Featured Section

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, May 28th, 2016

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

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

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

Read the full article at www.bizjournals.com »

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Wosene Kosrof’s New Solo Exhibition at Skoto Gallery Opens June 2

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 27th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Statement:

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Bethelhem T. Negash

Published: Thursday, May 26th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher. (Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tesfaye Mohamed

Published: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How DC Native Kenny Allen Moved to Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Alumni of Ethiopia’s Tafari Makonnen School to Gather in Washington, DC

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, May 23rd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Ruth Negga . (Photo by Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 19th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more and watch video at Deadline.com

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Coach Woldemeskel Kostre Dies at 69

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



The Father of Ethiopian Distance Running Woldemeskel Kostre Dies at 69

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Diaspora Changing Ethiopia’s Cities

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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Washington Post »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Music Legend Mahmoud Ahmed Turns 75

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


By Rafeeat Aliyu

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

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

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

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

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


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Photographer Documenting Ethiopia’s Emerging Skate Scene

(Photo by Daniel Reiter)

I-D Fashion & Culture Mag

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

(Photo by Daniel Reiter)

How did you first get involved with Ethiopia Skate?

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu Among Top African Female Business Leaders

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. (Photo: SoleRebels)


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

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

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

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

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

Read the full list at Africa.com »

‘SoleRebels’ Launches Flagship US Store

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview With Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 5th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

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

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

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

(Photo courtesy HarlemEatUp.com.)

(Photo courtesy HarlemEatUp.com.)

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

7 Ethiopian Films Screening in NYC in May

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, May 2nd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



763 St Nicholas Ave, New York, New York 10031

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

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

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

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

Film followed by Q&A with Director

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

U.S. State Department

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

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

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

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

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

Ethiopia Charges Opposition Leader Professor Bekele Gerba With Terrorism

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 29th, 2016

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Associate Creative Director David Mesfin Describes Hyundai 2016 NFL Draft AD

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Maaza Mengiste Speaks on Refugee Crisis at Pen World Voices Festival

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, April 25th, 2016

Maaza Mengiste Speaks on Refugee Crisis at Pen World Voices Festival

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

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

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

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

Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, April 25th, 2016

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

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

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

Below are a few photos from the celebrations in Jamaica:

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

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

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

(Photo by Mel Tewahade)

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

Additional celebrations are planned in Trinidad and Tobago.

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

Video: Emperor haile Selassie of Ethiopia visits Jamaica part 1

Video: Emperor haile Selassie of Ethiopia visits Jamaica part 2

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

David Krut NYC Presents Endale Desalegn

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 21st, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos: Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers Presentation in NYC

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, April 18th, 2016

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 14th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, April 10th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Cover of Ethiopiques, Vol. 21 CD)

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

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

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

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

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

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Hosts Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers at Schomburg

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 08, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

How DC Native Kenny Allen Moved to Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tesfaye Mohamed

Published: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tesfaye: Why did you move from DC to Ethiopia?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Obamas Refuse to Give in to Haters

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

The Washington Post

By Petula Dvorak

The most popular license in America now?

A license to hate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at The Washington Post »

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

SEED Announces 2016 Honorees

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 1st, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Dibabas: The Fastest Family on the Planet

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



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

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

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

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

Read more at Vogue.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Art of Independent Cinema with Filmmaker Haile Gerima

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, March 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: TEZA, Trailer, directed by Haile Gerima Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tadias Interview with Children’s Book Author Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Film on Ethiopian Nun Composer Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou

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


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

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

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Blacks Proud of Obama’s Presidency (NYT)

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

The New York Times


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

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

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

And then he began to cry.

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

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

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

Read more at The New York Times »

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

DC Nightlife: Dawit Eklund’s Dance Floor

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

The Washington Post

By Chris Richards

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

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

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

Read more at The Washington Post »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Anti-Doping Agency Targets Ethiopia

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


March 10, 2016

Ethiopia moves into the doping spotlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

Ethiopia Confirms 9 Athletes Under Investigation

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Schomburg Center Presents Haile Gerima

Haile Gerima. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 7th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Five Ethiopian Artists Exhibiting in NYC This Weekend

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 6th, 2016

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

ARMORY SHOW – March 3-6th, 2016

Elias Sime (James Cohan Gallery)

Pier 94 Booth 909

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

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

Emanuel Tegene (Addis Fine Art)

Pier 94 Booth 544

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

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

Awol Erizku (Ben Brown Fine Arts)

Pier 94 Booth 613

Bruktawit by Awol Erizku (Ben Brown Fine Arts)

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

VOLTA NY – March 2-6th, 2016

Dawit Abebe (Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery)

Pier 90

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

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

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

Aïda Muluneh (David Krut Projects)

526 West 26th Street #816

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Aïda Muluneh’s First Solo Exhibition at David Krut Projects

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Adwa: Genesis of Unscrambled Africa

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

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

Updated: Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tribute to Women’s Rights Advocate Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, February 27th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

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

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

“Connect with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Area Station, which serves the Little Ethiopia area. Learn about how we work together to keep the neighborhood safe and about the many different services we provide. Bring questions, concerns and ideas. Invite friends, family, and colleagues” the announcement said. “We will also have useful crime prevention tip sheets (contractor fraud, immigration fraud, senior fraud, Identity Theft, etc) available for everyone to take home with them.”

Last Summer City Attorney Feuer also hosted a roundtable with members of the Little Ethiopia business community in addition to delivering the keynote address at the 2015 Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Festival in September.

If You Go:
L.A. Ethiopian Community Forum
Friday, February 26th at 6:00 PM.
St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
5707 Shenandoah Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90056
Free parking available

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking

Dr. Lemma W. Senbet is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium. (Photo: AERC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, February 22nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Three years ago when Professor Lemma Senbet took leave from the University of Maryland in College Park — where he served as The William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at Robert H. Smith School of Business — to become Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi, Kenya, he told Tadias that “My goal is to lead it to move to the next level of excellence, and I will be embarking on strategies for full global integration of the AERC and its visibility beyond Africa as an organization that is at the cutting edge of best policy research practices.”

Fast forward to 2016 and AERC is currently ranked as one of the top economic research think tanks by the Global Index. “A think tank is an institution in the core business of generating knowledge to impact or influence policy,” Dr. Lemma explained in a recent interview with Tadias. “The Global Index recognizes think tanks around the globe that have generated policy-oriented knowledge and influenced policy in several categories. Think tanks vary depending on their specialization, including, for instance, security studies.”

In the 2015 Global Index AERC was ranked among the top under the ‘Best Development Think Tanks’ and ‘Most Independent Think Tanks’ categories.

“Development think tanks are in the space of policies and research targeted for economic and social development,” Dr. Lemma said. “The ranking for independence is the first ever for AERC, and it is consistent with another global ranking last year whereby AERC was awarded the coveted/top 5 star global transparency ranking.”

Dr. Lemma added: “It is great that AERC gets ranked among global think tanks, but it should also be recognized that AERC is more than just a think tank. It is a think tank plus with a range of products and services spanning policy-oriented research, collaborative graduate training, and policy outreach, along with being a vast network of economic researchers, policy makers, policy institutions, universities, and international resource persons.”

Dr. Lemma pointed out that AERC came into existence over 27 years ago to bring “rigor and evidence to economic policy making in Africa.” It is a membership organization of global partners, including governments and international institutions.

Earlier this year AERC was also part of an international program at the University of Pennsylvania organized by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programs (TTCSP) entitled Why Think Tanks Matter to Policymakers and the Public.

“AERC does not advocate specific policies, but has enduring delivery channels and forums for policy dialogue and research dissemination with two principal purposes – to generate more informed policy-making and foster ownership of research by policy makers, as well as do research that leads to evidence based policy making,” Dr. Lemma emphasized. “Thus, AERC is both influential and independent.”

In addition, AERC is at the forefront of efforts to scale up partnership of African institutions as well as the private sector engaged at the interface of private and public policy issues, such as risk management and financial regulation.

“It should be recognized that informed policy making has been an important contributor to the Africa growth renaissance that we are currently witnessing,” Dr. Lemma said. “In terms of enhanced African stakeholdership of AERC, things have far exceeded my expectations. In February 2015, twelve African Central Bank Governors and Deputies met in Livingstone, Zambia, with the sole agenda of sustainability of AERC. They passed a historic resolution under which each signatory central bank becomes a member of the Consortium in accordance with the AERC bylaws to provide core support, along with our longstanding member partners, including UK, US, World Bank, and Nordic countries. The AERC Governors’ Forum is, indeed, a reaffirmation of the value proposition of the institution, and it already has generated a positive leveraging effect on the other global partners, while enhancing African voice in its governance.”

Recently the African Development Bank likewise provided a $7 million grant to AERC — the largest from the Bank and an African institution — in what Dr. Lemma described as “further solidification of African stakeholdership of AERC.”

In the next five years AERC aims to focus on private sector engagement. “This is an unchartered territory for AERC, but gradually we are making progress by integrating the private sector agenda in the AERC capacity building framework and the public private sector policy roundtables,” said Dr. Lemma. With this in mind, the theme for the next AERC Senior Policy Seminar scheduled in March 2016 is financial inclusion.

Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Afripedia Screens Three Episodes of Docu-Series at Harlem’s Schomburg Center

Afripedia founders Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe (Center) during the Q&A session following the screening of their docuseries at Schomburg Center in Harlem, NYC on February 18th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 19th, 2016.

New York (TADIAS) — From their current workspace at the New Museum incubator, New Inc., in Manhattan filmmakers Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe have been developing Afripedia — a visionary platform in conjunction with their documentary film series featuring visual artists, beat makers, dancers, fashion designers and cultural activists from across the African continent. Originally inspired by their film series entitled ’Stocktown Underground,’ which was experimentally launched on YouTube in 2005, Afripedia morphed into a five year journey to 10 African countries and the production of five episodes to date highlighting ambitious creatives from Angola, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

In a recent Tadias Interview Teddy and Senay — Ethiopian & Eritrean filmmakers who grew up in Sweden — described Afripedia as a “spotlight of creative forces reshaping the image of Africa as told by African visionary artists who are pushing the boundaries of visual self expression.”

“We want to change the perception that people have about Africa, and to make the creative scene more inclusive of these new voices” Senay said.

As part of the African Film Festival three of Afripedia’s episodes were screened and followed by a Q&A session on Thursday, Feb 18th at Harlem’s Schomburg Center, which houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collection of resources on Black culture worldwide including an estimated 10 million items.

“The reason why we came to New York last September was because there are so many talents out there,” Teddy shared at the Q&A session following the screening. “We got invited to New Inc. to build a new online platform — or a visual wikipedia you can say — where we could see more stories being shared. We wanted to continue producing stories of course, but we also needed to give access. We can’t be the only voice.” The platform is also designed to serve as a hub “to find, connect with, and hire talent.”

A preview of Afripedia’s platform shared at Schomburg Center, Thursday, February 18th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

On stage at the Schomburg with Afripedia’s founders was Omar Viktor, a Dakar-based Photographer and Designer, featured in their Senegal episode, whose studio work intermingles local fashion styles and colorful artwork with photography.

“I had been to Senegal earlier shooting another documentary and a friend of mind said you have to check out Omar’s work,” Senay said describing how they heard about Omar’s creative work.

Portrait by Senegalese photographer Omar Victor, whose work is featured in Afripedia. (courtesy image)

“It’s about having creators who can share the network,” added Teddy. “And the secret source is actually to be more collaborative; that’s what we need. It can be powerful when you get to see the vast network happening right now.”

Afripedia is a stunning visual compilation of African creatives, which promises not only to curate a vast treasury of talent, but likewise create a virtual space for deep collaborations between Africans across borders as well as among the Diaspora community. Afripedia’s complete film series is scheduled to be released online in September 2016.

Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe at the screening of the Afripedia docuseries at Schomburg Center in New York on Thursday, February 18th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Afripedia: A Creative Hub for African Visionary Artists

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Genzebe Sets New Indoor World Record

Genzebe Dibaba broke a 26-year indoor mile record in Stockholm on Wednesday. (Photo: CBCOlympics)

Associated Press

Genzebe Dibaba set a new world record in the indoor mile on Wednesday, beating a record that had stood for 26 years.

The Ethiopian’s time of 4 minutes, 13.31 seconds beat Doina Melinte’s record set in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1990 by nearly four seconds. It was the third consecutive year Dibaba had set an indoor world record in Stockholm, having previously set the 3,000 and 5,000 metre records.

On a night of record breaking, Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman also set a new indoor record for the 1,000, streaking away on the final lap of the race to clock 2:14.20.

The previous record of 2:14.96 had been set by Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer in 2000.

Souleiman’s time still needs to be ratified by the ruling IAAF.

Read more »

In Boston, Meseret Defar Runs World-Leading Time After a Long Absence

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Weeknd Wins Two Grammys

The Weeknd performing at the 58th Grammy Awards in L.A. on Monday, February 15th, 2016. (Wire Image)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) won two Grammy Awards during the 58th annual ceremony held in Los Angeles on Monday evening. The Canadian-born singer-songwriter, who is the first Ethiopian artist to win the award, received the 2016 prize for Best R&B Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Beauty Behind The Madness.

“The Weeknd’s blockbuster sophomore album, Beauty Behind the Madness, yielded seven Grammy nominations, including record and album of the year, along with an Academy Award nod for “Earned It,” which appeared on the soundtrack for the 2015 hit “Fifty Shades of Grey,” The Los Angeles Times noted in a recent profile of Abel. “Tesfaye’s breakout year is that much more remarkable given how unlikely a pop star he was.”

LA Times adds: “The Ethiopian Canadian singer (Amharic, his first language, can be heard on his smash “The Hills”) debuted in 2011 with a trilogy of mixtapes that helped usher in a wave of artists who eschewed conventional R&B boundaries in favor of edgier productions.”

“I wanted to drop three albums in a year because no one had done it. It was bold, unheard of. Back then I didn’t even want to get onstage,” Tesfaye said of his anonymous start.

The Weeknd’s chart-topping hit “Earned It,” from the soundtrack of Fifty Shades of Grey, is also nominated for the 2016 Oscars in the Original Song category.

58th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners & Nominees
How the Weeknd got his revenge and became one of the biggest pop stars
The Weeknd Scores Oscar Nomination
Tadias Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
The Weeknd First Winner at 2015 American Music Awards
The Unstoppable Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd): Rebel with Harmony
The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to Guest Star in TV’s Hottest Hip-Hop Drama ‘Empire’
Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
Inspired by Michael Jackson, The Weeknd Goes from Rebellious Songwriter to Chorus Lover
The reclusive artist talks ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ (Radio.com)

With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

2016 Armory Show: African Perspective Features Ethiopian Artist Emanuel Tegene

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 12th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist Emanuel Tegene will be featured at the upcoming 2016 Armory Show, an international art exhibition taking place March 3-6th in New York City.

Emanuel Tegene, represented at the Armory Show by Addis Fine Art Gallery, “received training at Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in 2008. While at Alle, he worked for Saloon Ethiopia as a cartoonist, challenging himself to create subtle and elegant illustrations. Later working on projects as diverse as movie storyboards and book covers, he widened his practice as a way of evolving his language of artistic expression. Briefly traveling to Israel to live with his father, he continued to paint while working in the technology industry. Eventually he returned to Addis to live with his young son and wife, where he continues to practice as an artist, realizing his natural affinity to drawing and to recording his surroundings. As part of a movement of contemporary Ethiopian artists, Emanuel is largely occupied with exploring the possibilities created by artists who are responding to the changing cultural dynamics of the society around them.”

Emanuel’s artwork has been exhibited at the Ethiopian National Gallery, as well as at the African Union Golden Jubilee, the Institute of Ethiopian Studies Museum, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa. Additional solo exhibitions showcased Emanuel’s work at Tobya Art Gallery in Seattle, and Galany Gallery and Alliance Ethio-Française in Addis.

According to the Armory Show website, “this year’s Focus will examine the artistic developments and manifold narratives arising from African and African Diasporic artists, emphasizing geographic fluidity and global connections.”

In 2015, Ethiopian Artist Elias Sime participated in the annual exhibition with his sculptures cited by Artspace as one of the 10 Best Artworks of the 2015 Armory Show.

If You Go:
March 3-6, 2016
Piers 92 & 94
New York City

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Screening: If Only I Were That Warrior

Poster for the documentary "If Only I Were That Warrior." (Courtesy of PLC and NYU)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American Author Maaza Mengiste and Ruth Ben-Ghiat will moderate a conversation with Director Valerio Ciriaci and Producer Isaak Liptzin following the screening of their documentary If Only I Were That Warrior at NYU on Thursday, February 11th.

The screening is being presented in collaboration with Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò and the NYU Department of Italian Studies.

If Only I Were That Warrior is a feature documentary film focusing on the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1935. Following the recent construction of a monument dedicated to Fascist general Rodolfo Graziani, the film addresses the unpunished war crimes he and others committed in the name of Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. The stories of three characters, filmed in present day Ethiopia, Italy and the United States, take the audience on a journey through the living memories and the tangible remains of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia – a journey that crosses generations and continents to today, where this often overlooked legacy still ties the fates of two nations and their people.”

If You Go
Screening: If Only I Were That Warrior
Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 6pm
24 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011

If Only I Were That Warrior – Trailer from Awen Films on Vimeo.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

11 Samples From ‘Éthiopiques’: A Brief History of Ethio-Jazz Cultural Exchange

Éthiopiques album covers. (Photos: Buda Musique)

Okay Africa


It’s 2000 something. I’m holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon’s suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine dudes jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beatmaker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad’s car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers.

“Where did you get this?” He asks puzzlingly.

“The internet,” I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d’état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label’s tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

Heavenly Éthiopiques cover. (Photos: Buda Musique)

Fast forward, 1997. The Paris-based record label Buda Musique, stumbles upon a collection of decades old Ethiopian music and releases Éthiopiques Volume 1: The Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music, a compilation of largely forgotten songs from an extraordinary period of musical experimentation. Funk, soul, jazz, rock—popular western and traditional Ethiopian music ground together into a dizzyingly fresh sound with subtle scents of bunna (coffee in Amharic) breezing through the music’s notes.

At the forefront of this musical explosion was Mulatu Astatke, the legendary jazz musician, who expertly meshed jazz and traditional Ethiopian melodies with a sprinkle of Latin-influenced rhythms. The result: Ethio-Jazz, a sweepingly beautiful sound of a certain unique tonality.

Buda Musique has released 29 Éthiopique compilations to date with gems on gems throughout the collection, ranging from traditional Ethiopian music while some focus on specific genres or highlight the works of certain artists such as Alemayehu Eshete, Asnaketch Worku, Mahmoud Ahmed, and Tilahun Gessesse. None of the compilations within the series feature the more contemporary synthesizer-based Ethiopian pop music.

The Éthiopiques series, made possible by an unexpected but beautiful cross-cultural exchange of extraordinary proportions, has naturally caught the attention of music-heads, audiophiles and producers alike. And with that brief history in mind, I present to you a list of ten modern tracks, all made in the new millennia, that have sampled Ethiopian music, expanding even further the deep multicultural history of Ethiopian, and by extension, all music.

Read more »

Amha Eshete & Contribution of Amha Records to Modern Ethiopian Music
How Ethiopian Music Went Global: Interview with Francis Falceto

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

David Mesfin Behind Hyundai Super Bowl 50 Commercial

Ethiopian American Associate Creative Director David Mesfin (right) working on the production of the latest Hyundai Elantra car model television commercial for the 2016 Super Bowl game. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend an estimated 188.9 million viewers are expected to tune in to the most watched annual sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In addition, the National Retail Federation says Americans will spend more than $15.5 billion on food, décor and team apparel while taking part or organizing watch-parties for the 2016 championship game that’s being held in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday, February 7th.

And if you are in the business of creating television commercials, like Ethiopian American David Mesfin, it can’t get any better than having your ad run during the Super Bowl. David is one of the Associate Creative Directors behind the new generation Hyundai Elantra car advertising that will be airing during Super Bowl 50 as one of four spots from Hyundai this weekend.

“The cinematographer of the Hyundai spot was Janusz Kaminaki, Associate Creative Director, whom I have worked with in the past,” David told Tadias. “He mostly works on Steven Spielberg movies such as Bridge of Spies, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Lincoln.”

The Hyundai 30-second commercial touts a nifty new technology found in the car manufacturer’s Elantra brand — the voice-activated Blue Link Remote Start feature. The video, which was released on YouTube by Hyundai USA on February 1st, has already been viewed more than fifteen million times. The ad is aptly titled “The Chase” and shows a husband & wife team running for survival from a bear attack before the couple are saved by their high-tech Hyundai vehicle.

“Say you’re in a forest and you’re being chased by two bears, one of which we later find out is vegan,” David said. “You’d be in a mad dash to get to your car, right? Worse, there’s a lot of panic that comes with trying to open the doors and starting the car, all while stealing glances in every direction to make sure that bears haven’t arrived.” He added: “It’s a tricky situation to be in as a lot of victims in horror movies will tell you. Now imagine being able to circumvent all of that trouble by simply barking a command in your smart watch to start the car so when you get to the door, the engine’s already running, saving you precious time that could have otherwise been the difference between you escaping or getting eaten up for lunch. That, in a nutshell, is what “The Chase” commercial is all about.”

Watch: The Chase – Hyundai Elantra Super Bowl Commercial | Hyundai USA

This is not the first time that one of David’s work was shown during high-profile television broadcasts. The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil also featured a Hyundai ad in which he was the Associate Creative Director. Likewise in 2013 David was part of the team that engineered the “Hyundai Epic Playdate” Super Bowl advertisement. “That was a herculean task given the difficulty and amount of work that needed to be produced in a short amount of time,” David said then. “But overall my team and I are truly happy with the end result.”

David’s career in advertising began in 1986 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was born and raised. “I know it sounds like a long time ago but I was only 12 years old at the time,” he said. “I used to spend a lot of time at a firm called Neon Addis — a design and advertising office. There I was exposed to many forms of visual communications, print ads, billboards, neon signs and more.”

Later, after he moved to the U.S. and commenced college in the 90s, David said he knew exactly what he wanted to do in life. He graduated with a BFA degree in Visual Communication from California State University, Long Beach. “I have been enjoying this wonderful field for quite some time now,” he said. “Thus far I have worked with multiple agencies and clients such as Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Isuzu, Farmers Insurance, Neutrogena, Network Associates, La-Z-Boy, Mandalay Bay, Walt Disney, Sony, Coldwell Banker, LA Phil, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Adidas, Oakley and MOCA.”

David Mesfin (right) on the set of the Hyundai Super Bowl 50 commercial. (Courtesy of photo)

What guides David’s art in terms of creativity? “Have a compelling message and idea that can solve the problem in a unique and interesting way,” he replied.

As to having his work shown during Super Bowl, David says it’s “by far the most humbling experience.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

When Technology-Inspired Fashion Meets Architecture: Azmara Asefa’s Runway Collection

Ethiopian American Fashion Designer & Architect Azmara Asefa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Take one look at Azmara Asefa’s laser-cut leather jackets lined with mesh that acts as ventilation for hot summer days, or her 3D-printed wooden jewelry lines held together with gold posts — reminiscent of an architectural project — and you know that her fashion line is a bold runway collection.

Named after the 29-year-old owner and designer who was born in Ohio to immigrant parents from Ethiopia, the Azmara Asefa collection was featured in last October’s Phoenix Fashion Week — following a four month bootcamp session offering training in fashion business and marketing — and selected as one of 13 best emerging designers in the United States. It also stood out as one of the most technology driven fashion lines.

Azmara had prepared several pieces for smaller scale collections before recently rolling out her full and impressive Spring/Summer 2016 collection designed by her womenswear company based in Los Angeles with all materials made and assembled in American fair trade factories.

Azmara Asefa’s Runway Collection at the Phoenix Fashion Week final walk. (Courtesy photo)

Laser-cut leather moto jacket with diamond motif details that are inspired by Ethiopian motifs on traditional dresses. (Photo: Courtesy of Azmara Asefa)

“Fashion was always loved” Azmara told Tadias. “In the back of my mind it was always around, and part of it comes from watching older movies from the 1930s with my mom, and traveling and seeing how people dress.” But Azmara’s first love, since the age of 7, was architecture.

“My interest in architecture first peaked when I went to Ethiopia as a child and my family and I visited the Blue Nile waterfalls,” Azmara recalled. “It would be so cool to have a bridge here,” she remembered thinking. “And soon after that I started drawing and finding out more about what I needed to study in order to become an architect. I learned that math was required, for instance, and I prepared myself for the field.”

Azmara attended Miami University in Ohio where she majored in architecture and met one of her first mentors, Professor Gail Della-Piana. “She was the only Black professor in the architecture program, and her studios focused on culturally-centered projects including the design of a Native American center” Azmara said.

For her thesis Azmara studied refugee and migrant camps in the horn of Africa. “Often individuals at the camps would use what they wear as part of their shelter,” she noticed. “In the migration process individuals retained their culture, traditions and adapted to new situations by using the materials around them including their clothing” Azmara said.

She continued her studies in architecture at the graduate level at the University of Cincinnati, guided by her culture-centered focus. Adding courses in fashion to her class schedule Azmara found another mentor in Ann Firestone at the School of Design. Upon graduation Azmara worked as an architect in Ohio, Atlanta, London and Los Angeles including practicing at Gensler, the largest architecture firm in the world.

Azmara cited Zaha Hadid as one of her biggest influencers in architecture “as a woman of color who has this really great firm, is well-respected and has a really unique perspective.”

“If you look at one of Zaha Hadid’s buildings, you know she designed it,” Azmara added. “She has made her mark as someone who uses technology to generate her design concepts, and I love that, of course.”

In the world of fashion Azmara has several role models including Ethiopian-American couture wedding gown designer Amsale Aberra, technology-driven Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, and Kym Gold, Co-Founder of the True Religion brand who she met at Phoenix Fashion week.

“The link between architecture and fashion is strong, and the leap from architecture to fashion was simple to me,” Azmara admitted.

“Entrepreneurship in the Ethiopian community in Ohio is also really big,” Azmara pointed out. “I grew up surrounded by people who owned a lot of small businesses and were very enterprising.”

Following her participation at Phoenix Fashion Week Azmara decided to commit to creating her first full runway collection of what she called “bold, technology-driven, apocalypse-ready womenswear and accessories that are laden with culturally inspired symbols and yet remain minimal.”

Azmara is incredibly resourceful and creative in the materials she picks for her fashion line, which ranges from natural materials such as wood, silk and leather to meshes and neoprene (scuba fabric). Often she also inserts cultural references from her own heritage. Her 3D-printed jewelry line, for example, is “a play on Ethiopian wooden crosses and traditional diamond patterns.”

“Clothing as armor?” states her website. “Yes. We believe that when you are donned in bold architectural lines, laser-cut geometries, and intensely detailed 3D-printed accessories, you feel strong, bold and confident enough to make it through anything!”

Describing her latest collection Azmara said her intention was to make women feel empowered, confident, and to stand out.

“I am using the term ‘apocalypse-ready’ as a metaphor for my collection in a future-looking sort of way, and reminding ourselves that we all have the ability to overcome challenging events in our day,” Azmara added. “Internally, for the business it also give a really clear and decisive direction as a technology-focused brand. The clothes use architectural lines and silhouettes to enhance women’s forms in an artful, strong and flattering way.”

In addition to emphasizing a blend of architectural technology in her designs, Azmara is also keen on building a company firmly rooted in fair trade principles.

“I try to be very ethical so when I source fabric I want to be able to track it and make sure it is fair trade” Azmara told Tadias. “Right now my designs are produced in America and we can ensure that workers are getting a fair wage. I can see the factory — it’s just thirty minutes from where I live, and I can just drive down there and look at everything.”

Azmara also hopes to grow her ethically sourced runway collection and expand her base to Ethiopia while still making sure it remains fair trade. For now her company has partnered with the Women’s Refugee Commission with 10% of sales going towards their programs. “I really want to work more closely with them,” Azmara said “and do more than just provide proceeds. I want to provide something more immediate and tangible for the women they work with.”

As she prepares to launch a Kickstarter campaign this month, Azmara shared that she would love to design high-tech wearable technology and go digital in the second half of this year while continuing to incorporate architecture and designing pop-up shops in a multi-disciplinary trajectory later down the line.

“I think that growing up with people who came as immigrants to this country — and made the American dream come true for themselves — I was inspired by how the human spirit is so resilient” Azmara said. Her visionary debut runway collection says it all – intriguing, cutting-edge, and exuding resilience.

You can learn more about Azmara Asefa’s design work at www.azmaraasefa.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Netflix to Stream Haile Gerima’s Film “Ashes and Embers”

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ashes and Embers (1982) — a movie by award-winning filmmaker and Howard University professor Haile Gerima — is among the new titles that will be released on Netflix this month. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize for Forum of New Cinema at the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival. According to the Columbus Dispatch “Ashes and Embers” will be available for on-demand Internet streaming on Netflix starting February 29th.

Ashes and Embers tells a story of “a disillusioned, African-American Vietnam vet (Anderson) [who] travels from Washington to Los Angeles to his grandmother’s farm in search of a better life.”

The Dispatch adds: “Ethiopian-American filmmaker (and LA Rebellion movement instigator) Haile Gerima’s Afrocentric survey of the American sociopolitical landscape is a potent mix of documentary realism, dreamlike narrative, and Godardian agit-prop.”

In The New York Times review of Ashes and Embers published on November 17, 1982, Janet Maslin wrote: ”Ashes and Embers ..explores the experience of a black Vietnam veteran trying to come to terms with American life. It’s a rambling, almost dreamlike film that drifts between Washington, where Ned Charles, its protagonist, (played by John Anderson) wanders past ghetto streets and war memorials; Los Angeles, where he hopes to find his future, and instead winds up in police custody; and the rural setting of his grandmother’s farmhouse. His grandmother is one of the main forces in the film, talking with Ned about his troubles, his culture and his history. Another key influence is his politically active girlfriend, often seen engaged in group discussions that are among the film’s most interesting sequences.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Lost Lion Population Found in Ethiopia

(AP photo)

The Washington Post

By Rachel Feltman

An expedition into a remote national park in Ethiopia has revealed a previously unknown population of African lions, suggesting that the species — which is categorized as “vulnerable” — may be more widespread than conservationists had hoped.

The Born Free Foundation announced the existence of the lions – confirmed with images taken by motion-activated cameras — in a news release Monday. Because the lions were spotted in Alatish National Park, which borders the Sudanese Dinder National Park, the researchers involved with the discovery hope that the population spans both countries. Altogether, the two parks could hold an estimated 200 lions.

An image of one of the newly discovered lions. (Born Free Foundation)

Read more at The Washington Post »

Hidden population of up to 200 lions found in remote Ethiopia (New Scientist)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Nile Project Kicks Off 2016 Africa Tour

The Nile Project at globalFEST NYC, January 11, 2015. (Photo by Karsten Moran for the New York Times)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, February 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Nile Project 2016 Africa Tour, which kicks off next week with a live concert at an open-air theatre in Aswan Egypt, will be followed by a performance at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa on February 22nd.

Made up of over a dozen singers and instrumentalists the Nile Project blends traditional sounds from nations along the banks of the river including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Egypt, collectively known as the Nile Basin countries.

This year, the Nile Project’s musical director is Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen, founder and leader of Debo Band, while Ethiopian American education activist Agazit Abate serves as the collective’s program manager.

“We are also using this tour to launch our University Programs in Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania,” Mina Girgis, Nile Project Producer & CEO, announced in a press release. “Moving beyond the music, the Nile Project will be holding a series of workshops to engage students in better understanding the social, cultural and environmental dimensions of Nile sustainability. These workshops will also be an opportunity for attendees to learn about the project’s Nile Fellowships – a year long program for 24 student leaders at universities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.”

In a New York Times review of the Nile Project’s performance at globalFEST last year Jon Pareles wrote: “The musicians had worked out the nuances of modes and rhythms to join one another’s songs, no longer separated by geography or politics.”

“The Nile Project is the performing side of an effort that also includes education in music and environmental issues, raising awareness of the entire Nile basin as an ecosystem,” Pareles added. “With such vibrant music, the good intentions were a bonus; the Nile Project was a superb example of what I call small-world music, of what happens to traditions in the information age.”

Ethiopian artists participating in the 2016 Africa tour include: Dawit Seyoum Estifanos (krar), Endalekachew Nigusie (Masinko) and singer Roza Kifle. Last year’s team featured Asrat Ayalew (kebero player); Endris Hassen (masinko); Jorga Mesfin (saxophone); vocalists Meklit Hadero and Selamnesh Zemene; as well as singer & traditional music dancer Mekuanent Melese.

You can learn more about The Nile Project 2016 Africa Tour at www.nileproject.org.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet Genzebe Dibaba’s Coach Jama Aden

With Genzebe Dibaba clocking an astonishing 1500m world record of 3:50.07 last year, her coach, Jama Aden, tells Athletics Weekly's Cathal Dennehy how she did it. (Photo: By Albert Salame/Athletics Weekly)

Athletics Weekly

Much has been written about Genzebe Dibaba’s historic season in 2015, but less is known about the man who masterminded the Ethiopian’s journey into the record books, coach Jama Aden.

A former elite miler from Somalia, the 53-year-old Aden has been the world’s most successful middle-distance coach in recent years, having coached Dibaba, Taoufik Makhloufi, Ayanleh Souleiman and Abubaker Kaki to championship success..

However, it is his association with Dibaba for which he has become renowned. “I don’t have words to express his contribution in my running career,” Dibaba said in Beijing when Athletics Weekly asked about Aden. “He has such a big impact. I broke five world records since working with him.”

“I don’t have words to express his contribution in my running career. He has such a big impact. I broke five world records since working with him” – Dibaba on Aden

In a discussion which offers an unprecedented insight into her performances, Aden speaks to Cathal Dennehy about how he transformed Dibaba’s training, why he believes she can run 3:47 for 1500m, and why he thinks doping accusations levelled at her are borne out of jealousy.

Read the interview at AthleticsWeekly.com »

Genzebe Dibaba and Coach Jama Aden Target Two Marks (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Landscape Architect Sara Zewde’s Urban Monument Design Has Brazil Buzzing

Ethiopian American Landscape Architect Sara Zewde. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Liben Eabisa

Published: Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In the Spring of 2011 Sara Zewde was on her way to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) to study landscape architecture when she found herself in the middle of a movement to preserve a historic Afro-Brazilian heritage site in the Pequena África (Little Africa) neighborhood of Rio De Janeiro. Today Sara, who works for a major U.S. architecture firm in Seattle, has the attention of Brazil’s second-largest city as it prepares to complete part of a design proposed by the Ethiopian American landscape architect before the 2016 Summer Olympics commence there in August.

“I was working in Brazil as a transportation trainer and my job was to consult on a specific project in the Pequena África section of Rio,” Sara recalled in a recent interview with Tadias. “And during that time they were conducting some excavation of the streets and they found the ruins of a very infamous slave port.”

In fact the discovery was the biggest slave port in the Americas. “22% of all the slaves brought to the Americas came through Rio de Janeiro” Sara pointed out. As a result “Brazil actually has more black people than any other nation other than Nigeria. It is a very African country.”

According to the Associated Press the discovery of the port named Valongo, “which was excavated as part of a multibillion-dollar project aimed at bringing big business to Rio’s long derelict port neighborhood, has sparked heated discussions about how Black heritage sites are handled in Brazil.”

Sara, whose urban planning Master’s thesis at MIT focused on the relationship between the African Diaspora and architecture was eager to assist. “I basically approached some of the activists on the ground about the topic and they were excited about my participation,” she told Tadias. “And five years later here I am. I ended up getting really involved and proposed a design that they can use.”

Sara’s proposal includes “a promenade around the old wharf, embellished with fluid shapes that echo the ‘rodas’, or circles, where people engage in the traditionally black Brazilian martial art of capoeira and samba music, which was born in the port district,” AP noted describing her vision. “African plants, such as the baobab tree, would evoke the space’s African soul and a concrete “ribbon” inscribed with historical details would guide visitors.”

Sara Zewde’s monument design to memorialize the Valongo Wharf in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Courtesy image)

(Courtesy of Sara Zewde)

Design by Sara Zewde. (Courtesy image)

In an article entitled “Sara Zewde has the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Paying Attention — And For Good Reason” the non-profit organization Next City noted on their website that “by July 2014, [Sara] was presenting a design proposal at a meeting in Rio’s city hall convened by the Mayor’s office. His representatives and those from the public-private partnership redeveloping the port were there, as well as private developers with a stake in Porto Maravilha, staffers from the federal agencies…and various community activists. Zewde’s audience also included Milton Guran, a Brazilian who serves on UNESCO’s International Scientific Committee and will help decide in the next year whether Valongo Wharf receives designation as a World Heritage Site.”

Sara Zewde’s design, as shown in this rendering, includes native African plants. (Courtesy of Sara Zewde)

What Rio’s leaders “are advocating for now is to build pieces of it before the Olympics,” Sara said. “So there is a huge push, as you can imagine, in terms of infrastructure and construction, just trying to make the city ready for all the visitors.” Some pieces of the design have already been completed, and currently Sara adds that they are “working on a budget and aiming to have at least a quarter mile of the design built before the Olympics.”

Sara, who is 29-years-old, was born in Houston. When she was about a year old her family, who emigrated from Ethiopia, moved to Louisiana where they resided until she was a teen. At the age of 13 her family moved back to Houston and lived there for another five years. “At 18 I moved away and I’ve just been kind of everywhere since then,” Sara said with a slight laugh. In between, she attended Boston University for her undergraduate education and MIT and Harvard for graduate school.

“I grew up in Louisiana where there is not a lot of Ethiopians, especially not 30 years ago,” she shared. “So basically I relied on what my parents told me about Ethiopia. So as a child I had the privilege of growing up with this romantic version of being in Ethiopia.”

The stories that Sara heard from her parents had a positive impact on her profession as an architect. “What that meant for me was that as an architect you need to romanticize, it’s a skill in architecture to be able to romanticize a condition. Your job as an architect is to make something beautiful so it takes a sort of deep understanding of what brings people joy.” She then shared the way her mother, who came from a rural part of Ethiopia called Yifat, told stories of her native home. “She does not talk about it the way people do in the media or books; she talks about it as if it’s all about joy for her.”

Embracing the stories she grew up with Sara ties it back to her focus as an architect. “Understanding people’s life experiences and understanding that joy in relationship to this long-term history, it’s a pretty powerful skill to use with whomever you work with, whatever their history, regardless of their condition,” she said while remembering to add a question: “What is it that brings them joy?”

Sara has traveled to Ethiopia twice — once when she was nine and then a second time ten years ago. “I plan to travel there next year and check it out,” she said. I am excited to see the energy; it seems like there is a lot going on.”

As for her ongoing project in Brazil, “I do the work on the weekends and after work,” Sara said. During the week she is busy at her full-time job at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, a landscape architecture office in Seattle.

This past Fall her employer’s website proudly highlighted Sara’s work on Rio’s urban monument design, which she presented at the first “Black in Design Conference” organized by her alma mater, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). The feature underlined how Sara had started this project while still a student at GSD and that “she continues to work in partnership with the Rio World Heritage Institute.”

“The firm that I am employed with, they do a lot of really great work,” Sara added. “My friends are working on the building of the National Museum of African American History on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which is opening this year. They focus on history and culture as an entry point for architecture. That’s why I wanted to work for them.”

Unearthing of Rio slave port sparks debate over black space (AP)
Young American helping Brazil memorialize the slave trade (PRI)
How a 29-Year-Old Designer Is Reinventing the Urban Monument (Next City)
Harvard School of Design: Sara Zewde Named National Olmsted Scholar (GSD)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight on Ethiopia’s First Aikido Association & Training Center

Aikido demonstration with Tesfaye Tekelu in Hawassa, Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Updated: Monday, January 25th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The city of Hawassa in southern Ethiopia — located by the beautiful Great Rift valley lake of the same name — is also home to the country’s first Aikido center (dojo). The Hawassa dojo is the main headquarter for training in this modern Japanese martial art, which is a non-competitive practice developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the late 1920s. The term Aikido is often translated as ‘The Way of Harmony’ and the techniques emphasize self defense while simultaneously protecting an attacker from harm. Since the first official association was registered in Japan in 1942 aikido has spread across the globe.

In 2005 the late sociologist and professor Don Levine, who practiced and wrote extensively about Aikido in addition to his scholarly work on Ethiopian society, formed the foundation for Aikido Ethiopia with his first mentee Tesfaye Tekelu. After pursuing several years of intensive training at dojos around the world and completing leadership and training courses in Petaluma, California Tesfaye received his first black belt in 2009. With his second black belt Tesfaye is now the highest ranking Aikido practitioner from East Africa.

Hawassa’s original dojo was part of a broader project entitled ‘Action for Youth and Community Change’ (AYCC) that functioned as an NGO run by youth leaders. In addition to an aikido center, the project incorporates a circus (One Love Theater), a girls empowerment program (Long Live the Girls), a health education and recreation center, a visual and music program, and a library.

(Photo Courtesy of Aikido Ethiopia)

“The principles of Aikido are part of the foundation of the entire AYCC project” Tesfaye tells Tadias. “The bigger picture was that whether it’s music, theater, or even a library or resource center it all had an Aikido component as its base.” This includes a primary focus on developing conflict resolution skills, non-violent communication and peace education. In partnership with Aiki Extensions, a U.S. based non-profit focusing on applying Aikido principles off-the-matt, AYCC provides programming and resources to approximately 400 youth in Hawassa. AYCC’s circus, theater shows, sports and arts exhibitions currently reach an audience of over 75,000 individuals. As one of the leaders of AYCC Tesfaye wants the participating youth “to not just engage in the activities, but also to be in charge of running the project and leading it.”

Two months ago, Tesfaye launched a crowdfunding campaign that successfully raised approximately $30,000 to secure land in Hawassa to build Ethiopia’s (and East Africa’s) first fully furnished Aikido center and dojo. With additional financial assistance of $70,000 from the Japanese Embassy for construction Aikido Ethiopia’s new dojo, named in memory of Don Levine, plans to serve 1,000 youth and local community members and provide high quality mats for Aikido practice as well as AYCC’s One Love Theater circus.

(Photo Courtesy of Aikido Ethiopia)

Don Levine shows Tesfaye Tekelu his very first Aikido technique in 2005. (Photo: Aikido Ethiopia)

In January 2015 Tesfaye celebrates the first Aikido black belt tests administered in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

“I’m hoping to take Aikido Ethiopia to the next level,” Tesfaye says as he describes plans to build the new space. “It is our vision to develop the compound as an inclusive environment dedicated to teaching Aikido. The dojo in Ethiopia welcomes everybody to engage in training across borders, and aims to promote a unified Pan-African relationship bearing in mind the Aikido spirit of being open-hearted.” Tesfaye also seeks to build an international connection with Aikido World Headquarters (Hombu Dojo) in Japan while continuing the partnership with Aiki Extensions and Peace Dojos International.

Last January Tesfaye’s Sensei, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, traveled to Ethiopia to administer the first six black belt tests in Hawassa. “All six of the tests were unequivocally superior in technique, execution, finesse, and spirit,” Strozzi-Heckler shared in a reflection piece.

The new batch of black belt practitioners are poised to help expand Aikido nationally in Ethiopia with dojos scheduled to be established in Addis Ababa, Gondar, Bahir Dar, Mekele, Adama (Nazret), Arba Minch, Shashamene, Wolaita Sodo, Dire Dawa, and Harar in 2016.

“I think Aikido Ethiopia has a strong base and foundation,” Tesfaye says enthusiastically. “We’re in a transformation period right now.”

The Art of Peace, Tesfaye Tekelu’s Journey and Ethiopia’s First Aikido Dojo

Aikido Ethiopia Association

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Liya Kebede in Historic Super Bowl 50

Designed by Liya Kebede, Lemlem for Super Bowl 50

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Design by Liya Kebede’s Lemlem Featured in Historic Super Bowl 50 Collection

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede is one of 50 notable fashion designers who has created a one-of-a-kind bespoke football in celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Super Bowl, which is scheduled to take place in San Francisco Bay Area on February 7th, 2016. The designer footballs were developed through a collaboration between the National Football League (NFL) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

Time magazine reports: “The two organizations have collaborated on 50 bespoke designer footballs that will be up for auction from Jan. 20 through Feb. 14 on the NFL Auction site” with proceeds going to the NFL Foundation.

Other featured Super Bowl 50 fashion designers include Kenneth Cole, Tadashi Shoji, Prabal Gurung, Clare Vivier, and Rachel Roy.

The Lemlem brand, founded by Liya Kebede, produces Ethiopian hand-woven cotton scarves, women’s clothing and children’s dresses made by traditional artisans in Ethiopia.

Liya Kebede. (Photo: Lemlem)

“We are pleased to partner with the NFL once again on this creative endeavor, which highlights CFDA Members unique talents and passion for creativity while giving back to youth and important fundraising initiatives,” said Adam Roth, the CFDA’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. “With our collaboration, the NFL offers a unique take on the iconic football, particularly for women who care about fashion and also love the game.”

Read more at Time.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Airlines Announces New Flights From Addis Ababa to NYC

(Photo by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias File)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 22nd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Airlines announced Thursday that it will offer new service between Addis Ababa and New York City’s JFK airport starting in June.

“Flights from Addis Ababa to JFK will depart Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings, and will return from JFK to Addis Ababa the same evening,” Ethiopian Airlines said in a press release. “Flights will make an intermediate stop in Lomé, home base for Ethiopian Airline’s partner ASKY Airlines, in both directions.”

The airline said it “will be deploying the most modern aircraft in the world on this flight, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which not only offers unparalleled onboard comfort to passengers, but is also the world’s most environmentally friendly aircraft with its lower fuel usage and noise emissions.”

Read more at ethiopianairlines.com »

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bofta Yimam Named Weekend Morning Anchor at Pittsburgh’s Action News 4

WTAE Channel 4 has promoted Ethiopian American journalist Bofta Yimam as its Weekend Morning Anchor.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January, 21st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Investigative reporter Bofta Yimam, who won the 2013 Regional Emmy Award (Nashville/Mid-South Chapter) for excellence in the ‘Continuing Coverage’ category — while nominated for three awards overall by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — has been promoted as Weekend Morning Anchor at Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 Television (WTAE). The network announced that Bofta’s new post commences on Saturday, January 30th, 2016.

“Bofta is a talented journalist who is passionate about the Pittsburgh community,” WTAE President and General Manager, Charles W. Wolfertz III said in a statement. “She has been a strong asset to Action News Investigates and we look forward to her help in maintaining our dominance in the weekend mornings.”

Bofta said she is “thrilled and honored to have this opportunity at WTAE Channel 4 and look forward to joining the #1 morning news team.” She added: “Pittsburgh is a beautiful city that I love exploring. I’m excited to continue my journey here.”

The Ethiopian American journalist, who is a native of Washington, D.C. and a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park, is also a recipient of several media professional awards including the 2011 Regional Edward R. Murrow Best Breaking News Story Award, the 2009 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award as part of “Crime and the City” coverage, and the 2008 Community Broadcasters Association Best Breaking News Story Award.

In a 2013 interview with Tadias, Bofta recounted how she got her start in journalism with her first job in the small town of Dalton, Georgia (population 40,000). “I left the D.C. metropolitan area and really jumped at the opportunity to be able to be on air..and do the things that I wanted to do,” she said. “The training just continued and I kept meeting more people who were mentors, who offered more advice.”

Bofta went on to work at a cable station and at a CBS affiliate in Macon, Georgia before receiving three Regional Emmy nominations and winning one while working in Memphis.

“There are so many different avenues of journalism that you have to put yourself out there, and have a kind of go-for-it type of mentality, because you can’t just hope” she says. “You gotta get the skill sets and be willing to hit the ground running.”

In a press release Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 said that “during her nearly three years as an Action News Investigates reporter, Bofta has uncovered wasteful spending and wrong doing. One investigation revealed able bodied drivers illegally taking handicapped spots in Port Authority parking lots, and her story on elder abuse exposed the failure to track cases in Western Pennsylvania, pushing authorities to take a closer look at the problem across the state.”

In addition to her reporting WTAE shares that “Bofta served as Special Events Chairwoman of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, helped organize the Robert L. Vann Media Awards program, and was recognized for her journalism coverage of the African-American community of Western Pennsylvania.” Bofta was a guest speaker for events organized by Young Ethiopian Professionals and Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp, as well as lent her voice to sing “the National Anthem for the Race for Every Woman 5K, which helps raise funds for breast cancer awareness among Ethiopian and Eritrean women.”

Watch: Bofta Yimam Emmy Award Acceptance Speech 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Move Over Ray-Ban, Jembere Eyewear is Here

(Photos: Courtesy of Jembere Eyewear)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Three years ago, after a lengthy career of more than ten years in the eyewear industry, Ethiopian American Abaynesh Jembere decided to establish her own brand of high-quality, fashionable sunglasses, which she aptly named Jembere.

“I decided it was time for me to follow my dream of becoming an entrepreneur,” Abaynesh tells Tadias. “Luckily I had a lot of experience working with eyewear so I had the relationships and knowledge of what I needed to do.”

The NYC-based business sources its materials from top eyewear suppliers in Italy and Germany and manufactures the eyewear in Asia. “Our beautiful lens cloths are handwoven in Ethiopia,” Abaynesh adds. “It was very important to us to have a piece of our brand made in Ethiopia.”

Image courtesy: Jembere Eyewear

While the company has so far only sold items directly from their online site, their eyewear products have been featured on Essence magazine, and last May Jembere’s founder Abaynesh was featured in The Root’s list of “10 African Artists and Entrepreneurs You Should Know.” In 2016 Jembere plans to include additional retailers as part of their expansion.

Abaynesh, who grew up in Seattle, was born in Sudan and moved to the United States when she was barely 2 years old. “I took my first trip back to Ethiopia when I was 18 years old. I was truly inspired and fell in love with our culture,” she shared. “I knew then that whatever I was going to create was going to bridge fashion and culture — my culture — together. That’s when Jembere, which is the Amharic word for ‘my sunset’ was born.”

Abaynesh Jembere, founder of Jembere Eyewear. (Courtesy photos)

“As a child you couldn’t keep me away from my mother’s heels, red lipstick and eyeliner, which by the way, to this day, the latter two are still my staple items,” Abaynesh admits. As a teenager she was certain that she wanted to become a designer and pursued those dreams by enrolling in the Design & Merchandising program at Drexel University.

“My goal is to create products for the fashionable and culturally aware customer,” Abaynesh tells Tadias. “Eyewear is just the beginning of my catalog of products, and I am excited for 2016 as I work hard on launching some new items.”

You can learn more about Jembere Eyewear at www.jembereeyewear.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Debo Band’s New Album ‘Ere Gobez’

Debo Band. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Ere Gobez is the title of Debo Band’s newest album, which is scheduled to be released this Spring on FPE Records.

“Thrilled to announce the release of our sophomore album, Ere Gobez, coming out May 20, 2016,” Debo Band announced. The Boston-based Ethiopian American band was in New York City this past weekend “doing some pre-release promo and setting up tours for Summer and Fall.”

The label describes Debo Band’s new album as “the bold, grooving follow-up to their acclaimed debut. The large ensemble is known for its fun, danceable dives into Ethiopia’s rich musical worlds — from Orthodox Christian liturgy to hot-and-sweaty club sounds.”

“Debo Band raises the roof on the Ethiopian musical past,” the record company adds. “They imagine what Duke Ellington, while on his famed African tour, might have played with the Addis Ababa Police Orchestra (“Blue Awaze”)..They invent the jams of the Ethiopians who served in the Korean War and brought back influences from East Asia (the catchy Okinawan song Hiyamikachi Bushi).”

The cover for Debo Band’s new album ‘Ere Gobez.’ (Courtesy photo)

Pre-orders can be made through @pledgemusic at the Debo Band website. Pledgers get a download of the album in a couple weeks.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

MLK’s Invitation from Haile Selassie in 1964

Martin Luther King, Jr. (photo courtesy uscitizenpod.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 18th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A few months before he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr received a letter from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on July 13th, 1964 inviting him to attend the 73rd birthday anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie.

(invitation to Martin & Coretta King from Emperor Haile Selassie. Photo courtesy: The King Center).

Coincidentally that same year both MLK and Haile Selassie had made the shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize; for the latter it followed the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (African Union’s predecessor) the previous year in May 1963.

“The first nomination for Martin Luther King Jr. arrived to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1963. The Norwegian Nobel Committee..received this nomination from an earlier Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, American Friends Service Committee, (The Quakers) in Philadelphia,” states the website for the Nobel Prize. The nomination, signed by the AFSC Board of Directors, stated:

African leaders, who are perhaps most aware of racial tensions, are in several striking cases seeking to create a spirit of reconciliation and to use methods that will not increase the likelihood of violence. These leaders have been influenced and are being encouraged by the example of MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr., whose work to resolve serious conflicts without violence is also helping to reduce in the United States the indiscriminate bitterness that condemns international organization, and in particular the United Nations, because of the participation of people of non-white races and of the concern to promote “the dignity and worth of the human person” regardless of race.

A second request from AFSC subsequently asked for the nomination to be transferred to 1964, which the Nobel Prize Committee agreed to do as they received a second nomination for MLK from the Swedish Parliament. Both MLK and Haile Selassie were two of the 13 individuals on the shortlist out of 43 candidate submissions in 1964.

Martin Luther King, Jr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, becoming the youngest African American to receive the honor. Diplomat and political scientist Ralph Bunche was the first African American to win a Nobel Prize in 1950 while Albert John Luthuli, President of the African National Congress in South Africa, was the first African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.

In his acceptance speech recognizing the civil rights struggle in the United States MLK said: “After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time…I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history..I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits..When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.”

MLK met an untimely death, assassinated in 1968. A year later — and just five years after sending his invitation to Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King — the Washington Afro-American newspaper reported that Haile Selassie went to MLK’s tomb following a State visit and “stood silent for a moment at the grave of the slain civil rights leader and then left for a speech and honor presentation at Morehouse College, Dr. King’s alma mater.”

(Source: Washington Afro-American Newspaper, July 15th, 1969)

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day and the 30th anniversary of the federal holiday honoring his life and civil rights legacy.

Watch MLK’s full Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: President Obama Shows His Coptic Cross From Ethiopia

President Barack Obama talks with Ingrid Nilsen during YouTube's post-State of the Union interview live from the East Room of the White House on Friday, January 15, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, January 16th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A coptic cross from Ethiopia is among President Obama’s gifts that were given to him as keepsakes from ordinary people that he met around the world. In an interview with YouTube personality Ingrid Nilsen on Friday at the White House, Obama — who is the first sitting U.S. President to visit Ethiopia — revealed what he carried in his pocket to remind himself of the stories of individuals he met and the encouragement they gave him. In addition to the Ethiopian cross he carried he also shared additional items including rosary beads from Pope Francis and a lucky poker chip from a biker in Iowa given to him in 2007.

“Ever since I started running for office people started handing me things when I.. speak to a crowd,” President Obama explained in a video posted on the White House website. “Now I have a habit that I always carry around — and I have a whole bowl full of them and I can’t carry all of them around — but I will pick out a few things that I just stick in my pocket to remind me of all the people that I have met along the way and the stories they told me.”

Regarding the rosary beads that Pope Francis gave him Obama said it means a lot to him “because I so admire him and it makes me think about peace and promoting understanding and ethical behavior.”

“If I feel tired or I feel discouraged sometimes I can kind of reach into my pocket and I say yeah that’s something that I can overcome because somebody gave me this privilege to work on these issues that’s going to affect them, I better get back to work,” Obama said.

Obama Aide Yohannes Abraham Gives Keynote Address at YEP’s 5th Anniversary Gala
In Ethiopia, Obama Praises Contributions of Ethiopian Americans
President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Weeknd Scores Oscar Nomination

The Weeknd is the first Ethiopian artist to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. (Rap-Up.com)


The Weeknd can add Oscar nominee to his résumé. The singer-songwriter scored a nomination at the 88th annual Academy Awards, it was announced today.

His chart-topping hit “Earned It” off the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack is up in the Original Song category. His fellow nominees include Lady Gaga and Diane Warren (“Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground), Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes (“Writing’s On the Wall” from Spectre), David Lang (“Simple Song #3” from Youth), and J. Ralph and Antony Hegarty (“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction).

A humbled Weeknd took to Twitter to react to the honor. “It can’t get more surreal than this. thank you for the recognition @TheAcademy . truly a proud moment,” he tweeted.

Read more at Rap-Up.com »

Tadias Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
The Weeknd First Winner at 2015 American Music Awards
The Unstoppable Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd): Rebel with Harmony
The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to Guest Star in TV’s Hottest Hip-Hop Drama ‘Empire’
Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
Inspired by Michael Jackson, The Weeknd Goes from Rebellious Songwriter to Chorus Lover
The reclusive artist talks ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ (Radio.com)

With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Film ‘Lamb’ Makes American Debut, Gets U.S. Distributor

Yared Zeleke (C) at the premiere of 'Lamb' in New York on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — With its spectacular cinematography and solid storytelling the award-winning Ethiopian film, Lamb, continues to generate international buzz while making its U.S. debut at the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival in California earlier this month as well as at Lincoln Center’s New York Jewish Film Festival on Wednesday evening.

Brooklyn-based company, KimStim, has likewise recently announced that they have acquired distribution rights to the film in the U.S. and plan a theatrical release in Spring 2016.

Variety named the Director, Yared Zeleke, as one of its “10 Screenwriters to Watch” as Lamb became the first Ethiopian film to be screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and won ‘Best Feature Film’ later that same year at the Milan Film Festival.

The Los Angeles Times notes that Lamb “is a vision of Ethiopia that the average American might not expect: craggy emerald peaks, picturesque villages, a priest blessing a family for a festive religious celebration.”

Describing his decision to shoot the film in his native land Yared told the LA Times: “I wanted to do it in Ethiopia because it was my home. Despite the dictatorship and war and famine and poverty — I had even grown up in a slum — I still feel I had a fairy-tale childhood. There was a lot of love and good food and colorful characters and incredible Christian festivities that I’d grown up with. In Ethiopia, there is no colonial legacy. The culture is untouched. It’s a dream for a filmmaker and storyteller. Beauty and heartache, it’s there.”

The soundtrack to the film includes music by Krar Collective and Debo Band.

At the screening of ‘Lamb’ in New York City on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Q&A with Yared Zeleke – Director of Ethiopian Film ‘Lamb’
Lamb Review: Sheer Brilliance Knits Together First Ethiopian Film at Cannes (The Guardian)

Watch: Lamb Official Trailer

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Howard University Returns Sacred Manuscript to Ethiopia

Howard University Delegation Photo: (Top) Blain Zehrun, Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis, Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III, Lawrence Rodgers. Debre Libanos Photo: Tesfa Tours.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Howard University has sent a delegation to Ethiopia’s Debre Libanos Monastery to return a sacred, 14th-15th century manuscript that belonged to the Christian holy site. The university announced that the ancient document was part of one of the largest collections of Ethiopian sacred artifacts housed in the United States.

“The 240-piece collection was originally gifted to Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD) in 1993 by the late Dr. André Tweed, a prominent psychiatrist and alumnus of the University,” stated Howard University’s press release. “The manuscript is a rare text that provides historical insights into early Christianity and the connection between African and Judaic cultures and traditions.”

“The manuscript, known as Tweed MS150, contains two different texts: the Acts of Paul and the Acts of Serabamon,” the press release added.

The announcement highlighted the university’s “long-standing commitment..to honor the rich heritage and cultural artifacts throughout Africa, in particular Ethiopia.” By deciding to return the manuscript to its original source, Dr. Gay L. Byron, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, says that they “wanted to set an example for other schools, museums and institutions around this county and even throughout the world for what it means to have rare manuscripts actually in their rightful home of origin.”

Echoing similar sentiments, student Lawrence Rodgers, who is traveling to Ethiopia as part of the delegation, shares: “being able to travel to this ancient country and to be able to visit some of the oldest Christian churches in the world, seeing this rich Christian heritage on the continent of my ancestors is something that is very meaningful to me.”

Howard University alumni Memhir Dr. Zebene Lemma, Head Priest at Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Virginia, is also joining the delegation and adds that “this manuscript was written by Ethiopians. So returning the manuscript is a huge impact for Ethiopian church history, and it establishes a strong relationship with Howard University.”

Howard University, which was established in 1867, is a historically African American, private university located in Washington, D.C.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Artists Featured in Kennedy Museum Exhibit ‘Encounters Beyond Borders’

(Artwork by Ethiopian painter and mixed-media artist Wosene Worke Kosrof/wosene.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 11th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University is featuring three Ethiopian artists — Salem Mekuria (Boston, MA), Wosene Kosrof (Berkeley, CA) and Julie Mehretu (NYC) — in its upcoming exhibition entitled Encounters Beyond Borders: Contemporary Artists From The Horn of Africa, which brings together eight contemporary artists from the Horn of Africa, now residing in either North America or Europe.

“Pursuing international trajectories in the contemporary art world, the artists re-figure indigenous artistic content, thereby visually articulating multi-directional and transnational flows, frictions, networks, and mobilities within and between the continents of Africa, North America and other world spaces,” The Kennedy Museum of Art said in an announcement. “The works included in the exhibition become a means for understanding transnational complexities of diasporas, political unrest in the Horn and broader stories of migration.”

Additional participating artists in the exhibition include: Mohamed Hamid (Sudan/Columbus, Ohio), Dawit L. Petros (Eritrea/Canada/NYC), Rashid Ali (Somalia/London), Elsa Gebreyesus (Eritrea/Canada/Washington DC), Yegizaw Michael (Eritrea/Seattle) and Andrew Cross (England).

“These artists are exhibited together for the first time, guest-curated by Andrea Frohne, an Associate Professor of African art history at the School of Interdisciplinary Arts, College of Fine Arts at Ohio University,” the Museum said. “An opening reception for the exhibition will be held Friday, Jan. 22 from 5-7 p.m. Frohne will lead a gallery walk prior to the reception at 4 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.”

If You Go:
Encounters Beyond Borders: Contemporary Artists from the Horn of Africa
Jan 22-May 29th
Kennedy Museum of Art
Ohio University
536, 100 Ridges Circle
Athens, Ohio

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet Abai Schulze: Owner of Zaaf Collection, a Luxury Handbag Brand from Ethiopia

Abai Schulze is the founder of Ethiopian handbag brand Zaaf Collection based in Ethiopia. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, January 9th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Long before she launched Zaaf Collection, a luxury handbag business headquartered in Ethiopia, Abai Schulze spent her earliest years in Wollo Province and then in Addis before entering an orphanage at around age four and moving to America seven years later. “It had naturally shaped me in a dynamic way,” Abai recalls of her childhood in Addis. “Being adopted at a later age meant that I had a certain amount of attachment to Ethiopia.”

In addition, her adoptive family encouraged her to keep up with her written and spoken Amharic. “I became part of a large and loving family, and benefitted from excellent education and many opportunities to experience travel near and far,” she shares. That included earning a degree in Economics from George Washington University and returning back to Ethiopia on a number of occasions. “Across my secondary school and college years, my driving passion and vision were centered around using my education and experiences to create economic opportunities in my country of birth,” Abai told Tadias. At the same time Abai also pursued training in fine arts and design. “So it all came down to a convergence of both opportunity and passion,” she adds. “I understood the value of my education, and I was determined to leverage the potential and trends of my home country. My passion derives from the reality that design and creative expressions of “physical creation” had always been a driver for me, even as I spent my university years focused on the hard facts of economics.”

The name for her luxury handbag business, Zaaf, is the Amharic word for tree. “At the same time it is a simple word with symbolic meaning across all cultures,” Abai said. “I was inspired by the notion of deep roots reaching into abundantly rich Ethiopian culture and heritage, while bring out beautiful new branches of creativity and functionality, it is a theme that works well — most of our products are named after Ethiopian trees.”

Zaaf Collection started out with a small team of six, and has now grown to seventeen including artisans and administrative staff. “Our artisans work hard and we are always focused on quality control and continuous improvement in all we do,” Abai emphasizes. “We all take great pride in our work, and we operate as a team. I make sure we engage in times of team building that bring encouragement and motivation to all of us, and underscores the sense of purpose and excitement we have in bringing forth this vision and these beautiful products. Our team will continue to grow in number, along with skills and capacity.”

ZAAF workshop in Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)

The leather and hand-woven textiles that ZAAF uses to make its bags are all sourced from Ethiopia and produced by local artisans. “Real economic development is about producing top quality products using unique cultural, natural, and human resources that can find a place at the highest levels in the global marketplace,” Abai explained. “So the vision is really very big — it is about setting standards of excellence and innovation; it is about demonstrating and affirming that we can be a top fashion brand competing with the biggest names in the world in terms of both creative design and quality.”

Asked about her plans for expansion and where she sees her brand in 10 years time, Abai says “Ethiopia is the birthplace of ZAAF, and will serve as the foundation of a luxury lifestyle brand as we expand out to draw on the rich heritage and culture that can be found across the continent. In ten years we want to be a widely recognized and sought after brand that equates “Made in Africa” with brilliance in craftsmanship, artistry, and deep cultural roots.”

Model with Zaaf Collection handbag. (Courtesy photo)

Zaaf Collection, which launched two years ago, has already been showcased at New York Fashion Week and featured in Vogue, Elle and Lucky magazines. Last month Abai — who is the recipient of the UNESCO Tremplin 2014 Prize for Entrepreneurship and one of the finalists for the 2015 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship — was a speaker at the UNESCO conference in Paris themed “Emergence in Africa.”

“We are off to a good start,” Abai says. “I look forward to rewarding and exciting things ahead.”

You can learn more about Abai Schulze’s work at zaafcollection.com

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Genna Photos From Around the world

An Ethiopian worshipper at Cairo's Orthodox Cathedral, January 7th, 2015. (Reuters)


Communities from Europe, Africa and the Middle East marked the event – each with their own unique traditions – on Thursday, in line with the Julian calendar.

Wacth the video at BBC.com »

Thousands of Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia made their way to city of Lalibela. (Getty Images)

Click here to see more photos of Christmas celebrations from around the world »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Red Moon Letters: Memories From Ethiopia

Gladys Fellows serves Emperor Haile Selassie a hamburger during a fundraiser for the Red Cross in Addis Ababa in May 1953. (Courtesy Kristin Fellows)

Tadias Magazine
BY Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Red Moon Letters is a new photojournalism book project on Ethiopia by documentary filmmaker Kristin Fellows. The book, which is currently being released via weekly online installments, is based on a collection of letters that the author’s grandmother, Gladys Fellows, wrote when she resided in Ethiopia between 1947-1954.

Gladys’ husband, Perry Fellows, had been appointed to serve as Economic and Industrial Advisor to Emperor Haile Selassie following the end of World War II and Italy’s defeat in Ethiopia. Perry and Gladys Fellows relocated from Washington, D.C. to Addis Ababa in 1947 at the request of Ethiopian Economist Yilma Deressa — who was then Ethiopia’s Vice Finance Minister and later Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to the United States.

Prior to becoming Emperor Haile Selassie’s advisor Perry Fellows was Chief Engineer for public works administration in the United States during a time when the nation was just coming out of the depression era in the 1930s. “He was in charge of a national system that built roads and bridges to help develop the country’s infrastructure and give people jobs at the same time,” Kristin told Tadias. “He oversaw more than 5,000 projects. It was a jobs program for the public interest. A lot of our infrastructure dates back to that time.”

In the introduction to The Red Moon Letters Ethiopian historian Dr. Bahru Zewde notes that the first official contacts between Ethiopia and the United States during this period were made in 1943 during Yilma Deressa’s visit to the United States. “The U.S. response,” Zewde writes, “came in the form of an extension of their Lend-Lease to Ethiopia and the sending of a technical mission in May 1944. The latter, known as the Fellows Mission, could be said to have laid the groundwork for the subsequent American involvement in Ethiopia.”

“The Fellows Mission was named for Perry (my grandfather) who headed up the project.” Kristin states. “Pleased with the Technical Mission’s evaluation of his country’s industrial and economic prospects, Haile Selassie directed his Minister of Foreign Affairs & Ambassador to the United States, Yilma Deressa, to court Perry, and offer him a position as the Emperor’s Director of Industry and Economic Planning in April 1947.” The report prepared by Mr. Fellows was subsequently published by the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce. While in Ethiopia Mr. Fellows also served as Chairman of the Board at Ethiopian Airlines in its early years. The Fellows also sponsored the education of over 30 children during their 7 year stay.

Kristin first visited Ethiopia when she was 11 years old. She returned in 2008 when preparing to write about her grandmother’s letters. More than sixty years after her grandparent’s trip Kristin now shares the insights gleaned from their experience in Addis Ababa during this post WWII era of renewal and reconstruction. Through weekly letters diligently written every week to her eldest son — Kristen’s father — Gladys captured both palace life as well as everyday adventures as residents of Addis Ababa.

“It’s been 12 years since I first started working on this book,” Kristin tells Tadias. “And instead of waiting to publish after completion, I have decided to post installations on my blog on a weekly basis and look forward to receiving feedback from readers in the process.” Kristin plans to publish the entire content as a book in the near future. In the process of conducting research for the book Kristin has also shared the work with historians Dr. Bahru Zewde and Dr. Richard Pankhurst.

As for the title of the book, Kristin named it The Red Moon Letters after reading about an incident described in one of Gladys’ letters. One evening in 1953 her grandparents had been woken up in the middle of the night with the house staff banging on their windows and motioning for them to come outside. Quite startled the couple did not know why the house staff was upset. The staff pointed to the night sky and the presence of a red moon, demanding why it was red. Gladys tried to muster up a scientific explanation in the limited Amharic she had learned, but the staff would have none of the explanation. Instead they told Gladys and Perry that the last time there was a red moon in the sky was the night before the Italian invasion, and they wanted to know if this was a bad omen and if they should head to church to pray the entire next day. “It was a significant story,” said Kristin, because it made her realize why her grandparents traveled all the way to Ethiopia in the first place: to assist in uplifting the country following the Italian invasion during World War II.

“My grandfather loved Ethiopia, and he was very meticulous about his work,” Kristin says. And as a result her family now has a deep connection to the country, people and cultures. The Red Moon Letters is a personal attempt to share the Fellows’ everyday experience in Ethiopia during this unique time, and to provide an alternate view of the era.

Below is a chapter from The Red Moon Letters posted on January 5th, which provides a backstory of how Perry Fellows came to serve as one of the Emperor’s advisors.


and here is an excerpt of one of Gladys’ letters that the book is based upon:

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
16 February 1953

I was awakened at 3 am last night by a knock on our bedroom window. Thinking one of the guards had bumped into it accidentally, I didn’t respond. But almost at once it came again so I called out, “What do you want?” In urgent tones the guards whispered they needed to speak to Perry.

Worried there might be thieves, I woke him up immediately and the two of us rushed out into the freezing cold night wearing nothing but our old, thin p.j.’s.

There we found the guards, neither of whom speak any English, anxiously beating their heads with their hands. They practically pushed Perry around to the back of the house and pointed up at the moon, which was a startling red. I have never seen anything like it before.

Perry spent much of the following hour trying to calm them down with assurances that everything was all right, but they were not so easily satisfied.

When the cook came in this morning, I asked him why the guards had been so frightened. He told me the only other time Ethiopians had ever seen a red moon was the night the Italians came. I tried to explain to him that it was probably just some atmospheric condition – a little hard with my limited Amharic and his limited English. And though he is smart and rather modern in his thinking, I could see he was still concerned. He said the old men would not believe it after all they had suffered.

When Adamaso came to work, he too was very unhappy, as he is one of the older ones here. The guards wanted to know if they should go to church and pray all day.

Have You Seen Ethiopia AD in the New York Times Lately?

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Why Did U.S. Close Ethiopia Drone Base?

In the following article Foreign Policy magazine looks at various reasons why the U.S. decided to abandon its drone base in Ethiopia including possibly strained diplomatic relationship over human rights issues. (FP)

Foreign Policy


Although State Department officials maintained that the move had nothing to do with bilateral differences between the U.S. and Ethiopia, some experts speculated that Addis Ababa may have had reservations about hosting the U.S. drones.

Terrence Lyons, a regional expert and associate professor at George Mason University, told FP that the base’s closure could signal “the U.S. is having difficulties with its relationship with Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia’s authoritarian ruling government won nearly 100 percent of the national vote in May and has come under fire from human rights organizations that claim it has unfairly cracked down on journalists and activists. Domestically, the ruling party has also had to face some unrest in the Muslim community, where many believe the government has overstepped its boundaries and interfered with the country’s official Islamic authority.

“It could be that from the Ethiopian government side, being seen as one of the countries supporting drone bases killing Muslims in the region might have been problematic,” Lyons said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria O’Connell denied that bilateral tensions were involved in the decision and said it was “based on Africom’s assessment of the situation and the usefulness” of the base.

Read the full article at foreignpolicy.com »

US Stops Flying Drones From Ethiopia
White House Confirms Existence of U.S. Military Drones in Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Film ‘If Only I Were That Warrior’ Screens at Best of Diaspora Festival

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 1st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The new documentary film on Ethiopia, If Only I Were That Warrior, will be screened at the Best of African Diaspora International Film Festival on January 9th, 2016 in New York City.

“We are proud to present this year, in the context of the Best of the 23rd Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival, the screening of ‘If Only I Were That Warrior,’ organizers announced. The film will be showing at Teachers College, Columbia University as part of the festival’s three-day program from January 8th to January 10th and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

If Only I Were That Warrior, which was shot in Ethiopia, Italy and the United States, narrates personal stories from the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. It was inspired after the director Valerio Ciriaci and producer Isaak Liptzin attended a 2013 panel discussion held at New York University concerning the recent unveiling of a statue in Italy honoring the fascist war criminal Rodolfo Graziani — Mussolini’s top enforcer in Ethiopia during the occupation in the late 1930s. Strangely enough, more than seven decades later, “Graziani was honored with a mausoleum and memorial park, built at taxpayers’ expense, in a village south of Rome,” BBC reported in 2012. “He was notorious as Benito Mussolini’s military commander in colonial wars in Ethiopia and Libya where he carried out massacres and used chemical weapons.”

In Ethiopia, among Graziani’s numerous crimes against humanity, is the brutal Yekatit 12 massacre following a failed assassination attempt against him in February 1937. Graziani unleashed a war of retribution and terror in Addis Ababa and across the country indiscriminately slaughtering as many as 30,000 Ethiopians and imprisoning many more. According to BBC Graziani who was denounced by the League of Nations and brought in front of the United Nations War Crimes Commission “was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment for war crimes in 1948 but was released from jail after serving only two years, and died in 1955.”

The NYU 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,” Centro Primo Levim (CPL) — which also hosted a screening of the documentary last Spring — stated in a press release. “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.”

CPL adds: “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
Best of African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF)
Screenings of ‘If Only I Were That Warrior
When: Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 2pm
Where: Teachers College, Columbia University
The Chapel
525 W. 120TH ST
New York, NY 10027
Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com
More info & schedule at: www.nyadiff.org

Tadias Book Review: Jeff Pearce’s ‘Prevail’: Personal Stories From Mussolini’s Invasion of Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Spotlight: Five Ethiopian-Led Initiatives for Social Change

School children in Nazret/Adama, Ethiopia (photo courtesy: Seeds of Africa Foundation).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, December 31st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – In our end-of-the-year spotlight Tadias features five Ethiopian-led grassroots Diaspora initiatives that focus on leadership & service, education, environment & social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and the arts.

Leadership & Service: Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship

(The first class of Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows. Image: Deseta Design).

When two Ethiopian Americans, Rediate Tekeste and Meseret Hailu, sent out a survey via social media in early 2015 to assess their millennial peer’s views and interests regarding their sense of cultural heritage and connection to Ethiopia they were surprised with the 400 enthusiastic responses they received to their queries. They took the feedback and launched the first Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship, which provides youth with leadership, service and creative storytelling skills while participating in a 6-month program in collaboration with local-led partner organizations in Ethiopia. The first class of Fellows just completed their service and recently shared their experiences with Tadias. Fellow Tewodros Ayele worked with the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia focusing on the intersection of education and leadership. “Ethiopia welcomed me with open arms from the day I arrived, and for the past six months has shown me how much a part of her I am” he shares. As Tewodros plans to pursue a PhD in Education in the coming year he says “I look forward to what the future holds for me and I know whatever comes into my life will be led by the desire I have to give back to Ethiopia.” Fellow Liat Desta adds “I have learned that as an Ethiopian Diaspora member, I have a duty to help this country, that I call home, grow.” Fellow Ebanezere Tadele likewise was captivated by the unique experience to lead and serve in Ethiopia. “Being in Ethiopia has been such a blessing,” he states. “The beautiful country always makes me reconsider and re-prioritize my beliefs and perspective. It forces me to open up my eyes, mind, and heart to what I hold dear. This experience has truly changed my life, directed me and pushed me to grow in ways I couldn’t have expected.” For Naome Seifu her trip as a Fellow was the first she ever took to Ethiopia. “Not only have I taken a step into my future, but I’ve learned more about myself” she says. Having completed the fellowship Naome has decided to stay for two more years with a full-time job as a Creatives Coordinator for a new channel launched in Addis. The fellowship experience is equally “one of the best decisions of my life” says Eden Mesfin. “Watching my deep connection to Ethiopia, how I have invested myself in the people and groups I spent time with each day has been the most enriching experience.” Eden has also received job offers and plans to stay for another year. “It’s an honor to dedicate your work and life to seeing change in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is my heart, and I am proud to continue my life here” she tells Tadias. We congratulate the first class of 2015, and look forward to many more young leaders participating in programs developed by the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship. Learn more at Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship.

Environment & Social Entrepreneurship: Dir Biyabir

(Bee Keeping program, Sebeta Nunnery, Ethiopia. Photo: Dir Biyabir).

Dir Biyabir Anbessa Yasir (when spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion) is a popular Ethiopian proverb that captures the significance of collaboration for success. Haeran Fisseha, a graduate of Stanford and Michigan State University with degrees in Industrial and Electrical Engineering, founded the non-profit Dir Biyabir and developed a network to mobilize resources for the reduction of extreme poverty by investing in people and building their capacity to help themselves. While most NGOs spend a certain percentage of their capital on overhead, the leadership team of Dir Biyabir covers their own expenses so that 100% of the proceeds go directly to fund local initiatives in Ethiopia. Dir Biyabir focuses on impact, accountability, efficiency, transparency, and the empowerment of individuals through various programs including environmental rehabilitation, academic sponsorship of students, building of infrastructure, and the provision of vocational training and social entrepreneurship training for women in various communities such as: bee keeping and dairy farming skills for Ethiopian orthodox nuns at Sebeta; handicraft made from doum palm leaves to generate income for Afar women; poultry farming business training for rural school girls; and support of a hand-made cotton textile enterprise for survivors of leprosy in Addis Ababa. Dir Biyabir’s non-existent overhead as well as comprehensive social entrepreneurship and environmental rehabilitation programs offer a unique, local-driven and effective way to promote long-term, positive change in rural communities across Ethiopia. Learn more at Dir Biyabir.

Education: Seeds of Africa Foundation

(School children in Nazret/Adama, Ethiopia. Photo: Seeds of Africa Foundation).

This past August Former Miss Ethiopia, Atti Worku, received the 2015 Diaspora Youth Excellence Award in recognition of her work with Seeds of Africa — a non-profit focused on providing Pre-K to 12th grade education for youth in Nazret/Adama while incorporating a holistic community development program including adult literacy, health education and small business funding to their families. An Adama native, Atti Worku, created Seeds of Africa in 2006 launching educational programs in her mother’s backyard. Following her studies in sustainable development, education and social movements at Columbia University Atti launched the Dream School Initiative in 2014 to fundraise for a state-of-the-art education facility and has already raised $1.3 million of its $2.2 million goal. “It will meet the most rigorous international academic standards and prepare its students to succeed in high school, college and beyond” Atti says. “Our goal is to move beyond traditional aid models, providing more than just short-term relief efforts by giving our community the skills they need to support themselves and rise above poverty.” Learn more at Seeds of Africa.

Arts: Kenna’s One-for-One Artist Platform

(Musician Kenna Zemedkun. Image: Songs for Flight Campaign Video).

Shortly following his Grammy nomination Ethiopian-born musician and social activist Kenna (Née Kenna Zemedkun) set off with friends on a mission to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, in an initiative called “Summit on the Summit” — an effort to raise awareness about the global clean water crisis. Born in Addis and raised in the United States, the issue of access to clean water was a personal one for the artist whose father had suffered from waterborne diseases as a child in Ethiopia. “If he hadn’t survived, I wouldn’t be here” Kenna told Tadias. “That is what resonates with me.” His climb not only raised awareness but also helped prevent cuts in congressional funding for clean water initiatives. In 2015, Kenna has taken his social activism to another level as he independently produces his new LP entitled Songs for Flight, which he launched on the world’s first One-For-One Artist platform. Seeking a sustainable, social entrepreneurship slant that includes donating 50% of the profits to international causes that the artist and his fans care about Kenna states “My inheritance is my driver for the causes I have chosen. Water (human right) for my father and his struggle as a child and the continued struggle of so many to have access to clean, safe drinking water. Women’s rights because of my mother and sister. And the Arts because it has been the vehicle for me to be able to focus on the causes my family and I care about.” Watch Kenna’s video on One-for-One Artist platform and learn more at Kenna.com.

Grassroots Organizations & Philanthropy: Africans in the Diaspora

(Siiqqee Women’s Development Association in Ethiopia. Photo: Africans in the Diaspora).

While working in the non-profit world with multilateral organizations such as UNDP and Human Rights Watch, and managing the Africa portfolio in more than 20 countries through the Global Fund for Children, Solome Lemma says she “saw first hand the ways that African were moving, shaking and transforming their communities — from Egypt to Zambia to Senegal to Ethiopia.” It got her thinking about how “African ideas, innovations, skills and resources exist, and yet we continue to be painted as a continent of need and dependency. This needed to change,” she said. After meeting a like-minded colleague from Zimbabwe, Zanele Sibanda, Solome co-founded and launched Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) to “consolidate the financial, intellectual, and social capital of Diaspora Africans and advance change on the continent.” Her organization follows a three-pronged approach to development that includes: a funding platform that Diaspora Africans can utilize to support local, grassroots organizations in African countries; development of an expertise network to facilitate collaborations between Diaspora and Continental Africans; and amplifying the voices of people committed to contributing to the continent’s progress. “The idea of giving back is something I have carried for a while,” Solome says. “As someone who has dedicated all of my studies and work to Africa, I often asked myself, what’s the best role for me as an African? How do I give back responsibly? How do I use the access and privilege that I have had and transfer it back home?” To date AiD has collaborated with 13 organizations on the ground in 7 African nations. AiD has partnered with International Development Exchange (IDEX) and plans to work with four women’s organizations in Ethiopia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Kenya in the coming year. Learn more at Africans in the Diaspora.

Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures

Genzebe Dibaba celebrates winning 1500m World title in Beijing on August 25, 2015; Obama visits Ethiopia and Zone 9 bloggers receive the 2015 Press Freedom Awards. (Photo: Getty Images, Reuters and Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – Amid political tension and tragedy that dominated headlines in 2015 there were also many uplifting stories including Genzebe Dibaba being named the 2015 World Athlete of the Year to the Zone 9 bloggers receiving the 2015 International Press Freedom Awards. 2015 was also the year that U.S. President Barack Obama became the first-ever sitting American President to visit Ethiopia.

We wish all of you the best in the coming year! And we look forward to covering more stories in 2016.

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014
Tadias Year in Review: 2013 in Pictures
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013
Top 10 Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Launch of Ethiopic Studies Program at University of Toronto

A community public forum was held by Bikila Award for the establishment of an Ethiopic Studies program at the University of Toronto on Saturday December 19, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Alpha Abebe

Published: Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Toronto — The Bikila Award organization in Toronto, Canada has launched a campaign to raise funds and support for a future Ethiopic Studies Program at the University of Toronto.

The initiative began when Dr. Michael Gervers, Professor of History at the University of Toronto, made an impassioned speech at the 2015 Bikila Awards about the importance of documenting, preserving, and teaching ancient Ethiopic history. Professor Gervers currently teaches a course entitled ‘Cultural History of Ethiopia,’ and has helped to digitize the contents of over 100,000 ancient Ethiopic manuscripts and books through an initiative called Mäzgäbä Se’elat—treasury of Ethiopian images.

Professor Gervers proposed that an endowment be established to fund a Chair and Program in Ethiopic Studies. He also made a generous offer to personally match donations made to the endowment up to $50,000. “The endowment will support courses in Ethiopic Studies for undergraduate and graduate students, with a particular focus on Ge’ez language and the rich cultural and intellectual history of Ethiopia,” states the University of Toronto campaign page. A group of Bikila Award organizers and past recipients began to mobilize the Ethiopian community to take up Professor Gervers’ challenge.

Both the Centre for Medieval Studies and Department in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto quickly threw their support behind the initiative and facilitated a $50,000 match contribution from the university. They will also help to design and implement the prospective program.

With the initial endowment established, the Bikila Award organized a community forum to launch an awareness and fundraising campaign within the Ethiopian community. The forum was held on December 19th, 2015 at the University of Toronto and was attended by over 200 people from across the province.

The event was held at the University of Toronto on Saturday December 19, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Guest speakers at the forum included: Dr. Gelila Tilahun, who worked with Professor Gervers and others to develop statistical dating methods for historical documents; Professor Suzanne Akbari, Director of the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto; Alpha Abebe, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Oxford; Dr. Fikre Germa, Family Physician at Brantford General Hospital; and Ato Tessema Mulugeta, President of Bikila Award, Inc. The foremost scholar of the Ge’ez language alive today, Professor Getatchew Haile, also joined the panel discussion via Skype.

Several people from the audience shared their enthusiasm and support for the initiative during the discussion period. There was a jubilant mood in the room, and a wide consensus that this was an exciting opportunity that the community wanted to support.

Over $20,000 was raised by the Ethiopian community at the forum and through online donations made by people from as far as France. While fundraising efforts will continue in order to achieve the larger vision of a full Ethiopic Studies Program, the university has announced that it will begin by offering a course in Ge’ez this coming academic year.

To learn more about the initiative and/or make a donation please visit: https://slate.adobe.com/cp/ODPLq/

About the Author:
Alpha Abebe is a doctoral candidate in International Development at Oxford University. Her research interests include African diasporas, diaspora engagement in development, the sociology of migration, and the politics of race and ethnicity.

2015 Bikila Award Ceremony in Toronto

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015

Images of some of the top Ethiopia-related arts & culture stories covered by Tadias in 2015. (File photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — – 2015 was a vibrant year filled with acclaim and awards for several emerging artists of Ethiopian heritage including the musician The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) and filmmaker Yared Zeleke. Singer and songwriter Mizan Kidanu likewise earned praise from Rolling Stone Magazine as she released her first EP album. As we approach the end of the year here are 10 Arts & Culture headlines that top our list.

The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye)

Prince (right) presented The Weeknd with the award for favorite album – Soul/R&B for “Beauty Behind the Madness” at the American Music Awards in L.A., California on Sunday, November 22nd, 2015. (Photo: AP)

By far the biggest Ethiopian name to emerge on the global music scene in 2015 is The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye). The Ethiopian-Canadian superstar’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” won favorite album in the Soul/R&B category at this year’s American Music Awards in Los Angeles last month. The Weeknd accepted the coveted prize from the American musical legend, Prince. But the best is yet to come for The Weeknd as he has been nominated in multiple categories for the upcoming 2016 Grammy Awards including for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. “These kids, you know, they don’t have a Michael Jackson,” The Weeknd told the New York Times earlier this Summer. “They don’t have a Prince. They don’t have a Whitney. Who else is there? Who else can really do it at this point?” BET noted: “Though Prince can still really do it, Weeknd has a point. His latest album, Beauty Behind the Madness sat atop the Billboard 200 for three consecutive weeks (the first since Taylor Swift’s 1989 to do so), and broke the Top 10 in more than ten countries.”

Yared Zeleke’s Film ‘Lamb’

Actors Kidist Siyum and Rediat Amare with director Yared Zeleke at the premiere for Lamb at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 2015. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

Yared Zeleke’s brilliant movie Lamb, which is the first Ethiopian film to be an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, is also Ethiopia’s Oscar entry for 2015 under the Best Foreign Language film category. Yared’s film won ‘Best Feature Film’ at the 2015 Milano Film Festival, and the Guardian declared that “Yared Zeleke’s sharp eye for the culture of his homeland is showcased in this tremendous ethnographic debut…What’s most exciting about Lamb is that it is entirely from the inside out.” In an interview with Tadias Yared who attended New York University’s film school said: “For me, it’s not only about cinematic art but your point of view as a citizen of the modern world. I am a “cultural omnivore” of Ethiopian origin who tries to make sense of this vast, complicated world through the work I do. Film is a powerful medium to get your point across and/or engage in a dialogue with a wider audience.” Lamb is scheduled to premiere in the United States on January 13 at the 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival’s opening night. Read more »

Elias Sime’s Exhibit at James Cohan Gallery in New York

Elias Sime’s “Tightrope 7,” a collage of reclaimed electronic components adorned with items such as buttons and batteries. (Credit: Elias Sime & Adam Reich/James Cohan, New York/Shanghai)

Ethiopian artist and sculptor Elias Sime’s latest works were exhibited at James Cohan Gallery in New York from September 10 to October 17, 2015. The series called Tightrope included artwork made from the “discarded innards of computers and machines,” that Elias gathers from “Merkato’s Menalesh Tera section in his hometown of Addis Ababa.” In its review of Elias’ work the New York Times observed that he “makes complex monumental art from tiny parts.. painting like abstract pieces, stitched from yarn, of biomorphic forms in grays and browns. Mr. Sime has said that the title refers to the precarious balance a city must maintain to survive and thrive, and “Tightrope 7” might be read as a bird’s-eye view of Addis Ababa, now in the midst of a disorienting transformation.” Read more »

Chester Higgins’ Homage to Ethiopia

Priest in the Abuna Yemata cave at 8, 600 feet. Hawzein, Ethiopia. 2011. (Photo by Chester Higgins, Jr.)

The acclaimed American photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. presented an exhibition called Zéma at Skoto Gallery in New York City in May 2015. 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. Describing his latest exhibit Higgins states that Zema is “a love song celebrating Ethiopia’s unique landscape and people as well as impressionistic imagery honoring ancestral spirits along the Blue Nile.”

Musician Thomas Gobena (Tommy T) Appointed UNICEF Ambassador to Ethiopia

In October 2015 Tommy T (Thomas Gobena) was appointed as UNICEF National Ambassador to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian American musician, who is a bass player for the New York-based gypsy band Gogol Bordello, follows in the footsteps of UNICEF Ambassadors Marcus Samuelsson, Aster Aweke, Abelone Melesse and Hannah Godefa. At a signing ceremony held at the UN agency’s office in Addis Ababa Tommy said: “I hope I will be an Ambassador who will awaken hope, inspire action, and nurture kindness and respect to all. I hope with all my heart that my modest contribution will be inspiring to as many youth as possible because inspiration fuels hope.” We congratulate Tommy and we wish him all the best in both his artistic and social endeavors!

Meklit Hadero at TED Talk

In this video from this past summer TED Senior Fellow Meklit Hadero speaks about how everyday sounds (nature, language and silence) inspire her creativity. “As a singer/songwriter people often ask me about my influences or as I call them my sonic lineages,” says the Ethiopian American artist. “And I could easily tell you that I was shaped with the Jazz and Hip-Hop that I grew up with, by the Ethiopian heritage of my ancestors, or by the 1980s pop on my childhood radio stations, but there is another genre. How do the sounds that we hear everyday influence the music that we make?” She says “the world is alive with musical expression,”as she explores popular Amharic interjections. “We are already immersed.”

Mizan Kidanu’s New EP

Another talented artist from Ethiopia to watch for in the coming years is singer and songwriter Mizan Kidanu whose newly released debut EP Dark Blue is already receiving high praise and national media profile in the United States including features on NPR. Rolling Stone recently ranked her EP as one of the 20 Best R&B Albums of 2015 along with The Weekend and Ethiopian American singer Kelela Mizanekristos. Mizan Kidanu who was raised in Ethiopia relocated to the U.S. four years ago. “Her choice of relocation after graduating from college in Delaware was decisive in that it exposed her to whole ecosystems of musicians and showed her, from the benefit of other artists’ experiences, that talent is not the prerequisite of success,” Heran Abate wrote two years ago in a Tadias article profiling Mizan. Rolling Stone notes that Mizan “knows how to make songs that make you move, too: “Looking For” casts her as the seductress over a throbbing club beat, but her “what are we looking for” chorus reveals unease over whether she’ll be embraced or rejected.” We wish Mizan continued success! Read more »

Marcus and Maya Samuelsson

Ethiopian-born chef, restaurateur and author Marcus Samuelsson and his model wife Maya Gate Haile traveled to Ethiopia earlier this year with a CNN crew led by their friend TV host Anthony Bourdain. Marcus and Maya shared their personal stories and welcomed Bourdain to their family homes while proudly showing the world the rich and communal nature of food preparation in their birth country. It was refreshing to see an international spotlight being focused on the beautiful culture of the Gurage of Ethiopia to which Maya belongs as well as the nation’s coffee tradition and Addis Ababa’s emerging skateboard scene among other highlights. Tadias was a proud partner with CNN and Food Republic in organizing an advance screening of the show at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem on October 9th, 2015. The sold-out evening featured a conversation with Marcus about behind-the-scenes stories and experiences. In addition, the event included a Q&A session and film trailer presentations by Julie Mehretu regarding the U.S. premiere of Difret and Teddy Goitom’s Afripedia platform. Read more »

National Museum of African Art Presents Haile Gerima’s Acclaimed Films

Haile Gerima’s films were featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in D.C. from November 6th to 14th, 2015.(Courtesy image)

In November 2015 the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. hosted a week-long screening of Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima’s most critically acclaimed films including Adwa: An African Victory, Bush Mama, Sankofa, and Teza. The program — produced in collaboration with Positive Productions Inc., Minab Arts, Humanities D.C., and the Diverse City Fund — was entitled “Streams of a River African and African-American History and Identity in Haile Gerima’s Films” and was followed by panel discussions led by artists, activists and scholars. The award-winning director is also working on a new film called Yetut Lij. Read more »

Tadias Interview With Real-life Inspirations for Award-Winning Film Difret

Difret Producer Mehret Mandefro, Women’s Rights Activist Aberash Bekele and Lawyer Meaza Ashenafi (Photo: Tadias)

Indiewire has called Difret one of the 12 best films about girls and women of 2015. Tadias Magazine caught up with the real-life inspirations for the award-winning Ethiopian film — Aberash Bekele and her lawyer Meaza Ashenafi as well as Producer Mehret Mandefro — during the movie’s U.S. premiere in New York City in October 2015. Below is our conversation with three of the women behind Difret about the case that launched a global spotlight on the practice of abduction for marriage (telefa) and the educational efforts underway to end it.

Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014
Tadias Year in Review: 2013 in Pictures
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013
Top 10 Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Addis Fine Art Opens New Gallery With Inaugural Exhibition

A painting by Ethiopian artist Yosef Lule (Past and Future I, 2015, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 40 cm), one of the works featured at the upcoming inaugural exhibition of Addis Fine Art Gallery in Ethiopia. (Courtesy of AFA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, December 26th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Addis Fine Art announced that it will launch its new gallery in Addis Ababa on January 9th, 2016 with an inaugural exhibition featuring contemporary Ethiopian artists including Dawit Abebe, Workneh Bezu, Tamrat Gezahegne, Yosef Lule, Leikun Nahusenay, Emanuel Tegene and Michael Tsegaye.

The group exhibition entitled Addis Calling “celebrates the breadth and depth of artistic practice in Addis Ababa through the presentation of works by seven contemporary artists who live and work in the capital,” Addis Fine Art said in a press release. “The exhibition — a vibrant mix of painting, photography and mixed media — reflects the dynamic artistic activity in Addis Ababa today.”

Founded by Mesai Haileleul and Rakeb Sile, Addis Fine Art gallery aims to represent established and emerging international artists primarily from Ethiopia and the Diaspora.

Founders of Addis Fine Art Mesai Haileleul & Rakeb Sile. (Photo: 2015 Addis Fine Art)

Addis Fine Arts’s official website states that “AFA strives to promote the work of Ethiopian artists on a global stage, increasing their visibility and inscribing their practice within the global language of cultural production.”

If You Go:
Addis Calling Exhibit
Jan 9th through Feb 12th, 2016
Bole Medhane Alem
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 913 426553

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, December 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian opposition leader and former political prisoner Professor Bekele Gerba — who visited Washington, D.C. this past summer to raise human rights concerns with U.S. officials — has been arrested again, this time in connection with the massive student-led protests rocking Ethiopia’s Oromia region.

OFC chairman Merera Gudina told Reuters that police arrested Bekele on Thursday, December 24th along with the OFC’s Assistant Secretary Dejene Tafa. “They suspect that our party and some of our members are part of the protest movement, that we have been inciting the demonstrations,” Merera told Reuters. “We do not know when Bekele and Dejene will be released or be charged for anything.”

In 2011, after his meeting with researchers from Amnesty International, he was arrested on what Gerba believed were “trumped-up terrorism charges, often used in Ethiopia against political dissidents.” NPR states. “In court he made remarks that have been widely circulated in Ethiopia and beyond: “I am honored to learn that my non-violent struggles and humble sacrifices for the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people, to whom I was born without a wish on my part but due to the will of the Almighty, have been considered a crime and to be unjustly convicted.”

“Bekele Gerba was languishing in a high security Ethiopian jail, hearing the cries of fellow prisoners being beaten and tortured,” NPR noted in a recent profile of Bekele Gerba.

Addis Standard published a bio of Bekele Gerba in May 2015 highlighting that the father of four “graduated with a BA degree in foreign language and literature from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) and taught in Dembi Dolo and Nejo high schools in western Ethiopia..and went to Adama Teachers’ College, 98kms south of Addis Abeba, where he taught English and Afaan Oromo. Suspected of allegedly supporting students’ riot that took place a year before, Bekele was dismissed in 2005 by the college. He then came to Addis Abeba where he taught in two private universities for two years until he was employed in 2007 as a full time lecturer by the AUU where he continued teaching English. Bekele’s political career began in 2009 when he joined the opposition party, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), as a member of the executive committee and head of the public relations department. Bekele participated and lost in the 2010 parliamentary elections in which the ruling EPRDF claimed more than 99% of the seats in parliament.”

Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Returning to Ethiopia by Dinaw Mengestu

In the following essay published this month by Guernica magazine, Ethiopian American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu reflects on returning to Ethiopia. (Photograph: The MacArthur Foundation/Getty Images)

Guernica Magazine

By Dinaw Mengestu

Growing up, we had strange bedtime rituals. In Peoria, Illinois, when my sister and I were very young, my father would sit between our beds and tell us stories of animals who fought, lied, and cheated their way through the jungle world he invented for us. There were dense forests, green hills, and rivers. There were lions, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, and laughing hyenas, which my father, in his raspy scarred voice, would imitate. The heroes of the stories were always two mischievous monkeys who could cheat all the other animals who, while taller, stronger, and more ferocious than them, lacked their wit. In the end the monkeys always found refuge at the top of the tallest trees—a vantage point from which, in retrospect, they would have had a clear view of all the havoc they had caused.

As a child, I didn’t think of the stories as being particularly related to Ethiopia, or, on a broader scale, Africa. I didn’t think about where this landscape, with trees that, according to my father, were larger than anything I could imagine, came from, or what these animals, whom my father spoke of as if real intimates, were doing in the crowded and deeply divided bedroom my sister and I shared. They were ordinary fictions, bedtime tales invented wholesale each night, sprung effortlessly from my father’s mind like a long, deep breath. And so there he is, in both memory and imagination, straddling the narrow space between our beds with these stories that my sister and I were both desperate to hear, clueless as to how far they had traveled to wash up, as if by accident, in Middle America.

My father, of course, eventually stopped with the stories. He might have done so because we no longer asked him to tell us them, or because we were old enough to read on our own, or because it was the mid-1980s, and Caterpillar, where my father worked, was going through a round of layoffs that would bankrupt my parents’ plans of buying their first home. Or perhaps he stopped because suddenly, everywhere we turned, Ethiopia, or one tragic version of it, was staring back at us. There it was on the evening news, dying of hunger, and there it was in the well-intentioned questions of strangers who must have been baffled to hear my father declare that he was a political exile, one who had fled a civil war, the same one that was helping cause the famine. I became conscious around then of my father’s politics and that growing consciousness meant eschewing childish things. I saw how he read and watched the news with an almost religious devotion. I remember him voting for Reagan as a newly minted US citizen, because Reagan, like my father, hated the communists, both in Russia and the ones who had taken over Ethiopia. I remember staying up past my bedtime to watch the news of the US bombing of Libya. It was a strangely celebratory mood in our apartment—my father applauding the president as he spoke from the Oval Office, and then, later, calling the White House to share his overwhelming, wholehearted support. The Libyans weren’t communists, but Gaddafi was a tyrant, just like Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam. On the scale of things, Tripoli wasn’t that far from Addis Ababa, and now, after that evening, who knew where in Africa America’s bombs might land next.

Read more at Guernicamag.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia

At a funeral for protesters killed in Ethiopia's Oromia region over Addis Ababa "masterplan." (Photo: BBC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, December 19th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — As protests in Ethiopia continue to grow over land administration and urban expansion issues in Oromia region, so are the procession of mourners at the burial services for those killed by Federal police in the last three weeks.

Human Rights Watch said on Friday that “Ethiopian security forces have killed dozens of protesters since November 12, 2015 in Oromia regional state, according to reports from the region. The security forces should stop using excessive lethal force against protesters.”

At least 75 killed

HRW added: “Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists. Government officials have acknowledged only five deaths and said that an undisclosed number of security force members have also been killed. On December 15, the government announced that protesters had a “direct connection with forces that have taken missions from foreign terrorist groups” and that Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force will lead the response.”

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, took to social media to weigh in. She tweeted “Ethiopian Prime Minister’s concerning rhetoric could portend violent crackdown against #OromoProtests.” Ambassador Power pointed her followers to an Amnesty International warning that “Anti-terror rhetoric by Ethiopia’s government could escalate into a brutal crackdown on protesters.”

US Concerned

The U.S. State department also released a statement on Friday, December 18th noting that “The United States is deeply concerned by the recent clashes in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that reportedly have resulted in the deaths of numerous protestors. We greatly regret the deaths that have occurred and express our condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. We urge the government of Ethiopia to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances. We also urge those protesting to refrain from violence and to be open to dialogue. The government of Ethiopia has stated publicly that the disputed development plans will not be implemented without further public consultation. We support the government of Ethiopia’s stated commitment to those consultations and urge it to convene stakeholders to engage in dialogue as soon as possible.”

“Protests by students began in Ginchi, a small town 80 kilometers southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, when authorities sought to clear a forest for an investment project,” HRW said: “Protests quickly spread throughout the Oromia region, home of Ethiopia’s estimated 35 million Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group. The report added: “They evolved into larger demonstrations against the proposed expansion of the Addis Ababa municipal boundary, known as the “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan. Approximately 2 million people live in the area of the proposed boundary expansion and many protesters fear the plan could displace Oromo farmers and residents living near the city.”

Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)

US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku Hosts NYC Fundraiser for Seeds of Africa Foundation

Atti Worku at Seeds of Africa Foundation fundraiser in New York, December 8th, 2015. (Photo: Sunny Norton)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, December 18th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Seeds of Africa Foundation held another successful fundraiser in New York continuing Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku’s campaign to build a state-of-the-art education facility in her hometown of Adama/Nazret in Ethiopia.

To date the non-profit has raised over $1.3 million of its total $2.2 million goal to fund the creation of the educational institution. “It will meet the most rigorous international academic standards and prepare its students to succeed in high school, college and beyond,” Atti says.

Questlove and Atti Worku. (Photo credit: Sunny Norton)

“The event celebrated the organization’s mission to educate and nurture children and their families by providing quality education and community development programs in Adama, Ethiopia with The Dream School Campaign,” Seeds of Africa Foundation says in a statement. “Featured in WABC, NBC, Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, D Magazine and more, Seeds of Africa is a leading organization offering a successful business model for assisting communities in Africa with the tools to accomplish educational and entrepreneurial development.”

“The Founder Atti Worku, Miss Ethiopia 2005 and a former fashion model, created the organization in 2006 after seeing a gap in access to quality education and community development programs for children, young adults and other communities in her home country of Ethiopia.”

During the NYC event, which was held on Tuesday, December 8th, entertainment was provided by Questlove — founding member of musical group The Roots and Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon — who performed a curated DJ set list including Prince, Michael Jackson, and Blondie.

You can learn more about Seeds of Africa at www.seedsofafrica.org.

Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku Receives Diaspora 2015 Youth Excellence Award
Atti Worku Raises $1.3 Million for School Initiative in Nazret
Former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku’s Dream School Initiative in Nazret, Ethiopia
Interview with Atti Worku: Founder of Seeds of Africa Foundation

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

‘Unprecedented’ Ethiopia Protests

The student protests have spread quickly through the Oromo region that surrounds the capital. Farmers and other citizens have been joining the demonstrations, VOA News reports. (Photograph via Twitter)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

December 17, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Students from the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia have been protesting for three weeks against an urban expansion plan around the capital that they fear will lead to land grabs without proper compensation. Security forces have clashed with demonstrators, killing at least five people this week.

The student protests have spread quickly through the Oromo region that surrounds the capital. Farmers and other citizens have been joining the demonstrations.

The government accuses some of the protesters of trying to destabilize the country.

Restricted access

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous out of concern for his safety, said security forces deployed to the region are controlling many access points to stop more people from joining the movement.

“Most of the protesters are farmers,” said one resident. “They came from the rural village into the town. The defense forces, already some of them left to the local areas, to the rural village. The police is also arresting some of those participants.”

The Ethiopian government says it can confirm five deaths from clashes with security forces, while opposition groups say 60 people have been killed so far.

Amnesty International said Wednesday the protests are being “violently suppressed.”

Protests against the “Addis Ababa Integrated Regional Development Plan” also erupted in April 2014, resulting in mass arrests and several dozen deaths during clashes with security forces.

Expansion plan

The master plan is an expansion blueprint for the capital. Citizens in the surrounding Oromia federal regional state say they are concerned the proposed infrastructure will gobble up their land and endanger their cultural heritage. Oromos are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, making up about a third of the population.

The government promised to hold inclusive consultations on the master plan after the 2014 protests. Opposition leader Merera Gudina of the Oromo People’s Congress said those discussions were never held.

“We try several times, they refused. Then we tried to organize open public meetings, again they refused, they blocked us,” said Gudina. “Then what we got is this. People are really fed up of this government, their life, especially the young people are fed up of everything.”

Merera is calling for the scrapping of the master plan and transformation of the regional government. The government says the master plan has not been implemented yet, though opposition groups allege that farmers already are being evicted.

Stress points

Protests in Ethiopia are rare. The ruling party has been in power since 1991 and won all seats in parliament during the last national elections in May.

Tensions are there, however, said Hallelujah Lulie of the Institute of Security Studies.

“I think what we are witnessing is an unprecedented level of protests. And I don’t think the security forces and the government was prepared for such level of movement,” said Lulie. “And also I believe, it showed us the ill-preparedness of the state to handle such kind of demands.”

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Still, almost a third of its population lives below the poverty line, and millions of people are being affected by an ongoing drought this year.

Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Protests Put Ethiopians on Edge (NYT)

Roadblocks in Wolenkomi, which is located about 34 miles outside of Addis Ababa. (Twitter/@wdavison)

The New York Times


BURAYU, Ethiopia — There are creeping signs of tension in this small town on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital. Small groups of federal police officers prowl the streets, eyeing taxi stands and coffee shops. On a side road near the town center, a rectangle of black soot and a single burst tire mark the site where a bus recently went up in flames.

One resident, who asked that his identity not be revealed because he feared persecution for speaking openly, said this whole town had been on edge, especially after the security forces quickly quelled a protest this week.

“There are rumors that two students died, but we don’t know their names because the government uses different ways to keep its actions secret,” he said.

Since late November, dozens of violent confrontations have erupted in towns across Ethiopia’s central Oromia Region, home to the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress opposition party, estimates that at least 50 people have been killed in clashes with security personnel over the past few weeks, affecting dozens of towns across Oromia.

This protest movement is “far, far bigger” than anything the country has experienced since the governing party came to power in 1991, Mr. Merera contended. In towns outside the capital, witnesses have reported fatalities, ransacked buildings, and gunfire.

Protesters and opposition party members say they are fighting against an urban plan — commonly referred to as the master plan — that would link infrastructure development in Addis Ababa with that of surrounding towns in Oromia, including Burayu. Critics say the plan threatens the sovereignty of Oromo communities.

Read more at NY Times »

Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. Premiere of Yared Zeleke’s ‘Lamb’

The crew of Lamb on the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival, 2015. (Photo: Yared Zeleke/Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 14th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Yared Zeleke’s film Lamb will premiere in the United States next month on opening night at the 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival. Lamb is the first Ethiopian film to be an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival and the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar this year.

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

Read more »

Tadias Q&A with Yared Zeleke – Director of Ethiopian Film ‘Lamb’
Lamb Review: Sheer Brilliance Knits Together First Ethiopian Film at Cannes (The Guardian)
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.

Ethiopia Protests Over Addis ‘Master Plan’

Students mourning at Haramaya University after at least ten students were reportedly killed and hundreds injured by police across Ethiopia's oromia region. (Photograph shared widely on social media/ Global Voices)

The Guardian

By Endalk Chala

Updated: Friday 11 December 2015

At least 10 students are said to have been killed and hundreds injured during protests against the Ethiopian government’s plans to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland.

According to Human Rights Watch, the students were killed this week when security forces used excessive force and live ammunition to disperse the crowds.

The students were protesting against a controversial proposal, known as “the master plan”, to expand Addis Ababa into surrounding Oromia state, which they say will threaten local farmers with mass evictions.

According to the Ethiopian constitution, Oromia is one of the nine politically autonomous regional states in the country, and the region’s Oromo people make up the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

(Photograph: STR New/Reuters)

Read more at The Guardian »

Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Audio: DJ Mengie on New Massinko Remix Featuring 10 Ethiopian Artists & Single Bati

New Massinko remix single 'Bati' featuring Gigi and Yeshi Demelash. (Photo Courtesy: Massinko)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The latest project by NYC-based DJ Mengie and Massinko label is an upcoming album called Reggaetopia, produced in partnership with Tesfaye Tekelu, featuring remixes of traditional Ethiopian sounds with world-music and dancehall beats and an emphasis on Ethiopian musical instruments.

DJ Mengie says the album, which is scheduled for release in 2016, presents ten contemporary musicians both from Ethiopia and the Diaspora. The artists include Aster Aweke, Gigi, Abby Lakew, Edel Abbity, Betty Melaku, Tokichaw, Tigist Afework, Sara Abate, Nesanet Sultan, Bini Dana, Asne Abete, Haileye Tadesse, Sammigo, Yeshi Demelash and Micaya Behailu.

Massinko released a single from the album this month entitled, Bati, featuring the talented vocalists Gigi (Ejigayehu Shibbaw) and Yeshi Demelash, which is available on iTunes.

In the following audio conversation with Tadias DJ Mengie talks about the new album:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

End the Gun Epidemic in America

(Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

The New York Times


All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Read more at NYTimes.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama Aide Yohannes Abraham Honors Girls’ Education Activist Sonia Shah

Yohannes Abraham, Special Assistant to President Obama, at the Sonia Shah Organization dinner in Chicago, November 20th 2015. (Photo: The Sonia Shah Organization)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Yohannes Abraham, special assistant to the President, was in Chicago where he delivered the Keynote address and a message from First Lady Michelle Obama to attendees of a fundraising dinner in support of a girls’ education program run by the Sonia Shah Organization.

The non-profit is named after the late Sonia Shah, the youngest intern in President Obama’s 2012 Campaign.

“Sonia Shah, an exceptionally bright 17 year old young girl, born and raised in the US and Europe, went to build a state-of-the-art girls’ school in order to offer free education to poor girls in the village of Kangra Pakhtoonkwa Pakistan, where only 3 out of 10 girls ever go to school,” according to the Chicago Tribune. “However, when Sonia’s young life was tragically cut short at the age of 18, her mother, Iram Shah, decided to establish and run the Sonia Shah Memorial School.”

Yohannes, who is also Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, said: “As a star in our campaign, she did a wonderful job.”

“Abraham read out the message of Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the US, who conveyed her greetings to those gathered to celebrate the Sonia Shah Organization and encouraged young people to take charge of their futures through education,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“With your continued commitment to expanding opportunities for learning, you are truly honoring Sonia’s legacy of compassion and dedication,” added Michelle in her message.

“We were incredibly honored to have Yohannes Abraham, special assistant to the President, as the keynote speaker at our fundraising event last week,” the Sonia Shah Organization said in a Facebook post. “He brought a letter from First Lady Michelle Obama with him lauding Sonia Shah Organization for focusing on one of her passions: girls’ education.”

Yohannes was also the keynote speaker at the Young Ethiopian Professionals (YEP) organization’s 5th anniversary gala last month in Alexandria, Virginia.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune »

Video: Yohannes Abraham’s keynote at YEP 5- Year Anniversary Gala — November 7th, 2015

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Inaugural Design Week Addis Ababa Hopes to Give Wider Platform for Local Artists

Ethiopia's 1st Design Week will launch with a pop-up event in Addis Ababa on Saturday, December 12th, 2015. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s first annual Design Week launches in Addis Ababa this month with a line-up of local talents from a range of fields including technology, fashion, food, architecture, industrial and interiors design.

“Founded by Creative Director Metasebia Yoseph, Design Week Addis Ababa (DWAA) was established in an effort to provide an international platform both emerging and established artists, artisans and designers of all kinds, while promoting Addis Ababa as a global design capital,” organizers said in a press release. “It also advocates for the implementation of projects that incorporate a design-centered approach to Ethiopia’s development challenges, which Yoseph describes as, “development by design.”

“Made possible by cooperative partnerships with both local and international organizations, DWAA aims to develop programs that strengthen local innovation and creative economies through lectures, workshops, trainings, and events that enhance the true potential of East African ingenuity.”

If You Go:
Public Exhibition
Saturday, December 12th
Sunday, December 13th
11am to 6pm
Location: Mosaic Hotel, Bole Medhanealem
Tel. (+251) 913-742-847

Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Hosts First African Circus Arts Festival

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. (Image: VOA Video)

VOA News

Circus groups from seven African countries showcased their skills over the weekend at the first African Circus Arts Festival in Ethiopia.

Juggling, balancing, gymnastics and other circus tricks were on display.

The circus is an up-and-coming art form in Africa.

Most of the performers are young people who come from difficult backgrounds.

Sabrina Pezzei organized the event. She said it helps young people gain confidence in themselves.

“It gives them also the opportunity to be socialized. It gives the opportunity to perform on stage and to be proud of themselves. It gives them self-esteem, self confidence.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Reading by Award Winning Poet & Playwright Lemn Sissay

UK-born Lemn Sissay is an award-winning poet, playwright, author and broadcaster. (Photo: BBC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, November 30th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — British-born Ethiopian poet Lemn Sissay will present selected readings from his celebrated body of work this coming weekend in Takoma Park, Maryland.

The event that is hosted by Tayitu Cultural Center in collaboration with Takoma Radio, Blessed Coffee and Carpe Diem Arts — will feature an Ethiopian coffee ceremony by Blessed Coffee.

Per the author’s website: “Sissay was the first poet commissioned to write for London Olympics. His Landmark Poem, Guilt of Cain, was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in Fen Court near Fenchurch St Station.”

In addition to writing several poetry books, articles, and plays “a BBC TV documentary, Internal Flight, as well as a radio documentary entitled Child of the State were both broadcast about his life. His Ted Talk has close to a million views.” Lemn Sissay was 21 years old when he wrote his first book Tender Fingers In A Clenched Fist.

If You Go:
Friday, December 4, 2015
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Historic Takoma building
7328 Carroll Avenue
Takoma Park, Maryland
Limited seating
Click here to RSVP
For more info call 301-802-2812

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Genzebe Dibaba and USA’s Ashton Eaton Named World Athletes of the Year

Genzebe Dibaba and Ashton Eaton -- the female and male IAAF World Athletes of the Year for 2015. (Getty)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, November 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba and USA’s Ashton Eaton have been named the 2015 World Athletes of the Year.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) made the announcement on Thursday “after outstanding and memorable seasons which saw both athletes break world records and strike gold at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015,” IAAF News reports.

“Both athletes set world records during 2015, Eaton in the decathlon and Dibaba in the 1500m, and won gold medals in these events at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.”

“I am humbled and honoured to receive this award from the IAAF,” said Genzebe via Twitter. “It feels so good to be the World Athlete of the Year.”

Genzebe and eaton cover
Ashton Eaton of the United States and Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia in 2013. (Photo credit: IAAF)

Read more at IAAF.org »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards

Soleyana S. Gebremichael and Endalk Chala of Zone 9 bloggers at CPJ's 25th International Press Freedom Awards ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015. (Photo credit: Jeffrey Phipps/Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers were honored with the 2015 International Press Freedom Awards on Tuesday in New York City.

The Ethiopian blogging collective shared the prestigious CPJ award with other journalists from Malaysia, Paraguay and Syria.

The ceremony, which took place at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on November 24th, was hosted by ABC World News Anchor David Muir and chaired by Hearst CEO Steven R. Swartz.

Members of Zone9 include: Abel Wabella, Atnaf Berhane, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnail Feleke, Zelalem Kibret, Befekadu Hailu, Soleyana S. Gebremichael, Endalk Chala, and Jomanex Kasaye. At the NYC event on Tuesday, however, only Soleyana and Endalk were present to accept the awards.

The New York Times called the Zone 9 case “one of the world’s most widely followed press-freedom cases,” that began with their arrest in April 2014 under Ethiopia’s controversial anti-terrorism legislation.

Four of the bloggers were cleared of terrorism charges last month while the remaining were freed over the Summer just prior to President Obama’s historic visit to Ethiopia in July.

Ethiopia has released several journalists from prison this year including the Zone 9 bloggers and Reeyot Alemu, but CPJ says the country is still “holding around a dozen journalists in jail in relation to their work.”

Below are photos from the 2015 International Press Freedom Awards honoring Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers:

Audio: Interview With Zone 9 Bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael & Endalk Chala

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Weeknd First Winner at 2015 American Music Awards

Prince presenting the first award at the 43rd American Music Awards to Ethiopian-Canadian musician The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 22nd, 2015. (Photo: Twitter/@theweeknd)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, November 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-Canadian music star The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) was one of the early winners, for favorite album in Soul and R&B, at the 2015 American Music Awards on Sunday.

The Weeknd received the award for his newest album, Beauty Behind the Madness.

“Prince, who earned a rousing applause, presented the first award of the night to the Weeknd for favorite album,” AP reports. The ceremony, which was hosted by Jennifer Lopez. was held at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

Prince, right, presents The Weeknd with the award for favorite album – soul/R&B for “Beauty Behind the Madness” at the American Music Awards, Sunday, November 22nd, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The Unstoppable Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd): Rebel with Harmony
The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to Guest Star in TV’s Hottest Hip-Hop Drama ‘Empire’
Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
Inspired by Michael Jackson, The Weeknd Goes from Rebellious Songwriter to Chorus Lover
The reclusive artist talks ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ (Radio.com)

With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tizita Project Announces Five Ethiopian Artists Featured at Miami Art Basel

Artist Merid Tafesse and Curator Dr. Desta Meghoo during a press conference at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, November 19th, 2015. (Photo: Malik Desta/Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, November 20th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Five artists from Ethiopia will be featured for the first time at this year’s Miami Art Basel, one of the largest art events in the United States.

The Ethiopian artists include Desta Hagos, Daniel Taye and Merid Tafesse, as well as works by the late Ermias Mazengia and Mathias Lulu (who both passed away in 2013).

The 2015 Miami Art Basel takes place from December 3rd – 6th in Miami Beach, Florida.

“It is the first in the 13-year history of Miami Art Basel that Ethiopian art or African art in this context will be presented,” said the curator Dr. Desta Meghoo J.D, who was formerly Managing Director of the Bob Marley Foundation, during a press conference held on Thursday morning at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC.

“It is important to note that Miami gets over half a million visitors just for this particular event,” Dr. Desta said. “That’s a lot of eyes, ears, curiosity for art and a major opportunity for us to expose Ethiopia through contemporary fine art.” She added: “We are very happy to get the support that we’ve received especially from luminaries like the iconic painter Desta Hagos who is arriving here next Monday.

During the press conference Dr. Desta was joined by one of the featured artists Merid Tafesse who also spoke to reporters.

Below is an audio and photos from the press conference:

You can learn more at www.tizitaproject.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian-Belgian Artist Ermias Kifleyesus

Ermias Kifleyesus is an Ethiopian-born artists based in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo credit: © Paul Kusseneers)

The Culture Trip

By Joacim Nielsen

Tackling the difficult task of portraying concepts such as globalisation, inequality and the past into works of painting, sculpture and installation, Ethiopian-Belgian artist, Ermias Kifleyesus, is certainly not afraid of tackling tricky subjects. He creates works that are multifaceted – using materials he stumbles across in everyday life. We take a look at Kifleyesus’ latest works of art, creating art in standard phone booths.

Being a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and now based in Brussels, his art reflects the different cultures and the parted and fragmented world he knows: billboard commercials, retro film posters and old kitsch oil canvases melt together to show a globalised world with little coherence.

Gallery owner and Kifleyesus’ exhibitor Paul Kusseneers explains that the artist works in multifaceted ways. A rather odd method takes place in international telephone booths: ‘Kifleyesus curled some posters together and placed them in phone booths where people are calling family and friends across the globe…he placed a pen and people started drawing on it’. As he was explaining this, Kusseneers pulled out a poster cut in several pieces, brown-edged and full of all kinds of different alphabets, squiggles and drawings.

Ermias Kifleyesus | © Paul Kusseneers and the artist

The idea behind this project was to demonstrate that these phone booths in immigrant neighbourhoods across different cities in Europe were a link to the rest of the world. They create a gateway to greater understanding, where all manner of people can communicate and many languages can be spoken.

Kifleyesus calls it ‘an open source’, alluding to the collaborative nature of the project. The final result even involved the removal of the wooden shelves on which callers would lean, encrusted with dirt they made interesting additions to Kifleyesus’ later installation. For Ermias Kifleyesus, it is not necessarily essential to create an artwork from scratch, but rather to carefully gather together objects that represent moments in time, unique pieces of forgotten history to be unified by him into a single art-form.

An ideal recent example of this is Kifleyesus’ collection of several old canvases by unknown artists, purchased from a flea market in Amsterdam. When he had gathered a suitable selection, Kifleyesus duplicated, cut and drew on the canvases to create a piece portraying fractured and unique works of art.

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.


Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.