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Watch: CBS News Interview With Reeyot Alemu, Zelalem Kibret and Edom Kassaye

Ethiopian Journalists Reeyot Alemu, Zelalem Kibret and Edom Kassaye were released from prison just prior to President Obama's arrival in Ethiopia. (CBS News)

CBS News

The three Ethiopian journalists were released from prison three weeks ago, ahead of President Obama’s visit to the African nation. They are just some of victims who dared to criticize their government and went to prison for it, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.

“I was in prison for four years and 17 days,” Reeyot Alemu said.

“For one year, two months and 14 days,” Zelalem Kibret said.

“One year, two months and 15 days,” Edom Kassaye said.

WATCH: Freed Ethiopian journalist risks it all to speak out (CBS News)


Related:
With Landmark AU Address Obama Concludes Historic Ethiopia Visit

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With Landmark AU Address Obama Concludes Historic Ethiopia Visit

President Barack Obama concludes his historic trip to Ethiopia and Kenya with an address at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday, July 28th, 2015. (Photo credit: Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — When President Obama flew to Kenya, his father’s birth country, late last week President Uhuru Kenyatta warmly welcomed him stating memorably that he had “arrived riding on the wings of history.” Obama is the first sitting U.S. President to visit both Kenya and Ethiopia, and Tuesday Obama became the first American President to address the African Union at its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

According to the White House, prior to his historic appearance at the African Union Obama also met privately with Ethiopian civil society leaders and human rights activists. In his subsequent speech at the AU Obama spoke about the dangers and risks posed to African countries by leaders who feel entitled to a permanent hold on power: “When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife — as we’ve seen in Burundi,” Obama said. “And this is often just a first step down a perilous path. And sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, well, I’m the only person who can hold this nation together. If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”

Obama told the AU audience: “I stand before you as a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of an African. Africa and its people helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is. And Africa and its people have helped shape who I am and how I see the world.” Obama added: “In the villages in Kenya where my father was born, I learned of my ancestors, and the life of my grandfather, the dreams of my father, the bonds of family that connect us all as Africans and Americans.”

Regarding Ethiopia’s lack of free press and opposition political space Obama said: “I believe Ethiopia will not fully unleash the potential of its people if journalists are restricted or legitimate opposition groups can’t participate in the campaign process.”

WATCH: Obama — Africa’s Progress Depends on Development, Democracy

Click here for the full transcript of Obama’s speech at www.whitehouse.gov.


Related:
Obama Caps Africa Trip With Accent on Democracy, Progress
In Ethiopia, Obama Praises Contributions of Ethiopian Americans
President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia
Obama’s Historic Visit to Ethiopia: A Larger Perspective
Obama’s Visit to Africa Draws Fire From Human Rights Groups
President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia
Obama’s Ethiopia visit legitimizes authoritarian government, critical expatriates say
A Conversation on President Obama’s Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia

View more details on Brookings.edu

Open Letter to The Washington Post Regarding Ethiopia
Harassing VOA Reporter is Not Your First Amendment Right
D.C.-area Ethiopians say Obama trip will send wrong signal to repressive regime in homeland
Obama Visit to Ethiopia Brings Fresh Eyes to the Country, Say Seattle Ethiopians
Mr. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on democracy (Washington Post‎)
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia, Obama Praises Contributions of Ethiopian Americans

U.S. President Barack Obama gets tour of Lucy's 3.2 million-year-old bones from Ethiopian American paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged in Addis Ababa on Monday, July 27th, 2015. (Getty Images)


Related:
President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia
Obama’s Historic Visit to Ethiopia: A Larger Perspective
Obama’s Visit to Africa Draws Fire From Human Rights Groups
President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia
Obama’s Ethiopia visit legitimizes authoritarian government, critical expatriates say
A Conversation on President Obama’s Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia

View more details on Brookings.edu

Open Letter to The Washington Post Regarding Ethiopia
Harassing VOA Reporter is Not Your First Amendment Right
D.C.-area Ethiopians say Obama trip will send wrong signal to repressive regime in homeland
Obama Visit to Ethiopia Brings Fresh Eyes to the Country, Say Seattle Ethiopians
Mr. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on democracy (Washington Post‎)
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 becoming the first American leader to visit Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

Associated Press

By Julie Pace 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — President Barack Obama is making the first-ever visit by an American president to Ethiopia.

Obama arrived in the capital of Addis Ababa from Kenya, where he made a historic return to the country of his father’s birth. He’ll meet with Ethiopian leaders and speak at the African Union.

The president has faced criticism for visiting Ethiopia from human rights groups that accuse the government of cracking down on dissent by arresting journalists, opposition party supporters and others.

The White House says Obama will raise human rights while in Ethiopia. Officials have defended the decision to travel to there, noting U.S. counterterrorism cooperation with the East African nation.

While in Ethiopia, Obama will also meet with regional leaders to discuss the crisis in South Sudan.

Presidential history: Obama opens first-ever visit to Ethiopia by U.S. president (PBS Newshour)


In Ethiopia Obama Set to Make History With AU Headquarters Visit, Faces Serious Agenda (AP)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Like the visit to Kenya, President Barack Obama’s trip Sunday to Ethiopia represents the first time a sitting U.S. president has been to this East African country and according to its government, it is a sign of the nation’s growing stature.

Grave concerns remain, however, over political freedoms in this nation of more than 90 million — Africa’s second largest — and opposition figures fear that the visit, coming on the heels of an improbable 100 percent ruling party win in elections, will give international legitimacy to a repressive government.

With its history of pan-African activism, Ethiopia is also the home of the African Union and on Tuesday Obama will be addressing the whole continent from the organization’s new headquarters in Addis Ababa.

After centuries of ties — the first bilateral trade agreement was signed in 1903 — only now is a U.S. president visiting, noted Communication Minister Redwan Hussein.

“The choice by a sitting U.S. President to visit us was made because we have become more visible and important enough to be visited,” he told The Associated Press. “Being visited by the first sitting American president will enhance the confidence and aspirations of Ethiopians.”

Obama is set to holds talks with his counterpart Mulatu Teshome as well as Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and is expected to discuss the conflict in southern Sudan, confronting the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab in Somalia and economic development.

Administration officials have also promised frank discussions over the lack of press freedom and political openness in Ethiopia.

In May, the ruling party took all the seats in legislative elections described by the U.S. and the European Union as unfair.

Woretaw Wassie, a leader of the opposition Blue Party said members of his party were arrested ahead of Obama’s visit on suspicion they would make a fuss.

“Visiting a country which is totally contrary to the values of the West is very controversial,” he said. “But in any case, the U.S. believes that engaging can make a difference so maybe it will be a good opportunity to put some pressure.”

Another touchy subject would be gay rights which Obama championed on Saturday in Kenya, calling for equal treatment for all under the law.

“All religions in Ethiopia should oppose the president if he raises the gay issue here,” said Memihir Dereje Negash, of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church-linked Weyiniye Teklehaimanot Association.

Video: Obama to Make History With African Union Headquarters Visit:

WATCH: VOA’s Anita Powell previews President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia:


Related:
Obama’s Historic Visit to Ethiopia: A Larger Perspective
Obama’s Visit to Africa Draws Fire From Human Rights Groups
President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia
Obama’s Ethiopia visit legitimizes authoritarian government, critical expatriates say
A Conversation on President Obama’s Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia

View more details on Brookings.edu

Open Letter to The Washington Post Regarding Ethiopia
Harassing VOA Reporter is Not Your First Amendment Right
D.C.-area Ethiopians say Obama trip will send wrong signal to repressive regime in homeland
Obama Visit to Ethiopia Brings Fresh Eyes to the Country, Say Seattle Ethiopians
Mr. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on democracy (Washington Post‎)
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Heritage & Culture Camp in Virginia Marks 7th Anniversary

(Photograph courtesy: Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp, Harrisonburg, Virginia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, July 26th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Mekdes Bekele launched the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp in July 2009 to connect like-minded parents raising Ethiopian American children. A mother herself Mekdes says “Whether adoptive or biological, we have the common goal of raising first generation Ethiopian Americans.” The summer camp celebrates its seventh anniversary this year and it “is designed for the entire family,” Mekdes adds. “There are age-appropriate activities that will appeal to both parents and their youngsters.”

Adoptive mother Julie Caran agrees. She says that each summer she and her husband come with their son to the Massaneta Springs camp and conference center in Harrisonburg, Virginia because they want their Ethiopian-born child to remain connected to his heritage and culture. “Ethiopian American volunteers come to camp because they wish they had something like this when they were our children’s age,” she wrote. “We all want these children to know who they are, and what it means to be Ethiopian.” Caran adds: “Yes, we get to attend excellent workshops to learn about everything from history to hair and art to Amharic, but something more important occurs at camp: We gain perspective. We interact inter-generationally and converse with children, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults, and grandparents.”

This year the camp program includes special guest Menlik Zergabachew. “Menlik, an Ethiopian-American singer and leader of the Reggae band The Relics, will join us at camp to perform with his band,” Mekdes said in a statement. “Menlik competed and had a successful run on NBC’s THE VOICE this last season.” In addition, the camp director points out that a “cooking lesson is being provided by Simret Hunt — noteworthy because Simret was a young 14-year-old when she attended our first heritage camp back in 2009. She is now a rising sophomore in college and we are fortunate to have her join us as a volunteer handling the cooking lessons.”


You can learn more about the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture camp at www.heritageandculturecamp.org.

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Obama Brings $1B Gift to Kenya Summit

President Barack Obama, left, takes part in a panel discussion at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at the United Nations Compound in Nairobi, Kenya on July 25th, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Gabe Joselow

Last updated on: July 25, 2015

NAIROBI — President Barack Obama co-hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya Saturday, where he is making his first visit as U.S. president.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta introduced the U.S. president, whom he described as a great friend to the African continent.

Obama greeted the summit saying “Niaje Wasee,” Kenyan urban slang for “how are you.”

“It is wonderful to be back in Kenya. I am proud to be the first U.S. president to visit Kenya,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “This is a personal thing for me, my family came from these parts and I have relatives and family here.”

He then quickly got down to business, announcing to the gathering of entrepreneurs and investors that the U.S. had secured more than $1 billion in investment for new businesses around the world, following up on a promise made at last year’s summit in Morocco.

Obama noted that Africa is one of the fastest-growing continents in the world where people are being lifted out of poverty and the middle class is expanding.

“This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth, not just African growth,” he said.

WATCH: President Obama’s remarks at GES Summit

In his remarks, Kenyatta spoke of Kenya’s security struggles and its swiftly growing economy. He told his audience to tell friends back at home and around the world that “Africa is open and ready for business.”

“You all know that for a decade now the economies of Africa have been the fastest growing in the world. Behind these statistics is a story of a new generation of Africans committed to the African renaissance,” he said.

After a discussion onstage with several young entrepreneurs, Obama closed the session exhorting audience members to pursue their business ventures. “Go out there and start something,” he said. “We’re excited about it. We expect great things out of you.”

A delegation of U.S. lawmakers, White House officials and American business leaders is accompanying the president to the summit, a move the U.S. embassy in Nairobi says underscores the importance the United States places on supporting Africa’s entrepreneurs.

The streets of Nairobi have been painted and polished as the city has spared no expense to welcome Obama for what Kenyans have called his “homecoming.”

But security is high for the U.S. president’s visit, with at least 10,000 police officers deployed in Nairobi. The U.S. embassy has warned that the summit Obama is hosting could be “a target for terrorists.”

Obama then visited the U.S. embassy, where a large crowd had gathered outside to see him. Later Saturday, he met with Kenyatta for talks expected to center on building trade ties, countering violent extremism in Kenya and across the region, boosting government transparency and curbing the poaching of Kenya’s wildlife.

ON THE SCENE: VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports from Nairobi


Related:
Kenya Rolls Out Red Carpet for President Obama “Homecoming” Amid Tight Security
Photos: President Obama Arrives in Kenya
Obama’s Historic Visit to Ethiopia: A Larger Perspective
Obama’s Visit to Africa Draws Fire From Human Rights Groups
President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia
Obama’s Ethiopia visit legitimizes authoritarian government, critical expatriates say
A Conversation on President Obama’s Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia

View more details on Brookings.edu

Open Letter to The Washington Post Regarding Ethiopia
Harassing VOA Reporter is Not Your First Amendment Right
D.C.-area Ethiopians say Obama trip will send wrong signal to repressive regime in homeland
Obama Visit to Ethiopia Brings Fresh Eyes to the Country, Say Seattle Ethiopians
Mr. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on democracy (Washington Post‎)
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Kenya Rolls Out Red Carpet for Obama

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta stands next to President Barack Obama as he signs a guest book at Nairobi Airport on July 24, 2015. The U.S. President is on two-country state visit to Kenya & Ethiopia. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Gabe Joselow

Last updated on: July 24, 2015

NAIROBI — U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Kenya, amid extremely tight security, for the start of a landmark two-day visit.

Obama touched down in Nairobi Friday evening and was greeted on the tarmac by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The U.S. president shook hands with Kenyan dignitaries and signed what appeared to be a guest book before climbing into a limousine.

The streets of Nairobi have been painted and polished as the city has spared no expense to welcome Obama for what Kenyans have called his “homecoming.”

The big headline for the visit is a Global Entrepreneurship Summit — the first time it is being held in Africa. President Obama — as co-host — will address the gathering on Saturday.

Kenya also has special significance for the U.S. president. His father was born and is buried in rural western Kenya and served in the government of Kenya’s first president.

Obama last visited in 2006 as a U.S. senator, but, this is his first trip as president — and that, says Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, means a lot to his country.

“President Obama is not just any other American president,” Ruto told VOA. “He has African roots, and more specifically Kenyan roots, and so it is significant in a very different way.”

WATCH:: Kenya Rolls Out Red Carpet for President Obama

Video: Voice of America White House correspondent Aru Pande report from Nairobi

Security concerns

While much of the visit will focus on boosting trade, the other big issue on the agenda will be security when Obama meets President Uhuru Kenyatta Saturday.

Kenyan Foreign Secretary Amina Mohamed told VOA it is a common top concern.

“Our collaboration, especially on security, is historic. It’s always been there, but of course we’ve enhanced it a lot in the last few years because of the threat — the global threat actually — that we all face,” Mohamed said.

Kenya has been targeted repeatedly by the Somali militant group al-Shabab. The deadliest attack took place at Garissa University College in April, when 148 people, most of them students, were slaughtered on campus.

Ethiopia stop

After two days in Kenya, Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit Ethiopia.

Ahead of his arrival in Africa, human rights groups urged the president to use his trip to call for fundamental human rights reforms in both countries.

In a letter to Obama, a group of 14 nongovernmental organizations and individual experts said the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia “face real security threats, but we are concerned by the way in which each government has responded, often with abusive security measures and increased efforts to stifle civil society and independent media.”

Trade with Africa

Late Wednesday, President Obama spoke about trade with Africa at a White House reception marking the signing of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. He said despite Africa’s challenges, the continent is a dynamic place with some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. He said it has the potential to be the next center of global economic opportunity.

He said the trade law will continue to encourage good governance, labor rights and human rights in Africa.

Obama last month signed a 10-year extension of the country’s main trade authority with Africa — a 15-year effort that boosted U.S.-Africa trade to $73 billion last year, with U.S. exports accounting for slightly more than half of that total.

More than 40 sub-Saharan countries are eligible for trade benefits under the law, through which most imports from Africa enter the United States duty free. Two of the main beneficiaries are oil exporters Angola and Nigeria.

Even as U.S. trade with Africa has grown rapidly, it trails resource hungry China, now with $200 billion in annual African trade, and the 28-nation European Union with $140 billion.

Obama has made a concerted effort to increase U.S. ties with Africa. Last August, he staged the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

The U.S. says the Africa trade measure supports an estimated 350,000 jobs. As the trade extension advanced in Congress, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and National Security Advisor Susan Rice said it has “provided vital economic opportunities,” helping African companies become more competitive and opening the path for more investments in them.

Related:
Photos: President Obama Arrives in Kenya
Obama’s Historic Visit to Ethiopia: A Larger Perspective
Obama’s Visit to Africa Draws Fire From Human Rights Groups
President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia
Obama’s Ethiopia visit legitimizes authoritarian government, critical expatriates say
A Conversation on President Obama’s Trip to Kenya and Ethiopia

View more details on Brookings.edu

Open Letter to The Washington Post Regarding Ethiopia
Harassing VOA Reporter is Not Your First Amendment Right
D.C.-area Ethiopians say Obama trip will send wrong signal to repressive regime in homeland
Obama Visit to Ethiopia Brings Fresh Eyes to the Country, Say Seattle Ethiopians
Mr. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on democracy (Washington Post‎)
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Support Haile Gerima Make His Next Film

YETUT LIJ: A film by Haile Gerima Indiegogo Campaign. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The crowdfunding campaign for the feature film, Yetut Lij, by award-winning Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima ends this week. Although this is Gerima’s first online campaign, the independent filmmaker insists: “Crowd-funding is not new to me. None of my past films would have been possible without the community.”

Supporters of Gerima’s current campaign include Ava DuVernay, Danny Glover, Meaza Mengiste, Gabriel Theodros, Common, Kamasi Washington, Bradford Young, Greg Carr, Meklit Hadero, and Dream Hampton.

Gerima, who is a UCLA film school alumni and distinguished professor of film at Howard University, has made several influential films including Sankofa, Teza, Harvest: 3000 Years, Adwa: An African Victory, and the upcoming Children of Adwa.

Video: YETUT LIJ: A film by Haile Gerima [Indiegogo Campaign]


You can support Haile by donating any amount you like at Indiegogo.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Artist Abel Tilahun at ICI Curatorial Hub

Image by Abel Tilahun, Torn, 2014. (Photo Courtesy ICI).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, July 19th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Animator and Artist Abel Tilahun will give a talk at the Independent Curators International hub in New York City on Tuesday, July 21st, 2015. Abel teaches at American University in Washington D.C. and his recent exhibition entitled “Curvature of Events” was featured at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden New Master’s Gallery in Germany. In 2013 Abel submitted a commercial for Dorritos ‘Crash the Superbowl’ contest.

“By bringing classical training in drawing and sculpture into the digital realm, Abel Tilahun’s work explores the space between traditional and emerging art forms in different cultures and contexts,” states the ICI Curatorial Hub announcement of the upcoming talk. “Tilahun will discuss the transnational nature of his work with ICI’s Renaud Proch and present his practice through recent and upcoming exhibitions and projects.”

Abel is a graduate of the School of Fine Art & Design at Addis Ababa University and obtained a Masters in Fine Arts from Adams State College in Colorado in 2010.


If You Go:
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
6:30pm to 8pm
Location: ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620, NYC

This event is free and open to the public. To attend please RSVP to rsvp@curatorsintl.org with ABEL in the subject line.

More info and update at Independent Curators International

Related:
Ethiopia Exhibition Featuring Multimedia Artist and Animator Abel Tilahun
Three Ethiopian Animators Vie For Doritos Superbowl AD Grand Prize

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Genzebe Smashes 1500m World Record

Genzebe Dibaba shatters world record in 1500 meters. (Photo Courtesy: iaaf.org)

The Wall Street Journal

By Sara Germano

Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia broke the world record in the women’s 1500 meters on Friday, running 3:50.07 in Monaco that saw perhaps the single best day of metric mile races among both men and women in recent history.

Friday’s world record came at the Meeting Herculis in Monaco, the tenth leg of track-and field’s elite Diamond League meet series. Among the 28 men and women who raced respective 1500-meter races, 20 ran personal bests, including at least four regional records.

Dibaba, age 24, shattered the previous world record of 3:50.46 set by China’s Yunxia Qu in 1993, a time so fast that many in track and field believed it to be untouchable. No woman had broken 3 minutes and 55 seconds in 18 years, until Dibaba herself ran 3:54.11 just a week ago in Barcelona.

Dibaba is the younger sister of Tirunesh Dibaba, the world-record holder in the 5,000 meters, and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. The elder Dibaba is skipping the 2015 track and field season after the birth of her first child earlier this year.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

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Interview: Journalist Tesfalem Waldyes

"I'm still scared that I might go back to prison" says journalist Tesfalem Waldyes. (BBC News)

BBC News

By Andrew Harding

It’s never an easy decision: Should I interview someone who wants to talk in public, but who knows that a word out of line could mean arrest and imprisonment?

I’ve wrestled with the issue before in Myanmar, also known as Burma, Zimbabwe, Iraq and elsewhere.
Ethiopian journalist Tesfalem Waldyes sat in a hotel in Addis Ababa last weekend, and decided it was necessary to speak out.

“I’m afraid. I’m still scared that I might go back to prison… Maybe today, maybe this afternoon.
“[Journalism here] is a very dangerous job, because there’s this red line that was marked by the government, and we don’t know when we crossed that red line,” he said.

‘Totally absurd’

Last week Mr Tesfalem was unexpectedly released from a remand prison outside the capital, along with four colleagues.

He and eight other bloggers and journalists had been imprisoned for well over a year, facing trial under Ethiopian anti-terrorism legislation – accused of working with forces seeking to overthrow the state.

“It’s totally absurd…. Our work has appeared in newspapers, magazines.

“We are only doing our jobs,” he said, declining to speculate on whether the timing of his release was linked to a big UN development summit being hosted in Ethiopia this week, or President Barack Obama’s visit later in the month.

Mr Tesfalem said he did not want to talk about prison conditions, for fear of provoking Ethiopia’s government, but he was motivated to speak out on behalf of the four journalists still in detention.

Read more at BBC News »

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How Ethiopia Lost Access to Hacking Tools Used Against Journalists

(Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

The Washington Post

By Andrea Peterson

Now we know what it takes to get your hacking tools taken away if you’re a repressive government.

It’s not enough to get caught spying on U.S.-based journalists — or even to have the story plastered on the front page of a major U.S. newspaper. But if you get caught doing it again because of your own sloppiness, that may just be enough to shame your vendor into cutting you off.

That’s what the public is now learning from a massive trove of e-mails and documents released online this week from Italian company Hacking Team, which was itself hacked.

Hacking Team is part of a burgeoning commercial surveillance industry that critics allege sells hacking tools once reserved for the most advanced intelligence agencies to any country that can pay. The company has long had a policy of not identifying its customers and has responded to previous reports of abuse by saying it has an internal process for responding to allegations of human rights abuses.

The e-mail cache, now archived by WikiLeaks, appears to show that the company relied on a biannual report from an international law firm to determine which countries it can legally sell its products and faced pressure from the United Nations and the Italian government over business relationships with repressive regimes. Last fall, the company briefly faced a ban on the export of its products by the Italian government, according to the e-mails. Around the same time, the company’s chief operating officer wrote in an e-mail that it had suspended Sudan as a client and that it was a “sensitive” time for the company.

But e-mails sent in the aftermath of a March report about Hacking Team tools being used by the Ethiopian government to target journalists based in the United States appear to show that the sloppiness of their Ethiopian customers, which exposed the use of the company’s technology, was a bigger concern for the company than potential human rights violations. And later, the company tried to secure a new contract with the country.

Researchers with Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs discovered traces of Hacking Team’s tools on the computers of U.S.-based Ethiopian journalists, as reported in a front-page story by The Post in February of 2014. The Ethiopian government has a notoriously poor track record on freedom of the press, and Ethiopians living abroad play a significant role in providing independent news coverage of the country’s domestic situation.

Read more at The Washington Post »


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Reeyot Alemu Free at Last

Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu who has been jailed since 2011 was released today. (Photo via Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Thursday, July 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Reeyot Alemu, winner of the 2013 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize and the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award, has been released from prison after serving 4 years of a 5-year prison term under Ethiopia’s controversial terrorism law.

Reeyot is the sixth journalist to be released from jail this week. Yesterday the authorities freed five of the Zone 9 bloggers includeing Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Zelalem Kiberet, Edom Kassaye and Mahlet Fantahun.

“We are elated that Reeyot Alemu has been released, but she should never have been jailed in the first place. She served more than four years while in poor health and under often restrictive conditions,” said Sue Valentine, the Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “We call on Ethiopian authorities to free all journalists imprisoned in relation to their work.”

The development follows last month’s election results in Ethiopia announced by the National Electoral Board where 100% of the seats were won by the ruling party.

President Obama’s upcoming trip to Ethiopia has subsequently been heavily criticized by human rights and press organizations citing that it is ill-timed and appears to reward undemocratic practices. The trip would be the first instance that a sitting American president will visit the nation despite a 100-year history of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that “Reeyot told CPJ today that she was happy to be free and that her health was okay, but that she was still taking painkillers. The journalist suffered from breast tumors while in prison.”


Reeyot Alemu after being released from prison. (Photo via Twitter)


(Photo via Twitter)


Related:
Charges Dropped Against 5 Members of Zone9: Focus on Abel Wabela Still Jailed

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Charges Dropped Against 5 Members of Zone9: Focus on Abel Wabela Still Jailed

Charges have been dropped against five of the nine Zone 9 bloggers -- Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Zelalem Kiberet, Edom Kassaye and Mahlet Fantahun. (Photograph credit : Endalk Chala)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Three members of Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers and journalists, whose arrest last year generated a global outcry, have been released from prison after spending over a year behind bars.

The journalists and bloggers were arrested in April 2014 as part of a sweep against their online group, which reported and debated on issues including human rights in Ethiopia. Their release comes a few weeks in advance of President Obama’s scheduled visit to the country.

Those freed today include “Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis and Zelalem Kiberet,” according BBC News. Other news outlets report that charges have also been dropped against Edom Kassaye and Mahlet Fantahun.

“We welcome the release of three of the nine journalists and bloggers– Tesfalem Waldeyes, Asmamaw Hailegiorgis, and Zelalem Kibret,” said Vukasin Petrovic, Director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “They were imprisoned for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. Freedom House urges the Ethiopian government to drop all charges and release the remaining six journalists and bloggers.”

The Zone 9 members that still remain incarcerated are Abel Wabella, Natnael Feleke, Befekadu Hailu and Atinaf Berhane. Another associate of the group, Soliana Shimelis, was charged in absentia.

“The release of these five journalists is a welcome turn of events in Ethiopia, where the number of journalists in prison has steadily increased in recent years,” the East Africa Representative for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Tom Rhodes, said. “We call on authorities to release the remaining Zone 9 bloggers and all the journalists in jail for their work, and to drop all charges against them.”

CPJ added: “With at least 12 journalists remaining in prison, Ethiopia is the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to CPJ research. Most of the journalists face terrorism charges. The country is ranked fourth on CPJ’s list of the 10 Most Censored Countries.”

In a separate, but related report in their ongoing online series called They Have Names the Global Voices website recently featured Abel Wabela who says his mission in life is “to fight bystander apathy.”

Focus on Zone 9′s Abel Wabela


Abel Wabela. (Photo courtesy of family)

Global Voices Online

This marks the sixth post in our series – “They Have Names” – that seeks to highlight the individual bloggers who are currently in jail. We wish to humanize them, to tell their particular and peculiar stories. This week, Swedish blogger and artist Melody Sundberg writes about Abel Wabela, a member of Zone9 and the manager of Global Voices’ Amharic site.

I have never been to Ethiopia, but I have followed the never-ending trials of the bloggers closely through social media and conversations. A name often mentioned is that of Abel Wabela, a 28-year-old blogger, author and translator for Global Voices. During the first three months of the bloggers’ detention in Maekelawi*, Abel refused to sign a prepared confession paper in which he, together with the other bloggers, were incriminated. For this, Abel underwent extreme torture. According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Project (EHRP), he was beaten by a person using a stick, and his feet were whipped by someone using a computer plug cable. He was forced to lay on the floor while interrogators stomped on his back, neck and face. Since then, he has had to use a hearing aid as a result of worsened hearing impairment.

According to Endalk Chala, co-founder of the blogging group, Abel had suffered poor treatment even before his arrest. One day, three weeks before the arrest, Abel was beaten as he was walking home from work. Several people appeared and beat him so severely that he lost his consciousness, and they took his cell phone and laptop. He feared beating was a threat, intended to make him stop blogging. But Abel continued his work.


Abel Wabela. (Drawing by Melody Sundberg)

I wanted to know more about Abel, so I asked some of those close to him to describe their friend. Endalk Chala describes Abel as the most kindhearted and wonderful soul. Abel is a man of knowledge and a great conversationalist, and he believes in open and honest discussions. Jomanex Kasaye describes Abel as being straight forward and knowing what he stands for. At the same time, he is very humble. Abel is always hungry for more knowledge. He likes to spend his time in discussions with historians, university lecturers and authors. His faith is important to him. He loves attending in church. He often visited prisoners, having the country and its people in his heart. He always thinks of others rather than himself.

Read more at Global Voices Online »

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EDF’s 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows

Top five winners of the 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship. (Photographs courtesy of EDF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, July 6th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — A few weeks ago we published an article highlighting the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF), a program founded by first generation Ethiopian American Rediate Tekeste that “trains young Ethiopian professionals in leadership development, service, and creative storytelling skills before sending them to Ethiopia to serve at partner organizations for a 6-month fellowship.”

Today, the organization announced the 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows — the top five promising candidates. Below are the names and bios of this year’s EDF Fellows:

Ebanezare Tadele


Ebanezare Tadele. (Photo courtesy: EDF)

Ebanezare Tadele was born and raised in the inner city of San Diego, California. His urban surrounding and Ethiopian culture helped forge a passion for international development and social justice. Ebanezare was Vice President of the Black Student Union, helping lead the school’s African American student body striving for racial equality. Ebanezare was also part of PLNU’s nationally ranked Speech & Debate Team as a junior level national debater. After graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Communication Ebanezare applied his education to his passion and worked in the community. In addition, Ebanezare has served both as a volunteer and intern at his local Ethiopian church and Ethiopian Community Center. Through EDF Ebanezare is excited to learn ways he can utilize his education and experiences for the development and growth of Ethiopia.

Eden Mesfin

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Eden Mesfin. (Photo courtesy: EDF)

Since receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from the State University of New York at Binghamton, Eden Mesfin has tailored her work experience to focus on issues surrounding international development, education, and policy. Upon graduation Eden worked in Washington D.C. with a foreign policy consulting firm as a Special Assistant to the former U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay. Eden has also gained exposure to health care policy and cancer research as a Program Associate at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, assisting with the development of an online tool to help research sites in academic, hospital, and community settings. Currently, at Georgetown University, she has further expanded her management and quantitative skills as the Administrative Officer of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship. She is responsible for analyzing and processing financial reports and administering faculty payroll. For the past four years, Eden’s passion for education and literacy motivated her to become a volunteer and outreach ambassador for the Reading Partners organization in Washington D.C. She is looking forward to serving as an Ethiopian Diaspora Fellow, allowing her to fulfill her dream of finding tangible methods to improve literacy, youth development, and women’s rights in Ethiopia.

Liat Desta


Liat Desta. (Photo courtesy: EDF)

Liat Desta graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a focus on Health Sciences. She worked at Kaiser Permanente as an Occupational Medicine & Pediatrics intern learning the administrative management skills necessary to maintain a hospital’s day-to-day schedule. Her work with Genesis, a community organization, led her to advocate for justice and equality among new immigrants. She also organized and selected the Leadership Committee that organized L.A Works Day — Los Angeles’ largest volunteer-based community improvement event. As a member of Marians, a university service organization that focuses on improving the lives of women and children in Los Angeles, Liat was able to actively improve the community through her work as a tutor at the Boys and Girls Club at Mar Vista Gardens. Liat is thrilled to be the first EDF cohort, and looks forward to enriching her understanding of public health conditions in Ethiopia.

Tewodros Asfaw


Tewodros Asfaw. (Photo courtesy: EDF)

Tewodros Asfaw was born in Ethiopia and moved to the United States as a teenager. He earned his BS in Finance at St. Cloud State University with a minor in Economics. During this time, he served as President of the University’s Ethiopian Student Association where he focused on promoting awareness of Ethiopian culture on campus. After earning his MS in Social Responsibility with an emphasis in Trade and Development Studies, he worked as a College Coach for the non-profit organization, College Possible. As a coach Tewodros mentored and supported low-income students to succeed in college. As a first-generation immigrant Tewodros has always known the importance of education. His passion for education and service has grown deeper through his experiences as a member of the Ethiopian Diaspora, and he is eager to be a part of the first generation of EDF Fellows. Through EDF Tewodros hopes to support Ethiopia’s economic growth by expanding access to education.

Naome Seifu


Naome Seifu. (Photo courtesy: EDF)

Naome Seifu is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. She majored in Digital Broadcast Journalism with an emphasis in Global Affairs. Naome has interned with Voice of America in Washington D.C. where she worked at the African Division, specifically with the Horn of Africa. She is also a part of T. Howard Foundation and writes for Dinq magazine’s monthly issue in Atlanta, GA. Naome has also worked with WABE and Q100 radio stations in Atlanta where she learned the ins and outs of the broadcasting field. She is enthusiastic about working with EDF to build her dreams. It just takes one step at a time to bring change into this world, and she plans on making her first step through EDF!

Tadias congratulates the 2015 class of Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows and looks forward to hearing about their achievements.

You can learn more about Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship at www.ethiopiandiasporafellowship.org.

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Bekoji, Ethiopia: How Grassroots Athletics Has Developed In The Town of Runners

Runners in Bekoji, Ethiopia. (Photo: Ben Quinton/IAAF)

IAAF

01 JUL 2015

The Ethiopian town of Bekoji has produced countless champions but grassroots athletics has been sorely underdeveloped until Running Across Borders initiated a project in 2008 to support local coaches and runners.

In association with the IAAF’s social development programme Athletics for a Better World, Running Across Borders and Edinburgh University’s Global Development Academy welcomed nearly 100 people to a screening of the documentary Town of Runners last month.

The main protagonist of the documentary was Ethiopian coach Sentayehu Eshetu, who was present at the screening as part of his week-long trip to the UK to raise awareness for grassroots athletics in his training base of Bekoji, a provincial town situated about 300km to the south of Addis Ababa.

In a country long associated with poverty, famine and war, long-distance runners such as Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba and Derartu Tulu have been a perpetual source of national pride. All three were born and raised in Bekoji and started to run under the guidance of Eshetu. Some 16 Olympic medals over two decades have been accumulated from athletes originating from this town, but support for grassroots athletics is limited.

“In terms of natural running terrain, Bekoji has it all: hills, forests, trails, altitude,” said project founder Malcolm Anderson. “But the facilities and interest in the support of athletics was non-existent apart from the figurehead of the town, Sentayehu Eshetu, who has been based there for the past 39 years initially as a PE teacher in the local schools.”

Since 2008, UK-based organisation Running Across Borders has been supporting grassroots athletics in Bekoji. This support has increased as a legacy of the award-winning documentary Town of Runners and since the start of the year, Athletics for a Better World has provided additional assistance to local coaches and up-and-coming runners who dream of becoming the next Bekele or Dibaba.

Read more at IAAF.org »

Watch: Town of Runners Extended Trailer


Related:
Conversations With Filmmakers of ‘Town of Runners’ (TADIAS)
Town of Runners – review (Guardian)
The Ethiopian town that’s home to the world’s greatest runners (Guardian)

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Addis: A Local View by Metasebia Yoseph

Enrico, one of the oldest pastry shops in Addis. (Photograph: Girma Berta/@gboxcreative/instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In the following multimedia presentation published by The Guardian, Metasebia Yoseph, Founder of Design Week Addis Ababa and author of A Culture of Coffee, highlight the sights and sounds of modern Addis Ababa with “the rhythmic pounding of construction, coupled with car horns, ambulances, dogs barking, random yelling in the street and the occasional rooster.” She also features video clips and photos of favorite nightly TV shows, local rock bands, street art and traditional singers.

“There are two divergent looks going on in the city: the trendy, slightly conservative style of young professionals, and the edgier youth subculture style. What ties both styles together is that they always feature a touch of cultural flair,” Metasebia writes.

And what’s the talk of the town? “Although most would assume the major talking point would be the recent elections, the real topic on everyone’s lips, regardless of their political affiliation, is car accidents,” Metasebia adds. “There are so many wrecked cars and destroyed roads that there are Facebook pages and forums dedicated to documenting the absurd pervasiveness of accidents in Addis Ababa.”


Driving in Addis is a topic of hot debate. (Photograph: Various/Facebook)

In the following video Metasebia gives a shout-out to comedian “Filfilu – his shtick is playing the idiot savant and his comedy covers everything from changing traditions to sex. No matter how crude a joke, he’s always able to charm you with his signature toothless smile.”

Read more and see photos at The Guardian »

Related:
Metasebia Yoseph’s Transmedia Project: ‘A Culture Of Coffee’

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Biiftu Duresso: Top High School Student Honors Parents’ Journey From Ethiopia

Biiftu Duresso (R) Wilson Magnet High School's valedictorian with her father Jamal Abdullahi, where he is Assistant Custodian. Jamal put his educational goals aside to focus on his children’s success. (Photo: D&C)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, June 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In the following ABC News video Biiftu Duresso, a star high school student and this year’s valedictorian at Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester, New York, gives a moving tribute to her parents who immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia during the tumultuous 1980′s. Her father Jamal Abdullahi raised Biiftu and three other siblings working as an assistant custodian at his daughter’s high school, where he had been employed since 1986 while earning a college degree himself.

“My parents Jamal and Zubaida made their way to Rochester, New York from Ethiopia in the 80′s and 90′s,” Biiftu said in her speech. “They had the audacity to imagine something better for me and my siblings.”

Biiftu is headed to Columbia University’s Barnard College in the Fall. And she has a great role model in her father Jamal, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008, three decades after leaving Ethiopia where he was a teenage soldier.

“Since Biiftu and her siblings were born [Jamal] has made his own hard-earned education secondary to theirs,” notes The Democrat and Chronicle, a daily newspaper serving the greater Rochester area. “He wanted to be a teacher; instead, he relishes the chance to encourage Wilson students as a mentor and supporter. Jamal likes his work, humble as it is. He still remembers the date he began: June 10, 1986.”

“I tell them, look: I came this hard way through and came out here,” he told the newspaper. “It’s very hard. But it didn’t stop me. But if you have foundation, your results must be better than me. Must be better.”

Watch: Wilson Magnet High School Valedictorian Thanks Her Father (ABC News)


ABC US News | World News


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Seattle Ethios on Obama’s Ethiopia Visit

Elias Godifay, an Ethiopian immigrant who teaches accounting at North Seattle College, says he hopes that Obama’s upcoming visit to Ethiopia will help people see the country as a trade partner. (Photo by G. Wibneh)

The Seattle Globalist

By Goorish Wibneh

President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Ethiopia in July—the first visit for a sitting U.S. President— is an exciting moment for Ethiopian Americans in Seattle, and gives hope the attention will help erase the negative and outdated stereotypes of the African nation.

“It highlights how Ethiopia has taken the leading role to become a safe place to invest,” said Ezra Teshome, a successful Ethopian American businessman in Seattle.

While the U.S. was one of the most generous countries to Ethiopia in its dismal past, Ethiopians now in the U.S. hope Obama’s historic visit will start a new era of partnership in investment and trading between the two nations.

“It’s exciting to see a sitting president set foot in Ethiopia,” said Teshome, who came to the United States in 1971. “To me, seeing the first African American president visiting Ethiopia is very exciting.”

The White House announced last Friday that POTUS will be visiting Ethiopia in late July. The president plans to visit Ethiopia and the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, according to the announcement. The trip to Ethiopia will follow the president’s visit to Kenya.

Read more at The Seattle Globalist »

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Related:
Mr. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sends the wrong message on democracy (Washington Post‎)
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria
A Memoir of First US Diplomat’s Meetings With Emperor Menelik

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Abay Hopes to Bring ESFNA Meet to NYC

New York City's Ethiopian soccer team, Abay, pictured 3 years ago. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — One of the main goals for New York’s Ethiopian soccer team, Abay, is to bring the annual Ethiopian North America soccer tournament to New York for the first time since the league was founded more than 30 years ago.

“Our immediate priority is actually to win the tournament,” Assistant Coach Teddy Gezaw tells Tadias Magazine. “But in the long-term we’re talking about bidding to bring the tournament to New York and New Jersey where most of our team members are from.”

Teddy points out that Abay players will be heading to Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the 2015 ESFNA sports and cultural festival taking place from June 28th to July 4th at the University of Maryland’s Byrd Stadium in College Park.

The Ethiopian soccer tournament rotates each year from state to state in North America and so far, according to ESFNA, it has been held in 15 major U.S. cities with a sizable Ethiopian population. “The top host areas are California (7), DC Metro (6), Texas (5) and Georgia (4).” On its website the organization states: “In order to be selected to host the tournament, teams must submit their bid to the Executive Committee ahead of time. A host team must fulfill the requirements that are stated in our Tournament Guidelines and the team must show that it has the support of the Ethiopian community in their city.”

To date the top teams that are cup winners include: “D.C. Ethio-Stars (7), LA Ethio Stars (5), Ethio-Atlanta (4) and Ethio-Maryland (3).”

For its opening game the New York team faces San Jose on Monday, June 29th at 4:00 p.m.


Photo of the NY Abay team in 1990. (Courtesy photograph)


New York City’s Ethiopian soccer team, Abay, pictured 6 years ago. (Courtesy photo)


The current Abay Team celebrating in the stands at the 30th ESFNA anniversary tournament on July 6th, 2013 at Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. (Photo: Courtesy NYC Abay)

The entertainment portion of this year’s festival takes place at Echostage in D.C, and ESFNA announced the week-long program that includes a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the National Theatre of Ethiopia, Community Day, Ethiopian Day, as well as live concerts featuring Teddy Afro, Gossaye, Jacky Gosse, Aster Aweke and Bezuayehu Demissie. In addition, the final day championship event includes ESFNA’s closing night gala. “ESFNA will start its event in remembrance and by paying respects to 29 Ethiopians killed in Libya; followed by a triumphant week showcasing Soccer – Culture – Entertainment,” ESFNA said.


You can learn more at www.esfna.net.

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

Ethiopian Airlines crewmembers at Dublin Airport in Ireland. (Photo: Twitter @Vanskie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — This past weekend in Los Angeles, California Ethiopian Airlines inaugurated its newest route connecting America’s second largest city and Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa with a stopover in Dublin, Ireland.

Ethiopian Airlines, which already serves the East Coast with multiple flights per week to Washington, D.C., said that the new tri-continental flight is the first direct flight by an African airline linking Africa with the West Coast of the United States. Ethiopia‍‍’‍s flag carrier said it plans to fly to Los Angeles three times a week.

At a ceremony celebrating the launch of the new flight Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, noted that the thrice-a-week flights using Boeing 787 aircrafts created opportunities for Ethiopian and foreign investors from Ireland and the US to come and do business in the country. He added: “Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union (AU); the airline is striving to connect the continent with different parts of the world.”

Gold Star Aviation posted the following photograph on Twitter sharing: “Celebrating our first Tri-continent service aboard #B787 above 30,000 feet. #Dublin #LosAngeles #EthiopianAirlines.”

Below is another photo that came from Amb Taye Atske Amde: “A warm welcome [in Dublin] for the Ethiopian Airlines maiden flight to Los Angeles. An all green Ethiopian & Irish musical ensemble.”


(Photo: Twitter @TayeAtske)

And in the following picture the air cargo industry services provider, HAE, and Ethiopian Airlines celebrate the new LAX-ADD flights. The festivities included a two-hour dinner cruise in Marina Del Rey, California. According to HAE “The event culminated with the selection of a grand prize winner of a round trip ticket for two from LAX to any African destination served by Ethiopian airlines.”


(Photo courtesy: HAE Group)


(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines)


You can learn more about Ethiopian Airline at www.ethiopianairlines.com.

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Government in Ethiopia Is on Track to Win With 100% of Vote

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) released on Monday the final results of the May 24th, 2015 elections, giving the ruling party 100 percent of the seats announced so far. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

The New York Times

By JACEY FORTIN

Ethiopia’s governing party and its allies are poised to control every seat in the nation’s Parliament, according to official results announced Monday by the country’s electoral board.

In the last election, held five years ago, only one opposition member and one independent candidate won seats in Parliament.

This year’s results are even more one-sided: The governing party and its allies have won 100 percent of the races announced so far, giving them control of 546 seats.

The results from one remaining constituency, where polling was delayed by violent skirmishes, have yet to be disclosed…The chairman of the electoral board, Merga Bekana, said this year’s elections were conducted in a “free, fair, peaceful, credible and democratic manner.”

But opposition party members disagreed, pointing to an uneven playing field and continuing efforts to intimidate those who challenge the governing Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which is itself a coalition of four regional parties.

“It’s a tough time for Ethiopia,” said Yilkal Getnet, chairman of the opposition party, Semayawi. “A 100 percent win should never be accepted as reality.”

Read more at NY Times »

—-
Related:
Ethiopian opposition party says candidate’s murder was politically motivated (Reuters)
Semayawi Party Says ‘Everybody Knows Who Killed Samie’ (RFI)
Ethiopia Opposition Candidate Dies After Attack in Northwest (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia’s crackdown on dissent drives opposition to push for ‘freedom first’ (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Opposition Says Elections ‘Undemocratic Disgrace’ (AFP)
As Expected Ruling Party Claims Big Win in Early Ethiopia Election Results
Statement From US State Dept on Ethiopia May 24th Elections (Press Release)
AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment (VOA)
African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

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In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role

(Images: President Obama/White House photo and portrait of Emperor Haile Selassie by Chester Higgins, Jr.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 20th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — President Barack Obama is preparing to make a landmark trip to Ethiopia and the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa in late July as the first sitting U.S. president to visit the nation. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Ethiopia formally began with the signing of the first U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral trade agreement in 1903 during the term of President Theodore Roosevelt and the era of Emperor Menelik II in Ethiopia.

In addition to President Obama’s planned meetings with Ethiopian authorities regarding business investments, international security and democratic governance, we also hope that the President recognizes the significant role that Ethiopia’s former Emperor Haile Selassie played in the creation of the African Union’s predecessor – the Organization of African Unity — as he takes the stage to address African leaders in its new hall.

As Professor Ted Vestal, author of the book The Lion of Judah in the New World, points out “Haile Selassie was an iconic figure of the 20th Century, Cold-war ally of the United States, staunch anti-colonialist, and a noted Pan-Africanist and founding father of the Organization of African Unity.” According to Vestal the Emperor visited the U.S. as a Foreign Head of State, a record 6 times only matched by the Queen of England later in the 21st century.

Likewise, President John F. Kennedy’s remarks made at Washington D.C.’s Union Station on October 1st, 1963, while extending a rare State reception to the globally revered Ethiopian leader, are unforgettable. In welcoming Haile Selassie to the U.S. President Kennedy stated: “I know I speak on behalf of all my fellow Americans in welcoming his Imperial Majesty back to the United States. Since His Majesty visited the United States nearly a decade ago we have seen one of the most extraordinary revolutions in history. And that has been the appearance on the world scene of 29 independent countries in the short space of less than ten years, including over 150 million people. The conference recently held in His Majesty’s capital served, I think, to bring together in a great cooperative movement the people of most of these countries. And the success of that conference was due to in no small part to the leadership of our distinguished guest. His efforts to move his country forward to provide a better life for its people and his efforts throughout the world, which dates back over 30 or 40 years. For all of this your Majesty we take the greatest pride in welcoming you here. You do us honor and I can assure you that there is no guest that we will receive in this country that will give a greater sense of pride and satisfaction to the American people than your presence here today. Your Majesty, you are most welcome.”

We welcome President Obama going to Ethiopia and the African Union’s headquarters and are thrilled that he decided to make this historic trip as the first sitting President to do so in American history.


Related:
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria
A Memoir of First US Diplomat’s Meetings With Emperor Menelik
Haile Selassie’s Africa: A Legacy Ignored by a Generation

Click here to listen to the complete audio of President John F. Kennedy’s welcoming remarks to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on October 1st, 1963.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July

President Barack Obama aboard Air Force One. (Photo: White House)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 19th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — President Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia and the AU head office in Addis Ababa when he travels to Ethiopia next month.

“In late July, President Barack Obama will travel to Ethiopia for bilateral meetings with the government of Ethiopia and the leadership of the African Union,” the White House announced on Friday. “This visit, which follows the President’s trip to Kenya, will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit by strengthening ties with African partners and highlighting America’s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa.”

The White House said that “This will be the first visit of a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia and African Union from its headquarters, understanding our efforts to work with the countries and citizens of sub-Saharn Africa to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security.”

An article published this past Winter by the Brookings Institution suggested that President Obama make the historic travel to Ethiopia noting: “A visit to the AU headquarters by the U.S. president would be a significant endorsement of the role of the continental organization [that was established in the Ethiopian Capital in 1963 as the Organization of African Unity (OAU], and would, indeed, be the best forum in which to hold the next U.S.-African Leaders Summit — building upon the success of the first summit held in Washington in 2014. President Obama and the African leaders could use the summit to discuss strategies to advance the pace of regional integration especially as pertains to involvement of the U.S. private sector, such as in the building of regional infrastructure.”

Below is a Twitter post from The White House National Security:


Related:
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Semayawi Party Says ‘Everybody Knows Who Killed Samie’

Samuel (Samie) Awoke, 29, a candidate who stood for the Blue Party in the May 24th, 2015 Ethiopia election was killed by assassins on Monday night in Debre Markos, Gojam region of Ethiopia. (Photo: RFI)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The head of Youth Affairs for Ethiopia’s Semayawi (Blue) Party says security forces are responsible for the recent assassination of the party’s parliamentary candidate in the Gojam region.

29-year-old Samuel Awoke, who is said to have challenged last month’s controversial election results in his region, was clubbed and stabbed to death in Debre Markos two days ago, according to media reports.

“Samuel was killed in the Gojam region in the Northwest of the country after being allegedly beaten by security forces,” said Yonatan Tesfaye of the Blue Party in a telephone interview with Radio France Internationale.

Tesfaye said Samuel has been receiving death threats and had written a post on Facebook recently predicting that there will be an attempt on his life. “[They] were calling him and threatening him,” Tesfaye said, “The security forces had beaten him a month ago and they left him thinking that he was dead, unfortunately he was not, and they did the same thing again the day before yesterday.”

Radio France Internationale (RFI) said it tried to reach various government spokesmen, but they were unable to do so. “There are reports that Ethiopian Communication Minister Redwan Hussien said they were trying to figure out who the killers are and the motivation behind it,” the broadcaster reported. “Hussien went on to say that a suspect has been arrested. He also suggested that the attack was sparked by a legal dispute.”

Tesfaye disagreed saying: “Samie was not the first person to pay this sacrifice, we all know that this would happen to any of us so we are not afraid. we will just continue to struggle. They are trying to cover it up everybody knows who killed our friend. They do this all the time. They kill and they appear to search for the killer, but its fake. We know they killed him.”

Tesfaye pointed out that Samuel was a prominent member of their Party. “He did a lot of work in his region Gojam,” he added. They wanted to get rid of him. I think there was an order from high position.”

Listen: Murdered Ethiopian opposition politician received death threats & predicted attempt on his life


Related:
Ethiopian opposition party says candidate’s murder was politically motivated (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition Candidate Dies After Attack in Northwest (Bloomberg)

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Crop Insurance Helping Ethiopia’s Farmers

(Image: Ethiopian farmers collect wheat in their field in Abay. REUTERS/Barry Malone)

Agenda

By Elias Gebreselassie

Gebre Sire, a farmer from the village of Abine Germama in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state, has been paying into weather-index based crop insurance for over two years. While he’s happy that he has recently received his first payout after drought ruined his corn crop about a year ago, he feels there are ways to better maximize the scheme’s benefits.

“I’ve already been paid 250 birr ($12.50) on the 100 birr ($5) premium I pay every season,” he said. But the value of the birr has been steadily dropping since the scheme began three years ago, and Sire says his payout doesn’t quite cover all of his costs.

“The premium we pay is too small,” he said. “I would like it to increase along with the payout.”

For Ethiopian farmers dealing with the worsening impacts of climate change, small-scale crop insurance can be a lifesaver. But the insurance needs to expand – and undergo some tweaks – to effectively help them effectively recover from extreme weather, farmers and experts say.

Sire’s complaint is a familiar one to Daniel Negassa, head of the micro-insurance department at Oromia Insurance Share Company (OIC), the only crop insurer in the state. However, he says, change is not yet on the cards.

“Micro-insurance by its nature is for the benefit of the low-income population,” he said. “We’ve seen in our impact assessment that some farmers have difficulty even paying the current premium.”

In the next three or four years, OIC does plan to scale up insurance premiums and compensation in more affluent areas, Negassa said.

The more pressing issue, experts say, is getting the benefits of crop insurance to more farmers.

According to Melkachew Temesgen, a crop insurance officer at OIC, farming is a hugely untapped market for insurance companies. However, poor literacy levels among farmers, the complexity of weather-index-related insurance schemes and the need to convince intermediaries such as farmers cooperatives has discouraged other insurance companies from offering crop coverage.

Kosie Hashiguchi, an expert from the development organization Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has been assisting the OIC with its insurance scheme for over two years. “When the idea was first proposed to insurance companies, many of them were unsure,” he said. “Some even asked that JICA pay for the initial insurance premium payouts.”

Hoping to encourage the use of crop insurance throughout the country, JICA has been funding awareness creation programs and spreading the word to farmers through radio ads and leaflets. The agency is also working alongside the federal government and several regional governments to develop trainers who explain to insurance companies how crop insurance works.

While OIC insurance officer Temsgen agrees that the uptake of crop insurance is slower than he hoped, he is reassured by its success so far. Three farmers’ cooperatives and 1,870 households in the Oromia region paid for crop insurance in 2013; by the end of 2014, that had risen to five cooperatives and 5,720 household.

The hope, he said, is to emulate that success across Oromia and wider areas of Ethiopia.

Data Issues

Experts say one obstacle to the expansion of crop insurance schemes is the complexity and unreliability of the data. Using historical weather data, insurance companies evaluate an area’s vulnerability to extreme weather and base compensation on those findings.

But according to Hashiguchi from JICA, because the satellites that track rainfall levels are not always reliable, there can be gaps in the data. “Weather-index crop insurance schemes need constant research and experimentation,” before they can be considered reliable, he said.

He added that for countries such as Ethiopia, which has a majority rural population, strong reinsurance companies are needed to spread the risk before crop insurance can be sustainably expanded across the country.

Feyiso Biyo, head of Abine Germama village, would like to see the issues with crop insurance resolved so that the remaining third of the 919 households in his locality feel confident to join the scheme. The other households are already covered, he said.

Freeing farmers from the worry of crop failure could have far-reaching positive impacts, he said.

“We used to suffer from persistent drought, but this insurance scheme has assured people and motivated them to deal with climate change,” he said. “They can now focus on other activities such as planting trees in deforested areas.”

Neighboring villages have taken notice and want to participate in the scheme, he said.


Author: Elias Gebreselassie is a freelance correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, writing on energy and climate change.

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Interview with Haile Gerima on New Film

Haile Gerima. (Photo credit: Gezaw Tesfaye)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The following is a ReelBlack TV interview with the acclaimed Ethiopian filmmaker and Howard University Professor Haile Gerima about his current Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for his new film Yetut Lij.

Gerima who launched the online campaign earlier this month “aims to raise $500,000 in matching production funds, the minimum needed to match existing co-­production funds and film on ­location in Ethiopia,” according to Indiewire.

“Gerima’s prospective feature will be his 12th film and 8th dramatic narrative. The film’s title is an Amharic term that usually refers to any child taken in and raised by someone, other than their biological parent. Set primarily in Gerima’s childhood town of Gondar, the story takes place in the 1960’s, some 20 years after the Italo-­Ethiopian War. Aynalem, a 13 ­year­ old peasant girl, is adopted by a wealthy judge’s family and taken away from her own. Promised an educated upbringing and a better life, she is instead, brutalized and forced to work as a domestic servant.”

Indiewire notes: “A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Gerima has spent over 40 years making independent films of “ substance and bold expression” (THE WASHINGTON POST). Having worked alongside other independent filmmakers, like Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry and Larry Clark, Gerima has mastered the production of high value, low­ budget films, outside of commercial and mainstream institutions…With this June’s campaign on Indiegogo, Gerima expects to reach a new, and younger audience hungry for films like his, while activating the loyal base of supporters that made his previous works possible.”

Watch his sit-down with ReelBlack TV:


Related:
Haile Gerima Kicks Off Crowdfunding Campaign for New Film ‘Yetut Lij’

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Berhane Daba Awarded 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award

Berhane Daba being awarded the 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award by the National Peace Corps Association at a ceremony in Berkeley, California on Saturday, June 6th, 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of NPCA)

Tadias Magazine

BY KASSAHUN ADDIS

Published: Sunday, June 14th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last week in Berkeley, California, Berhane Daba made history as the first woman and the first disabled person to win the prestigious Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award by the American Peace Corps alumni organization, National Peace Corps Association.

The story of Berhane is one that would make a great inspiring novel. She was born to a poor rural farming family in Holeta town, some 50 miles from Addis Ababa. In 1968, polio stricken by age two, she was left along a dusty roadside by her father in the hopes that a very important person visiting the town would feel pity and help.

“I was put by my father on the road that King Haile Selassie was passing by as he was visiting our town. My father was hoping the king could take me to Addis Ababa where they already established an orphanage for the sick and abandoned. The stars were aligned that day. The king saw a baby with two disabled legs and with no adults around, inquired about me and told his men to take me in and put me in Addis Ababa for treatment,” Berhane remembers.

Once in Addis, she was placed at St. Paulos Hospital for treatment. A few weeks into her stay at the hospital, a young American nurse, Mary Myers-Bruckenstein, came and started providing therapy for the chronically damaged nerves and tissues caused by crawling. In the words of Berhane, who spoke to Tadias Magazine following the award ceremony, “meeting Mary was one of the defining moments” that profoundly changed her life. Mary had arrived as a member of the newly launched U.S. Peace Corps program. At the age of 22 she had joined the mission after graduating with a nursing degree.

“When I met Berhane and saw her condition, I felt that I could help reduce her pain. I saw her strong spirit and started working with her. But the facilities at Paulos hospital were barely enough,” Mary recounts looking back at her first days of encounter with Berhane.

Mary decided to move the little polio stricken baby to Princess Tsehai (renamed Tor Hailoch) hospital where she worked with Berhane to help her regain more strength. Eventually Berhane was able to walk upright using crutches and her spirit was uplifted. Mary took Berhane into her home until it was time for her to leave Ethiopia, and the relationship between them continued to endure as Mary made a common friend promise to continue to take care of Berhane in her absence.

“After she left Ethiopia, I was admitted to Kechene orphanage where I started school, and our common friend, Tekle, would follow up on me and pass on messages of goodwill and postcards from Mary to me. He would read me a letter from her and help me write one to her too,” says Berhane.

As the Emperor was deposed and socialism was declared the state ideology most Western programs in Ethiopia were shut down and the Peace Corps program became a casualty in 1977. It would take another 18 years for the Peace Corps to return to Ethiopia following the overthrow of the same regime that caused its interruption.

Despite the political and social turmoil over years the relationship between Berhane and Mary endured largely due to Tekle. Berhane talks of Tekle as a man “who took his promise seriously over the years and who still remains a good friend.”

At Kechene orphanage, Berhane completed high school and started working at the National Museum as a librarian. Working hard, and along the way proving stereotypes about disability wrong, she rose up through the ranks. In 2008 she earned her Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology from Admas University. Strengthening her educational and career profile was just one of many battles that Berhane says she “enjoyed.” At the same time she was building a small network of disabled women in a bid to explore what they could do to help other disabled individuals in a society that “considers disability as a curse or sin.”

“Being disabled is one thing, being disabled in an environment that doesn’t have enough safety nets is another. Then being a disabled woman is just too much” says Berhane. She reasons that for a long time the culture in Ethiopia had a utilitarian view of women in general, and that is that they are good “either to help in household chores like fetching water and cleaning and cooking or bringing a rich husband. When one is a disabled woman one is thought to be useless, no good to fulfill any of these expectations. You can’t help in the small chores and you cannot bring that rich husband.”

Berhane and the small network of disabled friends commenced to use their own resources to help each other as well as other disabled women. “We soon realized that we should get ourselves organized and help each other and others who lacked the access and opportunities we had,” Berhane adds, recounting the beginning of the establishment of the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA) — an organization that works to empower women with disabilities and provides them with the skills and confidence they need to become economically self sufficient. The association was founded by Berhane and her seven friends, and today it boasts more than 3,000 members. It started with a women’s resource center and now provides technical, financial and vocational training along with counseling and guidance services to members and non-members. Berhane tells of “the huge challenge of placing trainees in the mainstream job market” — hence EWDNA’s subsequent focus on assisting individuals to start their own small businesses as well.

Berhane is optimistic about the future. She has seen some changes in attitudes towards disabilities in the course of her life. She exclaims, “In the past people used to feel pity for us and openly express it as if we are some helpless creatures. You do not see that often these days. People are witnessing that disability is not a curse and that with the right support system, which for that matter everyone needs, disability can be overcome.” She also sees the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Ethiopia as a step in the right direction.

Berhane met Mary once again at the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award ceremony. “We both were happy that I won this award,” shares Berhane. “And afterwards we talked and stared into each other’s eyes and saw the best of human spirit in each other.”


About the Author:
Kassahun Addis is a New York-based contributing writer for Tadias Magazine.

Related:
Peace Corps Volunteers Honor Berhane Daba of Ethiopia with Global Citizen Award
Review of ‘Long Ago and Far Away’: A Novel Set In Ethiopia by John Coyne

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Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

Ethiopian furniture by Jomo Design featured in the new book Contemporary Design Africa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 11th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The newly released book, Contemporary Design Africa, includes a highlight of exquisite Ethiopia-inspired furniture designs and Berchuma collection by U.S.-based Ethiopian designer Jomo Tariku. The book, the first of its kind, features fifty artists from Africa and the Diaspora “all of whom are creating sophisticated and innovative products for interiors,” says the publisher Thames & Hudson.

Jomo’s products celebrate the traditional aesthetic of Ethiopian household items with modern design and artistic sensibilities. He told Tadias his designs are available for licensing and could be manufactured for any potential large orders and “the furniture pieces will look great inside one of the many lodges and hotels found all over Africa as well as any residences that want to have unique spaces.” Jomo currently works on graphic design at The World Bank Group in Washington, D.C.

The author of Contemporary Design Africa, Tapiwa Matsinde, is a British-born designer, creative business consultant, blogger and writer of Zimbabwean heritage. She has worked as a graphic designer and a brand guardian in corporate communications for leading international organizations.

“Dynamic, diverse, innovative: this is contemporary Africa, a continent where countless intricately layered stories abound,” Thames & Hudson said in a statement. “In the twenty-first century its designers are eschewing romanticised, clichéd interpretations of the continent’s creative heritage in favour of compelling visual narratives.” The publisher added: “Now in Contemporary Design Africa, author Tapiwa Matsinde captures the vitality and soulfulness shaping design from Africa in this first ever survey of the scene.”

Other designers featured in the book include the award-winning South African organization ZENZULU™, focusing on techniques used by Zulu master weavers; Cheick Diallo, who like many of the featured designers has a focus on sustainability; and Nigerian textile designer Banke Kuku, who “fuses African and Western styles in colourful, visually dynamic ways.”

The publisher notes that “Moreover, Contemporary Design Africa presents talent from lesser-known countries including Mauritania, Guinea and the DRC alongside countries – Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa – already making a definite mark on the global design industry.” In addition to Jomo, the Ethiopian textile company Saba Har (www.sabahar.com) is also showcased in the book under the fabrics section.

Thames & Hudson emphasizes: “Whilst contemporary art and fashion from Africa have gained widespread attention in recent years with several books published on these subjects, Contemporary Design Africa fills a large gap in the market. Revealing the rich possibilities being explored by a new generation of Africa’s creators, this is a comprehensive introduction and a source of inspiration for culturally curious designers, makers and interior enthusiasts everywhere.”


You can learn more about Jomo Design at Jomofurniture.com. And purchase the book at Amazon.com.

Below are photos featured in ‘Contemporary Design Africa’ Courtesy of the publisher:

Related:
Review of ‘Long Ago and Far Away’: A Novel Set In Ethiopia by John Coyne

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Deseta Design Offers Ethiopian American Father’s Day Card Collection

Father's Day' Card 2015 from Deseta Design by Maro Haile. (Image courtesy of the artist)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The latest release from Deseta Design holiday collection by Ethiopian American artist Mariam-Sena (Maro) Haile of Brooklyn, features a playful Father’s Day card featuring her instantly recognizable Ethiopia-centric and fun artwork.

In the United States Father’s Day is usually celebrated on the third Sunday of June and it’s a special time to show your love and to honor the contributions of your parent. This year it falls on Sunday, June 21st.

“Does this imagery bring back good childhood memories?” Maro asked, announcing her 2015 Father’s Day card. “And can you hear your dad now, inhaling each sip of his post-dinner tea with an intense focus on keeping out the steam, and completing each sip with a pronounced ahhhh-SAY!?”

Maro translates the motto for her label Deseta as “live happy.” She says: “I am creating new and unique designs that touch on our rich Ethiopian design heritage but also with a universal appeal.”


You can learn more and purchase Deseta products at www.deseta.net and Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/deseta. You may also follow on instagram at Instagram.com/desetadesign or Facebook at www.facebook.com/desetaArtAndDesign

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Super Natural: Liya Kebede is One of the World’s Most Successful Models

Scouted as a teenager in Ethiopia, 37-year-old Liya Kebede is now one of the world’s most successful models, an influential philanthropist and fashion designer. (Ben Morris)

Sunday Times Style

By Katie Glass

Club 55 — where Elton John lunches when he’s in St Tropez — is the kind of ultrachic beachside restaurant where people in diamond-encrusted Rolexes indulge in three-hour lunches of lobster, while out-ordering each other with magnums of champagne. But when I arrive there to meet the supermodel Liya Kebede, she is not flashing cash among the ostentatious throng. Instead, she’s sitting alone on the beach.

Kebede is here to launch The Outnet’s edit of high-summer clothes: a collection of beachy cover-ups, swimwear and flirty dresses. Today she’s wearing loose cotton trousers and an orange shirt that could pass for pyjamas. “I like being comfortable. I like being effortless,” she says. She has no make-up on, her hair is messily up and she’s drinking a full-sugar Coke, so it’s hard to believe this was the woman photographed in a Dior Haute Couture jumpsuit and curls on the cover of May’s Paris Vogue.

Read the full article at Sunday Times »

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Peace Corps Volunteers Honor Berhane Daba of Ethiopia with Global Citizen Award

Berhane Daba of Ethiopia, winner of the 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Berhane Daba, President and Founder of Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association, has been named winner of the 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award, a prestigious annual prize given by the National Peace Corps Association. Daba will be honored in Berkeley, California this weekend and then will meet with national disability rights activists and Congress members next week on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

“The Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award honors an outstanding global leader who grew up in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served, whose life was influenced by the Peace Corps, and whose career contributed significantly to their nation and the world in ways that reflect shared values in human dignity and economic, social, and political development,” the National Peace Corps Association said in a press release. “It is the highest honor bestowed upon a global leader by the National Peace Corps Association.”

Daba’s organization, the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA), works to empower women with disabilities with the skills and confidence they need to become economically independent. According to the press release “Daba advocates for equal access for women and people of disability so that they can reach their full potential — and she understands these obstacles because she has conquered them herself. Diagnosed with polio at the age of four, Daba faced not only an inability to walk, but also widespread estrangement from her community. She was placed in a wing of the Princess Tsehai Hospital with orphaned and disabled children by the age of five.”

The Peace Corps Connection

It was during this period that Daba would meet Peace Corps Volunteer and nurse Mary Myers-Bruckenstein. Seeing Daba as a unique and valuable person with potential, Myers-Bruckenstein decided to take her into her home. Daba then entered an environment where she had an opportunity to heal and to attend school.

Daba viewed gaining an education as her greatest opportunity to live an independent lifestyle. She refused to accept limits placed on her by society, and it is through this process of bettering herself and overcoming prejudice that she found her calling—to assist others and to champion equal access and opportunity for people with disability.

Since founding the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association in 1995, Daba has worked to expand the organization’s member base from its original eight members to over 2,100 today. Beyond providing technical and vocational training, EWDNA offers counseling and guidance services to further empower members to confidently enter the workforce.

EWDNA uses a sustainable business model to fund its programming, operating a bakery where members can work, and thus promoting the organization’s goal of socio-economic empowerment for disabled women.

Daba has become an international leader on behalf of her cause, and has travelled to Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa for meetings and conferences. This summer she plans to attend leadership training in Italy sponsored by the International Labour Organization.

“My future plan is to continue struggling for [the] disability moment and support the forgotten disabled people,” states Daba on moving forward. “And if God helps me, I will do something for my birthplace.”

The selection committee noted that “Berhane Daba’s story is emblematic of the direct and life-changing impact that Peace Corps Volunteers can have in communities where they serve, and how that impact can ripple outward. Berhane is a catalyst for changing attitudes about how people with disabilities are viewed, not only in her native Ethiopia, but around the world.”

The NPCA will present Berhane Daba with the 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award on Saturday, June 6 at Peace Corps Connect – Berkeley. Daba will be in Washington, DC the following week meeting with disability rights activists and members of Congress.

About the Wofford Award:

The Wofford Award is named in honor of Harris Wofford, former U.S. Senator and special assistant to U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps. Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar, successful businessman and philanthropist, endowed the Award. He is also the Award’s first recipient, presented to him in September 2011 at the NPCA “Promise of the Peace Corps Gala” celebrating Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary.


You can learn more about The Harris Wofford Award at Peacecorpsconnect.org.

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Dukale’s Dream: Friendship, Fair Trade Coffee & Climate Change

Dukale and Hugh Jackman planting coffee trees (photo courtesy: New York Daily News).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – When Actor Hugh Jackman was invited by the UN to speak during Climate Week NYC in 2009 he told the audience of world leaders that the hero of his story is a young farmer named Dukale from the southern district of Ethiopia — the birthplace of coffee. Dukale not only inspired Jackman to be passionate about fair trade coffee but his livelihood taught Jackman how to produce great tasting coffee in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Invited as World Vision Ambassador Jackman had traveled with director Josh Rothstein to Ethiopia six years ago. The film entitled Dukale’s Dream — which is scheduled to premiere today (June 4th) at SVA Theatre in NYC — documents the friendship that subsequently launched Laughing Man Coffee & marketplace promoting fair trade coffee and tea from around the world including directly from Yirgacheffe Union, the Co-op that Dukale belongs to.

“Dukale has a zero carbon footprint. And it’s humbling,” says Jackman in the documentary feature. Observing the ethically responsible manner in which coffee is grown at Dukale’s farm, with limited resources, Jackman adds: “We need to take a leaf out of their book to be honest. And I’m sure a lot of people in the West can learn a lot. It’s not just about profits; It’s about how can we develop and yet still sustain the planet.”

The message of Dukale’s Dream is timely as Shift Magazine recently published a highlight of the top 10 countries affected by climate change with Ethiopia on the list. The majority of the country’s population works as small-scale and subsistence farmers and they are the ones who would be the most vulnerable and affected by harsh changes in climate. Dukale’s Dream depicts how small but significant changes in lifestyle, such as using a methane gas converter instead of firewood, can reduce deforestation as well as one’s carbon footprint and provide a better environment for current and future generations. Jackman also shares the importance of empowering women in the decision-making process both at home and on the farm in creating sustainable community development programs, and highlights how Dukale and his wife Adanech work as partners.

Following his speech at Climate Week NYC Jackman was propelled to promote his vision that development should not be synonymous with aid or giving a handout. Rather the focus should be in giving individuals a hand-up, opening doors, and providing opportunities for fair trade products to enter the world market. Jackman returned to NYC and launched Laughing Man Coffee & Tea where the best selling fair trade coffee is named Dukale’s Dream. A 100% of the profits of Laughing Man Foundation go to support educational programs and community development programs.

Dukalesdreamcoffee
(Photo Courtesy: Mary’s Cup of Tea online)

Asked what he has taken away from making Dukale’s Dream, director Josh Rothstein shares his hope that “the story can spark an interest in development and direct trade.” He adds:  “Maybe the largest takeaway is that viewers and customers are sort of the same thing. By that I mean that every person who sees the film will leave the theatre and think about their next purchase. I am interested in giving viewers the idea that their everyday purchases can have a large impact on the lives of people and the climate. To that end, there is a connectivity, a nurturing, the sense of empathy and compassion for individuals who live very far apart. I’m hoping our viewers will also be moved. I think that is a key ingredient for our survival.”

The theatrical release of Dukale’s Dream is scheduled for June 6th in New York, New Jersey, DC, Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles. It will be released on video on demand on July 14th.

You can watch the trailer of Dukale’s Dream below:

and purchase Dukale’s fair-trade coffee at Laughing Man

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Haile Gerima Kicks Off Crowdfunding Campaign for New Film ‘Yetut Lij’

The award-winning director Haile Gerima is working on a new film called 'Yetut Lij.' (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The verbatim, Amharic-to-English, translation of Yetut Lij is “Child of the Breast,” but the actual meaning of the Ethiopian saying refers to a young person who is provided for by an adoptive family. The expression is also the title of an upcoming film by the acclaimed independent filmmaker Haile Gerima, who launched an online crowdfunding campaign this week to help finance a production that “intimates the harsh and complex realities” encased in the phrase: Yetut Lij.

According to the Indiegogo campaign “the story takes place in 1960’s Ethiopia, 20 years after the Italian occupation. Aynalem, a 13-year-old peasant girl, gets adopted by a wealthy judge’s family and taken away from her own, with the promise of an educated upbringing and a better life. Contrary to this promise, she is instead forced to work as a domestic servant. Yet, despite the close watch and cruelty of her employers, she meets and falls in love with an ordinary police man, named Tilahun. Though, he manages to help her escape her circumstances, Tilahun finds Aynalem years later, in the clutches of another formidable captor.”

The film is a “fictional drama with very real implications about human rights, specifically the right to love in the face of local and global forces” says Gerima. “Though, the film is set in Ethiopia, Aynalem [the movie's main character] for me, represents a vulnerable population of women and girls, who are trafficked exploited and enslaved all over the world.”

“As I dedicate myself to this story, I want you to claim it as your own,” Gerima says. “If you believe in it, stand for it. Support the campaign, and spread the word. Let’s make a film, together.”


You can learn more and support the project at Indiegogo.com.

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Ethiopian Israeli to Lead Immigration Panel

Naguise went straight to the celebratory meeting from Ben-Gurion Airport, after returning from the Salute to Israel Parade in New York and meeting with Jewish-American community leaders. (Photo credit: Courtesy)

The Jerusalem Post

By LAHAV HARKOV

Naguise makes history as first MK from Ethiopia to lead Knesset immigration panel

In its 35 years of existence, the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee never had a chairman who emigrated from Ethiopia – until Monday night, when MK Abraham Naguise (Likud) was elected to the position.

Four ministers from the Likud – Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Science and Technology Minister Danny Danon and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin – attended Naguise’s inaugural meeting, which is not a usual occurrence.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said the ministers’ attendance shows how important the committee is to many people.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz, with whom Naguise’s is thought to be aligned in the Likud’s internal politics, did not attend.

Naguise went straight to the celebratory meeting from Ben-Gurion Airport, after returning from the Salute to Israel Parade in New York and meeting with Jewish-American community leaders.

“It is an important mission of the country and the new government to strengthen our connection with Jewish communities abroad,” he said.

Naguise said he will focus on encouraging aliya, solving immigrants’ problems and integrating immigrants into society.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post »


Related:
Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

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Review of ‘Long Ago and Far Away’: A Novel Set In Ethiopia by John Coyne

John Coyne, pictured above in Addis Ababa in 1964, is the author of the new novel 'Long Ago and Far Away.' Coyne served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Ethiopia from 1962 to 1964. (Photograph by Michael McCaskey)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 1st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Author John Coyne was one of the first batch of Peace Corp Volunteers sent to Ethiopia in 1962 where he taught at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa. Since then Coyne, who currently lives in New York, has re-connected with several of his students who have come to America. His most recent (13th) novel entitled Long Ago and Far Away uses Ethiopia as the cultural environment for a love story between two young Americans – a spy serving as a diplomat and a journalist commissioned to produce a tour guide of Ethiopia in 1973. The plot spans a period of 40 years, and goes back and forth in time and place between Ethiopia, the United States, and Spain. Interspersed with mention of historical books written about Ethiopia Coyne also includes a lesser talked about scenario where individuals related to the royal family had been restricted in their movements due to their suspected participation and support of an earlier attempted coup against Haile Selassie.

As the narrator, Parker Bishop, starts the novel with a criminal trial involving a Peace Corp Volunteer’s death he provides a glimpse of the months preceding the uprising of the army that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. Coyne depicts the tension in the air surrounding the secrecy of a looming drought in the north of the country and brewing political instability, as well as the explorations of a foreign (ferenji) narrator who is not a complete outsider as he is familiar enough to communicate in the Amharic language. Yet these images that have become so stereotypical of the nation are swiftly challenged with Coyne’s perceptive descriptions of the conditions that ordinary people lived under in rural parts of Ethiopia, the beauty of small moments such as driving on highland roads enveloped by the bloom of Meskel flowers after the annual Summer rainy season, or sharing a cubaya (cup) of tea brewed in a tukul house in Fiche. It’s easy to feel Coyne’s magnetic pull to the land and its people and anyone who has ever spent time in Ethiopia may be instantly catapulted into a sense of nostalgia for the contradictions and uniqueness of the experience.

“It’s not all about Ethiopia, but Ethiopia is the spark of the book,” Coyne tells Tadias. “As a friend of mine said, Ethiopia is the character in the novel. You can’t read the book without learning about Ethiopia.” Coyne has also included a glossary and pronunciation section with phonetic spelling at the end of the book.

Long Ago and Far Away is a novel written with great love of Ethiopia and its essence stays with you long after you have finished reading the last words the lovers say to each other.


You can learn more and purchase the book at johncoynebooks.com or at amazon.com.

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Ethiopia’s Economy Neither a Sprint Nor A Marathon — The Economist

At a polling booth in Ethiopia on May 24th, 2015. (Photo: EPA)

The Economist

May 30th 2015 | ADDIS ABABA | From the print edition

NOWHERE in Africa is modern China more of a lodestar than in Ethiopia, which on May 24th held an uneventful election with a predetermined outcome: another term in office for the long-standing ruling party. The continent’s second most populous country and fastest-growing big economy has close intellectual links with China’s Communists and often sends officials to their party school in Beijing. There Ethiopians imbibe the gospel of industrialisation overseen by a strong state that exerts tight control over an ethnically diverse population with a history of strife.

But all is not well in the relationship. When a new Chinese ambassador arrived in Addis Ababa in February, he presented an unexpectedly awkward message to his hosts. La Yifan told the ruling elite—behind firmly closed doors—that it must discard the isolationism of the past and open up an economy in which the flow of money and information is still restricted. Banking and telecoms are almost antediluvian (see chart). Investors are frustrated. Trade lags expectations. After years of praising the government, the Chinese are now singing from the same hymn sheet as Ethiopia’s Western critics.

The problem is a lack of courage. Many in the Ethiopian government, ruling party and security apparatus acknowledge that only further reforms can sustain the goals of economic growth and political stability. But they are slow to enact them.

The government’s main priority is industrialisation. But endless red tape and restrictions on finance deter investors. Officials point to Huajian, a Chinese shoemaker that has gone from employing 600 locals to 3,500 in a few years. But Ethiopia needs a hundred Huajians. Without faster growth of industry, the country will struggle to absorb labour it hopes to free up from modernising subsistence farms that provide a living to 80% of its people.

Read more at The Economist »


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Ethiopia Opposition Says Elections ‘Undemocratic Disgrace’

Ethiopian Electoral Board employees work at a polling station in Addis Ababa on May 24, 2015. (AFP)

AFP

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia’s main opposition party on Friday condemned weekend elections, which saw the ruling party cruise back into office, as a “disgrace” and proof the country was a one-party state.

According to preliminary results from last Sunday’s elections, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn secured all 442 parliamentary seats so far declared out of the 547 seats up for grabs.

The EPRDF, in power in Africa’s second-most populous nation for over two decades, were widely expected to secure a near clean sweep of parliament, and the outgoing chamber had just one opposition MP — but even this was taken by the ruling party.

“The Blue Party does not accept the process as free and fair and does not accept the outcome of unhealthy and undemocratic elections,” the main opposition party said.

“This 100 percent win by the regime is a message of disgrace” and shows that a “multi-party system is over in Ethiopia”.

Ahead of Sunday’s polls the opposition alleged the government had used authoritarian tactics to guarantee victory — such as intimidation, refusing to register candidates or arresting supporters.

The Blue Party’s spokesman, Yonatan Tesfaye, alleged that 200 party candidates were denied the right to stand for parliament and 52 party members were arrested in the run-up to the polls.

“We don’t think there is an independent justice system to deal with our complaints. We’ll continue our peaceful struggle,” he told reporters.

After the elections, the United States, which enjoys close security cooperation with Ethiopia, also said it remained “deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.”

The European Union also said true democracy had yet to take root in Ethiopia, and voiced concern over “arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, closure of a number of media outlets and obstacles faced by the opposition in conducting its campaign.”

The African Union observer mission, however, described the polling as “credible” and “generally consistent with the AU guidelines on the conduct of elections in Africa.”

On Wednesday government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said the win came as the result of Ethiopia’s economic advances.

Read more »

Related:
As Expected Ruling Party Claims Big Win in Early Ethiopia Election Results
Statement From US State Dept on Ethiopia May 24th Elections (Press Release)
AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment (VOA)
African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Highlighting Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship

Meseret Hailu (top right) and Rediate Tekeste of the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship. (Photos courtesy of EDF)

Tadias Magazine

By Addis Daniel

Published by Tadias Magazine May 28th, 2015

The Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF) trains young Ethiopian professionals in leadership development, service, and creative storytelling skills before sending them to Ethiopia to serve at partner organizations for a 6-month fellowship. “We provide an option for Ethiopian Diaspora to connect with Ethiopia in a meaningful way,” says Founder, Rediate Tekeste.

Outside of trips to Ethiopian restaurants, church events, the yearly soccer tournament and of course the retelling of their parent’s tizita — first and second generation Ethiopian Americans find themselves immersed in Western mainstream society, slowly severing the cultural bond between generations. Despite this disconnect, the youth residing in the Diaspora are often times intrigued and attracted by their culture and ancestry. They find themselves connected as much as possible to Ethiopian events, social media groups, and friends — yet find it difficult to deepen that connection in a realistic and meaningful manner. Additionally, Ethiopian adopted young people yearn for a connection to Ethiopia but may not have the network or community to reconnect.

In August, two women, Rediate Tekeste and Meseret Hailu, attempted to assess, from a millennial lens, the push-pull relationship within their generation by sending out a survey via social media and a Diaspora listserv. Expecting less than 200 results, they were shocked to find almost 400 people all over the country had answered their 23 questions with thoughtful answers. The desire for Ethiopian Diaspora youth to be heard was evident. The organization was built using the survey results as a framework to understand the population.

The fellowship offers a bridge — an avenue for exceptional applicants as well as opportunities to participate in trainings, work in a variety of organizations in Ethiopia, and network with local professionals. While in Ethiopia, fellows participate in peer-to-peer mentorship and use storytelling to increase their own cultural identity and become a catalyst for growth and change in Ethiopia. The work of partner organizations collaborating with EDF ranges from technology, education, and health to gender empowerment and an intersection of multiple areas. The vision is to be a model by which young Ethiopians can engage with Ethiopia. Every partner organization is run by Ethiopians and serving Ethiopians. Fellows are required to document their journey through a variety of mediums to strengthen their storytelling abilities and encouraged to reflect on their identity growth.

The team is comprised of Ethiopian Diaspora, Ethiopian immigrants, and a group of advisors with professional skills ranging from psychologists to marketing and health professionals. The varied backgrounds and cultural perspectives of the team allows EDF to gain an in-depth understanding of how this program can serve not only as a medium for connecting a cultural identity but also as a means for Ethiopian-Americans/Ethiopian Canadians to give contribute to their homeland through skills and knowledge transfer.

“There are well-skilled and educated people in Ethiopia doing amazing work, and we aim to utilize those people to help Diaspora youth connect and evaluate their own identity,” said Rediate.


If you would like more information or would like to support, apply or partner with Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship – please visit www.ethiopiandiasporafellowship.org . Application deadline is June 5th, 2015.

Author Bio: Addis Daniel is a first generation Ethiopian American who spent the last year and a half living and working in Addis Ababa. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and is currently living in Los Angeles, CA working as a freelance creative designer and writer. She is passionate about social issues particularly those affecting women and children in developing countries. She hopes to use her talents to empower the people of Ethiopia and allow them advance themselves through community building and education.

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Study: Ethiopian Fossils Indicate New Forerunner of Humans

Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selasie conducts comparative analysis of the new fossil from Ethiopia in his laboratory at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. (Photo: Cleveland Museum of Natural History via AP)

Associated Press

In a paper released Wednesday, May 27, 2015, by the journal Nature, Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selasie and colleagues announce the new find

NEW YORK — A fossil find adds another twig to the human evolutionary tree, giving further evidence that the well-known “Lucy” species had company in what is now Ethiopia, a new study says.

A lower jaw, plus jaw fragments and teeth, dated at 3.3 million to 3.5 million years old, were found in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia four years ago.

That shows a second human ancestor lived in about the same area and time frame as Lucy’s species, researchers said. But not everyone agrees.

In a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature, the researchers announce the new find and assign it to a species they dubbed Australopithecus deyiremeda (aw-strah-low-PIH’-thuh-kus day-eh-REH’-meh-dah). In the Afar language the second name means “close relative,” referring to its apparent relationship to later members of the evolutionary tree.

But nobody knows just how it’s related to our own branch of the family tree, said Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who led the discovery team.

Our branch, which includes Homo sapiens and our closest extinct relatives, arose from the evolutionary grouping that now includes the new creature as well as Lucy’s species. The new arrival, and the possibility of still more to come, complicates the question of which species led to our branch, he said.

Previously, fossilized foot bones found in 2009 near the new discovery site had indicated the presence of a second species. But those bones were not assigned to any species, and it’s not clear whether they belong to the newly identified species either, Haile-Selassie said. If they don’t, that would indicate yet another species from the same time and region as Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis.


An undated photo provided by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History shows Mahammed Baroa, a local Afar working for the Woranso-Mille project, who found the fossils. (AP photo)

Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who didn’t participate in the new work, said the discovery provides “compelling evidence” that a second creature lived in the vicinity of Lucy’s species at the same time. The next question, he said, is how they shared the landscape.

“These fossils certainly create an agenda for a lot of interesting research that’s going to be done in the next decade,” Wood said.

As evidence that the new fossils represent a previously unknown species, the researchers cite specific anatomical differences with known fossils. But Tim White, a University of California, Berkeley, expert in human evolution, was unimpressed.

He said he thinks the fossils actually come from Lucy’s species.

“Anatomical variation within a biological species is normal,” he said in an email. “That’s why so many announcements of this sort are quickly overturned.”


Related:
‘New species’ of ancient human found (BBC)
Forty Years After Lucy’s Ethiopia Discovery: A Conversation with Donald Johanson (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia, ‘Are You a Journalist?’ Is a Loaded Question

A woman leaves after casting her vote at a polling station, as Ethiopia's national election kicks off in capital Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Anita Powell

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Are you a journalist?” the young man asks me as we board the elevator.

In Ethiopia, this is a loaded question. It earned me an extra 45-minute wait at airport immigration as officials thumbed through my passport, pawed through my luggage and asked me what my intentions were.

Several international human rights groups have documented the systematic repression of Ethiopian journalists who were openly critical of the ruling party. About a dozen journalists and bloggers are in Ethiopian prison, accused of terrorism. Many more have fled into exile and are covering this year’s election from afar.

“Yes,” I sigh.

“I’m not happy with this election,” he blurts out. “There is no democracy in Ethiopia.”

Bold, I think admiringly. This is new – when I was assigned to Ethiopia eight years ago, in the aftermath of the government’s violent reaction to an opposition gains in the 2005 election, those sentiments were rarely spoken aloud – and certainly not to random journalists.

Is he trying to bait me? I wonder.

“Oh?” I say, cautiously. “Yes, I’ve heard people say that.”

I get off at my floor, rattled.


People take part in a Blue Party election rally in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, May 21, 2015. (Photo Reuters)

On the campaign trail, the nation’s newest opposition party winds its way through Addis Ababa. Crowds emerge to watch the procession.

“Please, I am journalist from America,” I say in Amharic at every stop, waving at my camera theatrically. “Do you have opinion on the election please? Will you give interview?”

No one volunteers. One man covers his face when he sees me filming the street. The guy next to him takes his phone out and points it in my direction. I remove my sunglasses and stare at him.

Opposition members say they’re confident of getting support at the polling booth. Blue Party spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye even predicts the various opposition parties will grab as many as 100 parliamentary seats, out of more than 500. This would indeed be a triumph: in 2010, the opposition won just a single seat.

One opposition candidate, Yidinakachaw Addis, tells me he was arrested while trying to take food to his imprisoned friends, also opposition supporters.

“I know it’s very difficult to participate in politics, especially in our country,” he says. “I know, even I will be in prison one day. So I am happy, even if I will join my friends in prison, I will be happy for that. I think I did something best for my country.”

Later, the internet has failed in my hotel room, sending me frantically down to the lobby to try to transmit a TV story on the opposition campaign.

Another young man on the elevator. I gesture to my laptop, explain in Amharic, “There is no internet in my house.” (I don’t know the word for hotel room.)

“It’s the government,” he responds, to my surprise. “There’s an election coming and they want to stop the internet.”

Overcome, I show him a snippet of my story. “If you don’t follow them and if you don’t join them and if you don’t do what they need, you can’t do what you need,” says Abdurahim Jemal Araya, a self-described political refugee living in South Africa. “And you need to follow them, each and every thing they are telling you, because there is no democracy at all in our country.”

The young man nods.

“That is my feeling too,” he says grimly.


A woman casts her vote at a polling station, as Ethiopia’s national election kicks off in capital Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Election day starts before dawn. People line up at a typical Addis Ababa polling station. It is calm, orderly, polite. I go from station to station, and at all but one of them my election badge allows me easy access.

“What are you doing here?” asks a burly dude in a leather jacket at that one station.

I’m tempted to tell him I’m on vacation, and just thought it might be fun to, you know, drop by a polling station at 6 a.m. with a video camera. But more burly dudes come over. They tell me to wait, order me to point my camera at the ground.

Finally an election official comes out and scrutinizes my badge.

After a long wait, he tells me, “It’s okay, you are allowed.”

“I know,” I say tartly.

I have little trouble finding ruling party voters. They are, after all, the majority. But I approach voter after voter in an attempt to get a variety of views. Several actually run away from me.

The next day, I meet someone who knows one of the nine jailed bloggers and journalists. He asks not to be identified for fear of reprisal. He says he fears that talking to me so soon after the election could make things worse for the group.

I grill the poor man. “Is it possible,” I ask, “that any one of the nine could have links to actual groups trying to overthrow the Ethiopian government?” That’s the ostensible reason for their imprisonment. Could his friend, who he swears is innocent, have been accidentally pulled in over her head?

He shakes his head and notes that the prosecution hasn’t presented any evidence of terrorism.

“I think it’s a fear of the future rather than a crime of their past that they were arrested for,” he says, explaining that the longtime ruling EPRDF party fears reprisals if they ever lose power.

There’s no obvious sign of this repression he’s talking about. As we sit and talk in a cafe, we both look nervously at a succession of lone men who fill up the tables near us, studying their phones.

I later drop in to see a local business owner, who tells me that three of his workers called in to say they were too afraid to come to work. They refused, he says, to say more.

We talk about rampant rumors that the ruling party has won 100 percent of the vote this time, and I stress that only official results count.

He raises an eyebrow at me, as if to say, “Really?”


A boy sits outside a polling station, as Ethiopia’s national election kicks off in capital Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

As journalists, we are limited to the attributed, the concrete, the verifiable, and the achievable. And so, my stories from this election show orderly polling stations, happy voters, and government supporters.

They also include mild endorsement from the only foreign observer mission, the African Union, which said the election was peaceful and credible, although they not use the words “free and fair.”

But my stories on this election are largely missing a silent, and silenced, group. I have no idea how big this group really is, as many won’t speak to me once the video camera or voice recorder come out.

Those who told me they didn’t bother to vote insisted that information was off the record. The blogger-journalist group tried to vote, the friend says, as they have not been convicted of anything and therefore are still eligible. But prison authorities told them there was no nearby polling station.

Opposition campaigner Ephraim Sahle Selassie says he believes that free expression is unstoppable, with the growth of technology and social media.

But for now, in Ethiopia, free expression is just a dream for the future.

WATCH: Anita Powell’s video report on Ethiopian election


Related:
As Expected Ruling Party Claims Big Win in Early Ethiopia Election Results (VOA)
Statement From US State Dept on Ethiopia May 24th Elections (Press Release)
AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment (VOA)
African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)

A woman registers to vote in Ethiopia's general election in Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Getty Images)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – African Union observers said on Tuesday that Ethiopia’s parliamentary election held on Sunday was credible except for a few irregularities, but the opposition dismissed the vote as marred by violations including ballot box theft.

Provisional results in Africa’ second most populous nation are due later this week and few expect anything but a landslide for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, in power since ousting dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over after EPRDF’s long-serving leader Meles Zenawi died in 2012, has pushed on with EPRDF’s highly-centralised statist economic model credited with turning around the fortunes of a country once ravaged by war and famine.

But the opposition — which has one seat in the outgoing 547-member parliament — accuses the government of crushing dissent, limiting free speech, and muzzling the press. The EPRDF denies this, saying the political space is open for all.

“The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) concludes that the parliamentary elections were calm, peaceful, and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls,” former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the head of the AU mission, said.

Pohamba said 59 members from 23 African countries visited 356 polling stations. Ethiopia did not invite Western observers to this election. About 37 million out of Ethiopia’s 96 million people registered to vote.

The observers said no major incidents occurred and that they could vouch for the secrecy of the vote in 95 percent of the polling stations it observed.

Read more at Reuters.com »



Related:
AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment (VOA)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Counting Votes After Election

(Image: Euronews video screen shot)

Euronews

Ethiopia has started counting the votes after Sunday’s elections.

Provisional results should emerge within a few days and the final result is expected to be announced in June.

The country’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is widely expected to win a landslide victory.

Read more at Euronews.

Watch: Ethiopia counting votes after parliamentary election (Euronews)


Related:
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results

A woman casts her vote in Ethiopia's general election in Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (AP photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Monday, May 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — There is little surprise regarding the results of Sunday’s Ethiopia poll. The ruling EPRDF party, which has governed the country for nearly 25 years, is expected to claim an easy victory in another controversial election.

“There were no reports of election-related violence and African Union observers said the voting was ‘orderly,’ VOA reported.

“The voting lines formed well before sunrise in Addis Ababa on Sunday. People thronged to polling stations set up in tents, public halls and schools across this rapidly growing city of more than 3 million residents.”

The Wall Street Journal added: “The controversy over the poll underscores the struggle Western nations have with Ethiopia—praised for its economic progress and security but criticized roundly for seizing lands from farmers, jailing journalists and silencing opposition parties.”

Technically there are 58 parties participating in the national contest, but only two are considered remotely competitive: MEDREK and Blue Party. Deutsche Welle notes: “Most parties are unknown to the electorate or believed to be allied with EPRDF. Opposition leaders allege that the large number of parties served to dilute the vote and create a false perception of a competitive environment.”

Below are photos from Sunday’s election:



Related:
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

NY Times: Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power

Voters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reading newspapers ahead of Sunday’s election. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which currently governs, is expected to win. (Credit: Reuters)

The New York Times

By JACEY FORTIN

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Like the other people in his village, Berhanu Wodajo, a 40-year-old farmer, is planning to vote for “the bee.”

In the buildup to national elections on Sunday, the insect has become ubiquitous. Its image adorns banners over busy roads, placards at parades and fliers taped to corrugated steel walls. It is the symbol of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has held power in this country for 24 years.

“The bee is the government,” said Mr. Berhanu in Dakabora, a tiny village in central Ethiopia. “We don’t know anything about the other options.”

A total of 58 parties have fielded candidates for the federal Parliament and regional assemblies this year, and more than 36 million citizens are registered to vote in Sunday’s election, the first national poll since the 2012 death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who ruled the country for 17 years. His party, the E.P.R.D.F., now led by Hailemariam Desalegn, is expected to hold on to power.

Politicians from the ruling party have campaigned on a record of economic growth. The economy, according to government statistics, grew 10 percent annually over the past decade. The government has also touted construction of large-scale projects like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which could more than triple electricity generation, and assistance to farmers that helped poverty rates fall from 44 to 30 percent between 2000 and 2011, according to the World Bank.

A spokesman for the E.P.R.D.F., Desta Tesfaw, said opposition parties had little to offer by comparison. “They are not strong enough,” he said. “They have no clear policy. They have no clear program.”

Opposition politicians, meanwhile, have tried to appeal to Ethiopians disillusioned with the ruling party’s tight control over the political sphere, and have campaigned particularly in urban areas.

But most voters believe the opposition stands little chance of success given the dominance of the E.P.R.D.F., especially in rural areas where about 80 percent of the population lives.

Read more at NY Times »

Related:
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters

A youth waves the ruling party Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) flag in front of a large crowd during an election rally by the EPRDF in Addis Ababa, May 21, 2015. (Getty Images)

VOA News

By Anita Powell

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA/JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Ethiopia will hold a major election Sunday, but critics of the longtime ruling party say systematic repression has made this vote a nonevent. Outside of the country, Ethiopians who say they are political refugees have even harsher words for the government.

On the streets of Ethiopia’s capital, it’s hard to ignore that an election is coming. But banners and blaring songs aside, this is an oddly quiet election in a nation of some 90 million people.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front is virtually guaranteed victory. In the last election in 2010, opposition parties won only a single seat in parliament.

Inside Ethiopia, very few ordinary voters are willing to speak about politics, which seems to support rights groups’ claims that Ethiopia, in the words of Human Rights Watch, “has created a bleak landscape for free expression.”

A spokesman for the EPRDF denies this.

“Most of the time, oppositions raised claims, complaints, and then after we established the complaint committee when it come to the result most of them will be false allegations. But some, very few, may be happened in reality,” said Desta Tesfaw, head of public and foreign relations for EPRDF.

However, the Blue Party, Ethiopia’s newest opposition party, said it has faced harassment, arrests and an unfair playing field.

“Oppositions are not getting a fair proportion of time and location, financing, things like that. Not only that, there are tremendous repression, we have about 50 people arrested only in Addis, about 50,” said Yonatan Tesfaye, Blue Party spokesman.

In South Africa, Ethiopian immigrants said they are able to voice the thoughts they could not share at home. Many said they fled persecution from the ruling EPRDF.

“If you don’t follow them and if you don’t join them and if you don’t do what they need, you can’t do what you need. And you need to follow them, each and every thing they are telling you, because there is no democra(cy) at all in our country,” Ethiopian immigrant Abdurahim Jemal Araya said.

In Addis Ababa, VOA News repeatedly asked gathered crowds if anyone would share their thoughts on the election, either in English or in Amharic. No one volunteered.


Related:
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’

An election rally staged by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in Addis Ababa. There is widespread public indifference about the poll. (Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Guardian

By Daniel Calingaert and Kellen McClure

Ethiopia’s election is a wake-up call on human rights and sound governance

On Sunday, millions of Ethiopians will line up at polling stations to participate in Africa’s largest exercise of political theatre. A decade-long campaign by Ethiopia’s government to silence dissent forcibly has left the country without a viable political opposition, without independent media, and without public challenges to the ruling party’s ideology.

For most Ethiopians, these elections are a non-event.

Ethiopia’s elections are just an exercise in controlled political participation

The one potential dividend of these sham polls, however, is the international attention they will garner for the government’s growing political repression. The blatant disregard for internationally recognised standards for free and fair elections just might convince Ethiopia’s largest donors that it is time to rethink their relationship with an increasingly authoritarian government.

As long as democratic governance and respect for human rights are pushed aside by donors in favour of economic development and security cooperation, Ethiopia’s long-term stability is at serious risk.

Read more at The Guardian »


Related:
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L) and Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the end of an AU meeting in Addis Ababa, on January 28th, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA — The ruling party in Ethiopia often describes the country as a “developmental democracy” and its policy as “revolutionary democracy.” But opponents question what these policies mean, and say the country is not enjoying much democracy or development at all.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front has governed Ethiopia for the past 24 years. For most of that time, the party has promoted the ideologies known as “revolutionary democracy” and “developmental democracy.”

Under these policies, the country has experienced double-digit economic growth after the grueling famine of the mid-1980s.

“You can opt for democracy to be built evolutionary, gradually. You could also opt for a democracy, which must be revolutionary, radically, all the system, all the thinking must be changed, root and branch completely and fast. So this is revolutionary,” explained Redwan Hussein, a government spokesman who also used to head the ruling party’s secretariat.

According to the government, “developmental democracy” means there will be no development without democracy, or democracy without development.

Hallelujah Lulie of the Institute of Security Studies says there is a built-in tension between the two ideologies.

“But the government in development state or democratic developmental state, the role in the economy and the public life, it will decrease through time. But in revolutionary democracy it will increase through time. So that is the difference between the two, in my interpretation,” said Lulie.

Ethiopia’s economy is managed through five-year plans aimed at making Ethiopia a middle-income country by the mid-2020s.

In Addis Ababa, the development is very noticeable, with many new roads, high buildings, an elevated railway and many condominiums to provide housing for the masses.

But two of the bigger opposition parties, Medrek and Blue Party, are critical of the ideological terms and their meaning.

They contest the idea that Sunday’s election will be democratic, saying they face intimidation and harassment by the police and ruling party supporters.

And despite the impressive growth numbers, thousands of Ethiopians leave the country every month hoping to find better lives in the Middle East or Europe.

Medrek chairman Beyene Petros says the development is not affecting the larger population, as 85 percent of Ethiopians live in rural areas:

“I am the first generation moving into an urban setting. So the people that I knew 50 years ago are just living the same kind of life. Scratching the land, using the same plow. The difference is the piece of land which they used to hold, which was much larger, has no shrunk to literally about one-tenth because of the population pressure,” said Petros.

The EPRDF is expected to win Sunday’s elections and the party has already said that five more years of EPRDF will mean a continuation of current policies.


Related:
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Lamb Review: Sheer Brilliance Knits Together First Ethiopian Film at Cannes

Actors Kidist Siyum and Rediat Amare with director Yared Zeleke at the premiere for Lamb at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

The Guardian

By Jordan Hoffman

The first image in Lamb is a closeup of a small boy’s hand laying gently on the thick, auburn wool of of a sheep. It may be a one-sided relationship – it’s hard to get inside the head of livestock – but Ephraim (Rediat Amare) clearly loves this animal. He lives in a small village in Ethiopia with his father, an area troubled by drought. His mother has recently passed away and his father has decided that he will take the boy to live with cousins in a farmland area with rolling green hills while he goes to Addis Ababa looking for work.

The new family consists of a loving but all-business great aunt who keeps a whip by her side for occasional discipline, a stern uncle, an aunt concerned with her sick daughter, and another daughter who is past marrying age but seems more interested in reading newspapers than getting hitched and having children.

What’s most exciting about Lamb, the first Ethiopian film to play at Cannes (it appears in the Un Certain Regard section), is that it is an ethnographic film made entirely from the inside out. First-time feature director Yared Zeleke attended New York University’s film school, but grew up in Ethiopia’s urban slums during some of its most troubled years. While we’re following Ephraim into a new environment, there’s little explaining done for our benefit. We’re dropped in and left to figure it out for ourselves.

The family are subsistence farmers, and just barely getting by. They have no electricity or gadgets or western clothing. What they have instead are plenty of customs, like putting on an exaggerated show of mourning when Ephraim first arrives, and preparing for a forthcoming Christian feast. It is decided that Ephraim’s sheep will be slaughtered for this holiday, setting up something of a ticking clock. Heading down to the small marketplace, where car radios blaze with music familiar to fans of the Éthiopiques compilation , Ephraim scopes out a bus ticket. He isn’t sure if he wants to go to the city to find his father or to return to his old village. He knows he can’t stay here, though, with the local bully kids, an unsympathetic uncle and a sword looming over his beloved pet’s head.

Read more at The Guardian »



Related:
Watch: Ethiopia’s First-Ever Cannes “Official Selection” Drama ‘Lamb’ (Indiewire)
Lamb: Yared Zeleke’s Film at Cannes 2015 (TADIAS)
Cannes 2015: the complete festival line-up (The Telegraph)
Home work: Filmmaker Yared Zeleke’s Origin Stories (Manhattan Digest)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch: Yared Zeleke’s Drama ‘Lamb’

(Screenshot from Yared Zeleke’s new film “Lamb.”)

Indiewire

By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act

Making its World Premiere at the ongoing 2015 Cannes Film Festival is Yared Zeleke’s coming-of-age drama, “Lamb,” which marks the very first time in Cannes Film Festival history that an Ethiopian film has screened as an “Official Selection.” The country doesn’t have as rich a cinema history as one might immediately assume, with really 3 key filmmakers dominating the landscape – Haile Gerima likely being the most internationally-known, as well as Yemane Demissie and Teshome Kebede Theodros, all combining for about 10 feature films made between the mid-1970s through just before the turn of the century.

Although, as covered on this blog in recent years, there continue to be young up-and-coming Ethiopian filmmakers, embracing the opportunities to create that come courtesy of the democratization of the production process, provided by evolving technologies – Yidnekachew Shumete (“Nishan”) and Zeresenay Mehari (“Difret”) are just 2 of the most recent, whose films have traveled, and that we continue to follow. And then there are co-productions like “Crumbs,” the Spanish-Ethiopian post-apocalyptic feature film that will be making ts North American premiere at the LAFF in June. There is also “Beti and Amare,” the part sci-fi/fantasy, and part historical romantic drama set in World War 2-torn Ethiopia, directed by German filmmaker Andy Siege, which continues to tour the international film festival circuit.

And there are several others…

Yared Zeleke and his 2015 Cannes selection, “Lamb,” can now be added to that growing list.

The film hails from Slum Kid Films, an Ethiopia-based film production company co-founded by Ama Ampadu, which aims to discover and nurture emerging talent in Ethiopia, as well as to support the development of Ethiopian filmmaking.

“Lamb” tells the tale of nine-year-old Ephraim and his constant companion, a sheep named Chuni. Ephraim’s affection for Chuni deepen after he loses his mother to famine. Consequently, his beloved father sends him and Chuni far away from their drought-stricken homeland, to live with distant relatives in a greener part of the country. Ephraim soon becomes a homesick outcast who is always getting into trouble. When his uncle orders him to slaughter Chuni for the upcoming holiday feast, Ephraim devises a devious scheme to save the sheep and return to his father’s home.

Read more and watch video at Indiewire.com »

Below are still pictures from the movie:


Related:
Lamb: Yared Zeleke’s Film at Cannes 2015 (TADIAS)
Cannes 2015: the complete festival line-up (The Telegraph)
Home work: Filmmaker Yared Zeleke’s Origin Stories (Manhattan Digest)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections

Ethiopia map. (VOA)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

May 20, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — The only international observers during Ethiopia’s elections Sunday will be from the African Union, with opposition parties already feeling the AU observers are not demanding enough in their criticism of Ethiopia’s election process, which is dominated by the ruling party.

Nine long-term AU observers (LTOs) arrived in April, and another 50 short-term observers arrived last week.

Former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, head of the mission, commended Ethiopia for being stable and peaceful even while located in a volatile region.

“The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia is appointed by the prime minister and approved by the parliament of Ethiopia. The AU LTOs noted that some interlocutors have expressed the concern in the manner of the appointment of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia and urged that more political stakeholders be consulted in order for the process to be more transparent and inclusive,” Pohamba said.

Anti-terrorism law

The long-term observers also raised concerns about Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law and how it could be used to undermine freedom of expression and the media’s right to protection of their sources and rights.

The long-term observers of the African Union have so far visited 20 districts in eight regions and will leave after the first week of June.

But opposition parties are not impressed with the African Union observers.

Blue Party spokesman Yonathan Tesfaye said, “We don’t think the AU is an international observer, it’s a legitimacy of dictatorship. It’s just a cover. You have the U.S. who refused one way or another, you have the EU who somehow admitted that the previous observations [hadn't] done anything.”

Ethiopia’s last elections in 2010 were observed by a European Union mission. The The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party won those elections in a landslide, taking all but one seat in parliament.

According to a recent European Union statement, the EU decided to sit out this year’s elections because its previous recommendations to Ethiopia were not accepted.

Government spokesman Redwan Hussein said there was a difference of opinion between the Ethiopian government and the final recommendations of the EU mission.

‘Nothing to do with elections’

“Whatever prescription they made, it had nothing to do with the election. It has to do with the entire democratic system, and legal system and policy issues. So we didn’t subscribe to that subscription because it has nothing to do with elections,” Hussein said.

Nearly 37 million Ethiopians are registered for the Sunday elections. More than 5,800 candidates from 58 political parties are running for parliament and regional offices.

Fewew than 1,300 of the candidates are female — a situation the African Union attributes to a lack of resources and lack of encouragement in Ethiopia’s culture.

Related:
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Chester Higgins’ Homage to Ethiopia

(Photo: Chester Higgins Jr.)

The New York Times

By Fayemi Shakur

Chester Higgins Jr. has traveled to Africa every year since 1971 as a way to meditate, disconnect and examine his life. Through the experience of photographing new people and places, his art both shapes and reflects his narrative. And nowhere is that truer for him than in Ethiopia, a place that has long enchanted him.

“It’s a great relief to step out of my comfort zone and live in a place for six weeks without having to worry about how people react to me,” said Mr. Higgins, whose work from Ethiopia is on display beginning this month at the Skoto Gallery in New York. “I think the problem we have as artists in America is pretty soon you can get locked into a paradigm that inhibits your creative expansion. One gains a cognitive freedom when you embrace the understanding that the world is much larger than your immediate reality. When I travel to Ethiopia or Africa I’m not in search of something exotic, I’m in search of reflections of myself. In Ethiopia, I’m no longer in a society where I am a minority. I am the majority.”

Mr. Higgins, a former staff photographer for The New York Times, has published several collections, including “Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa.”

“You would never travel to Africa if you listened to the news,” Mr. Higgins said. “I wanted people who couldn’t travel to get a feel from the book of what people are like elsewhere to expand horizons and perspectives.”

He first went to Ethiopia in 1973, prompted by news that African heads of state were gathering for an Organization of African Unity meeting in Addis Ababa. On that trip, he met and photographed the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, and other heads of state. Taken by the calm sense of self he found among the Ethiopian people, he returned the following year to see other parts of the country.

Read more at The New York Times »


Related:
Zéma: Photo Exhibition in New York City (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

“Red Leaves” Starring Debebe Eshetu

Debebe Eshetu in the new film "Red Leaves" by Ethiopian-Israeli filmmaker Bazi Gete. (Photo: (Filmlinc)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, May 18th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The renown Ethiopian actor Debebe Eshetu plays the lead role in the new award-winning Ethiopian-Israeli movie Red Leaves (debut film by director Bazi Gete) that explores complicated issues related to immigration, family, culture, and the process of adopting to a new country.

The film, which screens at the opening of the 12th annual Sheba Film Festival at the JCC in New York on Tuesday, May 19th, tells the story of a recently widowed “Seventy-four-year-old Meseganio Tadela [who] immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with his family 28 years ago,” according to the synopsis.

“He chooses to zealously retain his culture, and in effect talks very little and hardly speaks Hebrew. After losing his wife, Meseganio sets out on a journey that leads him through his children’s homes. As the harsh reality begins to hit him that he belongs to a rapidly disappearing class that believes in preserving Ethiopian culture, he struggles to survive according to his own rules.”

Debebe — whose international credits include a role in the 1973 US film Shaft in Africa — is the only professional actor featured in the 80 minute movie in Hebrew & Amharic with English subtitles made in 2014.

“Other than lead actor Debebe Eshetu, Gete cast non-actors in his debut feature, which he shot in a documentary style mainly in Tel Aviv,” adds Screen Daily. “Each actor knew where he was going and we simply rolled and kept on filming through the scene. “I think it was a wise choice. This almost documentary cinematic style serves the film’s voice and preserves its authenticity,” Gete says.”

Other films scheduled to screen at the 2015 Sheba Film Festival include Asni: The Life of Asnaketch Worku, Courage, Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia by director Rachel Samuel of Ethiopia and The Village of Peace by Israeli filmmakers Ben Schuder & Niko Philipides.


If You Go:
12th annual Sheba Film Festival
Venue: JCC Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave
New York. NY 10023

Venue: TSION CAFE
763 St.Nicholas Ave
(Btwen 148 St& 149 streets)
New York, NY 10031

More info & tickets at www.binacf.org.

Related:
Preview: 2015 Sheba Film Festival

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Aster Aweke Live in NYC June 5th

Orit Entertainment Group presents Aster Aweke at SOB's in New York on June 5th, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, May 17th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Aster Aweke returns to SOB’s in New York City on Friday, June 5th.

The opening act for Aster’s concert is Dance Theater of Nepal Master Musicians who will be fundraising for the victims of the earthquake in their country. “We are combining the two cultures to show that Ethiopians are extending their hands to Nepal,” the announcement said.

The event is sponsored by several Ethiopian restaurants in New York including Bunna, Ghenet and Bati in Brooklyn, as well as Awash, Meskerem, Injera and Queen of Sheba in Manhattan.

Aster, who has been dubbed the queen of Ethiopian pop music, has been entertaining her fans around the world for more than 30 years. Her label Kabu Records notes: ”Her songs have become anthems to her fans in Ethiopia, as well as to Ethiopians living abroad, and she continues to win the hearts and minds of world music lovers.”


If You Go:
Aster Aweke Live at SOB’s
Friday, June 5th, 2015
Door opens at 11pm
Admission $30 in advance
For info and Table reservation call:
917.943.7817 or 917.821.9213
www.sobs.com

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Netanyahu, President Rivlin Show Strong Support to Ethiopian Jews in Israel

At a ceremony Sunday commemorating Jewish Ethiopians who perished while making their journey o Israel‏. (photo credit:GIL YOCHANAN/POOL via jpost.com)

The Jerusalem Post

By HERB KEINON, GREER FAY CASHMAN

Calling the Ethiopian immigrants “flesh of our flesh, equal among equals,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that there is no place for racism and discrimination in Israeli society.

“We will fight with all our strength against those unacceptable phenomena,” he said of racism and discrimination at an annual ceremony at Mt. Herzl commemorating Ethiopian Jews who died while trying to make their way to Israel. “We will uproot this from our lives. We will turn it into something inferior, despicable.”

Netanyahu’s comments came just two weeks after protests by Ethiopian-Israelis against discrimination rocked the country.


Courtesy: Prime Minister’s Office – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attend ceremony commemorating Ethiopian Jews who perished while making aliyah.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post »


Related:
Israel failed Ethiopian community, president says at memorial (Times of Israel)
Ethiopian-Israelis Want Police Officer Who Beat Soldier To Go On Trial
Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Adega 911: New Website Launched to Assist Ethiopian Migrants in Danger

A Libyan Navy boat carries migrants back to the coastal city of Misrata, Libya, on May 3, 2015. Authorities there detained last week nearly 500 migrants from Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. (Photo: Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 15th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — For the past two weeks a group of tech-savvy Ethiopian American social activists in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area have been working on building an online hub where people can post and track missing loved ones in Libya, Yemen and South Africa, as well as other countries where Ethiopian migrant workers face constant dangers. The result is a new website called Adega911.com, which the creators say is “dedicated to helping our compatriots, who find themselves under trying circumstances, in troubled areas of the world and in need of intervention to save their lives.”

Adega 911 allows users to report information both publicly and anonymously regarding missing persons that will in turn will be publicized via social media platforms. “We will post and share your plea on Facebook and Twitter,” the webmaster said. “The site plans to be a place for getting pertinent list of resources, teach about the dangers of crossing through unstable countries and harsh environments, and an open space for dialoguing with community organizations on how to deal with migrant concerns. We believe we have a lot to learn but wanted to share what we have done.”

In addition, the website aims to “provide a forum for the families of migrant workers, loved ones and others to confidentially post any information about them in order to help locate and remove them from harm’s way. It also serves as a forum for the public to anonymously post any helpful information that may lead to the rescue of any missing persons; provide a centralized place where individuals, aid organizations, government entities and others can confidently and securely offer any assistance at their disposal to help in this effort; coordinate any offered help to bring about the desired outcome of bringing misplaced workers and others home or relocating them to safety; build a database of information about conditions or other factors that may be relevant; as well as raise public awareness of the plight of migrant workers and others trapped in these circumstances by providing accurate and reliable information about their conditions.”

The site is still a work in progress and the creators say they welcome constructive criticism.

—-
Learn more at www.adega911.com.

Related:
Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis
Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos: Col. John Robinson Bust Unveiled in Ethiopia

The unveiling of a bust and mural in Addis Ababa for Col. John Robinson, May 5th, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last week, on Ethiopian Patriots Day, the unveiling of a bust in commemoration of Col. John Robinson was held at Gulele Cemetery in Addis Ababa in the presence of Ethiopian officials and foreign embassy dignitaries.

Robinson, a.k.a. The Brown Condor, was an African American pilot who fought alongside Ethiopians during the war against Fascist Italy and is also credited for training commercial pilots and laying the groundwork for what would eventually become Ethiopian Airlines.

The ceremony was organized by the Ethiopian Patriots Association in collaboration with the International Council for the Commemoration of Col John Robinson.

Below are photos from the event:

—-
Related:
African American Pilot Col. John Robinson (Brown Condor) to be Honored in Ethiopia
Ethiopian & African American Relations: The Case of Melaku Bayen & John Robinson
The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot

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Kemekem: US Ethiopian Artist Meklit Hadero’s Ode to the ‘Afro’

Kemekem (I Like Your Afro) by Meklit, Featuring Samuel Yirga. (Image: You Tube)

BBC News

A song praising the perfect ‘Afro’ hairdo features in the new album by Ethiopian-American artist Meklit Hadero.

She draws on influences from America, where she grew up, and Ethiopia, where she was born, and told the BBC what inspires her music.

Read more and watch video at BBC.com »



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Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community

Ethiopian-Israeli Inbar Bugale explains the demands that activists want from the government in order to improve the quality of life of her community, Tel Aviv, May 10, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The Times of Israel

BY STUART WINER

Protest leaders say charges against those arrested at demonstration should be dropped, ask for improvements in housing, education

The leaders of a protest movement alleging systemic discrimination against the Ethiopian-Israeli community demanded on Sunday that the government improve education and housing, and set up ministerial committees to address Ethiopian needs. They also demanded that charges against community members arrested at a recent riot in Tel Aviv be dropped.

At a press conference in Tel Aviv, a panel of activist leaders expressed their frustration with what they said was the government’s shortcomings in addressing the quality of life of the Ethiopian-Israeli community.

“The decision makers neglected the Ethiopian community and ignored the harsh realities, in which an entire generation feels that it is not part of society and has no place in it,” said Inbar Bugale, one of the leaders of the movement, reading from a prepared statement.

Members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community say they are protesting years of institutional racism and discrimination, as well as ongoing police brutality. The release of a video showing police beating an Ethiopian-born soldier, apparently unprovoked, sparked the protests last month.

The activists stated Sunday that not only was the national government to blame for the situation, but also the local authorities. They called for greater monitoring to ensure that the Ethiopian community is not marginalized.

“There should be no discrimination toward the community. They should treat us like every other citizen,” Bugale said.

Bugale rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call last week for the establishment of a ministerial committee to assess the situation of the Ethiopian community and claimed that three years ago, Netanyahu had publicly declared that “there is no place in Israel for racism.

“We will not give up just because of Netanyahu’s announcement to set up a ministerial committee; we have already heard that from the prime minister,” she related. “Then, just as today, he promised to root out racism; then, too, he promised to fight it.”

Read more and watch video at timesofisrael.com »


Related:
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Julie Mehretu: Absorbing Multiple Identities

(Photo by Jean-Philippe Boucicaut)

NBC News

BY JULIE CERULLO

As a child, Julie Mehretu liked to make stuff.

“I was always…very interested in making, drawing and painting,” she said, “constantly.” But even as a young adult, she recalls, “I didn’t necessarily maybe know that I could have a life as an artist.”

In 2013 her painting “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation” commanded $4.6 million at a Christie’s auction, ranking her among the top ten most expensive living female artists, according to art and literature website, Culture Type.

The daughter of an American Montessori School teacher and an Ethiopian college professor, Mehretu embodies multiple identities. She’s Ethiopian-American. She’s half black. She’s married to a woman. She’s a mother. And she’s a renowned artist. For Mehretu, making art, “is about trying to make sense of who you are,” she said.

Mehretu spent her early childhood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her parents planned to raise her there. But by 1977, she said, “Ethiopia really became a casualty of the Cold War.” So they left.


(Photo by Teju Cole)

They resettled in East Lansing, Michigan, where both her parents resumed teaching. Mehretu recalls that she was excited about coming to America, but she missed Addis Ababa, the place she knew as home. “I had this wonderful childhood there,” she said.

Mehretu is still close to her roots there. She proudly shared that some of her work hangs at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Mehretu works primarily in abstraction. Her pieces are large scale as in 23 by 80 feet – about the size of a tennis court. They resemble networks of fast moving, interconnected and balanced galaxies. She lives and works in New York, along with her wife and two school age sons. She says, though, that New York is somewhat myopic.

Even at the forefront of contemporary art, Mehretu articulates a sense of challenge about being a black woman of African descent in the American art world. “I think it’s difficult for black artists still,” she says, “to work in languages where you’re not really talking about blackness.”

For Mehretu, the process of making art is one of self-discovery but she doesn’t force that discovery back into her work. Rather, what she makes is much more reflective of the world around her than of herself. “In Europe,” she says, “or in other places on the continent it’s more about what the work is and what the work is doing than who the artist is. That’s always, I think, where the conversation should be.”

Read more at NBC News »


Related:
Julie Mehretu Awarded 2015 Medal of Arts by U.S. State Department
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

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Teddy Mitiku’s Saxophone Being Auctioned on Ebay

Album cover for classic recording of one of Teddy Mitiku's most beloved songs "Amalele." (Teddy's Mood)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, May 10th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — A saxophone that used be owned by legendary Ethiopian musician Teddy Mitiku is being auctioned on Ebay by his family. The instrument (Selmer Series III Alto Sax) is in “solid shape and was well cared for,” said the saxophone dealer coordinating the sale on behalf of Teddy’s widow.

Teddy who had lived in the United States since 1983 passed away in 2013 at the age of 58 after a long illness. He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Meaza Bezu, a daughter, Makeda, and his brother, the renowned singer-musician Teshome Mitiku.

“Teddy was a member of the legendary Soul Ekos Band—the first independent musical ensemble to be recorded in Ethiopia,” the announcement added. “He was also the cornerstone of many other famous bands formed in Ethiopia in the 1960s and ’70s. His instrumental renditions have been continuously popular. Teddy had a unique style beloved by Ethiopians. During his long career, Teddy performed with numerous top Ethiopian musicians, including the legendary singer Tilahun Gessesse, and the “father of Ethio-jazz” Mulatu Astatke. He was also a member of the Ibex Band, as one half of the group’s two-saxophone horn section on the classic Mahmoud Ahmed record Ere Mela Mela.”

The saxophone being sold, according to the dealer, was recently “disassembled, cleaned and adjusted in preparation for sale. The pads are old and while the horn is playing it is not up to its potential. You might be able to start swapping pads out one by one but really it needs a standard overhaul and it will be ready for years of serious use. You should plan at the least on having several pads changed and ideally have them all done. The tone is rich and full and will work well in a wide variety of playing situations. Classical players can use them but so can jazz and R+B players. Case is a black, hardshell contoured Pro Tec in good clean used condition.”

Below are photos of Teddy Mitiku’s Saxophone. You can learn more about the auction at ebay.com.


Teddy Mitiku’s Saxophone. (Photo: Ebay)


(Photo: Ebay)


(Photo: Ebay)

Video: Ethiopian Instrumental Music Teddy Mitiku (Amalele)


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Fix Challenges Facing Ethiopian Israelis

Damas Pakada, the Ethiopian Israeli soldier beaten by Israeli police, which was caught on video and mobilized the community, sparking protests and demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. (FEJ)

Breaking Israel News

By Michael Freund

This past Sunday night, the heart of Tel Aviv was transformed into a war zone. It was hard to watch the painful scenes from Rabin Square, where police deployed water cannons and stun grenades as a peaceful rally by Ethiopian Israelis devolved into chaos.

Nonetheless, the violence that erupted should hardly come as a surprise.

Given the failures that have characterized efforts to integrate Ethiopian Jews into the Jewish state, the turmoil that ensued was as predictable as it was lamentable.

Indeed, it was just two years ago this week that state comptroller Joseph Shapira issued his first annual report, which included a whopping 74 pages on how successive Israeli governments have botched their handling of this important issue, their efforts hampered by waste, inefficiency and lack of proper oversight.

Shapira noted, for example, that programs to assist Ethiopian high-school students with their matriculation exams were run by both the Education and Absorption Ministries without any coordination between the two. As a result, there were cases in which the two programs were run in the same school at the same time, resulting in double the overhead costs, without either government office being aware of the redundancy.

In another instance, the government launched a special initiative to help families that had immigrated from Ethiopia to obtain mortgages with favorable terms. But Shapira found that over the course of four years, a grand total of two Ethiopian families had benefited from the program.

Read more »

Related:
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Message From Ethiopian Israeli Attorneys

Tebeka (Amharic for “Advocate of Justice”), is the legal aid organization serving Israel’s 140,000 member Ethiopian community. The organization was founded in 2000 by the first Ethiopian Israeli attorneys.

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release

As a supporter of Tebeka, you know that Tebeka’s staff, board members, and volunteers have been working to address and eliminate discrimination against the Ethiopian Israeli community for over 14 years. While the protests of the last two weeks were triggered by the unprovoked and unwarranted beating of an Ethiopian Israeli soldier by Israeli police officers, the magnitude of these protests is fueled by frustration over the many years of police violence and broader discrimination against the Ethiopian community. In this Jerusalem Post article, Tebeka’s Executive Director, Fentahun Assefa-Dawit, and other Ethiopian Israeli leaders discuss long-standing issues of discrimination, police violence, and mistrust.

It is unfortunate that a number of protesters and police officers were injured during otherwise peaceful and legitimate protests. We wish the injured a fast and full recovery. Tebeka supports peaceful demonstrations for equal rights and is providing legal assistance and representation to community members arrested during the protests.

Earlier this week Fentahun was invited to urgent meetings with the Israel Chief of Police, Yochanan Danino, to discuss police violence and discrimination against Ethiopian Israelis. Chief Danino acknowledged the problem and has committed to setting up a special task force that will include high-ranking officers and representatives from the Ethiopian community. The task force will examine community concerns and demands including:

  • Re-opening the case files of Ethiopian teens and young adults arrested for police assault to determine if these cases involved police discrimination and violence. The Ethiopian-Israeli soldier who was beaten by police was subsequently charged with police assault, suggesting a more widespread use of this charge following police violence against Ethiopian Israelis.

  • Incorporating education on diversity and discrimination into police force training and on-going professional development.

  • Equipping police officers with body cameras.

  • Introducing a culture of community engagement in the police force in order to create mutual trust and understanding between the police, Israeli public, and particularly the Ethiopian community.

    On Monday, Fentahun was invited to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss discrimination facing the Ethiopian community and policy changes needed to eliminate racism and discrimination and promote a more just Israeli society for Ethiopian Israelis and all minority groups. Thanks in part to Tebeka’s recommendations, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made three commitments:

  • PM Netanyahu demanded from the Chief of Police an immediate improvement in police interaction with the Ethiopian community, prioritization of the task force described above, and an intermediate report on the progress of the task force within 30 days.

  • Promised to establish an inter-ministerial commission headed by the Prime Minister to address the socio-economic disparities experienced by the Ethiopian Israeli community. He also agreed to allocate the necessary budget to address the issues identified by the commission.

  • Personally take up the issue of racism against all groups in Israel during his term in office.


    Damas Pakada, the Ethiopian Israeli soldier beaten by Israeli police, which was caught on video and mobilized the community, sparking protests and demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. (FEJ)

    Tebeka’s staff is currently working around the clock to respond to the urgent needs of protestors and victims of police violence, as well as policy meetings with Israeli officials. While media attention may soon shift to other topics, Tebeka commits to continue to address police violence and discrimination against the Ethiopian community until we bring an end to discrimination and inequality. Over the next year, Tebeka will be investigating prior cases in which Ethiopian Israelis were charged with police assault, as well as representing new and previously unknown victims of police violence. Tebeka will participate in policy meetings, task forces and commissions to address police violence and broader discrimination. Tebeka will also follow up regularly with the Chief of Police and Prime Minister to ensure implementation of the promises made this week.

    Tebeka’s long-term commitment to this work is only possibly thanks to the generous support of our donors. Please show your continued financial support (click here) for Tebeka’s work to ensure equality and justice for all Ethiopian Israelis. If you would like to make a very large gift, please contact Fentahun Assefa-Dawit at Fentahun@tebeka.org.il or +972-54-4713292 to discuss a strategic funding partnership.


    You can learn more about Tebeka at www.tebeka.org.il.

    Related:
    Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
    Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
    Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel met on Monday with Demas Fikadey, a soldier of Ethiopian descent who was beaten last week by police. (Photo by Israel's Government Press Office)

    The New York Times

    By ISABEL KERSHNER and JODI RUDOREN

    JERUSALEM — A slender and boyish-looking Israeli soldier, wearing a skullcap and an army shirt with sleeves too long for him, has become the unlikely and unwitting face of an outburst of anger and violent protests that have shaken Israel.

    But Demas Fikadey, a 21-year-old soldier of Ethiopian descent, said he did not see himself as a symbol or a hero.

    He was heading home alone, in uniform, on April 26 when he was beaten by two Israeli police officers in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon, where he lives. The seemingly unprovoked assault, caught on video, was broadcast on national television and went viral on social networks, unleashing the pent-up rage of a young generation of Ethiopian-Israelis who have taken to the streets in recent days.

    “It just happened to me,” Mr. Fikadey said in an interview Monday, more than a week after his assault and a day after thousands of demonstrators converged on Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest police harassment and the discrimination many Israelis of Ethiopian descent say they experience regularly.


    Ethiopian-Israelis confronted Israeli security forces in Tel Aviv on Sunday. Israeli leaders appealed for calm after a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Sunday night in which 56 police officers were injured and 43 protesters were arrested. Credit Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Read more and watch video at NYtimes.com »

    Related:
    Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
    Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopian-Israeli Protest Turns Violent

    Thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis and sympathizers marched in a demonstration against police brutality that took a violent turn in Tel Aviv on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015. (Photo: Haaretz)

    The New York Times

    By ISABEL KERSHNERMAY

    TEL AVIV — A protest on Sunday by thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis and sympathizers against police harassment and brutality turned by nightfall into a chaotic and unusually violent confrontation with the police in the center of Tel Aviv.

    The demonstration began peacefully in the afternoon with protesters blocking main thoroughfares of Tel Aviv, paralyzing the heart of the city for hours as officers looked on and stopped the traffic. Later, demonstrators hurled stones, overturned a police vehicle and clashed with the police in Rabin Square. Officers responded with stun grenades and water cannons.

    About 46 people were slightly injured, half of them police officers, and at least 26 protesters had been arrested by midnight, according to the police.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm, saying, “All claims will be looked into but there is no place for violence and such disturbances.”

    The police said that agitators had stirred up the atmosphere. Many here compared the cry of the young, angry generation of Ethiopian-Israelis who came out on Sunday to the tensions in American cities like Baltimore or Ferguson, Mo., that have been roiled by friction between blacks and the police.

    Read more at NYtimes.com »

    Raw Video: Ethiopian Jews Clash With Israeli Police (AP)


    Related:
    Dozens injured in Ethiopian Israeli protest against police brutality in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)
    Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopian Cafés Popping Up Across US

    Elias Gurmu at Cafe Buunni in New York City. (Photograph: Nina Roberts/The Guardian)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Last year we featured an interview with Elias Gurmu and his wife, Sarina Prabasi, owners of Café Buunni, a specialty coffee shop in New York City that offers certified organic and micro-roasted coffee sourced from Ethiopia. Café Buunni opened in 2012 soon after the owners had relocated to New York from Addis Ababa. Elias and Sarina met in Ethiopia several years ago while Sarina was working for a non-profit organization and Elias was employed as a distribution agent for DKT International.

    The Guardian followed up with the couple this week in a piece entitled, Ethiopian Coffee Shops Sprout up Across the US…Thanks to Starbucks, highlighting Café Buunni as one of several Ethiopian-owned cafes that have opened in major American cities despite the obvious competition from mega corporations like Starbucks.

    Café Buunni is “the only Ethiopian-owned (technically co-owned, as Prabasi is originally from Nepal) and run coffee shop in New York City. But it’s one of a dozen coffee houses that have been popping up across the country, including in Chicago; Washington, DC; Minnesota’s Twin Cities; and San Francisco,” writes Nina Roberts in the Guardian.

    “The trend is a sign of the growing number of Ethiopian immigrants in the US. It’s also a testament to the country’s gourmet coffee revolution. And that, Prabasi says, is thanks – at least partly – to Starbucks.”

    The Guardian adds: “Unlike the nearby Washington Heights Starbucks, Café Buunni has a distinct neighborhood feel. The full-bodied aromas of Yirgacheffe, Harrar, Limu and other prized Ethiopian coffees have long replaced the smells of leather and shoe polish. The towering Gurmu is often stationed behind the gleaming espresso machine, young baristas working around him. From its first week in operation, the cafe has become a neighborhood sensation. It is nearly always full, with a line out the door on weekday mornings and weekends, and goes through 200lbs of coffee a week. It has also exceeded all of its owners’ financial expectations, breaking even in a mere six months and turning a profit soon afterward, Prabasi says.”

    Read the full article and watch video at The Guardian »



    Related:
    From the Birthplace of Coffee Cafe Buunni Serves Ethiopian Organic Specialty Coffee (TADIAS)

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    African American Pilot Col. John Robinson (Brown Condor) to be Honored in Ethiopia

    Col. John C. Robinson. (Courtesy of International Council for the Commemoration of Col. John C. Robinson)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Taias Staff

    Published: Friday, May 1st, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia will host the first annual national commemoration of American pilot Col. John C. Robinson, who was nicknamed “The Brown Condor” for his heroic commanding of the Ethiopian Air Force during the war against Fascist Italy. Robinson will be honored on May 5, 2015 on Ethiopian Patriots’ Day at Victory Square in Addis Ababa.

    “Col. John C. Robinson was an inspiring African American aviation pioneer and a brave Ethiopian war hero,” said the International Council for the Commemoration of Col. John C. Robinson in a press release. “He was instrumental in the formation of what was to become the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII fame, led Ethiopian Air Forces against Italian aggression, and trained numerous military and civilian pilots for Ethiopia. Among his many accomplishments, he established the first African American owned airline and pilot school in Chicago, USA, and founded the American Institute School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After sacrificing his life for Ethiopia, Col. Robinson is finally receiving his due recognition.” Robinson died in a plane crash in Ethiopia in 1954. He is buried at Gullele cemetery in Addis Ababa.

    Ethiopian historian Ayele Bekerie writes: “When the Italo-Ethiopian War erupted, [Robinson] left his family and went to Ethiopia to fight alongside the Ethiopians. According to William R. Scott, who conducted thorough research in documenting the life and accomplishments of John Robinson, wrote about Robinson’s ability to overcome racial barriers to go to an aviation school in the United States. In Ethiopia, Robinson served as a courier between Haile Selassie and his army commanders in the war zone.”

    Expected guests at the event include Mulatu Teshome, President of Ethiopia, and former President of Ethiopia Girma W/Giorgis, as well as Abune Mathias who will provide the benediction.

    The Press release added: International guest and official representatives of the embassies as well as thousands of Ethiopians will witness the unveiling of a bust, in the likeness of this great American hero, who dedicated his life to defending Ethiopia during the Ethio-Italian War of 1935, and preparing it to achieve the commercial status it receives today in the airline industry. Other activities will take place, including the unveiling of a mural, by Ethiopian artist Ato Fasil Dawit, depicting the life of Col. Robinson that is planned to be displayed at the Bole International Airport. Throughout the week of May 3rd, several lunches and dinners are planned with members of the Council, US and other embassy personnel and guests. Future plans include official recognition from the US government for his lifetime achievements to American aviation.

    Below is a text of the remarks made by U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia M. Haslach at the Dedication of a Reading Garden in Honor of John Robinson on February 19, 2015 at the U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa.

    As Prepared for Delivery on February 19, 2015 at the U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa

    Your Excellency Girma Wolde Giorgis,

    Former President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,

    Mr. Henok Tefera, Vice President for Strategic Communications of Ethiopian Airlines

    Invited guests,

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    It is with great pleasure that the Embassy of the United States of America recognizes the contributions of U.S. citizen John Charles Robinson who came to the aid of Ethiopia during its time of need in the struggle against fascist occupation in the 1930’s, and who again returned to a peaceful and independent Ethiopia following World War II to help establish a professional Ethiopian Air Force and Ethiopian Airlines.

    John Charles Robinson was born in 1903 in Florida and grew up in a very segregated South. In 1910, when John was 7, he saw his first aircraft, a float plane that taxied to the beach. John Robinson knew that he wanted one day to fly an airplane, and he set out to overcome the obstacle of segregation. He did this by learning to excel at school and later at work, to never let disappointments overcome his determination and to wear his successes with modesty.

    He enrolled in the Tuskegee Institute and learned to become an automobile mechanic. He decided there would be better job opportunities in the North, so he moved to Detroit where he earned a reputation as an exceptionally good mechanic. Moving to Chicago, he wanted to enroll in the Curtiss-Wright Aviation School, but black students were not welcome. Although he had a full-time job in an auto garage, he signed on as a nighttime janitor in a Curtiss-Wright classroom, absorbing the instructor’s ground-school lectures. The instructor realized how determined John was and persuaded the school to let him enroll.

    After graduation, John went on to form a small flying school, encouraging young black men to enroll. This fact came to the attention of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, who was working to modernize his country. He invited Robinson to come to Ethiopia to head his Air Force. Robinson came to Ethiopia and built a cadre of black pilots and ground crews and was named the Commander of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force.

    John Robinson joined Ethiopia in its fight against fascist Italy, but, ultimately, the Italians conquered Ethiopia, if only temporarily. Haile Selassie escaped to England and John Robinson to America. Back home, his aviation school thrived. Tuskegee, to which he had proposed an aircraft school in the 1930s, finally had one and turned out hundreds of who became the Tuskegee Airmen, who gained fame in World War II. After the war, Haile Selassie invited Robinson back to Ethiopia, first to rebuild his Air Force, then to create Ethiopian Airlines. As with everything else, this remarkable man performed these jobs with determination and thoroughness.

    In the history of U.S.-Ethiopian relations, beginning with the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1903, there have been many individuals from both our countries who have brought our nations together in common endeavors for our mutual benefit. John Robinson’s story stands out as a remarkable example of the individual bonds between the peoples of our two countries.

    Today, we honor the spirit of this bond between the Ethiopian and American peoples by dedicating a Reading Garden in memory of Col. John Robinson who gave his life for Ethiopia 60 years ago. The establishment of this reading garden at the U.S. Embassy is part of our month long celebration of Black History month, and will commemorate the extraordinary contributions of Col. Robinson, who lost his life in the service to the Ethiopia on March 26, 1954.

    We are indebted to and appreciate the contributions of John C. Robinson, and commit to honoring his name and memory so that future generations may aspire to follow in his footsteps in strengthening the partnership between our two nations.


    Related:
    Ethiopian & African American Relations: The Case of Melaku Bayen & John Robinson
    The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot

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    Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem

    Hundreds of Israeli-Ethiopians clashed with police at a protest in Jerusalem Thursday, following a video clip released a few days ago showing police beating up a uniformed Ethiopian Israeli soldier. (Times of Israel)

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    APRIL 30, 2015

    JERUSALEM — Hundreds of protesters, mainly members of Israel’s Ethiopian immigrant community, have rallied in Jerusalem, pelting the police with stones and bottles and denouncing what they said was discrimination against them because of their race.

    Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said two officers were hurt in Thursday evening’s protest. The protesters blocked roads and marched toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence.

    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the scene to appeal to the protesters to restore calm.

    Tempers flared this week when a video emerged of an Ethiopian Israeli in army uniform being beaten by police in an alleged racist attack. Netanyahu condemned that attack.

    Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them secretly airlifted in 1984 and 1990, but their absorption into Israeli society has been rocky.

    Watch: Israelis of Ethiopian origin protest police violence in Jerusalem (Reuters)

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    Lamb: Yared Zeleke’s Film at Cannes 2015

    Filmmaker Yared Zeleke. (Photo via Manhattan Digest)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Another movie from Ethiopia is creating a social media buzz in the international movie circuit. The latest comes from Yared Zeleke and is called Lamb, which tells the growing-up story of a 9 year-old boy named Ephraim and his friend Chuni in Ethiopia’s spectacular countryside during hard times. The feature drama, produced by Addis Ababa-based Slum Kid Films, has been selected to screen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France. It is the first time in the festival’s history that an Ethiopian film has been chosen for screening.

    In an interview with the Manhattan Digest, Yared who holds an M.F.A. in Writing and Directing from New York University, said: “I grew up in the slums of Addis Ababa during one of the darkest periods of Ethiopia’s 3,000-year history. Emperor Haile Selassie had just been deposed in a military coup and the country was consequently thrown into cycles of war and famine. The ongoing conflict and chaos in my country caused me to also lose my family and home while a young boy. Despite the disturbances, I had a happy childhood.”

    Yared now lives back in Addis Ababa and has “worked for various NGOs in Ethiopia, the U.S., Namibia, and Norway before pursuing filmmaking. Yared has written, produced, directed, and edited several short documentary (“Allula”) and fiction films (“Lottery Boy”). He also worked for director Joshua Litle on his award winning documentary, “The Furious Force of Rhymes.” In his native Ethiopia, Yared edited documentaries for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).”

    He told the Manhattan Digest that “My first feature, Lamb, is analogous to my life’s journey in that it is deeply personal and inescapably political. It is a semi-autobiographical drama about the heart, heartache, and humor of everyday life in my homeland.”

    In the film “Ephraim’s affection for Chuni deepened after he lost his mother to famine the year before. Consequently, his beloved father sends him and Chuni far away from their drought-stricken homeland to live with his distant relatives in a greener part of the country. Ephraim soon finds himself to be a homesick outcast who is always getting into trouble. When his uncle orders him to slaughter the sheep for the upcoming holiday feast, Ephraim devises a devious scheme to save Chuni and return to his homeland.”


    Screenshot from Yared Zeleke’s new film “Lamb.”


    Related:
    Cannes 2015: the complete festival line-up (The Telegraph)
    Home work: Filmmaker Yared Zeleke’s Origin Stories (Manhattan Digest)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Photos: New York Ethiopians Hold Vigil in Times Square for Victims of ISIL Violence

    The NYC vigil was held on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 at Times Square. (Photo by Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Hundreds from the Ethiopian community in the New York City area gathered at Times Square on Tuesday evening for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the recent ISIL violence in Libya.

    The NYC event included both Christian and Muslim religious leaders who condemned the murders and called for Ethiopians to stand united. Speakers included Abune Basilios, Kes Mezgebu Menkir of the Beata le Mariam Church, Imam Yisaq Ibrahim of the Ethiopian Muslim Community of New York and Abreham Desta of the Evangelical Church of NY.

    Additional speakers were Professor Getachew Haile, community activist Makda Amare, and Tsegereda Mulugeta.

    In her speech Makda, Chairperson of Humanitarian Organization for Ethiopians in Need of NY & NJ, shared with the crowd current statistics highlighting the continuing plight of female migrant workers in the Middle East as well as the victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, and countless Ethiopian citizens who are currently stranded in Yemen in the midst of civil war. Makda said her organization is working with International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help those in Yemen, but urged others to participate and also called on the Ethiopian government to do more.

    The evening also featured songs and the lighting of candles.

    Below are photos:


    Related:
    In Pictures: Washington, D.C Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims in Libya (Tadias)
    Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Zéma: Photo Exhibition in New York City

    Ethiopia. (Photograph by Chester Higgins, Jr.)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday, April 27th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Former New York Times photographer Chester Higgins’ upcoming exhibition at Skoto Gallery in Manhattan is timely and aptly tilted ZÉMA: A Love Song “celebrating Ethiopia’s unique landscape and people and presenting the artist’s impressionistic imagery honoring ancestral spirits along the Blue Nile.”

    Higgins has been photographing Ethiopia since he first traveled there in 1973. Some of his stunning images of the country include iconic Christian and Muslim religious sites such as the Sof Omar Cave in Bale and the St. George church in Lalibela, as well as the Omo people in Southern Ethiopia.

    “When I first encountered the Omo, I had to think about how much of what was before me was a shadow of the past, smoke of the present or a light from the future,” he writes about his travels in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. “In their homeland the relationship among the people, the land and the sky guides life in very pragmatic ways, revealing something about their spiritual sense of the cosmos. Against a dramatic starry backdrop, the Omo look for the sun’s appearance in different places on the horizon to tell the seasons. When twilight reveals the four stars of the Southern Cross, the two Pointers rising in a straight line at sunset and falling to the horizon at sunrise, they know the Omo River will soon flood. It is time to migrate to higher ground. When the flood recedes, they return to plant their crops.”

    Regarding his approach to photography, Higgins adds: “Wrestling with issues of memory, place and identity, I see my life as a narrative and my photography as its expression. My art gives visual voice to my personal and collective memories. It is inside ordinary moments where I find windows into larger meaning. Light, perspective, and points in time are the pivotal elements I use to reveal an interior presence within my subjects as I search for what I identify as the Signature of the Spirit.”


    Photos by Chester Higgins, Jr.


    If You Go:
    May 21-June 20, 2015
    SkotoGallery
    529 West 20thstreet, 5th Floor
    New York, New York 10011
    tel 212.352.8058
    info@skotogallery.com
    skotogallery.com

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    In Pictures: DC Vigil for ISIL Victims in Libya

    Candlelight Vigil in DC on April 23rd, 2015 for Ethiopians killed by IS militants in Libya. (By Matt Andrea)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Thursday, April 30th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — A candlelight vigil is being held in various Ethiopian Diaspora communities in memory of the 30 people that were recently killed by ISIL militants in Libya. The terrorist network released a video last week showing the gruesome, on-camera execution of Ethiopian migrant workers, most of whom were Christians.

    In New York a gathering in honor of the victims was held on Tuesday, April 28th at Times Square. In addition, a special prayer service was held on Sunday afternoon at Medhanealem church in the Bronx.

    Below are photos from a similar gathering held in Washington, D.C. earlier last week on Thursday, April 23rd, which attracted hundreds of people, both Christians and Muslims, who met at the Washington Monument and walked together to the White House.



    Related:
    Photos: New York Ethiopians Hold Vigil in Times Square for Victims of ISIL Violence (Tadias)
    Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Letter From an Ethiopian Prison

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

    The Guardian

    By Natnael Feleke

    Dear John Kerry,

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

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

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

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

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

    The birth of Zone 9

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

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

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

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

    We are now facing between eight and 18 years imprisonment.

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

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

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

    Read the full letter at The Guardian »

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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis

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

    Tadias Magazine
    Editorial

    Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

    “Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts to support the migrant worker community,” Kumera said. “I feel this is important context to better understand how individuals living outside of the Middle East can assist in improving the lives of migrants.” He added: “The news that reaches the Diaspora is normally about the tragedies. This is an unsustainable way of engaging in the issue and in the interim between public abuses, there is little real relationship building with potential allies.”

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



    Related:
    Photos: New York Ethiopians Hold Vigil in Times Square for Victims of ISIL Violence (Tadias)
    In Pictures: Washington, D.C Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims in Libya (Tadias)
    Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    AlJazeera

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

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

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

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

    Read more »



    Related:
    Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims to be Held in NY & Photos From DC (Tadias)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    Reuters

    BY AARON MAASHO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more at Reuters.com »

    Related:
    Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims to be Held in NY & Photos From DC (Tadias)
    Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopians Stranded in Yemen

    UN says Ethiopians are among over 250,000 East African refugees stranded in Yemen that include Eritreans and Somalis. (Getty Images)

    Aljazeera America

    by Michael Pizzi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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    Ethiopians Shocked by IS Killings (AP)

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

    Associated Press

    Monday, April 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    VOA News

    Last updated on: April 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    US condemnation

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

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

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

    Arab League plans Cairo meeting

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

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

    Some material for this report came from AP.

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya

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

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    By JON GAMBRELL and ELIAS MESERET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Harvard Portrait: Ethiopian American Computer Scientist Jelani Nelson

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

    Harvard Magazine

    By Jonathan Shaw

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


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

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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    Ethiopia’s Building Boom Masking Poverty?

    (Getty Images)

    BBC

    By Lerato Mbele

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Foregone conclusion’

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Beggars

    I was urged to investigate the economic statistics.

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


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

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

    Then I recalled our filming around the city.

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

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

    I asked my new friend why she thought this was.

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

    Read more at BBC.com »

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    US to Take Cuba Off Terror-sponsor List

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

    VOA News

    By Michael Bowman

    April 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Ethiopians Talk of Violent Intimidation as Land Earmarked For Foreign Investors

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

    The Guardian

    By David Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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    Africa’s Hegemon: Ethiopia’s Power Plays

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

    Foreign Affairs

    By Harry Verhoeven

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

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

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

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

    Read more at foreignaffairs.com »

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    Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m Running for President’

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

    The New York Times

    By AMY CHOZICK

    Last updated April 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

    Continue reading at The New York Times »

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

    VOA News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Foreign policy

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

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

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

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

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

    Campaign strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Political past

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

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

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

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

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

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

    International work

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

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

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

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

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

    WATCH: Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement video

    VOA Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

    Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.

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    Noh Balcha in Africa Digital Art Challenge

    Noh Balcha. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Mahlet Kebede

    Published: Friday, April 10th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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    Ester Rada Returns to New York

    (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

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

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

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

    From Tesfaye Tekelu
    Aikido Ethiopia & Awasa Youth Campus

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

    From Dag Andargachew
    Washington, D.C.


    Dag Andargachew and Don Levine. (Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    From Mel Tewahade
    Denver, Colorado


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

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

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


    (Courtesy of Tsehai Publishers)

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

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

    From Professor Ayele Bekerie
    Mekele, Ethiopia

    Professor Donald Levine, the Ethiopianist Insider Remembered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Ted Vestal. (Courtesy photo)

    A Tribute to Professor Donald Levine

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

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

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

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

    From Chuck Schaefer
    Valparaiso University, Indiana


    (Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

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

    I will miss him.

    From Ashenaphy Fentie
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


    Ashenaphy Fentie. (Google Profile)

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

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

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

    From Mulugeta Wodajo
    Bethesda, Maryland

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

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

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

    From Alemayehu Fentaw Weldemariam
    Boston, Massachusetts


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

    In memoriam: Donald Nathan Levine, 1931-2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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    Friend of Ethiopia Don Levine Passed Away

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, April 5th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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    In Israel, New Ethiopian Knesset Member Prioritizes Immigrant Community

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

    Al-Monitor

    By Mazal Mualem

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the interview at Al-monitor.com »

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    Smithsonian Exhibition Features 19 Artists From Africa & the Diaspora

    (© Aïda Muluneh)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Friday, April 3rd, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    CNN

    By Colin Hancock and Daisy Carrington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Watch the video at CNN.com »

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

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    Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird Rotisserie Opens in Harlem

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

    Grub Street

    By Sierra Tishgart

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

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

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

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

    Read more and see photos at grubstreet.com »

    Related:
    Tadias Interview With Marcus Samuelsson About His Latest Book

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

    (Photo courtesy: UniverSoul Circus)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday, March 30th, 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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



    Learn more at www.pressuncuffed.org.

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    Photos: Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro Inaugural Diaspora Business Mixer

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

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

    The inaugural event held on Friday, March 20th brought together business professionals in an informal and intimate environment. “The Afro Diaspora community has achieved admirable progress in the U.S. and the community has significant high caliber individuals who are doing amazing things. Unfortunately, these individuals are not as connected as they should be,” says Alex Habte Cherein, owner of Merkamo. “The idea is to create a space where Afro Diaspora business people and professionals connect and share their story and hopefully collaborate in mutually beneficial projects.”

    Below are photos courtesy of organizers:



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

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    New Film on the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia: ‘If Only I Were That Warrior’

    Megabi Woldetensae, an eyewitness to the 1937 massacre at the monastery of Debre Libanos, is one of the characters featured in the new documentary film "If Only I Were That Warrior." (Awen Films)

    Press Release

    CPL New York

    The idea for If Only I Were That Warrior, took shape in February 2013 when director Valerio Ciriaci and producer Isaak Liptzin attended a panel discussion on the recently inaugurated monument to Rodolfo Graziani organized by the Calandra Italian American Institute at CUNY and Centro Primo Levi NY

    An Italian army general responsible for war crimes and human rights violations in Africa, Graziani was first denounced by the League of Nations and, after the war, brought in front of the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Due to diplomatic reasons, he was never tried. In 1948 an Italian court found him guilty of war crimes but was relieved from serving his sentence because he claimed to have only obeyed orders. Graziani and his actions remained in limbo in the Italian collective memory. The 2012 dedication of the monument sparked international protests and brought his role in history back to the forefront of public discourse.

    The CUNY panel prompted the two young filmmakers to research the Italian occupation of Ethiopia and understand why it was remembered so little and with such radical divergences. Their quest became a film project on the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia and its unresolved legacy exposing it both from an Italian and an Ethiopian perspective.

    The film moves from contemporary debate into the history of the invasion through the work of major historians of colonialism like Angelo Del Boca and Richard Pankhurst. Historian of fascist Italy Mauro Canali and cultural historian Ian Campbell accompany the public through the history of the occupation as documented in the Italian and Ethiopian national archives.

    In recent years, scholars have placed Italian war crimes in Greece, Yugoslavia and Africa under the spotlight allowing, among other things, a new approach to the study of fascist racism and a debate on international intervention, post-war justice as well as the effect of lingering prejudice and an unspoken past.

    The Massacre of Debre Libanos – If Only I Were That Warrior CLIP from Awen Films on Vimeo.


    If You Go:
    Screening of excerpts and discussion with the director & producer
    Reception to follow.
    March 28 | 7:30 pm
    March 29 | 2:00 pm
    CPL at SF Vanni’s
    30 West 12 Street
    New York City
    RSVP: info@primolevicenter.org
    www.primolevicenter.org

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

    The Nile Project performing at the Lincoln Center in New York on Thursday, March 19th, 2015. (Tadias)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — The power of music to unite people beyond borders was in full display in New York last week during the Nile Project’s unforgettable performance at Lincoln Center on March 19th and at Pace University’s Schimmel Center on March 20th.

    The Nile Project is made up of over a dozen singers and instrumentalists from the Nile Basin countries. As the program notes the group “weaves together the deep grooves of Ethiopia with the Arab classical traditions of Egypt and Sudan, and the rarely heard music of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.”

    Ethiopian artists include Meklit Hadero, Selamnesh Zemene, Jorga Mesfin, Endris Hassen, Dawit Seyoum, Mekuanent Melese and Asrat Ayalew.

    Below is an audio and photo slideshow of the concert at Lincoln Center:



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

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