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

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

National Geographic

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

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

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

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

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

Read more and see photos at nationalgeographic.com »


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PM Abiy Ahmed Meets Pope Francis

Pope Francis meets with PM Abiy Ahmed at the Vatican on Monday, January 21st, 2019. (Vatican media)

By Vatican News

Pope Francis receives Ethiopian Prime Minister

Pope Francis on Monday met with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, at an Audience at the Vatican.

According to a communique from the Holy See Press Office, the “cordial talks” emphasized “important initatives underway for the promotion of national reconciliation, and for the integral development of Ethiopia”. The talks also focused on the “role of Christianity in the history of the Ethiopian people”—Ethiopia was one of the first lands to adopt Christianity, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church remains the largest religious body in the country by population.

A significant sign of peace

During the discussions, the situation in Eastern Africa was addressed, including the importance of the “peaceful resolution of conflicts and the socio-economic development of Africa.” In particular, Ethiopia’s “commitment to the stabilization of the Horn of Africa,” and the recent resumption of diplomatic relations with Eritrea were noted.

Earlier this month, in his address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis took special note of the “historic agreement” between the two countries, which he described as one of the significant signs of peace in the past year.

Exchange of gifts

At the conclusion of their encounter, the two leaders made a traditional exchange of gifts, with the Prime Minister offering a present of traditional Ethiopian fabrics, along with a painting of the Risen Christ. The Holy Father, for his part, presented Prime Minister Abiy with a medallion with an image of an ear of corn and a bunch of grapes in the desert – a reference, the Pope explained, to the prophecy of Isaiah, that the desert would one day become a garden. Pope Francis also gave the prime minister a copy of the text of the Message for the World Day of Peace, and bound copies of four other Pontifical Documents: Evangelii gaudium, Laudato sí, Gaudete et exultate, and Amoris laetitia.

Following the Audience with the Holy Father, Prime Minister Abiy met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Msgr Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States.


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On MLK Day, Kamala Harris Announces She is Running for US President in 2020

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

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kamala Harris jumps into presidential race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 16th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Meet Julián Castro: The Young Texan Running for U.S. President in 2020

Wouldn't it be the perfect kind of poetic justice here in America if we were to elect a young, ambitious and reform-minded new President named Julián Castro (from Texas) in 2020? Given the current mood of the country as shown in the recent elections result we wouldn’t bet against it. Below is a link to a New York Times article about the 44-year-old former U.S. housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julián Castro, who has just declared his candidacy for President. NYT notes that if elected Castro, who is a Latino American, would be one of the youngest US presidents to assume office. (Photo: The New York Times)

The New York Times

Julián Castro, Former Housing Secretary, Announces 2020 Presidential Run

Julián Castro, the former housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, announced on Saturday that he would run for president, one of the most high-profile Latino Democrats ever to seek the party’s nomination.

His first campaign stop will be in Puerto Rico, where he will speak on Monday at the Latino Victory Fund’s annual summit and meet with residents still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. Later in the week, his campaign said, he will go to New Hampshire.

“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago,” Mr. Castro said at the Plaza Guadalupe amphitheater in San Antonio, in the neighborhood where he was raised. “I’m sure that she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.”

Mr. Castro, 44, was raised in San Antonio in a politically active family. His mother, Rosie Castro, was an activist with the Mexican-American political party La Raza Unida and frequently took Julián and his twin brother, Joaquin — now a congressman — to rallies and meetings. Joaquin Castro will be the chairman of Julián’s campaign.

At the age of 26, Mr. Castro became San Antonio’s youngest City Council member, and after one unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2005, he was elected to the city’s top job in 2009. In 2012, he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention — the same platform that catapulted Barack Obama, then a little-known state senator, to national prominence in 2004. Mr. Obama, as president, later chose him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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Watch: Sara Menker, Founder & CEO of Gro Shares How Her Company is Filling USDA Data Gap Left by Shutdown

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 11th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Spotlight: Design Week Addis Ababa 2019

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 10th, 2019

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

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

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

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


If You Go:

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

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In Ethiopia, Historic Run Supports Girls

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

Runners World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:
Why Girls Gotta Run: Interview with Patricia Ortman

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

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

Essence

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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Trouble With Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism

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

The New York Times

The Trouble With Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: January 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Watch: Ethiopian Footwear — AGOA Eligible and Export Ready


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

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

CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:
Ethiopia News in Review: 2018 in Pictures

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2018 in Pictures

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 26th, 2018

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

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

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

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

PM Abiy Ahmed’s U.S. Tour

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

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


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

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

Ethiopia Swears In First Woman Supreme Court Chief


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

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

Birtukan Mideksa Named New Head of Ethiopia’s Election Board


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Ethiopia-Eritrea Reopen Border for First Time in 20 Years

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

The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures


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

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

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Launches Website for Donations


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

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

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


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

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


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Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014
2013 in Pictures
Top 10 Stories of 2013
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013

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Ethiopia: US Embassy Launches Program to Support Independent Media

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

Press Release

US Embassy Addis Ababa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Ethiopia Among Three Countries Where Democracy Staged a Comeback in 2018

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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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CDC Partners with Ethiopia to Build Capacity for Public Health Emergency

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

Press release

U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

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


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EDF Announces 2019 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 11th, 2018

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

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

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

Congratulations to the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows of 2019!

Samrawit Tamyalew

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

LinkedIn
Samrawit’s Crowdfunding

Meki Shewangizaw

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

LinkedIn

Edom Wessenyeleh

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

LinkedIn
Edom’s Crowdfunding

Rebekah Tsadik

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

LinkedIn
Becky’s Crowdfunding

Feven Abiy

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

Feven’s Crowdfunding


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

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

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

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

The New York Times

In Ethiopia, Visual Storytelling From a Deeper Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 5th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

NPR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

Below are photos from the grand opening:


Related:
Video: CNN African Voices Feature on ZAFF

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

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

The New York Times

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

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

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

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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

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PM Abiy Meets Opposition Parties, Promises Fair Elections

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 26th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the Solution?

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

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

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

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


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Birtukan Mideksa: New Head of Ethiopia’s Election Board

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

AP

By ELIAS MESERET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Ethiopia To Host 2019 World Press Day

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 21st, 2018

Ethiopia To Host 2019 World Press Freedom Day

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

The New York Times

100 Notable Books of 2018

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

By NAFKOTE TAMIRAT. $26. Holt. Fiction.

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

See the full list at NYtimes.com »


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

The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 18th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


If You Go:
ZAAF STORE GRAND OPENING – DEC. 1, 2018
Saturday, December1, 2018
2:00PM – 6:00PM
1409 Florida Ave. NW
Washington DC, 20009
Click here to RSVP

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Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on EDTF & Chapter Formation

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 15th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ethiopia to Host Social Enterprise World Forum 2019

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

British Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

OkayAfrica

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the interview at okayafrica.com »


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 12th, 2018

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Thousands Run for Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace

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

Anadolu Agency

By Addis Getachew

10,000 people run for Eritrea–Ethiopia newfound peace

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

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

Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 11th, 2018

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Liben Eabisa

Published: November 9th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Related: Birtukan Mideksa in Pictures:

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 8th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, youngest woman elected to Congress

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 5th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Lelisa Desisa Wins 2018 NYC Marathon

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

Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flanagan finished third.


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Seeds of Africa 2018 Benefit in NYC

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 3rd, 2018

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

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

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

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

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


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

You may purchase tickets for the event here.

Learn more about Seeds of Africa Foundation

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Meaza Ashenafi Named Head of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court

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

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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2019 SEED Awards to Honor Women

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 30th, 2018

SEED Dedicates 2019 Award to Honor Ethiopian Women

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

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

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

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

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

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


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YEP Celebrates 8th Year anniversary of Connecting Ethiopian Professionals

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 29th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. ‘

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 29th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are photos and related news links:


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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. ‘

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

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

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Publisher Elias Wondimu to Receive Hidden Heroes Award at LMU

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 27th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Wegene Foundation’s 18th Anniversary

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 23rd, 2018

Wegene Ethiopian Foundation Celebrates 18th Anniversary

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

Watch: Wegene Promotional CFC Video

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet

Ethiopia's gender balanced cabinet is sending women around the country a clear message: the patriarchy can be beaten...PM Abiy's new cabinet has a tremendous transformative potential to end Ethiopian women's experience of invisibility and the silencing of their voice and capacity, writes Awol K Allo, a Lecturer in Law at Keele University, UK. (Photo: Reuters)

By Awol K Allo

The Power of Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is drawing admiration from all corners for his transformative leadership. Since coming to power six months ago, he has released political prisoners, widened the democratic space, ended the military stalemate with Eritrea, and averted a looming financial crisis. In short, his dynamic leadership, energy, and enthusiasm have pulled off what a Washington Post editorial described as an “astonishing turnaround” for the country.

Ahmed’s latest decision to fill 50 percent of his cabinet with female ministers is an integral part of the transformative agenda he has set out during his inaugural speech on April 2. It is easy to dismiss this move as a token gesture or a mere publicity stunt, but in a highly patriarchal society such as Ethiopia where public discourse about gender equality is non-existent or confined to the margins, the mere existence of a gender-balanced cabinet can have a transformative effect.

Ethiopia’s prime minister brought youthful vigour and bold confidence to the masculine, patriarchal, and archaic traditions of the Ethiopian state. During his inaugural address, he broke with tradition and acknowledged his mother and wife. Towards the end of his speech, he said, “in a manner that is not customary in this house, … I would like to politely ask you to thank one Ethiopian mother who … planted this distant and deep and elaborate vision in me, who raised me, and brought me to fruition.” He went on to say that “My mother is counted among the many kind, innocent, and hardworking Ethiopian mothers … In thanking my mother, I consider it equivalent to extending thanks to all Ethiopian mothers.” Given his numerous policy statements and his commitment to liberal ideas of equality, fairness, and representation visible in these policies, there is no reason to believe that these announcements had ulterior motives.

Read more »


Related:
In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (The Washington Post)

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Feyisa Lilesa Returns From Exile

FILE - In this Thursday, April 20, 2017 file photo, Feyisa Lilesa, right, and Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia stand in front of the Tower Bridge in London. The Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio Olympics finish line has returned from exile, after sports officials assured him he will not face prosecution. Feyisa Lilesa's return from the United States on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 comes several months after a reformist new prime minister took office and announced sweeping reforms. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopian Marathoner Who Made Rio Protest Returns From Exile

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio Olympics finish line returned from exile on Sunday after sports officials assured him he will not face prosecution.

Feyisa Lilesa’s return from the United States came several months after a reformist prime minister took office and announced sweeping political reforms. He received a warm welcome at the airport from the foreign minister and other senior officials.

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression in Africa’s second most populous nation.

The silver medalist crossed his wrists at the finish line in 2016 in solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia, who like many across Ethiopia were demanding wider freedoms.

Feyisa later said he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home. But he became a symbol of resistance for many youth until the pressure on the government led to a change of power, with 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office in April.

Abiy is the country’s first leader from the Oromo ethnic group since the ruling coalition came to power 27 years ago.

Ethiopia’s government did not immediately comment Sunday on the runner’s return.

Asked by The Associated Press if he has any political ambitions, Feyisa said: “I don’t have any ambition in politics! Actually I didn’t get close to politics, politics gets close to me.”

Feyisa broke down in tears while speaking about youth who lost their lives during the years of protests. “I will continue to remember those who lost their lives for the cause. Many people lost their lives for it.”

Turning his attention to running, he said his next race will be the Dubai Marathon in January.

“My training while I was in exile was not good, so it has affected my performance,” Feyisa said. He missed two races in recent weeks as he prepared to return to Ethiopia. “I will resume my regular training after a week.”


Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

P2P Diaspora Healthcare Conference

(Photo from past conference courtesy of People to People, Inc.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 20th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Since its founding in 1999 People to People Inc. (P2P), a U.S.-based network of Ethiopian Diaspora healthcare professionals, has been the prime example of how “the Diaspora can be the bridge to transfer knowledge, technology and experience.”

This weekend in Arlington, Virginia P2P is hosting its 10th global conference on health care & medical education in Ethiopia. The theme of this year’s conference is “the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in Ethiopia.”

Speakers include Ethiopia’s new Minister of Health, Dr. Amir Aman. “Dr. Aman is a physician by training, and a dedicated public health official,” the announcement notes. “He has served as a medical practitioner for many years in rural Ethiopia. Prior to his current position, Dr. Aman served as the Director of Human Resources and Development Directorate, Plan and Policy. In addition, he played a major role as a Finance Director General of MOH.”

Below are additional featured speakers courtesy of the conference website:

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph

Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph. is the Provost of Howard University. He previously served in various roles at the University including as Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Assistant Provost for International Programs. Dr. Wutoh has also served as Director for the Center for Minority Health Services Research, and the Center of Excellence.

Anteneh Habte, MD

Dr. Anteneh Habte is currently serving as Chairman of People to People’s (P2P) Board of Directors. He is the Medical Director of the Community Living Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, WV and clinical faculty at both the West Virginia School of Medicine and the Lewisburg School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Anteneh is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and a certified educator of palliative and end-of-life care (EPEC). He coordinates People to People (P2P)’s effort to promote the training of medical personnel and provision of clinical services in hospice and palliative care in Ethiopia. Dr. Anteneh is one of the editors of a series of web-based modules in hospice and palliative care for Ethiopia prepared under the auspices of the Mayo Clinic Global HIV Initiative. He is also a contributor to P2P’s recently published ‘Triangular Partnership’ manuscript.

Asefa Mekonnnen, M.D., F.C.C.P

Dr. Mekonnen is a pulmonologist and sleep specialist currently practicing in Maryland. He attended Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia for medical school. He completed his internal medicine residency training at the University of Illinois, and pulmonary and critical care fellowship training at Northwestern University. He then pursued post-doctoral studies in Clinical and Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. His current focus is in the field of sleep medicine. Dr. Mekonnen is Founder and Director of the Premier Sleep Disorders Center, an AASM accredited center. He has managed and supervised more than 10,000 sleep studies. A frequent speaker in the area of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Disorders, he has delivered more than 100 invited lectures.

Ayalew Tefferi, M.D

Dr. Tefferi is a Professor of medicine, and world renowned hematologist currently practicing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He went to medical school at the University of Athens in Greece. He completed his internal medicine residency training at St. Joseph’s hospital in Chicago and hematology fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. His research involves clinical and laboratory research in myeloid disorders. He has had over 1000 publications in peer reviewed journals and serves as the associate or section editor for the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Leukemia, American Journal of Hematology, European Journal of Hematology, and Hematological Oncology. He is also in the editorial board of several other journals. Dr Tefferi has given more than 700 national and international invited lectureships and serves as faculty for the annual Hematology and Oncology Board review courses at George Washington University in Washington DC, Cancer Medicine and Hematology offered by Harvard institutes in Boston MA, and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston TX.

Bisrat Hailemeskel, MSc., Pharm.D., R.Ph.

Dr. Bisrat Hailemeskel is a full-time faculty at the rank of Associate Professor, Vice Chair, & Co-Director of International Grants in the College of Pharmacy, Howard University (HU). He received his B.Pharm, MSc (Addis Ababa University (AAU)), and Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (University of Toledo, Ohio). Dr. Hailemeskel was the recipient of 2007 -2008 Fulbright Scholarship as teacher/research fellow, a distinguished Award from the US Department of States, to teach and conduct research in Ethiopia. In 2010, he was also received the “Outstanding Faculty” Award from HU Alumni Association. As a principle Investigator, he has also received a multi-year grant for the “HU-AAU Twinning Partnership” project to promote pharmaceutical care education in Ethiopia from the American International Health Alliance and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Dr. Hailemeskel awarded to become a Fulbright Visiting Professor by the US State Department since 2014. Dr. Hailemeskel is well published with over 50 research papers

Dawd S. Siraj, M.D., MPH&TM, FIDSA

Dr. Dawd S. Siraj is a Professor of Medicine, and an infectious disease physician at the University of Wisconsin. He received his medical degree from Jimma University in Ethiopia. He completed his internal medicine residency training at St. Barnabas Hospital Bronx, NY. He subsequently completed an Infectious Diseases fellowship and a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana.. He currently serves as the Vice President and Board Member of Ethio- American Doctors Group, Inc and People to People (P2P). He has actively participated in numerous Infectious Diseases and HIV activities in Ethiopia.

Elias S. Siraj, M.D., Dr. Med., FACP, FACE

Dr Siraj is currently Professor and Chief of Division of Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Norfolk, VA. He is also David L. Bernd Distinguished Chair for Cardiovascular and Diabetes Research, Director of Strelitz Diabetes Center and Director of the EVMS-Sentara Cardiovascular Diabetes Center. Dr. Siraj started as a Faculty first at the Cleveland Clinic and later moved to Temple University in Philadelphia where for many years he carried various leadership roles including Director of Diabetes Program and Director of Endocrine Fellowship Program. Over the years, Dr. Siraj has been involved in Global Medicine activities and has been traveling to Ethiopia every year as a Visiting Professor, teaching residents, fellows and medical students as well as conducting collaborative clinical research projects. In collaboration with others, he was instrumental in successfully establishing the first Endocrine Fellowship training program in Ethiopia. In addition, Dr Siraj has served in various leadership roles at “People to People”, a US based NGO established by Ethiopian Physicians to support Ethiopian Healthcare and Medical Education. For his active role in Ethiopia, he received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award for the Promotion of Endocrine Health of an Underserved Population from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology in 2014.

Enawgaw Mehari, MD.

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is a Senior Neurologist at Kings Daughter Medical Center in Kentucky and founder of People to People USA (P2P). He founded P2P at the end of his residency training and has since expanded the services of P2P, including opening the People’s Free Clinic in Morehead, KY, in 2005 for the working poor who have no health insurance.

Jignesh Shah, M.D

Dr. Jignesh Shah is a cardiologist with sub-specialty training in cardiac electrophysiology from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His interests include arrhythmia care, pacemaker implant and cardiac ablations. Dr. Shah is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases and clinical cardiac electrophysiology. He is currently overseeing cardiology fellowship training in several medical schools in Ethiopia.

Melaku Demede M.D., MHSc, FACC, FSCAI

Dr. Melaku Demede graduated from AAU faculty of Medicine in 1995 and completed internship, residency and fellowship from SUNY Downstate Health Science Center Brooklyn, NY. Had done Post graduation from Victoria University of Manchester in MHSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Currently, He is Chief of Cardiology and Medical Director of Cardiac Cath Lab in ARH Beckley, WV. Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine West Virginia University School of Medicine, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine UK community Faculty, WVU DO School and Lincoln Memorial University School of Medicine. Board Certified in Intervention Cardiology, Cardiovascular Medicine, Internal Medicine, Echocardiography and Nuclear Cardiology.

Mulugeta Gebregziabher, M.D

Dr. Mulugeta Gebregziabher is Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Public Health Sciences at MUSC. His research expertise is in longitudinal data analysis, multiple outcomes research, and analysis of very large datasets from electronic medical records. He is secretary of ED-REAP (501(c3)) and has served as President of the Statistical Society of Ethiopians in North America and President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Statistical Association.

Henock G. Zabher, M.D., MPH, FACC, FSCAI

Dr. Henock G. Zabher is an associate Professor of Medicine/ Interventional Cardiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. He received his medical degree from Jimma University in Ethiopia. He subsequently obtained his Masters of Public health (MPH) from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He completed internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). He completed subspecialty training in Interventional Cardiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He is the First Cardiologist to perform percutaneous coronary intervention in Mekelle hospital, Ethiopia and help to initiate a coronary intervention services in the hospital.

Kebede H. Begna, M.D., Msc.

Dr. Kebede H. Begna an assistant professor and consultant haematologist, practicing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He received his medical degree from Gondar University in Ethiopia. . He finished internal medicine residency at St. Vincent Medical College, an affiliate of New York Medical College, where he was the Chief Resident. He completed hematology and medical oncology fellowship and obtained Masters in clinical research at the University of Minnesota, and later joined the Mayo Clinic, Division of Hematology in Rochester, Minnesota. He authored and co-authored many publications and book chapter. He currently serves on the board of Ethio-American Doctors Group, Inc.

Lekidelu Taddesse-Heath, MD

Dr. Taddesse-Heath is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Howard University Hospital and Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. She has led medical student missions to Gondar University Hospital, Ethiopia since 2013.

Lydia Tesfa, PhD

Dr. Lydia Tesfa is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is the Assistant Operations Director of Flow Cytometry and actively engages in research, education and health care. Dr. Lydia is a Board member of People to People (P2P) and has volunteered her expertise in several projects in Ethiopia.

Meraf Wolle, M.D

Dr. Meraf A. Wolle is an assistant Professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. She specializes in corneal and external disease, including cataracts, corneal transplants, and refractive surgery. Dr. Wolle received her M.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine and her M.P.H. degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Following an internship in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, she completed her residency in ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute. Dr. Wolle completed a fellowship in Cornea and External Diseases at the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor prior to joining the Wilmer faculty.

Salahadin Abdi, M.D., PhD

Dr. Salahadin Abdi, is a tenured Professor of Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine and Chair of Department of Pain Medicine at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. He completed medical school, his PhD in pharmacology/toxicology, and clinical residency in Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine at University of Münster Medical Center in Germany. After relocating to the United States, he then completed his residency training Anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. He is the author and/or co-author of more than 200 manuscripts and abstracts, book chapters and review articles. He is a reviewer for multiple journals. His primary research interests include stem cell and gene therapy for degenerative spine disease and chemotherapy induced painful peripheral neuropathy. His main clinical interest includes low back pain, complex regional pain syndrome, cancer pain, myofascial pain and whiplash injury.

Teferi Y. Mitiku, M.D., FACC

Dr. Mitiku earned his medical degree at UCLA, and he then completed his residency at Stanford University, followed by a fellowship in cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology at Yale New Haven Hospital. He has served as the Director of the Complex Ablation Program at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Currently he is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Director of Electrophysiology at University of California Irvine in Orange County, CA.

Tinsay A. Woreta, M.D., M.P.H

Dr. Tinsay A. Woreta is an assistant professor of medicine and a gastroenterologist/hepatologist at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine.. She received her medical degree, internal medicine residency, and gastroenterology/transplant hepatology fellowship from Johns Hopkins University. She specializes in acute and chronic liver diseases, and has authored many publications and book chapters.

Yonas E. Geda, M.D.

Dr. Yonas E. Geda is a Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry. He is a Consultant in the Department of Psychiatry & Psychology, and Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic. Following a formal search process, Dr. Geda was recently named Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion for all the 5 colleges/ schools at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Dr. Geda earned his doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree from Addis Ababa (Haile Selassie) University, and subsequently pursued his trainings in Psychiatry, Behavioral Neurology, and a Master’s of Science (MSc) degree in biomedical sciences at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His research examines the impact of lifestyle factors and neuropsychiatric symptoms on brain aging and mild cognitive impairment. He has published over 115 peer reviewed papers in major journals including in Neurology, JAMA Neurology, JAMA Psychiatry and American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Geda has several institutional, national and international leadership roles. He is a member of the Science Committee of the French Alzheimer’s research group (Groupe de Recherche sur la maladie d’Alzheimer; GRAL). He is the current chair of the award committee of the Neuropsychiatric syndromes professional interest area (PIA) of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). He is a recipient of many awards, including a medal from the City of Marseille, France in 2003, and from the City of La Ciotat, France in 2016 for his contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s research. As a resident, he won the prestigious Mayo Brother’s Distinguished Fellowship Award.

Keith Martin, M.D

Dr. Keith Martin is the founding Executive Director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) based in Washington, DC. The Consortium is a rapidly growing organization of over 170 academic institutions from around the world. It harnesses the capabilities of these institutions across research, education, advocacy and service to address global challenges. It is particularly focused on improving health outcomes for the global poor and strengthening academic global health programs. Dr. Martin is the author of more than 150 editorial pieces published in Canada’s major newspapers and has appeared frequently as a political and social commentator on television and radio. He is currently a board member of the Jane Goodall Institute, editorial board member for the Annals of Global Health and an advisor for the International Cancer Expert Corps. He has contributed to the Lancet Commission on the Global Surgery Deficit, is a current commissioner on the Lancet-ISMMS Commission on Pollution, Health and Development and is a member of the Global Sepsis Alliance.


If You Go:
P2P 10th annual Health Care and Medical Education conference
Saturday, October 20th, 2018
Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City
550 Army Navy Drive Arlington, VA 2220
www.p2pbridge.org

Related:
Watch: 2015 People to People (P2P) Conference Award Ceremony

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Spotlight: Solomon Kassa’s New Book ‘Girimte Scitech’

Solomon Kassa, author of 'Girimte Scitech,' will hold a book signing event in Arlington, VA on November 1st, 2018. (Photo: Solomon speaking at his book launch party at Sheraton Addis in Ethiopia on June 28th, 2018/Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 18th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Last year Solomon Mulugeta Kassa, host of TechTalk on Ethiopia Broadcasting Services (EBS), had shared with Tadias that he was putting the final touches on his new Amharic book focusing on science and technology. It covers “major science moments in history, its effect on the world and its relations to Ethiopia from the industrial revolution to the information age.” Solomon said.

The book, which is titled Girimte Scitech, was released this past summer with a successful book launch party at the Sheraton Addis in Ethiopia on June 28th.

This week Solomon announced a book signing event in Arlington, VA on November 1st along with guest speaker Samuel Alemayehu, Managing Director at Cambridge Industries.

On his EBS TV show Solomon, who works full time as a Senior Technology Consultant for Deloitte, presents fascinating guests including NASA scientist Dr. Brook Lakew, who is an Associate Director for Planning, Research and Development, Solar System Exploration Division at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as Ethiopian American scientist Sossina M. Haile who is Professor of Materials Science & Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University and one of the leading green energy researchers in the world.

Photos: Solomon Kassa’s Book launch at Sheraton Addis, June 28th, 2018:

In his interview with Tadias Solomon added. “The book also contains a reflection on the future. Where are we headed and what is our role? I am talking here about Africans in general and Ethiopians in particular. The fact of the matter is that we started civilization, but when it comes to modern technology we are still playing catch up.”


If You Go:
Book Signing and Happy Hour by Solomon Kassa
Thu, November 1, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
SPACES The Artisphere
1101 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209
Click here for more info

Related:
Tadias Interview With Solomon Kassa, Host of TechTalk on EBS

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Nate Araya’s Film ‘Growing Up In America’

The director of 'Sincerely, Ethiopia,' Nate Araya, is back with another movie series, this time exploring the state of mental health in the U.S. in his new film entitled 'Growing Up In America.' (Photo: Nate Araya)

Konbini

In 2011, budding filmmaker and Ethiopian-American, Nate Araya made waves when he tackled the public’s negative perceptions of his homeland, Ethiopia, by making a documentary — Sincerely, Ethiopia — that displayed a more positive portrayal of Ethiopian life and culture.

The documentary was released in 2013, and since then Nate has gone on to make many impactful documentaries, championing the realities of Africans in the diaspora.

His latest work, Growing Up In America is a travel-based documentary series exploring different parts of American cities, cultures and conversations surrounding the underrepresented communities in America.

Nate describes the series as a “purpose project”, saying:

“This project is an extension of my life work to become a solution to the problems I see within my culture and community today.

We can either complain about the problems or contribute towards a solution. This is small contribution. A purpose project.

[I hope] that it can become a voice for the silent issues we face and a light for the many solutions ahead.”

The first episode of the series focuses on mental health in minority communities. Nate visits a local barbershop in Austin, Texas to better understand the views of mental health from the minds of young game changers, artists and professionals.

The episode includes a featured interview from National Institute of Mental Health Psychiatric Nurse, Ledet Muleta, who discusses the state of mental health within the black, immigrant and first-generation community. The series is set to be released on Nate’s website and his YouTube page.

Watch the trailer for the first episode below:


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Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week

Sebeatu by designer Muse Legesse and Roots in Style by Tigist Seife. (courtesy of HAFW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – The 2018 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week took place in Ethiopia’s capital city last week. This year’s runway show, which was held on October 3rd at Millennium Hall, highlighted a diverse collection of local and international designers.

Below are photos courtesy of Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week:

Samra Leather by Samrawit Mersiehazen:

Ayni’s by Aynalem Ayele:

Roots in Style by Tigist Seife:

Precious design by Nasra Mustofa:

Meron Addis Ababa by Meron Seid:

Lali by Lemlem Haile Michael:

ZAAF by Abai Schulze:

Wuwi Couture by Egla Negusse:

Sebeatu by Muse Legesse:

Aleph Design by Meseret Teferra:

Yefikir by Fikerte Addis:

Tseday Design by Tseday Kebede:

Komtare by Dawit Ketema:

Kahindo (Democratic Republic of the Congo):

Basse (Senegal ):

ArtC (Morocco):

Alaoui M’hammdi Amina (Morocco):


Related:
2017 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week in Pictures
Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2016
Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2015
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

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Professor Lemma Senbet Focuses on Ethiopian Diaspora After Successfully Leading AERC

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park has returned to the United States after five years leading the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), based in Nairobi, Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 12th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – After a successful five-year term as the head of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) — a Kenya-based non-profit organization that conducts independent research concerning the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa – Professor Lemma W. Senbet, an internationally recognized leader in finance studies has returned to continue teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“I am now back in Washington from an incredibly satisfying five-year Africa journey in the service of the Motherland,” Professor Lemma told Tadias. Before leaving the U.S. to lead AERC Lemma had shared with us in an interview that he “will be embarking on strategies for full global integration of AERC and its visibility beyond Africa as an organization that is at the cutting edge of best policy research practices.”

In 2015 under his leadership AERC received the highest possible rating as the most transparent think tank in the world. According to a report released by Transparify AERC was one of 31 major centers of research worldwide, out of 169 examined, that was given a five-star rating. The list included several American policy research establishments such as the Center for Global Development, Pew Research Center, Stimson Center, Woodrow Wilson Center and the World Resources Institute.

Last year Dr. Lemma was also one of the presenters during a high–level panel held in Rome, Italy comprising of representatives and experts from the G7 and selected African think tanks. The conference “focused on Africa and addressed three key issues related to Agenda 2030: food security, innovation and mobility.”

Now back in the U.S. Professor Lemma shares that his next steps involve working with the recently formed Diaspora committee that will help to raise funds for Ethiopia. His background as an economist as well as his non-political, non-partisan and fact-based approach to complex issues will certainly bring a much-needed skill set to the group — which also includes several highly qualified individuals whose work we have previously featured in Tadias such as Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, retired United Nations official; Elias Wondimu, Publisher of Tsehai Publishers; Dr. Menna Demissie, Vice President of Police Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director of Black Rhino Group & Executive Advisory and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure; and Obang Metho, Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and a noted human rights activist.

In his departing speech to his colleagues at AERC, Professor Lemma told his audience that he will continue to advocate for Africa once he returns to the U.S. and he has already hit the ground running.

Watch: Closing Remarks – AERC Executive Director Prof Lemma Senbet


Related:
Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking
Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

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Meet the 19-year-old Tech Genius Coding at Ethiopia’s First AI Lab

Betelhem Dessie, 19, has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name - including an app developed for the Ethiopian government to map rivers used for irrigation. (CNN)

CNN

At 19-years-old, Betelhem Dessie is perhaps the youngest pioneer in Ethiopia’s fast emerging tech scene, sometimes referred to as ‘Sheba Valley’.

Dessie is coordinating a number of nationwide programs run by robotics lab iCog, the Addis Ababa based artificial intelligence (AI) lab that was involved in developing the world famous Sophia the robot.

She has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name – including an app developed for the Ethiopian government to map rivers used for irrigation.

And it all began when she was just 9.

She recalls: “On my 9th birthday I wanted to celebrate so I asked my father for money.” When her father said he didn’t have any to give her that day, Dessie took matters into her own hands.

Making use of the materials around her – her father sold electronics in their home city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia – Dessie started with small tasks such as video editing and sending music to customer’s cell phones.

“I got about 90 dollars – then I celebrated my birthday” she laughs, sitting in one of the robotics and coding rooms at iCog, Ethiopia’s first AI lab.
iCog launched in 2013 and Ethiopia’s tech industry is set to take off even faster this year following the liberalization of the country’s economy under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Read more »


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Ethiopia to Reform Repressive Laws

President Mulatu Teshome (left) hosting dinner for members of parliament on October 8th, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @fitsumaregaa)

Africa News

Ethiopia to Reform Judicial System, Amend Repressive Laws: President

Ethiopia will reform several laws that are widely perceived to having had a detrimental effect on human rights and democracy, according to a speech delivered by the country’s president Mulatu Teshome.

Fitsum Arega, the chief of staff in the prime minister’s office said the president tasked the country’s lawmakers as he outlined government’s plans for the next fiscal year on Monday.

‘‘The government will reform the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, the Charities and Societies Proclamation as well as various legislation having to do with the regulation of the media,’‘ Arega quoted the president on Twitter.

Discussions between government and opposition parties to amend provisions the controversial anti-terrorism law in May.

Human rights group have previously accused the state of using the law’s broad definitions against anyone who opposes government policies.

Human Rights Watch has previously said the law “grants authorities the power to prosecute journalists who publish articles about protest movements, armed opposition groups, or any other individuals deemed as terrorist or anti-peace”.

Read more »


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Ethiopian American Neurologist Enawgaw Mehari Bettering Health in Ethiopia

Neurologist Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is the founder and president of People to People. He works at King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Kentucky. Courtesy photo.

Daily Independent

KDMC neurologist bettering health in Ethiopia

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari is devoted to improving the health of those in Africa.

The King’s Daughters Medical Center neurologist is the founder and president of a non-profit organization called People to People (P2P) that is dedicated to bettering healthcare and reducing the spread of diseases, particularly in Ethiopia and in diaspora communities.

“The key to this organization is serving as a bridge between Africa and the west,” said Mehari.

P2P’s projects are focused on strengthening health systems through partnerships with local hospitals and universities. The organization engages “the global Ethiopian diaspora in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap and address the country’s severe shortage of health and medical professionals,” according to its website, p2pbridge.org.

To help achieve this goal P2P hosts U.S.-based medical conferences and members will even make trips to Ethiopia as well.

Mehari has brought along KDMC physicians on these trips in the past, with oncologist/hematologist Galena Salem, M.D., joining him last year. Together, the two taught medical professionals and cared for patients.

This year’s conference will take place on Oct. 20 in Arlington, Va., marking the event’s 10th anniversary. The conference will hit many firsts for the organization, offering an in-person and online conference targeting “the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in Ethiopia.” It’s the first program presented as part of the newly formed Pan African Continuing Medical Education Network.

The conference will be streamed live on Facebook as well.

Read more »


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Pictures: Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show

Amsale Fall 2019 Collections debuted at Second, Eventi Hotel, in New York on October 5th, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 6th, 2018

In Pictures: Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show at New York Bridal Fashion Week

New York (TADIAS) — It’s Bridal Fashion Week in New York City and Amsale New York debuted three Fall 2019 collections during a runway event held at Eventi Hotel’s Second floor in Manhattan on Friday, October 5th. Amsale, which is one of the leading bridal fashion brands in the United States, was founded by the late Ethiopian American designer Amsale Aberra who passed away earlier this year.

The Fall 2019 runway presentation was designed by Margo Lafontaine who was selected by Amsale Aberra as her successor. “Lafontaine’s featured designs include the Fall 2019 collections of Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale and the re-launch of the Little White Dress Collection,” notes the event press release. “Lafontaine joined the Amsale design team in 2017 and spent precious months with the beloved late founder and creative director. She was most recently senior studio director of Vera Wang, where she worked for more than a decade.”

“Amsale was the creator of the modern wedding dress and as I help carry that legacy forward, I am threading her unmistakable Amsale aesthetic into each aspect of my designs” said Margo Lafontaine.

As Design Director at Amsale New York, Lafontaine describes the current collection as “designed with the Amsale bride in mind to celebrate and enhance each woman’s energy, personality, and her natural style.”

Below is a description of this season’s collections and photos from Amsale Fall 2019 Runway Show at New York Bridal Fashion Week:

NOUVELLE AMSALE FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Inspired by the modern and effortless bride who understands fashion but stays true to her personal style, the Nouvelle Amsale Fall 2019 collection shows bold textural details in the form of graphic floral laces offset with delicate layers of tulle. Clean necklines are carefully detailed with sheer borders and trailing lace appliques. These effortlessly elegant gowns are designed to create endless versatility.

LITTLE WHITE DRESS FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Celebrating timeless Amsale silhouettes, the iconic Little White Dress collection is re-launching after its original debut in 2009, reimaging effortlessly elegant details for the modern bride for each occasion surrounding her wedding. Designed with sheer illusion overlays, draped bow detailing, graphic lace, and crisp tailored faille, these dresses underline the unmistakable Amsale aesthetic— classic but not ordinary.

AMSALE FALL 2019 COLLECTION

Designed to embody an understated take on old school glamour, the Amsale Fall 2019 collection reflects a mix of dramatic design and simple silhouettes to cater to every bride. Draped crepe sheaths are presented alongside handcrafted tulle and Lyon lace ball gowns. Working with the signature interplay of opacity and sheerness, striking necklines are featured in elegant fronts and backs with sculptural counterpoints of bow and draping details. Decorations remain subtle yet luxe with delicate hand-painting, tonal embroidery and hand-cut Lyon lace that lend a modern texture to the collection.


Related:
Special Tribute to Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Runway Show

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In New Jersey, Ethiopian Churches to Celebrate “Peace and Reconciliation Day”

Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia's fourth Patriarch, arrives in Addis Ababa after 27 years in exile on Wednesday August 1st, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — One of the major turning points signaling a new era of goodwill among Ethiopians worldwide came in late July this year when a peace and reconciliation agreement was announced that ended the nearly three-decade-old separation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia.

Shortly thereafter Abune Merkorios, Ethiopia’s fourth Patriarch, returned to his country on August 1st after 27 years in exile. He was welcomed home with a memorable state reception at Addis Ababa airport, which was televised live.

Members of several Ethiopian churches in New York and surrounding states are organizing a “Peace and Reconciliation Day” event this month on October 13th to celebrate this historic achievement in a day of prayer and thanksgiving at the Besrate Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in New Jersey.

>


If You Go:
Peace and Reconciliation Day Celebration
Saturday, October 13th, 2018 from 9:00 am to 5 pm
Besrate Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church
1046 S. Orange Ave
Newark, New Jersey
More info: 571-310-7645

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U.S. Embassy Welcomes Largest Ever Cohort of American Scholars to Support Education in Ethiopia

The group consisted of 13 Fulbright Scholars, 20 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, and 3 English Language Fellows. (Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Press Release

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor welcomed a group of over 35 American scholars to Ethiopia – the largest such group at any one time.

The group consisted of 13 Fulbright Scholars, 20 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, and 3 English Language Fellows.

The Ambassador said that by investing in expanding academic exchange programs between the United States and Ethiopia, “We’re investing in our educational institutions, providing an opportunity to share best practices and to work together to improve the quality of research and education.”

Together, the Fulbright Program and the Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program (ADSP) aim to bring American scholars to conduct research, support academic quality, teach, and collaborate with their Ethiopian colleagues. Both programs have expanded thanks to significant funding contributions from Ethiopian universities, representing the possibilities that come from joint cooperation.

The scholars represent a range of subject areas including anthropology, business, chemistry, computer science, education, engineering, environmental science, history, humanities, political science, public health, public administration and policy, sociology, and urban planning will be placed at the following universities: Addis Ababa University, Bahir Dar University, University of Gondar, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, Jimma University, and Mekelle University. The ADSP program is a pilot project that began with the University of Gondar and Bahir Dar University, but is slated to expand to additional locations in the next academic year based on the success of the pilot.

Ambassador Raynor emphasized “investing in Ethiopia’s education system remains one of the United States’ top priorities as part of our commitment to supporting the capacity of all Ethiopians to achieve the best possible future for themselves,” adding, “the most important investment of all is in our young people. Through these exchanges of people and ideas, we can offer a richer, higher quality educational experience for the next generation of scholars in both our countries. And we know that few investments will ever pay off as much as a good education.”


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Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2018

Photo from previous Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week. (courtesy of HAFW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – This week in Addis Ababa the annual Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week is taking place at Millennium Hall. This year’s runway show, which will be held on October 3rd, features the collection of 15 Ethiopian designers as well as international guest presenters hailing from Morocco, DRC and Kenya.

“As in past events, HAFW will also be hosting key industry players including international and regional buyers and media. Vogue Italia / Talents will keep their dedication to scouting talents during the event,” organizers shared in a press release. “HAFW 2018 is happy to be continuing its platform as a source for supporting and encouraging the fashion, textile, and manufacturing industries in Africa as a key part of the sustainable development of the continent.”

In addition, HAFW announced that it is collaborating with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) to connect experts with five young fashion designers whose work will also be showcased on October 4th, 2018 at the Italian Embassy.

The participating Ethiopian designers include Abai Schulze (ZAAF), Aynalem Ayele (Ayni’s), Dawit Ketema (Komtare), Egla Negusse (Wuwi Couture), Fikerte Addis (Yefiki), Lemlem Haile Michael (Lali), Meseret Teferra (Aleph Design), Muse Legesse (Sebeatu), Nasra Mustofa (Precious design), Samrawit Mersiehazen (Samra Leather), Tigist Seife (Roots in Style), Tigist Shiferaw (TG’SH), Tseday Kebede (Tseday Design), Yordanos Aberra (Yordi Design), Mahlet Afework (MAFI), Meron Seid (Meron Addis Ababa), as well as emerging designers Hiwot Solomon (BELLAHIWOT), Fozia Endrias (Fozia Endrias Clothing & Accessories) and Kunjina Tesfaye (Kunjina).


Related:
2017 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week in Pictures

Photos: Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2016
Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week 2015
In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

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Julie Mehretu’s London Art Show at White Cube Mason’s Yard

Julie Mehretu makes large-scale, gestural paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. The exhibition highlights Mehretu’s use of gestural abstraction as a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry. (White Cube gallery)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 1st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — To observe close-up one of Julie Mehretu’s thought-provoking and spacious artworks is to immerse oneself in history as well as to reflect and examine some of the burning socio-political issues of the day. An exhibition of new work by Julie Mehretu that is currently on display at White Cube gallery in London precisely makes this point.

“Featuring large-scale paintings and etchings, the exhibition highlights Mehretu’s use of gestural abstraction as a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry,” the gallery said in a press release. “Glenn Ligon has described the artist’s work as ‘traversed by history [...] grounded in urgent political and social questions while simultaneously troubling the limits of abstract painting.’

Marking a continued departure from her earlier work which focused on a layered language of mapping and architectural detail, these paintings take the immediacy of a news photograph as their starting point. These include images of such recent pivotal junctures as the rallies of independence in Catalonia; the voracious wild fires of California; the violent white supremacy rally and counter rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; the instantaneous outbreak of Muslim ban protests throughout the United States; and the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Julie, who is one of the most significant American artists of our time, was born in Ethiopia in 1970 and now lives in New York. She was a MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Fellow in 2005, and has subsequently won the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). In 2017 The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art commissioned Julie to complete an installation in their lobby. She also serves as a trustee of the American Academy in Berlin.

Julie’s current work at White Cube Mason’s Yard — which will be on display through November 3rd, 2018 — is: “Less structured than previous work and characterized by their intensely animated and vital surfaces,” notes the exhibit announcement. “Mehretu’s paintings suggest a suspended moment ripe with possibility, defining what Suzanne Cotter has identified as a ‘mobility’ inherent in her painterly language. Part of a continual state of becoming, where marks reliant on effacement and erasure relate to action, they allow for new thematic possibilities.. Urging the viewer to look, question and take time, Mehretu ignites the potential of painting to carry political significance, serving as an energising and motivational force that draws vital nerves and narrative lines with both the history of modernist abstraction as well as that of engaged political thought.”


If You Go:
Julie Mehretu SEXTANT
Show ends on November 3rd 2018
White Cube Mason’s Yard
25 – 26 Mason’s Yard
London SW1Y 6BU
www.whitecube.com/

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Hyatt to Open Its First Hotel in Ethiopia

Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa plans to open by the end of the year. (Photo courtesy: Hyatt.com)

Bloomberg

Hyatt Hotels Corp. plans to open its first hotel in Ethiopia by the end of the year as it seeks to double its African portfolio to tap growing visits by both African and Chinese travelers.

The property in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, will be followed by Hyatt’s first hotels in Algeria and Senegal in early 2019 and in Kenya the year after, according to Kurt Straub, the company’s vice president for the Middle East and Africa. Hyatt in October said it would invest an estimated $200 million in new hotels on the continent.
“Things are opening up in Ethiopia, it’s very exciting what’s going on there,” Straub said in an interview in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, referring to Ethiopia’s recent pledge to loosen control of the state-planned economy and invite more foreign investment. “It’s much easier now that it’s open, there’s a path.”

Hyatt will operate the Ethiopian hotel through a management contract with U.K.-based ASB Development Ltd., which already has business there, according to Straub. Hyatt is also looking into opening outlets in the Ethiopian cities of Awasa and Mekelle, he said.
Hyatt, whose portfolio on the continent includes hotels in Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Tanzania, is open to franchising opportunities, Straub said. It also sees major opportunities from a growing Chinese market and intra-African travel, according to Tejas Shah, the company’s regional vice president for sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more »

Learn more about Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa by visiting the website.

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Ethiopia’s Democratic Awakening

(Photograph: by Tom Gardner)

The Guardian

‘Abiy Ahmed is our miracle’: Ethiopia’s democratic awakening

Something extraordinary is happening in Ethiopia. Under new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, authoritarianism and state brutality appear to be giving way to something resembling democracy. A country that began the year crippled by anti-government protests is now being lauded as a model for the region. One of Africa’s most autocratic ruling parties, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is today led by a man who professes to believe deeply in freedom of expression.

In the capital, Addis Ababa, huge crowds have been welcoming home exiled dissidents. Residents who once feared speaking publicly about politics now talk of little else. Flags and symbols long banned by the EPRDF blossom across the city.

But it is also a time of deep anxiety. The unprecedented loosening of state control has been accompanied by an upsurge in ethnic violence and widespread lawlessness. Hate speech thrives on social media. Groups with starkly contrasting visions for the country have clashed on the streets of the capital. On 19 September the government began its first clampdown, arresting thousands of people suspected of orchestrating violence. “Abiymania”, as it has become known, may not last forever.

In Addis Ababa the face of Abiy Ahmed is almost ubiquitous, emblazoned on stickers, posters, T-shirts and books. Some of his most enthusiastic supporters liken him to a prophet. “Without Abiy we would be doing nothing,” says Asrat Abere, a taxi driver and father of two. “If he had time he could change everything.

Some worry that “Abiymania” is a personality cult; others liken it to the sort of adoration that has often followed Ethiopian leaders, including the former emperor, Haile Selassie.

“There’s an inclination in the Ethiopian population to have more faith in charismatic leaders than in political parties or institutions,” says Goitum Gebreluel, an Ethiopian researcher at Cambridge University. “Abiy has been able to cultivate that cleverly.”

Read more »


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Hundreds Arrested in Ethiopia After Violence Around Capital

The town of Burayu, which is located on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, was the scene of a recent ethnic-based violence that claimed several dozen lives and displaced thousands of people. (Photo: @fanatelevision)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian security official has confirmed the arrests of hundreds of youths in the capital, Addis Ababa, following violence within the city and in nearby towns last week in which several dozen people were killed.

The announcement on Monday came following widespread calls on social media by citizens of the East African country to disclose the reason why the arrests were made.

“We arrested several people following the violence but most of them were released shortly after provided with advice. If we were to keep them all, our prisons wouldn’t be able to handle them,” said Degife Bedi, a police official with the Addis Ababa Police Commission. “28 people lost their lives in the violence in Addis Ababa alone. Most of them lost their lives after beatings with stones and sticks. Other seven people lost their lives due to actions taken by security forces.”

According to the official, more than 1,200 individuals who were “directly involved” in the violence in the capital have been sent to a military camp to be “rehabilitated” and 107 others will face criminal charges.

“An additional 2,000 people were detained inside hookah-serving houses, gambling shops and khat-chewing stores,” the police head said, adding that most were later released.

A week of violence erupted in Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas beginning from September 12 following disagreements between youths from the capital and its surrounding Oromia region over the use of different flags. On September 15, several people were killed in the Oromia region’s towns of Burayu and Ashewa Meda which victims blamed on youths from the same region.

City officials said 26 people lost their lives and close to 15,000 were displaced in the attacks in the capital’s outskirts but hospital sources told The Associated Press that at least 70 people were killed in the attacks that were mainly carried out on ethnic-lines.

Ethiopia’s new leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, hails from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest. Various attacks based on ethnic rivalries are mushrooming across the country and are his biggest challenges to date.

Ethnic-based conflicts that are mainly driven by competition for land and resources are not new to Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups, but the escalation of the current conflicts is alarming many. Some fear it may derail the reforms made by Abiy since he came to power in April.


Related:

Ethiopia’s Stunning Reforms Now Challenged by Deadly Unrest (AP)

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Meet Sinna Habteselassie: First Black Woman Elected as University Of Cincinnati Student Body President

As the child of Ethiopian immigrants who migrated to the United States during the mid 1980s, Sinna Habteselassie's family settled just south of Dayton, Ohio in Centerville where she was born and raised. Sinna recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. (Photo: UC Creative Services)

BOTWC

Senior neuroscience and organizational leadership double major, Sinna Habteselassie, recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. In UC’s 199-year history, Habteselassie became the first African American woman student to be elected to serve in the role.

After some persuasion from friends and mentors and ultimately turning down an internship opportunity, Habteselassie decided to run for the coveted role. She soon realized that her significant fear of speaking in public would soon be challenged as she blazed the campaign trail. “I said, ‘I have the ability to do it. I can do it,’” she shared with UC News. “We’re not doing enough to make sure marginalized people have a seat at the table. Hopefully, my presence will encourage other people to participate.”

Her recent victory continues to do just that as she uses her platform to speak out about issues such as mental health advocacy and maintaining college affordability to lower student debt rates.

“There was a lot of pressure and significance knowing she would be the first Black woman to hold this position. But the fact that she talks so openly about her identity and how that influences how she wants to lead sets a different kind of precedent. She doesn’t shy away from her identity,” shared Program Coordinator in UC’s Office of Ethnic Programs & Services and mentor to Habteselassie, Peyton Wu.


Photo credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services

Read more »


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Ethiopia’s Stunning Reforms Now Challenged by Deadly Unrest

Thousands of protestors from the capital and those displaced by ethnic-based violence over the weekend in Burayu, demonstrate to demand justice from the government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopia’s stunning political reforms are now threatened by long-standing ethnic tensions that have roared back to life since a young prime minister took power just five months ago and promised greater freedoms.

While exiled groups once banned as terror organizations are welcomed home to join political dialogue, deadly violence erupts on the fringes of celebrations. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered peacefully in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square to cheer one group’s return. Two days later, police fired tear gas there to disperse people protesting killings blamed by some on youth from the same ethnicity.

Suddenly, the government of 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears to be reaching for security tactics whose unpopularity helped to bring down the previous government, while some Ethiopians who cheered Abiy’s reforms now accuse him of being soft on the unrest that poses his biggest challenge so far.

The internet winked off this week across the capital, a once-common act to control dissenting voices. The National Security Council has vowed “all necessary measures” against those spreading anarchy, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported. Some have even called for the return of the state of emergency that Abiy lifted in one of his first acts in office.

The prime minister himself, who shocked the country with a dizzying series of reforms that included freeing imprisoned opposition figures and vowing free and fair elections in 2020, has made warning sounds against the unrest.

“There’s nothing more shameful than a group of people committing these types of crimes against their fellow citizens,” Abiy said Tuesday while visiting a camp for those displaced by the latest violence.

Stability is crucial in a country whose fast-growing economy, 100 million-strong population and security ties make it the powerhouse of the turbulent but strategic Horn of Africa region.

Ethnic-based conflicts mainly over scarce resources are common in Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups, but now the communal violence is spiraling at a scale that alarms many.

“If this trend continues, I fear a time will come soon when Ethiopians yearn for the old dictatorial times,” Mussie Tefera, a university student, told The Associated Press.

Ethiopia since 1991 has been led by a ruling coalition and allied parties that hold every seat in Parliament and for years were accused by human rights groups of suppressing critical voices. That grip on power slipped after anti-government protests that began in late 2015 in the Oromia and Amhara regions, home of the country’s two largest ethnic groups.

Abiy’s arrival in power was a surprise. He is the first prime minister from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. As the son of a Muslim father and Orthodox Christian mother who converted to Islam he has spoken out for tolerance. On an exuberant tour of the United States that drew large crowds, he spoke to Ethiopian communities and invited emotional exiles long wary of the government to return.

His appeals to peace and openness, however, have not healed long-standing ethnic fractures between groups such as the Oromo and the Somalis. Some disputes have worsened. The number of the country’s internally displaced people has reached 2.8 million, up from 1.6 million at the beginning of the year, according to the United Nations.

For some, the surge in unrest comes with the recent shifts in power.

“Local cadres and officials are instigating this violence for a petty political gain,” Ethiopia’s disaster prevention chief, Mitiku Kassa, told The Associated Press after fighting between the Oromo and others in the Gedeo and West Guji zones.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Embassy was among those issuing safety warnings amid the violence on the outskirts of the capital as many Ethiopians expressed outrage over the alleged targeting of people based on ethnic identity. More than 20 people were killed.

“We demand justice,” some protesters chanted as they passed by the prime minister’s office on Monday en route to Meskel Square. By the end of the day, mobile internet service across Addis Ababa was blocked as citizens and Amnesty International pointed out hate speech against non-Oromo groups on social media. Internet service returned on Wednesday.

While some accuse “paid agents” of trying to paint a bad image of Oromo youth emboldened by Abiy’s rise to power, others suggest some unrest is being orchestrated by groups in the ruling coalition that lost power when he took office.

Any internal frictions could be exposed when the ruling coalition holds its congress early next month, when it is expected to take steps to implement Abiy’s whirlwind political and economic reforms.

“In a system where party and state have long been indistinguishable, the (coalition’s) fragmentation would be a dangerous thing,” Michael Woldemariam, assistant professor of international relations at Boston University, wrote this month in Foreign Affairs.

Ethiopians have long expressed grievances over the country’s federal structure that is largely based on ethnic lines and has been held together by the ruling coalition and its security forces.

“If the federal structure is implemented properly, it is fine,” said Berhanu Nega, whose Patriotic Ginbot 7 opposition group had been listed by Ethiopia as a terror group alongside the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab before being welcomed home from exile by the new government. “But what we have now here is a structure based mainly on ethnic identities and hence creating all these problems.”

Abiy’s administration is failing to guarantee law and order, said Awol Kassim Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University School of Law in Britain.

“At this defining moment for this country and its people, the state needs a commander-in-chief that stirs the ship out of the storm,” he said. “If we fail to defend this moment of ours and support this understandably challenging transition, we will all lose a great deal.”


Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Ethiopian Teenager Sara Gebretsadik Earns One Of Colorados Highest Honors

College student Sara Gebretsadik with her parents. (Family photo)

CBS4

DENVER – She just starting college and is only 19 years old, but Sara Gebretsadik has done enough to catch the eye of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gebretsadik was announced Wednesday as a recipient of the Emerging Community Leader for the Governor’s Citizenship Medal.

“I’m proud of myself. Yes! I did all those things,” Gebretsadik said as she read the list of her accomplishments the state had compiled.

She immigrated at the age of 10. She’s volunteered for the Special Olympics and Denver Club of Humanities. She’s mentored kids through the Black Student Alliance and other organizations.

“Rising Rebels is definitely my favorite accomplishment because it was very close and dear to heart. The club was dedicated to increasing people of color in higher-level courses,” she said.

It’s now been recognized nationally.

Gebretsadik had only been on campus at CU Boulder for a few days when she got an unexpected phone call.

“I answered it and it’s the governor, and I thought I was getting pranked. I was just awestruck. I was super honored. He said I was a key component in trying to make a better change for Colorado in terms of my involvement through community service,” she said.

The governor’s office says medals are awarded to citizens, “To recognize the remarkable leaders in Colorado for their impact on their community, and to honor their legacy.”

“I don’t know what my legacy is, I just got into college. I’m trying to figure out my life,” she said. “Definitely I hope to inspire people to do more good.”


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New Film ‘Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul’ Makes North American Premiere

'Ethiopiques – Revolt of the Soul' documentary film. (Image: IDFA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul is a new documentary that captures the exquisite sounds of the Ethiopian classics now preserved in 30 volumes of the internationally acclaimed Ethiopiques CD collection featuring some of nation’s best known musicians.

The film is set to make its North American premiere at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City next month.

“The jazz-funk music that came out of Addis Ababa in the 1960s and 70s was complex, fun, original, and nearly lost to the world,” notes the announcement from the Museum. “Meet the Ethiopian artists who forged this beautiful new sound and feel the passion that has gone into keeping that sound alive.”

Indeed if it was not for Producer Amha Eshete, the founder of Amha Records — the first Ethiopian record label launched in the late 60s and producing more than a dozen albums and some 120 singles with legendary Ethiopian musicians — and French Music Journalist Francis Falceto, the person behind the Ethiopiques series, who tracked down Amha years later living in exile, chances are more likely that this rich and historic Ethiopian treasure would have vanished forever.

According to the movie synopsis: “In addition to Falceto and Eshete we hear from various Ethiopian musicians, including Girma Beyene, who was the pianist and arranger for the Walias Band.” The film also incorporates animation “and finishes with Beyene’s comeback, including live performances and recordings for ‘Mistakes on Purpose,’ the 30th CD in the series.”


Ethiopiques, Revolt of the Soul. With live performance of Girma Bèyènè. (Photo via Twitter @MicroBioWil)

Watch: Girma Beyene live in Paris with French band Akale Wube — 2015


If You Go:
Ethiopiques–Revolt of the Soul North American Premiere
American Museum of Natural History
Friday, October 19, 2018 at 9 pm
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Entrance: 77th Street
Click here to buy tickets

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Artist Tariku Shiferaw at Whitney Museum of American Art ISP

Tariku Shiferaw. (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — When we first featured Tariku Shiferaw as an emerging artist two and half years ago he had just completed his graduate studies in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City and was participating in a group exhibition entitled Introductions 2016 at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn.

Since then Tariku, who was born in Addis Ababa and raised in Los Angeles, has held several exhibitions including his first international show at Addis Fine Art’s (AFA) London project space last year. The exhibition entitled Erase Me was featured at AFA’s inaugural event at their U.K. location.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tariku is now part of the Whitney Museum of Art Independent Study Program this Fall. Each year the Whitney Museum of American Art — the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States — chooses fifteen up-and-coming artists to take part in their Studio Program. According to the museum “the program begins in early September and concludes at the end of the following May. Many of the participants are enrolled at universities and art schools and receive academic credit for their participation, while others have recently completed their formal studies.”

“The Whitney ISP provides me an opportunity to extend my education through discussions and debates with influential artists, art historians, and cultural critics,” Tariku said. “I am also partaking in The Drawing Center’s Open Sessions program (2018-2020), which already started in May. Open Sessions is a two-year program open to artists working in a variety of disciplines.”

In addition, Tariku is featured in two upcoming group exhibitions: If I Go There, I Won’t Stay There opening September 22, 6-8pm at ltd Los Angeles and To Dream Avant-Garde, curated by Alteronce Gumby, Sept. 28 – Nov. 4, at Hammond Harkins Galleries in Columbus, OH.

“Often, I use a range of gray painterly gestures as ground to the geometric forms, which metaphorically refers to the gray space between meanings,” he told Tadias during our first interview. “The dialectical relationships between painterly gestures and geometric forms create the necessary complexity to inspire deep thoughts on these simple shapes and color, and the possible interpretations.”


If You Go:
Tariku Shiferaw will be at the opening reception in Los Angeles, please stop by if you’re in town. The exhibition runs from September 22 – November 3.

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Happy New Year! Enkutatash Comes Amid Momentous Change in Ethiopia

(Photo: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church recognized Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zenash Tayachew with a special award for bringing peace and reconciliation to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region in Addis Ababa on Sunday, September 9, 2018/Fana Broadcasting)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week Ethiopians celebrate enkutatash (Ethiopian new year) amid a momentous internal transformation that has captivated the imagination of the world.

In a little more than than 150 days under the new leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia has implemented one historic reform after another that’s indeed worth celebrating.

From releasing political prisoners and welcoming home fellow Ethiopians from exile to making peace with neighboring Eritrea as well as with the exiled Ethiopian Orthodox church, and promising to hold free and fair election in 2020, this has been a year for the ages.

More importantly, as we speak the country is revising some of its worst draconian laws — such as the Charities & Societies proclamation, the Anti-Terrorism proclamation, and the media law– that in the past were employed as tools to suppress freedom of expression and association.

In the latest positive development that’s capturing international headlines former Mayor-elect of Addis Ababa and opposition leader, Berhanu Nega, became the latest high profile individual to return to Ethiopia after more than a decade in exile. Per AFP: “Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned with scores of other senior members of the group, after reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the group from a list of “terrorist” organisations in July.”

And on the same day the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church gave a well-deserved special award to PM Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zenash Tayachew for their role in helping to bring peace and reconciliation to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region. The state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reports: “Prime Minister on the occasion said “the award belongs to all who fought selflessly and prayed for this change to happen,” according to Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office.”

“Ethiopia is a rarity in Africa,” declared the website Stratfor, which is known for its timely and informative geopolitical analysis, in a recent assessment focusing on current affairs of Ethiopia. “It has existed in a coherent form for more than 2,000 years and largely escaped European colonization. The country’s lineage — tracing back to the kingdom of Aksum in the first century — makes it stand out among its neighbors, and its advantageous location between the ancient trade routes of Rome and India makes it stand out on a map.” The analysis added: “The country’s recent push for reform and desire for strategic partnerships in the Horn of Africa provides a timely reason to explore Ethiopia’s geopolitical environment.”

Regarding “the Abiy Factor,” Stratfor rightly points out that “Abiy is a new kind of Ethiopian leader: He is young compared to his predecessors, at 42 years old; [and] Abiy is reaching out to different ethnic groups, ending draconian security measures, and promising free and fair elections in the years ahead.”

If successful we may once again become a role model for the rest of Africa and beyond.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year!


Related:
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa: Ambassador Mike New Year Message
PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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Incredible 12-Year-Old Dancer Tsehay Hawkins Featured on “Little Big Shots” TV

Tsehay Hawkins won the Australian Amateur Latin Dance Competition in 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Robyn Hawkins)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Tsehay Hawkins loves to dance and has been taking classes since she was 2 years old. Adopted from Ethiopia by an Australian family when she was 8 months old, Tsehay recently shared her passion for many types of dance including Ethiopian, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Latin and Tap with the host of Australia’s Little Big Shots TV series earlier this month.

Last year she won the Australian Latin Dance Championships in the Samba Soloist Youth category.

“She is extremely proud of being Ethiopian. She has never forgotten her birth country,” her parents told Tadias.

Below is a clip of Tsehay Hawkins on Little Big Shots:


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San Jose, California Honors Ethiopian Community with New Year Flag-Raising Ceremony

The Mayor of San Jose, California Sam Liccardo. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

September 4th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Every September for the last fourteen years, rain or shine, the city of San Jose in California has formally honored the heritage of its vibrant Ethiopian American residents with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall in recognition of the Ethiopian new year festival.

The tradition continues this year in the presence of the city’s Mayor, Vice Mayor as well as City Council members and other officials who are expected to attend the annual commemoration on September 10th.

According to the organizer of the annual celebration, the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), the “ceremony will be followed by a week-long celebration of the Ethiopian New Year with cultural dances and festivities. Throughout the week, individuals who have made significant contributions to the Ethiopian-American community will be recognized for their service.”

In addition, EAC announced that this year’s event will also celebrate the recent peace and reconciliation between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The churches were reunited this summer after almost three decades of separation.

“Let us use the occasion to celebrate and honor the reunification of the two synods, of one of the world’s oldest Christian churches, and to celebrate the political change in Ethiopia,” EAC stated.


If You Go:
Monday, Sep 10th at 5:00 PM
Jose City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San José, CA

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Tefere Gebre’s American Journey: From Refugee Camp to Labor Leader

Tefere Gebre is executive vice president of the AFL-CIO—the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest labor union in the world, representing over 12 million Americans. Gebre is the first refugee elected as a national officer of the organization. (Photo: Courtesy AFL-CIO)

International Rescue Committee

Ethiopian refugee Tefere Gebre was just 15 years old when he arrived in the United States—starting over in a new world alone, without any family by his side.

Over 30 years later, he is executive vice president of the AFL-CIO—the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest labor union in the world, representing over 12 million Americans. Gebre is the first refugee elected as a national officer of the organization.

Gebre was still a boy when he was forced to flee Ethiopia, a country that suffered political turmoil and famine during the 1980s. “People were getting murdered on the streets by the government,” Gebre says. “They were just grabbing kids and torturing them if they were suspected of being an anarchist or aiding the opposition. That’s when I knew I had to find a way to get out.”


Photo of Tefere Gebre at age 3. Gebre as a child in Ethiopia: “Refugees leave with nothing,” he says. “But I somehow I found one photo from when I was three years old.” Tefere Gebre first joined a union while working a night job loading UPS trucks in college. In 2013 he became the first refugee elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO. (Photo: Courtesy AFL-CIO Photo: Courtesy Tefere Gebre)

In 1982, Gebre and four friends managed to escape to a refugee camp in neighboring Sudan, walking through the desert for 93 days. There they applied to enter the U.S. through the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNCHR), taking several written and oral exams in the vetting process.

“When the UNCHR announces who has been accepted to resettle to the U.S., they post the names outside their office,” says Gebre, recalling the jostling crowd pressing against him as he searched the list. “That was like another birth for me, when I saw my name there.” His four friends did not make the cut.

But Gebre didn’t have any family members in America, and he needed a sponsor to support his relocation. His mother remained in Ethiopia. His brother, who had lived in the U.S., had died in a car accident.

That’s when the International Rescue Committee stepped in to help. Currently operating in 27 U.S. cities, the IRC supports newly arrived refugees by providing immediate aid, including food, housing and medical attention.

“I was received in New York by an IRC staff member,” Gebre says. “Then they put me on a plane to Los Angeles and an Ethiopian man who worked at the IRC met me at the airport.”

IRC staff members helped Gebre and three other Ethiopian refugees apply for driver’s licenses, fill out I-9 forms for employment, and complete tuberculosis tests. They helped them move into an apartment (which the IRC sponsors until new arrivals find work), and took them to apply for public benefits. Later, the IRC acted as Gebre’s guardian so he could enroll in L.A.’s Belmont High School.

“There was no way anybody of my status could survive all of that without the IRC being there,” Gebre says.

The IRC continued to act as a lifeline for Gebre in coming years, helping him reconnect with his family in Ethiopia. “I sponsored my mom to come to the U.S.,” he says, “and I did that through the IRC.”

Gebre went on to attend California State Polytechnic University on a scholarship. During his sophomore year, he took a night job loading UPS trucks so he could send money to friends still in Sudan. There he joined his first union—the Teamsters —another turning point in his life.

“The fact that someone was looking after me, that there were real work rules—that I knew what my responsibilities were and what my company’s responsibilities were—I thought everybody should have that,” Gebre says. “Ever since, I have really committed myself to advancing that cause.”

While attending graduate school at the University of Southern California, Gebre became a legislative aide for Willie Brown Jr., speaker of the California State Assembly. He then embraced an even bigger challenge—to become the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation.

“I did that because Orange County is the most conservative part of the state,” he says. “As a skinny Ethiopian refugee, I wanted to prove myself by organizing Orange County. And I did.”

Read more »


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In Canada Bikila Award Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Mulatu Astatke accepting the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award in Toronto, Canada in 2017. (Photo courtesy: Bikila Award, Inc.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 31st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — What do Mulatu Astatke, The Weeknd, Miruts Yifter and the Pankhurst family have in common? They are all recipients of the Bikila Award.

Named after the legendary Olympian marathoner Abebe Bikila the annual award ceremony organized by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Toronto, Canada showcases inspiring achievements of the Ethiopian community from the arts to academia and sports.

The 2018 Bikila Award celebration and dinner will be held on Saturday, September 22nd at Chestnut Residence and Conference Center in Toronto.

Celebrating its fifth year the Bikila Award ceremony “has become one of the most anticipated events in the African-Canadian community calendar,” organizers said in a press release. The event “draws hundreds of attendees from within and outside of the Ethiopian-Canadian community.”

This year the winner of the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award is philologist and world-renowned scholar of the Ge’ez language Professor Getatchew Haile. In addition, the Bikila Award will honor Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Founder of the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula hospital with the Medical & Humanitarian Services Award, as well as Dr. Siegbert Uhlig a distinguished Professor Emeritus of African and Ethiopian Studies at Hamburg University in Germany who will receive the Professional Excellence Award. Professor Uhlig founded the Journal of Aethiopica, and as Editor-in-Chief launched five volumes of Encyclopaedia Aethiopica focusing on Ethiopian studies and involving contributions from hundreds of scholars hailing from approximately 30 countries.

Other 2018 honorees include Bethlehem Tilahun, Founder of soleRebels (Business Excellence Award); Professor Tessema Astatke (Professional Excellence Award) in recognition of his primary research areas that designed linear and nonlinear regression and nonlinear time series modeling; and Benyam Belete (Community Service Excellence Award) as founder of Mekedonia, a philanthropic organization in Addis Ababa that provides services for elderly and mentally disabled individuals.

The Academic Excellence & Scholarship Award goes to students Ednah Negatu, Semir Bulle, Zatty Tameru and Caleb Jara.

Professor Mammo Muchie, a renowned Pan Africanist, currently a Professor of Innovation Studies at the Institute of Economics Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa is the keynote speaker. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Adama Science and Technology University, Addis Ababa University, University of Gondar and Arsi University in Ethiopia.

The 2018 honorary guest speaker will be journalist, novelist and playwright Jeff Pearce who is the author of Prevail – a book about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Pearce connected with survivors of the Italo-Ethiopian War in the 1930s and 40s and discovered additional records of Britain’s role from the London archives. Prevail is now being adapted into a documentary feature film.


If You Go:
The 2018 Bikila Award Celebration and Dinner
Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 6:00 PM
Chestnut Residence and Conference Center,
89 Chestnut Street,
Toronto, Canada
www.bikilaaward.org

Related:
Photos from past Bikila Award Ceremonies:


Previous winners of the Bikila award include Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopian-Canadian pop music superstar Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), Miruts Yifter, one of the greatest middle distance runners of all-time who died in 2016 at the age of 72, as well as Dr. Taffara Deguefe and the Pankhurst Family who were honored two years ago with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. (Courtesy photographs)

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Social Media, Disinformation and Press Reform in Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking at his first press conference on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 in Addis Ababa. (Reuters photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Just like the underground pamphleteers and newspaper editors during the American revolution, independent journalists and social media activists — some of whom were imprisoned or exiled for many years — played a fundamental role in the longstanding movement for change in Ethiopia that recently culminated with the historic inauguration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on April 2nd, 2018.

In one of his first and most memorable acts as the new leader of Ethiopia Dr. Abiy moved swiftly to free jailed reports, bloggers, opposition members and invited those who were exiled to return home. He also unblocked websites run by opposition groups and granted pardons to owners who were charged under the country’s draconian anti-terror legislation that in the past was primarily used to stifle dissent.

Independent Journalism Driven Out

“Critical media was being decimated one way or another, and journalists were leaving the country,” says Tsedale Lemma, the Editor-in-Chief of Addis Standard. “We became at some point, the second-largest country producing journalist asylum seekers.”

Tsedale’s reflection was part of a recent and timely article titled “How Social Media Shaped Calls for Political Change in Ethiopia,” focusing on the new era and “the hopes for ethnic unity, democracy, freedom of speech and media reform,” which was published by Al Jazeera this month. The piece points out that Ethiopia’s “newfound hope was no coincidence; it was the culmination of hard-fought political activism that had forced change upon the authoritarian nation.”

“You cannot imagine this change without social media,” Al Jazeera quotes Jawar Mohammed, the founder of Oromo Media Network (OMN). Jawar is one of several activists who answered PM Abiy’s call and returned to Ethiopia this summer after 13 years in exile in the United States. In another interview with The Guardian Jawar added: “We used social media and formal media so effectively that the state was completely overwhelmed. The only option they had was to face reform or accept full revolution.”

Disinformation on Social Media

Unfortunately, despite Dr. Abiy’s groundbreaking leadership and the good will from the general public, some detractors are misusing social media to spread disinformation, propaganda and hate speech to divide people, sow distrust and incite ethnic-based animosity. Abiy himself admitted in a recent televised comment that rumors and disinformation were largely to blame for the recent ethnically motivated mob violence in several cities particularly in South Eastern Ethiopia leading to a partial Internet shutdown.

According to Reuters: “A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions. The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April.”

This past weekend in his first press conference since taking office Dr. Abiy addressed this issue and emphasized his vision to hold a “free and fair election” in 2020. Elias Meseret at Associated Press quotes PM Abiy Ahmed as stating: “My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. He continued: “there are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country. They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”

PM Abiy Ahmed likewise discussed concerns about the practice of shutting down Internet in Ethiopia following unrests, which was routinely implemented by the previous EPRDF leadership. Per the Associated Press: “Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives. “But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, and urged youth to use it responsibly.”

Moving Forward

It is also worth considering that, from our perspective as journalists, in the long-term the most democratic way to sustain the rule of law and counter the dissemination of unverified news via social media is to strengthen, expand, empower and protect independent, professional and private media infrastructure, which has been severely suppressed. Private media groups should be free of government interference as well as be more representative of the population and not just opposition media.

Last week the 13-member justice reform advisory council, which is tasked to revise the country’s most repressive anti-civil society proclamations, held a public meeting in Addis Ababa engaging stake holders including activists and journalists, some of whom had been victims of these laws, according to Human Rights Watch. “The working groups will conduct consultations and propose amendments – reportedly within 3 months, in time for parliament’s return from recess.”

In the Al Jazeera feature journalist Eskinder Nega who was released a few months ago after six years in prison echoes Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers and the main author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, who went on to serve as the third president of the United States is remembered for eloquently expressing that he’d rather have newspapers without a country than a country without newspapers.

“If Abiy Ahmed does not deliver the promise of democracy, then we’ll be back to social media,” Eskinder says. “I’m prepared to go back to prison again. So, whether there’s democracy or no democracy, it’s back to work. There’s no choice.”


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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Unbreakable Spirit: A Student’s Journey From the Streets of Ethiopia to the UA

Since leaving home and setting out on his own when he was 8 years old, Josh Brewer has overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve his dream of playing basketball at the University of Arizona. (Photo: Josh Brewer is one of the newest members of the UA Men's Wheelchair Basketball/ Bob Demers/UANews)

UANews

University of Arizona freshman Josh Brewer was told by many of his high school teachers that college might not be an option for him.

After all, he’d never set foot in a classroom until sixth grade, and academics didn’t come easily to him.

Then again, nothing about Brewer’s life had been easy.

From his days begging for food in his native Ethiopia to the horrific accident that nearly claimed his life, Brewer endured more than his fair share of trauma by the time he was a high school senior, yet his perseverance and drive only continued to grow.

So, when his teachers told him college might not be right for him, he didn’t let it discourage him. He applied to the University of Arizona, where he dreamed of playing basketball.

Brewer starts as a freshman and student-athlete at the UA this fall. A triple amputee, he will play on the UA’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team.


Josh Brewer in the UA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team’s equipment room at the Student Recreation Center. (Photo: Bob Demers/UANews)

Read more »


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Africa’s First Waste-to-Energy Plant Launched in Ethiopia

Reppie facility in Addis Ababa (photo courtesy: esi-africa.com) & Samuel Alemayehu of Cambridge Industries (Photo courtesy: energynet.co.uk)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 23rd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The first waste-to-energy plant in Africa, headed by Ethiopian Co-Founder & Managing Director of Cambridge Industries, Samuel Alemayehu, was inaugurated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this past weekend on Sunday, August 19th. Samuel, a Stanford educated engineer, venture capitalist and a 2018 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader told CNN that “having created a facility uniquely for Africa, our goal is to duplicate it in five locations” including in Lagos, Nigeria, Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya to “create a renewable energy source that competes with fossil-fuel based power plants.”


Africa’s first waste-to-energy facility, Reppie, was inaugurated on Sunday, August 19th, 2018 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia (Photo Courtesy:Weforum.org/Alex Stewart)

Hailing the Reppie facility as a first on the continent, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) described Addis Ababa’s sprawling landfill also known as the Koshe dump site as an “urban landscape” that is “the size of 36 football pitches and attracting hundreds of waste pickers who make their living from salvaged trash.” In 2017 UNEP reported that a “landslide on the dump site killed 114 people, prompting the government to declare three days of mourning.”

Now Samuel Alemayehu’s company has envisioned and boldly launched a new, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient way to address both the issue of waste management as well as increased generation of electricity through the Reppie project.

Samuel shares his vision for the Reppie waste-to-energy facility in this brief video below:

Producing more electricity for the national grid in Ethiopia has been a long-standing need as cities across the country continue to face frequent power blackouts. Last year in March Cambridge Industries released a YouTube video describing the capabilities of the Reppie waste-to-energy facility being built in Addis Ababa noting that “through a combustion process that converts 1,400 tons of Addis Ababa’s waste each day” approximately “185 gigawatt (GW) hours of electricity” can be produced each year to meet “30% of the city’s annual demand for household electricity.” The Reppie facility would also help to sort metals for recycling in addition to the production of clean electricity by “utilizing two 25 megawatt (MW) steam turbines.”

According to the UNEP the Reppie waste-to-energy project was developed and launched as a partnership between the Ethiopian Government, Cambridge Industries and a group of additional companies including China National Electric Engineering, and the Danish firm Ramboll.

In a World Economic Forum news article from May 2018 entitled “This African Country is Turning a Mountain of Trash into Energy” writer Alex Gray notes that “Africa is the world’s fastest-urbanizing continent,” which brings with it growing concerns regarding environmental pollution. Samuel Alemayehu told Gray “African cities have seen explosive growth in the past three decades and have outgrown the infrastructures planned for them,” adding that Cambridge Industries seeks to “turn one of Africa’s most challenging social problems, the management of waste, into a source of new wealth.”


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Aida Muluneh: Changing the Narrative on Ethiopia, One Photo at a Time

Photo by Aida Muluneh.

CNN

By Meron Moges-Gerbi

When you look at Aida Muluneh’s work, it’s clear where her passion lies: Ethiopia. The photographer has been telling the story of Ethiopia long before it started trending this year. The country has undergone tremendous change in 2018, most of which stems from the election of its new 41-year-old Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, one of the most progressive leaders in the country’s history.

Muluneh’s work has garnered international attention and her photographs have been displayed at MoMA, at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and at the largest European photography festival in Baden, Austria.

Muluneh was born in Ethiopia, a child of the diaspora. As a youth, she lived in Yemen, England and Cyprus, before finally settling in Canada. Her education brought her to the United States, where she graduated from Howard University, in Washington DC. Later, she became a photojournalist with the Washington Post, before finally moving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, in 2000.

“My work often starts with a sketch, and I approach each image as a film production in which the character, set design, lighting and styling come together,” she said in an email interview. “I utilize face painting as a form in which the inspiration is driven by body ornamentation, not only in my country, but also various parts of the world. I am deeply influenced by various traditional cultures, hence in a sense, I am bringing the past into the future through various forms.”

Read more »


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

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Tribute to Scholar, Civic Society Leader, Actor & Professor Awetu Simesso

Awetu Simesso participated as a guest speaker at EDAO's International Conference in June 2018. (Photo Courtesy: Boka G Tesso/Facebook).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 19th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — It is with profound sadness that we share the news of Professor Awetu Simesso’s passing on Saturday, August 18th in Addis Ababa. The funeral and tribute celebrating his life took place on Sunday, August 19th at Mekana Yesus in Bishoftu with former president Dr. Negasso Gidada giving the eulogy.

A beloved educator Awetu returned from the United States after 32 years of residence to Ethiopia and contributed his talents in various sectors including working as a Professor at Addis Ababa University at the College of Law and Governance on an ongoing basis since 2010 and Professor of Global Studies & International Relations at New Generation University College (2005-2007). Awetu also served as Strategic Advisor at Development Assistance Group (DAG) advising Western donor governments (2014-2018) and as a Senior Advisor at USAID/Ethiopia focusing on democratic governance, peace and security issues (2006-2013). In 2009 Awetu received Meritorious Honor Awards from United States Agency of International Development (USAID) as well as the United States Department of State for outstanding service in the field of Democratic Governance. As a civic society leader Awetu traveled extensively throughout Ethiopia networking and assisting civic organizations across the nation.

Awetu was not only a beloved scholar, civic society leader, and talented actor but a lifelong friend whose mentorship and support was unparalleled. We first met Awetu while he was part of the Stanford University community where he had pursued a Master’s degree in Communication & Media Studies and a second Master’s in Political Science & Government on his way to a PhD in the same department. While performing in plays and theaters as an actor from 1973 to 2004 Awetu was actively involved in the Ethiopian Diaspora community on campus and beyond and held various leadership positions including President of the East African Relief Organization (EARO), Board Member of Emergency Relief Fund International and United Christian Ministries, member of the Stanford International Development Organization (SIDO) and the Overseas Development Network (ODN), Vice President of the Stanford African Students Association (SASA) as well as founding member and advisor of the Stanford Ethiopian Students Union (SESU).


Awetu Simesso (Photo Courtesy: Kathy Haverty Welsh/Facebook)

Awetu Simesso’s contributions were far-reaching and exemplary in the manner that he consistently engaged his peers and colleagues with kindness and generosity. It is difficult to summarize all of Awetu’s accomplishments but the best way is to share reflections and photos from his friends, students and colleagues in the U.S. and Ethiopia. Please write to us at info@tadias.com to share your stories of Awetu Simesso and we’ll keep this page updated.

From Ethiopian American Council

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Awetu Simesso. Ethiopia has lost a powerful force for human rights, democracy and freedom. Ethiopian Americans in Bay Area fortunate to have many wonderful memories of Awetu. The passing of Awetu Simesso will be an enormous loss to Ethiopia and Ethiopians he cared so much about. RIP our brother.

From Daniel Gizaw

“I am absolutely stunned to read this sad story. Professor Aweitu was a close friend to me and served as my advisor and my critique during the writing of my books. He was inseparable from the Stanford university campus at the time. His profound intelligence was unmatchable. In the early 1980s, when we started a group called HAAn (Horn of Africa Action Network) consisting American Peace corps volunteers who served in Ethiopia, Aweitu became our lead man. He was a gifted orator and, with that bellowing voice he commanded respect. In the Bay area, we called him the Ethiopian guru. He was wise and patient. I will miss him immensely. May his soul rest in peace.”

From Hundee Dhugaasaa

I am deeply saddened by the death of Professor Awetu Simesso. I know Prof Awetu when he decided to visit Jimma University Students Union with Addis based Diplomats to discuss several issues at a very challenging time, after the troubles of the 2005 election. He was such a brilliant, humble and far sighted person. We lost him at a time we need him the most. RIP Obbo Awetu.

From Filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman

I am writing to share how Awetu Simesso enabled me to take on an almost impossible task. In all of my filmmaking efforts (which began in 1976) I had had connections to help me…friends, filmmakers, foundations and national organizations. With this support, during the decade from 1993 – 2003 I grew significantly as a filmmaker. Activities included five films on PBS stations, an Oscar-nomination and an Emmy.

At that point, I decided to take a bold step forward. I gathered all that I had learned and took up an opportunity: to document the ways in which Ethiopians in Ethiopia were meeting the challenges of HIV/AIDS. It was then that Awetu appeared.

My vision was to speak with professionals, and lay practitioners, as well as people in villages in Ethiopia, doing whatever they could to help each other. I wanted to focus on Ethiopians who were managing their own organizations on the ground, working with a range of their peers.

In order to get started, I put out a call to anyone anywhere in the SF Bay Area who could help me build a core community of Ethiopians who would volunteer to help me organize this project. The one person who responded was Aweto Simesso. He understood what I was daring to do.

Based on his intuition that this was a project worth his time and effort, he called together a dozen Ethiopians. We met in my living room and the project took root. That night gave birth to a cadre of almost 200 people, most of whom were volunteers, who worked with me. Many from the United States, many living in Ethiopia. Working together, they translated Amharic to English, English to Amhari, viewed footage giving input and feedback, logged more than 100 video tapes and much more.

The result? A five film series SEEDS of HOPE: Meeting the Challenges of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.

From Fesseha A Atlaw

My friend, you are sorely missed already! You only saw the glimpse of your vision of Ethiopia… But God allowed you to see the promised land from the mountain top.

“…I am a proud Oromo and I am a proud Ethiopian, I don’t see any contradiction between the two…” — Professor Awetu Simesso


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Designer Amsale Aberra Honored by Harlem School of the Arts

The Harlem School of the Arts will posthumously honor Ethiopian American designer Amsale Aberra with the Visionary Lineage Award at a ceremony to be held at the New York Plaza Hotel on October 22nd, 2018. (Getty Images)

Broadway World

American designer Amsale Aberra will be honored posthumously for her contributions to the world of couture by the Harlem School of the Arts at the Herb Alpert Center for the Arts. She will receive the Visionary Lineage Award and is among several high profiled members of the artistic community, whose contributions will be acknowledged during the organization’s 2018 Masquerade Ball and After Party, to be held at the New York Plaza Hotel on October 22nd.

On April 20th of this year, Amsale Aberra lost her battle with cancer at the age of 64, leaving behind her husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, who will be on hand to accept the award on his wife’s behalf; and her daughter, singer-songwriter Rachel Brown, who is herself receiving a Visionary Lineage Award from the organization.

Before illness claimed her life, Amsale had turned a passion born out of necessity into a thriving business; first making a name for herself in the fashion world, with her minimalist, yet elegant wedding gown collection which she sold to Kleinfeld, and later creating the Amsale Group based in New York City with a salon on Madison Avenue.

A graduate of Boston State College, with a degree in political science, Amsale brought her love of design to New York and enrolled at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), earning a degree in fashion design. Her genius lay in an ability to turn understated designs into works of art. She was the true definition of “fashion-forward.” Today, her business has expanded to include her signature bridal collection, a bridesmaid line, cocktail dresses, as well as a line of designer gowns, which have been featured on the red carpet, worn by some of the most glamorous celebrities, among them – Heidi Klum and Salma Hayek. Her designs have also been featured in the pages of the top beauty and fashion publications, in films and television shows.

Her legacy continues under the guidance of her husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, CEO of the company, and her hand-picked successor, Margot Lafontaine, Vera Wang’s former senior studio director. Amsale Aberra was highly regarded by her peers in the fashion industry for her inspiring, straightforward approach to design, and as her husband said, by all who knew her, “…for her infinite goodness.”


Related:
Special Tribute to Legacy of Amsale Aberra, Spring 2019 Runway Show


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Ethiopian American Actor Antu Yacob Featured in New Movie ‘Night Comes On’

Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 18th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Actor and Playwright Antu Yacob is featured in a new film Night Comes On that was released in select theaters across the U.S. earlier this month on August 3rd and is now available on iTunes. Based on a true story written by Angelica Nwandu and Jordana Spiro, Night Comes On starring Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall recounts events following the release of 18-year-old Angel LaMere from a juvenile detention center. In its review of the film the Los Angeles Times states “the passionate feature film debut” is “not business as usual” as it weaves together “two different strands: a revenge melodrama about a determined daughter seeking retribution for her mother’s murder, and the emotional story of two sisters desperate for family closeness and connection but not sure they can trust it.”

New York Magazine’s culture and entertainment site, Vulture.com, compares Night Comes On to Moonlight (2016 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture) and notes: “Like Moonlight, Night Comes On takes much of its soulfulness from la mer and people’s capacity for rebirth in its waters. This is a lovely, inspiring film.” Night Comes On was the winner of the Next Innovator Award at the Sundance Film Festival.


Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photo)

Antu, who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Rutgers University in New Jersey, grew up in San Francisco and Minnesota. Her acting career includes roles in NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and the recently released Netflix series Gypsy. She played lead roles in the films Eminent Domain (DeepFreeze Media) and Walking In Circles (NYU Film/Elegance Bratton) as well as supporting roles in Conjure (TerraLuke Media) and Fine Art (Shannon Ousley/Zoe Munlyn). Her play entitled Mourning Sun, set in Ethiopia and New York, was performed at the West End Theatre in Manhattan in 2015 and at the 2016 Kampala International Theatre Festival in Uganda last Winter. In June 2018 Antu also recorded a radio play with the BBC based on the novel entitled Shadowbahn.

Watch the trailer for Night Comes On below:

The full version of the film is available here on iTunes.


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

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Watch Ethiopia Episode of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS Show No Passport Required

Marcus Samuelsson's show No Passport Required featured Ethiopian immigrant community in DC as season finale (photo courtesy: Eater.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 16th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The season finale of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS show, No Passport Required, aired on Tuesday, August 14th featuring Ethiopian food and culture in Washington D.C. The full episode highlighted the inspiring stories of Ethiopian entrepreneurs as well as how to make traditional dishes such as kitfo and ful, and eskista dancing.

Zenebech, who started her injera business as a newly arrived refugee in the United States, invited Marcus into her kitchen and they make the hearty lamb dish of tibs as she recounted the early days of her entrepreneurial journey and then later launching an Ethiopian restaurant in 2010.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), one of the largest television program distributors in the United States, premiered Marcus Samuelsson’s new show No Passport Required on July 10th, 2018. As host of No Passport Required Restaurateur, Chef and Author Marcus Samuelsson highlighted food, art and culture in immigrant communities across America — from Little Kabul in Fremont, California to the Vietnamese shrimpers in Louisiana, and the Indo-Guyanese community in Queens, New York.

“Chasing flavors has been my lifelong passion,” shared Samuelsson in recent press release. “To now be able to bring viewers on that journey with me to these amazing communities in cities across the U.S. is truly a dream come true. We get to go deep into the markets, pull up to the roadside stands, and be welcomed into homes — all the places where people share and celebrate food together.”

No Passport Required is produced by Vox Media in collaboration with PBS.

Watch a preview of the Ethiopian community episode of No Passport Required below:

To watch the full season finale episode featuring the Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. click here.


Related:
PBS and VOX Media Announce New Series Hosted by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

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Feyisa Lilesa Will Return to Ethiopia (VOA)

Rio Olympic marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia attends a news conference in Washington, Sept. 13, 2016. Feyisa will return to Ethiopia in the coming weeks with his wife and children after two athletics groups notified him that he would receive a hero’s welcome upon arriving. (Photo: Reuters)

Voice of America

By Salem Solomon

Olympian in Self-Imposed Exile Will Return to Ethiopia

After winning the silver medal in the men’s marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feyisa Lilesa spent two years in self-imposed exile in the United States. Now, he’s returning home.

Feyisa will return to Ethiopia in the coming weeks with his wife and children after two athletics groups notified him that he would receive a hero’s welcome upon arriving.

Ashebir Woldegiorgis, the president of the Ethiopian Olympic Committee, told VOA Amharic that the call for Feyisa to return is meant to better the country.

“He can teach his exemplary ways to other athletes and teach strength to our youngsters. That’s the main call, so he can come back to participate in the sport he loves and pass it on by running and by advising to elevate Ethiopia’s sport,” Ashebir said.

Show of protest

Feyisa made international headlines when he raised his crossed wrists above his head at the finish line, and again on the podium, at the 2016 summer games.

Read more »


Related:
In Pictures: Feyisa Lilesa’s Daring Protest Reminiscent of 1968 Olympics
Washington Post Interview With Feyisa Lilesa
From Rio to America: Olympian Feyisa Lilesa’s Washington Post Op-Ed
Olympian Feyisa Lilesa Arrives in the U.S.
Olympian Feyisa Lilesa Shows Solidarity With Protesters in Ethiopia at Rio Games
Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa shows solidarity with protesters in Ethiopia
Ethiopian runner makes protest sign as he crosses line in Rio

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Helen Show Hosts 2nd Empower the Community Event at DC Convention Center

Helen Mesfin of the Helen show on EBS TV. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Among the headliners later this week at the 2nd Annual Empower the Community event in Washington D.C. are Alexander Assefa, a Democrat elected to the 42nd district of the Nevada State Assembly, and Nina Ashenafi Richardson, the first Ethiopian-American judge who was re-elected to the Leon County bench in Florida in 2014 after first being elected to the judgeship in 2008.

The program, which was launched last year by the producers of the Helen Show on EBS TV, brings together leaders from diverse professional backgrounds for a day-long session of information sharing and networking. According to organizers the 2018 guest speakers also include Lulit Ejigu, Executive Director in Risk Management at JP Morgan Chase; Dr. Yared Tekabe, Research Scientist at Columbia University; immigration attorneys Yemmi Getachew & Hellina Hailu as well as Almaz Negash, Founder & Executive Director of African Diaspora Network.

The family-friendly gathering combines the broadcast experience of the event’s founder Helen Mesfin, host of the Helen Show, with her professional work in the hospitality industry, and aims to create a space for community members to participate in panel discussions as well as provide resources and information for families. The event is scheduled to be held at the DC Convention Center on Saturday, August 18th.

Below is a summary of parts of the program on August 18th from 11am-8pm at the Washington Convention Center

The Power of Civic Engagement:
Amaha Kassa, Founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together
Semhar Araya, UNICEF USA’s Managing Director for Diaspora & Multicultural Partnership
Samuel Gebru, Director of Community Engagement and Partnership, Cambridge Community Center
Alexander Assefa, Democrat elected to the 42nd district of the Nevada State Assembly
Tebabu Assefa, Community Leader, Social Entrepreneur

Leadership Panel:
Dr. Senait Fisseha, MD,JD, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of International Programs at the Susan T. Buffett Foundation
Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson , Elected Leon County Judge 2008 & 2014
Almaz Negash, Founder & Executive Director of African Diaspora Network

Science & Technology:
Mark Gelfand, Founder STEM Synergy, STEM-minded financial systems pioneer
Yared Tekabe, Ph.D, Research Scientist at Columbia University
Solomon Mulugeta Kassa, Producer & Host of TechTalk with Solomon television (EBS), Author & Consultant at Deloitte
Tsegaye Legesse, CPA, MBA, Accounting Manager at National Institute of Health, Chief Financial Officer of OnePupil, and Board Member at STEM Synergy

Young Trailblazers:
Nate Araya, Brand Strategist, Story Teller at All Creative Degital
Melat Bekele, Founder Habesha Networks
Sam Kebede, Actor
Helen Fetaw, Actively Engaged in community service related to health care
Selamawit Bekele, Co-Founder, Africa Leads

Business Leaders Panel: Getting To The Top: Strategies for breaking through the
Glass Ceiling with successful Ethiopian American and Eritrean American business
leaders.
Ethiopia Habtemariam, President of Motown Records, and President of Urban
Music/Co-Head of Creative at Universal Publishing Music Group
Michael Andeberhan, CFA, CAIA is Executive Director & Head of Investment
Consultant Coverage at MSCI in New York.
Lulit Ejigu, Executive Director in Risk Management at JP Morgan Chase
The Event will have the Following Pavilions

Health & Fitness Pavilion
Free Health Screenings provided by Kaiser Permanente, American Kindy Fund,
Med Star Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles Dental – BMI, Blood Pressure, Blood
Glucose, Dental Screening, Fitness Consultants, ZUMBA, Resources for Families
with Special Needs, Giveaways and much more
Our partner organizations and sponsors are Kaiser Permanente, American Kidney
Fund, Ethiopian American Nurses Association, Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles
as well as Ethiopian American doctors

Career Pavilion: Career Resources in the Community
Hear high energy career motivational speakers
Learn Career Advancement tips

Participate in Informational Interviews
Receive mini career coaching
Assess your career aptitudes
Partner Organizations: 21st Century Community, YEP – Your Ethiopian Professionals, Alexandria Workforce Development and MBC

Finance Pavilion will cover the following topics:
Raising Money Savvy Kids-Financial Responsibility
Creating Generational Wealth
Dealing with College Debt
Get Your Credit Right
Securing Your Families Financial Future
Home Buying 101
Partner Organization Primerica, CLRA group and Your DMV Team

Kids Corner
Reading Time/Games/Fun Exercises/ Art

Sessions 1
Immigration and Legal Issues with Attorney Yemmi Getachew & Hellina Hailu
Fear NOT, Know Your Rights as Immigrants 11:00 am

Surviving the Stop – How to Engage with Law Enforcement 1:00pm
Teaching Kids & Young Men What to Expect and Know

Session 2
Warrior Moms- Special Needs Parenting
Minding Your Family Relationship
Alzheimer and Dementia and Support for Caregivers


If You Go:
Saturday August 18, 2018
11am -7pm
Walter E Washington Convention Center
801 Mt. Vernon Place, NW
Washington DC 20001
www.empowercw.com

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Why I am Suddenly Optimistic About the Future of Ethiopia: by Joel Makonnen

In the following opinion article published on the TRUE Africa website on Friday, Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, explains why he feels suddenly optimistic about the future of Ethiopia. Makonnen lives in Washington and works as an attorney for a multinational pharmaceutical corporation. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed speaking in DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on July 28th, 2018/Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

TRUE Africa

By Joel Makonnen

On April 2, 2018, with Ethiopia on the edge of political collapse, more than 100 million Ethiopians witnessed something different. Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, an energetic, visionary and unifying figure of mixed Muslim Oromo and Christian Amhara heritage, became Prime Minister. Dr. Abiy’s appointment marks the first time power was transferred peacefully in Ethiopia. But it is also significant because his rise to power can be seen as the manifestation of Ethiopians’ yearning for a dynamic agent of democratic change.

Dr. Abiy was an unlikely candidate. A soldier in the armed struggle against the oppressive Marxist Derg regime, he went on to earn a PhD in conflict resolution, entering politics quietly only a few years ago. As Prime Minister, he has been uncharacteristically outspoken about the problems facing government and strident in his pursuit of justice, both unusual for an official from the ruling coalition, not to mention for an African leader.

In his inauguration speech, Dr. Abiy announced sweeping reforms, which he is implementing at a thrilling speed. He negotiated changes that ended years of divisive protests. He lifted the state of emergency, ordered the release of thousands of political prisoners, denounced human rights violations and removed key figures responsible for perpetrating them.

Dr. Abiy also addressed governance issues for which Ethiopia had become notorious. He removed political opposition groups from a “terrorist” list established to shut down dissent, restored internet access and unblocked hundreds of websites and TV channels. He gave an historic speech on HIM Emperor Haile Selassie, recognizing the need for healing and reconciliation 40 years after the Ethiopian Revolution and the ensuing Red Terror. And critically, Dr. Abiy concluded a costly (human and financial) 20-year conflict with our brothers and sisters in neighboring Eritrea. He is being compared to historic leaders like Obama, Macron and Mandela – after only 100 days in office.

But as optimism dominates the headlines, there are murmurs of concern about Dr. Abiy’s alleged tendency to act unilaterally. Some also question whether things can be this good over the long-term and still others point to the need for consensus among the ruling coalition party.

We have to temper our expectations. One man cannot have all the answers, and in the haste of effecting significant change, he will make mistakes. For example, he is considering a pardon for former Derg officials, even the Chairman and dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. I support efforts to unite the country. However, to equate the pardoning of Derg officials with pardoning unjustly accused political dissidents, releasing political prisoners and ending a needless war with Eritrea is a false moral equivalency.

Under the Red Terror – a wave of violence, arbitrary incarcerations, torture, and mass killings – an estimated half-million people died at the hands of Derg officials. The Ethiopian Diaspora itself is a result of it. I urge Dr. Abiy to consider Rwanda and South Africa, which teach us that dealing with such trauma is a years-long process that must be managed carefully. People who commit atrocities should not be forgiven until they have first sought forgiveness and made amends.

Despite mild fears and healthy skepticism, there is far more we celebrate – for Ethiopia, and Ethiopians, everywhere. And with such a bold agenda of reforms, Dr. Abiy will need all of our help to realize his vision. The United States is home to an estimated 500,000 Ethiopians and many of us stand ready to support the new administration. Several Ethiopian attorneys and I have organized a lawyers’ association. We avail ourselves to the new administration to help with legislative and institutional reforms, constitutional amendments, and any other legal counsel needed.

The Ethiopian community was joined by our countrymen from across the United States for Dr. Abiy’s historic visit which included trips to Washington, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles where he was greeted with a hero’s welcome. Every Ethiopian I’ve spoken with, including my family, delights at the prospect of rebooting a positive relationship with our government. And it is a great feeling to know the new administration wants to hear from the Diaspora, too. If this momentum and good faith can be harnessed to sustain a unified front with matching substantive reforms, great things can happen. Ethiopia is rising again and ushering in an era of peace, prosperity, and freedom. As we say in Amharic, Yichalal (We can succeed)!

You can read this and other great stories on culture, music, sports, lifestyle, politics, fashion and tech in Africa and the diaspora at trueafrica.co »


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Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at ConventionCenter
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Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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President of Proposed Ethiopian Diaspora Bank Quits After Board Dispute

Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat announced that he has walked away from his position as President of Marathon International, a recently proposed Ethiopian Diaspora Bank, after a dispute with the Board's leadership. (Photo: Linkedin)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat, who was slated to become President of Marathon International, the proposed first ever Ethiopian Diaspora Bank, has resigned amid a heated Board dispute.

In a recent letter titled “Investor Alert” that was shared with Tadias Magazine Zekarias, who previously worked at PNC and Bank of America, said “for the past year and a half, I have been working as the president of Marathon International Bank, setting up the infrastructure, vendor identification, staff selection, feasibility study and worked on a business plan.” Zekarias noted: “So far FDIC sent our application back twice indicating ‘significantly incomplete.’”

According to the American Banker, “organizers did not include all of Marathon’s policies and procedures in their initial application, [Zekarias] said in the interview. The second time, the agency expressed concern that several directors lived in different states and would be unable to come in and run the bank.”

Zekarias reiterates that “there is still a chance to resubmit a new application. However, the FDIC numerously communicated to us that the current board members are not fit to serve. Knowing this would eventually resurface, the Board and its chairman decided to go forward.”

In his interview with the American Banker, Zekarias said that he still hopes the project could be revived, but insisted that the board has to be reorganized from scratch. Zekarias noted that “he would be open to rejoining the de novo if that happens.” The American Banker said it had also reached out to the current chairman of Marathon International, Tekalign Gedamu, a retired economist and former managing director of the Development Bank of Ethiopia, but Tekalign was not immediately available for comment.

“The FDIC is not the problem,” Zekarias told the American Banker. “They are really helping us by asking us to correct our mistakes.”

Zekarias had initially been equally optimistic about the launching of the bank, expressing enthusiastically to the media that Marathon International would be a groundbreaking venture for the Diaspora. “Our vision is to help transform the Ethiopian community into a far more economically engaged, creative and vibrant member of the wider and diverse U.S. community,” Zekarias had said. The aim was “to become a differentiated provider of financial services by leveraging our understanding of the unique financial needs of the Ethiopian American Community.”

The American Banker further points out that “organizers filed an application with the FDIC in mid-January. They plan on raising $22 million to $25 million in initial capital” while “Gregory Garrett, who previously served as president and CEO of Platinum Bank in Lubbock, Texas, was identified in the application as the proposed bank’s CEO. Several prominent Ethiopian-Americans agreed to serve on Marathon’s board.”


Related:
Ethiopian American Community Bank to Open in DC

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Ethiopian Artist Aida Muluneh Directs Fatoumata Diawara’s Music Video

Still photo from Fatoumata Diawara's new music video for her single entitled Nterini, which was filmed in the Dallol, Afar region of Ethiopia. (photo courtesy: Aida Muluneh)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist and photographer Aida Muluneh — whose work was recently part of the “Being: New Photography 2018″ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York — recently collaborated with acclaimed Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara on her new album entitled Fenfo (“Something to Say”) and directed the video for her single entitled Nterini (“My Love”). Fatoumata’s first album was ranked #1 for 6 months on the world music charts in 2011.

Aida Muluneh is the founder of the annual Addis Foto Fest and her photography work is in the permanent collection of several museums in the U.S. including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Aida’s body painting photography was also featured earlier this year in March in W Magazine.

“In a world of 7 billion people there are 1 billion migrants. This is the story of one man’s journey,” says a statement in the opening of Fatoumata’s music video. The lyrics describe the heartache of two lovers who are separated from each other.

The music video for Nterini was filmed in the Dallol, Afar region in Ethiopia. “The location is a photographer’s dream. I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I enjoyed directing it,” shared Aida on Instagram.

Below is the dynamic video for Fatoumata Diawara’s Nterini single:


Related:
Ethiopian Photographer Aida Muluneh Featured in W Magazine
Spotlight: Aida Muluneh in MoMA’s Being: New Photography 2018
Aida Muluneh’s First Solo Exhibition at David Krut Projects
Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

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WSJ Profiles the Late Semegnew Bekele

Engineer Semegnew Bekele devoted his life to Ethiopia’s ambitious dam. The project manager of what is expected to be Africa’s biggest dam was found shot dead in his car at 53. (Getty Images)

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal Profiles Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Engineer the Late Semegnew Bekele

Diminutive and agile, Semegnew Bekele usually wore a high-visibility vest and construction helmet while working on the banks of the Blue Nile on Ethiopia’s side of the border with Sudan, considered one of the world’s most inhospitable construction sites.

Most of his work as project manager of what is expected to be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam occurred at night, when the temperatures dropped below 100 degrees. The site teemed with thousands of workers.

Read the full story at wsj.com »


Related:
Construction manager of Ethiopia’s Nile River dam found dead (AP)

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Ethiopia in Africa’s Week in Pictures: BBC

Ethiopian diaspora cheer Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his visit to the US. (Reuters)

BBC News

Africa’s week in pictures: July 27 – August 2, 2018

August 3rd, 2018

A selection of the best photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere in the world this week.


The arrival of the Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch Bishop Merkorios, who’d been in exile for 27 years, is met with harp music and song in Addis Ababa. (Reuters)


Other members of the welcoming musical ensemble in the Ethiopian capital perform on ceremonial horns. (Reuters)

Read more and see the rest of the photos at BBC.com »


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Eskinder Nega: I’ve Spent a Fifth of my Life in Prison Just for Doing the Work of a Journalist

Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega after being released from prison in Feb 2018. (Photo Courtesy: AFP/Getty Images/Yonas Tadesse)

Time

By Eskinder Nega

I became a journalist by accident. I was in my twenties. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, we had independent magazines. I knew we had to venture into freedom of expression and push the boundaries, so I wrote articles criticizing the Ethiopian regime’s abuse of power. My newspaper became the first to be charged under the press law; my editor and I the first to be imprisoned.

I am 48 now. Since 1993, I’ve been imprisoned on nine separate occasions on various charges. I’ve spent almost one fifth of my life in prison—simply for doing the work of a journalist. This year I was released after spending more than six years in prison. Even though I am a peaceful person, the Ethiopian government convicted me on terrorist charges. Throughout the world, such charges are frequently leveled against dissident journalists like me who challenge their governments.

I’ve seen every side of prison life. I have been kept in dark cells, measuring less than two square meters. As I slept it was as though my head was touching the wall and my feet were touching the door. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand. I was allowed to go to the bathroom twice a day. A shower was out of the question.

Once, when the state had locked me up for my journalism, the authorities tortured me. They beat me on the inside of my feet, the most common type of torture in the world. But I didn’t experience the worst of it.

My son was born in prison. The Ethiopian government had imprisoned my wife and I after the 2005 elections. He had to go and live with his grandmother because the conditions were so bad. My wife and I would meet during court sessions, but apart from that we were not allowed to see each other. My son is 11 now and lives in the United States. I haven’t seen him since I was imprisoned in 2012. The prospect of meeting him is both exciting and terrifying. I am not perfect and I am not the legend he thinks I am. I hope he won’t be too disappointed when he gets to know me.

Read more »


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

His Holiness Abune Merkorios arrives in Addis Ababa after 27 years in exile, Wednesday August 1st, 2018. (Photo courtesy Fana Broadcasting)

Anadolu Agency

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia The 4th Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Merkorios, returned to his country on Wednesday after spending 27 years in exile in the U.S.

Merkorios arrived in the capital Addis Ababa together with the high-level Ethiopia delegation led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — who was on an unofficial visit to the U.S., where he achieved his target of unifying Ethiopians in the diaspora and turned their attention to social, political and economic activities in Ethiopia.

The patriarch was expelled during the 1991 change of government in what many perceive as an undue political intervention in the affairs of the church. An echelon of the clergy opposing the purge went out of the country and declared themselves as retaining a Synod in exile.

It was mainly the question of legitimacy and ensuing claims and blames that resulted in mutual excommunications of the two Synods.

In a fast-paced reconciliation spearheaded by the Ethiopian prime minister, the two Synods agreed to reunite and rescinded their mutual excommunications.

According to the agreement reached in Washington D.C., Patriarch Abune Mathias will serve as an administrative patriarch and Patriarch Abune Merkorios will serve the Church’s spiritual functions on equal authoritative footing.

Since coming to power on April 2, 2018, Ahmed has created a wider political space by releasing political prisoners and calling home exiled dissidents.

Higher government officials, the clergy, eminent personalities and artistes welcomed the prime minister Abiy and the homecoming patriarch.

Pictures: His Holiness Abune Merkorios arrives in Addis Ababa — FANA BROADCASTING


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)


(Courtesy @fanatelevision/Twitter)

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10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis

Ten thousand people gathered at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota to welcome PM Abiy Ahmed on Monday, July 30th, 2018. (Photo via Twitter @OPride)

TwinCities.com

Ethiopia’s prime minister found a patient and exuberant audience of about 10,000 on Monday afternoon at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Abiy Ahmed, 41, took office in April and has moved quickly to promote peace and diplomacy in East Africa.

He has warmed relations with neighboring Eritrea, released thousands of political prisoners, ended a state of emergency in the country and moved to privatize Ethiopia’s state-owned enterprises.

A member of the Oromo ethnic group, which claims a third of Ethiopia’s residents and an estimated 40,000 in the Minnesota diaspora, Abiy received a rock star’s greeting in the third city of his bridge-building U.S. tour.

Four hours after the event was slated to begin, Abiy took the podium amid hundreds of waving flags of both Ethiopia and the Orono Liberation Front.

Dursito Roro, an Ethiopian citizen living in Fargo, N.D., said she had to be here for the event. She poured out praise for a leader who kept a low profile until earlier this year: He respects women. He is making peace with other countries. He wants to unify their nation of rival tribes.

“He smiles. That’s the most amazing thing,” she said. “African leaders don’t smile.”

College student Murkata Gata made the trip from Chicago to see Abiy speak.

“He is changing a lot of things in our country, so we’re trying to support the idea of what he’s doing,” he said. “He’s trying to unify everyone.”

Hours before the event began, young men waved a banner on the stage reading “Qeerroo rules,” celebrating the Oromo youth movement that pushed Abiy’s predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, out of office.

Abiy shared his speaking time with Jawar Mohammed, founder of Minnesota-based Oromia Media Network. A Qeerroo supporter, Mohammed faced terror-related charges in Ethiopia until Abiy had them dropped.


(Photo via Twitter @OPride)


(Photo via Twitter @OPride)


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Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs
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In Pictures: PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: July 30th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — With PM Abiy Ahmed’s tour in DC ending with a public gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and a town hall meeting on Saturday, July 28th followed by a visit to Los Angeles, CA, he is now scheduled to greet the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Minneapolis, MN.

The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28th, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of PM Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities,” Mayor Bowser said. Organizers of the Los Angeles event have also shared that an “Ethiopia Day” proclamation was presented on behalf of the City Council on July 29th, 2018.

Below are images from PM Abiy’s address at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, July 28th as well as the evening town hall meeting.


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10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis
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In LA, PM Abiy Ahmed to Address Ethiopian Diaspora Conference at USC

(Photo: Street sign in Los Angeles' Little Ethiopia neighborhood/Tadias file)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 29th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Wrapping up the first leg of his three-city U.S. tour that kicked off in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 26th, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed is now headed to the West Coast to speak at the Ethiopian Diaspora Conference in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, July 29th.

The LA event is scheduled to take place at Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC).

Organizers say the City Council of Los Angeles will hand an ‘Ethiopia Day’ proclamation to the PM during the gathering.

The event is free and first-come-first-serve until it is filled to capacity.


If You Go:
Ethiopian Diaspora Conference with remarks by Ethiopian Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed
Sunday July 29th, 2018
Doors open at 12:00 PM (Noon)
Program begins at 2:00 PM
Galen Center at USC
A3400 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Related:
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs in DC
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at Convention Center
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Friday, July 27th, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 28th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — On Friday, July 27th Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed continued his U.S. tour and met with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora business community as well as individuals representing political organizations in Washington D.C.

PM Abiy is culminating his East Coast visit with a free public address to greet the larger Ethiopian Diaspora in the D.C. metropolitan area later this afternoon at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Earlier in the week on Thursday, July 26th PM Abiy Ahmed had taken part in the peace and reconciliation event between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia upon his arrival in Washington DC. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation.

In addition, Dr. Abiy who is also scheduled to travel to Los Angeles, CA on July 29th and Minneapolis, MN on July 30th, met with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday, July 27th. Pence tweeted: “Honored to meet with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia today at the @WhiteHouse. I applaud his historic reform efforts, including improving respect for human rights, reforming the business environment, and making peace with Eritrea.”

The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28th, 2018 “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of his visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. The Mayor said she will join Prime Minister Abiy at the Convention Center on Saturday. “The Ethiopian community is such a valued part of our city, and our Ethiopian neighbors have played a critical role in building the diverse, inclusive, and vibrant Washington, DC that we live in today,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities.” The Mayor’s proclamation highlights that “since assuming office in April of 2018, Dr. Abiy has focused on improving human rights, ending the war with Eritrea, pursuing political and economic reforms, and eliminating corruption, that will move Ethiopia toward a more democratic society.”

The Mayor added on Twitter: “We are honored to welcome @PMOEthiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali to Washington, DC. I look forward to joining thousands of Ethiopians from across the region tomorrow as we proclaim July 28, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC.”

In the meantime below are sounds and images from PM Abiy’s visit on Friday, July 27th as he engaged with the Diaspora business community and political leaders:


Related:
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at Convention Center
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.

PM Abiy Ahmed arrives at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. for a private reception on Thursday, July 26th, 2018. (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — PM Abiy Ahmed met with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community at a reception held at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. on Thursday, July 26th as he started his three city tour of the United States this week that will take him to Los Angeles, CA on July 29th and Minneapolis, MN on July 30th as well.

Earlier in the day PM Abiy met with religious leaders and took part in the peace and reconciliation event between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia during his visit to Washington DC. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation.

When PM Abiy arrived at the embassy there was a lone protester holding the Ethiopian flag. The prime minister approached the protestor, inquired about his concerns and insisted that he will not go inside unless he joins him. It’s not clear what the person was protesting, but he was later seen having a good time at the reception inside.

Ethiopia’s prime minister is further expected to encourage investment from the diverse Ethiopian Diaspora community to continue to boost Africa’s fastest-growing economy. As Bloomberg’s Samuel Gebre notes “Abiy Ahmed’s first U.S. trip since taking office in April comes as he shakes up orthodoxies at home, promising a multi-party democracy and to privatize state monopolies, while making peace with long-time foe and neighbor Eritrea. He will hold meetings in Washington D.C. with the Ethiopian business community, religious leaders, think tanks and the public until Saturday, before heading to Los Angeles and Minneapolis, according to Ethiopia’s embassy.”

Thousands are expected on Saturday, July 28th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. as PM Abiy hold his first public address greeting the larger Ethiopian community at a free event open to all individuals.

Below are photos of PM Abiy’s first meeting with the Ethiopian Diaspora in America:


Related:
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at Convention Center
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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How Africa’s Youngest Leader Transformed Troubled Ethiopia in Just 100 Days

(Photo via Twitter)

Quartz Africa

The changes are nothing short of seismic, proof that nothing remains the same forever.

In just over 100 days, Ethiopia’s new prime minister Abiy Ahmed has taken radical steps aimed at dismantling the country’s troubled past and paving the way for a new future. After years of protests, state killings, ethnic violence, internet shutdowns, and emergency rules, the Horn of Africa nation has made an astonishing and promising turnaround for the better.

Abiy, Africa’s youngest leader at 41, has overseen all this, taking a sledgehammer’s approach in order to establish quick and lasting change on both the local and foreign levels. Domestically, Abiy’s administration announced it would loosen its monopoly on several key economic sectors, including aviation and telecoms. This has reportedly prompted Kenya’s Safaricom to negotiate the entry of its dominant mobile money service M-Pesa in the country. Politically, in a nation where all parliament seats are held by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, Abiy has urged the nation to pursue multiparty democracy.

Abiy’s administration also freed prominent opposition leaders and journalists, including Andargachew Tsege, a British citizen who was seized during a stopover in Yemen in 2014.

But it’s Abiy’s work across the east and Horn of Africa region that have brought a sharp focus to his reformist politics. In June, Abiy went to Egypt to assure president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi— in Arabic nonetheless — that Egypt won’t cut its share of the Nile waters. The hugs and smiles that followed the meeting showcased a significant step to breaking the deadlock over who controls the world’s longest river. On his flight home, Abiy brought with him 32 Ethiopian inmates freed from Egyptian prisons.

After decades of political and military impasse, Abiy also announced Ethiopia would accept a 2000 peace deal with Eritrea. That announcement cascaded in a series of events that ended the hostility between the two nations and captured the world and storytellers’ attention. These include the reopening of embassies, the resumption of trade, and the reunification of friends and family after the first commercial flight from Ethiopia crossed into Eritrean airspace this century last week.

Abiy also presided over the first meeting in two years between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival, Riek Machar, in an effort to end the five-year civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.

With his youthful popularity, Abiy has also become a sort of consigliere of cool, appearing at a concert with Eritrean strongman Isaias Afwerki, and scheduling a dinner date with the famous humanoid robot, Sophia, some of whose software was developed in Ethiopia. He has also appeared at rallies wearing a t-shirt with a Nelson Mandela fist-clinched photo above a slogan that read, “No one is free until the last one is free.”

While many challenges await Abiy after this honeymoon period is over, the reformist politician is proving to be the bearer of good news for now, not only Ethiopia but the region and Africa at large. This week, he will take this message of hope and unity to the diaspora in the United States, where many, including marathoner Feyisa Lilesa, remain hopeful about the change of guard in their home nation.

See the photos at qz.com »


Related:
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Setaweet: Ethiopia’s Capital City is Home to a Burgeoning Women’s Movement

Although a language around women's rights is largely absent from national discussions, Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, is home to a burgeoning women's movement. The city is witnessing growing activity including the first openly declared feminist group called Setaweet. (Photo: Setaweet gathering in Addis by Hasabie Kidanu).

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: July 24th, 2018

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) – As one of the world’s oldest continuous nation states Ethiopia upkeeps and exports a particular image to the rest of the world — a never-colonized, cradle of life that remains superior to European dominance. The culture is ancient and native with its indigenous national language, music and dress traditions considered sacrosanct. Ethiopia grows at its own pace, and looks inward.

In 2018, Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing national economies in the world and is nested in global networks of wealth, yet the perceived influence of foreign ideas are regarded warily. In a guarded and proud culture social change at the national scale is slow and painstaking. And in spite of generations of evolving global discourses focused on women’s rights, the subordinate position still held by women remains largely undiscussed.

Within this cultural context, how do we make language for an Ethiopian women’s movement? What do we call it? What have we called it in the past? And how do we define, grow, and adapt it? A younger generation of women has grown unsatisfied with the culture’s precedent for male hegemony in both public and domestic spheres. How do we redefine the role of women with liberation, leadership and sisterhood in mind? The greatest challenge facing an Ethiopian women’s movement today is how to fashion a homegrown language, which catalyzes change. How do we elevate consciousness within culture so committed to its customs, traditions and social structures that tends to place women on its margins?

From political participation and property ownership to healthcare access and education the social and legal lag of gender equality is evident here. Most acts of daily violence and domestic abuse go legally unchecked and garner little public outcry. Openly sharing one’s story of gender-based violence remains a taboo. Only a very slim portion of cases of sexual assault in the home and/or workplace are reported and even fewer cases make it to the courts. Media continues to perpetuate and dictate stale ideologies of the Ethiopian woman’s image, responsibility, and behavior. The daily catcall is as common as ever, and can easily escalate to physical violence. How do we raise a generation of women and men who no longer internalize and normalize sexism and violence?

Although a language around women’s rights is largely absent from national discussions, Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is home to a burgeoning women’s movement. The city is witnessing growing activity including the first openly declared feminist group called Setaweet. Setaweet (the Amharic term for ‘of woman’) is the brainchild of Dr. Sehin Teferra, and it started essentially as a meeting, which later morphed into ‘The Setaweet Circle.’ It was, and still is, a safe space for Addis Ababa women to convene. Gathering together from all walks of life women involved with Setaweet speak candidly about their experiences in the workplace, home, city. From these gatherings the ‘Setaweet Open Sessions’ were born, and a free forum open to the public was developed to invite guest speakers, authors, and historians to tackle subjects concerning women’s issues. Here, everything is laid bare — even topics of Ethiopian culture that elsewhere are off limits. Topics such as the all-male clergy of  the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, patrilineal family structures, as well as male privilege and entitlement are discussed. In addition, the Setaweet PLC provides a variety of services and custom designed trainings for public schools, corporate offices, and agencies on women’s leadership, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence.

Setaweet has organized various campaigns throughout the city, often with the support of their partner groups such as the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), and The Yellow Movement — a group founded by Addis Ababa University law program faculty and students. Some of the projects include #AcidAttackEducationCampaign (2017); #PagumeActivism initiated by the Yellow Movement to create a platform for sharing incidences of everyday sexism on social media; #AriffAbbat (2017), a collaboration between the Embassy of Sweden and Setaweet to host a photo contest to celebrate and encourage engaged fatherhood; and #NothingforGranted (2018), a collaboration with the European Union Delegation to celebrate the contributions of Ethiopian women through photography.

However, it’s not so much ‘Setaweet,’ but the term ‘feminism’ that has become the trigger word. One of the greatest obstacles and complications of this particular word is that it signals a western import and a foreigner’s ethics onto Ethiopia. It pulls with it a connotation that it has ‘arrived’ to contaminate local customs and religious practices, and the ever-so-cherished Ethiopiawee Bahil. Even though the country has integrated many Western ideals in the past — from clothing, to architecture, to films, music, and food — feminism has not received an easy welcome. Surely, feminism is not new. Although Setaweet is the first to openly identify as a ‘feminist’ collective there have been organized women’s groups that have inched the needle forward for women’s health, legal reforms, social and economic participation.

Ethiopia has not generally witnessed waves of feminism (as we have seen in the West) or properly recorded or historicized organized women’s movements, however, Setaweet has had to sustain criticism that it is ‘too western, radical, hip’ or that the need to champion women as a culture pales in comparison to more nation-pressing issues of prosperity, security, and peace.

“Our goal is clear, it’s activism. The cultural specificity of a city like Addis Ababa is not lost on us,” says co-founder Sehin. “We have declared ourselves feminists. Perhaps other organizations who work to champion women’s rights may not use the word due to the stigma that is associated with the word here. We understand the banner of feminism originally responds to the challenges faced by women in the English speaking world. Yet, work needs to be done here, so fighting for gender equality at home means finding language specific to the challenges facing women in Ethiopia, and how we can raise consciousness to confront Ethiopia’s most closely held cultural ideals. Part of that includes teasing out when and where the Amharic language and media imaging are giving way to harmful and/or sexist attitudes towards the Ethiopian woman.”

Setaweet moves forward still growing and expanding its breadth. The role and need for it is undeniable. In four short years its following has increased while the responsibilities have broadened tremendously. Setaweet has become somewhat of a hotline for the city and community to share, unload, and call out injustices from all over the country – from sexist advertisements in pop-culture to cases of gender-based violence in universities and households. Anything and everything concerning women’s issues is circled through their main channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Perhaps, Setaweet’s most fundamental goal and achievement is that it is fostering an environment for conversation, and in return creating a space for language to evolve within the culture’s context. 


You can learn more about Setaweet on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pg/SetaweetMovement.

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Ethiopia Has ‘No Option’ But Multiparty Democracy, PM Says (AP)

Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia's reformist and outspoken new prime minister, says multi-party democracy is the only option for Ethiopia's future. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia has “no option” but to pursue multi-party democracy, the reformist new prime minister said Sunday, again shaking up Africa’s second most populous nation that for decades has been ruled by a single coalition.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff announced the remarks on Twitter, saying they were made during a meeting with leaders of more than 50 national and regional parties, including ones from overseas, who demanded reforms in election law.

A multiparty democracy would need strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law, Abiy said, according to chief of staff Fitsum Arega.

The 42-year-old prime minister has announced sweeping reforms since taking office in April, including the release of opposition figures from prison and the embrace of a peace deal that led to the surprising restoration of diplomatic ties this month with longtime rival Eritrea.

Just months ago Ethiopia, a nation of more than 100 million people, faced widespread anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms, with the U.N. human rights chief and others expressing concern over hundreds of reported deaths and tens of thousands of people detained. The economy, one of Africa’s fastest-growing, suffered.

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, which has been in power since 1991 and along with affiliated parties holds every seat in parliament, came up with Abiy after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stepped aside early this year. Notably, Abiy doesn’t come from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a party in the ruling coalition that has been the dominant force in government for most of the past 27 years.

Since taking office the new prime minister has surprised Ethiopians by openly acknowledging past torture by security forces, announcing the opening-up of the state-run economy and suggesting that his own position should have term limits.

While the government in the past has called its elections democratic, election observers and human rights groups have reported alleged intimidation and vote-rigging.

“Electoral reform, yes. It must be the top priority. Only speedy transition to electoral democracy will save the country,” Jawar Mohammed, a prominent Ethiopian activist based in the U.S., said Sunday on Facebook.

The recent removal of three groups from Ethiopia’s terror list, yet another of the new reforms, means the Oromo Liberation Front and Ginbot 7 could challenge the ruling coalition in next year’s elections. Their delisting, Abiy’s chief of staff said at the time, “will encourage groups to use peaceful political discourse to achieve political ends.”

While many in Ethiopia have cheered the changes, the dramatic shifts in the country’s long-entrenched government have caused some unrest. A grenade attack last month on a huge rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, shortly after Abiy addressed the crowd killed two people and hurt more than 150.

The ruling coalition blamed “desperate anti-peace elements” and vowed to continue with the reforms.


Related:
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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