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Pictures: No Suspense in Ethiopia Election

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

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Monday, May 25th, 2015

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

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

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

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

Below are photos from Sunday’s election:



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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The New York Times

By JACEY FORTIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NY Times »

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters

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

VOA News

By Anita Powell

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

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

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

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

A spokesman for the EPRDF denies this.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The Guardian

By Daniel Calingaert and Kellen McClure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy

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

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The Guardian

By Jordan Hoffman

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian »



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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch: Yared Zeleke’s Drama ‘Lamb’

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

Indiewire

By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act

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

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

And there are several others…

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

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

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

Read more and watch video at Indiewire.com »

Below are still pictures from the movie:


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections

Ethiopia map. (VOA)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

May 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

Anti-terrorism law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Nothing to do with elections’

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Chester Higgins’ Homage to Ethiopia

(Photo: Chester Higgins Jr.)

The New York Times

By Fayemi Shakur

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The New York Times »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

“Red Leaves” Starring Debebe Eshetu

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, May 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

More info & tickets at www.binacf.org.

Related:
Preview: 2015 Sheba Film Festival

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Aster Aweke Live in NYC June 5th

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, May 17th, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

The Jerusalem Post

By HERB KEINON, GREER FAY CASHMAN

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

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

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


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

Read more at The Jerusalem Post »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 15th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Learn more at www.adega911.com.

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

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Gedion Zelalem to play for U.S. at FIFA Under-20 World Cup

Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem (Photo courtesy: David Price/Getty Images)

Fox Soccer

BY Kyle McCarthy

FIFA has cleared Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem to feature for the United States and play in the upcoming Under-20 World Cup.

U.S. Soccer announced the decision on Wednesday afternoon and ended the protracted saga about Zelalem’s international fate in the process.

Zelalem needed to receive approval from FIFA to turn out for the U.S. after receiving his citizenship in December. He did not fulfill the immediate requirements of living five years in his adopted country prior to turning 18, but U.S. Soccer appealed his case to FIFA and successfully argued that Zelalem — also eligible to feature for Germany (his birthplace) and Ethiopia (his father’s native country) — should receive clearance based upon the specific circumstances in his case.

The decision paves the way for Zelalem to assume his place in the under-20 squad for the upcoming World Cup and subsequently state his claims for inclusion with the senior team in the future.

 

Read more at Fox Sports »


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Photos: Col. John Robinson Bust Unveiled in Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

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

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

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

Below are photos from the event:

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

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Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community

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

The Times of Israel

BY STUART WINER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more and watch video at timesofisrael.com »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Julie Mehretu: Absorbing Multiple Identities

(Photo by Jean-Philippe Boucicaut)

NBC News

BY JULIE CERULLO

As a child, Julie Mehretu liked to make stuff.

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

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

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

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


(Photo by Teju Cole)

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NBC News »


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

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Teddy Mitiku’s Saxophone Being Auctioned on Ebay

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, May 10th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


Teddy Mitiku’s Saxophone. (Photo: Ebay)


(Photo: Ebay)


(Photo: Ebay)

Video: Ethiopian Instrumental Music Teddy Mitiku (Amalele)


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Fix Challenges Facing Ethiopian Israelis

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

Breaking Israel News

By Michael Freund

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Message From Ethiopian Israeli Attorneys

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

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

  • Equipping police officers with body cameras.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    The New York Times

    By ISABEL KERSHNER and JODI RUDOREN

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

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

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

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


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

    Read more and watch video at NYtimes.com »

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopian-Israeli Protest Turns Violent

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

    The New York Times

    By ISABEL KERSHNERMAY

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more at NYtimes.com »

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


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

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    Ethiopian Cafés Popping Up Across US

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the full article and watch video at The Guardian »



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

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

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Taias Staff

    Published: Friday, May 1st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Your Excellency Girma Wolde Giorgis,

    Former President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,

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

    Invited guests,

    Ladies and gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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    Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem

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

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    APRIL 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Lamb: Yared Zeleke’s Film at Cannes 2015

    Filmmaker Yared Zeleke. (Photo via Manhattan Digest)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

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

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

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

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

    The evening also featured songs and the lighting of candles.

    Below are photos:


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Zéma: Photo Exhibition in New York City

    Ethiopia. (Photograph by Chester Higgins, Jr.)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday, April 27th, 2015

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

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

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

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


    Photos by Chester Higgins, Jr.


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

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    In Pictures: DC Vigil for ISIL Victims in Libya

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

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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

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

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



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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Letter From an Ethiopian Prison

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

    The Guardian

    By Natnael Feleke

    Dear John Kerry,

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

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

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

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

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

    The birth of Zone 9

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

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

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

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

    We are now facing between eight and 18 years imprisonment.

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

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

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

    Read the full letter at The Guardian »

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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis

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

    Tadias Magazine
    Editorial

    Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    AlJazeera

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

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

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

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

    Read more »



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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    Reuters

    BY AARON MAASHO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more at Reuters.com »

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopians Stranded in Yemen

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

    Aljazeera America

    by Michael Pizzi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopians Shocked by IS Killings (AP)

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

    Associated Press

    Monday, April 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    VOA News

    Last updated on: April 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    US condemnation

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

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

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

    Arab League plans Cairo meeting

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

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

    Some material for this report came from AP.

    Related:
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya

    A video released on Sunday by the Islamic State appears to show fighters from affiliates in southern and eastern Libya executing dozens of Ethiopian Christians. (Image from AP video)

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    By JON GAMBRELL and ELIAS MESERET

    CAIRO (AP) — Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians, a video purportedly from the extremists showed Sunday. The attack widens the circle of nations affected by the group’s atrocities while showing its growth beyond a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

    The release of the 29-minute video comes a day after Afghanistan’s president blamed the extremists for a suicide attack in his country that killed at least 35 people — and underscores the chaos gripping Libya after its 2011 civil war and the killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

    It also mirrored a film released in February showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group’s suspected positions in Libya. Whether Ethiopia would — or could — respond with similar military force remains unclear.

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

    The video, released via militant social media accounts and websites, could not be independently verified by The Associated Press. However, it corresponded to other videos released by the Islamic State group and bore the symbol of its al-Furqan media arm.

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

    It shows one group of captives, identified as Ethiopian Christians, purportedly held by an Islamic State affiliate in eastern Libya known as Barqa Province. It also shows another purportedly held by an affiliate in the southern Libyan calling itself the Fazzan Province. The video then switches between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach. It was not immediately possible to estimate how many captives were killed or confirm their identities.

    In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video’s authenticity. Hussein said he believed those killed likely were Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.

    “If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,” Hussein said.

    Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office, told the AP he also believed the victims likely were migrants.

    “I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,” Mulugeta said. “No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.”

    Ethiopia’s options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from Libya. However, Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohammed Edrees said his country could partner with Addis Ababa to strike the militants.

    “That could be an option,” Edrees told the AP. “We will see and explore what is possible to deal with group.”

    Edrees said Ethiopian officials had yet to approach Egypt to discuss the idea.

    Read more »

    Related:
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    SEED: Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora Announces 2015 Honorees

    Photo from past award event hosted by Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora. (Photo: Ulf Niskanen)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Saturday, April 18th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) will hold its 23nd Annual Awards Gala at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C. on May 24th, 2015.

    The organization announced that it will honor ten individuals from the Diaspora this year, including educators, former government officials, artists, activists, journalists and students. The honorees are Aklilu Habtewold, Tamagne Beyene, Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Jane Kurtz, Tesfaye Gessesse, Dr. Zebene Lemma, Dr. Teshome Wagaw and students Elizabeth Elsa Girma, Naomi Fesseha and Woudese Befikadu.

    Last year, the awards went to Professor Donald N. Levine, Obang Metho, Menbere Aklilu, Ambassador Zewde Retta and the late Rachel Beckwith.

    SEED said it is recognizing former Ethiopian Prime Minister Aklilu Habtewold posthumously “in acknowledgment of his outstanding lifelong public service with integrity, in appreciation of his contribution to the modernization and development of Ethiopia (including building Ethiopia’s defense capability at the time), in connecting Ethiopian Airlines to the rest of the world, in fighting against Italian aggression in his youth, for amicably resolving boarder conflicts with Ethiopia’s neighbors, for being instrumental to making Addis Ababa the home for the AU (OAU) headquarters, for bringing Ethiopia to the world stage by representing it with dignity and resolve in the UN, Europe, the US and Africa, and for his own academic accomplishments, demonstrated love of country.”

    In addition, SEED will bestow the accolade on CNN Hero Yohannes Gebregeorgis and Jane Kurtz “as collaborative founders of Ethiopia Reads, an organization that brings books and libraries to rural Ethiopia, in appreciation of the rich and positive contributions they have made by exemplifying the highest ideals and standards education for our young people, as well as in recognition of their own inspiring academic excellence, prolific writings of children’s books, civic responsibilities and continuing the work respectively.”

    Artist and Professor Tesfaye Gessesse is being honored “in acknowledgment of his outstanding life-long contributions to the preservation of our culture through his prolific writings, theatrical and poetic talents, as a playwright whose work has inspired many followers of his work, as a founder of Orchestra Ethiopia, as a distinguished role model to the countless young artists in Ethiopia and Ethiopians around the globe, as a venerated teacher with his own stellar academic accomplishments and for all of his lifetime achievements.”

    Teshome Wagaw, a founding member of the Ethiopian Mahber of Michigan (EMM) and co-founder of the Ethiopian American Education Foundation (EAF), is also being honored. “Known to a great number of Ethiopians from the 1960s as a pioneer Voice of America Broadcaster, Professor Emeritus, Dr. Teshome Wagaw is an outstanding scholar and exemplary role model to Ethiopians everywhere,” SEED said. “Dr. Wagaw is loved and admired by many across generations.” The organization added: “SEED honors Dr. Wagaw in acknowledgement of his contribution to the development of higher education in Ethiopia (both as respected professor and author), in recognition of his own academic accomplishments, demonstrated patriotism, unselfish devotion to humanitarian causes, unfading interest and love of country.”

    For more information on 2015 SEED honorees please visit www.ethioseed.com

    If You Go:
    23rd ANNUAL SEED AWARDS DINNER
    SUNDAY, May 24th, 2015 at 6:30pm
    Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center
    Washington DC
    Tickets: $75 online
    $85 on-site, $35 Children under 12
    Buy Tickets Online or make check payable to SEED
    P.O. Box 848, Pomona, NJ, 082401
    Phone: 609- 407-0496 or 234 -380-1533
    www.ethioseed.com

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    Harvard Portrait: Ethiopian American Computer Scientist Jelani Nelson

    Jelani Nelson is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Harvard University. (Photo by Jim Harrison)

    Harvard Magazine

    By Jonathan Shaw

    JELANI NELSON LIGHTS UP when he talks about algorithms. The soft-spoken assistant professor of computer science is a rising star in a field made vital as data proliferate exponentially faster than the growth of computational power or storage. Algorithms, well-defined procedures for carrying out computational tasks, speed the way to answers. Nelson has a knack for speed: online, where he is known as “minilek”—a handle chosen in youth when he was growing up on St. Thomas, and derived from the name of an early ruler of Ethiopia, whence his mother hails—he has excelled with equal ease in coding competitions and typing contests (topping out above 200 words per minute). Though he is a theorist now, solving real problems quickly “cements the concepts in your mind,” he says. Borne of that conviction, every homework assignment in his undergraduate course Computer Science 124, “Data Structures and Algorithms,” includes an algorithmic programming problem. His own student years were spent practically next door, at MIT, where he majored in mathematics and computer science, and remained to earn a Ph.D. in the latter field. He came to Harvard in 2013 after postdoctoral research at Berkeley and Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. Nelson’s specialty is “sketching,” an approach to dealing with problems in which there are “too many data in the input.” He figures out how to create compressed, often exponentially smaller, versions of datasets that nevertheless retain useful, accurate information. His proofs defining the limits of such approaches have illuminated fundamental questions, some of them unanswered for decades. Though he is humble and quiet, his colleagues are less reserved: they call him “simply brilliant.”


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    South Africa Mob Sets Two Ethiopian Brothers on Fire Inside Shipping Container

    Men armed with machetes make their way onto a street in Durban, South Africa on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — In one of the most horrifying anti-immigrant mob attacks that’s currently rocking South Africa, two young Ethiopian brothers are said to have been locked inside their small shop in a shipping container and set on fire last Friday in a township near Durban.

    The Los Angeles Times reported that “Tesema Marcus, 22, died that night at a hospital, while his brother, Alex, 24, remains in a serious condition.”

    “It began after the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, told his followers last month that foreigners in South Africa should pack up and leave,” according to LA Times. “President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, had also chimed in that foreigners were “taking over the country.”

    The report added: “Last week, violent attacks on immigrant shopkeepers in Durban townships exploded and have continued since. Dozens of immigrants in Johannesburg and other cities shuttered their shops Wednesday as anonymous cellphone text messages warned that Zulu people were coming to kill immigrants in neighborhoods with large migrant populations.”

    The spokesman for the Ethiopian Community Association, Dereje Fana, told LA Times that his office “had been pressing South African authorities to take attacks on immigrants more seriously” and to protect them and their property.

    Dereje said the Zulu king is to blame for the provocative comments that launched the latest xenophobic violence. “We have heard it’s going to continue,” he said. “We’re trying to highlight it and bring it to the attention of the authorities, to create awareness and protect their lives and protect their businesses.”

    CNN noted that “more than 2,000 people fled to South African police stations Thursday after mobs with machetes attacked immigrants in Durban, leaving at least five people dead, an aid group said. The attacks in Durban killed two immigrants and three South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, authorities said.”

    “There has been an outpouring of support from ordinary South Africans who are disgusted with the attacks not only because they are foreign, or African, but because they are fellow human beings,” said Gift of the Givers charity, which is helping those seeking refuge at police stations. “We are preparing aid packages for those who may journey onwards to their home countries.”



    Related:
    Thousands flee after South Africa mobs attack immigrants (CNN)
    South Africa grapples with outbreak of anti-immigrant violence (The Los Angeles Times)

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    Ethiopia’s Building Boom Masking Poverty?

    (Getty Images)

    BBC

    By Lerato Mbele

    Addis Ababa – Whenever we set up our camera and flapped open our sun reflectors in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, passers-by became curious and eager to help.

    But getting them to talk on camera was another matter as in general residents of the city are reticent and keep their views to themselves.

    We were filming in Addis Ababa for a programme charting the changes in the country, yet it was only on the flight back to South Africa that I met an Ethiopian willing to be candid.

    I found myself seated next to an inquisitive elderly Ethiopian woman, who was chatty despite the early morning departure.

    However, she was not so open as to be willing for me to mention her name here.

    She wore a green twin-set, leggings and woollen socks with her loafers. After the rigorous security checks, she took the socks off, saying she only wears them to keep her feet clean at the end of the security protocols.

    She reminded me a bit of my mother, both caring and bossy all in one person.

    During the flight, she cut me a portion of her fruit and insisted that I eat every morsel; her stern gaze suggested that I had no choice.

    ‘Foregone conclusion’

    We talked about a lot of things, including my impressions of Nigeria, especially following the ground-breaking presidential election there when the incumbent lost.

    She was proud of the manner in which Nigerians had used their vote to make a strong statement about their government.

    I replied that perhaps if Ethiopians have strong views about the ruling party – the EPRDF, in power since 1991 – then they could also do the same when elections are held in May.

    My neighbour dispelled that notion very quickly and whispered that she believes the result is a foregone conclusion.

    I argued that surely Ethiopia’s democracy is deeper than that, and that many support the government as they are grateful for the development in recent years.

    She smirked and told me to open my eyes wider during my next visit.

    Beggars

    I was urged to investigate the economic statistics.

    They show an economy growing in near double-digits, but about 40% live below the poverty line.


    This photo is from 2007, but homeless people are still seen on the streets of Addis Ababa. (BBC)

    She reminded me of the beggars who are on the streets of Addis Ababa.

    Then I recalled our filming around the city.

    There is a clear image of frantic construction taking place, with a monorail, new roads and apartment blocks all being built.

    But I also noticed that many of the buildings are empty.

    I asked my new friend why she thought this was.

    She reckons the Ethiopian middle-class cannot afford the rents, and that professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, have resorted to using parts of their home as consulting rooms, because they cannot pay for office space.

    Read more at BBC.com »

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    US to Take Cuba Off Terror-sponsor List

    U.S. and Cuban flags waving from the balcony of the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, Cuba. (AP photo)

    VOA News

    By Michael Bowman

    April 15, 2015

    WASHINGTON — Congressional reaction to President Barack Obama’s push to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism spans from ardent support to fervent opposition, with many lawmakers of both parties taking a wait-and-see approach.

    “Long overdue,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who ridiculed any suggestion that Cuba today poses a security threat to the United States.

    “They are riding the last mile of socialism in a ’57 Chevy. They didn’t belong on the list for a while; it was more a political designation,” he said. “That list ought to mean something. Now [with Cuba’s likely removal], it means a lot more.”

    By contrast, Cuban-American Republican Senator Marco Rubio issued a video condemning the president’s move.

    “Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. They harbor fugitives of American justice,” he said. “It is also the country that is helping North Korea evade weapons sanctions by the United Nations. I think it sends a chilling message to our enemies abroad that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name.”

    Cuba will remain on the terrorism-sponsor list for a 45-day review period, during which time Congress could pass a resolution to block Obama’s decision. Other nations on the list are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

    Tuesday’s White House announcement came as many lawmakers were focused on another foreign policy question – Congress’ role in Iran nuclear talks – and members of both parties say they will use the review period to examine Cuba’s record more closely.

    “We are going to review the [administration’s] rationale and use the 45-day period we are allotted to determine whether we stick with the president’s determination,” said Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who nevertheless calls himself a “strong supporter” of normalized relations between Washington and Havana.

    Equally cautious is Republican Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who says he is drafting a letter to the White House seeking more information on the president’s decision.

    “Before we respond, we want to ask some questions,” said Corker.

    Others have made up their minds about the Obama administration’s overall engagement with Cuba’s communist government.

    “They don’t give freedom of speech, freedom of the press,” said Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who represents Florida, home to a large Cuban-American population.

    “If we are going to have a normal relation with Cuba, they have got to open up, stop human rights abuses, and give the rule of law,” he said.

    “I think the president is moving in the correct direction,” said Democratic Senator Edward Markey. “It is time for us to move as quickly as possible toward the normalization of relations with Cuba.”

    For decades after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Havana backed insurgents and leftist movements in the Americas and parts of Africa. Analysts say Cuba’s foreign adventurism all but ended in the 1990s, although Havana continues to harbor a handful of fugitives from U.S. justice.

    More recently, Cuba has played the role of mediator rather than agitator, hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels.

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    Ethiopians Talk of Violent Intimidation as Land Earmarked For Foreign Investors

    New report gives damning indictment of the government’s mandatory resettlement policy carried out in a political climate of torture, oppression and silencing. (Photograph: Siegfried Modola/Reuters)

    The Guardian

    By David Smith

    The human cost of Ethiopia’s “villagisation” programme is laid bare by damning first person testimony published on Tuesday.

    The east African country has long faced criticism for forcibly relocating tens of thousands of people from their ancestral homes to make way for large scale commercial agriculture, often benefiting foreign investors. Those moved to purpose-built communes are allegedly no longer able to farm or access education, healthcare and other basic services.

    The victims of land grabbing and displacement are given a rare voice in We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a report from the California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute.

    Some of the interviewees still live in Ethiopia, while others have sought political asylum abroad, and all remain anonymous for their own safety.

    ‘My village refused to move so they forced us with gunshots’

    “My village refused to move,” says one, from the community of Gambella. “So they forced us with gunshots. Even though they intimidated us, we did not move – this is our land, how do we move? They wanted our land because our land is the most fertile and has access to water. So the land was promised to a national investor.

    “Last year, we had to move. The promises of food and other social services made by the government have not been fulfilled. The government gets money from donors but it is not transferred to the communities.”

    The land grab is not only for agriculture, the interviewee claims, but the community has also seen minerals and gold being mined and exported. “We have no power to resist. We need support. In the villages, they promised us tractors to help us cultivate. If money is given to the government for this purpose, we don’t know how it is used.

    “The government receives money from donors, but they fill their pockets and farmers die of hunger.”

    Read more »


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    Africa’s Hegemon: Ethiopia’s Power Plays

    Construction workers in a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, March 31, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

    Foreign Affairs

    By Harry Verhoeven

    In 1991, as the Cold War drew to an end, the only African country that had never been colonized by European imperialists was but a pale reflection of the Great Ethiopia that generations of the kingdom’s monarchs had pursued. A million people lay dead following two decades of civil war. Secessionist movements in the provinces clamored for self-determination. The economy was in tatters, and another catastrophic famine loomed. The world came to associate Ethiopia with images hoards of starving children, and the country’s regional and domestic decline opened questions about its very survival.

    Nationalist historians trace the Ethiopian state’s roots to the second millennium BCE. With the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as one of its founding myths, Ethiopia’s history has between entwined with the development of the Abrahamic faiths: the Jewish presence in the Ethiopian Highlands predates the destruction of the Temple; Ethiopian Orthodox Christians claim that the Ark of the Covenant is located in Axum; and the first Muslim hijra, or flight from Mecca to escape religious persecution, was to Ethiopia. Mystical ancestry and military greatness provided legitimacy to Ethiopia’s rulers for centuries as they controlled their formidably diverse empire through a policy of violent internal assimilation and external expansion.

    But ideas of that greatness lay shattered as rebel soldiers from the countryside marched on Addis Ababa in May 1991 and overthrew the (formerly Soviet sponsored) dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam. The leftist liberation movement promised a constitution that would give self-determination to Ethiopia’s ninety-plus nations and nationalities and address the political-economic inequities that had torn the country apart, but observers were sceptical about the ability of the Horn of Africa’s once mightiest empire to reconstitute itself. When the northeastern territory of Eritrea voted for and got independence in 1993, it not only cut Ethiopia off from the sea, but also risked triggering cascading claims for self-rule.

    A quarter-century on, though, the mood in Addis Ababa could not be more changed. Between 2001 and 2012–13, Ethiopia’s economy grew more than seven percent per year on average. It was the only African country to move at a pace comparable to the East Asian tigers—and to do so without a hydrocarbons boom or a huge mining sector. The economic miracle resulted in real pro-poor growth, lifting millions of people out of the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, and poor health. While the country’s population soared from roughly 40 million in the 1980s to nearly 100 million today, it achieved the 2000–15 Millennium Development Goals for child mortality and is likely to also meet them for combating HIV/AIDS and rolling back malaria. Ethiopia is also making giant strides tackling income volatility and illiteracy. And, with sequential bumper harvests of Ethiopia’s staple crop, tef (a cereal similar to millet), millions of smallholder farmers might well be able to escape the productivity traps that historically have kept them in abject poverty.

    Read more at foreignaffairs.com »

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    Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m Running for President’

    If elected, Hillary Clinton will become America's first female President. (Photograph by Todd Heisler/NYT)

    The New York Times

    By AMY CHOZICK

    Last updated April 13, 2015

    For months, the suspense surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plans to make a second attempt at the White House had little to do with whether, and everything to do with why: What would be her rationale for seeking the presidency?

    Yet with her videotaped announcement that she would run in 2016 to fight for American families so they can “get ahead and stay ahead,” Mrs. Clinton has only begun to answer that central question.

    “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she says in the highly polished production, whose release just after 3 p.m. on Sunday after a drawn-out buildup seemed to stop a nation of tweeting political obsessives in their tracks. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

    With those words, delivered near the end of a 2-minute, 18-second video, Mrs. Clinton ended two years of public demurrals and private maneuvering and instantly put herself in a strong position to become the Democratic standard-bearer. If successful, she would become the first female nominee from either party, with a serious chance to become the first woman to be elected president.

    Continue reading at The New York Times »

    WATCH: Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m Running for President’

    VOA News

    Last updated on: April 12, 2015 5:32 PM

    After months of speculation, former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton has officially announced she is running for president in 2016.

    Clinton made her long-awaited announcement Sunday in an online video posted on social media, promising to work for the middle class.

    “Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by,” she said. “You can get ahead and stay ahead. Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.”

    Clinton is the first Democrat to formally announce her candidacy to succeed President Barack Obama, who defeated her in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

    Recent polls show Clinton beating every other possible Democrat. They also show her winning the 2016 election over all Republican candidates by a landslide.

    Clinton, 67, is considered a huge favorite to win the Democrats’ nomination this time.

    A recent Gallup poll found 48 percent of those surveyed have a favorable impression of Clinton, her lowest rating since 2008. Forty-two percent of those polled had an unfavorable rating of her.

    But Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus said Sunday he believes voters do not trust her.

    “Over decades as a Washington insider, Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal and failed policies that cannot be erased from voters’ minds.”

    They include the deadly terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and using an unofficial email account for official business as secretary of state. Republicans also are likely to bring up scandals involving her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

    If elected, Hillary Clinton would be the country’s first female president. She plans to begin her campaign in the early key voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first caucuses and primaries.

    Ahead of the announcement, Republicans tried to link Clinton to Obama, a regular focus of GOP criticism.

    “We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies,” said former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a potential Republican candidate, in a video Sunday.

    Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign last week, pointed to the Clinton family’s foundation, saying it was hypocritical for the Clintons to accept from Saudi Arabia, which places public restrictions on female movement and activity.

    “I would expect Hillary Clinton if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,” Paul said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.”

    Foreign policy

    The former Secretary of State could turn out to be a lot more hawkish on U.S. foreign policy – issues like Iran, Israel, Syria and Libya – than Obama, analysts said.

    “I think that Secretary Clinton will actually try to convey a sense that she is tougher, stronger, more experienced, more professional,” said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report.

    But the road to victory for the former first lady could be rocky.

    Clinton is perceived by some as unapproachable. Her decision to launch her campaign on YouTube is not going to help that image, said Lara Brown of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

    “I don’t know that I would project this image of ‘I’m prepackaged behind a video’ to start this campaign,” Brown told VOA. “I would think she would want to have real people there, that she would want to be in a boisterous but enthusiastic environment.”

    Campaign strategy

    Clinton’s presidential campaign will center on boosting economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families, while casting the former senator and secretary of state as a “tenacious fighter” able to get results, two senior advisers said Saturday.

    The senior advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss her plans ahead of Sunday’s announcement, provided the first preview of the message Clinton planned to convey when she launches her long-anticipated campaign on Sunday with an online video.

    The strategy described by Clinton’s advisers has echoes of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. He framed the choice for voters as between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the 2008 economic collapse.

    The advisers said Clinton will argue that voters have a similar choice in 2016. Clinton also intends to sell herself as being able to work with Congress, businesses and world leaders.

    That approach could be perceived as a critique of Obama. He has largely been unable to fulfill his pledge to end Washington’s intense partisanship and found much of his presidency stymied by gridlock with Congress.

    Speaking on U.S. news shows Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry praised his predecessor for the “terrific job” she did in repairing global ties while she was America’s top diplomat.

    Clinton “did a terrific job of rebuilding alliances that had been shredded over the course of the prior years,” Kerry told ABC’s This Week.

    But Kerry stressed that as the nation’s top diplomat he was out of politics, and it was not for him to endorse any candidates.

    Calling Clinton “a good friend,” Kerry told NBC’s Meet the Press that “she’s highly qualified, and I’m confident we’ll wage no matter what, with or without a primary, a formidable campaign.”

    Political past

    Clinton’s unlikely path to political office began on the sidelines, as the wife to then Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton who would go onto serve two terms in the White House.

    Both Yale Law School graduates, the Clintons were a departure from more traditional political couples. During his 1992 campaign, Clinton promised voters that they would get “two for one,” by voting him into office but quickly dropped that claim when it proved unpopular.

    Reporters covering the White House noted Clinton’s involvement, her unofficial role as primary adviser to the president – an observation bared out in thousands of photos of the Clintons deep in conversation.

    Her biggest initiative while her husband was president, national health care reform, fell apart without coming to a vote in Congress.

    Emerging from the shadow of her husband in 2000, first lady Clinton went on to become candidate Clinton, carving out a career as a politician representing New York in the U.S. Senate for eight years. It was the first for a former first lady, and the start of many firsts in her career.

    By the summer of 2008, Clinton, now a failed presidential candidate was ready to consider former rival Obama’s offer to appoint her Secretary of State.

    International work

    The international stage would prove far more welcoming to Clinton, who appeared to find her stride, crisscrossing the globe for talks with world leaders and demonstrating a command of foreign affairs. In her new capacity as the U.S.’s top diplomat, Clinton saw her approval ratings soar, reaching 66 percent in 2010.

    The burst of approval a few short years after the public’s rejection of her presidential ambitions, the triumphs followed by potentially career ending lows, have been a constant in her more than two decades in public life.

    By 2012, Clinton was again on the defensive, answering to Republicans in congress about the Obama administration’s handling of attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

    So far, no other strong Democratic candidates have emerged in the 2016 campaign, but there are some two dozen Republicans fighting for the chance to defeat her at the polls.

    On the Republican side, Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have announced their intention to run for their party’s nomination, and Senator Marco Rubio is widely expected to join them on Monday. Others expected to join what analysts say will be a crowded Republican field include former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

    WATCH: Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement video

    VOA Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

    Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.

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    Noh Balcha in Africa Digital Art Challenge

    Noh Balcha. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Mahlet Kebede

    Published: Friday, April 10th, 2015

    College Park, Maryland (TADIAS) — Ethiopian architect Noh Balcha is only a few more Facebook Likes away from winning the next African Digital Challenge organized by the non-profit African Innovation Foundation.

    Up for grab is a prize of an invitation to the prestigious Africa (#IPA2015) conference in Morocco next month. Many responded to the challenge to “showcase the innovation ecosystem” around them via photography, graphic design and visual productions.

    Among the finalists is the 30-year-old from Ethiopia. Noh’s submission is a digital art, which he describes as a reflection “into the future and seeing a very different Africa where we have taken care of all the difficulties.” He adds: “We have faced the past and have finally started thinking of other goals to pursue for the first time in our history.”

    Other participants include Catherine Mirembe and Allan Musije from a design firm in Uganda; Fatoumata Tioye, a 22 year old photographer and artist from Mali; Mariona Lloreta, a 29 year old Egyptian visual artist and filmmaker based between the USA and Nigeria; Mbuotidem Johnson, a 31 year old Nigerian film director and animator; Ismael Mohamadou Djida, a 30 year old Cameroonian artist; and Ntombi Kunye, a 35 year old textile designer and artist from Zimbabwe.

    Organizers say the top two winners, who manage to receive the most likes on the prize’s Facebook page, will also have their video image shown at the gala venue in Morocco, as well as the chance to continue working with AIF on the Foundation’s creative material.

    This would allow the winners to “gain recognition via our IPA brand, increased opportunities to attract investments, media and social media coverage and attention, and the chance to positively transform the African innovation landscape,” AIF says.


    About the Author:
    Mahlet Kebede is a 2nd year student at the University of Maryland.

    To support Noh Balcha – please visit https://m.facebook.com/AfricanInnovationFoundation

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ester Rada Returns to New York

    (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Israeli singer Ester Rada will perform live at SOB’s in New York later this month on Apr 27th.

    The singer and songwriter is described by critics as “gracefully combining Ethio-Jazz, funk, soul and R&B, with mixed undertones of black grooves.” She has been nominated for the MTV EMA awards “Best Israeli Act.”

    “Ester Rada’s cross-cultural sound is a deep reflection of the Israeli born Ethiopian’s heritage,” SOB says. “Growing up in a highly religious Jewish family in more than modest conditions in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Israel, gave Rada the drive to change her way of life and fulfill her dream of creating music.”

    SOB’s adds: “Ester is currently finishing work on her debut album, after releasing her acclaimed first self-written and composed solo EP called “Life Happens” produced by Israeli producers Kuti (Kutiman/ThruYou) and Sabbo (Soulico), at the beginning of 2013. Shortly after releasing her EP the world discovered the potential of singer, songwriter, performer, and persona Ester Rada. Ester’s increasing popularity saw her tour the US, Canada, and Europe, and most recently the highly respected Glastonbury Festival. She warmed up for Alicia Keys at her Israel concert, in front of 8500 people,” with Alicia Keys remarking “She is amazing.”

    Her video “Life Happens” has aired on MTV France, in Eastern Europe, and Israel, as well as on VH1 UK.

    —-
    If You Go:
    Monday, Apr 27 2015
    7:00PM doors / 8:00PM show
    $16 in advance – $18 day of show
    (age 21+)
    R&B / Soul
    www.sobs.com

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos

    Prof. Donald N. Levine signing his book at Tsehai Publishers journal launching ceremony in Los Angeles -- November 27, 2006 at Ramada Hotel / Culver City. (Photograph courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Professor Donald N. Levine, who passed away on Saturday, April 4th at the age of 83, is being remembered by his friends in Ethiopia and the Diaspora as a beloved Ethiopianist, educator, sociological theorist, author, collaborator, advocate, mentor, sensei and friend.

    In addition to his well-known credentials as a respected scholar of Ethiopian studies, Levine was also an Aikido sensei and the co-founder of the first Aikido dojo in Awasa, Ethiopia.

    Below are reflections and photos sent to us from Don Levine’s friends and colleagues in the U.S. and Ethiopia. Feel free to send us your own reflections at staff@tadias.com. We’ll keep this page updated.

    From Tesfaye Tekelu
    Aikido Ethiopia & Awasa Youth Campus

    “Don was a mentor, a teacher, a sensei and in many ways a father figure to me. I have known him for more than 12 years and he has taught me, trained me, supported me like a father would a son. He was the architect of our project. He helped me found Aikido Ethiopia and the Awasa Youth Campus (Action for Youth & Community) and supported and guided us until the last day of his life. He loved our country and the people, and he was talking about Ethiopia days before he passed away. We will cherish his work and continue working on what we started in our country. Rest in peace, Ethiopiawiwu ye Selam Arbegna.”

    From Dag Andargachew
    Washington, D.C.


    Dag Andargachew and Don Levine. (Courtesy photo)

    I’ve known Don’s work for many years and had the pleasure of meeting him 15 years ago when he was in the Bay Area for a meeting. We kept in touch since then and got to hang out again in 2003 when he came back to California to visit an Ethiopian that was imprisoned. Afterwards we went to Yoga Mandala in Berkeley for their 1st anniversary yoga session which was my first ever yoga class!! After that day I was a regular student at that studio till I left the Bay Area and have been hooked on yoga ever since! Thank you Don!!!!

    Fast forward a few years and I was living in Addis for a couple of years and had the honor to help Don with administrative staff – organizing meetings, meet and greet events etc. when he came to Ethiopia in Jan 2008, to meet with human rights activists & leaders as well as recently released journalists. I also had the privilege to organize a meeting for him with Gash Mesfin (Prof. Mesfin), who had also been recently released from prison. It was an awesome opportunity for me to sit amongst these two giants and listen-in to their conversation, debate and old stories.

    I have driven with Gash Liben to Awasa to check out AYC’s overall progress as well as the setup of the dojo and saw him in action in his beloved Aikido.

    It was a pleasure to be around Don and to see him interact with ease with the young, not so young, important officials/diplomats and not so important people attentively and with respect!

    Interestingly I found out that my Dad was an undergrad student at AAU when Don first came to Ethiopia and was one of the people that taught him Amharic. I’m glad they got to hang out after so many years in Chicago when my Dad was visiting, and again in Addis when Don visited last.

    Don is a true sensei in the whole sense of the word!!

    From Mel Tewahade
    Denver, Colorado


    Don Levine (second from right) with Menze family in Amhara region of Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    I am blessed to have known Dr. Don N. Levine. The God that created heaven and earth is pleased in this Easter day, to receive his servant and our friend into his kingdom. May his writing and teaching touch many lives forever and ever. He has willingly accepted and loved being Ethiopian. He dedicated 55 years of his life studying, writing, teaching, advocating and praying for Ethiopia and Ethiopians. He encouraged all of us to dig deeper into the spirit of Menze and Shoa. He also showed us to live our lives with abundance. He reminded me that Queen of Sheba took gold and incense when she visited King Solomon in Jerusalem. He motivated us to develop our skill of negotiation that our ancestors had once mastered. He showed us how to express what we want with class and dignity using what our ancestors called Wax and Gold. He wanted to show Ethiopians not to be ashamed of our history and heritage. For that alone I am eternally grateful. Gashe Liben, as he is called by his Ethiopian name, We will continue your work and be true to ourselves. May you rest in peace.

    From Elias Wondimu, Founder of TSEHAI Publishers
    Los Angeles, California


    (Courtesy of Tsehai Publishers)

    I was blessed enough to work with Gash Liben on several initiatives. To mention a few, he was an editorial advisor and author of TSEHAI Publishers, editorial board member and regular contributor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, and a founding board member and senior scholar of the Ethiopian Institute for Nonviolence Education and Peace Studies, but most of all he was one of the few people who took time to answer any questions that I may have. For me, I lost a mentor, a major supporter, and a collaborator on all of my projects, and an author extraordinaire that I had the privilege of publishing his very last book (Interpreting Ethiopia) among other writings and his classic book: Wax and Gold.

    The reaction of our people from across international borders is not due to one or few of his successful writings, but it is due to his life-long engagement with Ethiopia and his advocacy to her citizens’ dignity wherever they might be. What we lost today is not only an acclaimed scholar, but a dear friend of our people and a citizen of the world who cares deeply for its future.

    From Professor Ayele Bekerie
    Mekele, Ethiopia

    Professor Donald Levine, the Ethiopianist Insider Remembered

    It was June 2004 and the Honorary Doctorate recipients for the 2004 Addis Ababa University Commencement were assembled in the Office of the University’s President prior to our march to Genet Hall of the Sidist Kilo Campus where the Commencement ceremony took place. Among the recipients were Professor Donald Levine, the Late Professor Ali Mazrui and Professor Ephrem Isaac. I accompanied Professor Ali Mazrui to the event from the US. As we passed the Ras Mekonen Hall, Professor Levine looked up the door of the Hall and excitedly pointed the motto of the University posted at the top. He asked us if we know the meaning of the motto written in Ge’ez.

    Kulu Amekeru Wezesenaye Atsneu,” Professor Levine read the motto loud. He then quickly shared with us the meaning as if to free us from the instant question he posed to us. The motto, which translates to “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good,” was known to Professor Levine since his time as a Professor in the then Haile Selassie I University over fifty years ago. The motto became part of our conversation as we marched to Genet Hall. This anecdote typifies the nature and personality of Professor Levine and his extraordinary immersion into Ethiopian history, culture and society.

    Professor Levine has always maintained an insider view, that is, he studied the language, assumed the position of being empathic with the culture and looked at the history and culture of the people Ethiopia from the inside out. Professor Levine was so intimate with the field of Ethiopian Studies that he was able to produce, as most agree, two outstanding and classical books on aspects of Ethiopian culture and society: Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture (1967) and Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of Multiethnic Society (1974).

    While Wax and Gold demonstrates the extent and depth of Professor Levine’s understanding of the nuances and complexities in Amharic language and the people who speak it, Greater Ethiopia expanded his scholarly reach within Ethiopian Studies and he ably argued in favor of Ethiopian multiethnic identity. These two books are by far widely quoted and referenced works in the field of Ethiopian Studies. Of course, Professor Levine wrote 5 books and a hundred journal articles. He successfully conducted scholarly works in Social Theory, Ethiopian Studies and the Martial Arts.

    Professor Levine to many Ethiopians at home and abroad is known as Gashe Liben. This is an earned name. He earned the most gracious and affectionate title as a result of his remarkable accessibility to Ethiopians and their organizations, be it in social, cultural, educational and political settings. Gashe Liben prefaced many books authored by Ethiopian or Ethiopianist scholars. He contributed a great deal of articles for various journals in Ethiopian Studies. He organized international conferences and gave many media interviews. Gashe Liben helped several Ethiopians with their immigration cases.

    More importantly, he always offered his advice, critical but balanced, with regard to current issues of Ethiopia. He always cautioned fellow Ethiopians to seize the moment and get engaged with the modernization of Ethiopia informed by tradition. He urged us to stop missing opportunities.

    To me, Professor Levine’s seminal contribution in the field of Ethiopian Studies was his definition and articulation of what he calls the Ethiopian national epic. The professor argued that Kebre Negest is a national epic or mythology. A people with national epic, according to him, are a people with deep-rooted identity. A people confident of their identity are capable and willing to defend it. True, the mythology has to be expanded and should include the multiple mythologies of our people. But as a tribute to Professor Levine, we should all agree that our multiethnic identity is founded on a great epic of a great people.

    From Kidist Tariku, Coordinator of Ethiopia’s Long Live the Girls program
    Hawassa, Ethiopia

    We are very sad to lose such a loving and intelligent man. His name and work always remains in our organization’s history. He is our founder; he will always be respected and loved for what he did for our community. May his soul rest in peace.

    Long Live the Girls is a girls’ empowerment program through creative writing initiative founded in 2012 through a partnership between Action for Youth & Community Change & Break Arts: International Arts & Education Collaborative. Using creative writing to spark the imagination and see the world as if it could be otherwise, our model for engagement is unique — we create safe spaces for girls and women to speak and write with freedom, often using both political and poetic documents as the springboard for conversation, writing & performance.

    From Dr. Theodore M. Vestal
    Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University


    Ted Vestal. (Courtesy photo)

    A Tribute to Professor Donald Levine

    Ethiopia lost a stalwart friend, scholar and benefactor of the common good with the death of Professor Donald Levine this week in Chicago. His books about Ethiopia, especially Wax and Gold and Greater Ethiopia, are classical studies of the society, history, and culture of the Land of Prester John that so fascinated him. His many articles and public addresses about Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa leave a profound legacy for Ethiopians to ponder in the years to come. His thoughts about Ethiopia and prescriptions for its future were informed by his life as superbly trained American academic and public intellectual.

    Don came to Chicago fresh out of high school and took advantage of the University of Chicago’s accelerated degree program begun during the university’s presidency of Robert Hutchins. In a seven year span from 1950 through 1957, he completed his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology and went to Ethiopia to undertake field work. He resided in a rural Manz, an Amhara area and learned firsthand about the people and their ways. He studied Amharic and could converse with the subjects of his research. He then became a professor at Haile Selassie I University where he was teaching during the attempted coup in 1960. Levine joined the faculty at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, in 1962 and rose through the academic ranks to become Professor of Sociology and holder of the endowed Peter B. Ritzma chair. He also served as Dean of the College in the 1980s.

    Levine’s teaching, speaking, and writing about Ethiopia reflected his grounding in the Chicago method of higher education characterized by independent thought and criticism that is created in the interest of the progress of society. In his continuing dialogue with and about Ethiopia, Don was open-minded and welcomed different points of view. In the process of doing this, he extended the bounds of understanding and wisdom about that ancient land. He epitomized the great professor of cultural studies: one who lived and worked among the people, took part in their festivals and celebrations, learned the language, and studied the literature and great books of their tradition. This “Dean of Ethiopianists” as I fondly called him, set a high bar for those who aspire to study and understand Ethiopia.

    I met Don for the first time when we served as international election observers in Addis Ababa during the 1992 general elections. As a two-man team, among other things, we visited several precincts and noted some concerns about electoral activities that were included in the African-American Institute’s An Evaluation of the June 21, 1992 Elections in Ethiopia. We subsequently met in Ethiopian-related meetings all over the world, and he was a pleasure to be with. His devotion to searching for the truth about Ethiopia was inspirational. He will be missed.

    From Chuck Schaefer
    Valparaiso University, Indiana


    (Courtesy photo)

    Don Levine will be genuinely missed. He had a profound influence on Ethiopian studies. As his grad student, mention of his name open doors for me in Ethiopia even in the dark days of the Derg in the mid 1980s. Deans and/or Vice Ministers may not have always agreed with Don’s “greater Ethiopia” thesis, but they knew it and respected the deep sociological analysis that was at its core.

    He was the father of American Ethiopianists. His rapacious appetite for all things involving Ethiopia meant that he served on dissertation committees of sociologists (of course), anthropologists, religious scholars, historians (including myself), linguists, political scientists and probably in a number of other disciplines both here and in Great Britain. To a degree he defined the Ethiopian character in the waining years of the Imperial era, and his “wax & gold” dichotomy ensured that all subsequent scholars had to reckon with Ethiopians as complex, conniving, compassionate peasants and peers alike.

    Perhaps Don’s most enduring contribution was his deep understanding of social mobility up and down Ethiopia’s feudal ladder. This made writing a dissertation that would pass his inspection a difficult task, for the normal tropes like social classes had to bend and mend themselves to the realities of Ethiopia’s multiple paths to upward and, simultaneous, downward mobility. Even simple translation had to either be thrown out or appropriately nuanced. For Don, western univocal translation of texts was like paring down a Rembrandt painting to a charcoal sketch, for he was transfixed by the ambiguity inherent in Amharic, its texture, rich meanings and multiple depths of interpretation.

    I dropped by Don’s house to discuss an issue related to the 1960 coup d’etat this past summer while Don and Andrew DeCort were editing proofs of “Interpreting Ethiopia.” To the last he was a scholar and a teacher.

    I will miss him.

    From Ashenaphy Fentie
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


    Ashenaphy Fentie. (Google Profile)

    Donal N. Levine, a distinguished and great Ethiopianist of all time just passed away at the age of 83. He published important works such as, “Greater Ethiopia”, “Wax and Gold” and “Translating Ethiopia”. GREATER ETHIOPIA is his iconic book that I suggest as a must-read by every Ethiopian. As far as impartiality, evident history and the common past of the Horn are the concerns, I personally do not know any other single writer, both from Ethiopia and abroad that can be credited like Levine. He was much more patriotic to Ethiopia than even those Ethiopians, who think they are historians.

    Those of you, who are not familiar with Levine and his works, please, read “Greater Ethiopia” and some of his journals on Ethiopian Studies, then you will find out for yourselves who this man really was. He actually was one of the very reasons that brought me into the study of history. I’m so so inspired by him, and very sad we lost him so soon. Regarding the history of Ethiopia and the Horn in general, I believe, no other single writer has ever taken us as far as Levine already did. His sociological studies of the Horn conducted in the late 1960s and his related conclusive theory of the study were incredibly proven to be accurate 40 years later, by the young and contemporary science of Population Genetics.

    Rest in peace, our hero Donald Nathan Levine. Thank you for your irreplaceable and immortal contributions in the history and sociology of our beloved Ethiopia.

    From Mulugeta Wodajo
    Bethesda, Maryland

    I had known Don for close to 60 years when we were both graduate students at Chicago and Columbia University, respectively. His two books on Ethiopia, Wax and Gold and Greater Ethiopia have been considered “must read” classics about our country’s society, history and culture ever since they were first published in the 1960s and ‘80s, respectively. He had recently completed another book for publication also on Ethiopia. He had shown me the finished manuscript of that book less than a year ago; hopefully it will see the light of day very soon. Additionally, he had previously published three major books and numerous articles in professional journals in his field of expertise, social anthropology, that were highly valued by experts in that field. He was a highly regarded professor of sociology at Chicago University until his retirement a few years ago and continued to do so from time to time, even after his retirement..

    While doing field work for his first book, Wax and Gold, in Menz in the late 1950’s, he took on the name “Liben”, after a close Menzie friend he got to know well during his field work. Many of his Ethiopian friends, including myself, used to call him by that name until the very end. That pleased him a great deal as one could see from his reaction when called by that name. More recently, he also adopted the name of “Gebre Ethiopia” as he considered himself a genuine servant of our country.

    I will greatly miss Don. He was one of the few friends left from those bygone years. He has now joined the great Ethiopian scholars – Ethiopian as well as foreigners – gone forever from our midst. May he rest in peace!

    From Alemayehu Fentaw Weldemariam
    Boston, Massachusetts


    From right: Don, Alex and Hans. (Courtesy photo)

    In memoriam: Donald Nathan Levine, 1931-2015

    I have known Donald Levine at close range. He was a great friend, spiritual father, and mentor. I would have called him “an intellectual soulmate,” as he has referred to me in a note he wrote on his last book, Social Theory As Vocation (2015). To give you a sense of his generosity, when he learnt that I ended up jobless and without a means to support myself and my family in Addis Ababa after my return from Europe as a result of Jimma University’s decision to dismiss me from my teaching job in absentia, he extended his helping hand. He sent me money and books on several occasions whenever he finds people traveling to Addis Ababa. He was a frequent interlocutor from a distance and we used to exchange tones of emails between Addis Ababa where I was living and Chicago where he was based. Then I came to the US upon his invitation in October 2011. I audited one of his seminar courses on George Simmel at the University of Chicago, practiced aikido on the matt under him at the University of Chicago Dojo, arranged for me to audit Nathan Tarcov’s seminar course on Leo Strauss at the Committee on Social Thought, and generously vetted me to be part of one of the panels in the International Conference on George Simmel in 2011. It was also a great honor and pleasure to have helped him with two of his last books, Interpreting Ethiopia and Social Theory As Vocation, in which he has generously acknowledged my assistance.

    Levine was a keen student of Ethiopian civilization for over half a century. His initial scholarly encounter with Ethiopia dates back to 1958 when he, as a young postdoctoral fellow, started his ethnographic work living among the “extraordinarily handsome people in a setting of great natural beauty and [an] [idyllic] climate” of North Shoa, Ethiopia, which “offers a gate through time to a state of being that is richly medieval.” (1965). That ethnographic fieldwork resulted in his Ethiopian classic Wax & Gold (1965). In the realm of Ethiopian studies, he is also most famous for his magisterial book Greater Ethiopia (1974), which has long been considered a major contribution to understanding the phenomena of ethnic diversity and national unity in Ethiopia. Shortly before his death, he managed to put together a collection of essays on Ethiopia, Interpreting Ethiopia (2014), in which he offers his observations on the ethos and worldview, education and literature, history, politics, and cross-national connections of the cultural area that he calls Greater Ethiopia. Levine’s oeuvre is the outcome of a serious scholarly odyssey through Ethiopian civilization over space and time. He has travelled extensively through every quarter of the cultural area that he fondly calls “Greater Ethiopia” –from Massawa to Jimma, from Addis to Aksum. His intellectual odyssey pushed the frontiers of Ethiopian Studies, extending the reach of his research from the culture of the Amhara, in Wax & Gold, to that of a multiethnic society, in Greater Ethiopia, from Aksum As a Seedbed Society to Reconsidering Ethiopian Nationhood, as necessitated by the advent of the internet and immigration.

    In explaining what provided the bond that has continued to link him with Ethiopian over the years, he went on record, in one of his personal communication with me, saying: “the greatest thing in life is “aimless camaraderie,” as Frank H. Knight called it. Much of what has bonded me to Ethiopians over the years has been the joy of aimless camaraderie in their company.” Those of us who had the privilege to meet him in Chicago or Addis know what he means by the joy of the interaction in aimless camaraderie with fellow Ethiopians.

    Besides his scholarly engagement with Ethiopia, Levine was also an activist. His more activistic engagement dates back to his critical 1961 article on Haile Sellassie’s authoritarianism, which cost him his teaching job at the Haile Selassie I University. He was an ardent advocate of freedom in Ethiopia. More often than not, he voiced his concerns for academic freedom, free press, free association, free and fair elections, and loyal opposition in Ethiopia. It was in the spirit of public service that he gave a testimony before the U.S. Congress on the human rights abuses of the Dergue in 1976, engaged himself in a critical analysis of the Addis Ababa University fiasco in 1993, gave a spirited acceptance speech in defense of academic freedom at the award of an honorary doctorate from Addis Ababa University in 2004, where he emphasied the traditional mission of AAU as a university by reciting the Geez motto: “Kulu Amekeru Wezesenaye Atsneu” (Examine everything, and hold fast to what is best). Indeed, the dialogic turn that he brought to bear upon sociology and Ethiopian studies has also oriented his activistic engagement. It has been his lifelong wish and prayer for Ethiopians of all generation and walks of life to transcend the limitations inherent in their cultures soda as to dissolve the either/or metazez wey meshefet (“obey or rebel”) mentality through dialogue.

    In both his scholarly and activistic odysseys, what always strikes me as quite distinctive of Levine is the strength of his character. He was as much courageous in his scholarship as much as he was in his activism. In his activism, he never succumbed to fears of retribution. He criticized the incumbent as well as the opposition in an even-handed manner. In his scholarly pursuits, he refused to succumb to political correctness, which he once described to me in a personal communication as: “Political correctness is the hobgoblin of little minds. That’s the kind of statement that corrupts the search for truth, IMHO. The Janjero who committed human sacrifice can be glossed as culturally inferior to the Dorzes who created polyphonic music and beautiful weavings as central expressions of their cultures.”

    Donald Levine is a towering figure in Chicago sociology and social thought in the same league as Robert Park, George Mead, Albion Small, John Dewey, Edward Shils, and Arnaldo Momigliano. Hi sociological oeuvre includes critical interpretations of Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton, S.N. Eisenstadt, and above all Georg Simmel. In the realm of social theory, his work focused on bringing into fruitful dialogue, if not reunifying the sociological traditions and imaginations, in a book venture that he titles Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995). One evening during my visit at the University of Chicago in November 2011, as we were walking to his home where he generously hosted me for the first week, he started telling me how sociology used to be as big as Humpty Dumpty and how it had a terribly great fall in the 1960s. And after Humpty Dumpty had that fateful fall and it broke into pieces, all sociologists and social theorists that came “couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty in his place again.” That was exactly what he wanted to do with his magisterial book Visions of the Sociological Tradition in which he wrote, “For most of its first century as an institutionalized discipline, the proponents of sociology envisioned it as a unified field. The vision was elusive and consensus hard to come by. Yet for all their profound differences about what sociology should be and do, its principal spokesmen —figures like Durkheim, Simmel, Weber, Park, and Parsons—agreed that sociology should be framed as a coherent enterprise demarcated by clear and defensible boundaries. The narratives constructed by Park and Burgess, Sorokin, Parsons, and others were part of the more general effort to justify’ such a unified vision.”(259)

    In his Festschrift, Hans Joas and Charles Camic extol Levine’s achievements in the field of social theory as follows:

    the idea that dialogue among different intellectual perspectives is a paramount cognitive and ethical objective in its own right, particularly in the context of the current postdisciplinary age—receives its fullest development at the hands of University of Chicago sociologist Donald N. Levine, whose extensive writings on the subject provide the point of departure for the twelve essays in this volume. As a distinguished theorist and historian of sociological thought, Donald Levine has been closely familiar with these pluralist currents within sociology throughout his career….


    Related:
    Donald Levine, sociologist and former dean of the College, 1931-2015 (UChicago News)‎
    Friend of Ethiopia Don Levine Passed Away

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Friend of Ethiopia Don Levine Passed Away

    Donald N. Levine was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of Chicago. (Photos: Facebook)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, April 5th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — We are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, a contributor to this magazine and a great scholar of Ethiopian history, Don Levine, has passed away.

    His family announced that Levine died yesterday afternoon. He was 83-years old.

    Levine, who was affectionately known as “Gash Liben” among his Ethiopian friends, is the author of several books and academic papers on Ethiopia including Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture., Interpreting Ethiopia: Observations of Five Decades (2014), Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society.

    “Gash Liben, Ethiopian scholar, lover of Ethiopia, founder of the Aikido Ethiopia Project has passed away today at 1pm,” his son Bill Levine said via Facebook.

    According to his biography: “Levine was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1931. For his post-secondary education, he attended the University of Chicago. There, he earned a BA in 1950, MA in 1954, and PhD in 1957. His intellectual development was greatly shaped by the teachers and curriculum of the “Hutchins College” at Chicago.”

    Wiki adds: “For five decades Levine has also been active in the area of Ethiopian Studies. In this field he published two seminal books and dozens of papers. He organized the Fifth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies at the University of Chicago in 1978. For his expertise as an Ethiopianist he has served as consultant to public and governmental organizations, include the U.S. Department of State, the United States Senate, and the Peace Corps. Before joining the Chicago faculty in 1962, he taught at Ethiopia’s University College of Addis Ababa. Levine eventually received a Doctor of Letters honoris causa in 2004 from Addis Ababa University, where his citation read: ‘Ethiopianist, sociological theorist, educator: you have succeeded in all three vocations. Your pioneering work, Wax and Gold, has become an Ethiopian classic. As manifested in its title, yours is an exceptionally imaginative quest to reach an understanding of Amhara society from the internal point of view. The very concept of “Wax and Gold” has taken a life of its own: it figures at once in our understanding of Ethiopia’s pre-modern culture and in our coming to grips with Ethiopia’s reception of modernity. Greater Ethiopia draws attention to the deep fact that Ethiopian life is rooted in multicultural identities, and it also demonstrates the salient bonds that hold them together.’”

    At the time of his death he held the status of Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Chicago.


    Related:
    Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos
    Donald Levine, sociologist and former dean of the College, 1931-2015 (UChicago News)‎
    Coming to America by Professor Donald Levine (2003)
    The Obama Presidency & Ethiopia: Time for Fresh Thought (2009) by Don Levine
    Five Reasons for Ethiopian-Americans to Support Obama (2008) by Don Levine

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Israel, New Ethiopian Knesset Member Prioritizes Immigrant Community

    Newly elected Knesset Member Avraham Neguise at a Likud party meeting during the election campaign, Feb. 2015. (photo by Office of Avraham Neguise)

    Al-Monitor

    By Mazal Mualem

    March 31, at the age of 57, 30 years after he left the town of Gondar in Ethiopia, Avraham Negusie was sworn in to the Israeli Knesset. He was elated the entire day.

    Until election night, Negusie, 27th on the Likud list, watched the polls, which predicted barely 22 seats for the party and thought he was a long way from his dream of becoming a Knesset member. He was therefore surprised when, a half hour before television stations called the elections, he got an urgent call from Likud headquarters with the announcement, “Come to the exhibition gardens. There’s drama. It looks like you’re in.”

    On his way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, Negusie took dozens of phone calls from well-wishers, and since then, he has been busy planning his first term as one of Israel’s 120 elected representatives. It is clear to him that he’ll work on social issues and that he’ll be the advocate and voice for immigrants from Ethiopia on Knesset committees.

    Negusie will be the only Knesset member with an Ethiopian background in the twentieth Knesset. Six members of the Ethiopian community have preceded him, among them the first woman Knesset member of Ethiopian descent, Penina Tamanu-Shata of Yesh Atid. Like his predecessors, Negusie seems to be an atypical, unrepresentative symbol for the integration of his ethnic group, most of which lives at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale in Israel, trapped in impoverished neighborhoods.

    Negusie, who holds a doctorate in education, built his civic life mostly through political activism, including successful battles he led in the past two decades to bring Falash Mura to Israel. Today, according to Negusie, there are about 5,000 of them in Ethiopia who have families in Israel, and they will celebrate the traditional Seder dinner for Passover far from them in camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar.

    “I hope that as a member of the Knesset I can influence the decision to bring them to Israel as soon as possible,” said Negusie in an interview with Al-Monitor. He also explained why the left hasn’t succeeded in becoming the political home of the Ethiopians in the full interview below:

    Read the interview at Al-monitor.com »

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    Smithsonian Exhibition Features 19 Artists From Africa & the Diaspora

    (© Aïda Muluneh)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Friday, April 3rd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Several contemporary artists from Africa and the Diaspora — including Ethiopia-based photographer Aïda Muluneh and NYC-based Ethiopian American painter Julie Mehretu — are part of an upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.

    The show, which is entitled The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists, includes video, photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, fiber arts, and mixed media installation that “probe diverse issues of politics, heritage, history, identity, faith, and the continued power of art to express the unspoken and intangible.”

    The exhibition opens on April 8th with a ‘Curator’s Talk’ featuring Simon Njami and Karen E. Milbourne and remains on display until August 2nd, 2015.

    “Curated by the internationally acclaimed writer and art critic Simon Njami, this dramatic multi-media exhibition reveals the ongoing global relevance of Dante Alighieri’s 14th century epic as part of a shared intellectual heritage,” the Smithsonian announced. “Including original commissions and renowned works of art by approximately 40 of the most dynamic contemporary artists from 19 African nations and the Diaspora, this visually stunning exhibition will be the first to take advantage of the museum’s pavilion and stairwells, as well as galleries on the first and third floors.”


    If You Go:
    Location, Hours, and Admission
    950 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20560
    202.633.4600
    202.357.4879 (fax)
    nmafaweb@si.edu
    10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except December 25.
    Admission is free
    www.africa.si.edu/exhibition

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    Exciting Fashion Fusion Takes Off in Ethiopia: Could It Go Global? (Video)

    Local fashion designer Fikirte Addis is starting to get attention from buyers abroad. She cites Ethiopian fabric - and the stories woven into them -- as her source of inspiration. (CNN)

    CNN

    By Colin Hancock and Daisy Carrington

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — The country has an international supermodel. It has a world-renown designer, a centuries-old textile industry, and its very own fashion school. It’s Ethiopia, and it’s perched to hit the global fashion industry by storm.

    “I do see a trend of Ethiopian fashion going abroad,” admits Mahlet Teklemariam, the organizer of Addis Ababa Fashion Week.

    “(Fashion in) Ethiopia in the past was mostly local. It wasn’t known on the international market,” she notes. That, she says, is starting to change.

    “A lot of international companies are investing in Ethiopia. The Turkish have a lot of big companies producing here and H&M are producing here.”

    Many companies are drawn by Ethiopia’s textiles — stunning woven cotton with a range of rich designs. However, there is also an increasing number of homegrown designers hitting the scene.

    Fikirte Addis studied child psychology, but ultimately the pull of her mother’s sewing machine proved too powerful for her.

    “I loved cutting (fabric),” she recalls. “I had a box full of dresses that I would reuse.” The self-taught seamstress ultimately changed career, and she hasn’t looked back. For her, Ethiopian fabrics give new meaning to the concept of weaving a story.

    “When you look at (Ethiopian fabrics), you might see, for example, the eye of an ox, which is bold and beautiful, and has a lot of history in it,” she says.

    Addis’ designs have hit the international market in recent years, and she’s seen an increasing number of sales from abroad.

    “The industry is in the making. We have a very rich tradition, good stories and amazing products,” she says, adding, “I think we have a very good shot.”

    Watch the video at CNN.com »

    Related:
    In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia

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    Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird Rotisserie Opens in Harlem

    Marcus Samuelsson. (Photo: Melissa Hom/Grub Street)

    Grub Street

    By Sierra Tishgart

    It was only a month ago that Marcus Samuelsson told Grub: “All I can think about is chicken: How to cook it? Who does it best? Should I brine it? Do I have the right seasoning?” The result of all his pondering is Streetbird Rotisserie, Samuelsson’s new kitchenette in Harlem that focuses on — surprise! — chicken. But this isn’t a classic French rotisserie restaurant, or an extension of the luxury chicken boom: Streetbird’s more eclectic, with dishes that reflect Samuelsson’s Ethiopian and Swedish heritage.

    The menu includes General Ye’s chicken, with crispy chicken, green beans, mango, and peanuts; something called the “Swediopian,” made from doro wat; C. Chavez, with ripped rotisserie chicken and mole; and non-chicken-based items like fried rice and cabbage-scallion noodles. (Plus, for dessert: a delicious-sounding “Ooey Gooey Cookie” with green tea, candied ginger, peanuts, and marshmallows.

    Because this is Samuelsson, the design is a stand-out, too: Graffiti culture served as his inspiration, and Cey Adams (the founding creative director of Def Jam Recordings) created the art on the walls. There’s also an interactive boom-box installation, benches covered in vintage designer textiles, and windowed garage doors — perfect for the warmer weather.

    Opening day is April 2, and the restaurant will serve food every day from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. It’s intended to be a casual, drop-in kind of place: Tables are only available for walk-ins, but there is a separate area for takeout orders.

    Read more and see photos at grubstreet.com »

    Related:
    Tadias Interview With Marcus Samuelsson About His Latest Book

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    Trinity: Amazing 3 Young Ladies From Ethiopia in UniverSoul Circus Touring U.S.

    (Photo courtesy: UniverSoul Circus)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday, March 30th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Their stage name is “Trinity” and the three young female athletes from Ethiopia — Wentana Gebremeskel (16), Azalech Asino Sore (18) and Kidist Keshimo Wereka (22) — are currently in New York as part of the traveling UniverSoul Circus show highlighting global pop culture through an energetic cast of international performers. The circus will perform in the New York area until May 25th, and Kaldidan Zebene Haile of the Gamo Circus in Ethiopia will also be part of the cast.

    “Three young ladies from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia mark their first ever United States appearance with the UniverSoul Circus in 2015 with an amazing hand balancing act we call, Trinity,” UniverSoul Circus said in press release. “This precision based act features three female acrobats performing slow, enfolding movements, performed with great fluidity and grace. It’s a combination of strength and flexibility that helps them balance on top of each other while doing handstands. They have performed their act on three continents: with the Gamo Circus in Ethiopia, Lee Academy in Australia and Salto Circus in the Netherlands.”

    UniverSoul describes 23 year-old male Ethiopian performer, Kaldidan Zebene, as a “Rolla Bollo performer extraordinaire,” and notes that “Kalkidan, performing since the age of 16, has presented his Bollo act with the Global Village Circus in Dubai, Avrasya Circus in Turkey and Salto Circus in the Netherlands.” This is Kalkidan’s first time performing with UniverSoul Circus.


    If You Go:
    UniverSoul Circus plays the Bronx
    WHEN: Wednesday, March 18 thru Monday, April 6, 2015
    WHERE: Across from Bronx Terminal Market at 149th St & Exterior St next to bridge/50 East 150th Street
    Bronx, NY 10451

    UniverSoul Circus plays Brooklyn
    WHEN: Wednesday, April 8 thru Sunday, April 26, 2015
    WHERE: Floyd Bennett Field @Aviator Sports, just down from Kings Plaza Mall
    3159 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11234

    UniverSoul Circus plays Queens
    WHEN: Tuesday, April 28 thru Sunday, May 17, 2015
    WHERE: Roy Wilkins Park at Merrick Blvd & Baisley Blvd
    177th St & Baisley Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11434

    UniverSoul Circus plays Newark, NJ
    WHEN: Tuesday, May 19 thru Monday, May 25, 2015
    WHERE: Across from Broad St Train Station next to Old Bears Stadium
    430 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102

    Visit www.universoulcircus.com for more info, show times, and schedules.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign

    Reeyot Alemu is one in a number of journalists who have been prosecuted under the vaguely worded and broad-reaching anti-terrorism laws passed by the Ethiopian legislature in 2009. (IWMF/Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Students from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and their professor — Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Dana Priest — have launched the Press Uncuffed campaign to raise awareness about journalists imprisoned around the world.

    The campaign, which kicked off last week at the Newseum in Washington, D.C, is being conducted in partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). It features jailed reporters from nine countries, including Ethiopian Reeyot Alemu, winner of the 2013 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Reeyot is currently serving a 5-year prison term under Ethiopia’s controversial terrorism law.

    “These journalists were imprisoned for doing their jobs by governments fearful of a free press,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch in a statement. “By recognizing these nine intrepid journalists-most of whom were jailed on anti-state or retaliatory charges-we hope to increase public pressure for their release and draw attention to the hundreds of others who have been silenced by their governments.”

    CPJ added: “The journalists featured in the campaign have been imprisoned on anti-state or retaliatory charges. Two are being held without charge.”

    They are: Ilham Tohti (China), Bheki Makhubu (Swaziland), Reeyot Alemu (Ethiopia), Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan), Jason Rezaian (Iran), Yusuf Ruzimuradov (Uzbekistan), Mahmoud Abou Zeid Shawkan (Egypt), Ta Phong Tan (Vietnam) and Ammar Abdulrasool, (Bahrain).



    Learn more at www.pressuncuffed.org.

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    Photos: Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro Inaugural Diaspora Business Mixer

    At Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Springfield, Virginia on Friday, March 20th, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Last week, Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Springfield, Virginia hosted its first monthly event called “Afro Diaspora Mixer” that will take place every third Friday of the month.

    The inaugural event held on Friday, March 20th brought together business professionals in an informal and intimate environment. “The Afro Diaspora community has achieved admirable progress in the U.S. and the community has significant high caliber individuals who are doing amazing things. Unfortunately, these individuals are not as connected as they should be,” says Alex Habte Cherein, owner of Merkamo. “The idea is to create a space where Afro Diaspora business people and professionals connect and share their story and hopefully collaborate in mutually beneficial projects.”

    Below are photos courtesy of organizers:



    Related:
    Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro in Virginia Launches Afro Diaspora Business Mixer
    Meet the New Director of D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs Mamadou Samba

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    New Film on the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia: ‘If Only I Were That Warrior’

    Megabi Woldetensae, an eyewitness to the 1937 massacre at the monastery of Debre Libanos, is one of the characters featured in the new documentary film "If Only I Were That Warrior." (Awen Films)

    Press Release

    CPL New York

    The idea for If Only I Were That Warrior, took shape in February 2013 when director Valerio Ciriaci and producer Isaak Liptzin attended a panel discussion on the recently inaugurated monument to Rodolfo Graziani organized by the Calandra Italian American Institute at CUNY and Centro Primo Levi NY

    An Italian army general responsible for war crimes and human rights violations in Africa, Graziani was first denounced by the League of Nations and, after the war, brought in front of the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Due to diplomatic reasons, he was never tried. In 1948 an Italian court found him guilty of war crimes but was relieved from serving his sentence because he claimed to have only obeyed orders. Graziani and his actions remained in limbo in the Italian collective memory. The 2012 dedication of the monument sparked international protests and brought his role in history back to the forefront of public discourse.

    The CUNY panel prompted the two young filmmakers to research the Italian occupation of Ethiopia and understand why it was remembered so little and with such radical divergences. Their quest became a film project on the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia and its unresolved legacy exposing it both from an Italian and an Ethiopian perspective.

    The film moves from contemporary debate into the history of the invasion through the work of major historians of colonialism like Angelo Del Boca and Richard Pankhurst. Historian of fascist Italy Mauro Canali and cultural historian Ian Campbell accompany the public through the history of the occupation as documented in the Italian and Ethiopian national archives.

    In recent years, scholars have placed Italian war crimes in Greece, Yugoslavia and Africa under the spotlight allowing, among other things, a new approach to the study of fascist racism and a debate on international intervention, post-war justice as well as the effect of lingering prejudice and an unspoken past.

    The Massacre of Debre Libanos – If Only I Were That Warrior CLIP from Awen Films on Vimeo.


    If You Go:
    Screening of excerpts and discussion with the director & producer
    Reception to follow.
    March 28 | 7:30 pm
    March 29 | 2:00 pm
    CPL at SF Vanni’s
    30 West 12 Street
    New York City
    RSVP: info@primolevicenter.org
    www.primolevicenter.org

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    The Nile Project’s Mesmerizing New York Concert at Lincoln Center (Audio)

    The Nile Project performing at the Lincoln Center in New York on Thursday, March 19th, 2015. (Tadias)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — The power of music to unite people beyond borders was in full display in New York last week during the Nile Project’s unforgettable performance at Lincoln Center on March 19th and at Pace University’s Schimmel Center on March 20th.

    The Nile Project is made up of over a dozen singers and instrumentalists from the Nile Basin countries. As the program notes the group “weaves together the deep grooves of Ethiopia with the Arab classical traditions of Egypt and Sudan, and the rarely heard music of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.”

    Ethiopian artists include Meklit Hadero, Selamnesh Zemene, Jorga Mesfin, Endris Hassen, Dawit Seyoum, Mekuanent Melese and Asrat Ayalew.

    Below is an audio and photo slideshow of the concert at Lincoln Center:



    Related:
    Lincoln Center & Pace University Present The Nile Project in New York

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    Egypt, Ethiopia & Sudan Sign Nile Deal

    Egypt's leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (Left), Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (Center) and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Halemariam Desalegn signed the deal in Sudan's capital Khartoum. (Photo: EPA)

    BBC News

    Three African leaders have signed an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia.

    The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the agreement in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

    Egypt has opposed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, saying it would worsen its water shortages.
    Ethiopia says the dam will give it a fairer share of Nile waters.

    In 2013, Ethiopia’s parliament ratified a controversial treaty to replace colonial-era agreements that gave Egypt and Sudan the biggest share of the Nile’s water.

    Egypt’s then-President Mohamed Morsi said he did not want war but he would not allow Egypt’s water supply to be endangered by the dam.

    Mr Morsi’s successor, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi signed the deal with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Halemariam Desalegn and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

    Read more at BBC News »



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    Pictures: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Meets With Ethiopian Community

    The Mayor of San Jose, California, Sam Liccardo greets the Ethiopian community on Saturday, March 21st, 2015 in San Jose at an event hosted by the Ethiopian American Council. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Wearing a traditional Ethiopian scarf Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California thanked his supporters Saturday evening during a dinner celebration hosted by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC).

    The program was sponsored by Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant, Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant, Selam Ethiopian Restaurant, Mudai Ethiopian Restaurant, Abby’s Ethiopian Delights and Lunch Box Ethiopian Restaurant.

    It was the Mayor’s first meeting with the community since taking office in January. The event included a music performance and remarks by EAC officials and Liccardo. “It was a packed house; the event was well attended,” said Abebe Hailu from EAC.

    Liccardo was the mayoral candidate endorsed by EAC. Winning a narrow election victory last November by a few thousand votes, Liccardo was in a hotly-contested race against County Supervisor Dave Cortese. Liccardo was one of the first candidates in the United States to release campaign literature translated into Amharic targeting the Ethiopian American community.


    Mayor Sam Liccardo posed for a photo with Ethiopian American youth group. (Photo: Courtesy of EAC)


    The event was held at 2500 Masonic Center in San Jose on Saturday, March 21st, 2015. (Courtesy of EAC)

    Related:
    Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo To Greet Ethiopian Community – March 21st

    (Photo courtesy of The Ethiopian American Council - EAC)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, March 19th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — The Mayor of San Jose, California, Sam Liccardo, will greet the Ethiopian community this weekend at an event hosted by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC).

    The gathering, which is open to the public, will be held at 2500 Masonic Center San Jose on Saturday, March 21st. It will be the Mayor’s first meeting with the community since taking office earlier this year.

    Liccardo was the mayoral candidate endorsed by EAC. Winning a narrow election victory last November by a few thousand votes, Liccardo was in a hotly-contested race against County Supervisor Dave Cortese. Liccardo was the first candidate in the country to release campaign literature translated into Amharic targeting the Ethiopian American community.

    Organizers note that Saturday’s program starts promptly at 5:30pm and includes dinner, traditional music performance and remarks by Mayor Liccardo and EAC officials.

    The evening is sponsored by Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant, Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant, Selam Ethiopian Restaurant, Mudai Ethiopian Restaurant, Abby’s Ethiopian Delights and Lunch Box Ethiopian Restaurant.


    If You Go:
    Saturday, March 21st
    5:30 – 8:30 (Official program)
    8:30 – until (Entertainment)
    2500 Masonic Center San Jose
    Phone: 408-753-1314

    Related:
    Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    BAMcafé Features Dinaw Mengestu in Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015

    Dinaw Mengestu. (Illustration by Nathan Gelgud)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Acclaimed Ethiopian American writer Dinaw Mengestu returns to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) on April 1st as the featured speaker at the multi-arts institution’s book talk program Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015.

    “Ethiopian-born writer Dinaw Mengestu is the author of the novels How to Read the Air, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, and All Our Names,” organizers note. “He has contributed writing to Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Harper’s, among other publications, and is the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 Award, The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 Award, and a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He lives in New York City and teaches at Brooklyn College and Georgetown University.”

    “For more than 150 years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas — engaging both global and local communities. With world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.”

    If You Go:
    Wed, Apr 1, 2015
    6:30pm
    LOCATION:Peter Jay Sharp Building
    BAMcafé
    RUN TIME: 2hrs
    SUBSCRIPTION PRICE: $51
    SINGLE TICKET PRICE: $60
    www.bam.org

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    Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon

    (Photo courtesy: The Migrant Community Center in Beirut)

    Huffington Post

    By Kumera Genet

    The attack and subsequent suicide in 2012 of Alem Dechasa-Desisa, an Ethiopian migrant domestic worker in Lebanon, was a turning point in the consciousness of the Ethiopian and African Diaspora. The video of Ali Mafuz — Alem’s employer — beating her in front of the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut was one of the first widely shared visual examples of the exploitation that faces many African migrants in the Middle East. Due to a lack of resources and political organization, there have been few coordinated efforts by the African Diaspora to directly support migrant workers in the Middle East in three years since Alem’s death.

    Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts in Lebanon and other countries — led by activists and the migrant worker themselves — to support the migrant worker community. I feel this is important context to better understand how individuals living outside of the Middle East can assist in improving the lives of migrants. The news that reaches the Diaspora is normally about the tragedies. This is an unsustainable way of engaging in the issue and in the interim between public abuses, there must be more real relationship building with potential allies.

    To this end, I spoke recently with Farah Salka who is the general coordinator of the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon, which manages the Migrant Community Center in Beirut. The Migrant Community Center is one of the few open spaces for the migrant communities and domestic workers in Lebanon. There are more than 800,000 migrant workers in Lebanon and more than 250,000 serve as domestic workers.

    They are currently fundraising to keep up, and hopefully expand, the services offered. This is the first in a two-part interview with Farah to share more about the Migrant Community Center, and Anti-Racism efforts in Lebanon:

    Kumera: Hi Farah. Thank you for the time to speak. What is the Migrant Community Center and why is there a need for this in Beirut?

    Farah: The Migrant Community Center (MCC) is a free and open space for migrant workers in Lebanon. For the past three years, MCC has been offering free and very low-cost classes, activities, services, and events to migrant workers in Lebanon. During this time, MCC has assisted hundreds of migrant workers individually, and has also helped strengthen their communities in Lebanon. In this time, MCC has become a local hub of migrant workers’ activities and a launching pad for their efforts.

    MCC users are all migrant workers who live in Lebanon. They are men, women, and children, hailing from a multitude of African and Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria, Egypt, Liberia, and many more. Most of them are women employed as domestic workers in Lebanese households. There are at the very least 250,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, which is a country of 4 million people.

    Migrant workers unfortunately make up one of the most vulnerable demographic groups in the country, mostly due to exploitative labor policies. They are excluded from the labor law and are instead governed by the oppressive sponsorship (Kafala) system, a system akin to modern-day slavery. For migrant workers, there is an absence of legal protection and basic rights like freedom of movement or the ability to change employer, etc. And there are widespread discriminatory practices in many public and private institutions. These factors created a climate where migrant workers have difficulty communicating and working together, seeking help, or just living a normal life with their rights and freedoms protected. This climate has contributed to the high rate of abuse of migrant workers, the alarmingly high death and suicide rates, and daily detention and deportation of workers who escape abusive employers.

    Read the rest of the interview at Huffingtonpost.com »

    Related:
    Support the Migrant Community Center in Beirut (Indiegogo)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia: Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Country Development Aid Money

    Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn at World Economic Forum. Back home his government has been accused by rights groups of wielding the hammer against opponents. (WEF/Flickr)

    Mail & Guardian Africa

    By WILLIAM DAVISON, BLOOMBERG

    Ethiopia’s crackdown on journalists, opposition ahead of May polls leads to funds cut

    THE UK ended support for a programme funding public services in Ethiopia partly because of the Horn of Africa nation’s crackdown on journalists and opposition politicians in the run-up to May elections, the Department for International Development said.

    The Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening decided to “accelerate” DfID’s withdrawal from the multi-donor funded Promotion of Basic Services (PBS) in January after making an initial decision in May 2014 to focus more on supporting economic development, according to a statement made to the UK High Court on March 4 and e-mailed to Bloomberg by DfID’s press office two days later.

    “This was as a result of ongoing concerns related to civil and political rights at the level of the overall partnership in Ethiopia,” DfID told the court. “And in particular recent trends on civil and political rights in relation to freedom of expression and electoral competition, and continued concerns about the accountability of the security services.”

    Ethiopia will hold parliamentary elections on May 24. Rights groups including Amnesty International and donors such as the US have criticized Ethiopia’s government for criminalizing dissent using a 2009 anti-terrorism law. Ethiopian officials say cases against the media and political activists haven’t infringed on constitutionally protected civil rights.

    Ethiopian State Minister of Communications Shimeles Kemal wasn’t available to comment when contacted on Tuesday.

    Read more »

    Related:
    Ethiopia’s Growth Program Cuts Out Dissent (The Wall Street Journal)

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    How an Ethiopian Priest Changed His Views on Child Marriage

    Priest Melak Birhan Ewenetu Yetemegne in Debre Markos, Ethiopia. (PRI)

    PRI

    BY Colin Cosier

    The Orthodox Church dominates life in Ethiopia, and its priests are some of the country’s most respected figures. So when priests take child brides, often age 15 or younger, it’s not something that’s questioned by the community. Rather, it’s expected. Tradition dictates that a priest must marry a virgin.

    Before, the priests used to think that marrying a girl over 15 years old, after her menstruation starts, is a bad thing, it lowers her quality,” says Melak Birhan Ewenetu Yetemegne, the second top priest in his region, a rural area in southern Amhara in the cool Ethiopian highlands. His district includes 56 churches and more than 2,000 priests. And his experience with child marriage is personal. When he was 22, he married a girl who was only 9.

    “She didn’t really understand she was married,” the 45-year-old says. “She considered me as a brother or father and until she was 15, she never understood that we were married.”

    He says though sexually tempted by his new wife, he waited until she was 16 before consummating the marriage. He tells the story of his friend, also a young priest at the time, who was de-robed after injuring his 11-year-old bride with a traumatic fistula. Melak Birhan says he was careful not to make the same mistake.

    “He was misguided by the tradition, rather than by the Bible. That was a bad story, while my tolerance is a good story,” he says.

    The priest and his wife are still together today. In the years since their wedding, Melak Birhan has blessed countless child marriages. But about a year ago, the priest’s position on child marriage was challenged. A group called Finote Hiwot: End Child Marriage ran a workshop for the top priests in the district. Over five days, the priests were asked to reinterpret the Bible.

    Read more at PRI »

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    Bitcoin Goes After African Diaspora Remittance Market Share

    The multi-billion dollars African Diaspora remittance market is currently dominated by Western Union and MoneyGram, but the arrival of digital currency Bitcoin might mean a new era of lower sending fees. (BBC)

    BBC News

    By Tom Jackson

    Over 30 million Africans live in the diaspora. They sent almost $40bn (£26.5bn) home in 2014, a figure that is likely to grow significantly in the coming years.

    While north African countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Egypt receive the most, east African countries are particularly dependent on remittances.

    The average per migrant is almost $1,200, representing 5% of GDP on a country-by-country average.

    Yet the cost of sending this money is high.

    The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) reports Africans in the diaspora pay an average of 12.3% to money transmitters to send $200 home, while the cost of sending money between African countries is also high. Each year, the ODI says total fees amount to $1.4bn.

    Part of the reason for these high costs could be a lack of competition; Western Union and MoneyGram control 50% or more of the remittance market in most Sub-Saharan African countries. But help may be at hand from an unlikely source: digital currency Bitcoin.

    Read more at BBC News »

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    Ethiopia’s Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

    Thousands of Ethiopian opposition activists demonstrate in Addis Ababa on June 2, 2013. The demonstrations were organized by the newly formed Blue Party opposition group. (AFP/Getty Images)

    NPR

    By Gregory Warner

    Feven Tashome is a study in blue. The 21-year-old’s toenails are painted a rich cobalt, her scarf is baby blue and her leather handbag is ultramarine. To ordinary passersby in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, it’s a fashion statement; to members of Ethiopia’s beleaguered political opposition, it’s a secret handshake.

    Feven (Ethiopians go by their first names) is showing her allegiance to an opposition party with an odd name, and an even odder theme song.

    The Blue Party is one of Ethiopia’s few remaining opposition parties. Ethiopia is technically a multiparty parliamentary democracy, like Britain, but it is effectively run like a one-party state, with 99.8 percent of parliamentary seats controlled by one ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF.

    After the Blue Party was founded three years ago, it organized a peaceful anti-government protest in a country that hadn’t permitted public rallies for a decade. The parade of young Ethiopians demonstrating in jeans and blue T-shirts seemed a sign that the government was relaxing its grip. But with new elections this May, the Blue Party claims that subsequent rallies have been met violently by police. They say hundreds of their delegates have been fired from their jobs or beaten up by thugs.

    Blue Party spokesman, 27-year-old Yonatan Tesfaye, says blue is a symbol of two powerful unifying images for Ethiopians: the Blue Nile, and the Red Sea (which is actually turquoise most of the year). Blue is also the color of Twitter and Facebook; social media are one of the last remaining outlets for relatively uncensored expression in the country.

    But to the Ethiopian government, “blue” is a symbol of rebellion, like the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine or the failed “Green Movement” in Iran.

    Read more at NPR »



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    New York Screening of ‘Difret’ Features Q&A with Aberash Diriba, the Film’s Subject

    Hirut (Tizita Hagare) plays the role of Aberash B. Diriba in "Difret." (Photo courtesy: Haile Addis Pictures)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday, March 9th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) – Aberash B. Diriba who is the subject of the award-winning Ethiopian film Difret will be present at the New York Screening of the movie on Thursday, March 12th at the Ford Foundation.

    The Q&A and discussion segment of the screening also includes producer Mehret Mandefro, director and writer Zeresenay Mehari, Too Young to Wed founder and executive director Stephanie Sinclair, Feminist Majority Foundation executive director Katherine Spillar, and Ford Foundation program officer Louis Bickford.

    “In Difret a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl is abducted by a group of men who intend to force her into marriage, one of the country’s oldest traditions,” the Ford Foundation highlights in its announcement. “In an attempt to escape, she shoots and kills her would-be husband and faces a death sentence in the ensuing trial. Based on real events, Difret captures the tensions of a country in transition as it moves toward equal rights, and portrays the courageous people leading the transformation.”

    “If there is a villain in my film, it’s not a person, it’s the tradition,” the director, Zeresenay, told The Los Angeles Times, as the newspaper declared Difret “effective” and “compelling” in a review published this past December.

    “This ability to encapsulate multiple viewpoints is critical for presenting the different strata of a country of multiple divides, not only between the traditions of rural life and the mores of the modern metropolis of Addis Ababa but also the differing attitudes toward women and justice that exist even among the country’s educated elite.”


    If You Go:
    THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015
    5:00 pm
    Reception
    6:00 pm
    Discussion, Screening, and Film Q&A
    FORD FOUNDATION
    320 East 43rd Street, New York, NY
    Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 11th Difret2015.eventbrite.com.

    Related:
    Review Effective ‘Difret’ Looks at Abhorrent Practice in Ethiopia – The Los Angeles Times

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

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    A Rare Los Angeles Solo Performance by Pianist & Composer Girma Yifrashewa

    Ethiopian Pianist & Composer Girma Yifrashewa will perform live in Los Angeles on March 25th, 2015 at the Carriage House and in San Francisco on March 22nd, 2015 at the Lab. (Photo by Victor G. Jeffreys II)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 8th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — A rare Los Angeles solo performance by Ethiopia’s renowned pianist and composer, Girma Yifrashewa, is being presented by Radio Afrique, Dexter Story, and Azla Vegan on Wednesday, March 25th at the Carriage House in South Pasadena.

    “This intimate performance hosted at The Carriage House will be Yifrashewa’s only Los Angeles appearance on this tour,” organizers announced.

    Girma is also scheduled to play in San Francisco on March 22nd at the Lab.

    “Born in 1967 in Addis Ababa, Girma Yifrashewa combines the ecstasy of Ethiopian harmony with the grandeur of virtuoso piano technique,” noted the press release. “Yifrashewa has trained at renowned institutions including the Yared School of Music in Ethiopia, Sofia State Conservatory in Bulgaria, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Hochschule fur Music und Theater in Germany. A highly accomplished performer of classical repertoire, Yifrashewa has chosen to remain in Ethiopia, helping to forge a classical tradition for his country.”

    “Currently, Yifrashewa works to promote Ethiopian and classical music through cultural commissions and tours throughout Africa, Europe and beyond.”


    If You Go:
    An Evening of Ethiopian Classical Music with
    GIRMA YIFRASHEWA
    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25
    7pm / 2 Sets / $20
    The Carriage House
    1215 Garfield Ave.
    South Pasadena, CA 91030
    Tickets available here
    Light fare & coffee ceremony by Azla Vegan
    Presented by Radio Afrique, Dexter Story & Azla Vegan
    More info at https://www.facebook.com/events

    Related:
    Photos: Ethiopian Pianist Girma Yifrashewa’s Stellar Performance in Bethesda

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    Obama Family Marks 50th Civil Rights March Anniversary in Selma

    President Obama and his family joined the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, March 6, 2015. (Photo: TwitterWhite House)

    VOA News

    President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of two Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights marches Saturday with a call to Americans to work together to make the country better.

    While acknowledging that the race for equal opportunity “is not yet won,” Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, told thousands gathered in Selma, Alabama, that he rejected the notion that nothing has changed.

    The anniversary came as the U.S. has been struggling with renewed racial tension over police treatment of African-Americans. Much of the focus has been on Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August during a street confrontation.

    In November, heated protests erupted in Ferguson and across the country after a grand jury cleared the officer charged in Brown’s death. Adding to the nationwide outcry were several other high-profile incidents, including the police chokehold death of a black man in New York.

    But Obama said a Justice Department report this week concluding that Ferguson police had routinely violated black citizens’ rights did not erase the nation’s progress.

    “What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic, it’s no longer sanctioned by law or by custom, and before the civil rights movement, it most surely was,” Obama said. He called on Americans of all races to try to ensure the U.S. criminal justice system “serves all and not just some.”

    “Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on — the idea that police officers are members of the community they risk their lives to protect — and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, they just want the same thing young people here marched for 50 years ago: the protection of the law,” he said.

    After speaking near the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Obama and a massive crowd walked across the bridge, where police and troopers attacked demonstrators on March 7, 1965, when they tried to march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights for all races.

    Two weeks after that day, known as “Bloody Sunday,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a successful Selma-to-Montgomery march. The demonstrations helped spark the Voting Rights Act of 1965, prohibiting discrimination based on race.

    On the flight from Washington, Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the marchers, whom he called “foot soldiers” who participated in the two marches.

    Thousands of people gathered in Selma ahead of the president and first lady Michelle Obama. The president’s predecessor, George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura, also attended the event.

    Also present: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a leader of the “Bloody Sunday” march who was severely beaten himself. Lewis expressed disappointment that Republican congressional leaders would be absent from the commemoration.

    Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

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    Meet the New Director of D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs Mamadou Samba

    Mamadou Samba is the Director of the D.C. Mayor's Office on African Affairs, (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Friday, March 6th, 2015

    Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Last week, we sat down for an interview with the new Director of the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office for African Affairs, Mamadou Samba, who was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January 2015. Prior to his current job Samba was Commissioner of the DC Commission on African Affairs, and worked as a Capital Budget Administration Analyst at the DC government Office of the Chief Financial Officer. He moved to the U.S. in the early 1990′s from Dakar, Senegal as a young adult (his father worked at the Senegalese embassy). After his dad’s term ended, Mamadou said, he chose to stay in order to finish his education, and went on to earn a Master of Public Administration degree from Kennesaw State University, and a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina Aiken, where he was awarded an NCAA athletic scholarship.

    When we arrived at his office inside the Reeves Center at the corner of 14th and U Street, Samba had been working on a speech that he would deliver the following evening at the Ethiopian Community Center on the eve of the 119th Adwa anniversary. “I have a lot of respect for the Ethiopian community in D.C., for Ethiopian history and Ethiopians in general,” he told us. “You guys are the reason why we now have such a strong African community in Washington.”

    The D.C. Mayor’s Office for African Affairs, which is the first of its kind in the United States, was created in 2006 following a series of community demands. Samba explained: “There was a need to have an office to help support the fast-growing African immigrant community and also serve as a liaison between the African population and the district’s government.” The task, he added, was to open “an office that was aware of the barriers — language and cultural barriers — and the challenges of dealing, for instance, with lack of information on jobs, health insurance, and immigration matters. So our office came as result of that,” he said. “We may speak different languages and have different taste in music, but employment is a challenge in all of our communities not only just in the Ethiopian community; immigration is a problem not just in the Ghanaian community. So the point is unless we come together as a community we will always remain separated. And we have to be inspired by the Latino community, by the Asian community and other immigrant communities.”


    Mamadou Samba. (Tadias Magazine photo)

    In the past, Samba emphasized, “People who have served as directors before me have done a really good job making sure that the office is stable over time.” He added: “So we will keep building on that to make sure that the African immigrant community is more aware than before and has more access than before to services that every resident of the district has access to. We do that by putting in place several types of programs. We have a grant that we use to fund non-profit organizations that serve in different sectors, it could be health, education and other key areas in line with the Mayor’s priorities.”

    Aside from that Samba noted that his office also conducts activities that are particularly geared towards empowering young people. “These programs are designed to get African youth engaged, trying to provide them with work experience, leadership opportunities, and just really trying to give them a platform to be part of the discussion,” he said. “But the most important program is our capacity building program where we support small business entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations.” He noted “We do that through workshops an business trainings so they can learn where to find funding, what kind of funding is out there and available for them, how to research and write grants, really put them in touch with each other and to resources.”

    “So what’s your goal as the new director?” we asked. “I am going for a more collaborative approach,” he said. “Because I find that as someone who has been here for a long time that our community is not as united as we want it to be.” He added: “There isn’t a lot of intercultural interaction. What I mean by that is Ethiopians are doing things on their own, Nigerians are doing things on their own, Ghanaian are doing something on their own, Senegalese are doing something on their own.” Samba continued: “But when you look at it each one of them is doing the exact same thing that the other one is doing. The only difference is that these are cultural or country focused efforts. So I think there has to be a way for us to work together on commons issues.”

    “The Ethiopian community has to be able to go walk with the Ghanaian community because they are more experienced, they outnumber all other immigrants from the continent, so there is something there that we can learn from the Ethiopian community,” Samba said. “There is something that we can learn from the Ghanaian community.”

    “The other thing I want to contribute to the office is in raising the visibility of the success within our community,” he said. “We have to tell our own stories. We have to highlight the positive things that your organization is doing, we have to talk about the positive things that other Africans are doing to balance the bad news that we hear daily about Africa.” Samba points out that his office has published a business directory listing African owned businesses in Washington, D.C. covering many sectors from hair braiders to restaurateurs, to proprietors of parking lot management companies, realtors, lawyers, and insurance agents.

    “We know that the African Diaspora sends 50 billion dollars annually in remittances to Africa, and that’s projected to reach 250 billion in the next two decades,” Samba said. “What I want to make equally visible is the huge economic impact that African immigrants are making right here in Washington, D.C. in terms of job creation, tax revenue and cultural enrichment of the District.”

    You can learn more about the D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs at oaa.dc.gov.

    Related:
    Good Question: Where Do African Immigrants Live in US? Interactive Map

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    Oldest Human Fossil Unearthed in Ethiopia

    Scientists have unearthed the jawbone of what they claim is one of the very first humans. (BBC News)

    SMITHSONIAN.COM

    MARCH 4, 2015

    One January morning in 2013, while climbing an eroded hill in Ethiopia’s Afar region, Calachew Seeyoum came across a broken tooth. The graduate student knew at once that it was a fossil, and it was important. The thick enamel was a surefire sign that the premolar had come from one of our extinct hominid relatives. Squatting in the silty soil, Seeyoum found more teeth and half a lower jaw that confirmed his first impression.

    Plenty of hominid remains have been unearthedS in the scorched land of Afar, including the first Australopithecus afarensis ever discovered, nicknamed Lucy. What made this particular outcrop at the Ledi-Geraru site special was its age. Layers of volcanic ash beneath the surface, dated by the reliable decay of natural radioactive crystals in the ash, put the mandible at between 2.75 and 2.80 million years old—neatly in between the last of Lucy’s apelike kin and the first-known example of our own genus, Homo

    Read more »

    Related:
    ‘First human’ discovered in Ethiopia (BBC News)

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    Ethiopian Cinema Tackles Prostitution

    Price of Love, in Amharic, has been nominated for Africa's top film award at the Fespaco festival. (BBC)

    BBC News

    By Emmanuel Igunza

    Addis Ababa – Ethiopian scriptwriter and film director Hermon Hailay says she grew up close to prostitutes.

    “I know them as young, beautiful women, mothers, sisters and friends,” she tells me at a popular cinema in the middle of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

    “I always wanted to tell their story, because I know it well. As a kid, I did not see the shame in what they do.”

    At just 28, Ms Hermon has already written and directed three feature films all tackling social issues like poverty and the perils of rural to urban migration.

    She was getting ready to travel to Burkina Faso for the Fespaco awards, where her latest film, Price of Love, has been nominated for the top prize.

    It follows the life of a young taxi driver who in the course of his job falls in love with a prostitute.


    Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa.

    Read more at BBC News »

    Related:
    New Animation Movie Features Bilal the Ethiopian: Islam’s First Muezzin
    Crumbs: ‘Outlandish & Imaginative’ Sci-Fi Romance Film From Ethiopia

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    International Women’s Day: Interview With Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

    As we approach International Women’s Day, ILO News talks to Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who created one of the world’s fastest growing footwear brands. (Courtesy photo)

    ILO news

    ADDIS ABABA — “It was pretty basic. We self-financed. Five workers plus myself working inside a workshop situated on my grandmother’s plot of land inside our village of Zenabwork,” recalls Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, now CEO and managing director of soleRebels, one of the first global footwear brands to emerge from a developing country.

    “Right from the start of 2004, we aimed to create, grow and control a world class footwear brand that would bring even more jobs and prosperity for the workers by leveraging the artisan skills of our community.”

    Alemu, 34, was born and raised in Addis Ababa’s impoverished and marginalized Zenabwork area. Her mother and father, who worked as a cook and an electrician, respectively, had a huge influence on this woman who has recently become a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship.

    Today, the eco-sensitive company she runs sells shoes through numerous retail outlets across Europe and Asia, and employs more than 100 workers locally who are paid over three to five times the local industry average.

    “There are people who started with us earning a modest training salary of about ETB 900 (US$ 45) and now earn more than a (medical) doctor,” she told ILO News.

    The company has 18 stores around the world, including in Silicon Valley (USA), Japan, Singapore, Austria, Greece, Spain and Switzerland, along with an aggressive e-commerce marketing strategy. It expects to open another 50 to 60 stores in next 18 to 36 months.

    Creating jobs, empowering communities


    The shoes are made of non-traditional materials, such as recycled tires, organic
    cotton, jute and hemp.

    Before starting her business, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu – also known as “BTA”– went to college at Unity University in Addis Ababa and worked with various companies in the leather and apparel sector. “This gave me a good knowledge of the industry, which was extremely useful in terms of setting up the company and making it grow,” she said.

    But after working in the private sector for a while, she developed a strong desire to focus her business skills on her community.

    “I knew that there were so many talented people out there who could do great things if only given a chance. However, due to extreme poverty, stigma, and marginalization,…many of them could not even get simple jobs. This was devastating for me, as I had grown up with them. They were my neighbours, my family members.”

    “That’s why we have always said that this company is about maximizing local talent and local resources to create good paying jobs, that in turn would create extraordinary footwear,” she added.

    Footwear platform

    The shoes are made of non-traditional materials, such as recycled tires, organic cotton, jute and hemp. And they are handmade through a low-tech, zero-carbon production process.

    Named one of the top 12 women entrepreneurs of the last century by CNN, Alemu knew that the initial designs of the shoes (inspired by the selate/barbasso sandals worn by Ethiopian soldiers against the colonial occupation) needed to take advantage of the creative platform of the footwear industry.

    The shoes are made of non-traditional materials, such as recycled tires, organic cotton, jute and hemp. And they are handmade through a low-tech, zero-carbon production process.

    Moreover, the company sustainability policy extends beyond its products to its workers and the entire production process. The company is now the world’s number one footwear brand to be fair-trade certified by the World Fair Trade Organization (a designation that certifies the sustainability of a company’s entire operation — not just its products).

    Between 2007 and 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) supported the Ethiopian Women Exporters Association, of which BTA is part of the senior management team. The support consisted of several training sessions on issues such as business management (using the ILO Gender and Entrepreneurship Together/GET Ahead tool), exhibition and fair skills (using the “Improve Your Exhibiting Skills” tool) and the development of strategic plans for the Association.

    Produce locally, sell globally

    “I wanted to show that it is possible to be a local person, in Ethiopia and in Africa, and to be globally successful,” she said. “It is possible to deploy local resources while creating a market-leading global brand, and to do it all from scratch.”

    The construction of a state-of-the-art eco-friendly production facility has already begun. Last week BTA welcomed HRH Princess Mary of Denmark at the building site, where she had the chance to witness the impact of the new facility on job creation and cultural preservation.

    “This will be the most innovative and unique production facility of its kind in this country, and I believe anywhere,” said BTA, who now also sits on the board of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

    The production facility will include a showroom for buyers with a focus on the eco-sensible artisan production methods of Ethiopia. This facility is expected to create thousands of new well-paid jobs while “preserving, promoting and keeping indigenous artisan crafts relevant in the production process,” said BTA.

    She also believes that her success story can inspire a whole new generation of young entrepreneurs in Africa.

    “If we want to have truly equitable societies, then we need to embrace equity on all levels. And that means women’s economic empowerment and the key to that is women entrepreneurs,” she concluded.


    The ILO and International Women’s Day
    The ILO will celebrate International Women’s Day with a panel discussion on: “Women and the Future of Work: Beijing+20 and Beyond ” at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva on Friday, 6 March. The theme “women and the future of work” recognizes the importance of the women at work and future of work initiatives launched by the ILO Director-General in 2013 as part of the run-up to the ILO’s centenary in 2019.

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    Conference of Diaspora Ethiopian Women Focuses on Elections & Civil Society

    At last year's International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora. (Photo: by Kebadu Belachew)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — How do you hold elections without the role of civil society? That’s the primary question, organizers say, that panelists will try to answer at the 4th Annual International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora when they gather this coming weekend in Silver Spring, Maryland.

    The conference hosted by the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) will be held on March 7th at the Silver Spring Sheraton. The day-long program includes discussions focusing on the impact of Ethiopia’s Societies and Charities Law, which severely restricts the activities of nongovernmental organizations, including women’s associations.

    “Because of this Law, these organizations are not likely to have any impact in the upcoming 2015 elections,” CREW said in a statement. “The conference will create an enabling environment for networking among participants to challenge the Society and Charities Law and advocate for the respect of basic human rights, women’s right and the rule of law in the country.”

    Guest speakers include Dr. Tsehai Berhane-Selassie, Mr. Kassahun Yibeltal, Dr. Melakou Tegegn, Dr. Erku Yimer, Ms. Soliyana G. Michael, and Mr. Obang Metho.

    In addition, CREW said, their event features the screening of Hayal Hayl, a documentary film by Elias Wondimu of Tsehai Publishers, which looks at non-violent movements that brought about fundamental social changes in the 20th century.


    If You Go:
    Saturday, March 7, 2015
    Registration starts at 9:00 AM
    Silver Spring Sheraton
    8777 Georgia Avenue
    Silver Spring, Maryland
    centerforethiopianwomen.org

    Related:
    Photos: 3rd International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora

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    The World Bank Ethiopia Scandal: Leaked Transcripts of Interviews From Gambella

    Inclusive Development International announced today that its releasing leaked transcripts of interviews conducted by the World Bank during its investigation mission in the Gambella region. (Photo: © HRW)

    Press Release

    World Bank whitewashes Ethiopia human rights scandal

    (March 2, 2015) – The World Bank has whitewashed damning evidence of widespread human rights abuses in connection with its flagship program in Ethiopia, Inclusive Development International said today. The evidence, obtained during the course of an internal investigation, appears to have been shelved in order to exonerate the bank and one of it biggest clients of responsibility for mass forcible population transfers that occurred between 2010-2013. To set the record straight, Inclusive Development International today is releasing leaked transcripts of interviews conducted by the World Bank’s Inspection Panel during its investigation mission in the Gambella region of Ethiopia.

    The transcribed audio files describe a campaign of intimidation and violence to force farmers to move from their fertile ancestral land to centralized villages, where land was unsuitable for agriculture. Those interviewed during private meetings with the Panel in Gambella described shooting, beating, sexual assault and arrests of local farmers who opposed the move and civil servants who refused to participate in the campaign. They also told the Inspection Panel that they believed World Bank funds were being used to pay for the forced relocations. Yet in its 80-page Investigation Report, the Inspection Panel devotes only one bland sentence to these harrowing testimonies.

    The investigation followed a complaint submitted to the Inspection Panel in 2012 by Anuak Indigenous people from Ethiopia’s Gambella region, who are now refugees living in camps in Kenya and South Sudan. The complaint alleges that 2 billion USD in discretionary funding provided by the World Bank under the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) project directly and substantially contributed to the forced population transfers. Under PBS, World Bank and other donor funds are transferred directly into the Ethiopian Treasury accounts to be used at the discretion of regional and local governments to improve access to basic services. In 2010, the Gambella Regional Government decided that the way it would deliver these services was by relocating 70% of the “scattered” rural population into centralized villages. Up to 4 million people in Gambella and other regions of Ethiopia were designated for relocation between 2010-2013. A legal and policy analysis accompanying the complaint, prepared by Inclusive Development International, presents evidence that the World Bank’s failure to track its funds and apply its safeguard policies to the PBS project implicated the bank in the forced relocations in Gambella and the systematic human rights abuses that accompanied them.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia: Adwa’s Eternity

    The following is our annual exclusive article from Professor Ayele Bekerie of Mekelle University marking Ethiopia's victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896. (Photo: Adwa Mountains by Chester Higgins)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

    Updated: Sunday, March 1st, 2015

    Adwa, Ethiopia (TADIAS) –119 years ago, on March 1, 1896, at the Battle of Adwa, the unexpected happened. Ethiopia, an African country, defeated Italy, a European country. The defeat was decisive and the victory was permanent. More than 100,000 Ethiopian troops, who were led by Emperor Menelik II, were mobilized from all corners of the country and marched to victory at the battle that lasted less than half-a-day. The victory was so decisive, according to Fitawrari Tekle Hawariat, the 20,000 Italian and their ‘native’ soldiers were rushing to surrender and to be declared prisoners of war.

    On March 1, 1896, Ethiopians not only kept their sovereignty and independence, but they also taught a lesson to Italians, for that matter to European colonizers. The lesson was that their colonization agenda’s last chapter was written at Adwa. Adwa, therefore, marked the beginning of a new chapter of anti-colonialism and decolonization and end of colonial occupation in Africa and elsewhere. Ethiopia unburdened what the poet Kipling labeled ‘the white man’s burden,’ that is, the pseudo civilizing missions of the Europeans in Africa. Adwa has demonstrated that Africans can and should always be perceived and accepted as subjects of their own histories and civilizations.

    The whole world has noted the able leadership of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu Bitul, their gallant generals (the Balambrasoch the Girazmachoch, the Dejazmachoch, the Fitawrariwoch), brave soldiers (Geberewoch, Negadewoch, Setoch, Yeigg Balemuyawoch, Yehaimanot abatoch) at the Battle of Adwa. Their remarkable achievements have been recorded in many languages in the leading news outlets of the time. The libraries of the world have beefed up their shelves by including books about the Battle. To this day, like the historian Raymond Jonas’s (2011) The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire, the Battle continues to generate new historical narratives. Persons and institutions in the Americas, Europe and Africa, according to Professor Kifle Selassie Beseat of UNESCO, named themselves Menelik, Taitu, Allula and Mekonnen in an attempt to stamp and permanently record for generations their memories of Adwa. In short, the unexpected and triumphal outcome of the Battle speaks to Adwa’s eternity.

    When the people heeded the call of their leader, there were no mass media, no radio, and no television. Once Menelik’s Negarit (War Drum) drummed, the message spread and heard by the people throughout the country. Menelik’s Awaj was positively responded to and able-bodied men and women reported to duties in their respective districts, woreda, awaraja and provinces. The historic march to Adwa took more than two months. Along the way to Adwa, fellow Ethiopians, those who had to remain behind assumed logistical roles and offered provisions, such as food and pack animals, to the troops. The Battle took place at the site and time of Ethiopians’ choosing. The Italians were actually outnumbered and outmaneuvered and by mid-day the War was over and the Italians are rushing to surrender in thousands, as noted by Fitawarai Tekle Hawariat.

    Adwa proves the common purpose and determination of the Ethiopians. It is an evidence for putting diverse human and natural resources into effective national use. It was an affirmation of what I call Ethiopian nation-ity with all its imperfections. With Adwa, Ethiopians created a new Ethiopia that belongs to diverse ethnic and religious groups. It is the fundamental basis of our national unity.

    Adwa marks Ethiopia’s own state of modernization, despite all its limitations and internal contradictions. Ethiopians made it clear at Adwa that a people who are fully aware of their history are capable and willing to rise up and defend their God-given rights. Adwa will always remain a critical precursor to a just world. Adwa reminds the world that there cannot be a world order in which few are supreme and the majority are mere colonial subjects. It is also a catalyst to the present push to national economic development in the country.

    According to the distinguished Ethiopian Studies’ curator and archivist Richard Pankhurst, Ethiopia had won or further affirmed international diplomatic recognition. In the months following the victory at Adwa, Emperor Menelik II signed treaties of friendship with major European powers of the time, such as Britain and France. In other words, the victory secured Ethiopia’s modern borders and its lasting effects extended far beyond Ethiopia to all the lands of colonization and subjugation. As George Berkeley, the pro-Italian historian, puts it, the victory was ‘a military factor worthy of our [the West] closest attention.’ Undoubtedly Ethiopia frustrated and brought it to a halt Europe’s deliberate intention to colonize the entire continent of Africa. Ethiopia became a symbol of dignity, respect and freedom for Africans, for that matter, for all colonized people all over the world.

    The celebration of the victory at the Battle of Adwa is just and should take place both at home and abroad. This is because Adwa celebrates the little people, the ignored, the neglected, the negatively stereotyped, the other, the oppressed and the colonized. The victory speaks to the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the people in the world. Adwa rhymes with justice, agency and human equality and therefore, once a year in March, it is celebrated with enthusiasm.

    History is characterized by nuances and complexities and it is resistant to hasty generalizations. The full account of historical details enable historians to generate narratives of the past, which is a guide to the present and a source of vision to the future. Some like to cherry-pick only some aspects of historical truths and put them into political spin. I would like to argue that the attempt, in some circles, to discredit the gallant leaders of Adwa would be short-lived. History is progressive and only a careful and studied analysis and interpretation of events and deeds help a society to move forward and to bring about peace, democracy and prosperity.

    The victory achieved at Adwa set the stage to our social, economic, and cultural history. The freedom and independence that we enjoy today are informed by the outcome at the battlefield of Adwa. Adwa saved us from becoming an extension of colonial Italian history. Adwa made us remained ourselves. Adwa was possible because we were a people, a nation-state, that is, fully self-conscious.

    To conclude, we celebrate Adwa because it was a battle won to affirm the universality of human dignity. Human beings, regardless of their geographical locations and income levels, have certain inalienable rights, which cannot be violated by force. We celebrate Adwa because it ushered to the world that the only peace acceptable is peace with justice. I would argue, in this regard, Adwa has made its contribution to what we call the modern world.

    We celebrate Adwa, as it is stated repeatedly, for it is a prelude to decolonization in Africa and elsewhere. We celebrate Adwa for it has charted a new paradigm in international relations and diplomacy. International organizations, such as the United Nations, UNESCO, AU would not have been possible in the pre-Adwa global colonial order. Adwa is celebrated annually for it is an eternal symbol of dignity and freedom.



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


    Related:
    Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa
    The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
    Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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    Where Rimbaud Found Peace in Ethiopia

    The Arthur Rimbaud Cultural Center, a merchant's home now dedicated to the poet and his time in Harar. (Photo credit Michael Tsegaye for The New York Times)

    The New York Times

    By RACHEL B. DOYLE

    In December of 1880, the mercurial French poet Arthur Rimbaud entered the ancient walled city of Harar, Ethiopia, a journey that had involved crossing the Gulf of Aden in a wooden dhow and 20 days on horseback through the Somali Desert. Several years before, the author of the prose poems “A Season in Hell” and “Illuminations” had abruptly renounced poetry and embarked on peregrinations that would take him around Europe, Asia, the Middle East and, finally, Africa. At age 26, Rimbaud accepted “a job consisting in receiving shipments of bales of coffee” with a French trading firm in a thriving corner of what was then called Abyssinia.

    Then as now, Harar was a market town threaded with steep cobblestone alleys that wind between high limestone and tuff walls. Today those walls are painted with geometric designs in green, white, pink and blue. As one strolls down the narrow, mazelike streets lined with single-story dwellings, the city, fortified and enigmatic, feels closed off. Donkeys carrying bundles of firewood wait patiently for their owners near the crenelated entrances of the city’s historic gates. In the densely populated Old City, there are over 180 mosques and shrines, some dating to the 10th century. Occasionally one comes upon open-air markets where spices, khat leaves and coffee beans are sold in huge sacks.

    Read more at The New York Times »

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    Diaspora Stories: Ethiopian Entrepreneur Loops Back Home To Make Shoe History

    (Photo courtesy of Passport ADV)

    AFK Insider

    By Jessica Harris

    Fashion, trends and market value all play a role in the footwear industry — people invest in their feet. Be it Nike, Christian Louboutin, Gucci or Puma, what person doesn’t love a good pair of shoes?

    Mikahyel Tesfaye, an Ethiopian shoe designer, was in the fashion industry for more than a decade before he decided to launch Passport Articles De Voyage in 2009 through an exclusive Adidas collection partnership. Spending the early part of his career learning the craft of manufacturing products and working for large New York City-based corporations like Eckō Unltd., Tesfaye was led him into wardrobe styling and eventually design.

    Three years after launching Passport ADV in the U.S., Tesfaye decided to take on the ultimate challenge of manufacturing shoes in his homeland.

    “But nothing I have learned in ‘the business’ could have prepared me for the experience of working in Africa,” Tesfaye told AFKInsider.

    Delving Into Shoe Manufacturing

    While Passport ADV is no shoe giant, the brand has made some big steps in the local economy. The brand offers fair wages for employees and business associates, on-site job training that allows factory workers to learn graphic design and mentoring for those interested in entrepreneurship.

    Being a native of Ethiopia, it was a no-brainer as to where Tesafaye wanted to permanently root his company. He previously manufactured goods in Asia and Portugal in hopes to create a business model that would be both sustainable and impactful while showcasing the capabilities of Africa.

    “My ability to travel and life experience was the ultimate inspiration for this brand,” Tesafaye said. “A [combination] of life experiences around the world were all made possible by my Passport, so the name just seemed perfect. Why not create the ultimate travel brand, built in one of the world’s greatest travel destinations?”

    Made In Ethiopia

    There are many challenges that most businesses have to overcome such as location, finding skilled workers and even building a facility when working out of Africa. But despite those challenges, many have find working out of Africa to be promising and rewarding.

    Prior to Passport ADV’s Ethiopia launch in 2012, Tesfaye spent two years building infrastructure, supply chains and expanding groundwork in Addis Ababa.

    “My sister began manufacturing handbags and leather goods in Addis, this created a point of entry for me,” he told AFKInsider.

    Read more »

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    Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia: New Book on the Remote Churches of an Ancient Land

    (Photo credit: Maria-Jose & Bob Friedlander/IB Tauris)

    Geographical

    By Tom Hart

    Ethiopia was among the world’s first Christian countries, but its many remote churches remain hidden – even from the locals.

    Ethiopia’s remote churches range from rock-hewn buildings perched on mountains to timber-built caves. These almost forgotten churches contain rich murals and vibrant manuscripts.

    ‘The churches were looked at by American scholars many years ago, but they only measured them. There was no interest in the paintings,’ says Maria-José Friedlander.

    Friedlander set out to document Ethiopia’s most remote churches with her husband, Bob Friedlander. The result Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia has already been published in Ethiopia, and is now available in Europe.


    Inside Abraha Atsbeha church (Image: Maria-Jose & Bob Friedlander/IB Tauris)

    Read more and see photos at Geographical.co.uk »

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    Adwa Victory Celebrations in Chicago and Silver Spring, Maryland

    (Posters courtesy: EHSNA and ECAC)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) – As Black History Month wraps up in the United States, we highlight two annual events scheduled this weekend in Chicago, Illinois and Silver Spring, Maryland marking the 119th anniversary of Ethiopia’s victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896.

    “The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago invites all people to celebrate this magnanimous victory and moment in Black History,” the organization announced, noting that this year’s event will take place at their office (1730 W. Greenleaf Ave.) on Saturday, February 28th.

    “The purpose of this celebration is to preserve and promote ancient and modern Ethiopian history and to inspire youth of Ethiopian and African descent to be mindful of their glorious heritage,” ECAC added. “The event program includes historical accounts of Adwa by Ethiopian scholars, educators and historians Dr. Shumet Sishagne of Christopher Newport University and Dr. Haile M. Larebo of Morehouse College. The event will also include film clippings, poems and other entertainment.”

    Silver Spring

    In Silver Spring, Maryland the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) will hold their fourth annual Adwa celebration in downtown Silver Spring at the city’s Civic Building on Sunday March 1st, 2015.

    “EHSNA will celebrate the Victory of Adwa in honor and recognition of the Ethiopian masses who, under the leadership of Emperor Minilik II fought and defeated the Italian invaders who had provoked this war and came with intent to colonize Ethiopia,” EHSNA said in a press release. “EHSNA strongly encourages all Ethiopians, Ethio-Americans and friends of Ethiopia to join us in celebrating the 119th Anniversary of the Victory of the Battle of Adwa.”

    In an article published here last March historian Ayele Bekerie reflected on the global significance of the 1896 Ethiopian victory at Adwa:

    In the context of world history, “the Battle of Adwa marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the nineteenth century and helped Ethiopia retain its independence during Europe’s Scramble for Africa,” writes Stanford University Historical Education Group. Ethiopia’s retention of its independence paved the way for global anti-colonial movements. Paul Henze describes it best when he states “the defeat at the Battle of Adwa as the beginning of the decline of Europe at the center of world politics.” Film Director and Producer Haile Gerima, framed the event as follows: “The victory ignited a lasting flame of hope, of freedom and of independence in the hearts of Africans throughout the world.” Bahru Zewde, a distinguished historian, understood Adwa’s global historical significance, for it “brought Ethiopia to the attention of the world.” The leading Afrocentrist, Molefi Kete Asante, further reiterates: “After the victory over Italy in 1896, Ethiopia acquired a special importance in the eyes of Africans as the only surviving African state. After Adwa, Ethiopia became emblematic of African valor and resistance, the bastion of prestige and hope to thousands of Africans who were experiencing the full shock of European conquest and were beginning to search for an answer to the myth of African inferiority.” In fact, in 1896, outside of Adwa, there was no good news from the continent of Africa. European colonizers were almost on the verge completing their colonial agenda everywhere. In 1896, France dismissed Queen Ranvalona and later annexed Madagascar to its vast colonial empire. British troops defeated Zanzibar in a 38-minute war — A battle that started at 9:02am and ended at 9:40am, the record shows. It is equally important to note the resistance against colonialism in 1896 as evidenced by the uprising of the Matebeles in what is now the nation of Zimbabwe…When Adwa is studied and understood in the context of world history, we find Adwa as one of the most significant beacons of hope for all oppressed and colonized people of the world. It is a victory that shattered the myth of European supremacy. It is a global historic moment that should be remembered and its bigger story should be shared by young and old in the world. Adwa, we call again, for its inclusion in the World Heritage List.

    If You Go:
    Chicago – Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm
    The 1896 Battle of Adwa Victory Celebration
    At the Ethiopian Community Association Center
    Admission: Free
    1730 W. Greenleaf Ave
    Chicago, Illinois
    Phone: 773.508.0303
    www.ecachicago.org

    Silver Spring — Sunday, March 1st, 2015
    EHSNA Marks the 119th Victory Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa
    At the Sliver Spring Civic Building
    Admission and Parking: Free
    One Veteran Place
    Silver Spring, MD
    Phone: 202.596.1964
    www.ehsna.org

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    Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

    President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on Feb. 20th, 2015. (Photo by Pete Souza)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday February 23rd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Before the end of his second term in 2016 President Barack Obama has the opportunity to become the first sitting U.S. president to address the African Union from its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “A visit to the AU headquarters by the U.S. president would be a significant endorsement of the role of the continental organization and would, indeed, be the best forum in which to hold the next U.S.-African Leaders Summit — building upon the success of the first summit held in Washington in 2014,” stated an article published last week by the Brookings Institution. The piece is entitled “Suggestions for Obama’s Last Trip to Africa as President.”

    Historically, Ethiopia has served as the continent’s diplomatic home base ever since the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), was established in Addis Ababa in 1963. In addition to urging the American president to make history by addressing African leaders from the AU podium, the article authored by Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Senior Fellow on Africa at the Brookings Institution, recommended that the next U.S. presidential trip to Africa also pay homage to Kenya, the birth-country of Obama’s father, as well as Nigeria, the most populous African nation.

    “As the President’s second “home,” Kenya must be included in the itinerary,” Kimenyi argued. “Previous U.S. presidents have shown great pride by visiting their ancestral homes. Notable are the visits by Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton to their ancestral homes in Ireland.” He added: “It will be an opportunity for the president to demonstrate pride in his African roots. A visit [to Kenya] as president will have great significance not only to him but also to Kenyans and indeed other Africans.”

    Regarding Nigeria the writer noted that the country is simply too big to ignore: “It is now the largest economy on the continent and has the largest population there,” Kimenyi wrote. “Despite all its shortcomings, Nigeria has, in recent years, undertaken major reforms that are helping stimulate the economy and shift it away from an over-reliance on oil. By all accounts, Nigeria can be considered the continental anchor: Whatever happens in that country has large spillover effects across the continent.”

    But both Nigeria and Ethiopia, Kimenyi pointed out, have poor governance records. In Nigeria’s case, the country is well known for its “high levels of corruption and serious ethnic and religious fractures.” He added: “Ethiopia is another large country also characterized by significant governance problems. The country’s past has been characterized by dictatorships, serious conflict and devastating famines. However, since the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was deposed, Ethiopia has made important progress, including adoption of a new federalist constitution and far-reaching economic reforms that have seen the country achieve one of the highest growth rates in the continent over the last decade. The economic reforms have attracted new foreign direct investments with the consequential emergence of new industrial clusters, especially in leather processing. Not all is perfect though: Like with governance, Ethiopia still lags far behind other countries in deregulating some key sectors of the economy especially telecommunications, land markets, banking, and finance.”

    In terms of Obama’s possible follow-up meeting with African leaders in Addis Ababa, which is purely speculative at this point, Kimenyi said: “President Obama and the African leaders could use the summit to discuss strategies to advance the pace of regional integration especially as pertains to involvement of the U.S. private sector, such as in the building of regional infrastructure.”

    Related:
    Suggestions for Obama’s last trip to Africa as president

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    AERC Named World’s Most Transparent Think Tank

    Professor Lemma Senbet is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi. He is currently on leave from the University of Maryland, College Park. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — The Nairobi-based African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) led by Ethiopian-American Economist, Professor Lemma Senbet, has received the highest possible rating as the most transparent think tank in the world. According to a report released by Transparify AERC is one of 31 major centers of research worldwide, out of 169 examined, that was given a five-star rating. The list includes 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.

    “We are delighted with this top transparency ranking,” Dr. Lemma, AERC’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “AERC endeavors to observe best global practices in everything it does, and it is encouraging that our outstanding efforts are receiving global acknowledgment.”

    Dr Hans Gutbrod, Executive Director of Transparify, said in a press release that “Think tanks can play a positive role producing independent, in-depth policy research to inform politicians, media and the public.” Gutbrod noted: “As key players in democratic politics, they have a responsibility to be transparent about their operations. Encouragingly, our survey shows that think tanks themselves are increasingly sharing this view.”

    “While we cherish the global think tank rankings, we also wish to recognize that AERC is not just a think tank,” said Professor Lemma who was appointed two years ago as head of AERC following an international search for the position. Prior to that he served as Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. “[AERC] is a think tank plus,” he said, “with multiple arms, including research, collaborative graduate training, and policy outreach with heavy emphasis in capacity building.”

    Related:
    Five Questions for Prof. Lemma Senbet
    Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of AERC

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    Genzebe Dibaba Sets 5000m Indoor Record

    Genzebe Dibaba setting a 5000m world indoor record at the 2015 XL-galan meeting in Stockholm. (IAAF)

    IAAF

    By A Lennart Julin

    A year ago, Genzebe Dibaba demolished the 3000m world Indoor record at the XL-Galan in the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. When she returned this Thursday evening (19) she delivered the best kind of deja-vu experience for almost 10,000 spectators at the penultimate IAAF Indoor Permit meeting of the winter.

    Despite having pace making help only for the first two kilometres in the 5000m, Dibaba was still capable of running the third world indoor record* of her career when she clocked a stunning 14:18.86 for 25 laps of an indoor track

    She took more than five seconds off the previous mark of 14:24:37 set by her compatriot Meseret Defar on the same track in 2009.

    Just like 12 months ago, Dibaba was quickly on world record schedule and gradually distanced herself from the intermediate times in Defar’s world record race.

    At 1000m, Dibaba was 1.2 seconds ahead; at 2000m, 3.0; at 3000m, 5.2; at 4000m, 6.0. And even though she couldn’t quite match Defar’s final lap of 30.17 Dibaba still stopped the clock in a time that only two women – her sister and world record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba and Defar – have beaten outdoors.

    Her unofficial kilometre splits (to 0.1) were: 2:53.3, 2:51.5, 2:52.4, 2:54.6 and 2:47.1.

    More than a minute in arrears, Dibaba’s fellow Ethiopian Birtukan Fente was a distant second in 15:22.56.

    The 10th world record performance in the arena was, of course, the main highlight of the evening but there were four more world-leading marks.

    Read more at iaaf.org »

    Related:
    In Pictures: The Dibaba Sisters at the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco

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    US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

    President Obama meeting with young immigrants at the White House this month. (Getty Images)

    VOA News

    February 17, 2015

    A U.S. federal judge in Texas has issued a ruling that temporarily blocks President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration.

    District Judge Andrew Hanen announced the ruling Monday in favor of 26 states, including Texas, that had filed a lawsuit seeking to permanently stop Obama’s order.

    The president announced in November that he was protecting as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The states had argued that the president had exceeded his constitutional authority, and would impose undue financial burdens on them.

    “Judge Hansen’s decision rightly stops the president’s overreach in its tracks,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.

    The White House issued a statement early Tuesday saying Obama was well within his authority in deciding how to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

    “Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws,” the statement said.

    Appeal planned

    It added that said the Justice Department plans to appeal Hansen’s ruling.

    The president’s executive order included expansion of a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The program was to begin receiving applications on Wednesday.

    The president’s order would also protect parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years and have committed no serious crimes.

    Obama’s executive actions also angered congressional Republicans, who also claimed the president had overstepped his constitutional bounds.

    House Republicans have passed a spending bill that authorizes funding for the Homeland Security Department through September, but would undo the president’s orders. The bill has failed to gain approval in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Democrats have successfully blocked the measure from advancing to a final vote.

    Democrat Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the House of Representatives, issued a statement Tuesday that said the Department of Justice, legal and immigration experts, and history support Obama’s executive actions.

    A group of 12 states and the District of Columbia filed a brief in support of the Obama administration, saying the president’s orders would economically benefit the states once those undocumented immigrants came out of the underground.

    Related:
    A Judge’s Assault on Immigration (The New York Times)

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    Fox News Visits LA’s Little Ethiopia

    Fox reporter Jesse Watters explored Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles Feb. 13th, 2015. (Photo: Fox News)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, February 15th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters made some quick stops at LA’s famous international neighborhoods last week, including Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia and Little India. The short segment that aired on the O’Reilly Factor on Friday highlights the city’s diverse ethnic communities. The report notes “Four million people reside in America’s second-largest city, and forty percent of those residents are foreign born.”

    Little-Ethiopia, which is located on Fairfax Avenue between Olympic and Pico, was officially so designated in 2002 by a unanimous Los Angeles City Council vote. And since then an annual street cultural festival marks the milestone ever year. The host of “Watters’ World” playful trip to Little Ethiopia included a taste of traditional food in the form of Gursha from the restaurant staff.

    Watters asked an Ethiopian man: “Why did you come [to the US]?”. The person responded: “Ethiopia [turned] Communist, so I had to run away from home to save my life.” Watters pointed out that the Ethiopian population in LA grew fast in the 1990s. Today, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Ethiopians also make up one of the largest African-born immigrants in the Los Angeles area along with Nigerians and Egyptians.

    Watch: Watters’ Hysterical Adventure into LA’s Ethnic Neighborhoods


    Related:
    Good Question: Where Do African Immigrants Live in US? Interactive Map

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    Crumbs: ‘Outlandish & Imaginative’ Sci-Fi Romance Film From Ethiopia

    Advertised as Ethiopia’s first science fiction film, 'Crumbs' is a futuristic romantic drama set following a mysterious global disaster, "Big War, " that wipes out most of the planet's inhabitants. (Photo via Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Friday, February 13th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — The Hollywood Reporter calls the new Ethiopian short film Crumbs an “outlandish and imaginative sci-fi” noting that the 68-minute movie makes “potent use of spectacularly extraterrestrial locations in the country’s sunbaked far north around the ghost town of Dallol, the film takes an exotic and sometimes surreal approach to what’s essentially a simple, touching love story.”

    The movie, which premiered this month at the 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Netherlands, is being hailed as Ethiopia’s first post-apocalyptic sci-fi romance. Crumbs is directed by the Addis Ababa-based Spanish writer and director Miguel Llanso and features talented Ethiopian actors including Daniel Tadesse and Selam Tesfaye. The producers of the film are Llansó (Lanzadera Films), Daniel Taye Workou and Meseret Argaw (Birabiro Films).

    “Set in an unspecified epoch after a “big war” whose consequences have severely depopulated the planet, Crumbs posits a micro-civilization where the mass-produced tat of the late 20th century is revered as valuable, even holy.”

    Watch: Crumbs trailer


    Related:
    ‘Crumbs’: Rotterdam Review (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Ethiopia’s first post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie looks beautiful and bizarre (The verge)

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    NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

    Dr. Negasso Gidada (R) chats with German First Lady Daniela Schadt during a meeting at the German Embassy in Addis Ababa on March 18, 2013. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

    Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Since October 2014 the noted statesman, scholar and former president of Ethiopia, Dr. Negasso Gidada Solan, has been in residence as Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Negasso is now wrapping up his fellowship and will be holding a public presentation on February 24th entitled “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia.” The presentation will include comments by Professor John Harbeson of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and be moderated by Dave Peterson of the National Endowment for Democracy.

    “Ever since the formation of the modern state of Ethiopia, the country’s diversity, represented by its roughly eighty ethnic groups, has defied common formulas for unity and democratic development,” states the announcement. “Regimes have come and gone, but the central question — whether to forge a nation-state, a multinational federation, or something else—has dominated Ethiopia’s political agenda for decades.” The press release adds: “Looking ahead to the upcoming 2015 elections and the country’s longer-term stability and development, Dr. Negasso Solan will focus on the need for a constitution that mirrors Ethiopia’s ethnic diversity and that lends itself to developing a truly democratic multinational state. As former president of Ethiopia, he will reflect on his experiences drafting the country’s 1995 constitution and offer recommendations for public confidence-building around future amendments.”

    Per NED: “Dr. Negasso Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. Dr. John Harbeson is professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and professor of political science emeritus at the City University of New York.”


    Dr. Negasso Gidada. (Getty Images)


    If You Go:
    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
    1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
    Telephone: 202-378-9675
    RSVP (acceptances only) with name and affiliation by Friday, February 20
    at http://constitutionforamultinationaldemocraticstatenation.eventbrite.com.
    Livestream of the event will be available here.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Good Question: Where Do African Immigrants Live in US? Interactive Map

    Map based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. (Image: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Monday, February 9th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) – According to the U.S. Census Bureau New York, California and Texas are the top three states that are home to the majority of residents from the African continent. A five-year estimate of the American Community Survey released last year indicates that there are currently 1.6 million foreign-born Africans residing in the United States. And people from the three most populous countries in Africa — Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia — also make up the three biggest African-born populations in America: Nigeria (14%), Ethiopia (10.4%), and Egypt (9%). Some of the major metropolitan areas with sizable African communities include New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia, Providence, Wilmington, Minneapolis-St Paul, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont.

    The numbers further show that foreign-born Africans in the United States tend to be more educated in comparison with other recent immigrant groups. In New York, for example, where the largest number of African immigrants live, The New York Times points out that “30 percent of African-born blacks in [NYC] had a college degree, compared with 22 percent of native-born blacks, 18 percent of Caribbean-born blacks and 19 percent of the nonblack foreign born.” On a national level, according to the same census, 41% of the African-born population in the United States obtained bachelor’s degrees or higher between 2008 and 2012 compared with 28% of the overall foreign-born U.S. population.

    The following is an interactive map that illustrates the geographic distribution of the African Diaspora across the U.S. along with the top ten leading countries of birth for each highlighted region based on data gleaned from the American Community Survey.

    Hover over the colored flags and click to see more details for the specific location:



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    Ethiopia Bets on Grand Projects – Reuters

    A labourer walks along a Metro-line construction in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa February 7, 2015. (CREDIT: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI)

    Reuters

    BY EDMUND BLAIR AND AARON MAASHO

    Sunday, Feb 8th, 2015

    ADDIS ABABA — Chinese workers mingle with Ethiopians putting the finishing touches to a metro line that cuts through Addis Ababa, one of a series of grand state infrastructure projects that Ethiopia hopes will help it mimic Asia’s industrial rise.

    Brought to its knees by “Red Terror” communist purges in the 1970s and famine in the 1980s, Ethiopia has been transformed in the last quarter century, becoming one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

    At the heart of the state’s “Growth and Transformation Plan” are railway, road and dam projects to give the landlocked nation cheap power and reliable transport, as well as the metro line – the first urban light railway network in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    “This is the future,” said Abate Yaye, 27, from the poor south as he helped complete the $475 million system being built by China Railway Engineering Corp, much of it on concrete stilts to keep it above the crowded streets of an expanding capital.

    “We will become an example for the whole of Africa.”

    Hefty state-led investment has kept the economy of Africa’s second most populous nation growing at more than 8 percent a year for over a decade, but economists say Ethiopia’s rulers need to relax their grip and give room for more private enterprise to maintain momentum.

    Read more at Reuters.com »

    Related:
    Ethiopia’s Inflation Rises 7.7 Percent in January (Reuters)

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    National Geographic: Ethiopian Shade Coffee Is World’s Most Bird Friendly

    Ethiopian coffee farmer Awol Abagojam and his son Isaac harvest their product near the village of Choche, much the same way their ancestors did a thousand years ago. (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMI VITALE, PANOS)

    National Geographic

    By Brian Clark Howard

    Shady coffee plantations in Ethiopia, where coffee has been grown for at least a thousand years, hold relatively more forest bird species than any other coffee farms in the world, new research shows.

    The research suggests that traditional cultivation practices there support local forest bird biodiversity better than any other coffee farms in the world.

    In Ethiopia, coffee is traditionally grown on plantations shaded by native trees. These farms boasted more than 2.5 times as many bird species as adjacent mountain forest, according to a study slated for publication February 11 in the journal Biological Conservation.

    “That was a surprise,” says study co-author Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a biologist at the University of Utah and a National Geographic Society grant recipient. Further, “all 19 understory bird species we sampled in the forest were present in the coffee farms too, and that just doesn’t happen elsewhere.”

    Other studies have shown that shade coffee farms provide better bird habitat than full-sun plantations, but the effect may be more prominent in Ethiopia because farmers there tend to use native trees instead of the exotic species popular elsewhere.

    Read more at National Geographic »

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    Sudden Flowers by Maaza Mengiste

    Radait wants to dance. (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) – In an article published by The New Yorker magazine this week Ethiopian American writer Maaza Mengiste, author of the novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, highlights the Sudden Flowers project in Ethiopia as documented by American photographer Eric Gottesman. “In 1999, Eric Gottesman travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to photograph the experiences of children orphaned by AIDS. Sudden Flowers is the collective that he formed with an original group of six children,” Maaza notes. “All of them were between the ages of eight and eighteen, and all of them had lost both parents to AIDS. None had been allowed to attend their parents’ funerals.”

    “Each of them had horrible stories to tell, fantastically disturbing, like tragic fairy tales or Biblical fables,” Gottesman recalled.

    Maaza adds: “Over the next fifteen years, the collective grew to include more than thirty members. They shot close to three thousand photos, and along the way Gottesman found that the work transformed when the children were given more responsibility. Soon the group developed into a true collaboration, and eventually no one could remember his role in the production and editing process.”


    “I tell my family I am HIV+. They forget me and ate at the table.” (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

    Read the full article and view the slide show of images from the project at The New Yorker »

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    The People’s Choice: Rough Guides Selects Ethiopia Among Top 10 Best Places 2015

    A view of the ancient city buildings in Gondar. (Photo by ctsnow-flickr/Wikimedia Commons)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — One of the leading publishers of travel guidebook and reference information, Rough Guides, recently held an online vote allowing its readers to select their top international destination choices for 2015. According to the results Ethiopia ranks number seven on the People’s Choice list that also includes United Kingdom, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Chile, Turkey, USA and Ireland.

    “From the dramatic Great Rift Valley to the lush highlands, the diversity of Ethiopia’s landscapes might surprise you,” Rough Guides wrote in its announcement. “This is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, and visitors find themselves entranced by the stunning lakes, sprawling national parks and delicious national cuisine.” The publication adds: “We recommended Ethiopia in 2014, and this year you’ve done the same.”

    Rough Guides said it is releasing a new e-book on Ethiopia this Spring.

    See the full list at roughguides.com/best-places/2015/peoples-choice/

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    US-Africa Commercial Relationship: Time is Running Out for AGOA Reauthorization

    The following is an update from the Africa Policy Breakfast held in Washington, DC on January 28, 2015 regarding the renewal of AGOA and the future of the US-Africa commercial relationship. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    News Update

    Press Release – Office of U.S. Representative Karen Bass

    Washington, D.C. — “We’re running out of time,” moderator Witney Schneidman, nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, exclaimed as he opened the January 28 panel discussion at last week’s Africa Policy Breakfast entitled AGOA Today and Beyond: The Future of the US-Africa Commercial Relationship. While AGOA technically expires this September, for many African companies exporting apparel to the United States there is less than two months left in the nine month U.S. supply cycle. For U.S. importers, the fact that AGOA is not yet authorized leads to the inevitable question as to when will it be authorized and should the importer source elsewhere.

    Against this backdrop, the panel of experts comprised of Ambassador Eliachim Molapi Sebatane of the Embassy of Lesotho – representing the African Diplomatic Corps; Ms. Rahama Wright – Founder of Shea Yeleen – a small US business utilizing AGOA; and Scott Eisner – Vice President for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke in unison about the crucial role that the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act continues to play in strengthening of U.S.-Africa trade relations. Panel Moderator Schneidman described AGOA as “a launching pad for U.S. companies” to do business on the continent, a sentiment echoed by Scott Eisner.

    Ambassador Eliachim Molapi Sebatane spoke to the Policy Breakfast audience about recent bipartisan and bicameral meetings an African Union Delegation of Ministers had with Members of the House and Senate on AGOA in January; noting that the delegation left the US with a strong sense of support from all of the members they met and that the real question was when, not if, the reauthorization would occur.

    Keynote Speaker United States Trade Representative Ambassador Froman emphasized the growth in exports experienced by AGOA participating countries since the inception of legislation. Exports from the continent have more than tripled, going from $6 billion to $24 billion in a few short years. Ambassador Froman emphasized that we “shouldn’t wait until the last minute to get it renewed,” which drew heavy applause from the audience.

    Panelist Rahama Wright was representative of the many small business owners who rely on AGOA as a tool to remove unnecessary barriers to growing their businesses. Ms. Wright, whose skincare products can be found in close to 100 stores in the U.S., noted that she started her company with $6,000 dollars. She stressed that AGOA removed crucial barriers that protected her limited finances and allowed her company to grow. Ms. Wright also spoke of the importance of AGOA to women entrepreneurs in particular.

    Ambassador Froman, who testified at two Congressional hearings on January 27 held by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees respectively reiterated the bi-partisan support enjoyed by AGOA. USTR Froman cited the remarks made by House Ways and Means Chairman Ryan in support for a seamless and early renewal of AGOA. Panelists and members of the audience agreed that AGOA could be characterized as the beginning of a strong and expansive trade relationship between the U.S. and the nations of Africa — a “stepping stone,” with the hope of a stronger and more permanent reciprocal relationship in the future.

    Video: Africa Policy Breakfast January 28, 2015


    Related:
    Tadias Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

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    Hand-Me-Down Sound From Ethiopia

    In Ethiopia, a forward-thinking network of artists are uniting traditional folk and chopped-up beats with whatever equipment they can get their hands on. (Photo of Endeguena Mulu by Pete Kowalczyk)

    The Guardian

    By Huw Oliver

    Tuesday 3 February 2015

    In downtown Addis Ababa, most nightclubs have a disappointingly generic, western playlist. But on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, you’ll discover a throng of exciting local producers throwing their own impromptu parties and packing out muggy backstreet bars. Meshing street musician samples and traditional folk sounds with UKG and Burial-inspired beats, they call the movement Ethiopiyawi electronic.

    Music equipment is notoriously costly and difficult to get hold of in this part of the world but, recently, modern software like Ableton, along with MIDI controllers and hand-me-down drum machines have become more readily accessible. As a result, scene linchpins Endeguena Mulu (AKA Ethiopian Records) and Mikael Seifu (AKA Mic Tek) are offering their studios and equipment for use to local kids. They encourage them to absorb what they hear around them, while at the same time drawing upon the electronic patrimony of the UK and US. And rather than elevating the EDM sound, they prefer the twitching rhythms of Kode9 and Flying Lotus.

    Often consisting of little more than a lyre or lute sample, underpinned by a chopped-up house or garage beat and overlaid with the looped chants of azmaris (folk singer-musicians), the Ethiopiyawi electronic style takes its cues from Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and South African futurist collective Fantasma in the way that it smoothly blends traditional and modern styles. In a country with more than 80 ethnic groups and 40 native instruments spanning horns, percussion and strings, Ethiopian folk music is inherently diverse.

    Read more at The Guardian »

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    DC Workshop on African Diaspora Marketplace Business Competition 2015

    (Photo Courtesy: USAID)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) – The Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA) in partnership with the U. S. Agency for International Development and Western Union is hosting an informational workshop on the 2015 African Diaspora Marketplace Business Plan Competition next week. “This workshop is part of OAA’s Business Development Program which connects businesses to one another, and to technical assistance, capital, and new opportunities for local and international business,” the D.C. Mayor’s Office announced in a press release. “The African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) aims to encourage sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting African diaspora entrepreneurs. ADM entrepreneurs are individuals with demonstrable connections to or experience in Africa, and who have innovative and high impact start-ups or established businesses on the continent.”

    The workshop follows an eight-city tour promoting the African Diaspora Marketplace in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta.

    Launched in 2009 by USAID and Western Union the African Diaspora Marketplace is also supported by The George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research (GW-CIBER), which provides support and expertise to the program. On its website ADM notes that “This third round of the initiative will introduce three new resource partners: the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will provide business training and support for potential applicants; Homestrings LLC will provide a platform for awardees to raise follow-on capital; and as an ADM Partner, Deloitte intends to provide up to a maximum of USD 1,000,000 (one million) of in-kind professional technical assistance to either ADM grantees or qualified AWEP members to support the development of the grantees business.”

    Information about ADM and past winners can be found at: www.diasporamarketplace.org.


    If You Go:
    When: Monday, February 9, 2015
    Where: Franklin D. Reeves Center Municipal Building
    2000 14th Street, NW | 2nd Floor Edna Cromwell Community Room
    Washington, DC 20009
    RSVP here
    Please note that government issued ID is required to enter the Franklin D. Reeves Center. For more information, please email: oaa@dc.gov or call 202-727-5635.
    www.diasporamarketplace.org

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    Top Energy Players Meet in Washington to Develop Obama’s Power Africa Initiative

    The president’s emphasis on Africa’s electricity crisis is triggering action as Washington plays host to seven unique sessions that will outline the global commitment to improving access to power in Africa. (Getty)

    The Root

    BY: DIANA OZEMEBHOYA EROMOSELE

    NEPA take light!”

    It’s a popular phrase used by Nigerians when the lights go out. The country’s now-defunct National Electric Power Authority wasn’t the only energy company that struggled to provide reliable power to its citizens. Access to consistent electricity is a widespread problem in Africa, and the U.S. has identified the crisis as one of its top international development goals. That’s why senior U.S. energy officials, their counterparts from several African nations and private companies looking to strengthen Africa’s power grids are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week for the Powering Africa Summit.

    “Seven unique sessions will outline the global commitment to improving access to power across the African continent,” according to a press release issued by EnergyNet, the organization hosting the summit.

    The statement went on to describe the initiative’s goals. It’s hoping to power the homes of 75 percent of the sub-Saharan Africans currently living without electricity. “[The summit] will also serve as a platform to encourage deals to be brokered between governments and power companies with the end goal of delivering power to the 2 out of 3 sub-Saharan Africans who live without access to electricity,” the press release explained.

    During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by the Obama administration in Washington in August, President Barack Obama introduced the Power Africa initiative—a global commitment to “increase electricity access” and add “cleaner, more efficient electricity” throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

    Read more at theroot.com »

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    On This Day 1962 Mandela Visited Ethiopian Embassy in Nigeria for Visa to Ethiopia

    (Photo © Gediyon Kifle)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation tweeted Thursday that “On this day, 29 January 1962 Nelson Mandela visited the Ethiopian Embassy in Nigeria for a visa for Ethiopia.”

    Mandela’s trip to Ethiopia and other African countries that year is also the subject of an upcoming documentary-drama entitled Mandela’s Gun, which he received as a gift from the government of Ethiopia. “He was given a Makrov pistol by the then Emperor Haile Selassie and he apparently buried it at a farm in Johannesburg before he was arrested,” says the filmmaker Jeremy Nathan. “It was a ceremonial weapon, which is reportedly the first weapon of the armed struggle against the regime.”

    Mandela arrived in Ethiopia under the alias David Motsamayi and disguised as a journalist. In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, he shares: “I felt myself being moulded into a solider and began to think as a soldier thinks – a far cry from the way a politician thinks.” In Ethiopia Mandela’s instructors were Colonel Tadesse Birru, Colonel G.E. Bekele and Lieutenant Wondomu Befikadu. In an article published by Think Africa Press last year, Joseph Hammond writes: “Wondomu, a former fighter, led the physical training while Tadesse lectured Mandela in the philosophy of guerrilla warfare.”

    Nathan adds: “Everybody thought it was one of the great untold stories [about Mandela]…He was being followed by the CIA, MI6 and the South Africans. And they were obviously sharing information amongst themselves about the activities of ANC and its leadership. So we bring in those elements as far as we can. We trace his journey through Ethiopia, down to Khartoum, Sudan to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, back to Botswana and into South Africa. The film is not only a feature film but a documentary feature. It includes testimony of people who knew him at the time.”

    Among the Ethiopians who knew Mandela was Captain Guta Dinka, a young soldier who was assigned to protect him during his stay in Ethiopia. Captain Guta, now 79, lived to tell the dramatic story of how he exposed an attempt to assassinate Mandela by mysterious foreign agents who had approached him to carry out the killing in exchange for cash payment.

    The director John Irvin told The Guardian: “There is an aspect of the political thriller, the spy thriller in the story, because he was being monitored by western intelligence services, a lot of whom still had an allegiance to some pretty odd ideas.”

    Nathan shares that since they started working on the film the story has blossomed with more research. The filmmakers “delve into the debates for and against armed struggle (within the ANC).” In addition, Nathan notes that the film is “a metaphorical search for the gun starting with Mandela leaving South Africa in 1962 to go and get support across Africa and he under went training in Algeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Egypt, across West Africa. We actually have gone out of our way to shoot in the exact locations where he trained, where he slept, where he lived.”



    Related:
    Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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    Ethiopia Says New Railway to Djibouti to Start in Early 2016

    (Photo: Erta)

    Reuters

    By Aaron Maasho

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to open a new railway line linking the capital Addis Ababa with the Red Sea state of Djibouti in early 2016, a project at the centre of plans to create new manufacturing industries, the head of the state railways said.

    The 700-km (450-mile)line is being built at a cost of $4 billion by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC). Ethiopia is seeking to have 5,000 km of new lines working across the country by 2020.

    “By October 2015, a considerable portion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti project will be finished,” Getachew Betru, chief executive of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, told Reuters, adding trains would run soon after. “We will start early 2016.”

    Read more at Reuters.com »

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    Zone 9 Trial Resumes in Ethiopia

    The Zone 9 bloggers being escorted to court in Addis Ababa, January 28th, 2015. (Photo: Trial Tracker)

    Tadias Magazine
    News Update

    Published: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) – Members of the Zone 9 blogging collective appeared before the Lideta High Court in Addis Ababa today for their 16th hearing where the presiding judges decided to accept most of the accusations against the bloggers and journalists. “The charge not accepted was the point regarding the individual role of each defendant,” reports the Trial Tracker blog.

    At previous appointments the court had repeatedly ordered prosecutors to amend their terrorism charges against the defendants. Following the hearing on Wednesday, however, the perplexed Zone 9 defense lawyer held a briefing for journalists and family members at the court compound. The Trial Tracker blog notes that the defense attorney “said that the charges had not been amended at all. He found it to be very strange that the judges accepted it.”

    The three journalists and six bloggers, who were arrested last April, are being held on suspicion of attempting to incite violence while utilizing social media as the crime tool. The attorney for eight of the nine defendants, Ameha Mekonnen, says Ethiopia’s contentious anti-terrorism law, under which his clients are charged, is very vague. “It has got only six types of human behaviors that are regarded as terrorist acts,” Ameha told Voice of America earlier this month. “The law itself is not clear – simply, if someone plots to cause damage to the community, it amounts to terrorism.”

    The next court date is scheduled for February 3, 2015.


    Tesfalem and Zelelem today at court hearing. (Photo via trialtrackerblog.org)

    Related:
    Ethiopia Bloggers to Enter Pleas in Terrorism Case Next Week (Bloomberg News)

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