative questions about the life that we live – as people, as nations, as beings,” says Aïda.

Photographer and artist Aïda Muluneh resides in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is a recipient of the 2007 European Union Prize at Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali as well as the 2010 CRAF International Award of Photography. Her photography work is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. and the Sindika Dokolo Foundation in Berlin. Aïda founded the first international photography festival in Ethiopia, Addis Foto Fest, and currently promotes photography projects through her organization DESTA (Developing & Educating Society Through Art). Aïda Muluneh obtained a Bachelor’s degree in film, radio & television from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 2000.

If You Go:
David Krut Projects Presents
March 3 – April 16, 2016
Opening Reception: March 3, 2016 6 – 8 PM
526 West 26th Street, #816
New York, NY 10001

Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Adwa: Genesis of Unscrambled Africa

Adwa hero Leul Ras Mekonnen's statue in Harar was renovated about two years ago, yet since then the descriptive letters beneath the statue have been vandalized and the iron fence stolen. (Photo: by A. Bekerie)

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

Updated: Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

This week marks the 120th anniversary of the historic Battle of Adwa

Adwa, Ethiopia (TADIAS) — One hundred twenty years ago, on March 1, 1896 at the battlefield of Adwa, the united Ethiopian army fiercely fought against the colonial army of Italy. By the end of the day, on a Sunday, the Ethiopian army routed the Italian army and as Rubenson eloquently puts it, “the battle-field remained in Ethiopian hands.” Ethiopians continued to live free in an independent state. Moreover, Adwa became the symbol of anti-colonial struggles in Africa. With the decisive defeat of a colonial army, Adwa set the stage for unscrambling Africa. Adwa, as Rubenson correctly puts it, has become a seal of victory. It was a victory that signaled the beginning of the end of the European colonial agenda and operation in Africa.

With victory at Adwa, Ethiopia has become, in the words of the Late Donald Levine, “the bastion of African independence.” Levine writes, “While peoples all over Africa were being subjugated by foreign powers, Ethiopians were winning victories over a series of invaders. From their victories over invading Egyptians in the 1870s, over Sudanese Mahdists in the 1880s, and over Italians in the 1890s, Ethiopians gained a reputation as spirited fighters determined to maintain sovereignty.”

Ethiopian patriots crushed the colonial ambition of the Italian invaders at the Battle of Adwa. The Italians’ desperate attempt to catch up with European colonial powers by completing the mapping of Africa with colonial map has failed. The victory was so decisive; it instantly became a symbol of hope and a concrete foundation for the realization of Pan-African solidarity and institution in Africa. It was the deliberate plan of Europe to colonize the entire continent of Africa with the intent of exploiting its human and natural resources. The beginning of the end of the process of exploitation was ushered when the Ethiopian patriots stopped the Italian colonial ambition at the battlefield of Adwa.

Adwa, therefore, signifies the valiant anti-colonial resistance and liberation of Africans in their immediate history. Adwa also signifies the renaissance and progress of Africa as it projects itself to 2063.

March 1, 2016 is the one hundred twentieth anniversary of the historic battle victory at Adwa. It is therefore a special anniversary. We use the special occasion to give thanks to our valiant patriots who paid extraordinary sacrifices to protect and defend our motherland. We give thanks to our visionary leaders and vow to remember for generations to come their phenomenal accomplishments. We remember the leaders of the gallant forces led by Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu Bitul. We evoke the memories of Fitawrari Tekle of Wollega, Sultan Anfari of Afar, Ras Mekonnen of Harar, Ras Mengesha and Ras Alula of Tigray, Negus Teklehaimanot of Gojam, Negus Mikael of Wolo, Dejazmach Wole Bitul of Yeju and numerous other leaders who led the battle to victory. We immediately identify with the 6,000 Ethiopian patriots who gave their lives on the battlefield of Adwa so that we continue to live free. Our dignity and love of country are tied with the over 8,000 Ethiopian patriots who were wounded at the battlefield.

There is no doubt that a seal of victory is achieved at Adwa because of unity and willingness of our people to defend the motherland. Unity was the correct stand then and it should be embraced as a correct stand now for economic, social and political progress. To make an emphasis on unity is not to push for some ideological or what some call chauvinistic agenda. It is indeed to reiterate the historical truth forever recorded at the battlefield of Adwa. It was the united, voluntary and determined Ethiopian army that stopped the colonial ambition of the Italians over our country. Out of Adwa, there emerged a plural people called Ethiopians.

Menelik II Square in Addis Ababa. (Photo: By Ayele Bekerie)

Victory at Adwa has informed the freedom narrative of the new Ethiopia and new Africa, free from colonialism. Adwa has paved the way for Pan-African economic, political and cultural activities. New Ethiopia is a reference to the historic outcome of Adwa. Ethiopians from all corners of the country heeded the call of Emperor Menelik II and marched to Adwa. They fought and died at Adwa. Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice were from the northern and southern parts of the country. They were from the eastern and western part of the country. It was a diverse but united force that expanded the meaning of Ethiopian identity.

By the same token, it is fair to argue that the victory gave rise to a new Africa. It is new because it is a product of the many anti-colonial struggles. It is new because it gave rise to a Pan-African agenda that placed the interests of Africans at center stage.

The issue of who we are has been irreversibly solved at Adwa. A multiethnic and multicultural Ethiopia is our reality for good. Our plurality frames our sense of identity. Out of Adwa rises the importance of shared national identity. The task should be to perfect our diverse but united life and living. The task is also to address grievances and injustices borne out of our long history. The task is to triangulate the individual, ethnic and religious rights by anchoring them to a constitutional framework. The task is to shy away from absolutist tendencies and practices and strive to build a just and democratic society.

Adwa, at present, is engaged in fast and unprecedented urban development. High rise buildings and multilane boulevards are being built changing the face of the historic town. It has come to our attention that some of the new infrastructure may have compromised the historic battlefield sites endangering the plan to register Adwa as a world heritage site. Urban development without heritage conservation at a minimum is tantamount to the desecration of the memories of our martyrs. At a maximum, it is shortsighted, for it irreversibly destroys the required evidence for registering Adwa as a world heritage. It can be argued that the registry has the capacity to bring about sustainable economic benefits to the people of Adwa.

Adwa is a hallowed ground. At Adwa, a decisive and defining battle was fought and won. It is a sacred site that carries the bones and memories of our martyrs. It is a sacred site of immense solidarity and an expression of love of country. The necessity to preserve Adwa’s memory must go hand in hand with its urban development.

One hundred twenty years ago, at a time when the entire African continent was under the dark cloud of European colonialism, Ethiopia turned the darkness into a new bright day. A new day dawned on the majestic and eternal mountains of Adwa. Adwa has become, locally and internationally, a vocabulary of decolonization and independence. Today, Africans are actively planning and implementing their Pan-African present and future in freedom.

Pan-Africanism is no longer a dream. It has become institutionalized and the African Union is an excellent example of what has been achieved so far. The public announcement by the Ethiopian Government to establish a Pan-African University at Adwa to collect, document and publish Adwa’s battle victory together with anti-colonial struggles from the African World will certainly enhance the memories of Adwa. The establishment of the university may also expedite the registration of Adwa as world heritage.

We have overcome many challenges in the past 120 years in our quest to build a progressive nation. We are facing new challenges at present. We are, however, bound to uphold the sanctity of our unity of plurality, informed by historic deeds at the Battle of Adwa, thereby striving to move forward.

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

119 Years Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896
Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa
The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tribute to Women’s Rights Advocate Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw

In remembrance of Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw: July 12, 1947 - February 24, 2016. (Photo courtesy: CREW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, February 27th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, President of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), passed away on February 24th at the age of 68. Dr Maigenet was a women’s rights advocate for the last thirty five years.

Prior to helping to establish CREW four years ago Dr. Maigenet — who earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Wisconsin­, Milwaukee in 1982 — was an Associate Professor in adult education at the University of the District of Columbia for twenty years. In addition, she had served as an education consultant at the World Bank, the US Department of Education and several other institutions.

Three years ago, in December 2013, Dr. Maigenet was one of the main panelists at the Tadias Magazine Roundtable on Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East held at the National Press Club. “The issue became prominent now, but it has been going on for a long time,” Dr. Maigenet reminded the audience, adding that her organization has been tackling the issue of Ethiopian domestic workers, particularly the women in the Middle East, for a while. “What we have been doing is establishing contacts in several countries particularly in Saudi Arabia and Beirut, Lebanon for people to document [and] interview workers of their abuses,” Dr. Maigenet said. “We established a pilot program to help Ethiopians who want to return back to their country. We negotiated with one Ethiopian NGO to receive migrants from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia so they can keep them in their shelters for three month, give them medical supplies, counselors, and job training… we were doing that before this Saudi thing erupted.”

Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw (R) at Tadias Roundtable at The National Press Club, Saturday, December 14th, 2013. (Photo: Matt Andrea)

Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw (left) at Tadias Roundtable at The National Press Club, Saturday, December 14th, 2013. (Photo: Matt Andrea)

“We mourn the loss of a great Ethiopian human rights/women’s rights icon, advocate and educator, Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw,” said the statement posted on CREW’s Facebook page. “Her passing is a shock and a great loss to all of us who loved and admired her.” The announcement added: “She was a tireless advocate for civil liberties. She devoted her life to ensuring fairness, justice and equality. She inspired us all and she led by example.”

“I’m so sad to hear that Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw passed away,” said Ethiopian American writer Kumera Genet via Facebook. Kumera who blogs about African migrant issues for the Huffington Post had shared the stage at the National Press Club with Dr. Maigenet three years ago. “In the three years that I’ve become familiar with her work, CREW has advocated in three different campaigns for Ethiopians to have honest discussions around how domestic abuse, migration, and the erosion of civil liberties in Ethiopia affects women,” Kumera said. “She confronted some of the worst things our people do to one another — interpersonally and institutionally — but continued to remain a kind, intelligent, and positive leader. She was an experienced and humble activist who supported me a lot in the short time I knew her, and I will miss her immensely.”

A funeral service for Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw will be held on Monday, Feb 29th, 2016 at St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Washington D.C. followed by a burial service in Adelphi, Maryland.

Video: Clips from Tadias Roundtable on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East at National Press Club

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Mikael Seifu Among 25 Artists From Around The World You Need To Know

Based in Addis Ababa, producer Mikael Seifu mixes traditional Ethiopian influences with electronic sounds. (Photo by Mulugeta Teklemariam)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In its first-ever global issue sampling the underground music scene from Africa to Europe and Latin America, the New York-based music magazine, The Fader, highlights Ethiopian electronic artist and producer Mikael Seifu who “mixes traditional Ethiopian influences with mind-expanding electronic sounds” among 25 Artists From Around The World You Need To Know Right Now.

The magazine notes that Mikael Seifu, who calls his style “Ethiopiyawi Electronic,” has an album forthcoming on Brooklyn-based experimental label RVNG this year in which “he documented a typical day living in the Ethiopian capital.”

Seifu was born and raised in Addis Ababa and “attended the French school Lycee Guebre-Mariam as a child, and went on to study music production & the music industry at Ramapo College of New Jersey — a small school about 45 minutes outside of Manhattan,” according to his label. While in college, Seifu found a mentor in Professor Ben Neill, “the composer and music technologist who trained with La Monte Young. Seifu was inspired by Neil to take serious his calling in music.”

In an interview with Pitchfork magazine last Summer Seifu said growing up in Ethiopia he spent a lot of time online “using Napster and a spotty 28.8 kbps connection” to download 2Pac and Master P songs. “Then, spurred on by his businessman father as well as a naive drive for mainstream musical success, he enrolled in New Jersey’s Ramapo College having never even visited the States before. He was soon dismayed by what he calls ‘the fierceness of the American machine.’”

“There’s just a massive pressure, dude,” the 27-year-old told Pitchfork. “What I felt and saw there was this lack of purpose being accepted as the norm — people just working their way through as a cog.”

Pitchfork wrote: “After taking a life-changing, ear-opening class taught by the experimental composer Ben Neill, Seifu dropped out of school following his junior year, headed back to his hometown, and continued to hone his style.”

Seifu’s new EP, Zelalem, is scheduled to be released on March 4th by RVNG in both digital and vinyl along with a mixtape cassette.

“Mikael Seifu’s Zelalem is an ode to – and a fearless break from – the storied lineage of Ethiopian music” states RVNG.

Below is one song from the new album entitled ‘How to Save a Life (Vector of Eternity)’

25 Artists From Around The World You Need To Know Right Now (The Fader)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer to Host Ethiopian Community Forum

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer will hold a forum for the Ethiopian community on Friday, February 26th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The City of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that he will host a forum for the Ethiopian Community this week, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department.

A representative of the City’s Attorney office told Tadias the upcoming event, which is open to the public, will be held at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church at 6:00 PM. on Friday, February 26th.

“Connect with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Area Station, which serves the Little Ethiopia area. Learn about how we work together to keep the neighborhood safe and about the many different services we provide. Bring questions, concerns and ideas. Invite friends, family, and colleagues” the announcement said. “We will also have useful crime prevention tip sheets (contractor fraud, immigration fraud, senior fraud, Identity Theft, etc) available for everyone to take home with them.”

Last Summer City Attorney Feuer also hosted a roundtable with members of the Little Ethiopia business community in addition to delivering the keynote address at the 2015 Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Festival in September.

If You Go:
L.A. Ethiopian Community Forum
Friday, February 26th at 6:00 PM.
St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
5707 Shenandoah Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90056
Free parking available

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium. (Photo: AERC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, February 22nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Three years ago when Professor Lemma Senbet took leave from the University of Maryland in College Park — where he served as The William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at Robert H. Smith School of Business — to become Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi, Kenya, he told Tadias that “My goal is to lead it to move to the next level of excellence, and I will be embarking on strategies for full global integration of the AERC and its visibility beyond Africa as an organization that is at the cutting edge of best policy research practices.”

Fast forward to 2016 and AERC is currently ranked as one of the top economic research think tanks by the Global Index. “A think tank is an institution in the core business of generating knowledge to impact or influence policy,” Dr. Lemma explained in a recent interview with Tadias. “The Global Index recognizes think tanks around the globe that have generated policy-oriented knowledge and influenced policy in several categories. Think tanks vary depending on their specialization, including, for instance, security studies.”

In the 2015 Global Index AERC was ranked among the top under the ‘Best Development Think Tanks’ and ‘Most Independent Think Tanks’ categories.

“Development think tanks are in the space of policies and research targeted for economic and social development,” Dr. Lemma said. “The ranking for independence is the first ever for AERC, and it is consistent with another global ranking last year whereby AERC was awarded the coveted/top 5 star global transparency ranking.”

Dr. Lemma added: “It is great that AERC gets ranked among global think tanks, but it should also be recognized that AERC is more than just a think tank. It is a think tank plus with a range of products and services spanning policy-oriented research, collaborative graduate training, and policy outreach, along with being a vast network of economic researchers, policy makers, policy institutions, universities, and international resource persons.”

Dr. Lemma pointed out that AERC came into existence over 27 years ago to bring “rigor and evidence to economic policy making in Africa.” It is a membership organization of global partners, including governments and international institutions.

Earlier this year AERC was also part of an international program at the University of Pennsylvania organized by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programs (TTCSP) entitled Why Think Tanks Matter to Policymakers and the Public.

“AERC does not advocate specific policies, but has enduring delivery channels and forums for policy dialogue and research dissemination with two principal purposes – to generate more informed policy-making and foster ownership of research by policy makers, as well as do research that leads to evidence based policy making,” Dr. Lemma emphasized. “Thus, AERC is both influential and independent.”

In addition, AERC is at the forefront of efforts to scale up partnership of African institutions as well as the private sector engaged at the interface of private and public policy issues, such as risk management and financial regulation.

“It should be recognized that informed policy making has been an important contributor to the Africa growth renaissance that we are currently witnessing,” Dr. Lemma said. “In terms of enhanced African stakeholdership of AERC, things have far exceeded my expectations. In February 2015, twelve African Central Bank Governors and Deputies met in Livingstone, Zambia, with the sole agenda of sustainability of AERC. They passed a historic resolution under which each signatory central bank becomes a member of the Consortium in accordance with the AERC bylaws to provide core support, along with our longstanding member partners, including UK, US, World Bank, and Nordic countries. The AERC Governors’ Forum is, indeed, a reaffirmation of the value proposition of the institution, and it already has generated a positive leveraging effect on the other global partners, while enhancing African voice in its governance.”

Recently the African Development Bank likewise provided a $7 million grant to AERC — the largest from the Bank and an African institution — in what Dr. Lemma described as “further solidification of African stakeholdership of AERC.”

In the next five years AERC aims to focus on private sector engagement. “This is an unchartered territory for AERC, but gradually we are making progress by integrating the private sector agenda in the AERC capacity building framework and the public private sector policy roundtables,” said Dr. Lemma. With this in mind, the theme for the next AERC Senior Policy Seminar scheduled in March 2016 is financial inclusion.

Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Afripedia Screens Three Episodes of Docu-Series at Harlem’s Schomburg Center

Afripedia founders Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe (Center) during the Q&A session following the screening of their docuseries at Schomburg Center in Harlem, NYC on February 18th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 19th, 2016.

New York (TADIAS) — From their current workspace at the New Museum incubator, New Inc., in Manhattan filmmakers Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe have been developing Afripedia — a visionary platform in conjunction with their documentary film series featuring visual artists, beat makers, dancers, fashion designers and cultural activists from across the African continent. Originally inspired by their film series entitled ’Stocktown Underground,’ which was experimentally launched on YouTube in 2005, Afripedia morphed into a five year journey to 10 African countries and the production of five episodes to date highlighting ambitious creatives from Angola, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

In a recent Tadias Interview Teddy and Senay — Ethiopian & Eritrean filmmakers who grew up in Sweden — described Afripedia as a “spotlight of creative forces reshaping the image of Africa as told by African visionary artists who are pushing the boundaries of visual self expression.”

“We want to change the perception that people have about Africa, and to make the creative scene more inclusive of these new voices” Senay said.

As part of the African Film Festival three of Afripedia’s episodes were screened and followed by a Q&A session on Thursday, Feb 18th at Harlem’s Schomburg Center, which houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collection of resources on Black culture worldwide including an estimated 10 million items.

“The reason why we came to New York last September was because there are so many talents out there,” Teddy shared at the Q&A session following the screening. “We got invited to New Inc. to build a new online platform — or a visual wikipedia you can say — where we could see more stories being shared. We wanted to continue producing stories of course, but we also needed to give access. We can’t be the only voice.” The platform is also designed to serve as a hub “to find, connect with, and hire talent.”

A preview of Afripedia’s platform shared at Schomburg Center, Thursday, February 18th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

On stage at the Schomburg with Afripedia’s founders was Omar Viktor, a Dakar-based Photographer and Designer, featured in their Senegal episode, whose studio work intermingles local fashion styles and colorful artwork with photography.

“I had been to Senegal earlier shooting another documentary and a friend of mind said you have to check out Omar’s work,” Senay said describing how they heard about Omar’s creative work.

Portrait by Senegalese photographer Omar Victor, whose work is featured in Afripedia. (courtesy image)

“It’s about having creators who can share the network,” added Teddy. “And the secret source is actually to be more collaborative; that’s what we need. It can be powerful when you get to see the vast network happening right now.”

Afripedia is a stunning visual compilation of African creatives, which promises not only to curate a vast treasury of talent, but likewise create a virtual space for deep collaborations between Africans across borders as well as among the Diaspora community. Afripedia’s complete film series is scheduled to be released online in September 2016.

Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe at the screening of the Afripedia docuseries at Schomburg Center in New York on Thursday, February 18th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Afripedia: A Creative Hub for African Visionary Artists

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Genzebe Sets New Indoor World Record

Genzebe Dibaba broke a 26-year indoor mile record in Stockholm on Wednesday. (Photo: CBCOlympics)

Associated Press

Genzebe Dibaba set a new world record in the indoor mile on Wednesday, beating a record that had stood for 26 years.

The Ethiopian’s time of 4 minutes, 13.31 seconds beat Doina Melinte’s record set in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1990 by nearly four seconds. It was the third consecutive year Dibaba had set an indoor world record in Stockholm, having previously set the 3,000 and 5,000 metre records.

On a night of record breaking, Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman also set a new indoor record for the 1,000, streaking away on the final lap of the race to clock 2:14.20.

The previous record of 2:14.96 had been set by Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer in 2000.

Souleiman’s time still needs to be ratified by the ruling IAAF.

Read more »

In Boston, Meseret Defar Runs World-Leading Time After a Long Absence

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Weeknd Wins Two Grammys

The Weeknd performing at the 58th Grammy Awards in L.A. on Monday, February 15th, 2016. (Wire Image)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) won two Grammy Awards during the 58th annual ceremony held in Los Angeles on Monday evening. The Canadian-born singer-songwriter, who is the first Ethiopian artist to win the award, received the 2016 prize for Best R&B Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Beauty Behind The Madness.

“The Weeknd’s blockbuster sophomore album, Beauty Behind the Madness, yielded seven Grammy nominations, including record and album of the year, along with an Academy Award nod for “Earned It,” which appeared on the soundtrack for the 2015 hit “Fifty Shades of Grey,” The Los Angeles Times noted in a recent profile of Abel. “Tesfaye’s breakout year is that much more remarkable given how unlikely a pop star he was.”

LA Times adds: “The Ethiopian Canadian singer (Amharic, his first language, can be heard on his smash “The Hills”) debuted in 2011 with a trilogy of mixtapes that helped usher in a wave of artists who eschewed conventional R&B boundaries in favor of edgier productions.”

“I wanted to drop three albums in a year because no one had done it. It was bold, unheard of. Back then I didn’t even want to get onstage,” Tesfaye said of his anonymous start.

The Weeknd’s chart-topping hit “Earned It,” from the soundtrack of Fifty Shades of Grey, is also nominated for the 2016 Oscars in the Original Song category.

58th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners & Nominees
How the Weeknd got his revenge and became one of the biggest pop stars
The Weeknd Scores Oscar Nomination
Tadias Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
The Weeknd First Winner at 2015 American Music Awards
The Unstoppable Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd): Rebel with Harmony
The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to Guest Star in TV’s Hottest Hip-Hop Drama ‘Empire’
Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
Inspired by Michael Jackson, The Weeknd Goes from Rebellious Songwriter to Chorus Lover
The reclusive artist talks ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ (Radio.com)

With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

2016 Armory Show: African Perspective Features Ethiopian Artist Emanuel Tegene

Artwork by Emanuel Tegene. Passport photo, 2014. Acrylic on Canvas 130 x 130 cm. (Image: Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 12th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist Emanuel Tegene will be featured at the upcoming 2016 Armory Show, an international art exhibition taking place March 3-6th in New York City.

Emanuel Tegene, represented at the Armory Show by Addis Fine Art Gallery, “received training at Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in 2008. While at Alle, he worked for Saloon Ethiopia as a cartoonist, challenging himself to create subtle and elegant illustrations. Later working on projects as diverse as movie storyboards and book covers, he widened his practice as a way of evolving his language of artistic expression. Briefly traveling to Israel to live with his father, he continued to paint while working in the technology industry. Eventually he returned to Addis to live with his young son and wife, where he continues to practice as an artist, realizing his natural affinity to drawing and to recording his surroundings. As part of a movement of contemporary Ethiopian artists, Emanuel is largely occupied with exploring the possibilities created by artists who are responding to the changing cultural dynamics of the society around them.”

Emanuel’s artwork has been exhibited at the Ethiopian National Gallery, as well as at the African Union Golden Jubilee, the Institute of Ethiopian Studies Museum, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa. Additional solo exhibitions showcased Emanuel’s work at Tobya Art Gallery in Seattle, and Galany Gallery and Alliance Ethio-Française in Addis.

According to the Armory Show website, “this year’s Focus will examine the artistic developments and manifold narratives arising from African and African Diasporic artists, emphasizing geographic fluidity and global connections.”

In 2015, Ethiopian Artist Elias Sime participated in the annual exhibition with his sculptures cited by Artspace as one of the 10 Best Artworks of the 2015 Armory Show.

If You Go:
March 3-6, 2016
Piers 92 & 94
New York City

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Screening: If Only I Were That Warrior

Poster for the documentary "If Only I Were That Warrior." (Courtesy of PLC and NYU)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American Author Maaza Mengiste and Ruth Ben-Ghiat will moderate a conversation with Director Valerio Ciriaci and Producer Isaak Liptzin following the screening of their documentary If Only I Were That Warrior at NYU on Thursday, February 11th.

The screening is being presented in collaboration with Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò and the NYU Department of Italian Studies.

If Only I Were That Warrior is a feature documentary film focusing on the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1935. Following the recent construction of a monument dedicated to Fascist general Rodolfo Graziani, the film addresses the unpunished war crimes he and others committed in the name of Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. The stories of three characters, filmed in present day Ethiopia, Italy and the United States, take the audience on a journey through the living memories and the tangible remains of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia – a journey that crosses generations and continents to today, where this often overlooked legacy still ties the fates of two nations and their people.”

If You Go
Screening: If Only I Were That Warrior
Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 6pm
24 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011

If Only I Were That Warrior – Trailer from Awen Films on Vimeo.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

11 Samples From ‘Éthiopiques’: A Brief History of Ethio-Jazz Cultural Exchange

Éthiopiques album covers. (Photos: Buda Musique)

Okay Africa


It’s 2000 something. I’m holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon’s suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine dudes jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beatmaker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad’s car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers.

“Where did you get this?” He asks puzzlingly.

“The internet,” I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d’état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label’s tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

Heavenly Éthiopiques cover. (Photos: Buda Musique)

Fast forward, 1997. The Paris-based record label Buda Musique, stumbles upon a collection of decades old Ethiopian music and releases Éthiopiques Volume 1: The Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music, a compilation of largely forgotten songs from an extraordinary period of musical experimentation. Funk, soul, jazz, rock—popular western and traditional Ethiopian music ground together into a dizzyingly fresh sound with subtle scents of bunna (coffee in Amharic) breezing through the music’s notes.

At the forefront of this musical explosion was Mulatu Astatke, the legendary jazz musician, who expertly meshed jazz and traditional Ethiopian melodies with a sprinkle of Latin-influenced rhythms. The result: Ethio-Jazz, a sweepingly beautiful sound of a certain unique tonality.

Buda Musique has released 29 Éthiopique compilations to date with gems on gems throughout the collection, ranging from traditional Ethiopian music while some focus on specific genres or highlight the works of certain artists such as Alemayehu Eshete, Asnaketch Worku, Mahmoud Ahmed, and Tilahun Gessesse. None of the compilations within the series feature the more contemporary synthesizer-based Ethiopian pop music.

The Éthiopiques series, made possible by an unexpected but beautiful cross-cultural exchange of extraordinary proportions, has naturally caught the attention of music-heads, audiophiles and producers alike. And with that brief history in mind, I present to you a list of ten modern tracks, all made in the new millennia, that have sampled Ethiopian music, expanding even further the deep multicultural history of Ethiopian, and by extension, all music.

Read more »

Amha Eshete & Contribution of Amha Records to Modern Ethiopian Music
How Ethiopian Music Went Global: Interview with Francis Falceto

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

David Mesfin Behind Hyundai Super Bowl 50 Commercial

Ethiopian American Associate Creative Director David Mesfin (right) working on the production of the latest Hyundai Elantra car model television commercial for the 2016 Super Bowl game. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend an estimated 188.9 million viewers are expected to tune in to the most watched annual sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In addition, the National Retail Federation says Americans will spend more than $15.5 billion on food, décor and team apparel while taking part or organizing watch-parties for the 2016 championship game that’s being held in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday, February 7th.

And if you are in the business of creating television commercials, like Ethiopian American David Mesfin, it can’t get any better than having your ad run during the Super Bowl. David is one of the Associate Creative Directors behind the new generation Hyundai Elantra car advertising that will be airing during Super Bowl 50 as one of four spots from Hyundai this weekend.

“The cinematographer of the Hyundai spot was Janusz Kaminaki, Associate Creative Director, whom I have worked with in the past,” David told Tadias. “He mostly works on Steven Spielberg movies such as Bridge of Spies, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Lincoln.”

The Hyundai 30-second commercial touts a nifty new technology found in the car manufacturer’s Elantra brand — the voice-activated Blue Link Remote Start feature. The video, which was released on YouTube by Hyundai USA on February 1st, has already been viewed more than fifteen million times. The ad is aptly titled “The Chase” and shows a husband & wife team running for survival from a bear attack before the couple are saved by their high-tech Hyundai vehicle.

“Say you’re in a forest and you’re being chased by two bears, one of which we later find out is vegan,” David said. “You’d be in a mad dash to get to your car, right? Worse, there’s a lot of panic that comes with trying to open the doors and starting the car, all while stealing glances in every direction to make sure that bears haven’t arrived.” He added: “It’s a tricky situation to be in as a lot of victims in horror movies will tell you. Now imagine being able to circumvent all of that trouble by simply barking a command in your smart watch to start the car so when you get to the door, the engine’s already running, saving you precious time that could have otherwise been the difference between you escaping or getting eaten up for lunch. That, in a nutshell, is what “The Chase” commercial is all about.”

Watch: The Chase – Hyundai Elantra Super Bowl Commercial | Hyundai USA

This is not the first time that one of David’s work was shown during high-profile television broadcasts. The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil also featured a Hyundai ad in which he was the Associate Creative Director. Likewise in 2013 David was part of the team that engineered the “Hyundai Epic Playdate” Super Bowl advertisement. “That was a herculean task given the difficulty and amount of work that needed to be produced in a short amount of time,” David said then. “But overall my team and I are truly happy with the end result.”

David’s career in advertising began in 1986 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was born and raised. “I know it sounds like a long time ago but I was only 12 years old at the time,” he said. “I used to spend a lot of time at a firm called Neon Addis — a design and advertising office. There I was exposed to many forms of visual communications, print ads, billboards, neon signs and more.”

Later, after he moved to the U.S. and commenced college in the 90s, David said he knew exactly what he wanted to do in life. He graduated with a BFA degree in Visual Communication from California State University, Long Beach. “I have been enjoying this wonderful field for quite some time now,” he said. “Thus far I have worked with multiple agencies and clients such as Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Isuzu, Farmers Insurance, Neutrogena, Network Associates, La-Z-Boy, Mandalay Bay, Walt Disney, Sony, Coldwell Banker, LA Phil, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Adidas, Oakley and MOCA.”

David Mesfin (right) on the set of the Hyundai Super Bowl 50 commercial. (Courtesy of photo)

What guides David’s art in terms of creativity? “Have a compelling message and idea that can solve the problem in a unique and interesting way,” he replied.

As to having his work shown during Super Bowl, David says it’s “by far the most humbling experience.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

When Technology-Inspired Fashion Meets Architecture: Azmara Asefa’s Runway Collection

Ethiopian American Fashion Designer & Architect Azmara Asefa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Take one look at Azmara Asefa’s laser-cut leather jackets lined with mesh that acts as ventilation for hot summer days, or her 3D-printed wooden jewelry lines held together with gold posts — reminiscent of an architectural project — and you know that her fashion line is a bold runway collection.

Named after the 29-year-old owner and designer who was born in Ohio to immigrant parents from Ethiopia, the Azmara Asefa collection was featured in last October’s Phoenix Fashion Week — following a four month bootcamp session offering training in fashion business and marketing — and selected as one of 13 best emerging designers in the United States. It also stood out as one of the most technology driven fashion lines.

Azmara had prepared several pieces for smaller scale collections before recently rolling out her full and impressive Spring/Summer 2016 collection designed by her womenswear company based in Los Angeles with all materials made and assembled in American fair trade factories.

Azmara Asefa’s Runway Collection at the Phoenix Fashion Week final walk. (Courtesy photo)

Laser-cut leather moto jacket with diamond motif details that are inspired by Ethiopian motifs on traditional dresses. (Photo: Courtesy of Azmara Asefa)

“Fashion was always loved” Azmara told Tadias. “In the back of my mind it was always around, and part of it comes from watching older movies from the 1930s with my mom, and traveling and seeing how people dress.” But Azmara’s first love, since the age of 7, was architecture.

“My interest in architecture first peaked when I went to Ethiopia as a child and my family and I visited the Blue Nile waterfalls,” Azmara recalled. “It would be so cool to have a bridge here,” she remembered thinking. “And soon after that I started drawing and finding out more about what I needed to study in order to become an architect. I learned that math was required, for instance, and I prepared myself for the field.”

Azmara attended Miami University in Ohio where she majored in architecture and met one of her first mentors, Professor Gail Della-Piana. “She was the only Black professor in the architecture program, and her studios focused on culturally-centered projects including the design of a Native American center” Azmara said.

For her thesis Azmara studied refugee and migrant camps in the horn of Africa. “Often individuals at the camps would use what they wear as part of their shelter,” she noticed. “In the migration process individuals retained their culture, traditions and adapted to new situations by using the materials around them including their clothing” Azmara said.

She continued her studies in architecture at the graduate level at the University of Cincinnati, guided by her culture-centered focus. Adding courses in fashion to her class schedule Azmara found another mentor in Ann Firestone at the School of Design. Upon graduation Azmara worked as an architect in Ohio, Atlanta, London and Los Angeles including practicing at Gensler, the largest architecture firm in the world.

Azmara cited Zaha Hadid as one of her biggest influencers in architecture “as a woman of color who has this really great firm, is well-respected and has a really unique perspective.”

“If you look at one of Zaha Hadid’s buildings, you know she designed it,” Azmara added. “She has made her mark as someone who uses technology to generate her design concepts, and I love that, of course.”

In the world of fashion Azmara has several role models including Ethiopian-American couture wedding gown designer Amsale Aberra, technology-driven Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, and Kym Gold, Co-Founder of the True Religion brand who she met at Phoenix Fashion week.

“The link between architecture and fashion is strong, and the leap from architecture to fashion was simple to me,” Azmara admitted.

“Entrepreneurship in the Ethiopian community in Ohio is also really big,” Azmara pointed out. “I grew up surrounded by people who owned a lot of small businesses and were very enterprising.”

Following her participation at Phoenix Fashion Week Azmara decided to commit to creating her first full runway collection of what she called “bold, technology-driven, apocalypse-ready womenswear and accessories that are laden with culturally inspired symbols and yet remain minimal.”

Azmara is incredibly resourceful and creative in the materials she picks for her fashion line, which ranges from natural materials such as wood, silk and leather to meshes and neoprene (scuba fabric). Often she also inserts cultural references from her own heritage. Her 3D-printed jewelry line, for example, is “a play on Ethiopian wooden crosses and traditional diamond patterns.”

“Clothing as armor?” states her website. “Yes. We believe that when you are donned in bold architectural lines, laser-cut geometries, and intensely detailed 3D-printed accessories, you feel strong, bold and confident enough to make it through anything!”

Describing her latest collection Azmara said her intention was to make women feel empowered, confident, and to stand out.

“I am using the term ‘apocalypse-ready’ as a metaphor for my collection in a future-looking sort of way, and reminding ourselves that we all have the ability to overcome challenging events in our day,” Azmara added. “Internally, for the business it also give a really clear and decisive direction as a technology-focused brand. The clothes use architectural lines and silhouettes to enhance women’s forms in an artful, strong and flattering way.”

In addition to emphasizing a blend of architectural technology in her designs, Azmara is also keen on building a company firmly rooted in fair trade principles.

“I try to be very ethical so when I source fabric I want to be able to track it and make sure it is fair trade” Azmara told Tadias. “Right now my designs are produced in America and we can ensure that workers are getting a fair wage. I can see the factory — it’s just thirty minutes from where I live, and I can just drive down there and look at everything.”

Azmara also hopes to grow her ethically sourced runway collection and expand her base to Ethiopia while still making sure it remains fair trade. For now her company has partnered with the Women’s Refugee Commission with 10% of sales going towards their programs. “I really want to work more closely with them,” Azmara said “and do more than just provide proceeds. I want to provide something more immediate and tangible for the women they work with.”

As she prepares to launch a Kickstarter campaign this month, Azmara shared that she would love to design high-tech wearable technology and go digital in the second half of this year while continuing to incorporate architecture and designing pop-up shops in a multi-disciplinary trajectory later down the line.

“I think that growing up with people who came as immigrants to this country — and made the American dream come true for themselves — I was inspired by how the human spirit is so resilient” Azmara said. Her visionary debut runway collection says it all – intriguing, cutting-edge, and exuding resilience.

You can learn more about Azmara Asefa’s design work at www.azmaraasefa.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Netflix to Stream Haile Gerima’s Film “Ashes and Embers”

The two-hour drama was written, produced and directed by Haile Gerima in 1982. (Image: Mypheduh Films)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ashes and Embers (1982) — a movie by award-winning filmmaker and Howard University professor Haile Gerima — is among the new titles that will be released on Netflix this month. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize for Forum of New Cinema at the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival. According to the Columbus Dispatch “Ashes and Embers” will be available for on-demand Internet streaming on Netflix starting February 29th.

Ashes and Embers tells a story of “a disillusioned, African-American Vietnam vet (Anderson) [who] travels from Washington to Los Angeles to his grandmother’s farm in search of a better life.”

The Dispatch adds: “Ethiopian-American filmmaker (and LA Rebellion movement instigator) Haile Gerima’s Afrocentric survey of the American sociopolitical landscape is a potent mix of documentary realism, dreamlike narrative, and Godardian agit-prop.”

In The New York Times review of Ashes and Embers published on November 17, 1982, Janet Maslin wrote: ”Ashes and Embers ..explores the experience of a black Vietnam veteran trying to come to terms with American life. It’s a rambling, almost dreamlike film that drifts between Washington, where Ned Charles, its protagonist, (played by John Anderson) wanders past ghetto streets and war memorials; Los Angeles, where he hopes to find his future, and instead winds up in police custody; and the rural setting of his grandmother’s farmhouse. His grandmother is one of the main forces in the film, talking with Ned about his troubles, his culture and his history. Another key influence is his politically active girlfriend, often seen engaged in group discussions that are among the film’s most interesting sequences.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Lost Lion Population Found in Ethiopia

(AP photo)

The Washington Post

By Rachel Feltman

An expedition into a remote national park in Ethiopia has revealed a previously unknown population of African lions, suggesting that the species — which is categorized as “vulnerable” — may be more widespread than conservationists had hoped.

The Born Free Foundation announced the existence of the lions – confirmed with images taken by motion-activated cameras — in a news release Monday. Because the lions were spotted in Alatish National Park, which borders the Sudanese Dinder National Park, the researchers involved with the discovery hope that the population spans both countries. Altogether, the two parks could hold an estimated 200 lions.

An image of one of the newly discovered lions. (Born Free Foundation)

Read more at The Washington Post »

Hidden population of up to 200 lions found in remote Ethiopia (New Scientist)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Nile Project Kicks Off 2016 Africa Tour

The Nile Project at globalFEST NYC, January 11, 2015. (Photo by Karsten Moran for the New York Times)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, February 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Nile Project 2016 Africa Tour, which kicks off next week with a live concert at an open-air theatre in Aswan Egypt, will be followed by a performance at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa on February 22nd.

Made up of over a dozen singers and instrumentalists the Nile Project blends traditional sounds from nations along the banks of the river including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Egypt, collectively known as the Nile Basin countries.

This year, the Nile Project’s musical director is Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen, founder and leader of Debo Band, while Ethiopian American education activist Agazit Abate serves as the collective’s program manager.

“We are also using this tour to launch our University Programs in Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania,” Mina Girgis, Nile Project Producer & CEO, announced in a press release. “Moving beyond the music, the Nile Project will be holding a series of workshops to engage students in better understanding the social, cultural and environmental dimensions of Nile sustainability. These workshops will also be an opportunity for attendees to learn about the project’s Nile Fellowships – a year long program for 24 student leaders at universities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.”

In a New York Times review of the Nile Project’s performance at globalFEST last year Jon Pareles wrote: “The musicians had worked out the nuances of modes and rhythms to join one another’s songs, no longer separated by geography or politics.”

“The Nile Project is the performing side of an effort that also includes education in music and environmental issues, raising awareness of the entire Nile basin as an ecosystem,” Pareles added. “With such vibrant music, the good intentions were a bonus; the Nile Project was a superb example of what I call small-world music, of what happens to traditions in the information age.”

Ethiopian artists participating in the 2016 Africa tour include: Dawit Seyoum Estifanos (krar), Endalekachew Nigusie (Masinko) and singer Roza Kifle. Last year’s team featured Asrat Ayalew (kebero player); Endris Hassen (masinko); Jorga Mesfin (saxophone); vocalists Meklit Hadero and Selamnesh Zemene; as well as singer & traditional music dancer Mekuanent Melese.

You can learn more about The Nile Project 2016 Africa Tour at www.nileproject.org.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet Genzebe Dibaba’s Coach Jama Aden

With Genzebe Dibaba clocking an astonishing 1500m world record of 3:50.07 last year, her coach, Jama Aden, tells Athletics Weekly's Cathal Dennehy how she did it. (Photo: By Albert Salame/Athletics Weekly)

Athletics Weekly

Much has been written about Genzebe Dibaba’s historic season in 2015, but less is known about the man who masterminded the Ethiopian’s journey into the record books, coach Jama Aden.

A former elite miler from Somalia, the 53-year-old Aden has been the world’s most successful middle-distance coach in recent years, having coached Dibaba, Taoufik Makhloufi, Ayanleh Souleiman and Abubaker Kaki to championship success..

However, it is his association with Dibaba for which he has become renowned. “I don’t have words to express his contribution in my running career,” Dibaba said in Beijing when Athletics Weekly asked about Aden. “He has such a big impact. I broke five world records since working with him.”

“I don’t have words to express his contribution in my running career. He has such a big impact. I broke five world records since working with him” – Dibaba on Aden

In a discussion which offers an unprecedented insight into her performances, Aden speaks to Cathal Dennehy about how he transformed Dibaba’s training, why he believes she can run 3:47 for 1500m, and why he thinks doping accusations levelled at her are borne out of jealousy.

Read the interview at AthleticsWeekly.com »

Genzebe Dibaba and Coach Jama Aden Target Two Marks (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Landscape Architect Sara Zewde’s Urban Monument Design Has Brazil Buzzing

Ethiopian American Landscape Architect Sara Zewde. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Liben Eabisa

Published: Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In the Spring of 2011 Sara Zewde was on her way to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) to study landscape architecture when she found herself in the middle of a movement to preserve a historic Afro-Brazilian heritage site in the Pequena África (Little Africa) neighborhood of Rio De Janeiro. Today Sara, who works for a major U.S. architecture firm in Seattle, has the attention of Brazil’s second-largest city as it prepares to complete part of a design proposed by the Ethiopian American landscape architect before the 2016 Summer Olympics commence there in August.

“I was working in Brazil as a transportation trainer and my job was to consult on a specific project in the Pequena África section of Rio,” Sara recalled in a recent interview with Tadias. “And during that time they were conducting some excavation of the streets and they found the ruins of a very infamous slave port.”

In fact the discovery was the biggest slave port in the Americas. “22% of all the slaves brought to the Americas came through Rio de Janeiro” Sara pointed out. As a result “Brazil actually has more black people than any other nation other than Nigeria. It is a very African country.”

According to the Associated Press the discovery of the port named Valongo, “which was excavated as part of a multibillion-dollar project aimed at bringing big business to Rio’s long derelict port neighborhood, has sparked heated discussions about how Black heritage sites are handled in Brazil.”

Sara, whose urban planning Master’s thesis at MIT focused on the relationship between the African Diaspora and architecture was eager to assist. “I basically approached some of the activists on the ground about the topic and they were excited about my participation,” she told Tadias. “And five years later here I am. I ended up getting really involved and proposed a design that they can use.”

Sara’s proposal includes “a promenade around the old wharf, embellished with fluid shapes that echo the ‘rodas’, or circles, where people engage in the traditionally black Brazilian martial art of capoeira and samba music, which was born in the port district,” AP noted describing her vision. “African plants, such as the baobab tree, would evoke the space’s African soul and a concrete “ribbon” inscribed with historical details would guide visitors.”

Sara Zewde’s monument design to memorialize the Valongo Wharf in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Courtesy image)

(Courtesy of Sara Zewde)

Design by Sara Zewde. (Courtesy image)

In an article entitled “Sara Zewde has the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Paying Attention — And For Good Reason” the non-profit organization Next City noted on their website that “by July 2014, [Sara] was presenting a design proposal at a meeting in Rio’s city hall convened by the Mayor’s office. His representatives and those from the public-private partnership redeveloping the port were there, as well as private developers with a stake in Porto Maravilha, staffers from the federal agencies…and various community activists. Zewde’s audience also included Milton Guran, a Brazilian who serves on UNESCO’s International Scientific Committee and will help decide in the next year whether Valongo Wharf receives designation as a World Heritage Site.”

Sara Zewde’s design, as shown in this rendering, includes native African plants. (Courtesy of Sara Zewde)

What Rio’s leaders “are advocating for now is to build pieces of it before the Olympics,” Sara said. “So there is a huge push, as you can imagine, in terms of infrastructure and construction, just trying to make the city ready for all the visitors.” Some pieces of the design have already been completed, and currently Sara adds that they are “working on a budget and aiming to have at least a quarter mile of the design built before the Olympics.”

Sara, who is 29-years-old, was born in Houston. When she was about a year old her family, who emigrated from Ethiopia, moved to Louisiana where they resided until she was a teen. At the age of 13 her family moved back to Houston and lived there for another five years. “At 18 I moved away and I’ve just been kind of everywhere since then,” Sara said with a slight laugh. In between, she attended Boston University for her undergraduate education and MIT and Harvard for graduate school.

“I grew up in Louisiana where there is not a lot of Ethiopians, especially not 30 years ago,” she shared. “So basically I relied on what my parents told me about Ethiopia. So as a child I had the privilege of growing up with this romantic version of being in Ethiopia.”

The stories that Sara heard from her parents had a positive impact on her profession as an architect. “What that meant for me was that as an architect you need to romanticize, it’s a skill in architecture to be able to romanticize a condition. Your job as an architect is to make something beautiful so it takes a sort of deep understanding of what brings people joy.” She then shared the way her mother, who came from a rural part of Ethiopia called Yifat, told stories of her native home. “She does not talk about it the way people do in the media or books; she talks about it as if it’s all about joy for her.”

Embracing the stories she grew up with Sara ties it back to her focus as an architect. “Understanding people’s life experiences and understanding that joy in relationship to this long-term history, it’s a pretty powerful skill to use with whomever you work with, whatever their history, regardless of their condition,” she said while remembering to add a question: “What is it that brings them joy?”

Sara has traveled to Ethiopia twice — once when she was nine and then a second time ten years ago. “I plan to travel there next year and check it out,” she said. I am excited to see the energy; it seems like there is a lot going on.”

As for her ongoing project in Brazil, “I do the work on the weekends and after work,” Sara said. During the week she is busy at her full-time job at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, a landscape architecture office in Seattle.

This past Fall her employer’s website proudly highlighted Sara’s work on Rio’s urban monument design, which she presented at the first “Black in Design Conference” organized by her alma mater, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). The feature underlined how Sara had started this project while still a student at GSD and that “she continues to work in partnership with the Rio World Heritage Institute.”

“The firm that I am employed with, they do a lot of really great work,” Sara added. “My friends are working on the building of the National Museum of African American History on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which is opening this year. They focus on history and culture as an entry point for architecture. That’s why I wanted to work for them.”

Unearthing of Rio slave port sparks debate over black space (AP)
Young American helping Brazil memorialize the slave trade (PRI)
How a 29-Year-Old Designer Is Reinventing the Urban Monument (Next City)
Harvard School of Design: Sara Zewde Named National Olmsted Scholar (GSD)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight on Ethiopia’s First Aikido Association & Training Center

Aikido demonstration with Tesfaye Tekelu in Hawassa, Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Updated: Monday, January 25th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The city of Hawassa in southern Ethiopia — located by the beautiful Great Rift valley lake of the same name — is also home to the country’s first Aikido center (dojo). The Hawassa dojo is the main headquarter for training in this modern Japanese martial art, which is a non-competitive practice developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the late 1920s. The term Aikido is often translated as ‘The Way of Harmony’ and the techniques emphasize self defense while simultaneously protecting an attacker from harm. Since the first official association was registered in Japan in 1942 aikido has spread across the globe.

In 2005 the late sociologist and professor Don Levine, who practiced and wrote extensively about Aikido in addition to his scholarly work on Ethiopian society, formed the foundation for Aikido Ethiopia with his first mentee Tesfaye Tekelu. After pursuing several years of intensive training at dojos around the world and completing leadership and training courses in Petaluma, California Tesfaye received his first black belt in 2009. With his second black belt Tesfaye is now the highest ranking Aikido practitioner from East Africa.

Hawassa’s original dojo was part of a broader project entitled ‘Action for Youth and Community Change’ (AYCC) that functioned as an NGO run by youth leaders. In addition to an aikido center, the project incorporates a circus (One Love Theater), a girls empowerment program (Long Live the Girls), a health education and recreation center, a visual and music program, and a library.

(Photo Courtesy of Aikido Ethiopia)

“The principles of Aikido are part of the foundation of the entire AYCC project” Tesfaye tells Tadias. “The bigger picture was that whether it’s music, theater, or even a library or resource center it all had an Aikido component as its base.” This includes a primary focus on developing conflict resolution skills, non-violent communication and peace education. In partnership with Aiki Extensions, a U.S. based non-profit focusing on applying Aikido principles off-the-matt, AYCC provides programming and resources to approximately 400 youth in Hawassa. AYCC’s circus, theater shows, sports and arts exhibitions currently reach an audience of over 75,000 individuals. As one of the leaders of AYCC Tesfaye wants the participating youth “to not just engage in the activities, but also to be in charge of running the project and leading it.”

Two months ago, Tesfaye launched a crowdfunding campaign that successfully raised approximately $30,000 to secure land in Hawassa to build Ethiopia’s (and East Africa’s) first fully furnished Aikido center and dojo. With additional financial assistance of $70,000 from the Japanese Embassy for construction Aikido Ethiopia’s new dojo, named in memory of Don Levine, plans to serve 1,000 youth and local community members and provide high quality mats for Aikido practice as well as AYCC’s One Love Theater circus.

(Photo Courtesy of Aikido Ethiopia)

Don Levine shows Tesfaye Tekelu his very first Aikido technique in 2005. (Photo: Aikido Ethiopia)

In January 2015 Tesfaye celebrates the first Aikido black belt tests administered in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

“I’m hoping to take Aikido Ethiopia to the next level,” Tesfaye says as he describes plans to build the new space. “It is our vision to develop the compound as an inclusive environment dedicated to teaching Aikido. The dojo in Ethiopia welcomes everybody to engage in training across borders, and aims to promote a unified Pan-African relationship bearing in mind the Aikido spirit of being open-hearted.” Tesfaye also seeks to build an international connection with Aikido World Headquarters (Hombu Dojo) in Japan while continuing the partnership with Aiki Extensions and Peace Dojos International.

Last January Tesfaye’s Sensei, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, traveled to Ethiopia to administer the first six black belt tests in Hawassa. “All six of the tests were unequivocally superior in technique, execution, finesse, and spirit,” Strozzi-Heckler shared in a reflection piece.

The new batch of black belt practitioners are poised to help expand Aikido nationally in Ethiopia with dojos scheduled to be established in Addis Ababa, Gondar, Bahir Dar, Mekele, Adama (Nazret), Arba Minch, Shashamene, Wolaita Sodo, Dire Dawa, and Harar in 2016.

“I think Aikido Ethiopia has a strong base and foundation,” Tesfaye says enthusiastically. “We’re in a transformation period right now.”

The Art of Peace, Tesfaye Tekelu’s Journey and Ethiopia’s First Aikido Dojo

Aikido Ethiopia Association

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Liya Kebede in Historic Super Bowl 50

Designed by Liya Kebede, Lemlem for Super Bowl 50

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Design by Liya Kebede’s Lemlem Featured in Historic Super Bowl 50 Collection

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede is one of 50 notable fashion designers who has created a one-of-a-kind bespoke football in celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Super Bowl, which is scheduled to take place in San Francisco Bay Area on February 7th, 2016. The designer footballs were developed through a collaboration between the National Football League (NFL) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

Time magazine reports: “The two organizations have collaborated on 50 bespoke designer footballs that will be up for auction from Jan. 20 through Feb. 14 on the NFL Auction site” with proceeds going to the NFL Foundation.

Other featured Super Bowl 50 fashion designers include Kenneth Cole, Tadashi Shoji, Prabal Gurung, Clare Vivier, and Rachel Roy.

The Lemlem brand, founded by Liya Kebede, produces Ethiopian hand-woven cotton scarves, women’s clothing and children’s dresses made by traditional artisans in Ethiopia.

Liya Kebede. (Photo: Lemlem)

“We are pleased to partner with the NFL once again on this creative endeavor, which highlights CFDA Members unique talents and passion for creativity while giving back to youth and important fundraising initiatives,” said Adam Roth, the CFDA’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. “With our collaboration, the NFL offers a unique take on the iconic football, particularly for women who care about fashion and also love the game.”

Read more at Time.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Airlines Announces New Flights From Addis Ababa to NYC

(Photo by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias File)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 22nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Airlines announced Thursday that it will offer new service between Addis Ababa and New York City’s JFK airport starting in June.

“Flights from Addis Ababa to JFK will depart Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings, and will return from JFK to Addis Ababa the same evening,” Ethiopian Airlines said in a press release. “Flights will make an intermediate stop in Lomé, home base for Ethiopian Airline’s partner ASKY Airlines, in both directions.”

The airline said it “will be deploying the most modern aircraft in the world on this flight, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which not only offers unparalleled onboard comfort to passengers, but is also the world’s most environmentally friendly aircraft with its lower fuel usage and noise emissions.”

Read more at ethiopianairlines.com »

Photos: Ethiopian Airlines Inaugurates Flight Connecting Addis, LA, Dublin

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bofta Yimam Named Weekend Morning Anchor at Pittsburgh’s Action News 4

WTAE Channel 4 has promoted Ethiopian American journalist Bofta Yimam as its Weekend Morning Anchor.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January, 21st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Investigative reporter Bofta Yimam, who won the 2013 Regional Emmy Award (Nashville/Mid-South Chapter) for excellence in the ‘Continuing Coverage’ category — while nominated for three awards overall by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — has been promoted as Weekend Morning Anchor at Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 Television (WTAE). The network announced that Bofta’s new post commences on Saturday, January 30th, 2016.

“Bofta is a talented journalist who is passionate about the Pittsburgh community,” WTAE President and General Manager, Charles W. Wolfertz III said in a statement. “She has been a strong asset to Action News Investigates and we look forward to her help in maintaining our dominance in the weekend mornings.”

Bofta said she is “thrilled and honored to have this opportunity at WTAE Channel 4 and look forward to joining the #1 morning news team.” She added: “Pittsburgh is a beautiful city that I love exploring. I’m excited to continue my journey here.”

The Ethiopian American journalist, who is a native of Washington, D.C. and a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park, is also a recipient of several media professional awards including the 2011 Regional Edward R. Murrow Best Breaking News Story Award, the 2009 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award as part of “Crime and the City” coverage, and the 2008 Community Broadcasters Association Best Breaking News Story Award.

In a 2013 interview with Tadias, Bofta recounted how she got her start in journalism with her first job in the small town of Dalton, Georgia (population 40,000). “I left the D.C. metropolitan area and really jumped at the opportunity to be able to be on air..and do the things that I wanted to do,” she said. “The training just continued and I kept meeting more people who were mentors, who offered more advice.”

Bofta went on to work at a cable station and at a CBS affiliate in Macon, Georgia before receiving three Regional Emmy nominations and winning one while working in Memphis.

“There are so many different avenues of journalism that you have to put yourself out there, and have a kind of go-for-it type of mentality, because you can’t just hope” she says. “You gotta get the skill sets and be willing to hit the ground running.”

In a press release Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 said that “during her nearly three years as an Action News Investigates reporter, Bofta has uncovered wasteful spending and wrong doing. One investigation revealed able bodied drivers illegally taking handicapped spots in Port Authority parking lots, and her story on elder abuse exposed the failure to track cases in Western Pennsylvania, pushing authorities to take a closer look at the problem across the state.”

In addition to her reporting WTAE shares that “Bofta served as Special Events Chairwoman of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, helped organize the Robert L. Vann Media Awards program, and was recognized for her journalism coverage of the African-American community of Western Pennsylvania.” Bofta was a guest speaker for events organized by Young Ethiopian Professionals and Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp, as well as lent her voice to sing “the National Anthem for the Race for Every Woman 5K, which helps raise funds for breast cancer awareness among Ethiopian and Eritrean women.”

Watch: Bofta Yimam Emmy Award Acceptance Speech 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Tadias Spotlight on Jembere Eyewear

(Photos: Courtesy of Jembere Eyewear)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Three years ago, after a lengthy career of more than ten years in the eyewear industry, Ethiopian American Abaynesh Jembere decided to establish her own brand of high-quality, fashionable sunglasses, which she aptly named Jembere.

“I decided it was time for me to follow my dream of becoming an entrepreneur,” Abaynesh tells Tadias. “Luckily I had a lot of experience working with eyewear so I had the relationships and knowledge of what I needed to do.”

The NYC-based business sources its materials from top eyewear suppliers in Italy and Germany and manufactures the eyewear in Asia. “Our beautiful lens cloths are handwoven in Ethiopia,” Abaynesh adds. “It was very important to us to have a piece of our brand made in Ethiopia.”

Image courtesy: Jembere Eyewear

While the company has so far only sold items directly from their online site, their eyewear products have been featured on Essence magazine, and last May Jembere’s founder Abaynesh was featured in The Root’s list of “10 African Artists and Entrepreneurs You Should Know.” In 2016 Jembere plans to include additional retailers as part of their expansion.

Abaynesh, who grew up in Seattle, was born in Sudan and moved to the United States when she was barely 2 years old. “I took my first trip back to Ethiopia when I was 18 years old. I was truly inspired and fell in love with our culture,” she shared. “I knew then that whatever I was going to create was going to bridge fashion and culture — my culture — together. That’s when Jembere, which is the Amharic word for ‘my sunset’ was born.”

Abaynesh Jembere, founder of Jembere Eyewear. (Courtesy photos)

“As a child you couldn’t keep me away from my mother’s heels, red lipstick and eyeliner, which by the way, to this day, the latter two are still my staple items,” Abaynesh admits. As a teenager she was certain that she wanted to become a designer and pursued those dreams by enrolling in the Design & Merchandising program at Drexel University.

“My goal is to create products for the fashionable and culturally aware customer,” Abaynesh tells Tadias. “Eyewear is just the beginning of my catalog of products, and I am excited for 2016 as I work hard on launching some new items.”

You can learn more about Jembere Eyewear at www.jembereeyewear.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Debo Band’s New Album ‘Ere Gobez’

Debo Band. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ere Gobez is the title of Debo Band’s newest album, which is scheduled to be released this Spring on FPE Records.

“Thrilled to announce the release of our sophomore album, Ere Gobez, coming out May 20, 2016,” Debo Band announced. The Boston-based Ethiopian American band was in New York City this past weekend “doing some pre-release promo and setting up tours for Summer and Fall.”

The label describes Debo Band’s new album as “the bold, grooving follow-up to their acclaimed debut. The large ensemble is known for its fun, danceable dives into Ethiopia’s rich musical worlds — from Orthodox Christian liturgy to hot-and-sweaty club sounds.”

“Debo Band raises the roof on the Ethiopian musical past,” the record company adds. “They imagine what Duke Ellington, while on his famed African tour, might have played with the Addis Ababa Police Orchestra (“Blue Awaze”)..They invent the jams of the Ethiopians who served in the Korean War and brought back influences from East Asia (the catchy Okinawan song Hiyamikachi Bushi).”

The cover for Debo Band’s new album ‘Ere Gobez.’ (Courtesy photo)

Pre-orders can be made through @pledgemusic at the Debo Band website. Pledgers get a download of the album in a couple weeks.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

MLK’s Invitation from Haile Selassie in 1964

Martin Luther King, Jr. (photo courtesy uscitizenpod.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 18th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A few months before he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr received a letter from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on July 13th, 1964 inviting him to attend the 73rd birthday anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie.

(invitation to Martin & Coretta King from Emperor Haile Selassie. Photo courtesy: The King Center).

Coincidentally that same year both MLK and Haile Selassie had made the shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize; for the latter it followed the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (African Union’s predecessor) the previous year in May 1963.

“The first nomination for Martin Luther King Jr. arrived to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1963. The Norwegian Nobel Committee..received this nomination from an earlier Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, American Friends Service Committee, (The Quakers) in Philadelphia,” states the website for the Nobel Prize. The nomination, signed by the AFSC Board of Directors, stated:

African leaders, who are perhaps most aware of racial tensions, are in several striking cases seeking to create a spirit of reconciliation and to use methods that will not increase the likelihood of violence. These leaders have been influenced and are being encouraged by the example of MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr., whose work to resolve serious conflicts without violence is also helping to reduce in the United States the indiscriminate bitterness that condemns international organization, and in particular the United Nations, because of the participation of people of non-white races and of the concern to promote “the dignity and worth of the human person” regardless of race.

A second request from AFSC subsequently asked for the nomination to be transferred to 1964, which the Nobel Prize Committee agreed to do as they received a second nomination for MLK from the Swedish Parliament. Both MLK and Haile Selassie were two of the 13 individuals on the shortlist out of 43 candidate submissions in 1964.

Martin Luther King, Jr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, becoming the youngest African American to receive the honor. Diplomat and political scientist Ralph Bunche was the first African American to win a Nobel Prize in 1950 while Albert John Luthuli, President of the African National Congress in South Africa, was the first African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.

In his acceptance speech recognizing the civil rights struggle in the United States MLK said: “After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time…I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history..I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits..When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.”

MLK met an untimely death, assassinated in 1968. A year later — and just five years after sending his invitation to Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King — the Washington Afro-American newspaper reported that Haile Selassie went to MLK’s tomb following a State visit and “stood silent for a moment at the grave of the slain civil rights leader and then left for a speech and honor presentation at Morehouse College, Dr. King’s alma mater.”

(Source: Washington Afro-American Newspaper, July 15th, 1969)

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day and the 30th anniversary of the federal holiday honoring his life and civil rights legacy.

Watch MLK’s full Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: President Obama Shows His Coptic Cross From Ethiopia

President Barack Obama talks with Ingrid Nilsen during YouTube's post-State of the Union interview live from the East Room of the White House on Friday, January 15, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, January 16th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A coptic cross from Ethiopia is among President Obama’s gifts that were given to him as keepsakes from ordinary people that he met around the world. In an interview with YouTube personality Ingrid Nilsen on Friday at the White House, Obama — who is the first sitting U.S. President to visit Ethiopia — revealed what he carried in his pocket to remind himself of the stories of individuals he met and the encouragement they gave him. In addition to the Ethiopian cross he carried he also shared additional items including rosary beads from Pope Francis and a lucky poker chip from a biker in Iowa given to him in 2007.

“Ever since I started running for office people started handing me things when I.. speak to a crowd,” President Obama explained in a video posted on the White House website. “Now I have a habit that I always carry around — and I have a whole bowl full of them and I can’t carry all of them around — but I will pick out a few things that I just stick in my pocket to remind me of all the people that I have met along the way and the stories they told me.”

Regarding the rosary beads that Pope Francis gave him Obama said it means a lot to him “because I so admire him and it makes me think about peace and promoting understanding and ethical behavior.”

“If I feel tired or I feel discouraged sometimes I can kind of reach into my pocket and I say yeah that’s something that I can overcome because somebody gave me this privilege to work on these issues that’s going to affect them, I better get back to work,” Obama said.

Obama Aide Yohannes Abraham Gives Keynote Address at YEP’s 5th Anniversary Gala
In Ethiopia, Obama Praises Contributions of Ethiopian Americans
President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.


Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.