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Filmmaker & Actor Leelai Demoz Named Associate Artistic Director at Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Filmmaker and Actor Leelai Demoz. (Photo: PerformInk Chicago)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 18th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Filmmaker & Actor Leelai Demoz has been appointed as Associate Artistic Director at the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

According to PerformInk “Demoz is a founding partner of Small Ax, a digital production company/agency based in Venice, California, where he produced the award-winning film “DIFRET” (2014 Sundance World Cinema and 2014 Berlin Panorama Audience Awards).”

“When I was a young actor growing up in the Chicago area, acting meant only one thing: Steppenwolf Theatre. The members of the ensemble epitomized the craft and art of acting. So to be cast in “The Grapes of Wrath” and playing the National Theatre in Great Britain as a 20-year-old was a life-changing experience.” Demoz said. “Now, after a career as a film and television producer in NY and Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to be considered for this job. I can’t think of a better place than Steppenwolf to be collaborating with so many artists who are asking fundamental questions about our community and our world. I look forward to bringing my experience, energy, passion, naiveté, and unbridled enthusiasm to my new position. I thank the Board, the staff, David Schmitz, and Anna Shapiro for this incredible opportunity. When I was acting, I was always asking the question ‘Who am I?’ Now I am most interested in the question, ‘Who are we?’ To quote Anna, I’m ready to ‘get in here.’”

“Leelai Demoz is a talented producer, administrator, artist and film maker,” says Executive Director David Schmitz. “With his variety of professional experiences, he will immediately add value to the range of projects happening at Steppenwolf at any given moment. As a department head and leader of the artistic office at Steppenwolf, he will be collaborating throughout our organization and our community, and I am thrilled that he is joining our talented staff.”

PerformInk notes that Leelai was “nominated for an Academy and Emmy Award for the documentary film “On TipToe,” which is a profile of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and was directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Eric Simonson. His other work has been seen on MTV, Discovery, Travel Channel and BET. He also directed a set of ‘get out the vote’ public service announcements for the Clinton Foundation featuring LL Cool J and Alicia Keys.” Demoz also currently serves as a Board member for The Schoolhouse Foundation and Action Civics California.


Related:
Interview with Filmmaker Leelai Demoz (2009)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

UPDATE: ‘Clear Similarities’ in Boeing Crashes, Ethiopia Minister Says (AP)

A priest cries at a mass funeral at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Sunday, March 17, 2019. Thousands of Ethiopians have turned out to a mass funeral ceremony in the capital one week after the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash. Officials have begun delivering bags of earth to family members of the 157 victims of the crash instead of the remains of their loved ones because the identification process is going to take such a long time. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Updated: March 17th, 2019

ADDIS ABABA — Preliminary information from the flight data recorder of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed a week ago and killed 157 people shows “clear similarities” with an earlier disaster involving the same kind of Boeing aircraft in Indonesia, Ethiopia’s transport minister said Sunday.

The disclosure came as thousands marched in the capital of Addis Ababa, accompanying 17 empty caskets at a funeral for the Ethiopian victims of Flight 302. The caskets were empty because authorities have said that recovering and identifying the remains will take months.

The crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 on March 10 and that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October — both of them Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners — have prompted the United States and other countries to ground the aircraft.

The flight recorders from Flight 302 that went down shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa for Nairobi were recovered “in a good condition that enabled us to extract almost all the data inside,” Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges told reporters.

Information collected so far from the flight data recorder has indicated “clear similarities” between both crashes, she said. Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were sent to Paris for analysis by the French air accident investigation agency BEA.

Moges did not elaborate on what the similarities were.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration already has said satellite-based tracking data showed that the movements of Flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed off Indonesia, killing 189 people.

Both planes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.

Suspicions emerged that faulty sensors and software may have contributed to the crashes.

Moges said the Ethiopian government intends to release detailed findings within a month.

At the memorial service earlier in the day, some of the relatives who marched behind the flag-draped coffins were overcome with grief and fainted.

The service came one day after officials began delivering bags of scorched earth from the crash site to family members of the victims because of the problems with identifying the remains.

Family members said they were given a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) sack of dirt from the crash site. Many relatives already have gone to the dusty field outside Addis Ababa where the plane went down to pay their respects.

Mourner Elias Bilew said he had worked with one of the victims, Sintayehu Shafi, for the past eight years.

“He was such a good person,” Bilew said. “He doesn’t deserve this. He was the pillar for his whole family.”

Boeing Black Box Review Begins in France, Aviation World Waits (Reuters)


Men unload a case from a diplomatic car from the Ethiopian Embassy outside the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, March 14, 2019. The black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 arrived in France on Thursday. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

By Richard Lough, Aaron Maasho

Updated: March 15th, 2019

PARIS/ADDIS ABABA – Investigators in France on Friday examined the black boxes of a Boeing 737 MAX that crashed in Ethiopia, as a spooked global airline industry waited to see if the cause was similar to a disaster in Indonesia months before.

Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed soon after take-off from Addis Ababa last weekend, killing 157 people, the second such calamity involving Boeing’s flagship new model after a jet came down off Indonesia in October with 189 people on board.

In both cases, pilots asked to return minutes into flight.

The international repercussions are huge. Regulators have grounded the 737 MAX around the world, and the U.S. planemaker has halted next deliveries of the several thousand planes on order for a model intended to be the future industry workhorse.

Parallels between the twin disasters have frightened travelers worldwide and wiped almost $28 billion off Boeing’s stock market value.

U.S. aviation authorities say information from the wreckage in Ethiopia plus newly-refined data about its flight path indicated some similarities.

Two sources said investigators retrieved from the wreckage a piece of a stabilizer, which moves the nose up and down, that was set in an unusual position – one similar to that of the Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia.

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash interactive – tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

“NOSE-DIVE”

Pilots were waiting anxiously for the investigation.

“Looking at the crash site photos, the aircraft appears to have nose-dived,” Paul Gichinga, former head of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association, told Reuters.

“The pilot must have gotten some sort of indication that maybe the airspeed was unreliable or something and decided, instead of climbing and going to sort out the problem up there, the best thing was to return to have it sorted.”

Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker, has said the 737 MAX is safe, though it plans to roll out a software upgrade in the coming weeks. It continued to produce at full speed at its factory near Seattle, but paused shipments.

French authorities have possession of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, though Ethiopia is formally leading the investigation and U.S. experts are in Paris and Addis Ababa too.

First conclusions could take several days.

The New York Times said the Ethiopian captain, Yared Getachew, initially reported a “flight control” problem in a calm voice before asking to return in panicked tones three minutes into the flight. “Break break, request back to home,” he told controllers, the newspaper reported, citing a person who had reviewed the communications.

The jet initially flew below the minimum safe height for its climb, then once at higher altitude was oscillating up and down by hundreds of feet, all at abnormal speed, the Times said. It then disappeared from radar over a restricted military zone and lost contact with air controllers five minutes after take-off.

FAMILIES “STUCK AND EMOTIONAL”

In Ethiopia, grieving relatives have been visiting the charred and debris-strewn field where the jet came down to pay last respects. Only fragments remain, meaning it may take weeks or months to identify all the victims who came from 35 nations.

Some families stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday complaining about lack of information.

Israeli Ilan Matsliah flew to Ethiopia hours after confirming his brother was on board, thinking it would be quick to find remains for burial in accordance with Jewish tradition.

“More than 24 hours is a problem for us. But I have been here for more than 96 hours,” the 46-year old told Reuters.

“We are now stuck in the same place, the same as Monday. We are very emotional.”

With heightened global scrutiny, the head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee said a report into the Lion Air crash would be speeded up for release in July or August.

A preliminary report focused on maintenance, training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor.

As the ripple-effect from the Ethiopia crash spread, Canada’s biggest carrier Air Canada suspended financial forecasts for the first quarter and the year, two days after its MAX jets were grounded. It had expected the MAX to deliver significant savings on fuel and maintenance costs.

A potential new Chinese order for more than 100 jets worth well over $10 billion was thrown into doubt.

Legal experts said even non-U.S. families of the Ethiopia victims may be able to sue Chicago-based Boeing in the United States – where payouts are larger – as eight of the dead were American and plaintiffs may argue liability hinges on system design and safety decisions made by executives.

Boeing, one of the biggest companies by market capitalization on the Dow Jones and a darling of the market, has seen its shares lose 13 percent since the crash.

Its shares had hit record highs just a week before, having risen a stunning 52 percent since the end of December, and were still up 19 percent year-to-date.

‘My child! My brother!’: As mourners gather at Ethiopian Airlines crash site, an agonizing search for remains (The Washington Post)


Ethiopia to Send Plane’s Black Box Abroad, as Grief Grows (AP)


Relatives react at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The black box from the Boeing jet that crashed will be sent overseas for analysis but no country has been chosen yet, an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said Wednesday, as much of the world grounded or barred the plane model and grieving families arrived at the disaster site. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

AP

By ELIAS MESERET and YIDNEK KIRUBEL

Updated: March 13th, 2019

The black box from the Boeing jet that crashed and killed all 157 people on board will be sent overseas for analysis but no country has been chosen, an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said Wednesday, as much of the world grounded or barred the plane model and grieving families arrived at the disaster site.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Asrat Begashaw said the airline has “a range of options” for the data and voice records of the flight’s last moments. “What we can say is we don’t have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia,” he said. An airline official has said one recorder was partially damaged.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed six minutes after takeoff Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The disaster is the second with a Max 8 plane in just five months.

While some aviation experts have warned against drawing conclusions until more information on the latest crash emerges, much of the world, including the entire European Union, has grounded the Boeing jetliner or banned it from their airspace. Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa’s best-managed airline, grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8s.

That leaves the United States as one of the few remaining operators of the plane.

“Similar causes may have contributed to both events,” European regulators said, referring to the Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people last year.

An aviation expert says investigators can expect to find multiple factors as they look for the cause of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157. The plane was a Boeing 737 Max 8, the latest version of the widely used jetliner. (March 11)

Others took action on Wednesday. Lebanon and Kosovo barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from their airspace, and Norwegian Air Shuttles said it would seek compensation from Boeing after grounding its fleet. Egypt banned the operation of the aircraft. Thailand ordered budget airline Thai Lion Air to suspend flying the planes for risk assessments. Lion Air confirmed reports it has put on hold the scheduled delivery of four of the jets.

The U.S.-based Boeing has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.

Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg also spoke with President Donald Trump and reiterated that the 737 Max 8 is safe, the company said. Its technical team, meanwhile, joined American, Israeli, Kenyan and other aviation experts in the investigation led by Ethiopian authorities.

The Federal Aviation Administration also backed the jet’s airworthiness and said it was reviewing all available data. “Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell said in a statement. “Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”

Some aviation experts have warned that finding answers in this crash could take months.

An Ethiopian pilot who saw the crash site minutes after the disaster told the AP that the plane appeared to have “slid directly into the ground.”

Asrat, the Ethiopian Airlines spokesman, told the AP that the remains of victims recovered so far were in freezers and that forensic DNA work for identifications had not yet begun.

The dead came from 35 countries. The airline has identifying them should take five days.

More devastated families arrived at the crash site on Wednesday, some supported by loved ones and wailing.


‘Black Box’ Recovered in Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash


The Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) were discovered on Monday. (Photo: Rescuers work at the scene of the crash near Debre Zeit on Monday, March 11, 2019/AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 11th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – The “black box” voice and data recorders from an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed a few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on Sunday have now been recovered. Recovery of the voice and data recorders may help investigators find out the cause of the plane’s crash shortly after the pilot sent a distress call and given permission to return to the airport.

Officials have reported that there are no survivors from the flight that crashed near Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) and carried 157 people including Ethiopian Airlines crew on its way to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

“The flight data recorder (FDR) preserves the recent history of the flight through the recording of dozens of parameters collected several times per second, while the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) preserves the recent history of the sounds in the cockpit, including the conversation of the pilots,” explains Wiki. “The FDR and CVR give an accurate testimony, narrating the aircraft’s flight history, to assist in any investigation.”


Related:
Ethiopia Mourns Crash Victims as Investigators Seek Answers (AP UPDATE)
Ethiopia grounds Boeing aircraft involved in devastating crash that killed all aboard (Washington Post)
No Survivors in Ethiopian Airlines Crash En Route to Kenya (AP)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Flight ET302 Black Box Review Begins

Men unload a case from a diplomatic car from the Ethiopian Embassy outside the headquarters of France's BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, March 14, 2019. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho, Leigh Thomas

Updated: March 17th, 2019

Experts begin examining Ethiopia jet cockpit recorder

PARIS/ADDIS ABABA – Investigators hunting for the cause of the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed all 157 people on board have begun studying the cockpit voice recorder, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said on Saturday.

Experts say it is too soon to know what brought down the Boeing 737 MAX 8 on March 10, but aviation authorities worldwide have grounded Boeing’s 737 MAXs, as concerns over the plane caused the company’s share price to tumble.

A spokesman for the BEA agency said downloading the data from the recorder retrieved from wreckage was expected to take four to five hours. The BEA also issued a photo showing the recorder intact but dented by the impact of the plane’s crash into a field minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.

“We are waiting for the results. We are making all the necessary efforts to identify the cause of the accident,” Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges told reporters in Addis Ababa.

“This kind of investigation needs considerable amount of time to reach concrete conclusions”.

The Ethiopian carrier said DNA testing of the remains of the people on board flight 302 may take up to six months, and it offered bereaved families charred earth from the plane crash site to bury. Passengers from more than 30 nations were aboard.

Dagmawit said temporary death certificate had been given, and a final one would be issued in two weeks time. Collection of DNA samples from relatives had begun.

Victim identification would be done to scientific international standards, and internationally-recognised organisations such as Interpol were going to be involved in the process, she said.

As families wait for the results from the investigation, Ethiopian Airlines is planning to hold a service on Sunday in Addis Ababa, at the Kidist Selassie, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, where many of the country’s past rulers are buried beneath its pink stone spires.

EARTH FROM THE CRASH SITE

“We were told by the company that we will be given a kilo (of earth) each for burial at Selassie Church for a funeral they will organise,” said one family member who asked not to be named.

Papers given to the families at the Skylight Hotel on Saturday said death certificates would be issued within two weeks, and an initial payment made to cover immediate expenses.

The return of remains – most of which are charred and fragmented – would take up to six months, the papers said, but in the meantime earth from the crash site would be given.

Abdulmajid Sheriff, a Kenyan whose Yemeni brother-in-law died, said the family had already held a service.

“We are Muslims we didn’t care about that (earth). We did yesterday our prayers at the mosque and that is all for us.”

Around 100 relatives, including the brother and father of pilot Yared Getachew, gathered at a memorial for the victims at the Kenyan embassy.

“His dream was to be a pilot,” said Meno Getachew Tessema, 39, Yared’s brother. “He was diligent, hardworking, he had a consistent work ethic. I would like to emphasize his record and that he was a rising star at Ethiopian Airlines.”

Flight data has already indicated some similarities with a crash by the same model of plane during a Lion Air flight in October. All 189 people onboard were killed. Both planes crashed within minutes of take off after pilots reported problems.

The grounding of the 737 MAX jets has had no immediate financial impact on airlines using the planes, but it will get painful for the industry the longer they do not fly, companies and analysts said on Friday.

Boeing plans to release upgraded software for the 737 MAX in a week to 10 days, sources familiar with the matter said.

The U.S. planemaker has been working on a software upgrade for an anti-stall system and pilot displays on its fastest-selling jetliner in the wake of the deadly Lion Air crash.


‘My child! My brother!’: As mourners gather at Ethiopian Airlines crash site, an agonizing search for remains (The Washington Post)


Ethiopia to Send Plane’s Black Box Abroad, as Grief Grows (AP)


Relatives react at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The black box from the Boeing jet that crashed will be sent overseas for analysis but no country has been chosen yet, an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said Wednesday, as much of the world grounded or barred the plane model and grieving families arrived at the disaster site. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

AP

By ELIAS MESERET and YIDNEK KIRUBEL

Updated: March 13th, 2019

The black box from the Boeing jet that crashed and killed all 157 people on board will be sent overseas for analysis but no country has been chosen, an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said Wednesday, as much of the world grounded or barred the plane model and grieving families arrived at the disaster site.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Asrat Begashaw said the airline has “a range of options” for the data and voice records of the flight’s last moments. “What we can say is we don’t have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia,” he said. An airline official has said one recorder was partially damaged.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed six minutes after takeoff Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The disaster is the second with a Max 8 plane in just five months.

While some aviation experts have warned against drawing conclusions until more information on the latest crash emerges, much of the world, including the entire European Union, has grounded the Boeing jetliner or banned it from their airspace. Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa’s best-managed airline, grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8s.

That leaves the United States as one of the few remaining operators of the plane.

“Similar causes may have contributed to both events,” European regulators said, referring to the Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people last year.

An aviation expert says investigators can expect to find multiple factors as they look for the cause of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157. The plane was a Boeing 737 Max 8, the latest version of the widely used jetliner. (March 11)

Others took action on Wednesday. Lebanon and Kosovo barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from their airspace, and Norwegian Air Shuttles said it would seek compensation from Boeing after grounding its fleet. Egypt banned the operation of the aircraft. Thailand ordered budget airline Thai Lion Air to suspend flying the planes for risk assessments. Lion Air confirmed reports it has put on hold the scheduled delivery of four of the jets.

The U.S.-based Boeing has said it has no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.

Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg also spoke with President Donald Trump and reiterated that the 737 Max 8 is safe, the company said. Its technical team, meanwhile, joined American, Israeli, Kenyan and other aviation experts in the investigation led by Ethiopian authorities.

The Federal Aviation Administration also backed the jet’s airworthiness and said it was reviewing all available data. “Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell said in a statement. “Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”

Some aviation experts have warned that finding answers in this crash could take months.

An Ethiopian pilot who saw the crash site minutes after the disaster told the AP that the plane appeared to have “slid directly into the ground.”

Asrat, the Ethiopian Airlines spokesman, told the AP that the remains of victims recovered so far were in freezers and that forensic DNA work for identifications had not yet begun.

The dead came from 35 countries. The airline has identifying them should take five days.

More devastated families arrived at the crash site on Wednesday, some supported by loved ones and wailing.


‘Black Box’ Recovered in Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash


The Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) were discovered on Monday. (Photo: Rescuers work at the scene of the crash near Debre Zeit on Monday, March 11, 2019/AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 11th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – The “black box” voice and data recorders from an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed a few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on Sunday have now been recovered. Recovery of the voice and data recorders may help investigators find out the cause of the plane’s crash shortly after the pilot sent a distress call and given permission to return to the airport.

Officials have reported that there are no survivors from the flight that crashed near Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) and carried 157 people including Ethiopian Airlines crew on its way to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

“The flight data recorder (FDR) preserves the recent history of the flight through the recording of dozens of parameters collected several times per second, while the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) preserves the recent history of the sounds in the cockpit, including the conversation of the pilots,” explains Wiki. “The FDR and CVR give an accurate testimony, narrating the aircraft’s flight history, to assist in any investigation.”


Related:
Ethiopia Mourns Crash Victims as Investigators Seek Answers (AP UPDATE)
Ethiopia grounds Boeing aircraft involved in devastating crash that killed all aboard (Washington Post)
No Survivors in Ethiopian Airlines Crash En Route to Kenya (AP)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Africa’s Women Are Rising: OP-ED by President Sahle-Work Zewde (FT)

Ethiopian president Sahle-Work Zewde: for young women particularly, seeing other women in leadership positions and non-stereotypical professions helps to expand their horizons © Getty

Financial Times

By Sahle-Work Zewde

Africa’s women are rising to challenge gender discrimination

Change is sweeping Africa. Systemic barriers to gender equity are falling and a growing number of women leaders are reshaping the continent.

Across the continent, women are increasingly challenging traditional norms by claiming positions of power and influence in our public arenas. Rwanda, Seychelles and my own country of Ethiopia now have cabinets split evenly along gender lines, with some of the most powerful posts occupied by women.

A new generation of African leaders is investing in social and human capital, universal health coverage, education and gender equality. This is a story that’s particularly important to tell as we approach International Women’s Day.

Globally the proportion of seats held in parliament by women has slowly risen from just 12 per cent in 1997 to 24 per cent in 2018. Amid this, a handful of African countries stand out. In Rwanda, over 60 per cent of members of parliament are women, and in Namibia, South Africa, Senegal and Mozambique, at least 40 per cent of parliamentarians are women.

This represents a dramatic shift in representation, inclusion and democratisation of opportunity. For young women particularly, seeing other women in leadership positions and non-stereotypical professions helps to expand their horizons. For institutions and governments, tapping the full potential of their talent pools brings diversity of perspectives and experience when hard decisions must be made.

But to enable more women to serve as leaders, we need to redistribute power and ensure equal pay at work. The International Labour Organization estimates that the gender pay gap is higher in sub-Saharan Africa than any other region in the world.

Gender equality and respect for women’s rights starts at home, where power and wealth are still in the hands of men. Yet women tend to spend more out of household budgets on providing for their families than men do. A report launched today, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, reveals that gender equality in the workplace is still a far cry. The Global Health 50/50 report: Equality Works, which looks at the policies and practices of nearly 200 organisations active in global health, shows that seven out of 10 of such organisations are headed by men.

Read more »


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In Pictures: Girls Gotta Run in Ethiopia

The Girls Gotta Run team in Bekoji Ethiopia. (Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 8th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – In honor of International Women’s Day, which is being celebrated around the world today, we are featuring excerpts from a recent photo-journal from the Bale Mountains authored by Meghan Hicks, Managing Editor of iRunFar, who documented the work of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation in Ethiopia. As Meghan points out, the U.S. nonprofit “awards scholarships to girls and young women in Bekoji to give them elevated access to education, health care, organized run coaching, life-skills development, and more.”

If Bekoji sounds familiar that’s because the town is also home to some of the greatest athletes in the world including Olympic gold medal-winning long-distance runners Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Derartu Tulu and Fatuma Roba.

In her article below, which includes intimate photographs of the GGRF program participants, Hicks takes us to the inaugural Bekoji 100 Mile Relay that took place this past January.

——–
Jaybird Deep Dive: Bekoji 100 Mile Relay (iRunFar)


The 2019 Bekoji 100 Mile Relay participants at Bale Mountains National Park the day before the relay. (Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks)

The sun has just risen, bathing the 48 of us in light the color of a wheat field ready for harvest. The air is cold and dry here at 10,000 feet above sea level, so our warm, damp breaths condense into silvery clouds about our faces as we nervously laugh, take selfies, and jog in place. Our group is composed of 15 teenage girls hailing from the town of Bekoji which is located exactly 100 miles away and where many Ethiopian elite runners train, 27 adult visitors from several countries, and six organizers and coaches. Starting in moments, we’ll all take turns running five-kilometer road segments from here to Bekoji, thereby enacting the inaugural Bekoji 100 Mile Relay…

The tarmac road upon which we run dissects the northern finger of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park, home to baboons, warthogs, nyala, and dozens of other wildlife species…At about 24 kilometers into the relay’s route, the road crests its high point in the Bale Mountains, at 11,700 feet above sea level. Those of us who are visiting from low altitude are lightheaded and woozy, while the Bekoji girls, who live at 9,000 feet, are almost unaffected. That said, this is the first time the girls have ventured and run this high–or this far from home, for that matter, this is a huge adventure for them. Meskarem, who is running now, just doubled over to vomit on the side of the road.


The Girls Gotta Run team warms up ahead of a speed workout in the grass fields. (Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks)


A girl strides it out while warming up for the relay in front of farmlands that are dormant in the dry season. (Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks)

GGRF coach Fatia Abdi shrieks in Amharic and the bus screeches to a halt. She and a group of people sprint off the busses and to Meskarem’s side, offering her a sip of water and a couple supportive hands on her back. These mountains are today’s first tangible obstacle…

The GGRF girls are accustomed to obstacles, or at least that which Westerners would perceive as significant challenge: poverty; limited access to pretty much every basic resource such as clean water, clothing, and nutritious food; decreased access to education; it goes on…Describes Kayla, who has been a part of the American nonprofit GGRF since 2011 and who lived in Ethiopia for four of these years to help develop its programs, “Girls face an enormous number of challenges in their personal and social lives, especially around adolescence, including early marriage, dropping out of school, domestic violence, social isolation, limited economic opportunity, and more.” To address this, GGRF provides three-year academic and athletic scholarships to girls starting around age 12 or 13, the average age of early marriage in Bekoji. The program’s goal is to supply girls with the tools they need to successfully navigate their volatile teenagerhood.

“GGRF also works with each girl’s mother,” says Kayla, “to help them gain access to the resources and skills that allow them to support themselves and their daughters in school and otherwise.” In Bekoji, GGRF supplies scholarships and support to 60 girls and their 60 mothers.

The point about GGRF’s run training must be emphasized. Bekoji is a running town. Not everyone runs, but hundreds do and pretty much everyone understands the sport’s national importance. Ethiopian Olympians galore have come from and trained in Bekoji. Think Kenenisa Bekele, Derartu Tulu, and Tirunesh Dibaba, okay? Running is a lifeblood of Bekoji, and a GGRF cornerstone.

“Running has become a space in Ethiopia where women have been able to express power through sport, to create their own educational and economic opportunities nationally,” emphasizes Kayla. “We work with the idea of using sports to renegotiate the norms of what it means to be an adolescent girl in Ethiopia.”

Read more the full article and see photos at irunfar.com »


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Spotlight: Ethiopian Sirak Seyoum Ready to Climb Mount Everest

High altitude climber Sirak Seyoum, photographed in Peru three years ago, is scheduled to climb Mount Everest from April to June 2019. What’s more Sirak’s fundraising will also help Addis Abeba City Administration’s new trust fund to assist street children. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 5th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – His goal is to climb to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth, and plant an Ethiopian flag to exemplify this new era of optimism and change in Ethiopia. If he succeeds Sirak Seyoum, an Electrical Engineer from Nevada and an elite high altitude climber, will become the first Ethiopian to conquer the world’s tallest mountain, which has been in his sights for the past ten years.

Sirak first shared his adventures as an avid mountain climber with Tadias in August 2009. “I knew after climbing my first peak, I have found my passion,” he told us then. “A passion similar to life itself, life doesn’t stop if the going gets hard, we simply rise up and keep moving.”

Reflecting on his aspirations to climb Everest Sirak had vowed: “Practice will be my top priority until the day comes for me to do this mission.”

And practice he has for more than a decade, trekking faraway peaks from Mt. Chopicalqui and Mt. Pisco in South America to White Pinnacle in Nevada, USA. “He is the only Ethiopian who has already conquered so many mountain peaks in some of the remotest parts of the world, where the Ethiopian flag was quietly raised at the highest points of continental regions,” states Sirak’s fundraising page. “He is taking 11 years worth of extreme mountain climbing experience, to the top of the world April-June 2019.”

What’s more Sirak’s fundraising will also help Addis Abeba City Administration’s new trust fund to assist street children.

“As part of the recent socio-political change sweeping through Ethiopia, Addis Abeba City Administration has launched a trust fund that began the work of caring for 2865 street children (as of March 1, 2019) who flood in from regional states with no means for survival,” the announcement said. “Sirak has arranged with the city government to donate 10% of all funds raised to support this initiative.”


You can learn more and support Sirak at www.gofundme.com.

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Spotlight: Ethiopian Movies at New African Film Festival in Maryland

Three new Ethiopian films: Fig Tree, Found in a Dream and Fortuna will be screened at the 2019 New African Film Festival at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Images: Courtesy AFI)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian selections at this year’s New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland includes three movies from the Diaspora highlighting the diversity of present-day Ethiopian global experience, from being a refugee in Europe to growing up as an adopted child in Australia to an Ethiopian-Israeli story of love and separation during the turbulent 1980s.

In the film Fortuna (French and Amharic with English subtitles), Ethiopian actress Kidist Siyum plays a teenage girl named Fortuna whose family, like thousands of other Ethiopian migrants, had braved the Mediterranean in search of a better life on the other side of the sea. But Fortuna has not heard from her parents since they landed on the shores of Lampedusa, Italy. “Together with other refugees, she is given shelter for the winter in a Catholic monastery in the Swiss Alps,” the filmmakers share in their synopsis. “This is where Fortuna meets Kabir, a 26-year-old refugee with whom she falls desperately in love. Their relationship develops in secret until the day Kabir mysteriously disappears following a police raid.”

Helen Kassa’s Ethio-Australian film Found in a Dream is also slated to screen at the 2019 New African Film Festival. “Set in Australia and Ethiopia, Found in a Dream explores the journey of a young adopted Ethiopian-Australian man struggling to find his path,” the announcement said. “Abeselom (Sammi Obamah) is a drug dealer living in Melbourne. Experiencing isolation and navigating between doing what is right and doing what he must to survive, Abeselom’s world is changed when he meets a young nurse named Netsanet (Netsanet Tefera). Found in a Dream is about love, culture and, ultimately, finding comfort within connection.”

The third film tilted Fig Tree (Ye Shola Zaff) takes place in Addis Ababa at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in the late 1980s. Fig Tree is directed by Ethiopian-Israeli filmmaker and writer Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian. “Sixteen-year-old Mina (newcomer Betalehem Asmamawe) lives with her brother and grandmother in a humble house with newsprint for wallpaper,” notes the film summary. “The family is Jewish and is planning to flee Ethiopia for Israel, where Mina’s mother awaits. But this plan leaves out the person Mina loves most: Eli, her Christian boyfriend, who lives in the woods so as to evade being drafted into Mengistu Haile Mariam’s army. When Mina hatches a scheme to save Eli, everyone and everything seems set against her. Fig Tree offers a rare opportunity to better understand the impact of civil war on the lives of ordinary people — and it pulls no punches.”


Learn more about the New African Film Festival at AFI Silver: https://silver.afi.com.

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The Concept Behind the Adwa Pan-African University: Interview with Dr. Ayele Bekerie

Professor Ayele Bekerie in New York, November 2018. (Tadias photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Establishing the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was a monumental moment in history. It was a nod of acknowledgement for Ethiopia’s maintenance of its independence from colonization as well as its deep support for the decolonization of the African continent. A new university is now being established as Adwa Pan-African University (APAU), and it is envisioned as a timely gift from Ethiopia to Africans worldwide.

The university, which is set to be built on a beautiful 150 acres in the foothills of Adwa, will have a panoramic view of the town’s legendary mountains — where the scene of Ethiopia’s resounding victory against the invading Italian forces occurred on March 1st, 1896. APAU will serve as one of the leading centers of academic research and study exploring contemporary and historical Pan-African issues.

In an interview with Tadias, Professor Ayele Bekerie, who is managing the project, said that the new institution is also a tribute to Ethiopian history and the triumph at Adwa that marked “the beginning of the end of colonization around the continent and beyond.”

“Why are we establishing a university as opposed to a museum? asked Dr. Ayele. “Because university is a place where knowledge is produced; it’s a place where you have a sense of permanency.” He added: “It’s a cultural institution in which we are able to study all issues pertaining to the African people. You research it, write about it, analyze it, critique it, evaluate it and in the process you generate knowledge. And once you have knowledge and data then you can utilize that information to engage and converse with the world on your own terms and with your own original ideas.”

The land for the university was donated “with the generosity of the people of Adwa as well as the regional and federal governments,” Dr. Ayele said. “The Ethiopian government has given us initial seed money of 200 million birr to build the school.” Dr. Ayele pointed out that it’s equally important to mention that the idea to build APAU came from citizens, not the government. “We are also looking at several other sources of local, regional and international funding including partnerships with UNESCO and the African Union.”

Dr. Ayele, who is an Ethiopian-American scholar is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of the PhD Program in Heritage Studies as well as Coordinator of International Affairs department at Mekelle University’s Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation. He is also a contributing author in the acclaimed book, One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years, and the author of the award-winning book Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles. Dr. Ayele was back in the U.S. this past fall promoting the concept for Adwa Pan African University among his academic colleagues in the United States and within the Ethiopian community in the New York/Tri-state area. His stops included Cornel University where he was previously an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center before returning to Ethiopia; as well as Columbia University, The Schomburg Center in Harlem, and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

“Part of my trip here was to recruit scholars that can help us build this momentous institution,” Dr. Ayele told Tadias. “In fact a very prominent Pan-African scholar at Cornell University, who was my former advisor, is willing to come and work with us is in building the curriculum and so it’s those kind of scholars not only from the U.S. but also Africa who are eager to participate and we are happy to attract.”

Dr. Ayele noted that in April 2018 a major international conference was held in Adwa, to discuss the launching of the new university, where invitees included scholars from the United States, Europe and Asia.

“At that conference we identified the key tasks that needed to be carried out in order to bring the establishment of the university into reality,” Dr. Ayele said. “We constituted four committees: on curriculum, architecture, fundraising, as well as documentation and archive.”

Dr. Ayele says this effort also includes identifying existing African cultural centers across the globe. “For instance you have the Mandela Center in South Africa,” notes Dr. Ayele. “You have the Senghor Cultural center in Senegal, you have the Nkrumah and Du Bois cultural centers in Ghana, and they have this fascinating museum that houses Adwa collections at St. Petersburg in Russia, because Russia was an ally of Ethiopia during the battle,” Dr. Ayele continued. “The Russians worked as Red Cross volunteers and were strong supporters of the Ethiopian cause, which the world does not know, and because of that they have an excellent collection from the battle. So this university is going to link itself to all of these various institutions.”

In terms of its curriculum, Dr. Ayele shared that they’ll start with a graduate program and the major fields will focus on humanities, social sciences, information sciences and technology. Dr. Ayele said some scholars who came for the international conference last April also suggested that they include military science primarily “to demonstrate that the battle of Adwa was not a fluke – there was specific military tactics and strategies that were utilized in order to decisively defeat the Italians,” Dr. Ayele emphasized. “So we have to build on that tradition and study the military science of African people.”

Dr. Ayele added that “it is not too difficult to start with a graduate program. In general it requires that you identify Pan-African scholars in the world and ask them to supervise the research work of students who are going to enroll in our program. So we intend to start with Masters and PhD level curriculum, and after that depending on the strength that we have, we’ll start an undergraduate program.”

“The vision is that students will be recruited from all corners of Africa as well as the Diaspora and acceptance will be merit-based,” Dr. Ayele shares. “The center of excellence is Pan-Africanism, meaning defining, analyzing, interpreting and advancing Pan-African issues. So it’s not going to be an ordinary university. It’s going to be a stand-alone institution that will be studying, promoting, protecting and explaining the interest of the African people as well as finding a way for Africans to live in peace with themselves and in peace with the rest of the world. That’s our vision. So when we open this institution we are not going to limit our activities only to Ethiopia, Africa or a particular ethnic group or tribe; we’re going to link ourselves as a member of the globe so it will enable us to think and look at and search for the bigger picture,” Dr. Ayele argued. “That’s very important especially in the context of what’s going on now.” He said: “Because it’s when you start to project yourself beyond your immediate identity that you start to kind of recognize the enormity of your own history and making it richer.”

Ayele reminds us that the first important congress of Pan-Africanism was held in London in 1900, four years after Ethiopia’s victory at the battle of Adwa. “What’s interesting is that immediately after the victory at the Battle of Adwa a Pan-Africanist by the name of Dr. Benito Sylvain — a Haitian who used to live in Paris — traveled to Ethiopia to congratulate Menelik, and had extended an invitation to the Emperor to attend the London conference.” Although Menelik did not travel to England personally he appointed Dr. Sylvain to represent Ethiopia at the gathering. “What’s important here is that 4 years after the victory at the Battle of Adwa you have Ethiopia being engaged in Pan-African issues,” Ayele said. “Of course in those times the most pressing issue was colonialism, and therefore this movement established first to articulate the interests of African people, and then to fight against colonialism. So that particular conference is directly linked to Adwa and there is a historical Pan-African connection there.”

The building of the university is also in line with agenda 2063, which is a resolution passed by the African Union “projecting what kind of people we are going to become, and the kind of unity that we’re going to establish by the 100th anniversary of the AU,” Dr. Ayele explained. “That was resolved during the 50th anniversary of the African Union some few years back. So now we are at a moment where Africans are thinking, critiquing and evaluating what they regard is their place in the world.”

As the concept paper for the university shared with Tadias highlights:

The Battle of Adwa is well documented and its literature can be found in almost all the major libraries of the world. Institutions of higher learning, and in some cases, high schools have incorporated the Battle and its outcome in their curricula. And yet at the very site of the battlefield, in Adwa, there are no battlefield markers, museums, or monuments. Historically, while Adwa signifies resistance and freedom to the people of Africa, Adwa remains unmarked and undeveloped. The historic victory appears to have more significance outside than inside the country. It is therefore critical to capture the dynamics and meanings of the victory at Adwa for posterity and for the generations to come. Hence, there was a widespread call and a succeeding unanimous approval, locally and internationally, for the establishment of Adwa Pan-African University (APAU).

Adwa is the spark for the global Pan-African Movement. Adwa imparts can do-ness and affirms the possible. It is undoubtedly a source of inspiration for anti-colonial struggles. This key symbol of resistance and freedom deserves a permanent institution to document and narrate the Battle. It is therefore necessary to establish an institution that is capable of perpetuating the victory and its Pan-African implications for generations. It is in this context that the need for the establishment of APAU was announced and measures for its implementation were adopted. APAU, which is the first of its kind, strives to immortalize the victory at the 1896 Battle of Adwa. The lessons from the preparation to the Battle, the coming together of virtually all Ethiopians in defense of their country and ultimately their victory remain historic and educational. The lessons are the basis for the establishment of a Pan-African institution of higher learning. Successfully repulsing the colonial aggressor imparts lessons valuable to all freedom lovers in the world.


Related:
Ethiopia: The Victory of Adwa, An Exemplary Triumph to the Rest of Africa
Adwa: Genesis of Unscrambled Africa
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

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Financial Times Interview With Abiy Ahmed

This is Abiy Ahmed's first one-on-one interview with the international media since he took office as Prime Minister of Ethiopia last April. (Photo: Abiy Ahmed is pushing an agenda of 'privatization with zero corruption' © Aron Simeneh)

The Financial Times

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: Africa’s new talisman

It is the compound from which Emperor Menelik II conquered swaths of territory, where Haile Selassie passed judgment until he was toppled by a Marxist revolt in 1974, and from which Meles Zenawi, strongman prime minister until his death in 2012, plotted an Asian-style economic miracle on the Nile.

Surveying the same 40-hectare plot in the centre of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Abiy Ahmed, the most talked-about leader in Africa, sets out his grand plans for transforming Ethiopia…

In Mr Abiy’s first one-on-one interview with the international media since he was catapulted to the premiership last April, he alternates between homespun prophet, hard man and visionary leader. He mixes humour with a tactile arm-grab worthy of LBJ. His sentences, delivered in proficient English, are laced with biblical references, big data and Michael Jackson. Committed to opening up Ethiopia’s closed political system, he is fascinated by the nature of popularity.

“If you change this,” says Mr Abiy, gesturing to the rubble-strewn compound and the rapidly changing skyline in the capital beyond, “you can change Addis. And if you can change Addis, definitely you can change Ethiopia.”

Improving his own surroundings, he says, is a metaphor for the transformation of a country that has, for 15 years, been the best-performing economy in Africa, but whose authoritarian government provoked a sustained popular uprising.

On his first day, he says, he ordered an overhaul of his office. In two months, what had been a dark and austere interior became a blindingly white luxury-hotel-style affair, replete with wall-to-wall videoconferencing screens, modern art and sleek white rooms for cabinet meetings and visiting delegations.

Cluttered storage rooms are now pulsing data banks and the ground floor is a California-style café — white, of course — where the premier’s mostly western-educated young staffers can sit and brainstorm. “I want to make this office futuristic. Many Ethiopians see yesterday. I see tomorrow,” he says. “This place has gone from hell to paradise.”

Read the full article at ft.com »


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed Named Among Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2019

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Quartz Africa on Design Week Addis Ababa

Founder Metasebia Yoseph. (Design Week Addis Ababa)

Quartz Africa

Design Week Addis Ababa wants to turn Ethiopia’s growing economy into a creative one

Addis Ababa is determined to rebrand itself as a global city, with a hi-speed train and high-rise buildings quickly replacing its old-world charm. Part of what will maintain its distinction is the proper recognition of Ethiopia’s historic culture.

And why shouldn’t the city market its culture to the world, and its own citizens, asks Design Week Addis Ababa founder, Metasebia Yoseph.

Yoseph was born and raised in the United States but joined the returning Ethiopian diaspora in 2013. With art history as a major, she came back to gain work experience in the national museum but found that Ethiopia’s cultural and historical artifacts were often neglected. She returned to the US to complete a graduate degree in communication and came back to convince Ethiopian businesses that what they need was a good PR strategy.

It was a hard sell, but the 35-year-old convinced an old family business to start a Facebook page. It was Ethiopia’s weavers, carpenters and your designers reinventing an old craft that she was more interested in selling, though. Local businesses would rather work with suppliers in Dubai or Cape Town “because that is being perceived as the best.”

“This disconnect between the commercial, creative and cultural was really what I was trying to fill the gap in,” she says.

Joseph started Design Week Addis Ababa in 2015, mostly out of her own pocket with one sponsor on board, French beverage giant Castel, who produce Ethiopia’s Rift Valley wine.

This year was a turning point though: political optimism under president Abiy Ahmed has brought more attention to Ethiopia’s capital. Tourism Ethiopia has come on board, designating it as a “destination event,” and Heineken signed up as an event sponsor.

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: Design Week Addis Ababa 2019 (TADIAS)

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Spotlight: Ahmedin Mohamed Nasser’s Library Foundation For Ethiopia

Ahmedin Mohamed Nasser, Founder of the Library Information Foundation For Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: February 16th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — If it was up to Ahmedin Mohamed Nasser — an Ethiopian-American social entrepreneur in Oakland, California who is the Founder of the Library Information Foundation For Ethiopia (LIFFE) — every child in his native country would have free access to a library and computer within walking distance of their home. The motto on his organization’s website says it all: “A country that reads is a country that leads.”

The vision for the foundation started more than two decades ago. At the time Ahmedin was a recent graduate of Cal State Hayward University where he studied accounting. Soon after graduation he organized a group of friends and enlisted Stanford University to ship 5,000 new books to Addis Ababa University, including his own college textbooks.

Since then Ahmedin’s non-profit organization has opened 22 libraries in Ethiopia, including at Sululta, Dejen, Bethlehem D/Zeyt, and Mekane Iyasus D/Zeyt Secondary Schools, the Future Generation Schools in Kara Kore, Kore Lafto, Mekanisa and Ambo, as well as Azezo Higher Preparatory School in Gondar, Afar Semera University and Kaliti Prison.

Ahmedin who is preparing to go to Ethiopia this month tells Tadias that his next project will focus on opening a library at a high school in Jimma.

Ahmedin’s work to establish libraries across Ethiopia has been compared to that of Andrew Carnegie, albeit without the American steel magnate’s unlimited financial resources. “At the dawn of the 20th Century, wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie began creating his legacy by building libraries across this country,” the CBS owned KPIX-TV in San Francisco enthused in local broadcast featuring Ahmedin’s work a year and half ago. “That’s sort of what Ahmedin Mohammed Nasser has done, but he laughs when asked if he’s a wealthy man.” KPIX added: “His is a legacy created not from the wallet, but from the human heart.”

“Without libraries what have we?,” the late American author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury once famously mused. “We have no past and no future.”


To learn more about Ahmedin’s foundation and get involved please visit www.1liffe.org.

Related:
Watch: Oakland Man Sends Books, Computers To Ethiopia, Creating 22 Libraries (KPIX CBS SF Bay Area)

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Ethiopia Habtemariam: Meet the Music Mogul Bringing Motown Back – InStyle

Ethiopia Habtemariam, a first-generation Ethiopian-American, is the executive vice president of Capitol Music Group and the president of Motown Records. This year in celebration of Motown’s 60th anniversary Ethiopia is releasing a documentary on the legendary American record label. (InStyle)

InStyle

Ethiopia Habtemariam has been working in the music industry since she was a 14-year-old intern at LaFace Records in Atlanta. After turning that job into a full-time position right out of high school, the wunderkind shot straight to the top. Now, at 39, as the executive vice president of Capitol Music Group and the president of Motown Records, she is one of the most powerful women in music. Habtemariam is respected for her ear (with an impressive roster of signed artists like Justin Bieber, Ciara, and J. Cole) and her resolve. “Anyone I’ve ever signed, I really believe in,” she says. “And either you get it or you catch on eventually.”

Most recently, she was responsible for bringing rap trio Migos to Motown, which helped lead to the label’s new awakening. For Motown’s 60th anniversary this year, she’s releasing a documentary on its soulful roots and building on innovative successes like Netflix’s animated series Motown Magic. “I’m bringing back f—ing Motown,” she says, smiling. “That’s badass. This is the most legendary label in music. When you think about what started in a small neighborhood in Detroit and all its superstars [e.g., the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes] who went on to touch the world with their music — I want to remind people of that.”

Leading lady: “The reality is there aren’t many women or women of color who have ever been presidents of a company,” she says. “Having my family’s support from the beginning was dope because that’s not common for immigrant parents, especially in the music space.” Today, the first-generation Ethiopian-American is determined to link arms with like-minded ladies. “If you’re the only woman in the room, that’s a problem,” she says. “Once you have power and people are listening to your voice, you have to include other women.”

Music to her ears: Corporate meetings play a large part in Habtemariam’s day-to-day schedule, but she still carves out time for what she loves most: finding and developing young artists. “I have to stay close to the music and do the things that feed me,” she says.

Read more »


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Jomo Design at Black Artists & Designers Guild Spring Preview

Jomo Tariku, owner of Jomo Furniture, in New York City on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 showcasing his work during the spring preview hosted by the Black Artist & Designers Guild. (Tadias photo)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Updated: February 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — From the Nyala chair — inspired by the mountain antelope that is endemic to Ethiopia– to the Kebero and Mukecha stools as well as the Ashanti seats from Ghana and the Maasai chair from Kenya, there is nothing like Jomo design when it comes to contemporary furniture style representing a diverse array of African aesthetics.

Jomo Furniture, founded by Ethiopian American designer and entrepreneur Jomo Tariku, was featured in New York City at the spring preview of the Black Artist & Designers Guild (BADG), which was held on Tuesday, February 12th at Décor NYC in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

“BADG (Black Artists + Designers Guild) is a curated collective of Black Artists and Designers throughout the African diaspora,” states the organization’s website. “We create contemporary art, textiles, furniture, interiors, and architecture for bespoke residential, commercial and hospitality spaces.”

BADG’s site adds that their mission is to “create a global platform showcasing the works of Black Artists + Designers of the African diaspora who are passionate about creating art, home furnishings, interior and exterior spaces around the world.”

In addition to Jomo Furniture the spring preview also included works by Malene B. Atelier (ceramics), Lisa Hunt (fine art), Kelly Marshall (photography), Nasozi Kakembo (textiles), Marie Burgos (furniture), Livvy & Neva (pillows), Sheila Bridges Home (wallpaper), Da Brand (home accessories), and Studio Lani (Lighting).

In 2015 a book published by Thames & Hudson titled, Contemporary Design Africa — the first of its kind — dedicated a section for Jomo’s designs along with fifty artists from Africa and the Diaspora “all of whom are creating sophisticated and innovative products for interiors.”

Jomo tells us that his furniture is available for licensing, and the designs could be manufactured for any potential large orders including “pieces for lodges and hotels as well as any residences that want to create unique spaces.” We couldn’t agree more.


You can learn more about Jomo Furniture at www.jomofurniture.com.

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Spotlight: Generation ‘Anbessa’ New Ethiopia Movie at Berlin Film Festival

'Anbessa' is making its world premier at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 11th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The 2019 Berlin Film Festival is underway this week and the Generation section of the program features a new film from Ethiopia titled Anbessa, which is executive produced by model and humanitarian Gelila Bekele. In the film a young boy from the Ethiopian countryside named Abisef recreates himself as a lionheart hero in response to the unsettling modernization and construction that is altering his life and community forever.

“You know, hyenas aren’t the bad ones,” his mother tells Abisef in one poignant conversation referring to the people from the city who want to buy her home so they can develop condos. “These days it’s humans you should fear.”

In a review titled ‘Anbessa’ Critiques a Country through the Eyes of a Child,’ Redmond Bacon points out that : Anbessa is the Ethiopian word for “Lion” — a creature accorded symbolic status in the country’s mythology. The Lion of Judah, for example, was used on their old imperial flags and currency, and can still be found around the streets of Addis Abeba today. It is also strongly related to Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s defining figure that Abisef often swears by. Thus, by dressing up as a lion and pretending to banish the hyenas — a metaphor for the land dealers who want to take his house — Abisef stands strong as a symbol of the country’s pride under such hardship.”

The website for the 2019 Berlin Film Festival adds: “Abisef and his mother defy the newly-built housing estate which is like all the other ones springing up all over Ethiopia and continue their life within the traditional village community: grazing their animals, tending their gardens and picking fruit off the trees. Abisef’s hut lacks electricity, but the windows of the surrounding high-rises outshine the moon at night. Abisef scours the new city’s streets for electro-junk and builds a spaceship with an engine. His mother recounts ancient legends. Real estate developers buy up more land. Abisef feels increasingly threatened, stalked by the invisible hyena that haunts the area. With a sensitive grasp of her protagonist’s emotional reality, the documentary filmmaker and camerawoman Mo Scarpelli traces Abisef’s transformation into Anbessa, the lion.”


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Meet Ethiopian American Tsion Yared: High School Runner of the Year in Florida

High School student-athlete Tsion Yared has been named the 2018-19 Gatorade Florida Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year and is a finalist for the Gatorade National Player of the Year. (Photo: Pine Crest School)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 9th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American student athlete Tsion Yared has won the most prestigious award in high school sports. Tsion, a student at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has been named the 2018-19 Gatorade Florida Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year and is a finalist for the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

“The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, distinguishes Yared as Florida’s best high school girls cross country runner,” the press release said. “Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award, Yared joins an elite alumni association of past state award winners in 12 sports.”

“Tsion had a remarkable track season last spring, and that propelled her into her best summer of training and her best cross country season ever,” said Paul Baur, Pine Crest Cross Country and Track & Field Program Head. “Her individual accomplishments are staggering, but how she brought the team together this season — despite our injuries — and to a finish on the podium for the seventh year in a row, will be something her teammates cherish forever.”

According to Pine Crest School, ‏Tsion is “one of only 15 girls to have won three or more Cross Country State Championships in Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) history.” The press release added: “Earlier this year, Tsion was named Broward County Runner of the Year by South Florida The Sun Sentinel, and named the 2018 Class 2A Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmers Association.”

The award website also notes that Tsion “has maintained a weighted 4.85 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her senior year of high school this fall.”


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Edelawit Hussien’s New Film Reflects on Her Generation in Ethiopia & Diaspora

Filmmaker Edelawit Hussien. (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Edelawit Hussien, a 23-year-old Ethiopian filmmaker who is living between New York and Berlin recently shared her upcoming short film with Tadias, which follows three Addis Abeba-based teenagers on a road trip to Lake Langano.

“My work aims to explore dual identity and global exchange motivated by my Ethiopian upbringing within an American context,” Edelawit tells Tadias.

“After graduating from New York University where I studied politics, film, and African studies, I worked within the commercial and branded film sphere before relocating to Berlin to exclusively work on independent filmmaking.”

The film tilted Wallahi, I Will Be Somebody “takes inspiration from the energy of Ethiopia today, a time of excitement and change,” Edelawit adds. “With its growing art community, young people are looking to connect the traditional with the modern as well as build a bridge between Ethiopians within the nation and in the Diaspora. These endeavors have manifested into music, art, fashion, culture and cinema.”

In the short film the three teenagers — Tefera, Omar and Miki — are in an uncertain stage of their lives, “that youth all over the world experience,” explains Edelawit. The film’s Indiegogo page describes how “this uncertainty ranges from how they will make a living, and what kind of life they see for themselves, to how to maintain the joys of their youth.”

According to the project’s website, as the audience, we will also “see how their surrounding affects them as the city evolves and as do the residents. Through a series of vignettes, we are transported in time and space from an elderly couple drinking macchiatos at a Piazza cafe to kids selling toys at a busy roundabout. With poetic moving image chopped throughout the work, the film carries an experimental twist in its meditation on the changing notions of culture, city landscape and societal expectation through an honest look at the youth experience in this evolving time.”

Edelawit shares that the film’s producer is 28-year-old Ethiopian-Swedish Adelia Shiffraw who is currently working in commercial and film production sector in New York City. The filmmaker describes Adelia as an artist who “supports the amplification of minority voices and the preservation of their stories and experiences through film with particular interest in narratives exploring race and representation in a global context.”

Why are they making this particular film?

Edelawit quotes from a play by Suzan-Lori Parks’ noting: “You should write it down because if you don’t write it down then they will come along and tell the future that we did not exist.”


You can learn more about Edelawit Hussien’s new film and support her fundraising campaign at www.indiegogo.com.

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Addisu Demissie to Manage Cory Booker’s 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign

Addisu Demissie will run the 2020 US Presidential Campaign of Senator Cory Booker. (Photo: 50+1 Strategies)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 4th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — U.S. Political Consultant Addisu Demissie has been hired to manage the 2020 presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey who announced his candidacy for the White House on Friday, February 1st.

Addisu, an Ethiopian American, is a graduate of Yale University as well as the law school. This past November he managed California Governor Gavin Newsom’s winning campaign. In 2016 Addisu was the National Voter Outreach Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Prior to that he successfully led Cory Booker’s election in 2013 as he ran for Senator in New Jersey. Addisu started his campaign management and community mobilization career as the Ohio Get Out The Vote Director for Obama for America in 2008.

Addisu who currently lives in Oakland, California is also the Founding Principal of 50+1 Strategies, a national political consulting firm launched in 2012.

Below is Addisu’s bio courtesy of 50+1 Strategies:

“Addisu’s first love is developing and implementing sophisticated community organizing programs, which he has done during three presidential campaign cycles in 2004, 2008, and 2016. Following President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, Addisu was selected as the first National Political Director for the President’s political organization Organizing for America. Later that year, the Washington Post named him one of the “Ten Young Black Aides To Watch” in the Obama Administration. At OFA, Demissie played a key role in mobilizing and coordinating grassroots support for the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, federal student loan reform, and the Affordable Care Act. In the years since, Addisu served as Senior Advisor to California Assemblymember David Chiu’s 2011 mayoral campaign; as the general consultant for several California municipal, initiative, and independent expenditure campaigns during the 2012 campaign cycle, and as Campaign Manager for Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) successful special election campaign in 2013. Most recently, as the National Voter Outreach and Mobilization Director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Addisu oversaw the development of organizing programs for Democratic base communities and state operations for 37 states. Addisu is a 2001 graduate of Yale University, 2008 graduate of Yale Law School, and a member of the state Bar of California.”


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DC: Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg to Attend the State of the Union Address

Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of uCodeGirl, will attend the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. at the invitation of her state's senior U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 5th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember our interview with Ethiopian children’s book author Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg, a mother of three boys and a software engineer who works and lives in North Dakota. This week Bethlehem, who is now the Chief Executive Officer of uCodeGirl — a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage young girls to aim for careers in the high-tech industry — is in Washington, DC to attend the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, February 5th as a guest of the senior U.S. Senator from North Dakota John Hoeven.

“Bethlehem is doing tremendous work in the Fargo region, helping prepare young women to be the next generation of innovators and tech entrepreneurs,” Senator Hoeven said in a statement. “This aligns with
our efforts to bolster STEM education and continue advancing technology as the third wave in North Dakota’s economic growth.” The Senator added: “That’s why we featured Bethlehem’s work during our State of Tech conference in 2017 and why we’re so excited to have her in D.C. for this year’s State of the Union address.”

Bethlehem said that she is delighted by the invitation and the attention it will bring to her organization. “It is a great honor to be recognized at the national level for uCodeGirl,” Bethlehem told Tadias. “Our vision is to see a world where the people who create and build technology mirror the people and societies for which they build.”

Bethlehem shares that her organization “inspires and equips young women with leadership traits, computational design thinking skills, aka coding, and entrepreneurial mindset so that they can confidently chart their own pathways to economic independence and become creators of future tech innovations.” She sees this invitation as “a tribute to the young women we serve. They are the heart of our program as well as the coaching and support of women professionals in STEM as mentors.”

The press release from Senator Hoeven noted that “In addition to her work with uCodeGirl, Gronneberg serves on the Governor’s Innovative Education Task Force of North Dakota and as an adjunct instructor of
computer science at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. She was recently named the 2018 YWCA Woman of the Year in Science and Technology, was honored by the Women Economic Forum, a global conference for women leaders and entrepreneurs, and was a recipient of the 2016 Bush Foundation Fellowship.”


You can learn more about uCodeGirl at www.ucodegirl.org.

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BBC: Ethiopian-American Blayne Tesfaye’s TruLuv Granola in Ethiopia

Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Blayne Tesfaye, Co-Founder of TruLuv Granola, a health food small business based in Ethiopia. (Photo: BBC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — TruLuv Granola is a start-up in Ethiopia that makes and distributes healthy snacks to local businesses including cafes, supermarkets and hotels. Co-Founded by Ethiopian-American Blayne Tesfaye the small venture epitomizes the creative and optimistic spirit of a new generation of socially conscious entrepreneurs who are part and parcel of Ethiopia’s present efforts to reform and revitalize its growing economy.

“Blayne Tesfaye is a woman who means business,” enthused a BBC World News broadcast, Newsday, in a recent highlight. “An Ethiopian-American, she recently quit her job to start a business selling healthy snacks to the people of Addis Ababa.” BBC added: “With her majority female staff, she is excited about the economic opportunities that the government of Abiy Ahmed is helping to create.”

Startup Mentoring — a non-profit organization based in Berlin, Germany that supports small companies in developing countries — described the idea behind TruLuv Granola noting that: they seek to be the world’s source for healthy, sustainable, and convenient snacks crafted with Ethiopian flavors” and adding that the snacks are designed for “Addis Ababans living busy and active lives, but lacking delicious and nutritious snacks to fuel their hard work and big adventures on-the-go.”

Blayne told BBC News that TruLuv Granola also aims to support the economy with their practice of sourcing “directly and transparently from Ethiopian small holders as much as possible.”

BBC asked Blayne: how does the ongoing reform play into her ambitions?

“I think the current political situation gives us a lot of hope for the future,” Blayne says, noting that if she was to ask PM Abiy to make one change it would be to create “a more transparent bureaucratic situation.”

As for her long-term goals for TruLuv Granola, Blayne says their vision is to become an international brand as “the world’s favorite healthy Ethiopian food.”

Click here to listen to the interview on Newsday (BBC World Service) »


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Volkswagen Eyes Ethiopian Assembly

The German automaker said: "As one of the fastest growing economies and with the second highest population in the continent, Ethiopia is an ideal country to advance our Sub-Saharan Africa development strategy. Additionally, Volkswagen intends on tapping into existing expertise and strategic resources in Ethiopia to establish a thriving automotive components industry." (Photo: The 2020 Volkswagen Passat/VW)

Just Auto

Volkswagen has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia which should lead to local vehicle assembly using some locally made components.

Over the last decade, GDP growth in Ethiopia was above 8% – one of the highest worldwide, the automaker noted.

“Ethiopia is a priority and focus country for Germany under the G20 ‘Compact with Africa’ initiative,” the automaker said in a statement.

Volkswagen will focus on establishment of a vehicle assembly facility, localisation of automotive components, introduction of mobility concepts such as app-based car sharing and ride hailing as well as the opening of a training centre. It will also work closely with the Ethiopian higher education and training institutions for skills development and capacity building of local talent.

VW said: “As one of the fastest growing economies and with the second highest population in the continent, Ethiopia is an ideal country to advance our Sub-Saharan Africa development strategy. Additionally, Volkswagen intends on tapping into existing expertise and strategic resources in Ethiopia to establish a thriving automotive components industry.”

Ethiopia becomes the third country in Sub-Saharan Africa to sign a MoU with Volkswagen. It follows Ghana and Nigeria who both signed MoUs in August 2018. In Ghana, Volkswagen will establish a vehicle assembly facility and conduct a feasibility study for an integrated mobility solutions concept. In Nigeria, Volkswagen implemented a phased approach of vehicle assembly with long term view of establishing Nigeria as an automotive hub in West Africa.

Volkswagen has been manufacturing vehicles in South Africa since 1951. In Africa, Volkswagen also has vehicle assembly operations in Algeria, Kenya and Rwanda.

“Although the African automotive market is comparatively small today, the region has a bright outlook to develop into an automotive growth market of the future,” VW added.


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PM Abiy Ahmed Named Among Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2019

Foreign Policy Magazine's list of 100 global thinkers of 2019 include Ethiopia's dynamic prime minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. (Illustration by FP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 27th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — What do Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, former U.S. President Barack Obama and the newly elected U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City have in common besides being some of the most inspiring leaders of our time? They are all part of Foreign Policy magazine’s 10th annual special edition of global thinkers.

In announcing the list this month the magazine said: “A decade ago, in launching the series, FP’s then-editors wrote: In a year of worldwide economic crisis and dangerous wars, of radical innovation and newfound realpolitik, street revolution and blunt rhetoric, we could think of no better way to make sense of it than through the big ideas of those who shape our understanding of the world…So this year we decided that there was no better way to explicate our current, wildly complex moment — and peer into the year ahead — than to focus once more on the thinkers and doers who had a profound impact on the planet in the last 12 months. The idea is not to honor do-gooders (though we feature plenty of them) but to shine a spotlight on some of the most influential people in the world—for better or worse.”

Per Foreign Policy Magazines Highlight:


Illustrations by Foreign Policy

Abiy Ahmed
PRIME MINISTER OF ETHIOPIA

“In less than a year in office, Abiy Ahmed has already made history in Ethiopia by forging peace with its neighbor Eritrea. The move reunited families and reopened long-dormant trade networks. Now Abiy is focused on healing Ethiopia’s own divisions, and his status as the country’s first leader from the restive Oromia region has given many of his constituents hope that he’ll succeed.”

Barack Obama
FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

“Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House showed what an intellectual can and cannot achieve in the world’s most powerful office. His much-maligned but deeply deliberative approach to decision-making helped steer the global economy through its worst crisis since the Great Depression. His renewed emphasis on diplomacy secured a nuclear agreement with Iran, a global compact on climate change, and a fresh arms reduction treaty with Russia. To be sure, Obama’s presidency had many flaws — most notably its failure to adequately address the Syrian civil war. But the importance of Obama’s accomplishments, and of the eloquence and dignity with which he went about his day-to-day work, grows more evident every time his successor holds a press conference or types a tweet.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW YORK


AP photo

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez channeled the rage triggered by Donald Trump’s presidency into something that was once almost unthinkable in the United States: victory by a 29-year-old Latina democrat over a white male Democratic Party machine politician. Now the youngest woman to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, she stands at the forefront of a newly resurgent progressive movement, whose candidates are winning elections on pledges of universal health care, a federal jobs guarantee, and criminal justice reform.”

You can read the full list at foreignpolicy.com »


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The 2020 World Economic Forum on Africa to be Held in Ethiopia (UPDATED)

This article has been updated to reflect that PM Abiy's office has clarified its initial announcement noting that Ethiopia will host next year's World Economic Forum on Africa, not the 2020 WEF, which is always held in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, January 23rd/ Office of the Prime Minister @PMEthiopia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 24th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The 2020 World Economic Forum on Africa, which brings together thousands of public and private sector leaders from around the globe, will be held in Ethiopia. The office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made the announcement this past Wednesday following Abiy’s visit to Davos, Switzerland where he met with German Engineer and Economist Klaus Martin Schwab who founded the World Economic Forum in 1971 as an international institution for public-private cooperation.

“The PM & Prof Schwab discussed the importance of a collaborative approach among government, private sector, civil societies in addressing key global challenges,” PM Abiy Ahmed’s office shared via Twitter, adding that “they agreed that Ethiopia will host WEF in 2020.”

According to the WEF website, “The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.”

The event next year will mark the second time that the international forum is being held in Ethiopia. The country hosted the regional version of the gathering in 2012. The 2019 World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in September.


Related:
Watch: At World Economic Forum PM Abiy Outlines New Investment Opportunities in Ethiopia:

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Spotlight: Addis Calling III Group Show at Addis Fine Art Gallery

Addis Fine Art Gallery prepares for new show, Addis Calling III, scheduled to open on January 29th, 2019 in Addis Ababa featuring up-and-coming artists Tizta Berhanu, Yohannes Tesfaye and Frew Kebede. (Photo: Addis Fine Art/Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 23rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Addis Fine Art Gallery, which focuses on contemporary fine art collections from Ethiopia and the Diaspora, will host its third annual group exhibition next week titled “Addis Calling” featuring emerging local artists.

The gallery announced that this year they are presenting works by Frew Kebede, Tizta Berhanu and Yohannes Tesfaye. The show is set to open on January 29th and will be on display thorough March 23rd, 2019.

Below are preview images and descriptions of each artist courtesy of Addis Fine Art Gallery:

Yohannes Tesfaye (1978) focuses on two and three-dimensional paintings in acrylic, oil on canvas, wood, fiberglass and a variety of mixed media. His paintings reference African traditions and culture. Using contemporary materials and techniques, his current work examines the practice of ritual tribal scarification in a twenty-first century artistic and historical context.

Tizta Berhanu’s (1991) main inspiration is human emotion in all its facets, portraying her subjects expressing love, hate, sadness, loneliness etc. Trying to capture the true emotion underneath the surface of their skins. Her paintings are often ambiguous, almost unrecognizable, painted with broad confident brush strokes in deep intense colours. Blues, purples and deep-sea greens, dominate the canvasses creating an almost uncomfortable atmosphere wherein the viewer comes voyeuristically close to the emotions of the portrayed.

Frew Kebede (1982) is a multidisciplinary artist working in a variety of mediums but his current focus is painting. As a musician, Jazz music plays an important part in his life and is one of his main inspirations. In his paintings, he is exploring the visual aspects of jazz music, transforming notes and rhythm into paint and brushstrokes creating colourful, vibrant canvasses, engaging the viewer into seeing things from different perspectives.


If You Go:
Addis Calling III Exhibition
January 29th – March 23rd, 2019
Addis Fine Art gallery
(3rd Floor, Red Building Behind Mafi City Mall)
Bole Medhane Alem
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 913 426553
www.addisfineart.com

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National Geographic: Ethiopia’s ‘Church Forests’ Center of Hope for Conservation

Priests, scientists, and local communities are partnering to save the less than five percent of forests that remain in northern Ethiopia. (Photo: The Debre Mihret Arbiatu Ensesa church, which looks from above like a bright pinwheel, is surrounded by trees. But the hot, dry fields are only a few steps away/National Geographic)

National Geographic

When Alemayehu Wassie Eshete was a boy, he went to church each Sunday. He would make his way along the dry, dusty roads between the wheat fields in his home province in northern Ethiopia. At the end of the trip was the prize: a literal step into another world.

The churches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church—the dominant religious group in Ethiopia, with nearly 50 million members—were almost always nestled in patches of vibrant, shady forest. Forests, the church’s religious belief goes, were like the clothes surrounding the church at the center—as much a part of the religious space as the church building itself. Wassie would step out of the hot sun and into a beautiful, cool world filled with chattering birds and fragrant plants, a small hotspot of both biodiversity and spirituality.

“From an ecological perspective, it’s like going from hell to heaven,” he says. “You go from dry, hot fields into the beautiful forest. Anyone would see that as beautiful, but for me, the forest is more than that. It’s also a spiritual place where nature is perfect, and you pray to God.”

But when Wassie grew up and started studying biology and science, he realized that the forests he loved were few and far between. In school, he was learning about how important forests were for the ecological health of different parts of the world, and he asked himself: Where are our forests, here in northern Ethiopia? Why are there so few patches left?

Over the past century, nearly all of the native forests in the South Gonder province have disappeared, cleared to make way for wheat fields and grazing land—agricultural endeavors that support the region’s rapidly growing population. Many of the church forests, though, remain, protected by their religious stewards and the communities around them. They are tiny fragments of a lost past, and the center of hope for conservation and future restoration.

Read more and see photos at nationalgeographic.com »


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Kamala Harris jumps into presidential race

Today is MLK Day and one of our favorite U.S. senators, Kamala Harris of California, has just announced that she is running for President in 2020. The Associated Press notes that Senator Harris launched her presidential bid as the nation observes what would have been the 90th birthday of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The timing was a clear signal that the senator sees herself as another leader in that fight. She would be the first woman to hold the presidency and the second African-American if she succeeds. (AP photo)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris, a first-term senator and former California attorney general known for her rigorous questioning of President Donald Trump’s nominees, entered the Democratic presidential race on Monday. Vowing to “bring our voices together,” Harris would be the first woman to hold the presidency and the second African-American if she succeeds.

Harris, who grew up in Oakland, California, and is a daughter of parents from Jamaica and India, is one of the earliest high-profile Democrats to join what is expected to be a crowded field. She made her long anticipated announcement on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I am running for president of the United States,” she said. “And I’m very excited about it.”

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign as she announced her bid. “They’re the values we as Americans cherish, and they’re all on the line now,” Harris says in the video . “The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values.”

On ABC, she cited her years as a prosecutor in asserting: “My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe. It is probably one of the things that motivates me more than anything else.”

Harris launched her presidential as the nation observes what would have been the 90th birthday of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The timing was a clear signal that the California senator— who has joked that she had a “stroller’s-eye view” of the civil rights movement because her parents wheeled her and her sister Maya to protests — sees herself as another leader in that fight.

She abandoned the formality of launching an exploratory committee, instead going all in on a presidential bid.

She plans a formal campaign launch in Oakland on Jan. 27. The campaign will be based in Baltimore, with a second office in Oakland.

Harris joins what is expected to be a wide-open race for the Democratic presidential nomination. There’s no apparent front-runner at this early stage and Harris will face off against several Senate colleagues.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have both launched exploratory committees. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are also looking at the race.

If Booker enters the race, he and Harris could face a fierce competition for support from black voters.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Democratic nomination, is also considering a campaign. Several other Democrats have already declared their intentions, including former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro.

Harris launches her campaign fresh off of a tour to promote her latest memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” which was widely seen as a stage-setter for a presidential bid.

She is already planning her first trip to an early primary state as a declared candidate. On Friday, Harris will travel to South Carolina to attend the Pink Ice Gala in Columbia, which is hosted by a South Carolina chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which Harris pledged as an undergraduate student at Howard University. The sorority, founded more than 100 years ago, is a stronghold in the African-American community.

South Carolina, where black voters make up a large share of the Democratic electorate, is likely to figure heavily into Harris’s prospects. And early voting in Harris’s home state of California will overlap with the traditional early nominating contests, which could give Harris a boost.

Harris’s campaign team is already taking shape and includes several veterans of Democratic politics.

Juan Rodriguez, who ran Harris’s 2016 Senate campaign, will manage her presidential bid. Her sister, Maya Harris, a former top adviser to Hillary Clinton, will be the campaign chair. The veteran campaign finance lawyer Marc Elias will serve as the Harris campaign’s general counsel, and Angelique Cannon, who worked for Clinton’s 2016 campaign, will serve as national finance director. David Huynh, who was Clinton’s director of delegate operations in 2016, will serve as a senior adviser. Lily Adams, a Clinton campaign alum who has worked as Harris’s spokeswoman, will be communications director.

Her staff says she plans to reject the assistance of a super PAC, as well as corporate PAC money. She’s invested heavily in cultivating a digital, small-dollar donor network before her presidential bid.

Before her 2016 victory in the Senate race, Harris made her career in law enforcement. She served as the district attorney in San Francisco before she was elected to serve as attorney general.

Harris is likely to face questions about her law enforcement record, particularly after the Black Lives Matter movement and activists across the country pushed for a criminal justice overhaul. Harris’s prosecutorial record has recently come under new scrutiny after a blistering opinion piece in The New York Times criticized her repeated claim that she was a “progressive prosecutor,” focused on changing a broken criminal justice system from within.

Harris addressed her law enforcement background in her book. She argued it was a “false choice” to decide between supporting the police and advocating for greater scrutiny of law enforcement.

She “knew that there was an important role on the inside, sitting at the table where the decisions were being made,” she wrote. “When activists came marching and banging on the doors, I wanted to be on the other side to let them in.”

Harris supported legislation that passed the Senate last year that overhauled the criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to sentencing rules.

Harris is framing her campaign through her courtroom experience. The theme of her nascent campaign is “Kamala Harris, for the people,” the same words she spoke as a prosecutor, trying a case in the courtroom.


Related:
How Kamala Harris Could Win The 2020 Democratic Primary
Meet Julián Castro: The Young Texan Running for U.S. President in 2020

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Spotlight: Ethiopia’s DJ Rophnan Nuri at Coke Studio Africa 2019

Ethiopian DJ, song writer, composer and producer Rophnan Nuri is among 25 of Africa’s talented artists chosen to participate at the 2019 Coke Studio Africa TV show. (Photo: Courtesy Rophnan Nuri Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 16th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — In Ethiopia young people are in love with Rophnan Nuri — the Addis Ababa-born and raised DJ, song writer, composer and producer who has introduced his own version of a popular world music genre employing digital instruments to mix traditional beats from all corners of the country. His debut album Netsabraq, which was released last May, is one of the first records of electronic dance music issued in Ethiopia.

“My music speaks to my generation,” says Rophnan, who is affectionately known as Rophy, on Facebook. “As time travels us equally all together, we vibrate the same. Music is like our #1 language, which I’m blessed to speak.”

Next month the entire continent of Africa will get to know Rophnan Nuri when he performs at Coke Studio Africa 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya. Coke Studio has announced that Rophnan is one of “25 of Africa’s talented artists” scheduled to appear on their annual television event that’s set to kick-off in February. “Rophnan will be making his big debut on the show, paired with Zambian rapper Chef 187,” the announcement said. “On top of lending his voice, lyrics, compositions and extraordinary mix of Ethiopian traditional sounds with electronic dance music (EDM) on the collaborations, Rophnan will also be producing all of the pairing’s music fusions.”

The media release adds that “celebrated for his distinct style of mashing up traditional Ethiopian music elements in music production, Rophnan is a pioneer in the genre of EDM and is today counted among the leading African acts creating innovative sounds while defining new frontiers for African music.”

The press release quotes Rophnan as stating that “technology allows you to be what you want to be” and that “electronic music is the new thing as it represents my generation. It’s like the new jazz.”

Other up-and-coming Ethiopian music artists selected to take part at this year’s Coke Studio Africa include Mahlet GebreGiyorgis, Bisrat, Abush Zekele and Yared Negu.


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Watch: Sara Menker on How Her Company is Filling US Data Gap Left by Shutdown

Sara Menker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gro Intelligence, discusses how the U.S. government shutdown is impacting the distribution of agriculture data and what her company is doing to alleviate the problem. (Photo: Bloomberg TV)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 11th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — In the following Bloomberg interview aired on Thursday, January 10th, New York-based Ethiopian entrepreneur Sara Menker, Founder & CEO of Gro Intelligence, explains how the U.S. government shutdown is affecting the availability of official agriculture data and what her company is doing to fill the gap by providing traders, farmers and policymakers free access to their worldwide database.

“We are a data analytics company focused on all things agriculture globally,” Sara told Bloomberg News describing what her company does. According to the company’s website, “Gro Intelligence bridges the data gaps across the global agriculture sector, empowers decision makers, and creates a more connected, efficient, and productive global food industry. Gro’s leading edge software automatically harvests disparate data, transforms it into knowledge, and uses machine learning to make predictions.”

Right now during the U.S. government shutdown traders are not getting access to critical reports and forecasts and Gro is stepping up to the challenge of making that data accessible.

“What we have done is that we have built a data platform that at this point ingests over 40 million unique data sets that are related to global agriculture in any way, that have amassed over 500 trillion data points that’s linked to agriculture,” Sara says. “We basically leveraged that to build a predictive engine using a series of machine learning algorithms to build our own forecast model. So when the government shutdown occurred the first thing we did was to say “you know what? we should provide free access to data because a lot of databases were going down and some numbers were not updating.” And we knew that we have access to all sorts of data sets that were being reported from other parts of the world that can help to fill the gap.”

In a follow-up update on Facebook, Sara shared that at noon today Bloomberg was reporting Gro Intelligence estimates live on their platform in place of U.S. government data.

Watch: How Gro Intelligence Is Filling the USDA Data Gap Left by the Shutdown


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Spotlight: Design Week Addis Ababa 2019

(Photo: Courtesy of Design Week Addis Ababa/Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 10th, 2019

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) — This year’s Design Week Addis Ababa will kick off on February 11th for a one-week celebration of the best innovations in architecture, urban planning, industrial and interiors design, technology, fashion, food, art and multimedia.

“This biannual community event coordinates local and international designers, artists, artisans, workshops, galleries, showrooms, cultural institutions, hotels, companies, and entrepreneurs through a distinctly collaborative platform for creative, cultural, and commercial engagement,” the announcement notes.

Past participants of Design Week Addis Ababa include Jomo Design Furniture and Actuel Urban Living who were both selected to present at the highly regarded international Dubai Design Week.

Organizers of the 2019 Design Week Addis Ababa have also announced that the Nairobi Design Week will present a special installation produced in partnership with UK design firm NEON, which was made possible by the British Council’s New Art New Audiences (NANA) grant. Local partners include Tourism Ethiopia, Kana Television & Studio, Flawless Events, Zeleman Productions, and Hyatt Regency. They also have programming partnerships with the Alliance Ethio-Française and the Global Shapers Community-Addis Ababa.


If You Go:

You can learn more about Design Week Addis Ababa at designweekaa.org

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In Ethiopia, Historic Run Supports Girls

This week a historic athletic event is taking place in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia to raise funds for the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF). The 100-Mile Relay, which is set to start at the peaks of the Bale Mountains on January 10th, 2019 is the first-of-its-kind in the region. The running event is scheduled to conclude in the famous town of Bekoji that's home to some of the biggest names in Ethiopian athletics including Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba. (Photo: GIRLS GOTTA RUN/JASON SUAREZ)

Runners World

First-of-Its-Kind, 100-Mile Relay Seeks to Empower Ethiopian Girls Through Running

On Thursday morning, a history-making run will begin in the Oromia region of Ethiopia: Thirty women will work together to cover 100 miles in an ultra relay, the first of its kind in the area.

Half of the runners will be young girls from Bekoji, the town where the team will finish, and the other half will be women from several different corners of the world. Most won’t know each other until they gather at the starting line, but together, they’ll be working for a greater purpose: to empower young women through running.

The 100-mile ultra relay is organized by the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF), an Ethiopia-based nonprofit dedicated to changing the lives of women since its inception in 2007. Through education, running, life skills, savings, and entrepreneurship, the foundation hopes to combat the many challenges—child marriage and access to education, in particular—facing young women.

The nonprofit’s executive director Kayla Nolan collaborated with the local community to create a new opportunity for these women to run a distance only achievable with a team.

“To be able to feel like they are running with and racing with the international athletes equally, across this new distance and achieving something together—I think that’s such a powerful experience, to have their running validated, shared, and understood,” Nolan told Runner’s World over the phone from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Starting in the peaks of the Bale Mountains on January 10, the team will travel through the Oromia region, finishing in the running mecca of Bekoji, the same town that produced distance running greats like Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba.

Read more »


Related:
Why Girls Gotta Run: Interview with Patricia Ortman

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Essence Spotlights Salome Mulugeta’s Captivating New Film ‘Woven’

In cinematic history, stories from the African continent written by those who truly understand and care about getting it right are shamefully unacknowledged. This fiercely beautiful film deftly intertwines the music and language to provide an immediate relevance within today’s debates about our contributions and importance on the worlds’ stage. (Essence)

Essence

There is an Ethiopian proverb about the importance of perseverance that reads, ”Little by little an egg will walk.” The saying perfectly describes the journey that Ethiopian filmmaker Salome Mulugeta has taken to bring her first film, WOVEN, to the big screen.

Written by, co-directed by and starring Mulugeta while set in the tight-knit New York Ethiopian community where ancient traditions rub shoulders with the modern world, WOVEN is about two families searching for happiness. But when one tragedy connects their path, a web of secrets is revealed.

In the 15 years it took the director, writer, producer, actress and journalist to bring WOVEN to life, breaking into the film industry has proved a challenge. From conception to distribution and during her trial-by-fire period, the determined filmmaker realized the importance of her community and the need to bring stories from Mother Africa to life.

“The Ethiopian community supported our endeavor in so many ways,” Mulugeta tells ESSENCE. “It was more than just giving money.”

“In a way, the film was a love letter to my culture,” Muguleta stressed. “I’m very proud of my heritage; a country that has not been colonized apart from a five-year occupation by Italy, which Ethiopia won. We are a proud people and for this reason, I felt we had to show that pride in the Ethiopian mother in the film regardless of what she was going through in her life.”

Read more »


Related:
Woven: Film by Salome Mulugeta Makes NY Premiere at ADIFF 2017

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Trouble With Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism

Abiy can achieve real progress if Ethiopia embraces a different kind of federation — territorial and not ethnic — where rights in a federal unit are dispensed not on the basis of ethnicity but on residence. Such a federal arrangement will give Ethiopians an even chance of keeping an authoritarian dictatorship at bay. (Photo: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed/The New York Times)

The New York Times

The Trouble With Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism

Abiy Ahmed, the 42-year-old prime minister of Ethiopia, has dazzled Africa with a volley of political reforms since his appointment in April. Mr. Abiy ended the 20-year border war with Eritrea, released political prisoners, removed bans on dissident groups and allowed their members to return from exile, declared press freedom and granted diverse political groups the freedom to mobilize and organize.

Mr. Abiy has been celebrated as a reformer, but his transformative politics has come up against ethnic federalism enshrined in Ethiopia’s Constitution. The resulting clash threatens to exacerbate competitive ethnic politics further and push the country toward an interethnic conflict.

The 1994 Constitution, introduced by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front governing coalition, recast the country from a centrally unified republic to a federation of nine regional ethnic states and two federally administered city-states. It bases key rights — to land, government jobs, representation in local and federal bodies — not on Ethiopian citizenship but on being considered ethnically indigenous in constituent ethnic states.

The system of ethnic federalism was troubled with internal inconsistencies because ethnic groups do not live only in a discrete “homeland” territory but are also dispersed across the country. Nonnative ethnic minorities live within every ethnic homeland.

Ethiopia’s census lists more than 90 ethnic groups, but there are only nine ethnically defined regional assemblies with rights for the officially designated majority ethnic group. The nonnative minorities are given special districts and rights of self-administration. But no matter the number of minority regions, the fiction of an ethnic homeland creates endless minorities.

Ethnic mobilization comes from multiple groups, including Ethiopians without an ethnic homeland, and those disenfranchised as minorities in the region of their residence, even if their ethnic group has a homeland in another state.

Read more »


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Ethiopia’s AGOA Exports to U.S. Rise 62% in One Year

Ethiopia's duty free trade with the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) grew by 62 percent in one year totaling $137 million in exports, according to USAID. (Photo: AGOA.info)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopia’s exports to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) rose by 62% from October 2017 to September 2018. According to the East Africa Hub of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Ethiopia experienced the largest increase with a total of $137 million in exports in comparison to $84 million the previous year.

“If this growth continues, Ethiopia may quickly become the second or third largest exporter under AGOA in East Africa.” USAID said.

AGOA is an American trade program that gives selected African countries duty free access to U.S. market for a variety of locally produced goods including clothing, footwear, automobile parts, steel, crude petroleum and cut-flowers. AGOA was first signed into law by U.S. Congress in 2000 and was re-authorized for another ten years by the Obama administration three years ago. AGOA is set to expire in 2025.

The press release adds that to date, USAID Hub trade and investment support has contributed to $4.07 billion in AGOA exports from the region [covering eight countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Madagascar and Mauritius], with $491.5 million from USAID Hub-supported firms.”

Overall “East African countries supported by the USAID Hub reached nearly $1 billion in exports to the U.S. under AGOA between October 2017 and September 2018,” the announcement stated. “This was a 17 percent rise over figures from the previous year, and a 42 percent increase since the USAID Hub began.” It also noted that Kenya is currently ranked as the largest exporter in the region with a total of $454 million.

Watch: Ethiopian Footwear — AGOA Eligible and Export Ready


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Abiy Ahmed: The Ethiopian Prime Minister Who Captured Africa’s Imagination — CNN

In 2019, Abiy has one real job: to cement his position as the front-runner in Ethiopia's 2020 elections. (Photo: PM Abiy at a rally in Ambo on April 11, 2018. Photo credit: Zacharias Abubeker/Getty Images)

CNN

At the beginning of 2018, Africa watchers were still reeling from the departure of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwe leader’s 37-year tenure had been figuratively bayoneted by his own army in an apparent coup.

The question on everyone’s lips: Would this signal the end of strongman rule in Africa?
Zimbabweans were quick to remind us that the new Emmerson Mnangagwa presidency was simply a case of different feet in the same boots.

All across the continent, old men such as Cameroon’s Paul Biya were running again in elections despite having already served 36 years as President.

In Nigeria, the ailing Muhammadu Buhari was prepping for another election in 2019, while Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni was at increasing loggerheads with a youthful population whose loyalty he could no longer command after scrapping the presidential age limit.

Yet one African leader’s 2018 story has gripped the continent’s imagination because of the heady pace of change his appointment has engineered.

Abiy Ahmed took over as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in April. At 42, he carved a path through Ethiopia’s tense, ethnically divided landscape by becoming the first Oromo to lead his country.

The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had never been in prominent positions of power. Grievances of their economic and political exclusion drove anti-government protests across the country.

For years, Ethiopia had been engulfed in states of emergencies; protests were met with a government crackdown and thousands fled across the border into Kenya. Under public pressure, Hailemariam Desalegn dramatically and unexpectedly resigned.

Abiy joined the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation as a teenager. He stayed close to his people, even as he claimed victory in an internal Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front vote on March 27 to become chairman of the ruling party. That victory secured his place as Prime Minister of an East African powerhouse.

To understand just what kind of a place Ethiopia had been before his appointment, its recent history shows a nation riven by ethnic tensions among more than a dozen different ethnic groups. Serious conflicts had raged between the Oromo and the Somali region, for example.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 1.4 million people were displaced in the first six months of 2018 because of ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia.

This displacement issue has not gone away despite Abiy’s inclusive leadership style, which has brought in major groups, including many more women in the Cabinet.

Ethiopian state-affiliated broadcaster FANA reported that 21 people had been killed in “inter-communal violence” between Oromo and Somali communities in southern Ethiopia’s Moyale in mid-December.

Before the new Abiy era, rival politicians and unfavored journalists were either in exile or locked in Ethiopia’s jails, including Addis Ababa’s infamous Maekelawi prison, where many alleged abuses took place.

And to the north and east of the country is Eritrea, with which Ethiopia had fought a pointless war over disputed border territory at a huge financial and human cost.

As Abiy was sworn in, it soon became clear his agenda to change all that had come before was genuine. He shut down Maekelawi prison, freed journalists and invited all political exiles to return and stake their claim to a free and fair 2020 election.

Back in June, as prisoners were being released on Abiy’s orders, a legislator in the Ethiopian Parliament asked the Prime Minister if it was constitutional to release people who had been jailed for terrorism and corruption. Abiy reportedly responded: “Jailing and torturing, which we did, are not constitutional either. Does the constitution say anyone who was sentenced by a court can be tortured, put in a dark room? Torturing, putting people in dark rooms, is our act of terrorism.”

This was a profound admission by a Prime Minister, unheard of in modern-day Africa.

Under Abiy, Ethiopia has gone from being one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists to for the first time in more than a decade of having no journalists in prison.

In May, CNN spoke to Eskinder Nega, one of the first journalists and high-profile dissidents to be released as part of the government’s promise to expand freedom of expression.

He was cautiously optimistic: “The Prime Minister should be given the benefit of the doubt, he deserves at least a hundred days — the famous American honeymoon period.”

December saw him back in Addis Ababa, editing a weekly newspaper. Is he happy with progress under Abiy?

“Even though 100 days (have) passed, the honeymoon period is still there. But ultimately our safety will come if we have a democratic system. Unfortunately, we don’t have the democratic framework that will ensure our independence.”

The style of leadership was different from anything seen before in Ethiopia’s ruling party. There were “listening rallies” attended by tens of thousands, town hall meetings in which the vision of true democracy and unity were re-emphasized.

By July, Abiy’s populist streak had turned to action on the international front when out of nowhere the long cold war with neighbor Eritrea was dismantled in a series of remarkable détente meetings and diplomacy.

Isaias Afwerki, the only leader Eritrea has ever known, rolled into the Ethiopian capital, and the two leaders declared 20 years of tension over.

It catapulted Abiy and Ethiopia into a different status — and redefined the Horn of Africa nation as a regional powerhouse.

The Arab Gulf states across the Red Sea took notice for their own reasons — primarily the Horn of Africa’s proximity to Yemen and the clear desire to be part of a fast-growing economy.

Kenya had been East Africa’s largest economy, but Ethiopia overtook it in 2017. Its gross domestic product is expected to reach about $100 billion by 2020.

Abiy has been in tune to the possibility of miraculous growth, and Ethiopia’s once state-controlled telecoms, electricity and even the national airline are all going to be opened up to foreign investors.

The tremors of these vast changes have been felt beyond Ethiopia. Eritrea and now Djibouti and Somalia are all feeling the Abiy effect. Ethiopian airlines landed in Mogadishu, Somalia, for the first time in 41 years. Djibouti is in talks to share access to its port to service Ethiopian needs. The idea of peace coming to this region at last is an exciting prospect.

But of course, as with all leaders who have come to power on a wave of popular acceptance, the flash of their initial lightning moves can be all too brief. After so many whose leadership became a cult of personality, Ethiopia must hope this is finally the man who can get the job done.

In 2019, Abiy has one real job: to cement his position as the front-runner in Ethiopia’s 2020 elections.


Related:
Ethiopia News in Review: 2018 in Pictures

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2018 in Pictures

PM Abiy Ahmed addresses a public gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on July 28th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 26th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – As we close the year with our annual photo highlight of some the biggest stories featured on Tadias our 2018 spotlights include PM Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. last July; his appointment of a new gender balanced cabinet in October comprising of an unprecedented 50% women members; the recent naming of Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, a former senior United Nations official, as Ethiopia’s first female President; the selection of Meaza Ashenafi, a former women’s rights lawyer, as the President of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court; and the appointment of Birtukan Mideksa; a former judge and opposition leader, as the new head of Ethiopia’s Election Board.

In all respects this has been nothing short of an incredible year in Ethiopian history. Who would have thought that in a matter of months Ethiopia would transform itself and inspire optimism for good governance, democracy and peace amid ongoing uncertainty and conflict around the world?

Imagine this for a moment: This is the first holiday season ever in our life time, and certainly since we launched Tadias in 2003, that we go to sleep knowing that not a single of our journalist colleagues are spending the night in prison in Ethiopia. That’s a remarkable change from our standpoint, and a much needed and timely recognition that an independent and professional media sector is the backbone of a free and democratic society. As the Washington Post’s new motto reminds us, without an independent media
“Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

2018 also marked the 15th anniversary of the founding of Tadias. As always, we look forward to many more years of service and wish you all a Happy New Year!

PM Abiy Ahmed’s U.S. Tour

PM Abiy Ahmed visited the United States in July 2018 meeting with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Minneapolis. During his successful three-city tour PM Abiy also met with religious leaders and took part in the peace and reconciliation conference in DC between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation. Read more and see photos »

Former UN Official Sahle-Work Zewde Becomes Ethiopia’s First Female President


Sahle-Work Zewde leaves Parliament after being elected as Ethiopia’s first female president, in Addis Ababa on Oct. 25, 2018. (Getty Images)

On October 25th, 2018 Ambassador Sahle-Work Zewde was approved by parliament to become Ethiopia’s first female president. Previously Sahle-Work was Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union at the level of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. According to her bio Sahle-Work was born in Addis Ababa and educated at Lycée Guebre-Mariam. She later attended the University of Montpellier in France where she majored in natural science. She speaks fluent Amharic, French, and English. A former employee of the Ethiopian foreign service, Sahle-Work served as Ethiopia’s top diplomat in Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Guinea, Djibouti and France before joining the United Nations. In remarks to Parliament after she took her oath of office as Ethiopia’s new President, Sahle-Work emphasized the importance of respecting women and the need to build a “society that rejects the oppression of women.” She also promised to work for peace and unity in the country.

Ethiopia Swears In First Woman Supreme Court Chief


Meaza Ashenafi is Ethiopia’s first female Supreme Court chief appointed to senior government positions by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Getty Images)

Meaza Ashenafi, a former women’s rights lawyer, was sworn in as Ethiopia’s first female Supreme Court President on Thursday, November 1st, 2018. Formerly Meaza was a judge on the High Court from 1989 to 1992 and adviser for the UN Economic Commission for Africa. She was also the founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association as well Enat Bank, Ethiopia’s first women’s bank. Meaza’s work became best known in the international legal community following her successful court case in Ethiopia that resulted in an end to the tradition of kidnapping girls and forcing them to marry. Per NPR: “The case sparked debate over the issue throughout the country and became the subject of the 2014 film “Difret,” executive produced by Angelina Jolie. According to Reuters Abiy said that he nominated Meaza “with the firm belief that she has the capacity required, with her vast international experience in mind.” The nomination was unanimously approved by parliament.

Birtukan Mideksa Named New Head of Ethiopia’s Election Board


Birtukan Mideksa is sworn in as the new head of Ethiopia’s Election Board on November 22nd, 2018. (Photo: FBC)

Birtukan Mideksa, a former judge and leading opposition figure, was sworn in as the head of Ethiopia’s election board on November 22nd, 2018. “Birtukan is the most senior ex-opposition figure to assume a high government post in Ethiopia in recent history,” the Associated Press noted. “She is also the latest of several women appointed to high-profile posts in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s new administration.” Birtukan was one of several former opposition leaders that had met with Abiy briefly during his U.S. tour over the past summer. “Conducting a democratic election comes first, then winning comes next,” Abiy told lawmakers as he appointed Birtukan as election board head. “Conducting free and fair elections is the cornerstone for a democratic system. We all have to stand firm so that the next election will not be rigged.”

In PM Abiy’s New Cabinet, Half the Ministers are Women


Ethiopia’s newly appointed ministers take their oath of office on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at the parliament in the capital Addis Ababa. (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, October 16th Ethiopia once again surprised the world when PM Abiy Ahmed presented to Parliament’s approval his newest set of government ministers made up of 50% women members, which is unheard of in many countries around the globe. The Washington Post’s Paul Schemm noted that the landmark announcement was “an unprecedented push for gender parity in Africa’s second-most-populous nation.” Schemm continued: “The new cabinet, which reduces ministerial positions from 28 to 20, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Aisha Mohammed will be in charge of defense, and Muferiat Kamil, a former parliamentary speaker, will head the newly formed Ministry of Peace.” Read more »

Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia’s 4th Patriarch, Returns Home After 27 Years in Exile

Nothing signaled more clearly the dawning of a new era in Ethiopia than the return this past summer of Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia’s 4th Patriarch, to his home country after 27 years in exile. Abune Merkorios arrived in Addis Ababa on Wednesday August 1st, 2018 following a peace and reconciliation agreement that ended the nearly three-decade-old separation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The exiled patriarch was welcomed home with a memorable state reception at Addis Ababa airport, which was televised live.

Ethiopia-Eritrea Reopen Border for First Time in 20 Years

On Ethiopian New Year’s day on September 11, 2018 Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened their borders for the first time in two decades “cementing a stunning reconciliation and giving Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe’s Red Sea ports,” Reuters pointed out. “Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998.” The news report added: “Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV. “This is the happiest day of my life,” Ruta Haddis, an Eritrean from the town of Senafe just across the frontier, told reporters. “I never thought this would take place in my lifetime.” The war over their border and other issues killed an estimated 80,000 people before fighting ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal. Tensions burned on over the position of the frontier – until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.”

The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures


A gold crown and a gold chalice (both 1735-40) are among the many rare Ethiopian historical items looted from the treasury of Emperor Tewodros II following his death during the Battle of Meqdela with British forces in April 1868. (Photo: FBC)

In April an international controversy was ignited in the UK concerning Ethiopia’s looted Meqdela treasures when the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London announced an uncanny proposition to loan Ethiopia the items on a long term contract. V&A’s Director was quoted as saying: “They would be sent to Ethiopia on long-term loan, so ownership would remain with the museum.” The answer is “a quick no,” replied the Ethiopian Ambassador to England, emphasizing that Ethiopia is the rightful owner of the items. “My government is not interested in loans, it is interested in having those objects returned.” The announcement from V&A came in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition featuring its Meqdela collection on the 150th anniversary of the battle. According to The Art Newspaper, among the nearly two dozen objects featured at the V&A show included “a priestly gold crown, a gold chalice (both 1735-40), several processional crosses and imperial jewelry” that were forcefully removed from Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government is asking for restitution of the country’s looted treasures that are being held at various locations in the United Kingdom.

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Launches Website for Donations


The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund holding a press conference at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 1st, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias)

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) started accepting donations through its website on October 22nd, 2018. The fund’s advisory council members have been tasked to mobilize the nearly 3 million global Ethiopian Diaspora community to donate at least one dollar a day ($365/year) expected to generate about a billion dollars on a yearly basis to benefit economic and other development projects in Ethiopia. The fund, which is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions. You can learn more about EDTF and donate at ethiopiatrustfund.org »

Eskinder Nega Makes a Surprise Appearance at the 2018 PEN America Literary Gala in New York


Journalist Eskinder Nega was released on February 14, 2018, after serving nearly seven years in prison. (Photo: Getty Images/Yonas Tadesse)

Last but not least one of our favorite social justice advocates, journalist Eskinder Nega, who is a former prisoner of conscience, made a surprise appearance at the 2018 PEN Literary Gala in New York City on May 22nd, 2018. Eskinder came to New York to personally thank the organization for the prestigious “Freedom to Write” award that was given to him in absentia six years ago when he was still serving an 18-year prison sentence in Ethiopia on wildly fabricated charges stemming from his work as a journalist. Eskinder Nega was released on February 14, 2018, after serving nearly seven years behind bars. “In the prize I received from PEN America, I see the solidarity of the free to the unfree,” Eskinder said in brief remarks at the event, which was held at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. “I see the triumph of our common humanity over our differences. I see our common destiny, which is that of freedom for all humanity.” Among the well known writers who attended the event included Ethiopian American novelist Dinaw Mengestu who was recently named by The New York Times among 32 black male writers of our time.


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Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013

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Ethiopia: US Embassy Launches Program to Support Independent Media

In support of Ethiopia’s ongoing political reform process the independent media project aims to expand the capacity of Ethiopian independent media organizations to keep Ethiopian citizens informed through professional, fact-based, and unbiased reporting. (Photo via Horn Diplomat)

Press Release

US Embassy Addis Ababa

The Embassy of the United States of America in Addis Ababa announced the launch of a capacity-building project for independent media organizations operating in Ethiopia. The “Supporting Emerging Independent Media” project is part of ongoing U.S. investments in support of Ethiopia’s political reform process.

The U.S. Embassy is partnering with Free Press Unlimited, an international NGO, to run the program, which seeks to support the capacity of Ethiopian independent media organizations to keep Ethiopian citizens informed through professional, fact-based, and unbiased reporting.

Registered private Ethiopian media organizations currently operating including print, online, radio, and television are eligible to apply for funding to cover the cost of professional capacity building, purchase of equipment and technical support, and other services

The U.S. Embassy has allocated $77,150 for the program and funding will be allocated based on the strength of applications received in cooperation with Free Press Unlimited.

To qualify for funding, media organizations need to submit a proposal. Proposals present a clear plan showing how support will contribute to sustainable operations and the delivery of fact-based, unbiased reporting, as well as strong examples of current reporting.

Selected proposals will proceed to an interview phase, and if selected, recipients will participate in a consultative process to develop the full scope of support.

The “Supporting Emerging Independent Media” project is the latest investment by the U.S. embassy to advance professional journalism in Ethiopia. Recent projects include a national training program on development reporting, which reached over 160 journalists around the country; and a jointly funded program with the UK Embassy to build the capacity of more than 400 government communicators and journalists to work together to keep the public informed.


Interested independent media outlets can download the application and budget forms in the link https://bit.ly/2E3ZcWG and send it to PASAddisGrants@state.gov by January 6, 2019.

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Ethiopia Among Three Countries Where Democracy Staged a Comeback in 2018

Prime minister Abiy Ahmed attends a rally during his visit to Ambo on April 11. (Photo: Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS)

The Washington Post

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year came in Ethiopia, a country of 100 million people and a solidly authoritarian past. Its jails teemed with political prisoners and journalists, and regime critics knew that the safest place was in exile. Since overthrowing a military regime in 1991, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) monopolized power, profited from corruption, crushed its critics and blatantly favored the privileged ethnic Tigray minority.

But then, in March, tensions within the EPRDF produced something of an internal coup, and the party chose Abiy Ahmed as its new chairman, making him prime minister and the first member of the oppressed Oromo minority to hold the post. His appointment ushered in changes that Ethiopians at home and abroad could hardly believe.

Abiy freed thousands of political prisoners. He released jailed journalists — not a single one remains in prison, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists — and ended a decades-old war with neighboring Eritrea. The euphoria that gripped Ethiopia, as opposition leaders started returning home, spread to the diaspora. Abiy met with a hero’s welcome during his travels to exiled Ethiopian communities. In a meeting with Ethiopian dissidents in the United States he explained his vision: The next step, he declared, is a “democratic election.”

Abiy and Ethiopia face enormous challenges. Economic turmoil and ethnic conflict could yet lie ahead. But the prime minister also enjoys an extraordinary amount of support. His push for fair elections, his tolerance of dissent, and his selection of women as cabinet officers, the head of the Supreme Court, and ceremonial president all signal a more democratic future.

Read more »


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CDC Partners with Ethiopia to Build Capacity for Public Health Emergency

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partners with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) to build capacity at public health emergency operation. (Photo: US Embassy Addis)

Press release

U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) facilitated a public health emergency management (PHEM) training in Bishoftu in coordination with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) from November 26 – December 7, 2018.

As part of Ethiopia’s growing capacity and leadership, the training was actually led by EPHI graduates of CDC’s four-month Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) Fellowship, which provides advanced public health emergency management training.

The 5-day training provided an overview of foundational PHEM principles and skills and concluded with a scenario-based exercise where participants applied the concepts they learned and identified additional areas for future focus. Nearly 80 public health officials from the national and regional levels attended the training.

CDC also provided training to EPHI staff on managing virtual emergency operations centers (vEOC), which allow users to share data, track resources, maintain communication and provide reports in real time from on computers and mobile devices at any location. The platform can also store public health emergency management plans and standard operating procedures for easy access and implementation. EPHI will explore possible applications of this software and opportunities to enhance existing communications and data management systems based on the training.

The United States, through CDC, will continue working with EPHI and other partners to invest in strengthening the workforce, infrastructure, and systems required for a robust public health emergency management program in Ethiopia.


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EDF Announces 2019 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows

Top from left: Meki Shewangizaw, Edom Wessenyeleh, Feven Abiy, Samrawit Tamyalew, Rebekah Tsadik. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Each year Tadias Magazine gets to introduce the latest class of the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows, a talented group of young professionals from the U.S. who are selected to spend up to six months in Ethiopia to intern at various organizations. The internships also provide Fellows with an opportunity to reconnect and build a bridge with their ancestral home and culture through storytelling. EDF has announced the 2019 Fellows who will be working at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College, GreenPath, International Institute for Primary Health Care- Ethiopia, and the Agricultural Transformation Agency.

“Every year we are more and more impressed and proud of the incredible achievements of all the applicants we get to read about during the selection process,” EDF stated.

The program is “designed to equip young diaspora professionals with leadership, service, and creative storytelling skills before sending fellows to Ethiopia for a transformative 6-month fellowship working with partner organizations in Ethiopia” notes the announcement. “To date, EDF has sent 14 Ethiopian Americans to Ethiopia and each have proved to make a difference on the ground, in our partner organizations, and back in our diaspora communities.” This year the fellows also have individual crowdfunding pages where you may read more about their story and donating for support.

Congratulations to the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows of 2019!

Samrawit Tamyalew

Samrawit Tamyalew is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point – she holds a degree in Mathematical Sciences and commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer. She served in the U.S. Army for five years and held various operational management roles, was at the forefront of the integration of women into combat arms, and served overseas in a combat deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, she was the Organizational Liaison Officer where she facilitated communications between senior stakeholders which allowed them to control operations and coordinate assets onto over 700 high-risk objectives. She has been working for the past year with the Hurricane Maria relief efforts, standardizing and overseeing the logistics coordination for all equipment that enters and leaves the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Her long-term career goal is to work in social impact and create a platform that will generate opportunities for the greater Ethiopian community in a for-profit space. Samrawit is enthusiastic to be an EDF Fellow and learn how she can serve her community.

LinkedIn
Samrawit’s Crowdfunding

Meki Shewangizaw

Meki was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and moved to the U.S. with her family at the age of 4. A recent graduate from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she is currently involved in refugee resettlement in the United States. As a strong believer in the power of education, Meki and a group of close friends created Tesfa. Tesfa is a charity that helps primary age students in Ethiopia stay in school by alleviating education-related financial burdens. Tesfa’s mission is to become the bridge between education and underserved children across Ethiopia. Meki will be pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in the Fall of 2019. As an EDF fellow, Meki is looking forward to working in the public health field in Ethiopia, as well as expanding Tesfa’s network in Ethiopia.

LinkedIn

Edom Wessenyeleh

Edom is a graduate from Dartmouth College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Geography with a focus on Global Health. Edom’s academic and work experience has focused on issues related to health equity and development. After graduating, she moved to the UK to pursue an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where her coursework exposed her to a wide range of quantitative and qualitative epidemiological methods to analyze, design, and evaluate public health data and programs. Edom lived in India, where she worked on a project addressing treatment delivery models for tuberculosis. She has also lived in Zimbabwe, where she managed a project that investigated geographic access to HIV care. As an EDF fellow, Edom hopes strengthen health systems through research at the intersection of implementation and policy and foster relationships with local communities.

LinkedIn
Edom’s Crowdfunding

Rebekah Tsadik

Rebekah Tsadik has a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a Master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. In 2018, she engaged in a hands-on study of the global food system through visits to farmers and producers in Sicily, Spain, and Thailand. Prior to graduate school, Becky and her sister operated a business called Bereket, or “gift” in Amharic. They served modern Ethiopian cuisine throughout Los Angeles and donated a portion of proceeds to nonprofits in or servicing Ethiopia. This year Rebekah spoke on a panel about reducing food waste in San Francisco; managed volunteers for MAD, a symposium in Copenhagen about restaurant industry reform; and earned a scholarship to Eco Practicum, an independent study program on food, waterways, and inequality in upstate New York. As an EDF fellow, Becky will continue to advocate for underserved communities and small-scale farmers. She will bend the narrative about agricultural investment in Ethiopia to favor a system that not only sustains, but also thrives.

LinkedIn
Becky’s Crowdfunding

Feven Abiy

Feven is a recent graduate from Duke University where she earned a dual degree in Public Policy and Global Health. She is interested in working on issues surrounding international development, health, and policy. Through the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program, she worked as an intern at the Department of State within the African Bureau. Upon graduation, Feven traveled to New Delhi, India to join the Political Section of Embassy New Delhi where she helped research and write the 2018 Human Rights Report for India. At Duke, Feven was on the executive board of DESTA, Duke’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Transnational Association, which fosters appreciation for Ethiopian/Eritrean culture. Feven is excited to return to Addis Ababa as an EDF Fellow and hopes to learn a great deal about initiatives related to Ethiopia’s rural development.

Feven’s Crowdfunding


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

Related:
Meet The 2017 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows
EDF Announces 2016 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows
EDF’s 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows
Highlighting Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship

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In Ethiopia, Visual Storytelling From a Deeper Perspective: NYT Features Addis Foto Fest

Addis Foto Fest, founded by photographer Aida Muluneh, aims to give photographers from Africa a platform to capture the cultural complexities and diverse histories of the countries they call home. (Photo: Imaginary Trip #1, 2016. Credit: Gosette Lubondo)

The New York Times

In Ethiopia, Visual Storytelling From a Deeper Perspective

Aida Muluneh was a middle school student in Canada when local newspapers and magazines started running dramatic images of starving children in Ethiopia. The photos struck her as odd.

She was born in Ethiopia, and the pictures were nothing like the memories she had of the country she left when she was 5. They also didn’t match the stories her mother told her of life there.

“This is not to say the famine didn’t happen, but there are so many different stories in Ethiopia — it’s not just the story of famine or the priest with the cross,” Ms. Muluneh said. “There’s so many things that have yet to be documented.”

The memories of these photos didn’t just stay with Ms. Muluneh, they motivated her to become a photographer as well. She returned to Ethiopia in 2007, intent on teaching and establishing a photography community.

“We need to be more engaged,” she said, “because we need to be telling stories from our own perspective because obviously someone based in the country will provide deeper insight than someone flying in for a week.”

Her efforts led to Addis Foto Fest, a biennial event that unites photographers from Africa with those around the globe. The first edition — in 2010 — featured six photographers from Ethiopia. That number has grown to 35 in the current festival, which opens Thursday in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The exhibits also showcase the work of more than 100 photographers from six continents.

Ethiopian photographers this year include Mulugeta Ayene, whom Ms. Muluneh describes as a “strong photojournalist meticulously documenting all of the changes in the country,” and Aron Simeneh, who has also exhibited during Photoville 2017 in New York. The festival features a solo exhibit of pictures by Roger Ballen, an American artist living in South Africa, whose images range from the theatrical to the nightmarish. There is also a group show that highlights the work of photographers from around the world.

“I could have chosen to only do a festival for Africans only,” Ms. Muluneh said. “But I felt that we live in a global world, and we have to be engaged in a global way. The whole point is we shouldn’t be the best in Ethiopia or the best in Africa. We have to be the best in the world.”

Read more »


Related:
Aida Muluneh: Changing the Narrative on Ethiopia, One Photo at a Time (CNN)
Ethiopian Artist Aida Muluneh Directs Fatoumata Diawara’s Music Video
Ethiopian Photographer Aida Muluneh Featured in W Magazine
Spotlight: Aida Muluneh in MoMA’s Being: New Photography 2018
Aida Muluneh’s First Solo Exhibition at David Krut Projects
Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

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Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund held a press conference at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 1st, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 5th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – Last weekend at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC, Tadias Magazine participated in a press conference held by the recently established Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund where its advisory council members briefed the media on their organization’s objectives, current fundraising status as well as future plans to engage the larger Ethiopian Diaspora community.

One of the newsworthy moments came at the end of the event when leaders of a D.C.– metropolitan area organization called Ager Fiker were called to the stage. AgerFiker.com was one of several local initiatives that had been launched prior to EDTF’s formation, who answered PM Abiy’s challenge to the Diaspora for “a dollar a day” this past summer. However, the presence of multiple websites soliciting money for the same mission ended up creating confusion among donors. In an interview with Tadias last month EDTF advisory board member Dr. Bisrat Aklilu said that they were appealing to these organizations and websites to join them under “the big tent,” noting that they were run by “well-meaning people with good intentions.” At the press conference Ager Fiker responded by donating $60,000 dollars that they had collected through their website as well as from family and friends to EDTF, and further plan to transform themselves into a volunteer chapter.

EDTF advisors who took part in the press conference included Professor Alemayehu (Al) G. Mariam, Dr. Menna Demessie, Tamagne Beyene, Lulite Hailu Ejigu, Robsan Itana, Dr. Zaki Sherif and Tashitaa
Tufaa.

Professor Alemayehu, who is Chairman of EDTF, pointed out that they are also in the process of selecting Diaspora representatives (two people from the USA) to sit on the Fund’s newly forming Board of Directors in Ethiopia. He said they are currently looking for qualified candidates to fill the post and are developing a criteria for the position. He promised to make the process more transparent and engage the public in making recommendations.

While addressing the same question Tamagne Beyene broached the intriguing idea of using voting mechanisms, but quickly dismissed it as being impractical. (Although it’s worth mentioning that the proposition is not unusual in many Diaspora communities in the United States who do vote on a regular basis, including online, to select their representative leaders).

The current EDTF Advisory Council is made up of a diverse group of individuals including former human rights activists, former opposition members, business owners, academics, artists, economists, lawyers, medical doctors, financial advisors and a retired UN official.

During the press conference the group was asked why there were only two women on the stage who were totally outnumbered by their male colleagues; this stood in stark contrast to PM Abiy’s administration in Ethiopia. Prof. Al Mariam acknowledged that the gender gap was an “obvious weakness” that they are working to resolve, by appointing both women and youth ambassadors. To be more accurate the 18-member council has three women including Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director of Black Rhino Group & Executive Advisory and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure, who was not present at the media event.

Overall the press conference was an informative and much-needed event as EDTF continues to grow its mobilization efforts globally and increase donor participation.


Related:
Watch: Ethiopian TV report on EDTF Press Conference (Amharic)

Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on the Diaspora Trust Fund & Chapter Formation
Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

You can learn more about the fund and contribute at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

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‘It Has Been A Dream’: Ethiopians Are Adjusting To Rapid Democratic Changes

The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Ethiopia's capital, where many national heroes are buried. (Photo: NPR)

NPR

As the sun comes up, the white stone on the Holy Trinity Cathedral turns golden.

The church, in Ethiopia’s capital, is intimately tied to the country’s history. Many national heroes are buried in its gardens. The throne of last emperor, Haile Selassie, is still right next to the altar, and his and the empress’s remains are said to be buried here.

Ethiopians come before dawn to pray. Adanech Woldermariam, who is in her 70s, stands outside and sets her forehead against one of the cathedral’s stone walls. She looks up, her face framed by a white, cotton headscarf, and she begins to weep.

She is reminded of a brutal border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the late 1990s that killed tens of thousands and eventually led to a two-decade cold war.

“When the war against Eritrea began,” she says, “I saw friends deported, their homes, their belongings, taken away forcefully. It was so unfair, because they had worked so hard.”

For decades, she says, she has wanted to speak that truth in public. And now, she finally can.

Over the past year, Ethiopia has gone through a historic transformation at breakneck speed. The country welcomed a new reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, in April. He forged peace with former enemy Eritrea, ended an almost four-month-long state of emergency and freed the country’s thousands of political prisoners. Seemingly overnight, the new leader opened up a democratic space — allowing foes, allies and regular Ethiopians a chance to speak their minds — after decades of authoritarian rule.

Outside the church, Teshale Abebe is praying among the trees and tombstones. At 65, he is old enough to remember that you couldn’t criticize the king. In the 1970s and ’80s, he lived through the communist regime, which massacred its political opponents in a period known as the Ethiopian Red Terror. And he saw what happened over the past three years as a government intent on squashing a protest movement threw tens of thousands in jail and killed at least 1,000 young people demonstrating in the streets.

He is happy about this year’s reforms and cherishes that he can talk openly about politics now. He says he came to pray that the changes continue. But history, he says, makes him feel that this is all tenuous.

Read more »


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In Pictures: Ethiopia’s Zaaf Brand Opens First US Store in DC

Abai Schulze (center), founder of the Ethiopia-based brand ZAFF, greets customers at the company's store grand opening in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 1st, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The award-winning Ethiopian fashion brand ZAFF officially opened its first U.S. store in Washington, D.C. this past weekend on Saturday, December 1st.

Founded by Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Abai Schulze, ZAFF produces a brand of premium leather products such as handbags, jackets, and travel accessories that are designed and handcrafted by
artisans in Ethiopia.

All ZAAF products are made by hand in Ethiopia using locally sourced high-quality leather and it can be customized for each client. Abai describes ZAAF, which translates as tree in Amharic, as being uniquely Ethiopian.

“Most of our products are named after Ethiopian trees…I was inspired by the notion of deep roots reaching into abundantly rich Ethiopian culture and heritage, while bringing out beautiful new branches of creativity and functionality.”

Below are photos from the grand opening:


Related:
Video: CNN African Voices Feature on ZAFF

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Ethiopian-American Dinaw Mengestu Among 32 Black Male Writers for Our Time

The New York Times features Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu (first row from right) among 32 black male writers of our time. (NYT)

The New York Times

The last decade has seen a burgeoning multiplicity in America’s literature, with gifted black men writing novels, poems and plays of great import. Some of them have even come to the attention of the literary establishment. Here follows a woefully incomplete roll call: Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer, 2015. Colson Whitehead, National Book Award, 2016; Pulitzer, 2017. Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer, 2017. Terrance Hayes, National Book Award, 2010. James McBride, National Book Award, 2013. Ross Gay, Danez Smith, Fred Moten and Yusef Komunyakaa, National Book Award finalists. The list goes on, and I have not touched on the writers who are not yet household names, whose arrival I await in the manner of James Baldwin’s loving anticipation of his nephew’s birth in his essay “A Letter to My Nephew” (1962), in which he wrote: “Here you were to be loved. To be loved … hard at once and forever to strengthen you against the loveless world.”

To be sure, there is much to celebrate, but these recent developments are not without complication. “I can’t help but think this comes out of the eight years of Barack Obama … and the backlash against him,” says Farah Griffin, an author and scholar of black literature at Columbia University.

It is safe to say that Barack Obama may be the most famous African-American man who has ever lived. He represents an erudite, sophisticated blackness that mainstream culture has historically derided or dismissed. But that omnipresent image of a powerful, untouchable black man reinvigorated a rage and fear of blackness as old as the nation itself… It is in this charged reality that the work of black male writers finds itself in the spotlight.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


Related:
‘America Saw Him’: Black Journalists on Obama’s Victory, Ten Years Later [includes reflection by Ethiopian American Amdie Mengistu]

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PM Abiy Meets Opposition Parties, Promises Fair Elections

PM Abiy Ahmed's office said the meeting focused “on highlighting the reforms required to ensure the upcoming election is free & fair, and the shared responsibilities of all." (Reuters)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s prime minister met members of 81 opposition parties on Tuesday to discuss ways of reforming the electoral system, his office said, as he pressed on with promises to open up a political arena dominated by his coalition.

Abiy Ahmed has turned national politics on its head since coming to power in April by welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups, releasing prisoners and appointing a formerly jailed dissident as head of the election board.

The meeting focused “on highlighting the reforms required to ensure the upcoming election is free & fair, and the shared responsibilities of all,” his office said on Twitter. There was no immediate comment from any of the opposition groups.

Abiy’s ruling EPRDF coalition has been in power in Ethiopia – a major Western ally in an unstable region – since 1991. The grouping and its affiliated parties currently hold all the seats in parliament.

Last week he appointed Birtukan Mideksa as head of the board preparing for the next national elections, scheduled for 2020.

Birtukan was one of dozens of opposition figures arrested in the violent aftermath of a 2005 vote – when an opposition coalition stood against the government across the country, then challenged the EPRDF’s victory.

Security forces opened fire on crowds who took to the streets accusing the government and the election board of rigging the 2005 vote. Dozens died.

Abiy – the first member of Ethiopia’s majority Oromo group to lead a coalition long dominated by ethnic Tigrayans – has promised to rein in the powerful security services and started consultations to rework an anti-terrorism law that critics said had criminalized dissent.


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Interview with Dr. Elias Siraj on Ethiopia’s Alarming New Data on Diabetes

Dr. Elias S. Siraj, Professor of Medicine & Chief of Endocrinology as well as Director of Strelitz Diabetes Center at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. In the following interview he discusses research findings showing an alarmingly growing prevalence of diabetes in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 26th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – As Ethiopia’s population grew exponentially to over 100 million in the past few decades so did the number of public health problems associated with population growth, the migration of rural residents to big cities, and dramatic changes in ways of living.

According to two recent studies conducted by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health respectively chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are on the rise throughout Ethiopia and are becoming a significant public health hazard. Such chronic diseases are essentially lifestyle-related health issues primarily caused by poor diet and lack of physical exercise.

The IDF currently ranks Ethiopia as being home to the largest diabetic population in Africa with a combined estimate of 20% of Ethiopian adults as likely to either have diabetes (5.2%) or be prediabetic (15%).

“That’s a huge number affecting millions of people,” says Dr. Elias S. Siraj, Professor of Medicine & Chief of Endocrinology as well as Director of Strelitz Diabetes Center at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. “It’s also important to note that about three fourth of them (76%) do not even know they have diabetes because they were never tested, or if they were tested they don’t have the proper knowledge to understand what it means and what the findings are.”

“Diabetes is basically diagnosed by measuring blood sugar levels,” Dr. Elias explains. “If the blood sugar level while fasting — meaning not eating for 8 hours in the morning — is above 126 it’s called diabetes. If the number is between 100 and 125 that’s prediabetes.” Dr. Elias added: “So prediabetes is basically knocking on the door. It is saying I am coming if you don’t do something. It does not mean that everyone will develop diabetes, but most of them will. A lot of people who are prediabetic over the years will transition into diabetes.”

Dr. Elias, who is also an alumni of the University of Gondar, the first medical college in Ethiopia, and a member of the Diaspora volunteer organization People To People (P2P), shared the findings with Tadias last week to mark World Diabetes Day, which took place on November 14th. He pointed out that 425 million people around the globe have diabetes and an additional 352 million are prediabetic. “If you add it up that’s 15% of adults in the world,” Dr. Elias told Tadias in an interview. “This is massive.”

“So to put it in context, for a country like Ethiopia to have twenty percent of its population as having either diabetes or prediabetes, that’s alarming and a wake-up call to policymakers,” Dr. Elias adds.

The second source of data on diabetes in Ethiopia, called the STEPS survey, comes from the nation’s Ministry of Health. “For the first time in Ethiopia a representative sample from the whole country was collected to study diabetes and other chronic conditions,” noted Dr. Elias. “For the first time, The Ministry of Health selected 10,000 individuals from both rural and urban areas. The STEPS survey shows that Diabetes is prevalent among 3.2% of the sample and prediabetes was present in 9.1%. That means close to 12% are diabetic or prediabetic. In addition, high blood pressure was seen in 16% while 15% were considered overweight or obese. What these numbers tell us is that there is no question that chronic diseases are on the rise in Ethiopia.”

“Irrespective of the slight difference both studies tell the same story and share the same message,” Dr. Elias argued. “The prevalence of diabetes is really big and actually increasing.”

What’s the Solution?

In their introduction to the results of the STEPS survey the Ethiopian researchers highlight that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2017 report, “Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) kill 40 million people” and “Chronic NCDs are rising fastest among lower–income countries.”

The reports adds: “The federal Ministry Health of Ethiopia established a National Strategic Action Plan for Non–Communicable Disease in Ethiopia (2014–2016), and developed national treatment guidelines and training materials on major NCDs like hypertension and diabetes. The national WHO STEPS survey was undertaken by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) as part of a situational analysis of NCD risk factors to provide baseline data for subsequent interventions.”

Dr Elias notes that there are adjustments being made to address the issue of chronic diseases but admits that most funding currently given to developing countries usually ends up financing programs that focus on infectious diseases. He emphasizes that the key is to “create public awareness” and “educate the public.”

Although the IDF results were released a year ago, Dr. Elias notes that “Ethiopia is being labeled as number one in the volume of diabetes in Africa and there was no press release on the topic from the Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Medical Association, the Ethiopian Diabetes Association.” Dr. Elias added: “It seems trivial, but it’s very important from a public health standpoint. Everybody has to be aware, the media, the public, medical professionals and the authorities. Policymakers allocate budget if the society is aware, because awareness creates pressure.”


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Birtukan Mideksa: New Head of Ethiopia’s Election Board

Birtukan Mideksa (right), a former judge and leading opposition figure, has been sworn in as the head of Ethiopia's election board. (Photo: FBC)

AP

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An opposition figure who recently returned from exile was named Ethiopia’s election chief on Thursday as the country prepares for what the reformist prime minister vows will be “free and fair” elections in 2020.

Birtukan Mideksa, a former judge, is the most senior ex-opposition figure to assume a high government post in Ethiopia in recent history. She is also the latest of several women appointed to high-profile posts in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s new administration.

Birtukan is among the Ethiopians who have returned to the country after years in exile, encouraged by the dramatic political reforms announced by Abiy since he took office in April. She was chosen by Abiy to lead the election board after the two met during his recent visit to the United States, where in a series of enthusiastic meetings he encouraged people frustrated by previous administrations to come home. Lawmakers approved the pick on Thursday.

“Conducting a democratic election comes first, then winning comes next,” Abiy told lawmakers. “Conducting free and fair elections is the cornerstone for a democratic system. We all have to stand firm so that the next election will not be rigged.”

Birtukan left Ethiopia after years of friction with the previous administration. She was detained shortly after the violent and controversial 2005 election that led to the deaths of several dozen people. Opposition leaders were jailed after they accused the administration of Meles Zenawi of rigging the vote.

She served an 18-month prison term before being pardoned in 2007 but was re-arrested in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison after officials accused her of violating the terms of her pardon. She left the country after being released again in 2010 and returned this month.

Also on Thursday, the prime minister in remarks to lawmakers said the country would need to build a new town to hold all suspected of corruption and rights abuses in previous administrations.

Abiy said that “the prison facilities that we have here in Ethiopia are not sufficient enough to handle the vast number of criminals … we have chosen to focus on major cases and leave the rest for a reconciliation commission that is in the making.”

Sixty-three intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople were arrested this month over allegations of abuses and corruption.


Related:
Birtukan Mideksa, the Right Person to Help Build Democratic Institutions in Ethiopia
Tadias Interview with Birtukan Mideksa: Women’s History Month 2012

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Ethiopia To Host 2019 World Press Day

UNESCO has selected Ethiopia to host the 2019 World Press Freedom Day. (Image: BBG)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 21st, 2018

Ethiopia To Host 2019 World Press Freedom Day

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia is set to host the 2019 World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa. The event, which is organized by UNESCO and held annually on May 3rd, is an opportunity to “celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”

According to Fana Broadcasting Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Markos Tekle, thanked UNESCO for choosing Ethiopia while meeting with Mrs. Ana Elisa Santana Afonso, UNESCO’s Liaison Office Director, and “emphasized that opening up the media was an essential part of the reforms now taking place in Ethiopia.”

For Ethiopia the announcement marks an impressive turnaround given that just less than a year ago the country was ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for independent media professionals to operate in. However, since Dr. Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April this year Ethiopia has been going through a remarkable change including the opening up of the media and political space as the nation prepares for a multi-party election season in 2020.


Dr Markos Tekle meeting with Mrs. Ana Elisa Santana Afonso, the Director of UNESCO’s Liaison Office in Addis Ababa on November 21st, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

The report added: “Mrs. Afonso commended the Government of Ethiopia for its unwavering support to UNESCO and welcomed the reforms taking place in the country, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”


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Nafkote Tamirat’s New Novel Among New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018

The debut novel by Ethiopian American author Nafkote Tamirat has been selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review among the 100 Notable Books of 2018. (NYT)

The New York Times

100 Notable Books of 2018

The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

By NAFKOTE TAMIRAT. $26. Holt. Fiction.

An Ethiopian-American teenager living in a mysterious island commune narrates this impressive debut novel, recalling her childhood in Boston and her entanglement there with a charismatic parking-lot attendant and his possibly sinister schemes.

See the full list at NYtimes.com »


Book Review: Nafkote Tamirat’s ‘The Parking Lot Attendant’

The New York Times

The Mysterious ‘Parking Lot Attendant’ at the Center of a Web of Intrigue

At the start of Nafkote Tamirat’s debut novel, “The Parking Lot Attendant,” the narrator — a 17-year-old girl who is never named — has recently arrived with her father on the remote subtropical island of B—, where they’ve found uneasy refuge in a commune. They’ve fled some unspecified trouble in Boston, but the trouble seems to have followed them. The girl is more or less a pariah. She’s miserable and ill at ease, which seems reasonable under the circumstances. The commune’s managerial arrangements can only be described as sinister.

The colonists, as they call themselves, live by rigid rules set out by a group of anonymous leaders. The only book allowed is the Bible, in Amharic. (Fortunately, the narrator is fluent; although she was born in the United States, her parents emigrated from Ethiopia.) The commune on B— is by no means a permanent settlement; the colonists are preparing for a move to a promised land in Africa. They live in limbo and in a state of ever-increasing tension.

From here, Tamirat takes us back to the narrator’s life in Boston. If the girl had friends before she met Ayale, the titular parking lot attendant, they’re not mentioned. Although she dabbled in theater, her focus on school was otherwise absolute. She was raised by her parents, but never both at the same time: Her father walked out while her mother was pregnant, and didn’t return for six years. When he reappeared, her mother promptly abandoned her, and after that the narrator grew up in her father’s basement apartment.

Her father is pensive by nature and uncomfortable around other people, and while there’s good will on both sides, his rapport with his daughter is far from effortless. Still, he tries. After an awkward encounter with an irritating new monk at their church, he starts skipping services in favor of a weekly brunch with his daughter, and their conversations over eggs and pancakes take on a deep importance to her: “Only at brunch could I see him as someone who would stay. At all other times, I prepared myself for his inevitable departure, after which there would be no more parents: I would be alone.”

Read more »


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Ethiopia-based Zaaf Brand to Open Store in Washington D.C. December 1st

Abai Schulze, Founder and Creative Director of ZAAF, with her team in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 18th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Abai Schulze, Founder of the award-winning handbag company ZAAF, may have left Ethiopia when she was almost eleven years old, but Ethiopia never left her.

Five years ago Abai returned to Ethiopia to launch her “community-oriented, fashion line” called ZAAF, which produces a brand of premium leather products such as handbags, jackets, and travel accessories that are designed and handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia is the birthplace of ZAAF, and will serve as the foundation of a luxury lifestyle brand as we expand out to draw on the rich heritage and culture that can be found across the continent,” Abai had told Tadias in a feature interview two years ago. Explaining her long-term goal for her business Abai added: “In ten years we want to be a widely recognized and sought after brand that equates ‘Made in Africa’ with brilliance in craftsmanship, artistry, and deep cultural roots.”

“Real economic development is about producing top quality products using unique cultural, natural, and human resources that can find a place at the highest levels in the global marketplace,” Abai explained. “So the vision is really very big — it is about setting standards of excellence and innovation; it is about demonstrating and affirming that we can be a top fashion brand competing with the biggest names in the world in terms of both creative design and quality.”

Abai was born in Wollo and grew up in an orphanage in Addis Ababa before she was adopted by an American family in the late 1990s and returned to Ethiopia in 2013 to establish Zaaf. Since its launch ZAFF has been featured in Vogue, Elle, Forbes, Le Monde and Lucky magazines as well as showcased at New York Fashion Week.

On December 1st, 2018 Zaaf is set to inaugurate its first store in Washington, D.C. “We are super excited,” the company stated in their announcement. “The ZAAF Store is not going to be your ordinary boutique – you can come in and design your very own piece in our design lab.”

“We plan to fulfill the first 15 design lab orders placed on December 1st in time for Christmas,” Zaaf announced.

All Zaaf products are produced by hand in Ethiopia using locally sourced high-quality leather, “the best of best,” Abai says, and customized for each client. She describes Zaff, which means tree in Amharic, as being uniquely Ethiopian. “Most of our products are named after Ethiopian trees…I was inspired by the notion of deep roots reaching into abundantly rich Ethiopian culture and heritage, while bring out beautiful new branches of creativity and functionality.”


If You Go:
ZAAF STORE GRAND OPENING – DEC. 1, 2018
Saturday, December1, 2018
2:00PM – 6:00PM
1409 Florida Ave. NW
Washington DC, 20009
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Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on EDTF

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet, who is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park, is a member of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund's Advisory Council. (Photo: UMD)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 15th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – Last weekend in Alexandria, Virginia Dr. Lemma Senbet, renowned Ethiopian American economist and professor, attended the 8th year anniversary celebration dinner hosted by Your Ethiopian Professionals (YEP), a D.C.-based organization dedicated to promoting career networking and mentoring opportunities for members of the Ethiopian American community. Dr. Lemma was keen to share the current effort of the recently formed Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund to YEP’s program attendees as part of the Fund’s upcoming launch of a D.C. chapter to help accelerate the global donor campaign.

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet, who is currently the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park and the former head of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), is also one of the Advisory Council members for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund.

“We are in the process of forming a chapter,” Dr. Lemma said in a recent interview with Tadias, noting that several members of the Advisory Council from the D.C. area had recently met to discuss the effort and to come up with formal guidelines on the process of establishing a chapter. “In between, what we are doing is engaging in a number of retail activities piggybacking on and leveraging various events that are being held by the Ethiopian Diaspora, such as the YEP event.” Dr. Lemma added that chapters will be viewed as an extension of the Council. “So it’s important that it is done with care, so it will not engender any reputational risk” he shared. “We have some guidelines, but not too restrictive so it will not discourage chapter formation,” Dr. Lemma said, which has been reported back to the Council.

“It’s like knowing your customer,” Dr. Lemma emphasized. “We need to know the people, experience and areas of interest so we can also engage in appropriate monitoring, because any misdeed could actually hurt us.”

More importantly, the Fund has the responsibility of following U.S. laws governing charitable organizations for nonprofits designated under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which is how EDTF has been established.

One thing that EDTF has yet to do is engage in “systematic campaign activities,” Dr. Lemma told Tadias. This would include events such as “holding town hall meetings and press conferences not only in Washington D.C. but worldwide.” To that end in Washington a press conference on the Fund and mobilization of the process will be held later this month at the Ethiopian Embassy, and a major fundraising event is also in the works for early 2019.

“Due to the coming holiday season, however, the earliest we can hold the fundraiser is probably in February,” Dr. Lemma said. “We are also going to seek assistance from the Embassy in terms of accessing a database of organizations that we can try to reach out to.” Dr. Lemma noted they are attempting to “map existing Diaspora organizations” such as churches, professional associations and other community groups. “We don’t have an extensive database so we are going to work off whatever the Embassy has.”

As to the online fundraising effort, which as of this week has raised close to $300K, Dr. Lemma said: “Here is where we are now. Although this one dollar a day idea is a very nice and appealing vision, we also want to attract high net-worth individuals, which we have not done yet, not only from the Diaspora but also from the individuals who consider themselves friends of Ethiopia, such as former Peace Corps Volunteers for example.”

As part of the final implementation of projects Dr. Lemma said that they will host “a number of discussion forums” around the world.

“The input is going to come from all over the globe and we’ll have the mechanism to collect that feedback including via the established chapters, which are key in this process as well.”

“It’s also very important for people to understand the linkage between the Council and projects in Ethiopia, which is governed by a Board in Ethiopia,” Dr. Lemma said. “Our job is to advise on project identification and also to make sure that Diaspora voices are heard. We plan to also provide advice on final allocation of resources.”

Dr. Lemma credits PM Abiy Ahmed for helping to bring unity among the diverse voices of the global Ethiopian Diaspora. “I am one of them,” Dr. Lemma enthused. “As you know in the past I was not as involved, not because I was in the opposition, but rather I had some genuine differences of opinion with the previous administration especially when it came to the state of finance policy and the complete lack of privatization of finance, which had nothing to do with capacity.” Dr. Lemma added: “Today what we have here is an unparalleled opportunity to impart transfer of knowledge coming from the collective wisdom of the huge global Diaspora.”

For EDTF the most important thing is that there should be an “inclusivity of growth in Ethiopia,” Dr. Lemma said. “So we have agents of inclusivity among youth, women, and small farmers to foster entrepreneurship and also enhance agricultural productivity, which is really very consistent with the prime minister’s vision.”

Dr. Lemma considers it a good thing that the current Advisory Council is comprised of a “talented bunch” and that the members involved “are navigating together” a complex set of international regulations and rules spanning several continents.

On a personal level Dr. Lemma said that he sees his involvement with EDTF as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real difference in Ethiopia.

“In some sense you can think of it as being in unchartered territory,” he admits. “It’s a new concept and a new vision from what appears to be a highly transformational leadership in Ethiopia.” He added: “We need to seize this opportunity and we need to move fast because this momentum, who knows, it could slip by. That’s why I feel strongly that we need get this EDTF right. We need to get it right on a variety of ways, one of which is to move consistently with the pace of the Prime Minister.”

Related:
Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

You can learn more about the fund and contribute at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

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Ethiopia to Host Social Enterprise World Forum 2019

Addis Ababa was announced as the event's next host city in an exuberant handover ceremony at the conclusion of the 2018 Forum in Edinburgh. (© Becky Duncan, Open Aye for CEIS, SEWF 2018)

British Council

The next edition of the Social Enterprise World Forum will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2019.

Addis Ababa was announced as the event’s next host city in an exuberant handover ceremony at the conclusion of the 2018 Forum in Edinburgh. This will be the 12th annual forum and will be the first time it is hosted by a lower income country.

The SEWF is the world’s leading forum for international exchange and collaboration in social entrepreneurship and social investment. In 2019, the aim is to catalyse the area’s dynamic social enterprise movement – both within Ethiopia and more widely across the Africa, and spur the further growth of social enterprise globally to help address social problems. Members of the social enterprise movement from all the other continents will be there too, learning from each other and sharing their experiences.

Kibret Abebe, Chair of Social Enterprise Ethiopia , a social enterprise support body which was created at the end of 2017, said he was delighted that Addis Ababa won the bid to host the forum.

With over 100 million inhabitants — it’s the second most populous nation in Africa after Nigeria, Ethiopia already boasts an estimated 55,000 social enterprises, according to British Council research published last year . Some of the most well-known examples include Tebita Ambulance , founded by Abebe, and Whiz Kids Workshop , founded by Bruktawit Tigabu. Both Abebe and Tigabu were in Ediburgh where they spoke about their highly impactful work in a plenary devoted to the ‘Best of Social Enterprise’.

However, Abebe pointed out that the concept of social enterprise was not yet widely recognised and saw an enormous opportunity to raise awareness of business with a social purpose: ‘We want to really bring this idea into the minds of the public and more widely,’ he said.

The British Council has played a key role in recent years in helping to support the development of social enterprise in Ethiopia and is co-hosting the forum in 2019. Moses Anibaba, the British Council’s regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa, pointed out that in the next 20 years, 50 per cent of the world’s working age population would be in Africa.

‘Harnessing this enormous population of entrepreneurs, innovators and talent is critical in order to spur the growth of social entrepreneurship globally, as it generates employment, reduces inequalities and addresses entrenched social problems,’ he said.

He added that hosting the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 in Addis Ababa would support this growth. He said: ‘We will be celebrating the achievements of African social enterprises and hosting social enterprise leaders and supporters from around the world to share experiences, reconnect with our shared purpose and grow our global movement.’

Gerry Higgins, chief executive of CEIS and founder of the SEWF, said: ‘The Social Enterprise World Forum is looking forward to having a very rich dialogue with social enterprises from around the world in Ethiopia in 2019. We are excited to have our first forum in a developing country, engaging with inspirational social enterprise leaders in Ethiopia and throughout Africa and collaborating for a sustainable legacy.’

A delegation from Ethiopia attended this year’s Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh. As the forum drew to a close, Abebe said that he and his colleagues would return home and continue their preparations. “We don’t want to copy and paste what’s gone before,” he said. “We will approach it from our own cultural, political and economic perspective, which I hope will be very beautiful.”


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Ras Nebyu, Ethiopian-American Rapper, Is D.C.’s ‘Uptown Lion Walkin’

OkayAfrica caught up with Nebyu to discuss his new album and growing up uptown. (OkayAfrica)

OkayAfrica

Ras Nebyu is caught up in the crowd at Howard University’s homecoming tailgate, where he can barely walk a block without shaking hands with another person who he knows. Although he didn’t attend Howard University, the campus and the surrounding neighborhood forms as much of a part of his narrative as any student.

The Ethiopian-American rapper hails from uptown Washington, D.C., a neighborhood he uses to inform his latest album, Uptown Lion Walkin, a project that pays homage to his ancestral upbringing, as well as his thoughts on making money, love, happiness, and the government.

There’s a twoness to Nebyu’s identity that allows him to create from a place of historical-cultural reverence while pushing forward new ideas. He was raised in a Rastafarian household by an Ethiopian dad and African-American mother.

Nebyu doesn’t hold much back when he speaks, like his music. He preaches about belonging to his community, gentrification and the diaspora. His work serves as a strong soundboard, for not only his Ethiopian community but D.C. natives.

In 2011, Nebyu co-founded the Washington Slizzards, a collective of Ethiopian creatives in D.C. What started as a joke, tacking on “slizz” to everything, became a buzz-worthy crew. Around the same time as the group’s inception, he began releasing music into the world.

Nebyu first ventured into making music as a producer, but soon found it frustrating getting artists to use his beats. He decided to begin experimenting with using his own voice and hasn’t slowed down since. OkayAfrica caught up with Nebyu to discuss the new album and growing up uptown.

Read the interview at okayafrica.com »


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New Play ‘The Assignment’ Starring Ethiopian-American Actress Antu Yacob

The Assignment, co-starring Antu Yacob, will run for two-weeks at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey, beginning on Thursday, November 29, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 12th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — In an upcoming play exploring the themes of friendship, loss, and forgiveness Ethiopian-American actress Antu Yacob plays “a brilliant and reserved” English professor named Helen Payne who is recovering from tragedy related to gun violence, which is one of the top social and cultural issues in America today that’s generating heated debate among activists and politicians.

The play titled The Assignment opens on November 29th at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey, with co-star Rafael Poueriet as Julian J. Torres, who is “an ebullient 37-year old scholarship student who is trying to reframe his life after a troubled youth and time in prison.” Dr. Helen Payne (Antu) is eventually “won over by Julian’s intelligence and likability. The two unlikely friends connect through the power of great literature.”

According to the press release, the 90-minutes performance, written by Camilo Almonacid and directed by David Winitsky, is “inspired by real conversations with perpetrators of gun violence and families of victims.”

“Winitsky called The Assignment ‘a moving and human mediation on the ways that we seek to find meaning, forgive, and continue forward,’” the announcement states. “Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith chose this play for her inaugural season because Luna produces plays that engage the deepest challenges facing us as a culture.”


If You Go
The Assignment, a new play featuring Antu Yacob
At Luna Stage
555 Valley Street
West Orange, NJ
Phone: 973 395 5551
Performances: Thursday, November 29, Closes Sunday December 9
Schedule: Thursdays, 7:30pm | Fridays & Saturdays, 8pm | Sundays, 3pm & 7pm
Tickets: www.LunaStage.org/TheAssignment

Related:
In Pictures: Antu Yacob Performs “In the Gray” at United Solo Theatre Festival

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Thousands Run for Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace

People take part in the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Run, which was started from the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on November 11, 2018. More than 10,000 people participated in the race. Teddy Afro was the guest of honor. (Photo: by Minasse Wondimu Hailu)

Anadolu Agency

By Addis Getachew

10,000 people run for Eritrea–Ethiopia newfound peace

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — More than 10,000 people participated in an Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Run in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday.

The guest of honor was Ethiopia’s most celebrated singer and song writer Tedros Kassahun (aka Teddy Afro), whose numerous songs advocated for unity, peace and love between Eritrea and Ethiopia – an advocacy that began during the sad days of enmity between the two governments in the 1990s.

Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993.

From 1998 – 2000, the two countries fought a war in which 70,000 people perished.

The runners filled Meskel Square in downtown Addis Ababa for the kick-off sporting t-shirts that feature the flags of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and it came as one of major events since the two countries began a fast-paced diplomatic thaw ending two decades of tense relations.

“It is a very happy day for the peoples of the two countries and I thank God for making me live to see this day,” Tilahun Masresha, 79, told Anadolu Agency.

Masresha said he worked as teacher in Embatikala in Eritrea for five years when the two countries were under one flag.

“We should never have been separated,” he said, pointing to his t-shirt that reads “We are one.”

On Thursday, Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki together with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed visited the Amhara regional state in Ethiopia where they met Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as a follow up to the Declaration of Comprehensive Cooperation the trio signed in September in Eritrea’s capital Asmara.


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Video: Tsehai Publishers’ Elias Wondimu Receives Hidden Heroes Award at LMU

Ethiopian-American publisher Elias Wondimu receiving the 2018 Hidden Heroes Recognition Award at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, November 3rd, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Elias Wondimu, Founding Director of TSEHAI Publishers, was recognized with the 2018 Hidden Heroes Award at Loyola Marymount University on November 3rd, 2018. Elias was one of five honorees from the University’s community that were nominated for the award. As part of the award ceremony Elias’ life story, as written by David Johann Kim, was performed by actor Desean Terry in a drama narrative.

The Center for Reconciliation & Justice at Loyola Marymount University annually honors winners of the Hidden Heroes award by selecting “individuals and groups who exemplify justice and reconciliation in their lives.”

“I was really happy that my dad saw it with me,” Elias said of the ceremony, which took place on Saturday, November 3rd at Loyola Marymount University’s Murphy Hall.

Watch: Elias Wondimu, Founder of Tsehai Publishers, Receives Hidden Heroes Award at LMU


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Birtukan Mideksa, the Right Person to Help Build Democratic Institutions in Ethiopia

Former judge and opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa returned home to Ethiopia on November 8th, 2018 after seven years of exile in the U.S. ( Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Liben Eabisa

Published: November 9th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The first time that Tadias featured an interview with Birtukan Mideksa six years ago we were celebrating the former judge, political leader, human rights activist and a mother of a young daughter, as one of our heroes for women’s history month; it had been less than a year after she had moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia as a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C.

This week Birtukan returned to her beloved homeland after seven years in exile. Prior to being forced to emigrate to the U.S. she had been twice imprisoned in Ethiopia as leader of an opposition party that won more than one-third of the seats during the tumultuous 2005 elections. In a public speech that year at the memorial tribute for Vaclav Havel — the former President of the Czech Republic who was also a playwright and poet — Birtukan described her second imprisonment for 19 months in solitary confinement as being “alone in every sense of the term.” She candidly shared that “after all the pain that was inflicted on me and my dear ones, I had to ask myself if the struggle was worth it.”

Indeed, in more ways than one, Birtukan has paid her dues to encourage democracy in Ethiopia and that’s why it was deeply moving for me personally to watch her from afar, from here in the U.S., as she received a well-deserved, warm reception back in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

I first met Birtukan in early May of 2012 when she came to New York to attend an award ceremony recognizing journalist Eskinder Nega, who was then still behind bars. Eskinder, her friend and former prisoner of conscience, was being honored with PEN America’s prestigious “Freedom to Write” award at the literary organization’s annual dinner held at the American Museum of Natural History. Later, I also had an opportunity to visit Birtukan at Harvard when she was a student there; we also attended civic leadership events together during the US-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by the U.S government in D.C. four years ago. Birtukan is one of the most brilliant, inspiring and kindest individuals I had the privilege of meeting in my many years of work as Publisher of Tadias. In addition to her gracious, non-assuming personality and quiet humor the most memorable and contagious part of being around Birtukan was her heartfelt commitment to freedom of expression, human rights and advancing democratic principles in Ethiopia.

“What helps me most to survive the hurdles I faced is the depth and intensity of the ideal and vision I have with regard to the worth and dignity of the individual citizen and the way our society should be organized based on this universal ideal of human rights and the rule of law,” Birtukan told Tadias during our women’s history month interview. “My belief and conviction that we can and should change the status quo, though it appears to be daunting, has kept me going.” She added: “And my trust in the power of the individual to bring about change enables me to consider the price I paid as a sacrifice made for a worthy causes and purpose.”

Birtukan was born and raised in Addis Ababa and attended public school both for her elementary and high school education before she graduated from Addis Ababa University with a degree in law. “I believe my passion for politics has a strong correlation with the fact that I was brought up in a community whose members are strongly committed to maintaining healthy social relations and to looking after the well-being of individual members,” said Birtukan who grew up in the Ferensay Legacion neighborhood of Ethiopia’s capital. “My training as a lawyer later on gave me some coherent narrative and vision for this aspiration of mine.”

If it was up to Birtukan Mideksa Ethiopia by now would have had a fully functioning democracy consisting of equally powerful opposition parties that are credible, peaceful and loyal to the constitution. While living in exile, where she also managed to earn a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Birtukan never ceased to speak up in defense of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia whenever the opportunity presented itself, albeit with her trademark respectful tone.

In an Op-Ed article titled “Embracing Development and Security Means Embracing Free Expression,” published by Freedom-now.org in 2014 — shortly after the US-Africa Leaders Summit and while the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegen was still in charge – Birtukan urged the U.S. government and other Western countries to rethink their approach to Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. “The Ethiopian government has long relied on the same arguments to defend its actions — falsely claiming that the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation copies equivalent European standards,” Birtukan wrote. “The international community can no longer tolerate these kinds of wholly inadequate explanations, especially when respect for human rights impacts the prospects for growth and security on the continent so greatly. If we are serious about development and peace in Africa, we need to hold the government accountable and reinforce the proposition that there can be no robust, sustainable growth without respect for the fundamental rights for all Africans.”

Before she departed for Ethiopia on Wednesday Birtukan told Voice of America’s Alula Kebede that she hopes to contribute in helping to build democratic institutions. And in my opinion there is no one more qualified than Birtukan Mideksa to help assist Ethiopia’s ongoing transformation into a more democratic and peaceful society. She has the passion, legal education and real-life experience to do the job and the scars to prove it.

It goes without saying that at whatever role and capacity that Birtukan wants to participate, there could be no doubt that she has earned the right to have a say in leading the future of Ethiopia.


Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias Magazine.

Related: Birtukan Mideksa in Pictures:

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Alex Assefa, Joe Neguse & lhan Omar: Ethiopian, Eritrean & Somali Make History

Ethiopian American Alex Assefa (left) was elected as a state legislator in the Nevada State Assembly, Eritrean-American Joe Neguse (Center) was elected to U.S. Congress from Colorado, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became the first Somali-American to be elected to the U.S. Congress. (Photos: Getty Images and AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 8th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Most people remember where they were ten years ago this November when they learned of the election of America’s first Black president, Barack Obama, blazing a trail for a future generation of leaders.

This week also saw another historic election season in the United States with the ascension of a record number of women to Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, who at 29-years-old became the youngest woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In addition, the 2018 Midterm U.S. election held on Tuesday, November 6th resulted in many new civic leaders from diverse immigrant communities across America including the first elected Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali-American representatives.

Ethiopian American entrepreneur Alex Assefa was elected as a state legislator in the Nevada State Assembly representing the state’s 42nd assembly district. Alex who was born and raised in Ethiopia came to the U.S. in 2000 as a refugee. He replaces Democratic Representative Irene Bustamante Adams and will serve in the Nevada State Assembly on a two-year term.

In Colorado Joe Neguse, the son of immigrants from Eritrea, made U.S. history by becoming the state’s first African-American member of Congress. According to 4CBS Denver, Neguse, who is an attorney and co-founder of a voter registration group, “defeated Republican Peter Yu in the 2nd Congressional District that includes Boulder, Fort Collins and parts of north-central Colorado.”

And in Minnesota Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American and one of the first two muslim woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Ilhan came to the United States as a teenager more than 20 years ago, and according to CNBC “In 2016, she became the first Somali-American, Muslim legislator in the U.S. She was elected to serve in Minnesota’s House of Representatives in District 60B, according to her campaign website. In 2019, Omar will replace Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress.”


Related:
Democrats Capture U.S. House Majority in Rebuke to Trump (Election Update)

Watch: Historic Record number of women heading to U.S. Congress

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Democrats Capture U.S. House Majority in Rebuke to Trump

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democrat from New York City, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Tuesday’s result was a bitter outcome for Trump, a 72-year-old former reality TV star and businessman-turned-politician, after a campaign that became a referendum on his leadership. (Reuters)

Reuters

Democrats Capture U.S. House Majority in Rebuke to Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats rode a wave of dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday where they will seek to keep his agenda in check and open his administration to intense scrutiny.

In midterm elections two years after he won the White House, Trump and his fellow Republicans were set to maintain their majority in the U.S. Senate following a divisive campaign marked by fierce clashes over race, immigration and other cultural issues.

With a House majority, Democrats will have the power to investigate Trump’s tax returns and possible conflicts of interest, and challenge his overtures to Saudi Arabia, Russia and North Korea.

They also could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico, pass a second major tax-cut package or carry out his hardline policies on trade.

A simple House majority would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaces that he obstructed justice or that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats in the House could be banking on launching an investigation using the results of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s already 18-month-old probe of allegations of Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election. Moscow denies meddling and Trump denies any collusion.

Tuesday’s result was a bitter outcome for Trump, a 72-year-old former reality TV star and businessman-turned-politician, after a campaign that became a referendum on his leadership.

Related: Historic Record number of women heading to U.S. Congress

Democrats turned out in droves to register disapproval of [Trump's] divisive rhetoric and policies on such issues as immigration and his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries.

A record number of women ran for office this election, many of them Democrats turned off by Trump’s policy agenda.

The election results mean Democrats will resume House control in January for the first time since the 2010 election, beginning a split-power arrangement with the Republican-led Senate that may force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions and focus on issues with bipartisan support, such as an infrastructure improvement package or protections against prescription drug price increases.

It also will test Trump’s ability to compromise, something he has shown little interest in over the last two years with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress.

The loss of power will test Trump’s political hold on House Republicans, most of whom had pledged their support for him lest they face the wrath of the party’s core supporters, who remain in his corner.

Most Democratic candidates in tight races stayed away from harsh criticism of Trump during the campaign’s final stretch, focusing instead on bread-and-butter issues like keeping down healthcare costs, maintaining insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and safeguarding the Social Security retirement and Medicare healthcare programs for senior citizens.

The final weeks before the election were marked by the mailing of pipe bombs to his top political rivals, with a political fan of Trump arrested and charged, and the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in which 11 people died, sparking a debate about Trump’s biting rhetoric and whether it encouraged extremists.

In the House, Democrats picked up seats across the map, ousting incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock in suburban Virginia and sending Donna Shalala, a former Cabinet secretary under President Bill Clinton, to the House in south Florida.

In the Senate, where Republicans were heavily favored to keep control heading into Tuesday’s voting, Republican Mike Braun captured incumbent Joe Donnelly’s seat in Indiana and Republican Kevin Cramer beat incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

Some of the biggest Democratic stars of the campaign season were struggling. Liberal House member Beto O’Rourke became a national sensation with his underdog U.S. Senate campaign but fell short in conservative Texas, and Andrew Gillum was trailing Republican Ron DeSantis in his quest to become the first African-American governor of the key swing state of Florida.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin won a hotly contested race in conservative West Virginia, and conservative Marsha Blackburn held a Senate seat for Republicans.

Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential nominee in 2016, easily won re-election, news networks projected. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown was projected to hold his seat in Ohio.

All 435 seats in the House, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate and 36 of the 50 state governorships were up for grabs.


Related:
Alex Assefa, Joe Neguse & lhan Omar: Ethiopian, Eritrean & Somali Make History in 2018 US Election

Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, youngest woman elected to Congress

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Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund

Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, a retired UN official, is a member of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund's Advisory Council. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 5th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund, which officially launched its website last month, is calling on Ethiopians worldwide to set up local chapters in order to increase and streamline its fundraising process.

“We are mobilizing the Ethiopian Diaspora community globally, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe, Africa and Middle East,” says Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, a retired United Nations official who is a member of the trust fund’s Advisory Council, in a recent interview with Tadias. “The purpose moving forward is to establish as many chapters as possible wherever Ethiopians live.”

“The Advisory Council’s job is to mobilize the Diaspora globally so they may contribute to the fund,” Dr. Bisrat added noting the transparency of fund’s website in particular. “It’s a very clear indication of how the fund operates. As money comes in everyone can see who is contributing, big or small.”

As of this week the website has raised more than $200,000 and Bisrat said that he is hopeful that with the assistance of the chapters — which are empowered to explore creative fundraising mechanisms like soliciting matching grants and holding events — they will “surpass the million mark” before the end of the year.

“So our job is really to spearhead, but eventually the community has to accept it as their own. They can organize by profession, as a congregation, as family and friends, or they can join a chapter.”

Dr. Bisrat also acknowledged that due to complicated prior history Ethiopian Americans in general are rightfully weary of government sanctioned fundraising projects.

“We have to be honest that we have had a previous negative experience of people contributing and not knowing where the money went for the Renaissance Dam,” Dr. Bisrat told Tadias. “As noble and as important as it is there should have been really disclosure on how much money came. We have learned from that lesson and that’s why are making absolutely sure that we are completely transparent.” Dr. Bisrat also pointed out that in addition to being designed in line with “international standards of transparency and accountability” the EDTF online platform includes a “governance and fund flow chart.”

As someone who managed the U.N’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office with an estimated six billion dollar operation Dr. Bisrat shares that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to the EDTF chapters. “It depends really how the Ethiopian Diaspora communities are organized,” he said.

“For example, in New York, the initiative that was launched felt that for the Tri-State area (New Jersey, Connecticut and New York) we should have one chapter,” Dr. Bisrat noted. “There was a group that came together as kind of a welcoming and organizing committee for the visit of the Prime Minister to New York, which unfortunately did not take place. So we had a discussion with that group and felt that we should also broaden it and include a few more members and groups such as churches, mosques, community groups, and edirs.” On Sunday, November 4th, the group was scheduled to meet with the aim of establishing a chapter.

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund came about this past Summer as a response to PM Abiy Ahmed’s invitation to all fellow Ethiopians who reside overseas to become part of the solution and to take a stake in the ongoing reform efforts in their homeland. “Diaspora, here is a call to you. A dollar a day to help children get an education; our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers get health service; and above all, consider this as ‘paying back’ to your people who gave you future while they had no one,” said PM Abiy Ahmed in a televised comment while defending Ethiopia’s 346.9 billion Ethiopian birr ($12.71 billion) budget last July.

Theoretically, of course, the idea of ‘a dollar a day’ could potentially generate millions of dollars on a daily basis given the sheer size and financial diversity of the global Ethiopian Diaspora community. The trick, however, lies in tailoring a unified message that could resonate with the silent majority. One problem faced by EDTF is that soon after PM Abiy’s speech several websites had quickly popped up in the Washington, D.C. area and elsewhere promoting the tagline ‘a dollar day for Ethiopia,’ and creating confusion among donors. Dr. Bisrat told Tadias that EDTF is now appealing to these organizations and websites to join them in “the big tent.” Dr. Bisrat emphasized that the websites are run by “well-meaning people with good intentions,” while underscoring EDTF’s view that they should now coordinate their efforts together for better impact. “They can either work with a local chapter or transform themselves into an independent chapter.”

“One other thing that we want to tell the public is that we are not going to wait until all the money comes in order to start funding projects,” Dr. Bisrat noted. “We want to start the operation as soon as possible.” To that end there will be “a Secretariat of the Fund” in Ethiopia that will help the Board in identifying projects to support.

“Anyone can apply for funding, but we want to give priority to youth-oriented programs especially focusing on disadvantaged communities,” Dr. Bisrat said. “The Prime Minister has instructed that 100% of the funds raised be spent on projects.” Bisrat highlights that the Office of the Fund’s Secretariat in Ethiopia will be the only one to have paid positions. The salaries will be paid for the first year by the local UNDP office, which he helped facilitate during his recent trip to Ethiopia.

Furthermore, Dr. Bisrat shared that in conjunction with the Advisory Council that will be responsible for depositing the raised amount into an account at the Commercial Bank in Ethiopia, there is a Board of Directors for the fund in Addis Ababa.

“What we have agreed on is that the Board is made up of 11 members with the government comprising of 3 members as well as 3 other members from civil society as follows: one representing youth, one representing women, and a third one as a person of credibility with experience in this kind of work. An additional five will be Diaspora members.” Among the members of the Diaspora, Dr. Bisrat added that “two will be selected from North America and the other three will be coming from Europe, Middle East and Africa. Eventually one might be added from Australia. We expect the Board of Directors to be announced in the next two weeks.”


You can learn more about the fund and contribute at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

Related:
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

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Lelisa Desisa Wins 2018 NYC Marathon

Lelisa Desisa crosses the finish line at the NYC Marathon in New York, Sunday, Nov. 4th, 2018. (Getty Images)

Associated Press

Ethiopia’s Desisa, Kenya’s Keitany win NYC Marathon

NEW YORK (AP) — Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia has won the New York City Marathon, holding off countryman Shura Kitata by 1.99 seconds.

Desisa finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 59 seconds. Last year’s winner, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya, finished third.

Mary Keitany of Kenya became the second woman to win the marathon four times, beating countrywoman Vivian Cheruiyot by 3 minutes, 13 seconds.

Keitany ran the race in 2:22:48, the second fastest in history. Margaret Okayo of Kenya holds the record of 2:22:31, which was set in 2003.

The victory was Keitany’s fourth in New York in the last five years. She won in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before coming in second last year to American Shalane Flanagan. Keitany joined Grete Waitz as the only women to win the marathon four times. Waitz, a Norwegian, won the marathon nine times between 1978-1988.

Flanagan finished third.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Seeds of Africa 2018 Benefit in NYC

The Seeds of Africa Foundation operates an elementary school in Adama, Ethiopia alongside community-based programs for families. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 3rd, 2018

Seeds of Africa Benefit Helps Innovative School Program in Adama, Ethiopia

New York (TADIAS) — The Seeds of Africa Foundation has announced that it will hold its fifth Annual Benefit on November 7th in New York City. The foundation, which was established ten years ago by former Miss Ethiopia, Atti Worku, runs a school with hundreds of students alongside community-based programs for their families in Atti’s hometown of Adama, Ethiopia.

“We began in 2008 as an after-school program, and have since grown into a full-time school that serves Pre-K to 4th grade students, and a community development program that serves their mothers and other female guardians,” Seeds of Africa notes on its website. “We move beyond the traditional aid model by shifting from mere relief efforts, to providing students, families, and communities with the resources and skills they need to support themselves and find local solutions to fight poverty, increase civic participation, and enhance community re-investment.”

According to the press release the 2018 benefit will feature their #FixTheFacts campaign demonstrating “how Seeds of Africa is addressing and meeting global development goals at a local level in Ethiopia.”

“This year’s Seeds of Africa Annual Benefit is themed “Cocktail and Cloth” in celebration of the richness and diversity of African textiles,” the press release adds. “Join us and over 250 Seeds of Africa supporters for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment by DJ mOma, DJ AQ and the Asase Yaa School of the Arts, and special presentations of our work and its impact in Ethiopia. Some notable guests from last year include fashion designer Maxwell Osborne, supermodel Aamito Lagum, and Monaco royal Pauline Ducruet, who are all members of our host committee this year. Watch the 2017 Annual Benefit video here.”


If You Go:
Seeds of Africa Annual Benefit
November 7, 2018 from 7:00 pm – 10:00
Town Stages
221 W. Broadway
New York, NY 10013

You may purchase tickets for the event here.

Learn more about Seeds of Africa Foundation

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meaza Ashenafi Named Head of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court

Meaza Ashenafi attends a screening of the movie “Difret” on Dec. 9, 2014, in Hollywood. The women’s rights activist was appointed Thursday as Ethiopia’s new Supreme Court president. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

Women’s rights activist named to head Ethiopia’s Supreme Court in new reform

ADDIS ABABA, Ethi­o­pia — In Ethiopia’s latest move to empower women, the country’s parliament on Thursday installed as Supreme Court president a women’s rights activist whose achievements were championed in a movie promoted by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.

Meaza Ashenafi was a judge on Ethiopia’s High Court from 1989 to 1992 and then an adviser to a commission writing up its new constitution. She also founded the Ethio­pian Women Lawyers Association and helped start the first women’s bank in the country, Enat Bank.

Her most famous case, however, was turned into the 2014 Ethio­pian film “Difret,” which was promoted by Jolie as executive producer and went on to win the World Cinematic Dramatic Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

The film is based on a court case, tried by Meaza, that resulted in outlawing the tradition of kidnapping child brides in Ethio­pia.

In 1996, Aberash Bekele, 14, was kidnapped on her way home from school by a man who intended to marry her. She escaped with a rifle and shot her kidnapper. She was then charged with murder.

Meaza succeeded in getting the charges dropped and set off a public debate over Ethiopia’s age-old tradition of kidnapping girls as brides.

Meaza was selected to head the court by Ethiopia’s new reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who has taken a series of measures to increase the role of women in what is widely described as a patriarchal society.

Read more »


Related:
Tadias Interview with Meaza Ashenafi & Aberash Bekele about ‘Difret’ Movie: 2015 in NYC

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2019 SEED Awards to Honor Women

Painting by artist Tadesse Mesfin. Courtesy of Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 30th, 2018

SEED Dedicates 2019 Award to Honor Ethiopian Women

New York (TADIAS) — The Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) is dedicating its 2019 annual award to women leaders and pioneers.

Since the 1990s SEED has been recognizing Ethiopian professionals, artists, students, elders and historical personalities for their “productive roles in society, their communities, and families.”

The 2019 award ceremony, which is set to take place on May 26th at College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, “is dedicated to celebrating women with outstanding achievements in their field, providing exemplary leadership and distinguished service positively impacting our community and country,” the organization said in a press release. “Women can be nominated for their achievements in the fields of academia, arts, business, humanitarian efforts, music, public policy, sports, or science & technology.”

Previous recipients of the SEED award include the late scholar of Ethiopian studies Professor Donald N. Levine; Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia Obang Metho; philanthropist and advocate against domestic violence Menbere Aklilu; the late Ambassador Zewde Retta; humanitarian Rachel Beckwith; the late women rights activist ​Dr. Maigenet Shiferaw; actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo, Economist and Professor Lemma Senbet, founder and president of the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation Nini Legesse; artist and educator Achamyeleh Debela; as well as legendary musicians Mahamoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro.

Last year SEED paid tribute to the universal impact of Ethiopia’s ancient and independent history on the Pan-African world posthumously celebrating the past five Emperors of Ethiopia: Emperor Tewodros II (1818 – 1868), Emperor Yohannes IV (1837 – 1889), Emperor Menelik II (1844 – 1913), Empress Zewditu (1876 – 1930), and Emperor Haile Selassie I (1892 – 1975).

Organizers say the deadline to nominate a person for the 2019 award is December 3, 2018. If you know a woman who leads and inspires, you can send them your recommendation here.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. ‘

YEP Celebrates 8th Year anniversary of Connecting Ethiopian Professionals

YEP will hold its eight year anniversary gala in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday, November 10th, 2018. (Event poster courtesy of YEP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 29th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — YEP celebrates its 8th year anniversary this year with a timely and fitting theme, “The Power of Change: Building Tomorrow Through Innovation, Creativity and Leadership.”

The professional networking association announced its 2018 annual anniversary gala will be held on Saturday, November 10th at USPTO Madison Auditorium in Alexandria, Virginia.

According to the program, the event will feature guest speakers, music, dinner and a range of activities hosting over 300 diverse professionals. Bofta Yimam, an Emmy award-winning journalist, former TV anchor, and storytelling coach, will serve as the Master of Ceremony. The keynote speaker is Dr Mehret Debebe, a board certified Psychiatrist and Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, an author, and motivational speaker.

The lineup also includes Dr Senait Fisseha, Director of International Programs for the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation and Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School; and Kenna Zemedkun, an Ethiopian–American musician, philanthropist and technology creative. Kenna’s track “Say Goodbye to Love” was nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in the 2009 Grammy Awards, and he is the Founder & Producer of the Summit on the Summit clean water initiative in partnership with Justin Timberlake.

“YEP is a community of diverse professionals who strive for growth, excellence and success,” the organization notes on its website. “The mission of YEP is to inspire, educate and empower the Ethiopian professional community to make a positive impact in the world and envisions a strong community that shares ideas, skills and resources to enrich lives. Founded by Ethiopians in 2010, YEP is a non-partisan and non-religious organization, that began by featuring inspirational speakers, hosting educational sessions and providing networking opportunities to support our mission.”

The announcement adds: “Proceeds from the 8th Year Anniversary Celebration will go directly to support YEP’s mission of supporting newcomers, providing mentoring to high school and college students, creating a platform for professionals to connect.”


If You Go:
YEP Eight Year Anniversary Dinner
Saturday, November 10, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 12:00
US Patent and Trademark Office
600 Dulany Street
Madison Auditorium
Alexandria, VA 22304
Click here to buy tickets
More info at www.yepnetwork.org

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. ‘

‘Congratulations Madam President’: Reactions to Ethiopia’s Historic Week

Ethiopia's new president Sahle-Work Zewde. (Photo twitted by Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff, PM's office)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 29th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — “Congratulations Madam President,” many tweeted and posted on social media around the world to express their praise and good wishes to Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, a former senior United Nations official, who became Ethiopia’s first female president last week.

“It represents me, it represents young woman and my mom and my sisters,” a young lady tells BBC News Africa as the news agency gathered street reactions on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital.

The news of Zewde’s appointment was announced early Thursday morning in a series of tweets by PM Abiy Ahmed’s Chief of Staff, Fitsum Arega, generating immediate global media interest. Fitsum tweeted: “In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life.”

Ethiopia’s parliamentary approval of President Sahle-Work Zewde on October 25th also came on the heels of the previous week’s equally stunning appointment of a cabinet comprising of 50% female MPs, including at the Ministry of Peace, which controls the country’s intelligence agency and security forces.

In her acceptance speech to Parliament President Sahle-Work highlighted the need to uplift women and to shape a “society that rejects the oppression of women.” She stated: “I am a product of people who fought for equality and political freedom in this country, and I will work hard to serve them.” She added: “If you thought I spoke a lot about women already, know that I am just getting started.”

Global reactions on social media shared the enthusiasm of Ethiopians. “Congratulations to Sahle-Work Zewde & to Ethiopians, on your first woman president & new cabinet in which women ministers head key departments,” said the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, in his own Twitter post. “The African continent is leading the way in showcasing that women’s engagement and leadership are crucial to lasting peace.”

UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May noted: “Congratulations to President Sahle-Work Zewde on being elected the first female President of Ethiopia – a strong symbol of growing female empowerment in Africa.”

And U.S. Embassy Addis chimed in: “Congratulations to Ambassador Sahelwork Zewde on her selection as Ethiopia’s first woman President. We welcome her appointment not because of her gender but in recognition of her many years of experience and leadership in public service. No society succeeds by excluding people from participation. We see the Ethiopian government focus on including women in leadership roles as a strong signal of commitment to build an inclusive political system where leaders attain their positions based on their ability to lead.”

Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian-American lecturer of Political Science at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, GA, pointed out:

With this appointment, Zewde also became the second woman in the country’s modern history to serve as head of state. Ethiopia’s last female leader before Zewde was Empress Zewditu, who had governed the country between 1916-1930.”…This appointment is unquestionably momentous and groundbreaking…Anyone who serves in that role gets the opportunity to build a personal legacy, and leave their mark in the country’s history. The head of state also presides over special parliamentary sessions and delivers speeches on the parliament opening sessions where he or she presents what the priorities of the government should be. Having a woman take over such a revered office is undoubtedly going to inspire millions of Ethiopian women.

Yohannes, whose article is titled ‘Ethiopia’s First Female President Can Be a Force for Reform,’ also emphasized Sahle-Work’s final role at the UN as being arguably the most important. “She was the first woman to be appointed by the international body as special representative to the African Union and head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, a role she served at the level of Under-Secretary-General.”

Below are photos and related news links:


Related:
Who is Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia’s first female president? (By Elias Gebreselassie)
Former UN Official Sahle-Work Zewde Becomes Ethiopia’s First Female President
The Power of Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet
In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (The Washington Post)

Spotlight: Helen Show on Professional Women and Motherhood (Video)


The latest episode of the Helen Show on EBS TV features a timely topic: professional women
and motherhood. The show’s host Helen Mesfin speaks with Mimi Hailegiorghis, who is
a Department Head of Systems Performance Engineering at Mitre Corporation, & Tseday Alehegn,
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. ‘

Former UN Official Sahle-Work Zewde Becomes Ethiopia’s First Female President

Sahle-Work Zewde leaves Parliament after being elected as Ethiopia's first female president, in Addis Ababa on Oct. 25, 2018. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

Ethiopia appoints first female president in its modern history in latest reform

ADDIS ABABA, Ethi­o­pia — Ethiopia’s Parliament on Thursday approved the East African country’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, a veteran of the United Nations and the diplomatic corps.

The position of president is ceremonial in Ethiopia, with executive power vested in the office of the prime minister. But the appointment is deeply symbolic and follows up on last week’s cabinet reshuffle. Half the ministers are now women in Africa’s second-most populous country.

“In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life,” tweeted Fitsum Arega, the prime minister’s chief of staff and de facto government spokesman.

Parliament accepted the resignation of Mulatu Teshome, who had served as president since 2013.

In remarks to Parliament after she took her oath of office, Sahle-Work emphasized the importance of respecting women and the need to build a “society that rejects the oppression of women.” She also promised to work for peace and unity in the country.

Read more »


Related:
‘Congratulations Madam President’: Reactions & Pictures to Ethiopia’s Historic Week
The Power of Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet
In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (The Washington Post)

Spotlight: Helen Show on Professional Women and Motherhood (Video)


The latest episode of the Helen Show on EBS TV features a timely topic: professional women
and motherhood. The show’s host Helen Mesfin speaks with Mimi Hailegiorghis, who is
a Department Head of Systems Performance Engineering at Mitre Corporation, & Tseday Alehegn,
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Publisher Elias Wondimu to Receive Hidden Heroes Award at LMU

Elias Wondimu, who is a Founding Director of TSEHAI Publishers at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA is one of five awardees who will be honored on November 3rd with the 2018 Hidden Heroes Recognition Award. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American publisher Elias Wondimu has been named the recipient of the 2018 Hidden Heroes Recognition Award at Loyola Marymount University in California. The annual award is given by the university’s Center for Reconciliation & Justice to “individuals and groups who exemplify justice and reconciliation in their lives” LMU stated. “Each awardee will be honored through the telling of their story in a dramatic performance.”

Elias, who is Founding Director of TSEHAI Publishers at the Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture, and the Arts at LMU, is one of five honorees chosen from the nominated faculty, staff, alumni, and students from Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School.

“This year’s theme for the Hidden Heroes Recognition is ‘reconciliation,’” the announcement said. “The awardees selected are those who work mostly ‘under the radar’ to build bridges for justice and repair broken human relationships, similar to the life of St. Joseph, patron saint of the CSJ Community and its LMU Center for Reconciliation and Justice.”

Tsehai Publishers celebrated its 20th anniversary last October alongside the launch of its first book under its new imprint, Harriet Tubman Press, entitled Voices from Leimert Park Redux. Tsehai Publishers is the only African/African-American owned press that is housed in a U.S. university (Howard University Press closed in 2011).

Elias told Tadias that he is on his way back to the U.S. from Ethiopia to accept the award after having recently returned in September to his homeland for the first time in almost 25 years following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s invitation to exiled Ethiopians to come home. Elias is currently a member of the Advisory Council of the recently launched Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund.

LMU’s press release added that “as part of the recognition award, Wondimu’s life story will be enacted on stage as a dramatized narrative as written by David Johann Kim and acted by Desean Terry. The award ceremony and performances will take place on Saturday, November 3rd at Loyola Marymount University at Murphy Hall.”


If You Go:
To RSVP click here. This event is free and open to the public.

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Wegene Foundation’s 18th Anniversary

The U.S.-based nonprofit Wegene Ethiopian Foundation will celebrate its 18th anniversary with a dinner ceremony in Springfield, Virginia on Saturday, October 27th, 2018. (Photo: From Wegene 2018 Oldies Night fundraiser/Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 23rd, 2018

Wegene Ethiopian Foundation Celebrates 18th Anniversary

New York (TADIAS) — For almost two decades the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation, a grassroots Ethiopian American nonprofit organization, has been providing financial assistance to youth and education-related projects in various parts of Ethiopia.

The Wegene Ethiopian Foundation is led by a quiet hero named Nini Legesse, a hardworking mother of three children, who came to our attention six years ago when she was honored at the White House as one of fourteen civil society leaders representing the East African Diaspora as “Champions of Change.” At the ceremony a statement from the White House noted that the work of Wegene and other honorees helped “to mobilize networks across borders to address global challenges.” Nini’s organization provided, among other services, financial support to build an elementary school in Jimma, Ethiopia.

Among Wegene’s main objectives is “to improve the daily lives of the less fortunate and disadvantaged children and their families in Ethiopia by overcoming three critical barriers in the poverty cycle: poor or no education, poor housing, and family instability.” In addition, close to home here in the U.S. the 501(c)(3) organization, which was founded in 2000 by a group of like-minded individuals in the Washington, D.C. area, also runs a kids club that raises funds through “bake sales, movie nights, crafting, and various other activities in order to create awareness and reach out to Ethiopian American youth.”

“My work for Wegene is more of a mission and it’s something that I’m very passionate about,” Nini told Tadias in an interview after she won the “Champions of Change” award in 2012. Nini came to the U.S. when she was 17 years old and says “I’m grateful that Wegene has created an opportunity to cultivate social ties to my home country and to make a difference in someone’s life at a personal level.” She added: “This work offers me fulfillment and civic satisfaction beyond imagination. I think we each have to realize our human potential for compassion and love.”


(Photo from past Wegene Ethiopian Foundation annual fundraising event/Tadias Magazine)


Wegene (WEF) at ESFNA Soccer Tournament, 2015. (Photo: Twitter @WegeneEF)

Nini shared that among her many role models is Dr. Catherine Hamlin. “I admire her lifetime devotion and mission to treating childbirth-related injures of disadvantaged women in Ethiopia,” she said. “I’m amazed at how humble and loving she is. Her book, The Hospital by the River, is one of my favorite books.” She continued: “My other role model is Mrs. Marta Gebre-Tsadick, the Founder of Project Mercy. Marta is a remarkable woman. It is incredible what she and her husband have created. They built a school and hospital and established agricultural development programs. To me, she is a woman who has become a force of nature. Lastly, but equally as important, my mother and each of my six sisters have been my role models especially because I am the youngest child in my family.”

This week the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation will celebrate its 18th anniversary with a dinner ceremony at the Waterford in Springfield, Virginia on Saturday, October 27th. “Come out for a night of dinner, dancing, entertainment, and philanthropy,” the announcement said. “We cannot wait to share with you all the milestones we have surpassed this year and our goals for the future year.”


If You Go:
Wegene Ethiopian Foundation’s 18th Year Anniversary
Sat, Oct 27, 2018, 7:00 PM –
The Waterford Reception Center
6715 Commerce Street
Springfield, VA 22150
www.wegene.org
Click here to buy tickets

Watch: Wegene Promotional CFC Video

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Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet

Ethiopia's gender balanced cabinet is sending women around the country a clear message: the patriarchy can be beaten...PM Abiy's new cabinet has a tremendous transformative potential to end Ethiopian women's experience of invisibility and the silencing of their voice and capacity, writes Awol K Allo, a Lecturer in Law at Keele University, UK. (Photo: Reuters)

By Awol K Allo

The Power of Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is drawing admiration from all corners for his transformative leadership. Since coming to power six months ago, he has released political prisoners, widened the democratic space, ended the military stalemate with Eritrea, and averted a looming financial crisis. In short, his dynamic leadership, energy, and enthusiasm have pulled off what a Washington Post editorial described as an “astonishing turnaround” for the country.

Ahmed’s latest decision to fill 50 percent of his cabinet with female ministers is an integral part of the transformative agenda he has set out during his inaugural speech on April 2. It is easy to dismiss this move as a token gesture or a mere publicity stunt, but in a highly patriarchal society such as Ethiopia where public discourse about gender equality is non-existent or confined to the margins, the mere existence of a gender-balanced cabinet can have a transformative effect.

Ethiopia’s prime minister brought youthful vigour and bold confidence to the masculine, patriarchal, and archaic traditions of the Ethiopian state. During his inaugural address, he broke with tradition and acknowledged his mother and wife. Towards the end of his speech, he said, “in a manner that is not customary in this house, … I would like to politely ask you to thank one Ethiopian mother who … planted this distant and deep and elaborate vision in me, who raised me, and brought me to fruition.” He went on to say that “My mother is counted among the many kind, innocent, and hardworking Ethiopian mothers … In thanking my mother, I consider it equivalent to extending thanks to all Ethiopian mothers.” Given his numerous policy statements and his commitment to liberal ideas of equality, fairness, and representation visible in these policies, there is no reason to believe that these announcements had ulterior motives.

Read more »


Related:
In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (The Washington Post)

Spotlight: Helen Show on Professional Women and Motherhood (Video)


The latest episode of the Helen Show on EBS TV features a timely topic: professional women
and motherhood. The show’s host Helen Mesfin speaks with Mimi Hailegiorghis, who is
a Department Head of Systems Performance Engineering at Mitre Corporation, & Tseday Alehegn,
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Feyisa Lilesa Returns From Exile

FILE - In this Thursday, April 20, 2017 file photo, Feyisa Lilesa, right, and Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia stand in front of the Tower Bridge in London. The Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio Olympics finish line has returned from exile, after sports officials assured him he will not face prosecution. Feyisa Lilesa's return from the United States on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 comes several months after a reformist new prime minister took office and announced sweeping reforms. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopian Marathoner Who Made Rio Protest Returns From Exile

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio Olympics finish line returned from exile on Sunday after sports officials assured him he will not face prosecution.

Feyisa Lilesa’s return from the United States came several months after a reformist prime minister took office and announced sweeping political reforms. He received a warm welcome at the airport from the foreign minister and other senior officials.

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression in Africa’s second most populous nation.

The silver medalist crossed his wrists at the finish line in 2016 in solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia, who like many across Ethiopia were demanding wider freedoms.

Feyisa later said he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home. But he became a symbol of resistance for many youth until the pressure on the government led to a change of power, with 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office in April.

Abiy is the country’s first leader from the Oromo ethnic group since the ruling coalition came to power 27 years ago.

Ethiopia’s government did not immediately comment Sunday on the runner’s return.

Asked by The Associated Press if he has any political ambitions, Feyisa said: “I don’t have any ambition in politics! Actually I didn’t get close to politics, politics gets close to me.”

Feyisa broke down in tears while speaking about youth who lost their lives during the years of protests. “I will continue to remember those who lost their lives for the cause. Many people lost their lives for it.”

Turning his attention to running, he said his next race will be the Dubai Marathon in January.

“My training while I was in exile was not good, so it has affected my performance,” Feyisa said. He missed two races in recent weeks as he prepared to return to Ethiopia. “I will resume my regular training after a week.”


Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

P2P Diaspora Healthcare Conference

(Photo from past conference courtesy of People to People, Inc.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 20th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Since its founding in 1999 People to People Inc. (P2P), a U.S.-based network of Ethiopian Diaspora healthcare professionals, has been the prime example of how “the Diaspora can be the bridge to transfer knowledge, technology and experience.”

This weekend in Arlington, Virginia P2P is hosting its 10th global conference on health care & medical education in Ethiopia. The theme of this year’s conference is “the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in Ethiopia.”

Speakers include Ethiopia’s new Minister of Health, Dr. Amir Aman. “Dr. Aman is a physician by training, and a dedicated public health official,” the announcement notes. “He has served as a medical practitioner for many years in rural Ethiopia. Prior to his current position, Dr. Aman served as the Director of Human Resources and Development Directorate, Plan and Policy. In addition, he played a major role as a Finance Director General of MOH.”

Below are additional featured speakers courtesy of the conference website:

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph. is the Provost of Howard University. He previously served in various roles at the University including as Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Assistant Provost for International Programs. Dr. Wutoh has also served as Director for the Center for Minority Health Services Research, and the Center of Excellence.

Anteneh Habte, MD

Dr. Anteneh Habte is currently serving as Chairman of People to People’s (P2P) Board of Directors. He is the Medical Director of the Community Living Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, WV and clinical faculty at both the West Virginia School of Medicine and the Lewisburg School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Anteneh is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and a certified educator of palliative and end-of-life care (EPEC). He coordinates People to People (P2P)’s effort to promote the training of medical personnel and provision of clinical services in hospice and palliative care in Ethiopia. Dr. Anteneh is one of the editors of a series of web-based modules in hospice and palliative care for Ethiopia prepared under the auspices of the Mayo Clinic Global HIV Initiative. He is also a contributor to P2P’s recently published ‘Triangular Partnership’ manuscript.

Asefa Mekonnnen, M.D., F.C.C.P

Dr. Mekonnen is a pulmonologist and sleep specialist currently practicing in Maryland. He attended Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia for medical school. He completed his internal medicine residency training at the University of Illinois, and pulmonary and critical care fellowship training at Northwestern University. He then pursued post-doctoral studies in Clinical and Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. His current focus is in the field of sleep medicine. Dr. Mekonnen is Founder and Director of the Premier Sleep Disorders Center, an AASM accredited center. He has managed and supervised more than 10,000 sleep studies. A frequent speaker in the area of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Disorders, he has delivered more than 100 invited lectures.

Ayalew Tefferi, M.D

Dr. Tefferi is a Professor of medicine, and world renowned hematologist currently practicing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He went to medical school at the University of Athens in Greece. He completed his internal medicine residency training at St. Joseph’s hospital in Chicago and hematology fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. His research involves clinical and laboratory research in myeloid disorders. He has had over 1000 publications in peer reviewed journals and serves as the associate or section editor for the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Leukemia, American Journal of Hematology, European Journal of Hematology, and Hematological Oncology. He is also in the editorial board of several other journals. Dr Tefferi has given more than 700 national and international invited lectureships and serves as faculty for the annual Hematology and Oncology Board review courses at George Washington University in Washington DC, Cancer Medicine and Hematology offered by Harvard institutes in Boston MA, and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston TX.

Bisrat Hailemeskel, MSc., Pharm.D., R.Ph.

Dr. Bisrat Hailemeskel is a full-time faculty at the rank of Associate Professor, Vice Chair, & Co-Director of International Grants in the College of Pharmacy, Howard University (HU). He received his B.Pharm, MSc (Addis Ababa University (AAU)), and Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (University of Toledo, Ohio). Dr. Hailemeskel was the recipient of 2007 -2008 Fulbright Scholarship as teacher/research fellow, a distinguished Award from the US Department of States, to teach and conduct research in Ethiopia. In 2010, he was also received the “Outstanding Faculty” Award from HU Alumni Association. As a principle Investigator, he has also received a multi-year grant for the “HU-AAU Twinning Partnership” project to promote pharmaceutical care education in Ethiopia from the American International Health Alliance and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Dr. Hailemeskel awarded to become a Fulbright Visiting Professor by the US State Department since 2014. Dr. Hailemeskel is well published with over 50 research papers

Dawd S. Siraj, M.D., MPH&TM, FIDSA

Dr. Dawd S. Siraj is a Professor of Medicine, and an infectious disease physician at the University of Wisconsin. He received his medical degree from Jimma University in Ethiopia. He completed his internal medicine residency training at St. Barnabas Hospital Bronx, NY. He subsequently completed an Infectious Diseases fellowship and a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana.. He currently serves as the Vice President and Board Member of Ethio- American Doctors Group, Inc and People to People (P2P). He has actively participated in numerous Infectious Diseases and HIV activities in Ethiopia.

Elias S. Siraj, M.D., Dr. Med., FACP, FACE

Dr Siraj is currently Professor and Chief of Division of Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Norfolk, VA. He is also David L. Bernd Distinguished Chair for Cardiovascular and Diabetes Research, Director of Strelitz Diabetes Center and Director of the EVMS-Sentara Cardiovascular Diabetes Center. Dr. Siraj started as a Faculty first at the Cleveland Clinic and later moved to Temple University in Philadelphia where for many years he carried various leadership roles including Director of Diabetes Program and Director of Endocrine Fellowship Program. Over the years, Dr. Siraj has been involved in Global Medicine activities and has been traveling to Ethiopia every year as a Visiting Professor, teaching residents, fellows and medical students as well as conducting collaborative clinical research projects. In collaboration with others, he was instrumental in successfully establishing the first Endocrine Fellowship training program in Ethiopia. In addition, Dr Siraj has served in various leadership roles at “People to People”, a US based NGO established by Ethiopian Physicians to support Ethiopian Healthcare and Medical Education. For his active role in Ethiopia, he received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award for the Promotion of Endocrine Health of an Underserved Population from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology in 2014.

Enawgaw Mehari, MD.

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is a Senior Neurologist at Kings Daughter Medical Center in Kentucky and founder of People to People USA (P2P). He founded P2P at the end of his residency training and has since expanded the services of P2P, including opening the People’s Free Clinic in Morehead, KY, in 2005 for the working poor who have no health insurance.

Jignesh Shah, M.D

Dr. Jignesh Shah is a cardiologist with sub-specialty training in cardiac electrophysiology from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His interests include arrhythmia care, pacemaker implant and cardiac ablations. Dr. Shah is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases and clinical cardiac electrophysiology. He is currently overseeing cardiology fellowship training in several medical schools in Ethiopia.

Melaku Demede M.D., MHSc, FACC, FSCAI

Dr. Melaku Demede graduated from AAU faculty of Medicine in 1995 and completed internship, residency and fellowship from SUNY Downstate Health Science Center Brooklyn, NY. Had done Post graduation from Victoria University of Manchester in MHSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Currently, He is Chief of Cardiology and Medical Director of Cardiac Cath Lab in ARH Beckley, WV. Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine West Virginia University School of Medicine, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine UK community Faculty, WVU DO School and Lincoln Memorial University School of Medicine. Board Certified in Intervention Cardiology, Cardiovascular Medicine, Internal Medicine, Echocardiography and Nuclear Cardiology.

Mulugeta Gebregziabher, M.D

Dr. Mulugeta Gebregziabher is Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Public Health Sciences at MUSC. His research expertise is in longitudinal data analysis, multiple outcomes research, and analysis of very large datasets from electronic medical records. He is secretary of ED-REAP (501(c3)) and has served as President of the Statistical Society of Ethiopians in North America and President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Statistical Association.

Henock G. Zabher, M.D., MPH, FACC, FSCAI

Dr. Henock G. Zabher is an associate Professor of Medicine/ Interventional Cardiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. He received his medical degree from Jimma University in Ethiopia. He subsequently obtained his Masters of Public health (MPH) from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He completed internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). He completed subspecialty training in Interventional Cardiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He is the First Cardiologist to perform percutaneous coronary intervention in Mekelle hospital, Ethiopia and help to initiate a coronary intervention services in the hospital.

Kebede H. Begna, M.D., Msc.

Dr. Kebede H. Begna an assistant professor and consultant haematologist, practicing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He received his medical degree from Gondar University in Ethiopia. . He finished internal medicine residency at St. Vincent Medical College, an affiliate of New York Medical College, where he was the Chief Resident. He completed hematology and medical oncology fellowship and obtained Masters in clinical research at the University of Minnesota, and later joined the Mayo Clinic, Division of Hematology in Rochester, Minnesota. He authored and co-authored many publications and book chapter. He currently serves on the board of Ethio-American Doctors Group, Inc.

Lekidelu Taddesse-Heath, MD

Dr. Taddesse-Heath is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Howard University Hospital and Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. She has led medical student missions to Gondar University Hospital, Ethiopia since 2013.

Lydia Tesfa, PhD

Dr. Lydia Tesfa is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is the Assistant Operations Director of Flow Cytometry and actively engages in research, education and health care. Dr. Lydia is a Board member of People to People (P2P) and has volunteered her expertise in several projects in Ethiopia.

Meraf Wolle, M.D

Dr. Meraf A. Wolle is an assistant Professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. She specializes in corneal and external disease, including cataracts, corneal transplants, and refractive surgery. Dr. Wolle received her M.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine and her M.P.H. degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Following an internship in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, she completed her residency in ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute. Dr. Wolle completed a fellowship in Cornea and External Diseases at the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor prior to joining the Wilmer faculty.

Salahadin Abdi, M.D., PhD

Dr. Salahadin Abdi, is a tenured Professor of Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine and Chair of Department of Pain Medicine at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. He completed medical school, his PhD in pharmacology/toxicology, and clinical residency in Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine at University of Münster Medical Center in Germany. After relocating to the United States, he then completed his residency training Anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. He is the author and/or co-author of more than 200 manuscripts and abstracts, book chapters and review articles. He is a reviewer for multiple journals. His primary research interests include stem cell and gene therapy for degenerative spine disease and chemotherapy induced painful peripheral neuropathy. His main clinical interest includes low back pain, complex regional pain syndrome, cancer pain, myofascial pain and whiplash injury.

Teferi Y. Mitiku, M.D., FACC

Dr. Mitiku earned his medical degree at UCLA, and he then completed his residency at Stanford University, followed by a fellowship in cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology at Yale New Haven Hospital. He has served as the Director of the Complex Ablation Program at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Currently he is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Director of Electrophysiology at University of California Irvine in Orange County, CA.

Tinsay A. Woreta, M.D., M.P.H

Dr. Tinsay A. Woreta is an assistant professor of medicine and a gastroenterologist/hepatologist at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine.. She received her medical degree, internal medicine residency, and gastroenterology/transplant hepatology fellowship from Johns Hopkins University. She specializes in acute and chronic liver diseases, and has authored many publications and book chapters.

Yonas E. Geda, M.D.

Dr. Yonas E. Geda is a Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry. He is a Consultant in the Department of Psychiatry & Psychology, and Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic. Following a formal search process, Dr. Geda was recently named Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion for all the 5 colleges/ schools at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Dr. Geda earned his doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree from Addis Ababa (Haile Selassie) University, and subsequently pursued his trainings in Psychiatry, Behavioral Neurology, and a Master’s of Science (MSc) degree in biomedical sciences at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His research examines the impact of lifestyle factors and neuropsychiatric symptoms on brain aging and mild cognitive impairment. He has published over 115 peer reviewed papers in major journals including in Neurology, JAMA Neurology, JAMA Psychiatry and American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Geda has several institutional, national and international leadership roles. He is a member of the Science Committee of the French Alzheimer’s research group (Groupe de Recherche sur la maladie d’Alzheimer; GRAL). He is the current chair of the award committee of the Neuropsychiatric syndromes professional interest area (PIA) of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). He is a recipient of many awards, including a medal from the City of Marseille, France in 2003, and from the City of La Ciotat, France in 2016 for his contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s research. As a resident, he won the prestigious Mayo Brother’s Distinguished Fellowship Award.

Keith Martin, M.D

Dr. Keith Martin is the founding Executive Director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) based in Washington, DC. The Consortium is a rapidly growing organization of over 170 academic institutions from around the world. It harnesses the capabilities of these institutions across research, education, advocacy and service to address global challenges. It is particularly focused on improving health outcomes for the global poor and strengthening academic global health programs. Dr. Martin is the author of more than 150 editorial pieces published in Canada’s major newspapers and has appeared frequently as a political and social commentator on television and radio. He is currently a board member of the Jane Goodall Institute, editorial board member for the Annals of Global Health and an advisor for the International Cancer Expert Corps. He has contributed to the Lancet Commission on the Global Surgery Deficit, is a current commissioner on the Lancet-ISMMS Commission on Pollution, Health and Development and is a member of the Global Sepsis Alliance.


If You Go:
P2P 10th annual Health Care and Medical Education conference
Saturday, October 20th, 2018
Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City
550 Army Navy Drive Arlington, VA 2220
www.p2pbridge.org

Related:
Watch: 2015 People to People (P2P) Conference Award Ceremony

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Spotlight: Solomon Kassa’s New Book ‘Girimte Scitech’

Solomon Kassa, author of 'Girimte Scitech,' will hold a book signing event in Arlington, VA on November 1st, 2018. (Photo: Solomon speaking at his book launch party at Sheraton Addis in Ethiopia on June 28th, 2018/Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 18th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Last year Solomon Mulugeta Kassa, host of TechTalk on Ethiopia Broadcasting Services (EBS), had shared with Tadias that he was putting the final touches on his new Amharic book focusing on science and technology. It covers “major science moments in history, its effect on the world and its relations to Ethiopia from the industrial revolution to the information age.” Solomon said.

The book, which is titled Girimte Scitech, was released this past summer with a successful book launch party at the Sheraton Addis in Ethiopia on June 28th.

This week Solomon announced a book signing event in Arlington, VA on November 1st along with guest speaker Samuel Alemayehu, Managing Director at Cambridge Industries.

On his EBS TV show Solomon, who works full time as a Senior Technology Consultant for Deloitte, presents fascinating guests including NASA scientist Dr. Brook Lakew, who is an Associate Director for Planning, Research and Development, Solar System Exploration Division at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as Ethiopian American scientist Sossina M. Haile who is Professor of Materials Science & Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University and one of the leading green energy researchers in the world.

Photos: Solomon Kassa’s Book launch at Sheraton Addis, June 28th, 2018:

In his interview with Tadias Solomon added. “The book also contains a reflection on the future. Where are we headed and what is our role? I am talking here about Africans in general and Ethiopians in particular. The fact of the matter is that we started civilization, but when it comes to modern technology we are still playing catch up.”


If You Go:
Book Signing and Happy Hour by Solomon Kassa
Thu, November 1, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
SPACES The Artisphere
1101 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209
Click here for more info

Related:
Tadias Interview With Solomon Kassa, Host of TechTalk on EBS

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Nate Araya’s Film ‘Growing Up In America’

The director of 'Sincerely, Ethiopia,' Nate Araya, is back with another movie series, this time exploring the state of mental health in the U.S. in his new film entitled 'Growing Up In America.' (Photo: Nate Araya)

Konbini

In 2011, budding filmmaker and Ethiopian-American, Nate Araya made waves when he tackled the public’s negative perceptions of his homeland, Ethiopia, by making a documentary — Sincerely, Ethiopia — that displayed a more positive portrayal of Ethiopian life and culture.

The documentary was released in 2013, and since then Nate has gone on to make many impactful documentaries, championing the realities of Africans in the diaspora.

His latest work, Growing Up In America is a travel-based documentary series exploring different parts of American cities, cultures and conversations surrounding the underrepresented communities in America.

Nate describes the series as a “purpose project”, saying:

“This project is an extension of my life work to become a solution to the problems I see within my culture and community today.

We can either complain about the problems or contribute towards a solution. This is small contribution. A purpose project.

[I hope] that it can become a voice for the silent issues we face and a light for the many solutions ahead.”

The first episode of the series focuses on mental health in minority communities. Nate visits a local barbershop in Austin, Texas to better understand the views of mental health from the minds of young game changers, artists and professionals.

The episode includes a featured interview from National Institute of Mental Health Psychiatric Nurse, Ledet Muleta, who discusses the state of mental health within the black, immigrant and first-generation community. The series is set to be released on Nate’s website and his YouTube page.

Watch the trailer for the first episode below:


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Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week

Sebeatu by designer Muse Legesse and Roots in Style by Tigist Seife. (courtesy of HAFW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – The 2018 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week took place in Ethiopia’s capital city last week. This year’s runway show, which was held on October 3rd at Millennium Hall, highlighted a diverse collection of local and international designers.

Below are photos courtesy of Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week:

Samra Leather by Samrawit Mersiehazen:

Ayni’s by Aynalem Ayele:

Roots in Style by Tigist Seife:

Precious design by Nasra Mustofa:

Meron Addis Ababa by Meron Seid:

Lali by Lemlem Haile Michael:

ZAAF by Abai Schulze:

Wuwi Couture by Egla Negusse:

Sebeatu by Muse Legesse:

Aleph Design by Meseret Teferra:

Yefikir by Fikerte Addis:

Tseday Design by Tseday Kebede:

Komtare by Dawit Ketema:

Kahindo (Democratic Republic of the Congo):

Basse (Senegal ):

ArtC (Morocco):

Alaoui M’hammdi Amina (Morocco):


Related:
2017 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week in Pictures
Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2016
Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2015
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

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Professor Lemma Senbet Focuses on Ethiopian Diaspora After Successfully Leading AERC

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park has returned to the United States after five years leading the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), based in Nairobi, Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 12th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – After a successful five-year term as the head of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) — a Kenya-based non-profit organization that conducts independent research concerning the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa – Professor Lemma W. Senbet, an internationally recognized leader in finance studies has returned to continue teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“I am now back in Washington from an incredibly satisfying five-year Africa journey in the service of the Motherland,” Professor Lemma told Tadias. Before leaving the U.S. to lead AERC Lemma had shared with us in an interview that he “will be embarking on strategies for full global integration of AERC and its visibility beyond Africa as an organization that is at the cutting edge of best policy research practices.”

In 2015 under his leadership AERC received the highest possible rating as the most transparent think tank in the world. According to a report released by Transparify AERC was one of 31 major centers of research worldwide, out of 169 examined, that was given a five-star rating. The list included several American policy research establishments such as the Center for Global Development, Pew Research Center, Stimson Center, Woodrow Wilson Center and the World Resources Institute.

Last year Dr. Lemma was also one of the presenters during a high–level panel held in Rome, Italy comprising of representatives and experts from the G7 and selected African think tanks. The conference “focused on Africa and addressed three key issues related to Agenda 2030: food security, innovation and mobility.”

Now back in the U.S. Professor Lemma shares that his next steps involve working with the recently formed Diaspora committee that will help to raise funds for Ethiopia. His background as an economist as well as his non-political, non-partisan and fact-based approach to complex issues will certainly bring a much-needed skill set to the group — which also includes several highly qualified individuals whose work we have previously featured in Tadias such as Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, retired United Nations official; Elias Wondimu, Publisher of Tsehai Publishers; Dr. Menna Demissie, Vice President of Police Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director of Black Rhino Group & Executive Advisory and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure; and Obang Metho, Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and a noted human rights activist.

In his departing speech to his colleagues at AERC, Professor Lemma told his audience that he will continue to advocate for Africa once he returns to the U.S. and he has already hit the ground running.

Watch: Closing Remarks – AERC Executive Director Prof Lemma Senbet


Related:
Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking
Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

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Meet the 19-year-old Tech Genius Coding at Ethiopia’s First AI Lab

Betelhem Dessie, 19, has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name - including an app developed for the Ethiopian government to map rivers used for irrigation. (CNN)

CNN

At 19-years-old, Betelhem Dessie is perhaps the youngest pioneer in Ethiopia’s fast emerging tech scene, sometimes referred to as ‘Sheba Valley’.

Dessie is coordinating a number of nationwide programs run by robotics lab iCog, the Addis Ababa based artificial intelligence (AI) lab that was involved in developing the world famous Sophia the robot.

She has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name – including an app developed for the Ethiopian government to map rivers used for irrigation.

And it all began when she was just 9.

She recalls: “On my 9th birthday I wanted to celebrate so I asked my father for money.” When her father said he didn’t have any to give her that day, Dessie took matters into her own hands.

Making use of the materials around her – her father sold electronics in their home city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia – Dessie started with small tasks such as video editing and sending music to customer’s cell phones.

“I got about 90 dollars – then I celebrated my birthday” she laughs, sitting in one of the robotics and coding rooms at iCog, Ethiopia’s first AI lab.
iCog launched in 2013 and Ethiopia’s tech industry is set to take off even faster this year following the liberalization of the country’s economy under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Read more »


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Ethiopia to Reform Repressive Laws

President Mulatu Teshome (left) hosting dinner for members of parliament on October 8th, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @fitsumaregaa)

Africa News

Ethiopia to Reform Judicial System, Amend Repressive Laws: President

Ethiopia will reform several laws that are widely perceived to having had a detrimental effect on human rights and democracy, according to a speech delivered by the country’s president Mulatu Teshome.

Fitsum Arega, the chief of staff in the prime minister’s office said the president tasked the country’s lawmakers as he outlined government’s plans for the next fiscal year on Monday.

‘‘The government will reform the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, the Charities and Societies Proclamation as well as various legislation having to do with the regulation of the media,’‘ Arega quoted the president on Twitter.

Discussions between government and opposition parties to amend provisions the controversial anti-terrorism law in May.

Human rights group have previously accused the state of using the law’s broad definitions against anyone who opposes government policies.

Human Rights Watch has previously said the law “grants authorities the power to prosecute journalists who publish articles about protest movements, armed opposition groups, or any other individuals deemed as terrorist or anti-peace”.

Read more »


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Ethiopian American Neurologist Enawgaw Mehari Bettering Health in Ethiopia

Neurologist Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is the founder and president of People to People. He works at King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Kentucky. Courtesy photo.

Daily Independent

KDMC neurologist bettering health in Ethiopia

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is devoted to improving the health of those in Africa.

The King’s Daughters Medical Center neurologist is the founder and president of a non-profit organization called People to People (P2P) that is dedicated to bettering healthcare and reducing the spread of diseases, particularly in Ethiopia and in diaspora communities.

“The key to this organization is serving as a bridge between Africa and the west,” said Mehari.

P2P’s projects are focused on strengthening health systems through partnerships with local hospitals and universities. The organization engages “the global Ethiopian diaspora in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap and address the country’s severe shortage of health and medical professionals,” according to its website, p2pbridge.org.

To help achieve this goal P2P hosts U.S.-based medical conferences and members will even make trips to Ethiopia as well.

Mehari has brought along KDMC physicians on these trips in the past, with oncologist/hematologist Galena Salem, M.D., joining him last year. Together, the two taught medical professionals and cared for patients.

This year’s conference will take place on Oct. 20 in Arlington, Va., marking the event’s 10th anniversary. The conference will hit many firsts for the organization, offering an in-person and online conference targeting “the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in Ethiopia.” It’s the first program presented as part of the newly formed Pan African Continuing Medical Education Network.

The conference will be streamed live on Facebook as well.

Read more »


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Pictures: Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show

Amsale Fall 2019 Collections debuted at Second, Eventi Hotel, in New York on October 5th, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 6th, 2018

In Pictures: Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show at New York Bridal Fashion Week

New York (TADIAS) — It’s Bridal Fashion Week in New York City and Amsale New York debuted three Fall 2019 collections during a runway event held at Eventi Hotel’s Second floor in Manhattan on Friday, October 5th. Amsale, which is one of the leading bridal fashion brands in the United States, was founded by the late Ethiopian American designer Amsale Aberra who passed away earlier this year.

The Fall 2019 runway presentation was designed by Margo Lafontaine who was selected by Amsale Aberra as her successor. “Lafontaine’s featured designs include the Fall 2019 collections of Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale and the re-launch of the Little White Dress Collection,” notes the event press release. “Lafontaine joined the Amsale design team in 2017 and spent precious months with the beloved late founder and creative director. She was most recently senior studio director of Vera Wang, where she worked for more than a decade.”

“Amsale was the creator of the modern wedding dress and as I help carry that legacy forward, I am threading her unmistakable Amsale aesthetic into each aspect of my designs” said Margo Lafontaine.

As Design Director at Amsale New York, Lafontaine describes the current collection as “designed with the Amsale bride in mind to celebrate and enhance each woman’s energy, personality, and her natural style.”

Below is a description of this season’s collections and photos from Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show at New York Bridal Fashion Week:

NOUVELLE AMSALE FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Inspired by the modern and effortless bride who understands fashion but stays true to her personal style, the Nouvelle Amsale Fall 2019 collection shows bold textural details in the form of graphic floral laces offset with delicate layers of tulle. Clean necklines are carefully detailed with sheer borders and trailing lace appliques. These effortlessly elegant gowns are designed to create endless versatility.

LITTLE WHITE DRESS FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Celebrating timeless Amsale silhouettes, the iconic Little White Dress collection is re-launching after its original debut in 2009, reimaging effortlessly elegant details for the modern bride for each occasion surrounding her wedding. Designed with sheer illusion overlays, draped bow detailing, graphic lace, and crisp tailored faille, these dresses underline the unmistakable Amsale aesthetic— classic but not ordinary.

AMSALE FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Designed to embody an understated take on old school glamour, the Amsale Fall 2019 collection reflects a mix of dramatic design and simple silhouettes to cater to every bride. Draped crepe sheaths are presented alongside handcrafted tulle and Lyon lace ball gowns. Working with the signature interplay of opacity and sheerness, striking necklines are featured in elegant fronts and backs with sculptural counterpoints of bow and draping details. Decorations remain subtle yet luxe with delicate hand-painting, tonal embroidery and hand-cut Lyon lace that lend a modern texture to the collection.


Related:
Special Tribute to Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Runway Show

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In New Jersey, Ethiopian Churches to Celebrate “Peace and Reconciliation Day”

Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia's fourth Patriarch, arrives in Addis Ababa after 27 years in exile on Wednesday August 1st, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — One of the major turning points signaling a new era of goodwill among Ethiopians worldwide came in late July this year when a peace and reconciliation agreement was announced that ended the nearly three-decade-old separation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia.

Shortly thereafter Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia’s fourth Patriarch, returned to his country on August 1st after 27 years in exile. He was welcomed home with a memorable state reception at Addis Ababa airport, which was televised live.

Members of several Ethiopian churches in New York and surrounding states are organizing a “Peace and Reconciliation Day” event this month on October 13th to celebrate this historic achievement in a day of prayer and thanksgiving at the Besrate Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in New Jersey.

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If You Go:
Peace and Reconciliation Day Celebration
Saturday, October 13th, 2018 from 9:00 am to 5 pm
Besrate Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church
1046 S. Orange Ave
Newark, New Jersey
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U.S. Embassy Welcomes Largest Ever Cohort of American Scholars to Support Education in Ethiopia

The group consisted of 13 Fulbright Scholars, 20 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, and 3 English Language Fellows. (Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Press Release

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor welcomed a group of over 35 American scholars to Ethiopia – the largest such group at any one time.

The group consisted of 13 Fulbright Scholars, 20 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, and 3 English Language Fellows.

The Ambassador said that by investing in expanding academic exchange programs between the United States and Ethiopia, “We’re investing in our educational institutions, providing an opportunity to share best practices and to work together to improve the quality of research and education.”

Together, the Fulbright Program and the Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program (ADSP) aim to bring American scholars to conduct research, support academic quality, teach, and collaborate with their Ethiopian colleagues. Both programs have expanded thanks to significant funding contributions from Ethiopian universities, representing the possibilities that come from joint cooperation.

The scholars represent a range of subject areas including anthropology, business, chemistry, computer science, education, engineering, environmental science, history, humanities, political science, public health, public administration and policy, sociology, and urban planning will be placed at the following universities: Addis Ababa University, Bahir Dar University, University of Gondar, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, Jimma University, and Mekelle University. The ADSP program is a pilot project that began with the University of Gondar and Bahir Dar University, but is slated to expand to additional locations in the next academic year based on the success of the pilot.

Ambassador Raynor emphasized “investing in Ethiopia’s education system remains one of the United States’ top priorities as part of our commitment to supporting the capacity of all Ethiopians to achieve the best possible future for themselves,” adding, “the most important investment of all is in our young people. Through these exchanges of people and ideas, we can offer a richer, higher quality educational experience for the next generation of scholars in both our countries. And we know that few investments will ever pay off as much as a good education.”


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Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2018

Photo from previous Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week. (courtesy of HAFW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – This week in Addis Ababa the annual Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week is taking place at Millennium Hall. This year’s runway show, which will be held on October 3rd, features the collection of 15 Ethiopian designers as well as international guest presenters hailing from Morocco, DRC and Kenya.

“As in past events, HAFW will also be hosting key industry players including international and regional buyers and media. Vogue Italia / Talents will keep their dedication to scouting talents during the event,” organizers shared in a press release. “HAFW 2018 is happy to be continuing its platform as a source for supporting and encouraging the fashion, textile, and manufacturing industries in Africa as a key part of the sustainable development of the continent.”

In addition, HAFW announced that it is collaborating with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) to connect experts with five young fashion designers whose work will also be showcased on October 4th, 2018 at the Italian Embassy.

The participating Ethiopian designers include Abai Schulze (ZAAF), Aynalem Ayele (Ayni’s), Dawit Ketema (Komtare), Egla Negusse (Wuwi Couture), Fikerte Addis (Yefiki), Lemlem Haile Michael (Lali), Meseret Teferra (Aleph Design), Muse Legesse (Sebeatu), Nasra Mustofa (Precious design), Samrawit Mersiehazen (Samra Leather), Tigist Seife (Roots in Style), Tigist Shiferaw (TG’SH), Tseday Kebede (Tseday Design), Yordanos Aberra (Yordi Design), Mahlet Afework (MAFI), Meron Seid (Meron Addis Ababa), as well as emerging designers Hiwot Solomon (BELLAHIWOT), Fozia Endrias (Fozia Endrias Clothing & Accessories) and Kunjina Tesfaye (Kunjina).


Related:
2017 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week in Pictures

Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2016
Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2015
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

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Q&A with Julie Mehretu – Brooklyn Rail

The following is an interview with Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehretu by The Brooklyn Rail magazine highlighting her current exhibition at Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge, England. (Portrait of Julie Mehretu, pencil on paper by Phong Bui)

The Brooklyn Rail

Updated: FEBRUARY 5TH, 2019

On the occasion of her current exhibition at Kettle’s Yard, Julie Mehretu spoke with me about her work from the past two decades. The images she has been creating during this time, in the form of paintings and drawings, consider the world we live in today through references to cities, architectural sites, geo-political events, and histories. She shows us an urban landscape that is dynamic and chaotic; constantly in motion. Simultaneously, Mehretu’s fascination with mark-making, and her commitment to drawing as an intuitive force, is vital to how she functions as an artist and to what she makes.

Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 to an Ethiopian father and an American mother. She grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, and now lives in New York. The following conversation took place over the course of a day in London, in October of last year, when an exhibition of Mehretu’s paintings was on display at White Cube.

Allie Biswas (Rail): I wanted to start by asking you about the role that drawing initially played in your work.

Julie Mehretu: When I started my MFA, I was making big, abstract oil paintings that looked gestural and expressionistic, even though I wasn’t interested in them looking like that. I would also include what I considered to be cultural indicators—things that might refer to an album or a part of a face, like a mask, for instance. Ultimately, they were super generic; I thought that I was making art, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was more like I was mimicking art, rather than really inventing something. A little later on, I began to think about my mark-making and realised that drawing was something that really generated my work and thinking.

Read more »


Related:
Julie Mehretu’s London Art Show at White Cube Mason’s Yard


Julie Mehretu makes large-scale, gestural paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. The exhibition highlights Mehretu’s use of gestural abstraction as a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry. (White Cube gallery)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 1st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — To observe close-up one of Julie Mehretu’s thought-provoking and spacious artworks is to immerse oneself in history as well as to reflect and examine some of the burning socio-political issues of the day. An exhibition of new work by Julie Mehretu that is currently on display at White Cube gallery in London precisely makes this point.

“Featuring large-scale paintings and etchings, the exhibition highlights Mehretu’s use of gestural abstraction as a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry,” the gallery said in a press release. “Glenn Ligon has described the artist’s work as ‘traversed by history [...] grounded in urgent political and social questions while simultaneously troubling the limits of abstract painting.’

Marking a continued departure from her earlier work which focused on a layered language of mapping and architectural detail, these paintings take the immediacy of a news photograph as their starting point. These include images of such recent pivotal junctures as the rallies of independence in Catalonia; the voracious wild fires of California; the violent white supremacy rally and counter rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; the instantaneous outbreak of Muslim ban protests throughout the United States; and the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Julie, who is one of the most significant American artists of our time, was born in Ethiopia in 1970 and now lives in New York. She was a MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Fellow in 2005, and has subsequently won the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). In 2017 The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art commissioned Julie to complete an installation in their lobby. She also serves as a trustee of the American Academy in Berlin.

Julie’s current work at White Cube Mason’s Yard — which will be on display through November 3rd, 2018 — is: “Less structured than previous work and characterized by their intensely animated and vital surfaces,” notes the exhibit announcement. “Mehretu’s paintings suggest a suspended moment ripe with possibility, defining what Suzanne Cotter has identified as a ‘mobility’ inherent in her painterly language. Part of a continual state of becoming, where marks reliant on effacement and erasure relate to action, they allow for new thematic possibilities.. Urging the viewer to look, question and take time, Mehretu ignites the potential of painting to carry political significance, serving as an energising and motivational force that draws vital nerves and narrative lines with both the history of modernist abstraction as well as that of engaged political thought.”


If You Go:
Julie Mehretu SEXTANT
Show ends on November 3rd 2018
White Cube Mason’s Yard
25 – 26 Mason’s Yard
London SW1Y 6BU
www.whitecube.com/

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Hyatt to Open Its First Hotel in Ethiopia

Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa plans to open by the end of the year. (Photo courtesy: Hyatt.com)

Bloomberg

Hyatt Hotels Corp. plans to open its first hotel in Ethiopia by the end of the year as it seeks to double its African portfolio to tap growing visits by both African and Chinese travelers.

The property in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, will be followed by Hyatt’s first hotels in Algeria and Senegal in early 2019 and in Kenya the year after, according to Kurt Straub, the company’s vice president for the Middle East and Africa. Hyatt in October said it would invest an estimated $200 million in new hotels on the continent.
“Things are opening up in Ethiopia, it’s very exciting what’s going on there,” Straub said in an interview in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, referring to Ethiopia’s recent pledge to loosen control of the state-planned economy and invite more foreign investment. “It’s much easier now that it’s open, there’s a path.”

Hyatt will operate the Ethiopian hotel through a management contract with U.K.-based ASB Development Ltd., which already has business there, according to Straub. Hyatt is also looking into opening outlets in the Ethiopian cities of Awasa and Mekelle, he said.
Hyatt, whose portfolio on the continent includes hotels in Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Tanzania, is open to franchising opportunities, Straub said. It also sees major opportunities from a growing Chinese market and intra-African travel, according to Tejas Shah, the company’s regional vice president for sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more »

Learn more about Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa by visiting the website.

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Ethiopia’s Democratic Awakening

(Photograph: by Tom Gardner)

The Guardian

‘Abiy Ahmed is our miracle’: Ethiopia’s democratic awakening

Something extraordinary is happening in Ethiopia. Under new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, authoritarianism and state brutality appear to be giving way to something resembling democracy. A country that began the year crippled by anti-government protests is now being lauded as a model for the region. One of Africa’s most autocratic ruling parties, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is today led by a man who professes to believe deeply in freedom of expression.

In the capital, Addis Ababa, huge crowds have been welcoming home exiled dissidents. Residents who once feared speaking publicly about politics now talk of little else. Flags and symbols long banned by the EPRDF blossom across the city.

But it is also a time of deep anxiety. The unprecedented loosening of state control has been accompanied by an upsurge in ethnic violence and widespread lawlessness. Hate speech thrives on social media. Groups with starkly contrasting visions for the country have clashed on the streets of the capital. On 19 September the government began its first clampdown, arresting thousands of people suspected of orchestrating violence. “Abiymania”, as it has become known, may not last forever.

In Addis Ababa the face of Abiy Ahmed is almost ubiquitous, emblazoned on stickers, posters, T-shirts and books. Some of his most enthusiastic supporters liken him to a prophet. “Without Abiy we would be doing nothing,” says Asrat Abere, a taxi driver and father of two. “If he had time he could change everything.

Some worry that “Abiymania” is a personality cult; others liken it to the sort of adoration that has often followed Ethiopian leaders, including the former emperor, Haile Selassie.

“There’s an inclination in the Ethiopian population to have more faith in charismatic leaders than in political parties or institutions,” says Goitum Gebreluel, an Ethiopian researcher at Cambridge University. “Abiy has been able to cultivate that cleverly.”

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Hundreds Arrested in Ethiopia After Violence Around Capital

The town of Burayu, which is located on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, was the scene of a recent ethnic-based violence that claimed several dozen lives and displaced thousands of people. (Photo: @fanatelevision)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian security official has confirmed the arrests of hundreds of youths in the capital, Addis Ababa, following violence within the city and in nearby towns last week in which several dozen people were killed.

The announcement on Monday came following widespread calls on social media by citizens of the East African country to disclose the reason why the arrests were made.

“We arrested several people following the violence but most of them were released shortly after provided with advice. If we were to keep them all, our prisons wouldn’t be able to handle them,” said Degife Bedi, a police official with the Addis Ababa Police Commission. “28 people lost their lives in the violence in Addis Ababa alone. Most of them lost their lives after beatings with stones and sticks. Other seven people lost their lives due to actions taken by security forces.”

According to the official, more than 1,200 individuals who were “directly involved” in the violence in the capital have been sent to a military camp to be “rehabilitated” and 107 others will face criminal charges.

“An additional 2,000 people were detained inside hookah-serving houses, gambling shops and khat-chewing stores,” the police head said, adding that most were later released.

A week of violence erupted in Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas beginning from September 12 following disagreements between youths from the capital and its surrounding Oromia region over the use of different flags. On September 15, several people were killed in the Oromia region’s towns of Burayu and Ashewa Meda which victims blamed on youths from the same region.

City officials said 26 people lost their lives and close to 15,000 were displaced in the attacks in the capital’s outskirts but hospital sources told The Associated Press that at least 70 people were killed in the attacks that were mainly carried out on ethnic-lines.

Ethiopia’s new leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, hails from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest. Various attacks based on ethnic rivalries are mushrooming across the country and are his biggest challenges to date.

Ethnic-based conflicts that are mainly driven by competition for land and resources are not new to Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups, but the escalation of the current conflicts is alarming many. Some fear it may derail the reforms made by Abiy since he came to power in April.


Related:

Ethiopia’s Stunning Reforms Now Challenged by Deadly Unrest (AP)

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Meet Sinna Habteselassie: First Black Woman Elected as University Of Cincinnati Student Body President

As the child of Ethiopian immigrants who migrated to the United States during the mid 1980s, Sinna Habteselassie's family settled just south of Dayton, Ohio in Centerville where she was born and raised. Sinna recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. (Photo: UC Creative Services)

BOTWC

Senior neuroscience and organizational leadership double major, Sinna Habteselassie, recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. In UC’s 199-year history, Habteselassie became the first African American woman student to be elected to serve in the role.

After some persuasion from friends and mentors and ultimately turning down an internship opportunity, Habteselassie decided to run for the coveted role. She soon realized that her significant fear of speaking in public would soon be challenged as she blazed the campaign trail. “I said, ‘I have the ability to do it. I can do it,’” she shared with UC News. “We’re not doing enough to make sure marginalized people have a seat at the table. Hopefully, my presence will encourage other people to participate.”

Her recent victory continues to do just that as she uses her platform to speak out about issues such as mental health advocacy and maintaining college affordability to lower student debt rates.

“There was a lot of pressure and significance knowing she would be the first Black woman to hold this position. But the fact that she talks so openly about her identity and how that influences how she wants to lead sets a different kind of precedent. She doesn’t shy away from her identity,” shared Program Coordinator in UC’s Office of Ethnic Programs & Services and mentor to Habteselassie, Peyton Wu.


Photo credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services

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Ethiopia’s Stunning Reforms Now Challenged by Deadly Unrest

Thousands of protestors from the capital and those displaced by ethnic-based violence over the weekend in Burayu, demonstrate to demand justice from the government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopia’s stunning political reforms are now threatened by long-standing ethnic tensions that have roared back to life since a young prime minister took power just five months ago and promised greater freedoms.

While exiled groups once banned as terror organizations are welcomed home to join political dialogue, deadly violence erupts on the fringes of celebrations. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered peacefully in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square to cheer one group’s return. Two days later, police fired tear gas there to disperse people protesting killings blamed by some on youth from the same ethnicity.

Suddenly, the government of 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears to be reaching for security tactics whose unpopularity helped to bring down the previous government, while some Ethiopians who cheered Abiy’s reforms now accuse him of being soft on the unrest that poses his biggest challenge so far.

The internet winked off this week across the capital, a once-common act to control dissenting voices. The National Security Council has vowed “all necessary measures” against those spreading anarchy, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported. Some have even called for the return of the state of emergency that Abiy lifted in one of his first acts in office.

The prime minister himself, who shocked the country with a dizzying series of reforms that included freeing imprisoned opposition figures and vowing free and fair elections in 2020, has made warning sounds against the unrest.

“There’s nothing more shameful than a group of people committing these types of crimes against their fellow citizens,” Abiy said Tuesday while visiting a camp for those displaced by the latest violence.

Stability is crucial in a country whose fast-growing economy, 100 million-strong population and security ties make it the powerhouse of the turbulent but strategic Horn of Africa region.

Ethnic-based conflicts mainly over scarce resources are common in Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups, but now the communal violence is spiraling at a scale that alarms many.

“If this trend continues, I fear a time will come soon when Ethiopians yearn for the old dictatorial times,” Mussie Tefera, a university student, told The Associated Press.

Ethiopia since 1991 has been led by a ruling coalition and allied parties that hold every seat in Parliament and for years were accused by human rights groups of suppressing critical voices. That grip on power slipped after anti-government protests that began in late 2015 in the Oromia and Amhara regions, home of the country’s two largest ethnic groups.

Abiy’s arrival in power was a surprise. He is the first prime minister from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. As the son of a Muslim father and Orthodox Christian mother who converted to Islam he has spoken out for tolerance. On an exuberant tour of the United States that drew large crowds, he spoke to Ethiopian communities and invited emotional exiles long wary of the government to return.

His appeals to peace and openness, however, have not healed long-standing ethnic fractures between groups such as the Oromo and the Somalis. Some disputes have worsened. The number of the country’s internally displaced people has reached 2.8 million, up from 1.6 million at the beginning of the year, according to the United Nations.

For some, the surge in unrest comes with the recent shifts in power.

“Local cadres and officials are instigating this violence for a petty political gain,” Ethiopia’s disaster prevention chief, Mitiku Kassa, told The Associated Press after fighting between the Oromo and others in the Gedeo and West Guji zones.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Embassy was among those issuing safety warnings amid the violence on the outskirts of the capital as many Ethiopians expressed outrage over the alleged targeting of people based on ethnic identity. More than 20 people were killed.

“We demand justice,” some protesters chanted as they passed by the prime minister’s office on Monday en route to Meskel Square. By the end of the day, mobile internet service across Addis Ababa was blocked as citizens and Amnesty International pointed out hate speech against non-Oromo groups on social media. Internet service returned on Wednesday.

While some accuse “paid agents” of trying to paint a bad image of Oromo youth emboldened by Abiy’s rise to power, others suggest some unrest is being orchestrated by groups in the ruling coalition that lost power when he took office.

Any internal frictions could be exposed when the ruling coalition holds its congress early next month, when it is expected to take steps to implement Abiy’s whirlwind political and economic reforms.

“In a system where party and state have long been indistinguishable, the (coalition’s) fragmentation would be a dangerous thing,” Michael Woldemariam, assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, wrote this month in Foreign Affairs.

Ethiopians have long expressed grievances over the country’s federal structure that is largely based on ethnic lines and has been held together by the ruling coalition and its security forces.

“If the federal structure is implemented properly, it is fine,” said Berhanu Nega, whose Patriotic Ginbot 7 opposition group had been listed by Ethiopia as a terror group alongside the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab before being welcomed home from exile by the new government. “But what we have now here is a structure based mainly on ethnic identities and hence creating all these problems.”

Abiy’s administration is failing to guarantee law and order, said Awol Kassim Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University School of Law in Britain.

“At this defining moment for this country and its people, the state needs a commander-in-chief that stirs the ship out of the storm,” he said. “If we fail to defend this moment of ours and support this understandably challenging transition, we will all lose a great deal.”


Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Ethiopian Teenager Sara Gebretsadik Earns One Of Colorados Highest Honors

College student Sara Gebretsadik with her parents. (Family photo)

CBS4

DENVER – She just starting college and is only 19 years old, but Sara Gebretsadik has done enough to catch the eye of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gebretsadik was announced Wednesday as a recipient of the Emerging Community Leader for the Governor’s Citizenship Medal.

“I’m proud of myself. Yes! I did all those things,” Gebretsadik said as she read the list of her accomplishments the state had compiled.

She immigrated at the age of 10. She’s volunteered for the Special Olympics and Denver Club of Humanities. She’s mentored kids through the Black Student Alliance and other organizations.

“Rising Rebels is definitely my favorite accomplishment because it was very close and dear to heart. The club was dedicated to increasing people of color in higher-level courses,” she said.

It’s now been recognized nationally.

Gebretsadik had only been on campus at CU Boulder for a few days when she got an unexpected phone call.

“I answered it and it’s the governor, and I thought I was getting pranked. I was just awestruck. I was super honored. He said I was a key component in trying to make a better change for Colorado in terms of my involvement through community service,” she said.

The governor’s office says medals are awarded to citizens, “To recognize the remarkable leaders in Colorado for their impact on their community, and to honor their legacy.”

“I don’t know what my legacy is, I just got into college. I’m trying to figure out my life,” she said. “Definitely I hope to inspire people to do more good.”


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New Film ‘Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul’ Makes North American Premiere

'Ethiopiques – Revolt of the Soul' documentary film. (Image: IDFA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul is a new documentary that captures the exquisite sounds of the Ethiopian classics now preserved in 30 volumes of the internationally acclaimed Ethiopiques CD collection featuring some of nation’s best known musicians.

The film is set to make its North American premiere at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City next month.

“The jazz-funk music that came out of Addis Ababa in the 1960s and 70s was complex, fun, original, and nearly lost to the world,” notes the announcement from the Museum. “Meet the Ethiopian artists who forged this beautiful new sound and feel the passion that has gone into keeping that sound alive.”

Indeed if it was not for Producer Amha Eshete, the founder of Amha Records — the first Ethiopian record label launched in the late 60s and producing more than a dozen albums and some 120 singles with legendary Ethiopian musicians — and French Music Journalist Francis Falceto, the person behind the Ethiopiques series, who tracked down Amha years later living in exile, chances are more likely that this rich and historic Ethiopian treasure would have vanished forever.

According to the movie synopsis: “In addition to Falceto and Eshete we hear from various Ethiopian musicians, including Girma Beyene, who was the pianist and arranger for the Walias Band.” The film also incorporates animation “and finishes with Beyene’s comeback, including live performances and recordings for ‘Mistakes on Purpose,’ the 30th CD in the series.”


Ethiopiques, Revolt of the Soul. With live performance of Girma Bèyènè. (Photo via Twitter @MicroBioWil)

Watch: Girma Beyene live in Paris with French band Akale Wube — 2015


If You Go:
Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul North American Premiere
American Museum of Natural History
Friday, October 19, 2018 at 9 pm
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Entrance: 77th Street
Click here to buy tickets

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Artist Tariku Shiferaw at Whitney Museum of American Art ISP

Tariku Shiferaw. (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — When we first featured Tariku Shiferaw as an emerging artist two and half years ago he had just completed his graduate studies in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City and was participating in a group exhibition entitled Introductions 2016 at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn.

Since then Tariku, who was born in Addis Ababa and raised in Los Angeles, has held several exhibitions including his first international show at Addis Fine Art’s (AFA) London project space last year. The exhibition entitled Erase Me was featured at AFA’s inaugural event at their U.K. location.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tariku is now part of the Whitney Museum of Art Independent Study Program this Fall. Each year the Whitney Museum of American Art — the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States — chooses fifteen up-and-coming artists to take part in their Studio Program. According to the museum “the program begins in early September and concludes at the end of the following May. Many of the participants are enrolled at universities and art schools and receive academic credit for their participation, while others have recently completed their formal studies.”

“The Whitney ISP provides me an opportunity to extend my education through discussions and debates with influential artists, art historians, and cultural critics,” Tariku said. “I am also partaking in The Drawing Center’s Open Sessions program (2018-2020), which already started in May. Open Sessions is a two-year program open to artists working in a variety of disciplines.”

In addition, Tariku is featured in two upcoming group exhibitions: If I Go There, I Won’t Stay There opening September 22, 6-8pm at ltd Los Angeles and To Dream Avant-Garde, curated by Alteronce Gumby, Sept. 28 – Nov. 4, at Hammond Harkins Galleries in Columbus, OH.

“Often, I use a range of gray painterly gestures as ground to the geometric forms, which metaphorically refers to the gray space between meanings,” he told Tadias during our first interview. “The dialectical relationships between painterly gestures and geometric forms create the necessary complexity to inspire deep thoughts on these simple shapes and color, and the possible interpretations.”


If You Go:
Tariku Shiferaw will be at the opening reception in Los Angeles, please stop by if you’re in town. The exhibition runs from September 22 – November 3.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy New Year! Enkutatash Comes Amid Momentous Change in Ethiopia

(Photo: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church recognized Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zenash Tayachew with a special award for bringing peace and reconciliation to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region in Addis Ababa on Sunday, September 9, 2018/Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week Ethiopians celebrate enkutatash (Ethiopian new year) amid a momentous internal transformation that has captivated the imagination of the world.

In a little more than than 150 days under the new leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia has implemented one historic reform after another that’s indeed worth celebrating.

From releasing political prisoners and welcoming home fellow Ethiopians from exile to making peace with neighboring Eritrea as well as with the exiled Ethiopian Orthodox church, and promising to hold free and fair election in 2020, this has been a year for the ages.

More importantly, as we speak the country is revising some of its worst draconian laws — such as the Charities & Societies proclamation, the Anti-Terrorism proclamation, and the media law– that in the past were employed as tools to suppress freedom of expression and association.

In the latest positive development that’s capturing international headlines former Mayor-elect of Addis Ababa and opposition leader, Berhanu Nega, became the latest high profile individual to return to Ethiopia after more than a decade in exile. Per AFP: “Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned with scores of other senior members of the group, after reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the group from a list of “terrorist” organisations in July.”

And on the same day the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church gave a well-deserved special award to PM Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zenash Tayachew for their role in helping to bring peace and reconciliation to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region. The state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reports: “Prime Minister on the occasion said “the award belongs to all who fought selflessly and prayed for this change to happen,” according to Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office.”

“Ethiopia is a rarity in Africa,” declared the website Stratfor, which is known for its timely and informative geopolitical analysis, in a recent assessment focusing on current affairs of Ethiopia. “It has existed in a coherent form for more than 2,000 years and largely escaped European colonization. The country’s lineage — tracing back to the kingdom of Aksum in the first century — makes it stand out among its neighbors, and its advantageous location between the ancient trade routes of Rome and India makes it stand out on a map.” The analysis added: “The country’s recent push for reform and desire for strategic partnerships in the Horn of Africa provides a timely reason to explore Ethiopia’s geopolitical environment.”

Regarding “the Abiy Factor,” Stratfor rightly points out that “Abiy is a new kind of Ethiopian leader: He is young compared to his predecessors, at 42 years old; [and] Abiy is reaching out to different ethnic groups, ending draconian security measures, and promising free and fair elections in the years ahead.”

If successful we may once again become a role model for the rest of Africa and beyond.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year!


Related:
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa: Ambassador Mike New Year Message
PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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Incredible 12-Year-Old Dancer Tsehay Hawkins Featured on “Little Big Shots” TV

Tsehay Hawkins won the Australian Amateur Latin Dance Competition in 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Robyn Hawkins)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Tsehay Hawkins loves to dance and has been taking classes since she was 2 years old. Adopted from Ethiopia by an Australian family when she was 8 months old, Tsehay recently shared her passion for many types of dance including Ethiopian, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Latin and Tap with the host of Australia’s Little Big Shots TV series earlier this month.

Last year she won the Australian Latin Dance Championships in the Samba Soloist Youth category.

“She is extremely proud of being Ethiopian. She has never forgotten her birth country,” her parents told Tadias.

Below is a clip of Tsehay Hawkins on Little Big Shots:


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San Jose, California Honors Ethiopian Community with New Year Flag-Raising Ceremony

The Mayor of San Jose, California Sam Liccardo. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

September 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Every September for the last fourteen years, rain or shine, the city of San Jose in California has formally honored the heritage of its vibrant Ethiopian American residents with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall in recognition of the Ethiopian new year festival.

The tradition continues this year in the presence of the city’s Mayor, Vice Mayor as well as City Council members and other officials who are expected to attend the annual commemoration on September 10th.

According to the organizer of the annual celebration, the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), the “ceremony will be followed by a week-long celebration of the Ethiopian New Year with cultural dances and festivities. Throughout the week, individuals who have made significant contributions to the Ethiopian-American community will be recognized for their service.”

In addition, EAC announced that this year’s event will also celebrate the recent peace and reconciliation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The churches were reunited this summer after almost three decades of separation.

“Let us use the occasion to celebrate and honor the reunification of the two synods, of one of the world’s oldest Christian churches, and to celebrate the political change in Ethiopia,” EAC stated.


If You Go:
Monday, Sep 10th at 5:00 PM
Jose City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San José, CA

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Tefere Gebre’s American Journey: From Refugee Camp to Labor Leader

Tefere Gebre is executive vice president of the AFL-CIO—the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest labor union in the world, representing over 12 million Americans. Gebre is the first refugee elected as a national officer of the organization. (Photo: Courtesy AFL-CIO)

International Rescue Committee

Ethiopian refugee Tefere Gebre was just 15 years old when he arrived in the United States—starting over in a new world alone, without any family by his side.

Over 30 years later, he is executive vice president of the AFL-CIO—the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest labor union in the world, representing over 12 million Americans. Gebre is the first refugee elected as a national officer of the organization.

Gebre was still a boy when he was forced to flee Ethiopia, a country that suffered political turmoil and famine during the 1980s. “People were getting murdered on the streets by the government,” Gebre says. “They were just grabbing kids and torturing them if they were suspected of being an anarchist or aiding the opposition. That’s when I knew I had to find a way to get out.”


Photo of Tefere Gebre at age 3. Gebre as a child in Ethiopia: “Refugees leave with nothing,” he says. “But I somehow I found one photo from when I was three years old.” Tefere Gebre first joined a union while working a night job loading UPS trucks in college. In 2013 he became the first refugee elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO. (Photo: Courtesy AFL-CIO Photo: Courtesy Tefere Gebre)

In 1982, Gebre and four friends managed to escape to a refugee camp in neighboring Sudan, walking through the desert for 93 days. There they applied to enter the U.S. through the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNCHR), taking several written and oral exams in the vetting process.

“When the UNCHR announces who has been accepted to resettle to the U.S., they post the names outside their office,” says Gebre, recalling the jostling crowd pressing against him as he searched the list. “That was like another birth for me, when I saw my name there.” His four friends did not make the cut.

But Gebre didn’t have any family members in America, and he needed a sponsor to support his relocation. His mother remained in Ethiopia. His brother, who had lived in the U.S., had died in a car accident.

That’s when the International Rescue Committee stepped in to help. Currently operating in 27 U.S. cities, the IRC supports newly arrived refugees by providing immediate aid, including food, housing and medical attention.

“I was received in New York by an IRC staff member,” Gebre says. “Then they put me on a plane to Los Angeles and an Ethiopian man who worked at the IRC met me at the airport.”

IRC staff members helped Gebre and three other Ethiopian refugees apply for driver’s licenses, fill out I-9 forms for employment, and complete tuberculosis tests. They helped them move into an apartment (which the IRC sponsors until new arrivals find work), and took them to apply for public benefits. Later, the IRC acted as Gebre’s guardian so he could enroll in L.A.’s Belmont High School.

“There was no way anybody of my status could survive all of that without the IRC being there,” Gebre says.

The IRC continued to act as a lifeline for Gebre in coming years, helping him reconnect with his family in Ethiopia. “I sponsored my mom to come to the U.S.,” he says, “and I did that through the IRC.”

Gebre went on to attend California State Polytechnic University on a scholarship. During his sophomore year, he took a night job loading UPS trucks so he could send money to friends still in Sudan. There he joined his first union—the Teamsters —another turning point in his life.

“The fact that someone was looking after me, that there were real work rules—that I knew what my responsibilities were and what my company’s responsibilities were—I thought everybody should have that,” Gebre says. “Ever since, I have really committed myself to advancing that cause.”

While attending graduate school at the University of Southern California, Gebre became a legislative aide for Willie Brown Jr., speaker of the California State Assembly. He then embraced an even bigger challenge—to become the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation.

“I did that because Orange County is the most conservative part of the state,” he says. “As a skinny Ethiopian refugee, I wanted to prove myself by organizing Orange County. And I did.”

Read more »


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In Canada Bikila Award Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Mulatu Astatke accepting the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award in Toronto, Canada in 2017. (Photo courtesy: Bikila Award, Inc.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 31st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — What do Mulatu Astatke, The Weeknd, Miruts Yifter and the Pankhurst family have in common? They are all recipients of the Bikila Award.

Named after the legendary Olympian marathoner Abebe Bikila the annual award ceremony organized by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Toronto, Canada showcases inspiring achievements of the Ethiopian community from the arts to academia and sports.

The 2018 Bikila Award celebration and dinner will be held on Saturday, September 22nd at Chestnut Residence and Conference Center in Toronto.

Celebrating its fifth year the Bikila Award ceremony “has become one of the most anticipated events in the African-Canadian community calendar,” organizers said in a press release. The event “draws hundreds of attendees from within and outside of the Ethiopian-Canadian community.”

This year the winner of the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award is philologist and world-renowned scholar of the Ge’ez language Professor Getatchew Haile. In addition, the Bikila Award will honor Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Founder of the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula hospital with the Medical & Humanitarian Services Award, as well as Dr. Siegbert Uhlig a distinguished Professor Emeritus of African and Ethiopian Studies at Hamburg University in Germany who will receive the Professional Excellence Award. Professor Uhlig founded the Journal of Aethiopica, and as Editor-in-Chief launched five volumes of Encyclopaedia Aethiopica focusing on Ethiopian studies and involving contributions from hundreds of scholars hailing from approximately 30 countries.

Other 2018 honorees include Bethlehem Tilahun, Founder of soleRebels (Business Excellence Award); Professor Tessema Astatke (Professional Excellence Award) in recognition of his primary research areas that designed linear and nonlinear regression and nonlinear time series modeling; and Benyam Belete (Community Service Excellence Award) as founder of Mekedonia, a philanthropic organization in Addis Ababa that provides services for elderly and mentally disabled individuals.

The Academic Excellence & Scholarship Award goes to students Ednah Negatu, Semir Bulle, Zatty Tameru and Caleb Jara.

Professor Mammo Muchie, a renowned Pan Africanist, currently a Professor of Innovation Studies at the Institute of Economics Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa is the keynote speaker. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Adama Science and Technology University, Addis Ababa University, University of Gondar and Arsi University in Ethiopia.

The 2018 honorary guest speaker will be journalist, novelist and playwright Jeff Pearce who is the author of Prevail – a book about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Pearce connected with survivors of the Italo-Ethiopian War in the 1930s and 40s and discovered additional records of Britain’s role from the London archives. Prevail is now being adapted into a documentary feature film.


If You Go:
The 2018 Bikila Award Celebration and Dinner
Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 6:00 PM
Chestnut Residence and Conference Center,
89 Chestnut Street,
Toronto, Canada
www.bikilaaward.org

Related:
Photos from past Bikila Award Ceremonies:


Previous winners of the Bikila award include Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopian-Canadian pop music superstar Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), Miruts Yifter, one of the greatest middle distance runners of all-time who died in 2016 at the age of 72, as well as Dr. Taffara Deguefe and the Pankhurst Family who were honored two years ago with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. (Courtesy photographs)

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Social Media, Disinformation and Press Reform in Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking at his first press conference on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 in Addis Ababa. (Reuters photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Just like the underground pamphleteers and newspaper editors during the American revolution, independent journalists and social media activists — some of whom were imprisoned or exiled for many years — played a fundamental role in the longstanding movement for change in Ethiopia that recently culminated with the historic inauguration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on April 2nd, 2018.

In one of his first and most memorable acts as the new leader of Ethiopia Dr. Abiy moved swiftly to free jailed reports, bloggers, opposition members and invited those who were exiled to return home. He also unblocked websites run by opposition groups and granted pardons to owners who were charged under the country’s draconian anti-terror legislation that in the past was primarily used to stifle dissent.

Independent Journalism Driven Out

“Critical media was being decimated one way or another, and journalists were leaving the country,” says Tsedale Lemma, the Editor-in-Chief of Addis Standard. “We became at some point, the second-largest country producing journalist asylum seekers.”

Tsedale’s reflection was part of a recent and timely article titled “How Social Media Shaped Calls for Political Change in Ethiopia,” focusing on the new era and “the hopes for ethnic unity, democracy, freedom of speech and media reform,” which was published by Al Jazeera this month. The piece points out that Ethiopia’s “newfound hope was no coincidence; it was the culmination of hard-fought political activism that had forced change upon the authoritarian nation.”

“You cannot imagine this change without social media,” Al Jazeera quotes Jawar Mohammed, the founder of Oromo Media Network (OMN). Jawar is one of several activists who answered PM Abiy’s call and returned to Ethiopia this summer after 13 years in exile in the United States. In another interview with The Guardian Jawar added: “We used social media and formal media so effectively that the state was completely overwhelmed. The only option they had was to face reform or accept full revolution.”

Disinformation on Social Media

Unfortunately, despite Dr. Abiy’s groundbreaking leadership and the good will from the general public, some detractors are misusing social media to spread disinformation, propaganda and hate speech to divide people, sow distrust and incite ethnic-based animosity. Abiy himself admitted in a recent televised comment that rumors and disinformation were largely to blame for the recent ethnically motivated mob violence in several cities particularly in South Eastern Ethiopia leading to a partial Internet shutdown.

According to Reuters: “A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions. The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April.”

This past weekend in his first press conference since taking office Dr. Abiy addressed this issue and emphasized his vision to hold a “free and fair election” in 2020. Elias Meseret at Associated Press quotes PM Abiy Ahmed as stating: “My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. He continued: “there are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country. They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”

PM Abiy Ahmed likewise discussed concerns about the practice of shutting down Internet in Ethiopia following unrests, which was routinely implemented by the previous EPRDF leadership. Per the Associated Press: “Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives. “But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, and urged youth to use it responsibly.”

Moving Forward

It is also worth considering that, from our perspective as journalists, in the long-term the most democratic way to sustain the rule of law and counter the dissemination of unverified news via social media is to strengthen, expand, empower and protect independent, professional and private media infrastructure, which has been severely suppressed. Private media groups should be free of government interference as well as be more representative of the population and not just opposition media.

Last week the 13-member justice reform advisory council, which is tasked to revise the country’s most repressive anti-civil society proclamations, held a public meeting in Addis Ababa engaging stake holders including activists and journalists, some of whom had been victims of these laws, according to Human Rights Watch. “The working groups will conduct consultations and propose amendments – reportedly within 3 months, in time for parliament’s return from recess.”

In the Al Jazeera feature journalist Eskinder Nega who was released a few months ago after six years in prison echoes Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers and the main author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, who went on to serve as the third president of the United States is remembered for eloquently expressing that he’d rather have newspapers without a country than a country without newspapers.

“If Abiy Ahmed does not deliver the promise of democracy, then we’ll be back to social media,” Eskinder says. “I’m prepared to go back to prison again. So, whether there’s democracy or no democracy, it’s back to work. There’s no choice.”


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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Unbreakable Spirit: A Student’s Journey From the Streets of Ethiopia to the UA

Since leaving home and setting out on his own when he was 8 years old, Josh Brewer has overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve his dream of playing basketball at the University of Arizona. (Photo: Josh Brewer is one of the newest members of the UA Men's Wheelchair Basketball/ Bob Demers/UANews)

UANews

University of Arizona freshman Josh Brewer was told by many of his high school teachers that college might not be an option for him.

After all, he’d never set foot in a classroom until sixth grade, and academics didn’t come easily to him.

Then again, nothing about Brewer’s life had been easy.

From his days begging for food in his native Ethiopia to the horrific accident that nearly claimed his life, Brewer endured more than his fair share of trauma by the time he was a high school senior, yet his perseverance and drive only continued to grow.

So, when his teachers told him college might not be right for him, he didn’t let it discourage him. He applied to the University of Arizona, where he dreamed of playing basketball.

Brewer starts as a freshman and student-athlete at the UA this fall. A triple amputee, he will play on the UA’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team.


Josh Brewer in the UA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team’s equipment room at the Student Recreation Center. (Photo: Bob Demers/UANews)

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Africa’s First Waste-to-Energy Plant Launched in Ethiopia

Reppie facility in Addis Ababa (photo courtesy: esi-africa.com) & Samuel Alemayehu of Cambridge Industries (Photo courtesy: energynet.co.uk)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 23rd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The first waste-to-energy plant in Africa, headed by Ethiopian Co-Founder & Managing Director of Cambridge Industries, Samuel Alemayehu, was inaugurated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this past weekend on Sunday, August 19th. Samuel, a Stanford educated engineer, venture capitalist and a 2018 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader told CNN that “having created a facility uniquely for Africa, our goal is to duplicate it in five locations” including in Lagos, Nigeria, Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya to “create a renewable energy source that competes with fossil-fuel based power plants.”


Africa’s first waste-to-energy facility, Reppie, was inaugurated on Sunday, August 19th, 2018 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia (Photo Courtesy:Weforum.org/Alex Stewart)

Hailing the Reppie facility as a first on the continent, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) described Addis Ababa’s sprawling landfill also known as the Koshe dump site as an “urban landscape” that is “the size of 36 football pitches and attracting hundreds of waste pickers who make their living from salvaged trash.” In 2017 UNEP reported that a “landslide on the dump site killed 114 people, prompting the government to declare three days of mourning.”

Now Samuel Alemayehu’s company has envisioned and boldly launched a new, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient way to address both the issue of waste management as well as increased generation of electricity through the Reppie project.

Samuel shares his vision for the Reppie waste-to-energy facility in this brief video below:

Producing more electricity for the national grid in Ethiopia has been a long-standing need as cities across the country continue to face frequent power blackouts. Last year in March Cambridge Industries released a YouTube video describing the capabilities of the Reppie waste-to-energy facility being built in Addis Ababa noting that “through a combustion process that converts 1,400 tons of Addis Ababa’s waste each day” approximately “185 gigawatt (GW) hours of electricity” can be produced each year to meet “30% of the city’s annual demand for household electricity.” The Reppie facility would also help to sort metals for recycling in addition to the production of clean electricity by “utilizing two 25 megawatt (MW) steam turbines.”

According to the UNEP the Reppie waste-to-energy project was developed and launched as a partnership between the Ethiopian Government, Cambridge Industries and a group of additional companies including China National Electric Engineering, and the Danish firm Ramboll.

In a World Economic Forum news article from May 2018 entitled “This African Country is Turning a Mountain of Trash into Energy” writer Alex Gray notes that “Africa is the world’s fastest-urbanizing continent,” which brings with it growing concerns regarding environmental pollution. Samuel Alemayehu told Gray “African cities have seen explosive growth in the past three decades and have outgrown the infrastructures planned for them,” adding that Cambridge Industries seeks to “turn one of Africa’s most challenging social problems, the management of waste, into a source of new wealth.”


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Aida Muluneh: Changing the Narrative on Ethiopia, One Photo at a Time

Photo by Aida Muluneh.

CNN

By Meron Moges-Gerbi

When you look at Aida Muluneh’s work, it’s clear where her passion lies: Ethiopia. The photographer has been telling the story of Ethiopia long before it started trending this year. The country has undergone tremendous change in 2018, most of which stems from the election of its new 41-year-old Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, one of the most progressive leaders in the country’s history.

Muluneh’s work has garnered international attention and her photographs have been displayed at MoMA, at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and at the largest European photography festival in Baden, Austria.

Muluneh was born in Ethiopia, a child of the diaspora. As a youth, she lived in Yemen, England and Cyprus, before finally settling in Canada. Her education brought her to the United States, where she graduated from Howard University, in Washington DC. Later, she became a photojournalist with the Washington Post, before finally moving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, in 2000.

“My work often starts with a sketch, and I approach each image as a film production in which the character, set design, lighting and styling come together,” she said in an email interview. “I utilize face painting as a form in which the inspiration is driven by body ornamentation, not only in my country, but also various parts of the world. I am deeply influenced by various traditional cultures, hence in a sense, I am bringing the past into the future through various forms.”

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian Artist Aida Muluneh Directs Fatoumata Diawara’s Music Video
Ethiopian Photographer Aida Muluneh Featured in W Magazine
Spotlight: Aida Muluneh in MoMA’s Being: New Photography 2018
Aida Muluneh’s First Solo Exhibition at David Krut Projects
Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

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