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

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

Press Release

CPL New York

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

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

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

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

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



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

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Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Deal to End Nile Dispute (Video)

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

BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at BBC News »



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Pictures: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Meets With Ethiopian Community

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

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

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

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

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


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


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

Related:
Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

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

(Photo courtesy of The Ethiopian American Council - EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, March 19th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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

Related:
Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

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

Dinaw Mengestu. (Illustration by Nathan Gelgud)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon

(Photo courtesy: The Migrant Community Center in Beirut)

Huffington Post

By Kumera Genet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of the interview at Huffingtonpost.com »

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

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

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

Mail & Guardian Africa

By WILLIAM DAVISON, BLOOMBERG

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

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

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How an Ethiopian Priest Changed His Views on Child Marriage

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

PRI

BY Colin Cosier

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at PRI »

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Bitcoin Goes After African Diaspora Remittance Market Share

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

BBC News

By Tom Jackson

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

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

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

Yet the cost of sending this money is high.

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

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

Read more at BBC News »

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Ethiopia’s Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

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

NPR

By Gregory Warner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NPR »



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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 9th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 8th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Obama Family Marks 50th Civil Rights March Anniversary in Selma

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

VOA News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, March 6th, 2015

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

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

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


Mamadou Samba. (Tadias Magazine photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oldest Human Fossil Unearthed in Ethiopia

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

SMITHSONIAN.COM

MARCH 4, 2015

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

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

Read more »

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

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Ethiopian Cinema Tackles Prostitution

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

BBC News

By Emmanuel Igunza

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa.

Read more at BBC News »

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

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International Women’s Day: Interview With Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

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

ILO news

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating jobs, empowering communities


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

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

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

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

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

Footwear platform

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

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

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

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

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

Produce locally, sell globally

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Conference of Diaspora Ethiopian Women Focuses on Elections & Civil Society

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Press Release

World Bank whitewashes Ethiopia human rights scandal

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

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

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

Read more »

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Ethiopia: Adwa’s Eternity

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

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

Updated: Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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Where Rimbaud Found Peace in Ethiopia

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

The New York Times

By RACHEL B. DOYLE

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

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

Read more at The New York Times »

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

(Photo courtesy of Passport ADV)

AFK Insider

By Jessica Harris

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

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

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

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

Delving Into Shoe Manufacturing

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

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

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

Made In Ethiopia

There are many challenges that most businesses have to overcome such as location, finding skilled workers and even building a facility when working out of Africa. But despite those challenges, many have find working out of Africa to be promising and rewarding.

Prior to Passport ADV’s Ethiopia launch in 2012, Tesfaye spent two years building infrastructure, supply chains and expanding groundwork in Addis Ababa.

“My sister began manufacturing handbags and leather goods in Addis, this created a point of entry for me,” he told AFKInsider.

Read more »

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Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia: New Book on the Remote Churches of an Ancient Land

(Photo credit: Maria-Jose & Bob Friedlander/IB Tauris)

Geographical

By Tom Hart

Ethiopia was among the world’s first Christian countries, but its many remote churches remain hidden – even from the locals.

Ethiopia’s remote churches range from rock-hewn buildings perched on mountains to timber-built caves. These almost forgotten churches contain rich murals and vibrant manuscripts.

‘The churches were looked at by American scholars many years ago, but they only measured them. There was no interest in the paintings,’ says Maria-José Friedlander.

Friedlander set out to document Ethiopia’s most remote churches with her husband, Bob Friedlander. The result Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia has already been published in Ethiopia, and is now available in Europe.


Inside Abraha Atsbeha church (Image: Maria-Jose & Bob Friedlander/IB Tauris)

Read more and see photos at Geographical.co.uk »

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Adwa Victory Celebrations in Chicago and Silver Spring, Maryland

(Posters courtesy: EHSNA and ECAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – As Black History Month wraps up in the United States, we highlight two annual events scheduled this weekend in Chicago, Illinois and Silver Spring, Maryland marking the 119th anniversary of Ethiopia’s victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896.

“The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago invites all people to celebrate this magnanimous victory and moment in Black History,” the organization announced, noting that this year’s event will take place at their office (1730 W. Greenleaf Ave.) on Saturday, February 28th.

“The purpose of this celebration is to preserve and promote ancient and modern Ethiopian history and to inspire youth of Ethiopian and African descent to be mindful of their glorious heritage,” ECAC added. “The event program includes historical accounts of Adwa by Ethiopian scholars, educators and historians Dr. Shumet Sishagne of Christopher Newport University and Dr. Haile M. Larebo of Morehouse College. The event will also include film clippings, poems and other entertainment.”

Silver Spring

In Silver Spring, Maryland the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) will hold their fourth annual Adwa celebration in downtown Silver Spring at the city’s Civic Building on Sunday March 1st, 2015.

“EHSNA will celebrate the Victory of Adwa in honor and recognition of the Ethiopian masses who, under the leadership of Emperor Minilik II fought and defeated the Italian invaders who had provoked this war and came with intent to colonize Ethiopia,” EHSNA said in a press release. “EHSNA strongly encourages all Ethiopians, Ethio-Americans and friends of Ethiopia to join us in celebrating the 119th Anniversary of the Victory of the Battle of Adwa.”

In an article published here last March historian Ayele Bekerie reflected on the global significance of the 1896 Ethiopian victory at Adwa:

In the context of world history, “the Battle of Adwa marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the nineteenth century and helped Ethiopia retain its independence during Europe’s Scramble for Africa,” writes Stanford University Historical Education Group. Ethiopia’s retention of its independence paved the way for global anti-colonial movements. Paul Henze describes it best when he states “the defeat at the Battle of Adwa as the beginning of the decline of Europe at the center of world politics.” Film Director and Producer Haile Gerima, framed the event as follows: “The victory ignited a lasting flame of hope, of freedom and of independence in the hearts of Africans throughout the world.” Bahru Zewde, a distinguished historian, understood Adwa’s global historical significance, for it “brought Ethiopia to the attention of the world.” The leading Afrocentrist, Molefi Kete Asante, further reiterates: “After the victory over Italy in 1896, Ethiopia acquired a special importance in the eyes of Africans as the only surviving African state. After Adwa, Ethiopia became emblematic of African valor and resistance, the bastion of prestige and hope to thousands of Africans who were experiencing the full shock of European conquest and were beginning to search for an answer to the myth of African inferiority.” In fact, in 1896, outside of Adwa, there was no good news from the continent of Africa. European colonizers were almost on the verge completing their colonial agenda everywhere. In 1896, France dismissed Queen Ranvalona and later annexed Madagascar to its vast colonial empire. British troops defeated Zanzibar in a 38-minute war — A battle that started at 9:02am and ended at 9:40am, the record shows. It is equally important to note the resistance against colonialism in 1896 as evidenced by the uprising of the Matebeles in what is now the nation of Zimbabwe…When Adwa is studied and understood in the context of world history, we find Adwa as one of the most significant beacons of hope for all oppressed and colonized people of the world. It is a victory that shattered the myth of European supremacy. It is a global historic moment that should be remembered and its bigger story should be shared by young and old in the world. Adwa, we call again, for its inclusion in the World Heritage List.

If You Go:
Chicago – Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm
The 1896 Battle of Adwa Victory Celebration
At the Ethiopian Community Association Center
Admission: Free
1730 W. Greenleaf Ave
Chicago, Illinois
Phone: 773.508.0303
www.ecachicago.org

Silver Spring — Sunday, March 1st, 2015
EHSNA Marks the 119th Victory Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa
At the Sliver Spring Civic Building
Admission and Parking: Free
One Veteran Place
Silver Spring, MD
Phone: 202.596.1964
www.ehsna.org

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Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Ethiopia, Kenya & Nigeria

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on Feb. 20th, 2015. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday February 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Before the end of his second term in 2016 President Barack Obama has the opportunity to become the first sitting U.S. president to address the African Union from its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “A visit to the AU headquarters by the U.S. president would be a significant endorsement of the role of the continental organization and would, indeed, be the best forum in which to hold the next U.S.-African Leaders Summit — building upon the success of the first summit held in Washington in 2014,” stated an article published last week by the Brookings Institution. The piece is entitled “Suggestions for Obama’s Last Trip to Africa as President.”

Historically, Ethiopia has served as the continent’s diplomatic home base ever since the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), was established in Addis Ababa in 1963. In addition to urging the American president to make history by addressing African leaders from the AU podium, the article authored by Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Senior Fellow on Africa at the Brookings Institution, recommended that the next U.S. presidential trip to Africa also pay homage to Kenya, the birth-country of Obama’s father, as well as Nigeria, the most populous African nation.

“As the President’s second “home,” Kenya must be included in the itinerary,” Kimenyi argued. “Previous U.S. presidents have shown great pride by visiting their ancestral homes. Notable are the visits by Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton to their ancestral homes in Ireland.” He added: “It will be an opportunity for the president to demonstrate pride in his African roots. A visit [to Kenya] as president will have great significance not only to him but also to Kenyans and indeed other Africans.”

Regarding Nigeria the writer noted that the country is simply too big to ignore: “It is now the largest economy on the continent and has the largest population there,” Kimenyi wrote. “Despite all its shortcomings, Nigeria has, in recent years, undertaken major reforms that are helping stimulate the economy and shift it away from an over-reliance on oil. By all accounts, Nigeria can be considered the continental anchor: Whatever happens in that country has large spillover effects across the continent.”

But both Nigeria and Ethiopia, Kimenyi pointed out, have poor governance records. In Nigeria’s case, the country is well known for its “high levels of corruption and serious ethnic and religious fractures.” He added: “Ethiopia is another large country also characterized by significant governance problems. The country’s past has been characterized by dictatorships, serious conflict and devastating famines. However, since the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was deposed, Ethiopia has made important progress, including adoption of a new federalist constitution and far-reaching economic reforms that have seen the country achieve one of the highest growth rates in the continent over the last decade. The economic reforms have attracted new foreign direct investments with the consequential emergence of new industrial clusters, especially in leather processing. Not all is perfect though: Like with governance, Ethiopia still lags far behind other countries in deregulating some key sectors of the economy especially telecommunications, land markets, banking, and finance.”

In terms of Obama’s possible follow-up meeting with African leaders in Addis Ababa, which is purely speculative at this point, Kimenyi said: “President Obama and the African leaders could use the summit to discuss strategies to advance the pace of regional integration especially as pertains to involvement of the U.S. private sector, such as in the building of regional infrastructure.”

Related:
Suggestions for Obama’s last trip to Africa as president

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AERC Named World’s Most Transparent Think Tank

Professor Lemma Senbet is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi. He is currently on leave from the University of Maryland, College Park. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Nairobi-based African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) led by Ethiopian-American Economist, Professor Lemma Senbet, has received the highest possible rating as the most transparent think tank in the world. According to a report released by Transparify AERC is one of 31 major centers of research worldwide, out of 169 examined, that was given a five-star rating. The list includes several American policy research establishments such as the Center for Global Development, Pew Research Center, Stimson Center, Woodrow Wilson Center and the World Resources Institute.

“We are delighted with this top transparency ranking,” Dr. Lemma, AERC’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “AERC endeavors to observe best global practices in everything it does, and it is encouraging that our outstanding efforts are receiving global acknowledgment.”

Dr Hans Gutbrod, Executive Director of Transparify, said in a press release that “Think tanks can play a positive role producing independent, in-depth policy research to inform politicians, media and the public.” Gutbrod noted: “As key players in democratic politics, they have a responsibility to be transparent about their operations. Encouragingly, our survey shows that think tanks themselves are increasingly sharing this view.”

“While we cherish the global think tank rankings, we also wish to recognize that AERC is not just a think tank,” said Professor Lemma who was appointed two years ago as head of AERC following an international search for the position. Prior to that he served as Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. “[AERC] is a think tank plus,” he said, “with multiple arms, including research, collaborative graduate training, and policy outreach with heavy emphasis in capacity building.”

Related:
Five Questions for Prof. Lemma Senbet
Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of AERC

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US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

President Obama meeting with young immigrants at the White House this month. (Getty Images)

VOA News

February 17, 2015

A U.S. federal judge in Texas has issued a ruling that temporarily blocks President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration.

District Judge Andrew Hanen announced the ruling Monday in favor of 26 states, including Texas, that had filed a lawsuit seeking to permanently stop Obama’s order.

The president announced in November that he was protecting as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The states had argued that the president had exceeded his constitutional authority, and would impose undue financial burdens on them.

“Judge Hansen’s decision rightly stops the president’s overreach in its tracks,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.

The White House issued a statement early Tuesday saying Obama was well within his authority in deciding how to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

“Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws,” the statement said.

Appeal planned

It added that said the Justice Department plans to appeal Hansen’s ruling.

The president’s executive order included expansion of a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The program was to begin receiving applications on Wednesday.

The president’s order would also protect parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years and have committed no serious crimes.

Obama’s executive actions also angered congressional Republicans, who also claimed the president had overstepped his constitutional bounds.

House Republicans have passed a spending bill that authorizes funding for the Homeland Security Department through September, but would undo the president’s orders. The bill has failed to gain approval in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Democrats have successfully blocked the measure from advancing to a final vote.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the House of Representatives, issued a statement Tuesday that said the Department of Justice, legal and immigration experts, and history support Obama’s executive actions.

A group of 12 states and the District of Columbia filed a brief in support of the Obama administration, saying the president’s orders would economically benefit the states once those undocumented immigrants came out of the underground.

Related:
A Judge’s Assault on Immigration (The New York Times)

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Video: Fox News Visits LA’s Little Ethiopia

Fox reporter Jesse Watters explored Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles Feb. 13th, 2015. (Photo: Fox News)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 15th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters made some quick stops at LA’s famous international neighborhoods last week, including Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia and Little India. The short segment that aired on the O’Reilly Factor on Friday highlights the city’s diverse ethnic communities. The report notes “Four million people reside in America’s second-largest city, and forty percent of those residents are foreign born.”

Little-Ethiopia, which is located on Fairfax Avenue between Olympic and Pico, was officially so designated in 2002 by a unanimous Los Angeles City Council vote. And since then an annual street cultural festival marks the milestone ever year. The host of “Watters’ World” playful trip to Little Ethiopia included a taste of traditional food in the form of Gursha from the restaurant staff.

Watters asked an Ethiopian man: “Why did you come [to the US]?”. The person responded: “Ethiopia [turned] Communist, so I had to run away from home to save my life.” Watters pointed out that the Ethiopian population in LA grew fast in the 1990s. Today, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Ethiopians also make up one of the largest African-born immigrants in the Los Angeles area along with Nigerians and Egyptians.

Watch: Watters’ Hysterical Adventure into LA’s Ethnic Neighborhoods


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

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Crumbs: ‘Outlandish & Imaginative’ Sci-Fi Romance Film From Ethiopia

Advertised as Ethiopia’s first science fiction film, 'Crumbs' is a futuristic romantic drama set following a mysterious global disaster, "Big War, " that wipes out most of the planet's inhabitants. (Photo via Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, February 13th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Hollywood Reporter calls the new Ethiopian short film Crumbs an “outlandish and imaginative sci-fi” noting that the 68-minute movie makes “potent use of spectacularly extraterrestrial locations in the country’s sunbaked far north around the ghost town of Dallol, the film takes an exotic and sometimes surreal approach to what’s essentially a simple, touching love story.”

The movie, which premiered this month at the 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Netherlands, is being hailed as Ethiopia’s first post-apocalyptic sci-fi romance. Crumbs is directed by the Addis Ababa-based Spanish writer and director Miguel Llanso and features talented Ethiopian actors including Daniel Tadesse and Selam Tesfaye. The producers of the film are Llansó (Lanzadera Films), Daniel Taye Workou and Meseret Argaw (Birabiro Films).

“Set in an unspecified epoch after a “big war” whose consequences have severely depopulated the planet, Crumbs posits a micro-civilization where the mass-produced tat of the late 20th century is revered as valuable, even holy.”

Watch: Crumbs trailer


Related:
‘Crumbs’: Rotterdam Review (The Hollywood Reporter)
Ethiopia’s first post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie looks beautiful and bizarre (The verge)

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NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

Dr. Negasso Gidada (R) chats with German First Lady Daniela Schadt during a meeting at the German Embassy in Addis Ababa on March 18, 2013. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Since October 2014 the noted statesman, scholar and former president of Ethiopia, Dr. Negasso Gidada Solan, has been in residence as Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Negasso is now wrapping up his fellowship and will be holding a public presentation on February 24th entitled “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia.” The presentation will include comments by Professor John Harbeson of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and be moderated by Dave Peterson of the National Endowment for Democracy.

“Ever since the formation of the modern state of Ethiopia, the country’s diversity, represented by its roughly eighty ethnic groups, has defied common formulas for unity and democratic development,” states the announcement. “Regimes have come and gone, but the central question — whether to forge a nation-state, a multinational federation, or something else—has dominated Ethiopia’s political agenda for decades.” The press release adds: “Looking ahead to the upcoming 2015 elections and the country’s longer-term stability and development, Dr. Negasso Solan will focus on the need for a constitution that mirrors Ethiopia’s ethnic diversity and that lends itself to developing a truly democratic multinational state. As former president of Ethiopia, he will reflect on his experiences drafting the country’s 1995 constitution and offer recommendations for public confidence-building around future amendments.”

Per NED: “Dr. Negasso Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. Dr. John Harbeson is professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and professor of political science emeritus at the City University of New York.”


Dr. Negasso Gidada. (Getty Images)


If You Go:
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Telephone: 202-378-9675
RSVP (acceptances only) with name and affiliation by Friday, February 20
at http://constitutionforamultinationaldemocraticstatenation.eventbrite.com.
Livestream of the event will be available here.

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

Map based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. (Image: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, February 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – According to the U.S. Census Bureau New York, California and Texas are the top three states that are home to the majority of residents from the African continent. A five-year estimate of the American Community Survey released last year indicates that there are currently 1.6 million foreign-born Africans residing in the United States. And people from the three most populous countries in Africa — Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia — also make up the three biggest African-born populations in America: Nigeria (14%), Ethiopia (10.4%), and Egypt (9%). Some of the major metropolitan areas with sizable African communities include New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia, Providence, Wilmington, Minneapolis-St Paul, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont.

The numbers further show that foreign-born Africans in the United States tend to be more educated in comparison with other recent immigrant groups. In New York, for example, where the largest number of African immigrants live, The New York Times points out that “30 percent of African-born blacks in [NYC] had a college degree, compared with 22 percent of native-born blacks, 18 percent of Caribbean-born blacks and 19 percent of the nonblack foreign born.” On a national level, according to the same census, 41% of the African-born population in the United States obtained bachelor’s degrees or higher between 2008 and 2012 compared with 28% of the overall foreign-born U.S. population.

The following is an interactive map that illustrates the geographic distribution of the African Diaspora across the U.S. along with the top ten leading countries of birth for each highlighted region based on data gleaned from the American Community Survey.

Hover over the colored flags and click to see more details for the specific location:



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Ethiopia Bets on Grand Projects – Reuters

A labourer walks along a Metro-line construction in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa February 7, 2015. (CREDIT: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI)

Reuters

BY EDMUND BLAIR AND AARON MAASHO

Sunday, Feb 8th, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Chinese workers mingle with Ethiopians putting the finishing touches to a metro line that cuts through Addis Ababa, one of a series of grand state infrastructure projects that Ethiopia hopes will help it mimic Asia’s industrial rise.

Brought to its knees by “Red Terror” communist purges in the 1970s and famine in the 1980s, Ethiopia has been transformed in the last quarter century, becoming one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

At the heart of the state’s “Growth and Transformation Plan” are railway, road and dam projects to give the landlocked nation cheap power and reliable transport, as well as the metro line – the first urban light railway network in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“This is the future,” said Abate Yaye, 27, from the poor south as he helped complete the $475 million system being built by China Railway Engineering Corp, much of it on concrete stilts to keep it above the crowded streets of an expanding capital.

“We will become an example for the whole of Africa.”

Hefty state-led investment has kept the economy of Africa’s second most populous nation growing at more than 8 percent a year for over a decade, but economists say Ethiopia’s rulers need to relax their grip and give room for more private enterprise to maintain momentum.

Read more at Reuters.com »

Related:
Ethiopia’s Inflation Rises 7.7 Percent in January (Reuters)

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National Geographic: Ethiopian Shade Coffee Is World’s Most Bird Friendly

Ethiopian coffee farmer Awol Abagojam and his son Isaac harvest their product near the village of Choche, much the same way their ancestors did a thousand years ago. (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMI VITALE, PANOS)

National Geographic

By Brian Clark Howard

Shady coffee plantations in Ethiopia, where coffee has been grown for at least a thousand years, hold relatively more forest bird species than any other coffee farms in the world, new research shows.

The research suggests that traditional cultivation practices there support local forest bird biodiversity better than any other coffee farms in the world.

In Ethiopia, coffee is traditionally grown on plantations shaded by native trees. These farms boasted more than 2.5 times as many bird species as adjacent mountain forest, according to a study slated for publication February 11 in the journal Biological Conservation.

“That was a surprise,” says study co-author Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a biologist at the University of Utah and a National Geographic Society grant recipient. Further, “all 19 understory bird species we sampled in the forest were present in the coffee farms too, and that just doesn’t happen elsewhere.”

Other studies have shown that shade coffee farms provide better bird habitat than full-sun plantations, but the effect may be more prominent in Ethiopia because farmers there tend to use native trees instead of the exotic species popular elsewhere.

Read more at National Geographic »

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Sudden Flowers by Maaza Mengiste

Radait wants to dance. (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – In an article published by The New Yorker magazine this week Ethiopian American writer Maaza Mengiste, author of the novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, highlights the Sudden Flowers project in Ethiopia as documented by American photographer Eric Gottesman. “In 1999, Eric Gottesman travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to photograph the experiences of children orphaned by AIDS. Sudden Flowers is the collective that he formed with an original group of six children,” Maaza notes. “All of them were between the ages of eight and eighteen, and all of them had lost both parents to AIDS. None had been allowed to attend their parents’ funerals.”

“Each of them had horrible stories to tell, fantastically disturbing, like tragic fairy tales or Biblical fables,” Gottesman recalled.

Maaza adds: “Over the next fifteen years, the collective grew to include more than thirty members. They shot close to three thousand photos, and along the way Gottesman found that the work transformed when the children were given more responsibility. Soon the group developed into a true collaboration, and eventually no one could remember his role in the production and editing process.”


“I tell my family I am HIV+. They forget me and ate at the table.” (Photograph courtesy Eric Gottesman)

Read the full article and view the slide show of images from the project at The New Yorker »

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The People’s Choice: Rough Guides Selects Ethiopia Among Top 10 Best Places 2015

A view of the ancient city buildings in Gondar. (Photo by ctsnow-flickr/Wikimedia Commons)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — One of the leading publishers of travel guidebook and reference information, Rough Guides, recently held an online vote allowing its readers to select their top international destination choices for 2015. According to the results Ethiopia ranks number seven on the People’s Choice list that also includes United Kingdom, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Chile, Turkey, USA and Ireland.

“From the dramatic Great Rift Valley to the lush highlands, the diversity of Ethiopia’s landscapes might surprise you,” Rough Guides wrote in its announcement. “This is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, and visitors find themselves entranced by the stunning lakes, sprawling national parks and delicious national cuisine.” The publication adds: “We recommended Ethiopia in 2014, and this year you’ve done the same.”

Rough Guides said it is releasing a new e-book on Ethiopia this Spring.

See the full list at roughguides.com/best-places/2015/peoples-choice/

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US-Africa Commercial Relationship: Time is Running Out for AGOA Reauthorization

The following is an update from the Africa Policy Breakfast held in Washington, DC on January 28, 2015 regarding the renewal of AGOA and the future of the US-Africa commercial relationship. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release – Office of U.S. Representative Karen Bass

Washington, D.C. — “We’re running out of time,” moderator Witney Schneidman, nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, exclaimed as he opened the January 28 panel discussion at last week’s Africa Policy Breakfast entitled AGOA Today and Beyond: The Future of the US-Africa Commercial Relationship. While AGOA technically expires this September, for many African companies exporting apparel to the United States there is less than two months left in the nine month U.S. supply cycle. For U.S. importers, the fact that AGOA is not yet authorized leads to the inevitable question as to when will it be authorized and should the importer source elsewhere.

Against this backdrop, the panel of experts comprised of Ambassador Eliachim Molapi Sebatane of the Embassy of Lesotho – representing the African Diplomatic Corps; Ms. Rahama Wright – Founder of Shea Yeleen – a small US business utilizing AGOA; and Scott Eisner – Vice President for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke in unison about the crucial role that the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act continues to play in strengthening of U.S.-Africa trade relations. Panel Moderator Schneidman described AGOA as “a launching pad for U.S. companies” to do business on the continent, a sentiment echoed by Scott Eisner.

Ambassador Eliachim Molapi Sebatane spoke to the Policy Breakfast audience about recent bipartisan and bicameral meetings an African Union Delegation of Ministers had with Members of the House and Senate on AGOA in January; noting that the delegation left the US with a strong sense of support from all of the members they met and that the real question was when, not if, the reauthorization would occur.

Keynote Speaker United States Trade Representative Ambassador Froman emphasized the growth in exports experienced by AGOA participating countries since the inception of legislation. Exports from the continent have more than tripled, going from $6 billion to $24 billion in a few short years. Ambassador Froman emphasized that we “shouldn’t wait until the last minute to get it renewed,” which drew heavy applause from the audience.

Panelist Rahama Wright was representative of the many small business owners who rely on AGOA as a tool to remove unnecessary barriers to growing their businesses. Ms. Wright, whose skincare products can be found in close to 100 stores in the U.S., noted that she started her company with $6,000 dollars. She stressed that AGOA removed crucial barriers that protected her limited finances and allowed her company to grow. Ms. Wright also spoke of the importance of AGOA to women entrepreneurs in particular.

Ambassador Froman, who testified at two Congressional hearings on January 27 held by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees respectively reiterated the bi-partisan support enjoyed by AGOA. USTR Froman cited the remarks made by House Ways and Means Chairman Ryan in support for a seamless and early renewal of AGOA. Panelists and members of the audience agreed that AGOA could be characterized as the beginning of a strong and expansive trade relationship between the U.S. and the nations of Africa — a “stepping stone,” with the hope of a stronger and more permanent reciprocal relationship in the future.

Video: Africa Policy Breakfast January 28, 2015


Related:
Tadias Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

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Hand-Me-Down Sound From Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, a forward-thinking network of artists are uniting traditional folk and chopped-up beats with whatever equipment they can get their hands on. (Photo of Endeguena Mulu by Pete Kowalczyk)

The Guardian

By Huw Oliver

Tuesday 3 February 2015

In downtown Addis Ababa, most nightclubs have a disappointingly generic, western playlist. But on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, you’ll discover a throng of exciting local producers throwing their own impromptu parties and packing out muggy backstreet bars. Meshing street musician samples and traditional folk sounds with UKG and Burial-inspired beats, they call the movement Ethiopiyawi electronic.

Music equipment is notoriously costly and difficult to get hold of in this part of the world but, recently, modern software like Ableton, along with MIDI controllers and hand-me-down drum machines have become more readily accessible. As a result, scene linchpins Endeguena Mulu (AKA Ethiopian Records) and Mikael Seifu (AKA Mic Tek) are offering their studios and equipment for use to local kids. They encourage them to absorb what they hear around them, while at the same time drawing upon the electronic patrimony of the UK and US. And rather than elevating the EDM sound, they prefer the twitching rhythms of Kode9 and Flying Lotus.

Often consisting of little more than a lyre or lute sample, underpinned by a chopped-up house or garage beat and overlaid with the looped chants of azmaris (folk singer-musicians), the Ethiopiyawi electronic style takes its cues from Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and South African futurist collective Fantasma in the way that it smoothly blends traditional and modern styles. In a country with more than 80 ethnic groups and 40 native instruments spanning horns, percussion and strings, Ethiopian folk music is inherently diverse.

Read more at The Guardian »

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DC Workshop on African Diaspora Marketplace Business Competition 2015

(Photo Courtesy: USAID)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – The Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA) in partnership with the U. S. Agency for International Development and Western Union is hosting an informational workshop on the 2015 African Diaspora Marketplace Business Plan Competition next week. “This workshop is part of OAA’s Business Development Program which connects businesses to one another, and to technical assistance, capital, and new opportunities for local and international business,” the D.C. Mayor’s Office announced in a press release. “The African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) aims to encourage sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting African diaspora entrepreneurs. ADM entrepreneurs are individuals with demonstrable connections to or experience in Africa, and who have innovative and high impact start-ups or established businesses on the continent.”

The workshop follows an eight-city tour promoting the African Diaspora Marketplace in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta.

Launched in 2009 by USAID and Western Union the African Diaspora Marketplace is also supported by The George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research (GW-CIBER), which provides support and expertise to the program. On its website ADM notes that “This third round of the initiative will introduce three new resource partners: the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will provide business training and support for potential applicants; Homestrings LLC will provide a platform for awardees to raise follow-on capital; and as an ADM Partner, Deloitte intends to provide up to a maximum of USD 1,000,000 (one million) of in-kind professional technical assistance to either ADM grantees or qualified AWEP members to support the development of the grantees business.”

Information about ADM and past winners can be found at: www.diasporamarketplace.org.


If You Go:
When: Monday, February 9, 2015
Where: Franklin D. Reeves Center Municipal Building
2000 14th Street, NW | 2nd Floor Edna Cromwell Community Room
Washington, DC 20009
RSVP here
Please note that government issued ID is required to enter the Franklin D. Reeves Center. For more information, please email: oaa@dc.gov or call 202-727-5635.
www.diasporamarketplace.org

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Top Energy Players Meet in Washington to Develop Obama’s Power Africa Initiative

The president’s emphasis on Africa’s electricity crisis is triggering action as Washington plays host to seven unique sessions that will outline the global commitment to improving access to power in Africa. (Getty)

The Root

BY: DIANA OZEMEBHOYA EROMOSELE

NEPA take light!”

It’s a popular phrase used by Nigerians when the lights go out. The country’s now-defunct National Electric Power Authority wasn’t the only energy company that struggled to provide reliable power to its citizens. Access to consistent electricity is a widespread problem in Africa, and the U.S. has identified the crisis as one of its top international development goals. That’s why senior U.S. energy officials, their counterparts from several African nations and private companies looking to strengthen Africa’s power grids are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week for the Powering Africa Summit.

“Seven unique sessions will outline the global commitment to improving access to power across the African continent,” according to a press release issued by EnergyNet, the organization hosting the summit.

The statement went on to describe the initiative’s goals. It’s hoping to power the homes of 75 percent of the sub-Saharan Africans currently living without electricity. “[The summit] will also serve as a platform to encourage deals to be brokered between governments and power companies with the end goal of delivering power to the 2 out of 3 sub-Saharan Africans who live without access to electricity,” the press release explained.

During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by the Obama administration in Washington in August, President Barack Obama introduced the Power Africa initiative—a global commitment to “increase electricity access” and add “cleaner, more efficient electricity” throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more at theroot.com »

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On This Day 1962 Mandela Visited Ethiopian Embassy in Nigeria for Visa to Ethiopia

(Photo © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation tweeted Thursday that “On this day, 29 January 1962 Nelson Mandela visited the Ethiopian Embassy in Nigeria for a visa for Ethiopia.”

Mandela’s trip to Ethiopia and other African countries that year is also the subject of an upcoming documentary-drama entitled Mandela’s Gun, which he received as a gift from the government of Ethiopia. “He was given a Makrov pistol by the then Emperor Haile Selassie and he apparently buried it at a farm in Johannesburg before he was arrested,” says the filmmaker Jeremy Nathan. “It was a ceremonial weapon, which is reportedly the first weapon of the armed struggle against the regime.”

Mandela arrived in Ethiopia under the alias David Motsamayi and disguised as a journalist. In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, he shares: “I felt myself being moulded into a solider and began to think as a soldier thinks – a far cry from the way a politician thinks.” In Ethiopia Mandela’s instructors were Colonel Tadesse Birru, Colonel G.E. Bekele and Lieutenant Wondomu Befikadu. In an article published by Think Africa Press last year, Joseph Hammond writes: “Wondomu, a former fighter, led the physical training while Tadesse lectured Mandela in the philosophy of guerrilla warfare.”

Nathan adds: “Everybody thought it was one of the great untold stories [about Mandela]…He was being followed by the CIA, MI6 and the South Africans. And they were obviously sharing information amongst themselves about the activities of ANC and its leadership. So we bring in those elements as far as we can. We trace his journey through Ethiopia, down to Khartoum, Sudan to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, back to Botswana and into South Africa. The film is not only a feature film but a documentary feature. It includes testimony of people who knew him at the time.”

Among the Ethiopians who knew Mandela was Captain Guta Dinka, a young soldier who was assigned to protect him during his stay in Ethiopia. Captain Guta, now 79, lived to tell the dramatic story of how he exposed an attempt to assassinate Mandela by mysterious foreign agents who had approached him to carry out the killing in exchange for cash payment.

The director John Irvin told The Guardian: “There is an aspect of the political thriller, the spy thriller in the story, because he was being monitored by western intelligence services, a lot of whom still had an allegiance to some pretty odd ideas.”

Nathan shares that since they started working on the film the story has blossomed with more research. The filmmakers “delve into the debates for and against armed struggle (within the ANC).” In addition, Nathan notes that the film is “a metaphorical search for the gun starting with Mandela leaving South Africa in 1962 to go and get support across Africa and he under went training in Algeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Egypt, across West Africa. We actually have gone out of our way to shoot in the exact locations where he trained, where he slept, where he lived.”



Related:
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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Ethiopia Says New Railway to Djibouti to Start in Early 2016

(Photo: Erta)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to open a new railway line linking the capital Addis Ababa with the Red Sea state of Djibouti in early 2016, a project at the centre of plans to create new manufacturing industries, the head of the state railways said.

The 700-km (450-mile)line is being built at a cost of $4 billion by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC). Ethiopia is seeking to have 5,000 km of new lines working across the country by 2020.

“By October 2015, a considerable portion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti project will be finished,” Getachew Betru, chief executive of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, told Reuters, adding trains would run soon after. “We will start early 2016.”

Read more at Reuters.com »

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Zone 9 Trial Resumes in Ethiopia

The Zone 9 bloggers being escorted to court in Addis Ababa, January 28th, 2015. (Photo: Trial Tracker)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – Members of the Zone 9 blogging collective appeared before the Lideta High Court in Addis Ababa today for their 16th hearing where the presiding judges decided to accept most of the accusations against the bloggers and journalists. “The charge not accepted was the point regarding the individual role of each defendant,” reports the Trial Tracker blog.

At previous appointments the court had repeatedly ordered prosecutors to amend their terrorism charges against the defendants. Following the hearing on Wednesday, however, the perplexed Zone 9 defense lawyer held a briefing for journalists and family members at the court compound. The Trial Tracker blog notes that the defense attorney “said that the charges had not been amended at all. He found it to be very strange that the judges accepted it.”

The three journalists and six bloggers, who were arrested last April, are being held on suspicion of attempting to incite violence while utilizing social media as the crime tool. The attorney for eight of the nine defendants, Ameha Mekonnen, says Ethiopia’s contentious anti-terrorism law, under which his clients are charged, is very vague. “It has got only six types of human behaviors that are regarded as terrorist acts,” Ameha told Voice of America earlier this month. “The law itself is not clear – simply, if someone plots to cause damage to the community, it amounts to terrorism.”

The next court date is scheduled for February 3, 2015.


Tesfalem and Zelelem today at court hearing. (Photo via trialtrackerblog.org)

Related:
Ethiopia Bloggers to Enter Pleas in Terrorism Case Next Week (Bloomberg News)

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Post-Ebola Plan Needed to Avert “Double Disaster” in West Africa

Ebola testing at the African Cup of Nations football tournament in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. (Getty Images)

By Magdalena Mis

January 27, 2015

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The three West African countries worst hit by Ebola risk a “double disaster” unless a multi-million dollar plan is put in place to help their economies recover, Oxfam said on Tuesday.

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone people were struggling to make ends meet having seen their incomes plummet, the aid agency said.

“The world was late in waking up to the Ebola crisis, there can be no excuses for not helping to put these economies and lives back together,” Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s chief executive, said during a visit to Liberia.

He said a post-Ebola “Marshall Plan” should address three areas of urgent need: cash for families affected by the crisis, investment in jobs and support for basic services.

“People need cash in their hands now, they need good jobs to feed their families in the near future and decent health, education and other essential services,” Goldring said.

Research by Oxfam in three Liberian counties found that three in four families had seen their incomes decline, with an average income drop of 39%.

Coupled with a loss of income, food prices in Ebola-affected areas have risen. In Liberia, rice prices were 40% above the seasonal average.

As a result, some adults said they were cutting back on food in order to feed their children. Oxfam said that 60% of people interviewed told them they had not had enough food in the past seven days.

Liberia and Sierra Leone were two of the fastest growing economies in Africa before the Ebola crisis, but in both countries more than half of the population lived below the poverty line.

According to World Bank, since the outbreak of the disease nearly 180,000 people have lost their jobs in Sierra Leone, and half of household heads in Liberia were out of work.

“Failure to help these countries after surviving Ebola will condemn them to a double-disaster,” Goldring said.

The Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 8,600 lives since it was detected in Guinea in March, the World Health Organisation said last week. It said West Africa’s outbreak is ebbing.

In the countries directly affected, the virus will result in at least $1.6 billion in lost economic growth this year or over 12% of their combined GDPs, according to the World Bank.

Oxfam called for an international pledging conference to discuss recovery plans backed by financial support to help rebuild lives and help crisis-affected economies recover.

Related:
WHO Vows Reform After Ebola ‘Shocks’ (BBC News)
Ambassador Samantha Power Briefs African Diaspora On Ebola Crisis Response
US Updates African Diaspora Communities on Efforts to Fight Ebola
WHO: Ebola Death Toll Passes 7,500
Ethiopians arrive in West Africa to fight Ebola
Ethiopia Holds Farewell Gala for Volunteer Doctors Headed to Ebola-Hit Countries
Africa Sets Up $28.5m Ebola Crisis Fund
Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: WHO
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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Castro Breaks Silence on Ties With US

Fidel Castro pictured in in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 11, 2014. (AP Photo)

NBC News

HAVANA, Cuba — Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro ended his long silence over his country’s restoration of diplomatic ties with the United States, indicating that he backs the talks even though he distrusts politics in Washington.

The comments were the first by the 88-year-old revolutionary leader on the talks with the U.S. since the historic December 17 declaration that the countries would move to restore ties broken more than a half century ago.

“I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” he wrote in a letter to a student federation read at the University of Havana. It also appeared in Communist Party newspaper Granma.

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries,” he wrote.

A serious illness forced Castro to step down from duties as president, handing over leadership to his younger brother Raul. Two weeks ago, Fidel Castro sent a letter to soccer legend Diego Maradona to quash rumors of his death.

Watch: NBC News Special: Nightly News’ Brian Williams Reports From Cuba


Related:
First US-Cuba Talks Conclude in Havana
US & Cuba Hold Historic Talks in Havana
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (NYT Editorial)
U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba (NYT)

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U.S. Exhibition Highlights the Vibrant Art and Storied History of Ethiopian Icons

(Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, January 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — 60 Ethiopian church icons and artifacts are currently on display at The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts. The paintings, mostly gathered from a European private collection, date back to the 16th century and represent Ethiopia’s ancient Christian tradition. The exhibition, which is on view through April 18th, features “60 small scale icons triptychs, larger icons and illuminated manuscripts. There will also be several cast-brass hand-held processional/benediction crosses with intricate designs for the Museum’s own collection as well as some small pendant/pectoral crosses worn by priest as part of their sacred vestments.”

The announcement adds: “The majority of paintings are religious in nature, often decorating church walls and bibles. From the 16th century, Roman Catholic church art and European art in general began to exert some influence. However, Ethiopian art is highly conservative and retained much of its distinct character until modern times. The production of illuminated manuscripts for use continues up to the present day. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, where there has long been an Ethiopian clerical presence, also allowed some contact with a wider range of Orthodox art.”


If You Go:
The Vibrant Art and Storied History of Ethiopian Icons
On View January 23 through April 18, 2015
The Museum of Russian Icons
203 Union Street
Clinton, Massachusetts 01510
Telephone 978.598.5000
ADMISSION
Adults $10, Seniors (59 and over) $7
Students (with ID) & children (3-17) $5
Children under 3 FREE
Group Rates: CLICK HERE
museumofrussianicons.org

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First US-Cuba Talks Conclude in Havana

Roberta S. Jacobson (Right), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 23, 2015

A U.S. official has wrapped up a visit to Havana, saying her talks there mark an “important step forward” in restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, but noting they are “just a first step” and that the road ahead is long and complex.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, made the comments Friday after two days of talks with Cuban officials. She said in addition to discussing their shared interests, the two delegations addressed continuing areas of “deep disagreement,” including human rights.

Jacobson, however, said such differences do not mean the two countries cannot have a relationship.

“We will continue to both speak out about human rights publicly and directly now with the Cuban government,” said Jacobson. “I think that it is obviously part of what we’re talking about when we say we have profound disagreements with the Cuban government, when we talk about democracy and human rights and support for civil society and independent actors.”

This week’s meetings come a month after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the two countries were prepared to normalize ties after more than 50 years.

Jacobson also held talks Friday with leading Cuban dissidents. The head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sanchez, said the meeting was “cordial” and that the dissidents were satisfied despite the fact that not all civil society members were present.

The leader of the Patriotic Union for Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer, said the question of whether everyone in the opposition agrees with the new dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba should be a secondary issue.

“What’s important is for us to maintain unity in (our struggle for) freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, which are the fundamental issues in this case,” said Ferrer.

Jacobson said her discussions with Cuban government officials were also “cordial and respectful.” She said the U.S. is “extremely committed” to moving ahead with the dialogue.

Jacobson said the first day of discussions centered on the two nations’ regular migration talks. The second day focused on the steps for re-establishing relations and went beyond the reopening of embassies to cover a range of shared interests, including global health, counternarcotics, environmental cooperation and human trafficking.

Jacobson also stressed the importance of ensuring that the Cuban people have the information they need to make their own decisions. She said the new U.S. regulations put in place this month to allow greater telecommunications exports to Cuba was one of the subjects raised.

A Cuban diplomat told state news agency Granma the process of “normalizing” relations between Washington and Havana will take longer than merely re-establishing a diplomatic dialogue.

The unnamed official said, “We must not pretend that everything can be resolved in a single meeting.”

Last month’s diplomacy breakthrough occurred after secret negotiations that involved the Catholic Church. The talks led to Havana’s release of U.S. government contractor Alan Gross after five years behind bars. Cuba has also released 53 political prisoners, followed by the Obama administration easing some travel and trade restrictions.

Watch: US diplomat: Normalization will take time (MSNBC Video)


Related:
US & Cuba Hold Historic Talks in Havana
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (NYT Editorial)
U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba (NYT)

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HRW Accuses Ethiopia of Journalist Crackdown Ahead of Elections

Human Rights Watch report on Ethiopia media. (Photo: Public domain)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

January 22, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses the Ethiopia’s government of systematically cracking down on media ahead of the May 2015 elections. The report, released Thursday, details how Ethiopia has restricted independent reporting since 2010.

Researcher Felix Horne says there are patterns of government abuses against independent journalists.

“After articles are written, harassment comes from government officials, security officials and cadres in the form of threatening phone calls and SMS messages [text messages] and in person visits trying to get the individual to tone down the writings to comply with government perspectives on different issues,” Horne notes. “The next level is threats and harassment against family members, quite often arbitrary detention to intimidate and to pressure the journalist into censoring their writings. If that doesn’t work, the next step seems to involve criminal charges.”

According to the report, “Journalism Is Not A Crime”, six independent publications closed down in 2014 because of government pressure, 22 journalist, bloggers and publishers were criminally charged and more than 30 journalist fled the country. Most journalists are charged under the widely criticized anti-terrorism proclamation. Currently there is a high profile terrorism case going on in Ethiopia against bloggers of the Zone9 group.

HRW says the repression described in the report is leading to self-censorship. The rights group also claims that citizens and junior government officials are afraid of speaking to media, out of concern of being disciplined.

Horne says the repression has led to a reality where alternative views about the upcoming elections are rarely discussed in the media.

“It is crucial and critical that there will be a vibrant and flourishing independent media that can contribute to the political discourse and the political dialogue within the country that can provide critical information and critical analysis about the political issues of the day,” Horne says. ” But sadly, given the decimation of private media that we’ve seen since 2010, that’s just not happening.”

The ruling party, which has been in power since 1991, won over 99 percent of the votes in the 2010 elections, with only one parliament seat going to the opposition.

Responding to the report’s accusations, Getachew Redda, Special Advisor to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister said “HRW had lost their credibility long time ago, even by their own supporters, so there is no point for us to respond to their remarks.”

Asked about the issue of imprisoned journalist, Redda responded that “You can be anything, a journalist or pretending to be a journalist, but being involved in criminal activity is still a crime and they will be held responsible.”

HRW is calling on the Ethiopian government to release those imprisoned journalist and bloggers and to amend legislation such as the anti-Terrorism proclamation.

Video: Ethiopia Media Being Decimated: Reforms Crucial Prior to May Elections (HRW)


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From Ethiopia to Israel to Harlem: Q&A with Beejhy Barhany, Owner of Tsion Cafe

Beejhy Barhany. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – In the historic neighborhood of Sugar Hill, Harlem we celebrate one of its newest additions — Tsion Café and Bakery. Formerly known as Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, 763 St. Nicholas Ave had housed the famous eatery and hangout frequented by jazz musicians, writers and poets; Malcolm X worked there washing dishes. Now converted into a trendy cafe and bakery Tsion is located a few doors away from the former St. Nick’s Pub – a renowned jazz club established in the 1940s. That’s where, according to The New York Times, “The musicians Frank Lacey, Olu Dara, Sarah Vaughn and Wynton Marsalis played through Harlem’s ups and down. The pub drew famous faces and busloads of tourists.”

Today, the most delicious Ethiopian food with a Mediterranean and Israeli twist comes out of the same kitchen as Jimmy’s Chicken Shack. It’s a space where you can finish your novel, meet a friend for lunch, sip on fair trade, organic coffee, or simply hang out.

The owner and founder, Beejhy Barhany, was born in Ethiopia, raised in Israel and moved to New York fifteen years ago. Beejhy says her mission is to carry on the essence of the establishment’s former identity – a meeting place for wholesome food, art, culture and musical performance. Behind Tsion Café is an incredibly rich life story that led her here; from bungee and cliff jumping in the Amazon, to trading diamonds in New York, to serving in the army in Israel. Her passion to communicate her Ethiopian heritage, while highlighting her Jewish upbringing has led her to establish a space and platform where the richness of her life experience can be heard, seen, tasted, and experienced. Tsion Café is the physical manifestation of Beejhy Barhany’s personal story spanning continents and cultures.

With sweet traditional tunes humming in the background, we start our chat.

TADIAS: What was the inspiration behind Tsion Café, and why did you choose a location in Harlem?

Beejhy Barhany: It is important for me to highlight Ethiopian culture and its rich heritage, and paying homage to my Jewish background. I moved to New York in 2000, and after living and working here for a few years, I founded BINA (Beta Israel of North America) as a way to create a platform to raise greater awareness about Ethiopian Jews. I started organizing events, film screenings, showcasing cuisine, stories, and music. It kept growing, expanding, I had an office, but I always wanted a venue. And I always wanted something in Harlem; it’s historical, it has some connection to Ethiopia. I was looking at a lot of different places, and I was interested in this particular venue. Jimmy’s Chicken Shack was once this exact place, where all the poets and musicians were spending time, I wanted to bring that back and carry on the tradition, I wanted to honor writers, artists, have readings and performances, and this place simply worked.

TADIAS: Your drive to highlight the beauty of Ethiopian culture is so heavily influenced by your life; you’re Ethiopian, Jewish, a New Yorker. It seems Tsion is a byproduct of your experiences, and even with heavy revision, you’ve had a jam-packed life so far, so I wanted to start at the beginning, tell us a bit about your childhood.

Beejhy: I was born in Tigray, in a small village; I don’t have much memory of Ethiopia since I left at a very young age. From the stories and vague memories, it was a peaceful life, surreal; I remember rivers, cornfields, eating fruit, climbing trees. I left the country with my family and started a journey to Israel, the holy land; we did it because of a strong determination connected to our religious ideology. In a way, we escaped with a mission in mind. We had people show us the way, make sure we didn’t bump into roadblocks, maneuver between villages, take us to Jewish villages to stock up with food and water.

TADIAS: I think this particular journey that you have partaken in comes in story form to the rest of the country and the West, do you think the stories of the Ethiopian Jewish community may be somewhat misrepresented?

Beejhy: I think it is something that is a bit exaggerated, we didn’t suffer in Ethiopia, I think that history needs a bit of revision. It depended on what area you came from. The image of Ethiopia in general that is exported into the West is not completely accurate. Surely, it was a difficult journey but it was a pure and spiritual passage that Ethiopian Jews carried out, not for economic opportunities, not because we were unhappy in Ethiopia, but because we wanted to be in Israel. The level of devotion was incredible, it was difficult on various levels but the people had an unbelievable drive. For instance, there was a pregnant woman walking among us, when she gave birth, people waited until she recovered to continue. We wouldn’t walk during Shabbat – the group had that level of devotion.

TADIAS: I would imagine you had to take intentional detours, to avoid roadblocks and dangers?

Beejhy: Yes, so we walked to Sudan and we stayed there for almost three years. I had a few family members and a cousin who worked with different NGOs and Mossad (the national intelligence agency of Israel) who had secret missions to get families to Israel. So, we were told to prepare, take pictures, pack, and one night we were picked up with a Land Rover and a Scottish and Kenyan driver, all under a secret operation. At the age of 7, I continued this epic journey, I remember sitting on the roof of the truck amongst suitcases looking at wild animals in the safari. It was magnificent time for me, but surely, for the elders it was frightening, especially passing through borders with a Scottish driver who was up for much interrogation. He was consistent in claiming he was a “tour guide.” The authorities wanted to know more, but with the connection and good sum of money, they were able to transport us through multiple borders. At some point I could see Ethiopia from Kenya, but that was the route you used to smuggle. We arrived in Uganda and hid there two weeks, until proper documentation was ready, from there we flew to Israel.

TADIAS: So, after several years, you were finally in Israel. How was the first reaction, reception, and adjusting to a new life?

Beejhy: It was a group of incredibly sincere people who had carried out this journey, and it was an absolutely emotional moment for us. The reception was two-pronged. There were so many who were excited to welcome us, the new Jewish Diaspora! Yet, there was some discrimination. The whole interaction between white and black was not easy – there was name calling on both sides. There was also the notion that you were not good enough, even after that level of devotion during the trip you had to reclaim your religion anew with Mikveh (the ritual immersion in a bath to symbolize the conversion into Judaism, to regain purity before entering the Temple). I was young, but I understood the process of the ‘new immigrant.’ I started a new life, new language, new home. I was integrated into all of it. I learned Hebrew. I met kids form Ethiopia and Russia, and after some time I started taking regular classes – I grew up. I learned to be very independent since all of my family members were integrating into a new life as well. I had to do homework by myself for instance. I decided to do my high school in a Kibbutz (a collective community based on agriculture, a co-operative life where everything is shared). Then I decided to join the army, and I served for three years. After that I wanted to travel the world, so I started with the U.S.

TADIAS: Okay, so now we are getting closer and closer to New York and Tsion. Tell us about the journey that ended in you moving to New York City in 2000.

Beejhy: I had saved some money and went backpacking. I was twenty-two. I traveled a bit in the U.S., the Islands, then to Latin America. I traveled to Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, hitchhiking and backpacking. I did the Machu Picchu trail for a week. I mean the adventures were endless – I bungee-jumped, trekked snow mountains, did 100 feet jumps from bridges into rivers, walked the jungles of Peru. It was madness. I went back to Israel and I could not stay. I had seen too much. I went back to New York in 2000 and started babysitting for a Jewish family. I soon started a job in the diamond district managing an office. I started designing jewelry and trading diamonds while going to school, and graduated with a Liberal Arts degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

In 2003 I founded Beta Israel of North America Cultural Foundation (BINA). Throughout my encounters in life, people did not know about Ethiopian Jews or Ethiopia in general. I wanted to create a platform to bring that richness to the world. I started organizing events and BINA was incredibly important in its role of discarding the negative images of Ethiopia; we are strong people with such a magnificent history, and it was important to underline that. After some years, it was clear that I wanted a venue, so the scouting for Tsion Café started.

TADIAS: How did you decide on this particular location?

Beejhy: It is quite ironic because when I first moved here, people told me not to go to Harlem. Now I live and work here. It was serendipity that we ended up here. I wanted a location that was near to home, because of my family, but also a place that demonstrated the history of Harlem. When I first saw the space I felt there was something to it, but didn’t know what. It was only just before construction began that we learned of the historic significance — any lingering doubts about the space was removed at that time. But, the place was like a junkyard, layers of flooring had to be taken out, walls taken down, everything had to be cleaned up. But eventually, it was up and running.

TADIAS: Your staff is a creative bunch; the head chef is Samson Kebede, a bass player for ARKI sound, an Ethiopian Jazz band. Beniam Asfaw is the Art Director and curates work for the Tsion Art Show. Was that intentional when it came to things like designing the menu or the general ambiance?

Beejhy: The food celebrates my upbringing, so we wanted to craft up something that was Ethiopian with a Middle Eastern, Jewish twist, a sort of hybrid. So we have something like Firfir (a dish made from shredded Injera, in a spicy buttery sauce) that is traditionally Ethiopian/Eritrean, but we also have the Malawa (a layered puff pastry dish served with eggs and tomato dip or honey), which is more of a reference to Yemen/Israel. We also try to be efficient with our ingredients; we serve fresh, organic food. The Ethiopian influence is there for sure, but we add a bit more to it. Soon, we will have some fresh bread and pastries to sell. We also have Ethiopian honey wine, and of course, we will have the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

TADIAS: What are your hopes for Tsion Café in the coming years?

Beejhy: I see it becoming a gathering place for the community – where writers can be comfortable to come here and finish their books for instance. We want to highlight art and culture. I see it as a place where we celebrate the diversity within Harlem, a place for growth of ideas, spirituality, and respect for one another, and in a way you will have a better understanding of Ethiopia. It is a space that is envisioned as a positive addition to Harlem. A gift from my family and me to the Harlem community. Tsion means the ‘ultimate spiritual place.’ You come here, and we fill you with good food and a good cultural grounding to all things Harlem — old and new.



If You Go:
Tsion Cafe
763 St. Nicholas Ave.
Harlem, NY 10031
www.tsioncafe.com

To submit artwork: Please be ready to provide your artist bio and artwork list (i.e. title, medium, dimensions and retail price for each artwork). Please include your name, address, email and phone number on your artist bio and artwork list and submit your art to Tsioncafe@gmail.com to be considered.

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US & Cuba Hold Historic Talks in Havana

A woman walks past a bicycle taxi displaying the U.S. and Cuban flags in Havana, Dec. 17, 2014. (Reuters)

Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States will urge Cuba to lift travel restrictions and agree to establishing U.S. and Cuban embassies in historic talks in Havana this week aimed at restoring diplomatic ties, a senior State Department official said on Monday.

Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, will lead the talks scheduled Wednesday through Friday. It will be the first visit to Cuba in 38 years by a U.S. assistant secretary of state.

“We are looking forward to the Cubans lifting travel restrictions, to trying to lift the caps on the number of our diplomatic personnel, to trying to gain unimpeded shipments for our mission and to the free access to our mission by Cubans,” the official said in a conference call.

The official said the outcome of the first round of normalization talks would depend on how far Cuba was willing to go.

“It is hard to know exactly what will come out of this first conversation,” the official said. “I am not oblivious to the weight of history.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on December 17 announced plans to restore relations between the Cold War foes, with a view to ending the 54-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the communist-led island.

Cuba has released 53 political prisoners it had agreed to free and last week the United States announced the first easing of trade and investment restrictions against Havana.

Washington has said it will press Cuba to release more political prisoners and end short-term detentions.

The official said Obama’s new policy depends on “mutual consent” between the United States and Cuba. “We are ready to accelerate the pace of engagement as it regards our interests and the Cuban people, but a lot will depend on the tolerance of the Cuban government for that engagement,” the official said.

Washington intends to raise its concerns over Cuba’s human rights record, and the U.S. delegation hopes to meet with human rights and dissident groups while in Havana, the official added. “It has always been our practice to engage with civil society. … I really don’t see any need to change that.”

Related:
Why History Will Be Very Kind to Obama (New York Magazine)
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (NYT Editorial)
U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba (NYT)

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Azarias Reda, GOP’s Chief Data Officer, On Forbes 30 Under 30

Ethiopian-born Azarias Reda is the Republican Party’s New Chief Data Officer. (Photo: Forbes Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 19th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American Azarias Reda, The Chief Data Officer for the Republican party, has been named by Forbes Magazine as one of thirty promising young leaders below the age of thirty in Law & Policy. The Wall Street Journal notes: “The 28-year-old data evangelist is helping lead the effort to transform the GOP’s knowledge of voters into the power to win elections. Republicans got thumped in the 2012 elections in no small part because of a voter-data failure. The Obama team crushed the Romney campaign and the RNC: on turnout, on targeting and in social media.” Since then, of course, as evidenced by the GOP’s recent takeover of the U.S. Senate, the party’s voter operation has dramatically improved.

Forbes editors of the 2015 list share that “Reda was born in Ethiopia and moved to the U.S. while he was in college.” In its profile of Reda published this past Fall The Wall Street Journal stated: “He and the nearly 50 data scientists and engineers he has recruited to an in-house tech incubator—Para Bellum Labs—are a mind-blowing sight at RNC headquarters. Hipsters in T-shirts and jeans wade through besuited politicians toward a digital room that sports rows of computers and dry-erase walls…The RNC line is that it intends to leapfrog Democrats in the technology of turnout.”

We congratulate Azarias Reda on a well deserved recognition.

Related:
Presenting the 30 Under 30 2015 in Law & Policy (Forbes)
Azarias Reda Helps Republicans Leapfrogg the Democrats’ Tech Advantage (WSJ)

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Spectacular Photos of Timket Festival

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Timket at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and city of Gondar.

Daily Mail

By RUTH STYLES

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

While for most of us, January means cutting down on alcohol and getting to grips with a new workout regime, for Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians, it marks one of the most colourful celebrations of the year. Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox take on Epiphany, brings thousands of pilgrims flocking to the ancient rock-hewn churches at Lalibela and to the ancient city of Gondar nearby each winter.

Taken by French photographer Eric Lafforgue, who has travelled widely in Ethiopia meeting local people, the images offer a unique insight into one of the world’s oldest Christian ceremonies. And as the incredible photos reveal, there’s more to the celebration than prayer and contemplation, with colourful parades and late night dips in the river all part of the plan.

Read more at Daily Mail »

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Julie Mehretu Awarded 2015 Medal of Arts by U.S. State Department

Julie Mehretu has been awarded the 2015 US State Department Medal of Arts. (Photo: ©Sarah Rentz)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 16th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – The U.S. Department of State has named Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehretu as a recipient of its 2015 Medal of Arts in recognition of her internationally acclaimed work and her impact in promoting cultural diplomacy. Julie is one of seven artists who is receiving the recognition for her “outstanding commitment and contributions to the Art in Embassies program and international cultural exchange” a State Department spokeswoman told ARTnews.

“The 2015 winners are Xu Bing, Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Pedro Reyes, and Kehinde Wiley. The biennial award began in 2013 and that year went to Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems.”

Julie, who lives and works in New York City, was the featured guest speaker at the 2014 American Artist Lecture Series in London this past September sponsored by the Art in Embassies program, Tate Modern and US Embassy London, which brings “the greatest living modern and contemporary American artists to the UK.”

Julie, who was also one of the Executive Producers of the film Difret, was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. She is one of the leading contemporary artists in the United States, and has received numerous international recognition for her work including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the prestigious MacArthur Fellow award.

Congratulations to Julie Mehretu!

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Related:
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

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British MPs to Visit Ethiopia in Bid to Secure Release of Andy Tsege

Mr Tsege has been held in solitary confinement for the past six months. (Photo via independent.co.uk)

The Independent

By JONATHAN OWEN

Thursday 15 January 2015

A delegation of British MPs will visit Ethiopia next month in a bid to secure the release of Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, a British father of three who is under a death sentence.

Mr Tsege, 59, a leading critic of the Ethiopian government who came to Britain as a political refugee more than 30 years ago, has been held in solitary confinement for the past six months.

He vanished during a stopover in Yemen last June, during a trip from Dubai to Eritrea, in what campaigners say was a politically motivated kidnapping. Weeks later it emerged he had been imprisoned in Ethiopia.

His precise whereabouts remain unknown.

The Briton, who is the secretary-general of a banned Ethiopian opposition movement, is facing a death sentence imposed at a trial held in his absence in 2009.

The announcement of the visit by British Parliamentarians, yesterday, is in stark contrast to the efforts of Prime Minister David Cameron, whose response to desperate pleas for help from Mr Tsege’s family last year was to write a letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister.

Jeremy Corbyn, vice-chair, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, and Mr Tsege’s constituency MP, will lead the delegation. “He is a British citizen so there is no reason on earth why the British government should not take a very robust view on this,” he said.

Read more at The Independent »

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Ethiopian Opposition Faces Difficulty in Entering Upcoming Elections

Voters at a polling station in Ethiopia during the 2010 elections. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

January 14, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian opposition parties say they are facing roadblocks in their efforts to register for the May elections. The parties say the National Election Board is complicating procedures for no good reason, and raising doubt that the elections will be free or fair.

The Unity for Democracy and Justice party has the only opposition member in Ethiopia’s 547-seat parliament. But it is unclear if the party will be allowed to participate in the May elections, as the National Election Board has rejected UDJ logos.

Wondimu Golla of the National Election Board said it was not about the logos, but about procedural rules.

“According to their bylaws it says, the president of the party shall be nominated or elected by the general assembly. But they nominate by some few persons, the high officials there. So we oppose this. They have to strictly follow the bylaws, their own bylaws,” said Golla.

The National Election Board has given UDJ two weeks to organize a general assembly, and if its conduct is approved the party will be allowed to participate in the May elections. But the UDJ has decided to not hold another general assembly.

UDJ vice chairman Girma Seifu — the only member of parliament not affiliated with Ethiopia’s ruling party — said the election board’s actions were not justified.

“They do not have any legal ground or moral ground or administrative guideline to do these things. Because this is just an interference just to put a block on our active participation in the election,” said Seifu.

Voter registration in Ethiopia began last week and up to 60 parties may run for seats in the upcoming elections.

The Blue Party, formed in 2012, will be contesting elections for the first time. Blue Party chairman Yilkal Getnet said he was pessimistic about the elections as the party has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to work with the election board on certain issues.

“They are reluctant, and they did not give us any positive report or signs to improve these things. We did not get any signs that improve the political climate. Now for the coming elections to be free and fair we need to discuss about the political climate, to have a free media, to have international observers to observe the election, and including the budget sharing systems, and so on,” said Getnet.

During the 2005 elections opposition parties won about a third of the seats, but accusations of vote rigging led to mass demonstrations in which at least 200 protesters died and thousands were arrested.

The ruling Ethiopia’s Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front has been in power since the overthrow of the military junta in 1991.
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Related:
The Role of Civil Society in Upcoming Ethiopia Elections: CREW Conference in Washington DC
African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril

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Pictures: Taitu Hotel A Precious National Treasure Burns in Ethiopia

A painting of Empress Taitu hangs inside the now burned-out historic Itegue Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa at the conference room located on the top floor of the building called "Ergebe Bete." (Photograph: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 13h, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — For more than a century Ethiopia’s iconic Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa, which was badly burned by a raging fire last weekend, had stood tall bearing the namesake of its founder and the most admired woman in Ethiopian history — Itegue Taitu Bitul who was also one of the leading architects of Ethiopia’s winning strategies at Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896.

Empress Taitu opened the hotel a few years after Adwa as the nation’s first full-service hotel prompted by the increasing number of international dignitaries and travelers visiting Ethiopia after the country’s decisive victory against Italian colonial powers at Adwa. Encyclopaedia Aethiopica notes that for a time the Hotel was nicknamed Bollotatos Hotel for its Greek manager. Taitu Hotel was favored by Emperor Menelik as well as Ethiopian students returning from overseas and the political elite of the times. According to historian Ayele Bekerie, an Associate Professor at the Department of History & Cultural Studies at Mekelle University, Ethiopia hosted a reception at Taitu Hotel in 1903 in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Haitian revolution. Furthermore, Taitu Hotel was where war correspondents and photojournalists from around the globe covering the second Italian invasion of Ethiopia were housed in 1935.

Professor Ayele had written extensively about the significance of that era in modern African history and beyond. “Following the war Taitu and Menelik shared the enormous task of building a newly reconstituted country with diverse population and cultures,” notes Professor Ayele. He shared an article honoring Taitu for Women’s History Month two years ago published here. “Empress Taitu Bitul was actively involved in Menelik’s government. It is worth mentioning that she was married to Menelik at the age of forty-three and she was four years older than him,” Professor Ayele states. “Taitu’s pioneering and enduring work in politics, economics, culture, social welfare, military have added to the definition and implementation of a national agenda. The founding of Addis Ababa as a new capital city allowed people to migrate and settle in this new town from all regions of the country.”

Professor Ayele says the Taitu Hotel is a monument not only to the timeless legacy of our forefathers and mothers who kept Ethiopia free, but also stood as a tribute to the woman who established the capital city that today millions of residents call their home. “Taitu Hotel is one of the most important historic landmarks of Addis Ababa,” he said. “Terribly saddened by what happened. It is a precious national treasure. I am hopeful that the building will be restored as soon as possible.”

Below are photos courtesy Professor Ayele, who visited Taitu Hotel’s burned site on Monday morning along with images from Facebook and other media sources.



Related:
Ethiopia’s Historic Landmark Taitu Hotel Sustains Fire Damage

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Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015 Featuring Acclaimed Writer Dinaw Mengestu

Dinaw Mengestu. (Illustration by Nathan Gelgud)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 12th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Acclaimed Ethiopian-born writer Dinaw Mengestu is the featured guest speaker at this month’s “Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2015″ program presented by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in partnership with the National Book Foundation, which celebrates today’s most renowned authors.

Dinaw’s latest book All Our Names tops The New York Times’ list of 100 notable books published last year. The editors of NYT’s Book Review state: “With great sadness and much hard truth, Mengestu’s novel looks at a relationship of shared dependencies between a Midwestern social worker and a bereft African immigrant.”

In addition, Dinaw is the author of the novels How to Read the Air and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, and is a recipient of the 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He currently teaches at Brooklyn College and Georgetown University.

Dinaw is scheduled to appear at BAMcafé on Tuesday Jan 27th, 2015. The announcement states: “each event begins with a buffet dinner, including wine and dessert, accompanied by live music. Following dinner, the evening’s featured author reads from his or her work and discusses the creative process. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and have their book signed at the conclusion of the evening.”

All events begin at 6:30pm. Doors open at 6pm, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Incomplete parties are not permitted to save seats.

If You Go:
Tue, Jan 27, 2015
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Peter Jay Sharp Building
BAMcafé
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Subscription Price: 51
Single Ticket Price: $60
Ticket price includes wine, dinner, tax, and tip
www.bam.org/programs/2015/eat-drink-and-be-literary

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Historic Taitu Hotel Sustains Fire Damage

The fire-hit Taitu hotel in Addis Ababa. (Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, January 11th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The historic Itegue Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa sustained serious fire damage today. The blaze also destroyed Jazzamba, the popular jazz club located inside the legendary hotel. Located in the Piazza neighborhood Taitu Hotel is the country’s first establishment providing accommodations, meals, and other services both to travelers and locals since 1898 (Ethiopian Calendar).

No deaths were reported in the incident, but commander Tadesse Gemechu, a fire department official, told the Associated Press that “two people were taken to the hospital after being rescued from the fire at the Taitu Hotel which was built in 1907.”


A fire department official says the fire has damaged the hotel which featured the city’s famous jazz club “Jazz Amba”, now destroyed, which was frequented by foreigners and locals alike. (AP)


Firemen walk through wreckage at the Taitu Hotel following a fire at the historical landmark, built in 1907, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Elias Asmare)

AP adds: “Tadesse says the cause of the fire is being investigated. Many of the hotel’s rooms, its historic pieces and a bank office were completely burned down before firefighters put out the fire. The city’s famous jazz club that used to be frequented by foreigners and locals alike, Jazz Amba, was also completely destroyed by the inferno. Addis Ababa’s Deputy Mayor Abate Sitotaw said efforts will be made to restore the Taitu Hotel.”

—-
Related:
Fire Damages Historic Hotel in Ethiopia (AP)

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African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril

Voters queue to cast their ballots at a polling station in Ethiopia during the 2010 elections. (AP photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release

U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

2015 is a critical year in the governance and political landscape of Africa, with national and parliamentary elections taking place across the continent. There are currently 14 legislative and presidential elections scheduled for 2015, including those in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Lesotho, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia.

While nations such as Tanzania and Zambia seek to extend their advancements in peaceful, democratic transitions in 2015; other African nations face the prospect of holding elections in the context of conflict or post-conflict settings with significant ethnic and/or regional tensions, such as those in Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. These elections could present serious challenges to internal and regional stability across the continent, and will require vital technical, logistical and security-related support from the African Union and the international community.

In addition to these challenges, close attention should be paid to the issue of electoral term limits continent-wide. While there are several African nations where strong adherence to constitutional term limits has taken root – such as Ghana, Namibia and Mozambique; there is an unsettling trend towards constitutional amendments to extend term limits in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some African leaders argue that without a competent and organized opposition; they are justified in extending their terms in the best interest of their nations. The rejoinder to this argument, from many in African civil society, and the international community is that this logic creates a perennial excuse for African leaders to suppress dissent and political opposition in order to retain power. This same trend was the root cause of the civil unrest late last year in Burkina Faso, which ultimately led to the removal of President Compaore from office.

As Africans across the continent engage in the democratic process, African governments and regional bodies must work to provide maximum transparency and security; as well as mechanisms for electoral grievances and support for the acceptance of results. They should not however, be expected to do this alone. US foreign assistance agencies, the broader international community, and the relevant agencies of the United Nations system must be poised to provide necessary support in this year of numerous African elections.

Related:
The Role of Civil Society in Upcoming Ethiopia Elections: CREW Conference in Washington DC

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The Role of Civil Society in 2015 Ethiopia Elections: Women Conference in DC

Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw (R) President of Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women CREW. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Organizers of the fourth annual International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora, which is scheduled to take place on March 7th, 2015 in Washington DC, are calling for presentation proposals regarding “The Role of Civil Society Organization (CSOs) in the Upcoming Elections in Ethiopia.”

“The main objective is to create an understanding of the magnitude of the negative impact of the Societies and Charities Law on the activities of nongovernmental organizations,” states the event host, U.S.-based Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW). “As a women’s civil society organization, CREW will also pay special attention to Ethiopian women’s participation in the political process. Thus, one of the major questions that the conference will address will be the role of women’s organizations in mobilizing women to seek their rights for fair and free elections.”

The announcement notes that between the early 1990′s and mid-2000s civil society organizations had actually flourished in Ethiopia, but that changed following a 2009 law called “the Societies and Charities Proclamation” that, organizers point out, neutralized the activities of such associations. The press release added: “Individual initiatives through CSOs are based on the inalienable right to participate in addressing vital political and socio-economic issues, without belonging to political parties. Civil society organizations are autonomous means of participating in public life. They are systems promoting initiatives to ensure that people have the opportunities to pursue their preferred directions in their political, economic or social lives. Without the active role of CSOs therefore, creating awareness of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and having fair and free elections is going to be impossible.”

Organizers emphasize that the conference is intended to address the following themes: “Assessment of the Societies and Charities Law and its impact on the activities of civil society organizations in the upcoming elections: lessons learned from previous elections and challenges and opportunities for the upcoming elections; women’s participation in the political process and women’s advocacy for free and fair elections; plans of action and advocacy strategies for encouraging women to seek political leadership positions; and encouraging the international community to promote free and peaceful elections in Ethiopia.”

If you are interested in presenting papers on any of these areas, CREW asks that you submit a one-page proposal by January 30th, 2015. Learn more at www.centerforethiopianwomen.org.

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US Updates African Diaspora on Ebola Response

Medical supplies from the U.S. delivered in Monrovia, Liberia to assist in the fight against Ebola. (AP Photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Response

Press Release: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs

Last month, the State Department’s Bureaus of Public Affairs and African Affairs, in coordination with interagency colleagues, hosted a conference call with Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and approximately 200 representatives of the African diaspora community from across the United States. Together with officials from USAID, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, provided an update on the ongoing response to the crisis.

In December 2014, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield was part of a U.S. delegation to Liberia, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Lumpkin, to assess the current state of Liberia’s fight against Ebola and U.S. response efforts on the ground. On this call, she reviewed her trip and commended the efforts of U.S. Embassy personnel in Monrovia, who are working around the clock, to support the anti-Ebola effort. She also stressed that the U.S. Government response to Ebola has been a “whole of government” effort.

In response to questions from call participants, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield noted that, after several very difficult months, Liberia has made significant gains in the fight against Ebola. She also added that more work remains to be done until Liberia is Ebola-free. To that end, she urged Liberians not to change the practices that have been put in place to ensure the eradication of this disease.

The Assistant Secretary also remarked that Ebola is a “regional problem,” not a Liberian problem, and one that requires tremendous teamwork and international coordination. In that regard, she described the collaborative efforts of the U.S. embassy, USAID, the CDC, the African Union and Liberians as nothing short of “impressive.”

Thomas-Greenfield remains engaged in coordination efforts with other U.S. Government agencies and colleagues in the international community around the recovery program in the region, the state of the health sector, and the conditions for improvement in education and infrastructure.

The U.S. Government continues to stand with Liberia, and knows that this is a situation that they cannot fight alone. Liberia and other Ebola-affected countries need the support of the international community and we are committed to providing that support. President Obama made that very clear when he said that this is a national security crisis, not only for the region, but for the world.

For more information on the ongoing U.S. response to the virus, please visit the State Department page here.

About the Author:
David Duckenfield serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Public Affairs.

Related:
WHO: Ebola Death Toll Passes 7,500
Ethiopians arrive in West Africa to fight Ebola
Ethiopia Holds Farewell Gala for Volunteer Doctors Headed to Ebola-Hit Countries
Africa Sets Up $28.5m Ebola Crisis Fund
Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: WHO
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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Ethiopian Christians Celebrate Christmas

Night masses were conducted at churches across the country. At dawn, a cannon was fired nine times to mark the occasion. (Photo: AA)

Anadolu News Agency

By Abebech Tamene

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on Wednesday – along with other Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world – on Jan. 7, some two weeks after December 25, when their Western counterparts celebrate Jesus’ birth.

“Celebrating Christmas on this day [Jan. 7] makes our church unique,” Abba Haile Mariam Melese, the church’s deputy general manager, told The Anadolu Agency.

Two main versions of the Christian calendar are currently in use around the world – the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, for its part, uses the former, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

The difference between the two calendars lies in the way they estimate the length of the tropical year, and how they calculate when Easter falls.

“The [Ethiopian] church follows the Julian calendar because it believes it is the most appropriate for counting days and years,” Melese told AA. “Besides, the Julian calendar is derived from the Bible; it is not good to deviate from it when counting days and years.”

Late Tuesday, nighttime masses were conducted at churches across the country. At dawn, a cannon was fired nine times to mark the occasion.

Read more »

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A 40-Day Vegan Fast, Then, At Last, A January Christmas Feast

Ethiopians around the world celebrated Christmas on Wednesday, January 7th. The following is NPR's highlight of the Ethiopian holiday feast that follows 40 days of vegan fast. (Photo: NPR)

NPR

By Gregory Warner

An Ethiopian kitchen can be a place of both succulence and self-denial.

In the kitchen of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, the owner, Abebe, demonstrates how his cook prepares the dish called kitfo. It’s raw minced beef whipped together with cardamom and chili and a spicy butter, with a texture and taste closer to delicate cheese than to steak tartar.

Kitfo is actually Abebe’s favorite food, but it’s one he hasn’t been allowed to eat for the past month. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the world’s oldest, observes Christmas on Jan. 7, following a calendar similar to the Coptic Church. The 40 days prior to Christmas (including Dec. 25) are observed with a vegan fast.

This 40-day Nativity Fast — also observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic and Coptic Church, among others — typically prohibits meat, dairy, eggs, oil and wine. (Some traditions are ambiguous about whether fish may be eaten.)

The church considers refraining from some meals and some foods to be a form of purification and spiritual preparation. While the term “vegan” was coined only 70 years ago, prohibitions against eating meat and dairy for extended periods have been around for millennia. But no church has as many fasting days as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Abebe says that at a time of year when others are gorging, there’s something gratifying in self-denial.

Read more »

Listen to the story:


Related:
Ethiopian Christians Celebrate Christmas

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Liccardo Inaugurated Mayor of San Jose

San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo high-fives supporters after the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Photo: Bay Area News Group)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

San Jose (TADIAS) – The City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony for the new Mayor Sam Liccardo took place at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, California on Tuesday, January 6th. Liccardo, who was endorsed by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), was elected Mayor of San Jose following a hotly-contested race against county Supervisor Dave Cortese during the 2014 midterm elections in November. The city, which is home to tens of thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia and their first generation American-born children, is the 10th most populous city in America and the largest in Silicon Valley.

Below are a few photos from the event via Bay Area News Group.


San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo waits on stage before being sworn in next to his wife Jessica García-Kohl during the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)


The audience listens to speakers during the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)


San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, right, takes a “selfie” with Melvis Cruz, left, after the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

1420674255_SJM-LICCARDO-0107-007-L
San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo greets supporters after the City of San Jose 2015 Inaugural Ceremony in the lobby of the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

See more photos at San Jose Mercury News »


Sam Liccardo to be Inaugurated New Mayor of San Jose, California


The newly elected Mayor of San Jose, California Sam Liccardo. (Photo: The Ethiopian American Council)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian American friends and supporters of the new Mayor of San Jose Sam Liccardo, who officially takes office today, are expected to attend his inauguration ceremony this evening. The Office of the new Mayor has already moved the inauguration venue once due to capacity issues. “Tuesday evening’s inaugural ceremony surprisingly outstripped the 1,100-seat California Theatre even before Liccardo officially took office,” reports The San Jose Mercury News. “Fortunately, this was an easy one to fix, and the ceremony has been moved to the roomier Center for the Performing Arts.” The newspaper adds: “With the extra space, registration has been reopened for the free event, which starts at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.).

Liccardo, who was endorsed by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), was elected Mayor of San Jose, California following a hotly-contested race against county Supervisor Dave Cortese during the 2014 midterm elections in November. The city, which is home to tens of thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia and their first generation American-born children, is the 10th most populous city in America and the largest in Silicon Valley.

Regarding the inaugural ceremony today, the San Jose Mercury News notes that you can “register in advance online until noon Tuesday, http://conta.cc/1BC91R6, or by emailing mayorevents@sanjoseca.gov or calling 408-535-4800. Anyone interested in seeing the event without joining the audience Tuesday can watch the ceremony on CivicCenterTV at www.sanjoseca.gov.”


(Photo: Courtesy The Ethiopian American Council)
—-
Related:
Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose
Sam Liccardo Wins San Jose, California Mayoral Primary Election
San Jose Mayoral Candidate Liccardo Releases Amharic Campaign Literature
Ethiopian American Council Endorses Sam Liccardo for San Jose Mayor

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Model & Designer Hiwot Bekele Represents Ethiopia at 63rd Miss Universe Pageant

Hiwot Bekele Mamo, 24, is the current Miss Universe Ethiopia. (Photo: Miss Universe )

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) – 24-year-old Hiwot Bekele will represent Ethiopia at this year’s Miss Universe contest, which will be held on January 25th, 2015 at Florida International University (FIU) in Doral, Miami. Hiwot was crowned Miss Universe Ethiopia in November following a competition held at the Radisson Blu hotel in her hometown of Addis Ababa.

According to the Miss Universe Organization:

Hiwot Bekele was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At a very young age, she fell in love with pageants and fashion design. At 16, she started modeling and doing pageants. When she turned 17, she joined Next Fashion Designing Institute to develop her knowledge and her passion fashion designing. She is a hard worker. She graduated high school first from her department and joined Addis Ababa University School of Commerce. She had one of the best GPA’s at her university, and on top of school and modeling she started working for a production company as a marketer. After a few months she was promoted to Marketing Manager. After graduating from AAUSC, Hiwot started developing her own fashion line. She won several prizes over the years working as a model, designer and a pageant girl. She is now 24 years old, working as one of the top models in Ethiopia and running her own line as a fashion designer.


Left: Hiwot Bekele designing a dress. Right: celebrating her third birthday. (Credit: Miss Universe)

Per the the announcement the upcoming 63rd annual Miss Universe pageant in Florida features 88 participants from around the world and the crowning of the new queen by last year’s winner Gabriela Isler of Venezuela. Organizers add: “Thomas Roberts and Natalie Morales will host the event with live musical acts performing during the show.”

In the United States the competition will be televised live on NBC from the FIU Arena on Sunday, January 25th at 8/7c.



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Tsion Cafe in Harlem Combines Ethiopian & American Cuisine with Community Art

Tsion Bakery and Cafe is located in the historic Sugar Hill section of Harlem at 763 St. Nicholas Avenue between 148th and 149th Street in New York City. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The newly opened Tsion Cafe in Harlem — which is owned by the founder of the annual Sheba Film Festival, Beejhy Barhany, and her husband Padmore John — will launch the Art at Tsion Series event at a reception on January 22nd featuring four up-and-coming local artists including Brooklyn-based Maro Haile of deseta.net, the Addis Ababa-born and NYC-raised painter and fashion artist Miku Girma (Rep1), graphic designer Jason Auguste, and photographer Feruze Zeko. Tsion Café is extending an invitation to all emerging and established artists to submit artwork for future exhibitions at the cafe.

In addition to serving the residents and visitors of this historic neighborhood a delicious combination of Ethiopian and American food, the owners envision Tsion growing as a platform to showcase new and established artists, both locally and internationally. “Tsion Café is a hip cosmopolitan community space dedicated to serve as a cultural platform where local and traveling musicians, poets, writers and artists can present their work,” the announcement stated.

Tsion Cafe is at a historic location where Malcolm X once worked, we are told, and beginning in February during African-American History Month the place will also introduce open mic poetry evenings.



If You Go:
Art at Tsion Series
Opening Reception January 22nd, 2015
6:30pm to 8:30pm
Tsion Cafe
763 St. Nicholas Ave.
Harlem, NY 10031
www.tsioncafe.com

To submit artwork: Please be ready to provide your artist bio and artwork list (i.e. title, medium, dimensions and retail price for each artwork). Please include your name, address, email and phone number on your artist bio and artwork list and submit your art to Tsioncafe@gmail.com to be considered.

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Ethiopia Dam Project Could Start Power Generation by June – Official

Construction site of the Gilgel Gibe III dam in Ethiopia. (Photo: grandmillenniumdam.net)

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

ADDIS ABABA — A much-delayed $1.8 billion dam project under construction along Ethiopia’s Omo river could begin generating power by June and be fully operational by early 2016, an official said on Thursday.

Gilgel Gibe 3 will nearly double the country’s energy output, helping to resolve chronic power outages and sustain a booming economy. Work started in 2008 and was due to be completed around three years later, but the project has faced funding shortages over concerns about its environmental impact.

“88 percent of the work for the Gibe 3 hydropower project has already been completed,” Azeb Asnake, chief executive officer of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, told Reuters.

Two of ten units would be ready by June, Azeb said, while one additional unit would come on line each month after that. Upon completion the project will generate 1,870 MW of power.

Ethiopia plans to spend a total of $12 billion to tap the rivers that cascade down its craggy highlands over the next two decades in a bid to beat energy shortages and become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Read more »

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Celebrating the New Year Around the World

From Sydney, Australia's iconic Opera House (above) to New York's Times Square, people across the globe held New Year celebrations last night welcoming 2015. (Photo: VOA News)

VOA News

Published: Thursday, January 1st, 2015

People around the world welcomed the New Year with fireworks, glitter, song and dance, and well-wishing. At least for this day, the world seemed to have one unique goal – to join in celebration, although it was subdued in Indonesia, where people mourned those killed in this week’s AirAsia plane crash.

VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports that world leaders took the opportunity to broadcast messages of peace.

Watch: Celebrating the New Year Around the World (VOA Video)


Related:
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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People of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley Inspire Dolce & Gabbana 2015 Collection

The brightly colored and evocative traditional style of the Bana people of Ethiopia's Omo Valley is attracting the attention of international fashion designers like Dolce & Gabbana. (Photograph credit: Eric Lafforgue)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The colorful hairwear of the people of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is inspiring international fashion — just take a look at the 2015 collection by style powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana that’s taking the world by storm. “When Dolce & Gabanna sent models sporting piles of colourful hair accessories down the catwalk during their S/S15 show, the fashion world swooned in delight,” notes the Daily Mail. “But the designers’ source of inspiration for the look is an unlikely one – the colourful Bana people of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, who like nothing better than intricate piles of brightly coloured hair clips.”

The Daily Mail also points out Japan’s Kawaii girls also share a similar tradition of adoring their hair with colorful clips, but the Japanese seem to prefer different shades of a single color – pink.

For Ethiopia’s Bana tribe “getting dressed is less about showing individuality and more about looking as bright and cheerful as possible. Beadwork has long been part of their culture, with many opting for colourful beaded headbands – sometimes combined with the hair clips. Others, regardless of sex and age, adorn themselves with piles of arm bands, heavy metal necklaces and beaded belts in eye-popping shades of yellow and crimson. However they are worn, piles of colourful hair clips have proved one of the most universally popular trends of 2014, with devotees also spotted at Glastonbury in the summer and at festivals across the globe. And with scores of colourful hair accessories cropping up on the S/S15 catwalk, it is probably just a matter of time before they show up on a high street near you.”


Beautiful: Bana woman in Ethiopia — As this photo reveals, her simple t-shirt is almost hidden by her beaded belt and breast plate and she also carries an umbrella. ((Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue)

Read more at www.dailymail.co.uk »

Related:
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures

On the eve of the historic US-Africa Summit, Michelle Obama speaks at the summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington on July 30th, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 29th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – This year President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) launched the first annual Mandela Washington Fellowship, which included 13 young professionals from Ethiopia. Closing events for the fellows coincided with the historic U.S.-Africa Summit held in Washington D.C.

There was more uplifting news as Ethiopia nominated Dr. Catherine Hamlin for the Nobel Peace Prize. And it was a pleasure to root for Genzebe Dibaba who shattered multiple world records in 2014. The 23-year-old running star, who has yet to reach the pinnacle of her career, went on to earn a nomination for the prestigious annual IAAF Athlete of the Year award, getting a well-deserved seat as one of the finalists at the World Athletics Gala held in Monaco on November 21st, 2014. The award-winning film Difret also sparked a great deal of praise in our community, not to mention the ads directed by David Mesfin, in collaboration with Wondwossen Dikran and Ezra Wube, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup multi-platform commercials for Hyundai car company.

This year also brought a significant share of difficult news, from the arrest of the Zone Nine blogging collective to the violence against student protestors in the Oromia region, as well as the recent hard-hitting television documentary by Dan Rather exposing “The Shameful Side of International Adoption,” which focuses on adopted Ethiopian children in the United States who have been “re-homed, and moved to new adoptive families with little oversight and assistance.” And certainly a review of the past twelve months would not be complete without mentioning the deployment of 187 Ethiopian medical professionals to Ebola-hit West African countries.

Indeed 2014 was also a year where social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter played a key role in bringing global attention to the maddening and heartbreaking case of a 16-year-old girl in Ethiopia who died after being kidnapped and raped by a gang of five men in Addis Ababa a few weeks back: The Yellow Movement at Addis Ababa University Update on Abduction of Hanna Lalango.

The most viewed photograph of the year on our website was our highlight of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fun dining experience at an Ethiopian restaurant in Bay Area, California this past summer: Cool Moment – Zuckerberg Enjoys Ethiopian Food at Walia Restaurant in San Jose.

We wish all of you the best in the new year! And we look forward to covering more stories in 2015.

Photos: Tadias Year in Review – 2014 in Pictures


Related:
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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Lemma Guya: Ethiopian Painter Still Going Strong at 87

Lemma Guya: "I am an African and my Africanness is uniquely rooted in my Ethiopianness." (Photo: AA)

Anadolu Agency

By Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA – Renowned Ethiopian painter Lemma Guya has just put the finishing touches on his goat skin-mounted portraits of the 53 African leaders who founded the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.

“I am an African and my Africanness is uniquely rooted in my Ethiopianness,” the 87-year-old Guya told The Anadolu Agency from his mansion-turned-gallery in Bishoftu, located some 40km south of Addis Ababa.

“Throughout my career I have shuttled between these two mutually complementary identities,” he added. “In my paintings I have tried to depict and narrate our acceptable and unacceptable traditions and lives.”

Maybe that’s why visitors to his mansion, which sits on 10,000 square meters of land, will find a yellowish bronze bust of a smiling Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader, as soon as they step into the place.

“Mandela is the most perfect embodiment of Africa’s rise,” Guya asserted. “He radiates dauntless moral courage, a peaceful transition of state power, equality, justice, inclusiveness and democracy.”

Guya traces Mandela’s story to Ethiopia, where the liberation icon received his first military training and his first handgun.

“This is why he stands here as a philosophical inspiration of my works and our lives,” he said.

The veteran painter, who looks much younger than his age, established his “African Art Museum” in 1983 inside his gallery.

“I wanted to make it an African visual art center of excellence,” he said. “But its fundamental objective was to initiate dialogue about African art with the aim of achieving Africa’s rebirth.”

“The then Organization of African Unity joined the vision and it was inaugurated by its then secretary-general, Ahmed Salim Ahmed,” Guya said.

Yet the pan-African body’s promises to financially support the center and turn it into a hub for African painters never materialized.

“I was disheartened by the backpedaling on promises. After years of waiting, I decided to go my way,” he said.

But despite the passage of years, Guya never forgot his artistic engagement with Africa.

“I have presented a project that aims to produce the portraits of the founding fathers of the African body on goat or gazelle skin,” he said.

The idea – along with some sample portraits – was well received by African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in 2013.

In a hand-written note, she promised to stand foursquare behind the artist and his project.

“We are grateful for all the works of art you have produced in authentic African style for the history of Africa, the OAU and AU in a unique way,” Dlamini-Zuma wrote. “Our support is guaranteed.”

Guya has already completed the portraits to be displayed at the AU’s Addis Ababa headquarters.

Read more »

Related:
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

The late artist Asnaketch Worku in the new film "Asni," which chronicles her life. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Published: Monday, December 22nd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – As we wrap up the year we wish our audience around the world a happy and safe holiday season. And, as always, we look back at some of the top arts & culture stories that captured our attention in 2014. The list is organized in no particular order. Enjoy and see you in 2015!

‘Asni’: A Documentary on the Legendary Ethiopian Performing Artist Asnaketch Worku

The movie Asni was, hands down, one of the best Ethiopian documentary films released in 2014. Directed by Rachel Samuel and edited & co-produced by Yemane Demissie (Associate Professor of Film & Television at New York University), the documentary features the life and times of legendary Ethiopian musician and actress Asnaketch Worku. The captivating narrative gives us a glimpse into the performer’s popular and controversial past through her own words as well as those of her peers. The interview was recorded inside her humble home in Addis Ababa, while she was in bed-rest, a few years before she passed away. After watching the film my first thoughts were “What a woman Asnaketch was!” Free spirited, talented, curious, stylish, beautiful, outspoken and a trailblazer on the stage. It’s moving that at the end Asni — whom in her younger age was in many ways ahead of her time from the rigid and conservative societal norms of her generation — left us a lasting legacy that was built on passion for her profession and pure labor-of-love instead of on feckless pursuit of money and fame. That’s why, I personally believe, that today as Ethiopians everywhere we should cherish and celebrate Asni for she is our cultural treasure and irreplaceable. They did not call her The Lady with the Kirar for nothing. Asnaketch Worku was a born Ethiopian star.

Watch the trailer here: Asni – Courage, Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia

Dinaw Mengistu’s New Novel ‘All Our Names’


Dinaw Mengestu, author of the new book ‘All Our Names.’ (Photograph credit: Michael Lionstar)

Dinaw Mengistu dropped another of his mesmerizing and culturally-transcending novels this year (his third), firmly establishing himself as one of the most important writers of our generation. His latest book All Our Names was published in 2014. The New York Times notes: “All three of Dinaw Mengestu’s novels are about people who, for various reasons, come to this country and fashion new lives…For while questions of race, ethnicity and point of origin do crop up repeatedly in Mengestu’s fiction, they are merely his raw materials, the fuel with which he so artfully — but never didactically — kindles disruptive, disturbing stories exploring the puzzles of identity, place and human connection.” In addition I would say that All Our Names is a great read so share it with friends and family.

Difret Wins Audience Awards at Two Major International Film Festivals: Sundance & Berlin


(Photos credit: Haile-Addis Pictures)

The year started off with a bang for Ethiopian cinema on international big screens with Difret by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari winning two audience awards — at Sundance and Berlin film festivals. And it ended with the feature drama becoming Ethiopia’s 2014 official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film. Although there could be no doubt that Difret was the most talked-about Ethiopian movie of the year, I hope the film continues to invite conversations about the inherent cruelty of child marriage. (Here is a great review by The Los Angeles Times).

Taitu Cultural and Educational Center Celebrates 14th Anniversary


(Photo courtesy: The Taitu Cultural and Educational Center)

The Taitu Cultural Center marked its 14th anniversary in 2014. Perhaps it speaks more to the vision and determination of Ethiopian actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo, the Founder & Director, that the organization survived for more than a decade without much resources in comparison to institutions of the same category in the Washington. D.C. metropolitan area. Over the last decade-and-half the center has become a staging-ground for established and aspiring Ethiopian artists, including poets, painters, musicians, comedians and Amharic book authors residing near the U.S. capital and beyond. The 14th anniversary celebration took place on November 2nd at Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington. The event’s program featured a play called Yasteyikal. A comedy and selected poems of the year were also recited by legendary performers, including Alemtsehay Wedajo herself and Tesfaye Sima. Wishing Taitu much success for many years to come!

Aida Muluneh’s Addis Photo Fest


Photo courtesy: Addis Foto Fest (AFF)

The Addis Photo Fest, founded by Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh, held its 4th exhibition in Addis Ababa this year. It’s not an easy task to curate an annual show not only because photography as an art form is still a complex subject, but also because choosing the right theme and artists is an even more daunting challenge. The reward, when done properly, is that photography exhibitions could actually be an effective medium to explore pertinent and timely social issues (both local and global) beyond the abstract and academic that are positive, as well as negative, and require the public’s attention. We congratulate Aida on her efforts and we look forward to the Addis Photo Fest continuing to receive the international recognition that it deserves.

Marcus Samuelsson’s Latest Book: “Marcus Off Duty”

Marcus Samuelsson never stops! And that’s not surprising given that he lives in a city that never sleeps either. The New York-based restaurateur and celebrity-chef, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, highlights in his latest book, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home, the eclectic tastes and cooking-sensibilities of the world’s most diverse ethnic communities found right here in the United States. The following video is our interview with Marcus during his book talk and signing event last month in Washington D.C. where he was hosted by Joe Yonan, the Food & Travel Editor of The Washington Post. His book is available at Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon.com.

Ethiopia Habtemariam: Billboard Women In Music 2014


Ethiopia Habtemariam is President of Motown Records, President of Universal Music Group’s urban music division, and co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group. (Photograph: Universal Music Group)

When it comes to climbing the corporate ladder in the American music industry, it almost can’t get any better than reaching the helm of the country’s historic label — Motown Records. In 2014 34-year-old Ethiopia Habtemariam was promoted to President of Motown Records following a major reorganization at Universal Music Group. It was announced over the summer that Ethiopia will also remain in her previous role as Head of Urban Music division at Universal Music Publishing Group. She was one of Billboard magazine’s “Women in Music 2014″ honored in New York this month along with Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Swift and many more. We congratulate Ethiopia on her accomplishments and wish her continued success!

Ethiopian American Painter Julie Mehretu at the Tate Modern in London


Julie Mehretu at her studio in New York. (Photograph: Tim Knox)

Ethiopian-born American painter Julie Mehretu, who was also one of the Executive Producers of the film Difret, was the featured guest speaker at the fifth American Artist Lecture Series at the Tate Modern in London on September 22, 2014. The program, a partnership between Art in Embassies, Tate Modern and US Embassy London, “bring the greatest living modern and contemporary American artists to the UK.” Julie, who was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977, is one of the leading contemporary artists in the United States. She has received numerous international recognition for her work including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the prestigious MacArthur Fellow award. She had residencies at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (1998–99), the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2003), and the American Academy in Berlin (2007). Julie is an inspiration for many young people around the world and we look forward to more brilliant work in the future.

The 2014 Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia


The 3rd Hub of Africa Fashion Week was held in Addis Ababa in October 2014. (Courtesy photograph)

The 2014 Hub of Africa Fashion Week took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 23rd and 24th at Galani Coffee and Gallery. The international runway show is getting bigger and stronger. The event this year was dubbed the “Editorial Edition” and included a special event at Monarch Hotel on October 25th targeting buyers and fashion industry players. The participating designers included Modanik (DRC); Ruald Rheeder (South Africa); Katungulu (Kenya) Yohannes Sisters (Ethiopia); Abugida (Ethiopia); Cepha Maina (Kenya); Mela (Ethiopia); Sandstorm (Kenya), Assi’s Collection (Ethiopia) Rooi (Nigeria/London): and Mataano (Somalia). (Click here to see some wonderful photos)

UNICEF Ethiopia Appoints Young Rap Star Abelone Melese as its New National Ambassador


Abelone Melese. (UNICEF video)

Last, but not least, in November 2014 UNICEF Ethiopia named young rap star Abelone Melese, a citizen of Norway with Ethiopian origin, as its new National Ambassador at a signing ceremony held at the UNICEF Ethiopia office in Addis Ababa. The organization notes that “the event was attended by Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Mrs. Tove Stub, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy, members of the media and UNICEF staff.” Big congratulations to Abelone Melese!
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WHO: Ebola Death Toll Passes 7,500

The World Health Organization (WHO) says as of last week the 2014 Ebola epidemic, which is the largest in history, has killed more than 7,500 people in West Africa. (AP Photo)

VOA News

Updated:December 22, 2014

The World Health Organization says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to more than 7,500 people and the number of cases is nearing 20,000.

The latest data, posted Friday, reflects recent trends with Liberia and Guinea seeing a decrease in the rate of Ebola transmissions, while Sierra Leone’s cases continue to rise. Those three West African countries account for almost all the Ebola deaths.

The death toll in other countries remains the same with six deaths in Mali, eight in Nigeria, and one in the United States. Spain and Senegal have both had one case each, but no deaths.

Also Friday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the international community needed to better prepare for the next global outbreak of disease, which he said was “a test that is sure to come.”‘

Ban recently returned from visiting the West African countries hit hardest by Ebola. He said the world must learn the lessons from this outbreak, which he said go beyond strengthening public health systems.

“The international community needs better early warning and rapid response. I intend to engage member states in a serious effort to explore what more we can do to stay ahead of the next outbreak of disease — a test that is sure to come,” he said.

The secretary-general said his presence at the United Nations should send an important message that people without signs of Ebola infection should not be shunned.

“People who have travelled to Ebola-affected countries and have no signs of infection, are no threat. I also repeat my call to avoid travel restrictions, border closures and other counter-productive obstacles. As we fight the Ebola virus, it is equally crucial to combat the contagion of fear,” said Ban.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

Related:
Up to one million facing hunger in Ebola-hit countries: UN
Ethiopians arrive in West Africa to fight Ebola
Ethiopia Holds Farewell Gala for Volunteer Doctors Headed to Ebola-Hit Countries
Africa Sets Up $28.5m Ebola Crisis Fund
Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: WHO
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba

Fidel Castro with Che Guevara in 1959, the year Mr. Castro took power after leading a communist revolution in Cuba and toppling the American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. (Photo: Roberto Salas)

The New York Times

By PETER BAKER

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret negotiations that produced a prisoner swap brokered with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

Read more at The New York Times »

Video: Obama Announces Historic Re-establishment of US-Cuba Relations (NBC News)


Related:
Mr. Obama’s Historic Move on Cuba (The New York Times Editorial)
Obama Announces U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Relations (The New York Times)
Cuba Frees American Alan Gross, Held for Five Years (NBC News)
Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba (The Associated Press)
The Untold Story of Ethiopians in Cuba (TADIAS)

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Interview With Award-Winning Poet From Ethiopia Liyou Libsekal

Liyou Libsekal is a recipient of the prestigious Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: Monday, December 15th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Liyou Libsekal, a 24-year old Ethiopian-born poet is taking great strides in establishing herself as a prominent member of the new generation of African poets. There is no doubt writing is a natural outlet for Ms. Libsekal; her work is decked with traces of her “nomadic life so far and the growth and development that comes with it.” We enter Liyou’s world with Riding Chinese Machines: a dedication to the booming economic and physical transformations of her hometown Addis Ababa – a city swelling with construction, noise, asphalt roads, and congestion.

Riding Chinese Machines
There are beasts in this city
they creak and they crank
and groan from first dawn
when their African-tongued masters wake
to guide them lax and human-handed
through the late rush
when they‘re handled down and un-animated
still as we sleep, towering or bowing
always heavy
we pour cement through the cities
towns, through the wild
onwards, outwards
like fingers of eager hands
stretched across the earth
dug in

With a nostalgic tribute to what-once-was, she narrates her pilgrimage through dislocation, childhood, and tradition. Her techniques often vary – her poems are partly constructed in realms of fantasy and abstraction, and on the other hand, they open sensory valves with images so clear and realized we become full partakers of her stories. Her identity exists as an ongoing project, unconcluded, yet beautifully narrated, as a byproduct of things seen, overheard, spoken, and observed. Her work earned her the prestigious Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2014, an annual poetry award for the development and promotion of African poets.

TADIAS: First and foremost, congratulations on The Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Your poems have incredible sensory engagement, with such rich imagery that we partake in your world fully, and occasionally your work is abstractly delivered. Is that intentional? Are you always in negotiation between those two styles?

Liyou: I wouldn’t say it’s intentional, I’m still finding my voice so I tend to let things flow naturally. When I’m writing something I know how I want it to sound so I go off of that, I’m letting that be my guide, instead of any set intention.

TADIAS: You often write about “home” – its transformations, “poured in concrete” with “beasts” that “groan from first dawn when their African-tongued masters wake”– creating collage of a ever-forward moving city – do you ever get nostalgic about the Addis you and many of us grew up in?

Liyou: A lot of my childhood was spent outside of Ethiopia but Addis was always my family’s home base, so I do have a lot of memories of what the city was like before all this growth. To be honest, as happy as all those memories are, I don’t miss the old landscape because even though the city is somewhat chaotic right now, and everything is changing, it’s a moniker of progress. Living here, you see things change constantly and we’re moving so fast and people’s lives are improving and that’s more important than my memories of a less cluttered or chaotic city.

TADIAS: Any writing rituals?

Liyou: Not really, all I need is quiet and my laptop so I just need to isolate myself so I can write. If I’m having trouble writing I step away and clear my head, usually through meditation, just to find focus and clarity.

TADIAS: Are there things that are too personal to write about?

Liyou: I think everyone has things they many not want to address; I’m working on being as honest as I can with myself. I wouldn’t say there are things I wouldn’t write about because they’re too personal, just because I don’t have to show them to anyone but it’s a process. Being honest with ourselves and putting things on paper can be so powerful but it takes time and courage, it’s a work in progress.

TADIAS: Readers are one thing but family is a different audience – how has your reception been coming from a country where the Arts are somewhat underrepresented?

Liyou: I’ve had a lot of positive responses; it’s been great for the most part. I have talked to people who feel I should write in Amharic but considering my background, that’s not necessarily the best course of action for me; I couldn’t do that justice at the moment.

TADIAS: What/who do you think has had the most contribution to you becoming a great writer?

Liyou: I’ve always had really supportive people around me who value creativity and the arts. It has definitely been helpful to have encouraging people around me, people who are understanding about the fact that I might be off writing for a while and who give me room to do so.

TADIAS: In Hair (published below), a “black child in a white playground” where they “flock to touch a tamed head,” you tackle issues of identity and belonging – growing up, how were you able to negotiate your heritage in a world where you became a cultural ‘outcast’?

Liyou: It is difficult as a child to suddenly not know where you fit in your current world, it can cause a lot of different types of conflict, I touch on that a little bit in the poem. My parents were always very much involved in helping my sister and I understand our culture, we always traveled home when we could so we were never too far from where we came from; but at the same time, they understood our childhood was so different from theirs so they were also learning how to raise us in a new environment. I was very lucky to have parents that always gave me guidance but also let me make my own mistakes because it helped me figure myself out, where I stood and who I was in an otherwise undefined set of circumstances.

Hair
I left Africa carrying my skin
and my father’s thick ringlets
braids were for children,
tussled locks for grown women
eleven and unaware
a black child in a white playground
learns new words
girls flock to touch a tamed head
weaved by loving hands
and chemical cravings set in
It’s your crown says my mother
whose gorgeous mane gets wrapped tight
rolled ready for feverish waves
who convert to straight
what a word


About the Author:
Hasabie Kidanu covers arts and literature stories for Tadias Magazine. She is an artist and art historian living in New York City. Born in the United States, Hasabie was raised in Addis Ababa, where she attended Sandford International School. She is a graduate of The University of North Carolina where she studied Art History and French. She currently resides in Brooklyn and works in an art studio and as a freelance writer.

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Ethiopia Habtemariam: Women In Music 2014

Ethiopia Habtemariam is President of Motown Records, President of Universal Music Group’s urban music division, and co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group. (Photograph: Universal Music Group)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, December 13th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Billboard magazine has named Ethiopia Habtemariam, President of Motown Records and Head of Universal Music Group’s urban music division, as one of the 2014 top women in music. Ethiopia was among the leaders honored at the Billboard Women in Music luncheon held at Cipriani Wall Street on Friday, Dec. 12th in New York. The honorees included Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Jessie J and Ariana Grande.

Billboard states: “The luncheon was a celebration of the music industry’s most successful women, from pop stars to major record label executives, who all appear on Billboard’s annual Women in Music power list.”

“Habtemariam helms dual rosters of both established and next-gen stars,” the music publication adds. “UMPG’s streak on the Billboard Hot 100 has been led by Eminem’s “Monster,” Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and Chris Brown’s “Loyal.” Alongside such Motown faves as Stevie Wonder and Ne-Yo, in 2014 the label has celebrated the No. 1 R&B Albums debut of Kem’s Promise to Love: Album IV.”

Sponsored by American Express, the event featured performances from Colbie Caillat, Betty Who and Jessie J, and introductions from Billboard’s chief executives, John Amato and Janice Min.”



Related:
Motown Founder Salutes Ethiopia Habtemariam at Heroes & Legends Awards
Ethiopia Habtemariam to be Honored at the 2014 Heroes & Legends Awards
Ethiopia Habtemariam Named President of Motown
Barry Weiss Steps Down as Island Def Jam Motown Reorganizes (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Artists for Charity (AFC) 8th Annual Holiday Art Auction at Impact Hub DC

Photo from AFC Holiday Benefit and Art Auction in NYC on Saturday, December 6th, 2014 (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, December 12th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – At the inaugural Artists for Charity (AFC) holiday art auction in New York last Saturday, every featured art work on the wall — ranging from Ethiopian paintings to American landscape photography — was grabbed quickly by the crowd gathered at Impact Hub NYC in Manhattan. AFC’s Founder, Abezash Tamerat, told the attendees: “We will be back next year.”

For now, organizers are back in Washington gearing up to host their second event in a week: The 8th Annual Holiday Benefit and Art Auction at Impact Hub DC on Saturday, December 13th. “Every year the benefit uses the power of art to support vulnerable children in Ethiopia who are affected by HIV/AIDS,” AFC announced. “This year we are striving to raise enough funds to expand our Art Heals program…Join us for an amazing evening featuring a taste of Ethiopia and an exciting live auction. AFC will feature artwork from local and international artists.”

Proceeds go to support AFC projects in Ethiopia including the AFC Children´s Home and the community outreach program. Per AFC: “We are comprised of artists and volunteers from all over the world who donate our time, passion, sweat, creativity, and artwork for the sake of change. Some of us paint; some of us write; some of us are not even artists. But all of us believe that there is no such thing as a small act of compassion. Dedicated people, united and working together, can change the world. We are Artists for Charity.”

Sponsors of this year’s events include ALTOUR, a travel management company headquartered in NYC with an office in Addis Ababa, that donated $5K to help put together both the DC event as well as AFC’s first NYC event last weekend. Other sponsors are ArifZefen (Silver Sponsor), Talbot Auctions, Azla Vegan, Enat Restaurant, MMCY Tech (a BPO Outsourcing company with offices in Addis Ababa and Dubai) and YourDMV Team Real Estate (Yony Kifle).

If You Go:
8th Annual Holiday Benefit & Art Auction
Date: Saturday, December 13, 2014
Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Impact Hub DC
419 7th St. NW
Washington DC, 20004
Advanced tickets $45, Door tickets $50
www.artistsforcharity.org

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Miss World 2014 Underway in London: A Look at Miss Ethiopia Yirgalem Hadish

Yirgalem Hadish will represent Ethiopia at the 2014 Miss World contest on December 14th in London. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The current Miss World Ethiopia, Yirgalem Hadish, was recently asked by organizers of the international pageant what annoys her most about the world. “The presence of war and chaos,” she answered. The Ethiopian beauty queen who is expected in London this week to join the 2014 Miss World competition — already underway featuring contestants from 125 countries — won the Miss World Ethiopia title in August by a combination of points both by a panel of celebrity judges and online public voting. The 23-year-old who lives with her sister and two brothers in Addis Ababa says she “dreams of a career as an international model or a world class chef.” According to her public profile, she currently models in fashion shows and also works as a cook in a local restaurant.

Missworld.com asked another question: What item of makeup could you not live without? “I can live without makeup, because most of the time I don’t use make up,” Yirgalem responded.

And what is the best app she has used in the past year? “WhatsApp.”

Favorite foods? “Doro Wot, pizza and salad.”

In her spare time Yirgalem enjoys watching movies, playing traditional Ethiopian instruments, and visiting Ethiopia’s tourist attractions.

Below are photos of Miss World Ethiopia 2014 Yirgalem Hadish:



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Former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku Raises $1.3 Million for Dream School Initiative in Nazret

New Yorkers for Seeds fundraiser at the Schomburg Center in NYC, Monday, Dec., 8th, 2014. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – During the “New Yorkers for Seeds” fundraising gala at the Schomburg Center in Harlem yesterday evening former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku, Founder of Seeds of Africa Foundation, announced that their Dream School Initiative has raised 1.3 million to date to build a state-of-the-art education facility in her hometown of Nazret/Adama in Ethiopia.

The Dream School Initiative was launched last month with a fundraising event in Dallas where 14 local chefs did a tasting menu that was inspired by Ethiopian cuisine. The New York event included a live performance by Grammy-nominated Ethiopian American singer Wayna and music by Dj Sirak, Co-Founder of Africology Media. The event was hosted by Tigist Selam, and volunteers from the Ethiopian Student Association at Columbia University, Atti’s alma mater, assisted with a silent auction.

“The Dream School Initiative is a continuation of the work we’ve being doing so far,” Atti says. “The initiative is to expand our program to accommodate more students (from Pre-K through 12th grade) and also to increase our community development program.”

Since its inception the Seeds of Africa school has incorporated community development programs including providing literacy and health education courses as well as access to funding for local small businesses.

Below are photos from the “New Yorkers for Seeds” Event on Monday, December 8th, 2014



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Difret Los Angeles Premiere at Laemmle Music Hall Theater – Friday, December 12th

(Photos courtesy: Haile-Addis Pictures & Laemmle Music Hall 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, California)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 8th, 2013

Los Angeles (TADIAS) – The Los Angeles premiere of the award-winning film and Ethiopia’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film, Difret, opens on Friday, December 12th at Laemmle Music Hall Theater in Beverly Hills. Organizers note that the film will play for one week only with 5:00pm shows everyday. The cast and crew will participate in a Q and A after the film throughout the opening weekend.

Three hours outside of Addis Ababa, a bright 14-year-old girl is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. The brave Hirut grabs a rifle and tries to escape, but ends up shooting her would-be husband. She is charged with murder and faces the death penalty. In her village, the practice of kidnapping child brides is common and one of Ethiopia?s oldest traditions. Meaza Ashenafi, an empowered and tenacious young lawyer, arrives from the city to represent Hirut and argue that she acted in self-defense. Meaza boldly embarks on a collision course between enforcing civil authority and abiding by customary law, risking the ongoing work of her women?s legal-aid practice to save Hirut’s life. In the Amharic language, “difret” means courage. Based on the true story about the legal precedent setting court case that outlawed the kidnapping of child brides in Ethiopia, the film explores this theme. Ethiopian writer/director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari portrays, with panoramic beauty the complexity of a country’s transformation toward equal rights, featuring the courageous generation that dares to own it.

If You Go:
Difret Los Angeles Premiere
Opens Friday, December 12th
Laemmle Music Hall Theater
9036 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Tickets go on sale Tues, Dec. 9, 2014.
www.laemmle.com

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


Related:
‘Difret’ Submitted for Oscar Consideration for Best Foreign Language Film
Tadias Interview with Zeresenay Mehari & Mehret Mandefro
‘Difret’ Wins Panorama at Berlin Film Festival
Ethiopian film confronts marriage by abduction (BBC)
‘Difret’ Wins World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance Festival
Tadias Interview with Filmmaker Yidnekachew Shumete

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A Paradigm Shift: Entrepreneurship Taking Precedence Over Public Jobs In Ethiopia

(Photo: UNDP.org)

Venture Africa

December 7, 2014

In Ethiopia, a country of 90 million the main and almost the only source of employment was the government. Previously many young graduates dreamed of joining a government offices and becoming a public servant. But these days this attitude has been replaced by the idea of becoming an entrepreneur or self-employed.

Getahun Ekyawu is one of these new thinkers. He graduated six years ago from Hawassa University in Hawassa City, 268km south of Addis Ababa. He began thinking about starting his own business even when he was student at the university. After graduating, he started his first business, establishing a mushroom farm with an initial capital of $450.This business has blossomed into a $10,000 entity and employs over 15 people. Gethaun’s learnt about entrepreneurship from a course he took at the university. However, there are now a number of private training institutes for young or prospective entrepreneurs. These institutes offer short and long term courses ranging from three to nine months. The average cost of such trainings is between $45 and $110.

Dr. Werotaw Bezabeh owns a training centre. He established Genius Entrepreneurs Training Center 10 years ago with an initial capitalization of $2250. It currently generates more than $25,000 in revenue annually. “We have trained students for 413 rounds and our plan is to train one million entrepreneurs,” said Werotaw. Identifying business opportunities, how to prepare business plans and business ethics are some of the courses offered at Genius

Read more »



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US Protests Against Police Continue

Demonstrators storm Macy's on 34th Street in NYC protesting the N.Y. grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July on Dec. 5, 2014. (Getty Images)

VOA News

New York City saw a fourth night of protests Saturday over police violence against minorities, after the funeral for an unarmed black man who was killed by a police officer last month.

Akai Gurley, 28, was shot dead in a public housing stairwell November 20. Friends and family paid their last respects to him at a funeral in the New York borough of Brooklyn.

Rookie Police Officer Peter Laing shot Gurley in a stairwell of a Brooklyn apartment house project. Police said Gurley was not a crime suspect and was killed when the officer’s gun accidentally went off. But a New York newspaper reported that Laing waited before calling an ambulance immediately.

The Brooklyn district attorney said Friday that a grand jury would consider charges against Laing.

Demonstrators in New York ignored a cold December rain to protest Gurley’s death, as well as grand jury decisions not to indict white policemen responsible for the deaths of two other black men.

Protests were even more restrained than they were on Friday, when arrests fell to 20 from 200 on Thursday night.

“Seems to be the weather — it’s not really making it easy for them,” said a police officer in Times Square. He said he saw about 200 people march through the area, one of New York’s busiest shopping zones, during the afternoon.

A dozen protesters lay down again on the floor in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in one of the now-familiar “die-ins” featured in the recent wave of protests. Tourists and commuters stopped to watch the silent protest and snap pictures before going on their way.

“The fact that people are mobilizing is a great thing,” Amine Lazreg, 24, of Montreal said while sitting in a coffee shop in Times Square. “This type of protest is for social justice — I don’t know anyone who would go against that.”

Protesters and police alike showed restraint, and no major violence flared.

Other Cities

In Washington, demonstrators briefly blocked intersections as they moved across the city. Marchers also turned out in Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle.

Demonstrations have occurred nightly since Wednesday, when a New York grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the chokehold death of unarmed black crime suspect Eric Garner.

In video of the incident, Garner, who was suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes, can be heard gasping, “I can’t breathe,” as police hold him on the ground.

The public outcry over the Garner case came after many Americans expressed outrage when a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, last month declined to indict a white policeman, Darren Wilson, for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

President Barack Obama has promised to address what he called the “simmering mistrust” between police and minorities, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was conducting federal civil rights investigations into Brown’s and Garner’s deaths.

Holder spoke in Cleveland, Ohio, where a police officer who reportedly had a poor performance record gunned down a 12-year-old black boy in a public park last month as he was waving what turned out to be a toy pistol.

‘Legitimate concerns’

U.N. human rights experts called for a review of police procedures in the United States in the wake of the Garner and Brown cases.

The grand jury decisions in the two cases “leave many with legitimate concerns relating to a pattern of impunity when the victims of excessive use of force come from African-American or other minority communities,” Rita Izsak, the U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, said in a statement Friday.

Mutuma Ruteere, the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, urged action in the face of what he called evidence of discriminatory practices, including racial profiling, by police officers.

“Such practices must be eradicated,” he said.

International law allows the use of lethal force only where absolutely necessary to protect life, said Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“The laws of many of the states in the U.S. are much more permissive, creating an atmosphere where there are not enough constraints on the use of force,” Heyns said. “A comprehensive review of the system is needed — the enabling laws, the kinds of weapons the police use, the training they receive and the use of technology such as on-body cameras to ensure accountability.”



Related:
UN Experts Urge Review of US Police Practices (Video: Day 3 of NYC Protests)
New York to Retrain Police in Wake of Chokehold Death Case (VOA News)
Protesters flood New York City in second night of demonstrations (NY Daily News)
New Inquiry Needed on Eric Garner’s Death (NYT)

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UN Experts Urge Review of US Police Practices (Video: Day 3 of NYC Protests)

Protesters gather in Manhattan as thousands take to the streets of New York demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner, Dec. 5, 2014. (Getty Images)

VOA News

December 05, 2014

United Nations human rights experts are calling for a review of policing in the United States, after two separate cases in which white police officers were not charged for killing unarmed black men.

The U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsak, said in a statement Friday that the two grand jury decisions “leave many with legitimate concerns relating to a pattern of impunity when the victims of excessive use of force come from African-American or other minority communities.”

The cases have sparked nationwide protests.

Demonstrations against police violence continued Friday night in several cities, including New York, Chicago, and Washington.

In Chicago, protesters chanted “I can’t breathe,” a phrase that Eric Garner shouted when he was placed in a chokehold by a New York police officer as he was resisting arrest in July. Garner later died and a grand jury decided this week not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, for his death.

Myriad incidents

In the most widely-publicized incident causing public outrage, Darren Wilson, a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an 18-year-old named Michael Brown during a street confrontation in August.

Also Friday, prosecutors in New York City say they will consider charges against another officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in November in a public housing stairwell.

In the most widely-publicized incident, Darren Wilson, a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an 18-year-old named Michael Brown during a street confrontation in August.

A so-called “journey for justice,” inspired by Brown’s death and organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, reached its final destination Friday. The seven-day march went from Ferguson to the state capital, Jefferson City.

The NAACP said the march’s purpose was “to call for new leadership of the Ferguson police department” and “new reforms of police practice and culture” across the country.

New York

The latest case causing public outrage is that of Eric Garner, who died in July after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold. A grand jury decided Wednesday not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, for Garner’s death.

A cell phone video that went viral showed Pantaleo holding his arm around Garner’s neck and wrestling him to the ground following an argument.

Garner, suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes, was overweight and suffered from asthma. He repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe!” and complained of past mistreatment by the police.

The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide as a result of the chokehold. The New York City Police Department banned the practice in 1993.

Also in New York City, the district attorney in Brooklyn plans to convene a grand jury to consider charges against a police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in a public housing stairwell. The officer, Peter Liang, was new to the police force and on patrol when he killed Akai Gurley on November 20.

New York says it will retrain its 20,000 police officers in how to handle suspects. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday it is essential police treat people of all races equally.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is conducting federal civil rights investigations into the deaths of both Brown and Garner.

Holder spoke in Cleveland, Ohio, where a police officer who reportedly had a poor performance record, gunned down a 12-year-old black boy in a public park as he was waving what turned out to be a toy pistol.



Related:
New York to Retrain Police in Wake of Chokehold Death Case (VOA News)
Protesters flood New York City in second night of demonstrations (NY Daily News)
New Inquiry Needed on Eric Garner’s Death (NYT)

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Founder of Whiz Kids, Bruktawit Tigabu, Awarded 2014 Tremplin Prize

Bruktawit Tigabu, founder of Ethiopia's Whiz Kids Workshop, has been selected as one of two individuals awarded the 2014 Tremplin Prize, in partnership with UNESCO, in recognition of “social entrepreneurship.”

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, December 4th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Bruktawit Tigabu, co-founder and CEO of Ethiopia’s Whiz Kids Workshop, has been awarded the 2014 Tremplin Prize, which recognizes innovative social business projects. The award given in partnership with UNESCO includes a $10,000 subsidy along with a year of international consulting and media coverage.

Bruktawit launched Whiz Kids Workshop in 2006 and developed Ethiopia’s first educational TV show for preschool kids entitled Tsehai Loves Learning that is watched by approximately 5 million children and broadcast in schools, refugee centers, and clinics. The educational TV show has earned several other international accolades including the Japan Prize International Contest for Education Media, Next Generation Prize at Prix Jeunesse International (2008) and Microsoft Education Award (2011). Bruktawit was named a Rolex Young Laureate in 2010.

The award ceremony will take place at the UNECA building in Addis Ababa on December 5th.


Bruktawit Tigabu. (Photo: ©Rolex Awards/Ambroise Tézenas)


(Photo: ©Rolex Awards/Ambroise Tézenas)

Cover Image: Courtesy of Whiz Kids Workshop P.L.C

Related:
Tadias Interview With Bruktawit Tigabu: Her Amharic Classroom Library Project

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In Pictures: The Dibaba Sisters at the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco

Genzebe Dibaba (right) with her younger sister Anna Dibaba, 18, in Monaco, November 21st, 2014. (IAAF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – At the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco two weeks ago Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba was a finalist for the women’s Athlete of the Year award, and she was accompanied by her younger sister Anna Dibaba, 18, who told journalists “Tirunesh is my hero, but Genzebe is my best friend.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) notes the 23-year-old “Genzebe is the latest member of the Dibaba family dynasty to reach the pinnacle of world athletics, following her older sisters Ejegayehu and Tirunesh, while the next in line could be Anna, her 18-year-old younger sister who has just started training.”

“In Monaco, however, Anna’s role [was] to be Genzebe’s supportive companion and impromptu interpreter, a task she performed for a handful of the world’s track and field media with shy competence and considerable charm.”

Below are photos courtesy of IAAF World Athletics Club Facebook:



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Interview with Tour Guide Yohannes Zeleke

Yohannes Zeleke, PH.D., has been a tour guide since he was 13 years old. (Photo: PrivateFly.com)

PrivateFly

Whether flying for business or leisure, global travel offers the opportunity to bring history to life. Frequently, the magic of travel comes from chance conversations with locals who have unique insights that can’t be duplicated online or in travel guide books. The tour guide industry was born out of the travelers’ desire to tap into local knowledge about history, culture and architecture of their surroundings.

Dr. Yohannes Zeleke has been acting as a tour guide since he was 13 years old, helping tourists see inside beloved cities in Ethiopia, Russia, Greece, Africa, and now Washington DC. Currently a research associate at the Natural History museum and President for the African Travel Association at the DC Chapter, Dr. Yohannes continues to do tours of DC and Africa (specifically Ethiopia), through his own tour company The Washington DC Legend Tours.

We sat down with Dr. Yohannes to discuss his love of history, archaeology, and showcasing cities to travelers from around the world.

Q: How did you begin your journey as a tour guide?

A: Since I was 13 years old, I participated in archaeological excavations seasonally as a tour guide to historic sites of Gondar in Ethiopia, my hometown. Once I was 16, my English and French were good enough to lead me to different companies throughout high school, like United Tour Company, Wonderland Ethiopia Tour Company, and Host Ethiopia Tour Company, where I became a tour guide.

Later, I was hired by the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and tourism, so I never really stopped touring. Even while I studied in St. Petersburg, I also worked as a tour guide part-time!

Q: How many places in the world have you been a tour guide?

A: When I came to Washington DC from University of California, after my post-doc in 2000, I became passionate about the history and culture of Washington DC and how American history played a part in the overall world history. This passion led me to start my own tour company, The Washington DC Legend Tours, where I am able to showcase how Washington DC’s history fits in within the various world histories.

A: I’ve done tour groups in Gondar, Addis Ababa, Russia (St. Petersburg, Moscow) Greece, Turkey, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and now Washington DC

Q: How does Washington DC differ from other cities you’ve been a tour guide for?

A: Washington DC is the greenest city in the world, which is why it’s often called a city inside a park. The quality of the landmarks, clean walking streets, the zoo, the Congress, and the importance of what happens in the city in relation to the rest of the world makes it completely unique. It is a city that encompasses what America is.

Additionally, Washington DC is a destination for all kinds of tourists from all over the world. Therefore, we have to make sure we can handle a diverse group and ensure that each customer gets adequate knowledge from our tour. This means each tour guide must have an excellent knowledge, not only of Washington DC, but of world history, so we can make the tour relate back to each individual.

Read more »

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Ethiopian American Fashion Designer Yodit Eklund: Tapping Into Africa’s Expertise

Yodit Eklund, left, says her Bantu Wax brand has been influenced by Africans, including fabric designers in Ivory Coast; her in-house team in Dakar, Senegal, and the photographer Omar Victor Diop, right. (NYT)

The New York Times

By LIBBY BANKS

DECEMBER 1, 2014

In July, the fashion entrepreneur Yodit Eklund did the unusual. She decided to restructure her four-year-old surfwear brand Bantu Wax, with the aim of reflecting and serving the African surf culture she grew up with.

Collaborating with local artists is a major part of Ms. Eklund’s new brand vision for the Ethiopian-made clothing line. “I work with young African designers, because they reflect what’s going on,” she explained at an interview during Paris Fashion Week in October. “It’s not about safari or masks.” The fabrics are designed by a team in Ivory Coast, while an in-house team in Dakar, Senegal, creates the styles.

She also decided to open a store this winter on Dakar’s beachfront, located between two surf breaks.

The Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop is creating a vast mural for the flagship, something he described at press time as a “work in progress.”

Read more at The New York Times »

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Artists for Charity NYC Holiday Benefit & Art Auction – December 6th

For the first time this year's Artists for Charity (AFC) Holiday Benefit and Art Auction will take place in New York at Impact Hub NYC on Saturday December 6th, 2014. (Photograph Courtesy: Artists for Charity)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The holiday season is upon us and so is the annual Artists for Charity (AFC) benefit and art auction, which supports the Ethiopian American organization’s volunteer-managed group home in Addis Ababa that houses children double-orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The event, which has been held every year in Washington, DC since 2006, is coming to New York City for the first time this year. The 2014 gathering will be held following World AIDS Day on Saturday December 6th at Impact Hub NYC in Manhattan.

“Join us for an amazing evening featuring a taste of Ethiopia and an exciting live auction,” states the press release. “AFC will feature artwork from local and international artists. Proceeds go to support AFC projects such as the AFC Childrens Home in Ethiopia.”

On its website AFC adds: “We are comprised of artists and volunteers from all over the world who donate our time, passion, sweat, creativity, and artwork for the sake of change. Some of us paint; some of us write; some of us are not even artists. But all of us believe that there is no such thing as a small act of compassion. Dedicated people, united and working together, can change the world. We are Artists for Charity.”


If You Go:
NYC Holiday Benefit and Art Auction
Date: Saturday, December 6, 2014
Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Place: Impact Hub NYC
394 Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Advanced tickets $45
Door tickets $50
www.artistsforcharity.org

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Former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku’s Dream School Initiative in Nazret, Ethiopia

Atti Worku, Founder of Seeds of Africa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Atti Worku, a former Miss Ethiopia (2005), started Seeds of Africa school in her hometown of Nazret, Ethiopia with 16 students and one volunteer teacher in her mother’s backyard six year ago. Atti had attended college in Addis before embarking on her modeling career and didn’t finish college until she went back to complete her education at Columbia University this year. Atti vowed to provide quality educational opportunities to children in her birth country, and today her non-profit organization provides scholarships to approximately 100 students from Pre-K through 2nd grade.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine Atti announced a milestone for Seeds of Africa Foundation: The Dream School Initiative to build a state-of-the-art education facility in Nazret, Ethiopia. “We believe that this facility will be one that will be comparable to international schools all over the world and will prepare students to compete in the global market” Atti told Tadias. Currently the school adds a grade level each year but only accepts Pre-K level students. “We decided that the most impact we can make is if we get to them at the youngest age,” she explained.

The Dream School Initiative was launched last month with a fundraising event in Dallas where 14 local chefs did a tasting menu that was inspired by Ethiopian cuisine. On December 8th, Seeds of Africa will hold their next fundraiser in New York City at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, and next year the foundation will hold similar events in Chicago, Washington DC, London and Paris. “A year from now, in Fall 2015, we’ll break ground in Nazret to build the new school, and construction is expected to go on for two to three years” Atti says.

“The Dream School Initiative is a continuation of the work we’ve being doing so far,” Ati adds. “We’ve been around for a little over 6 years. The initiative is to expand our program to accommodate more students (from Pre-K through 12th grade) and also to increase our community development program.” Since its inception the Seeds of Africa school has incorporated programs for mothers in the community including providing literacy and health education courses as well as access to funding for local small businesses.

“The community development program has always been a part of Seeds of Africa’s mission because we strongly believe that to really work with children that come from some of the poorest backgrounds you can’t succeed if you just single out a child. You have to really work with the family as a unit” Atti asserts. “Most of our students come from single mother homes, who either have small businesses or they want to open a small business.” Household income is a primary criteria for children selected to be enrolled at the Seeds of Africa school.

“We call our education program ‘seeding education,’ and we provide free tuition, meals at school, and we also provide some food subsidies that the children may take home for their dinners” Atti shares. “We cover the cost of uniforms and school supplies, and the children also have access to healthcare. Starting next year we’re also setting up an emergency health fund.”

In 2014 Seeds of Africa received 68 student applications but could only enroll 20 eligible students due to lack of space. “That’s why we have to build so we can provide educational access to more children” says Atti.

Seeds of Africa is based on the premise that a community needs more than just access to educational opportunities to thrive, so it jump-started community chats over biweekly bunna sessions among the mothers. “And the community development program really grew out of these sessions,” Atti notes. “Three main issues were addressed at the mothers’ bunna sessions: the need for literacy programs for adults, access to health education courses, and funding to start small businesses to sustain their families.” Seeds of Africa gave mothers opportunities to gain financial and literacy skills before providing access to credit. “Right now we have about 40 to 60 credits that have been provided to the children’s parents. Some have already paid back their original loans and are returning for a second round to expand their businesses,” says Atti. She beams when she shares some of the types of businesses opened up using these loans. “The small businesses include a cell-phone charging business and really cutting-edge stuff such as one mom setting up a prenatal food business. And it’s been a part of our goal to improve the household income of a family so that the child succeeds with the family together.”

The curriculum of the school is likewise innovative and is inspired by the Reggio Emilia program, which focuses on a holistic approach to education where the child is the center of the learning environment. “It’s really looking at each child as an individual that has different needs so you try to tailor the program to the needs of each student, which is why the classroom size has to be so small” emphasizes Atti.

Seeds of Africa looked at some of the best educational systems available including Montessori and designed an educational environment that embraces Ethiopian culture and allows students to engage in project-based learning from a young age with a hands-on approach to solving local problems.

“We look at how children can be leaders and creative problem solvers. I think that’s really important because you can’t get out of poverty if you’re solving other people’s problems, which is what usually happens in schools,” Atti says.

How did Atti get interested in building a school in Nazret? “I’m not an educator by training, but I do have co-workers who designed the curriculum who are trained educators” Atti says. “My thing came from having grown up in Nazret. I grew up in a neighborhood that was very poor. My parents were a middle class family and they sent me to the only private school in town, and there was a huge difference in the access to education that my brothers and I had compared to the kids in our neighborhood” Atti says. “It was really heartbreaking to see children that I grew up with that were unable to continue school; they were failing and dropping out of school, or the girls got pregnant at some point, or any of those socio-economic factors that hindered education. As an adult reflecting back I look at it as socio-economic issues linked to poverty that was happening to them, and it wasn’t happening to me or students in my school. That really kind of just stayed with me.”

“Our first high school students will graduate in 2024, and our goal is to place them into colleges in Ethiopia and abroad,” Atti says. “And I have no doubt that they will contribute back to their community.”

If You Go:
New Yorkers for Seeds
Monday, December 8th, 2014 7pm to 11pm
The Schomburg Center
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-yorkers-for-seeds-tickets-14046265759?ref=ebtnebtckt

Photos from the Dallas event:

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Forty Years After Lucy’s Ethiopia Discovery: A Conversation with Donald Johanson

Dr. Donald Johanson discovered the famous fossil 'Lucy' in Ethiopia forty years ago on November 24th, 1974. (Photograph Courtesy: Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, November 24th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – At the exact spot in Hadar, Ethiopia — where American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson discovered Lucy (Dinkinesh) forty years ago this month — a stone marker with a little outline drawing of Lucy commemorates the 24th of November 1974 written in Amharic, English and the local Afar language. Dr. Johanson notes that currently there are six or seven research teams working in the Afar region and a number of those are under the direction of Ethiopian scientists. “There is the wonderful work that Zeresenay Alemseged has done in the Dikika area where he found Selam (Lucy’s baby), and research that is being done by Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Berhane Asfaw who is in Addis Ababa,” Johanson said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine following his presentation at the Explorers Club in New York on November 17th entitled Forty Years After Lucy’s Discovery. “I think that the future of paleoanthropology in Ethiopia will be in the hands of these and other Ethiopian scholars.”

“Lucy had a major effect in bringing Ethiopia to the world’s attention as having a record of human evolution over the last six million years,” Dr. Johanson told Tadias. “And scientists from around the world continue to come to Addis Ababa to study these fossils, which are all stored in the national museum, and continue to make comparisons with Lucy. This has become a cornerstone for the understanding of human origins.” According to Dr. Johanson, 400 specimen of Lucy’s species reside at the Ethiopian National Museum. Lucy was the first major discovery in the Afar region and drew the attention of many archaeologists and anthropologists to the possibility of more findings in Ethiopia.

How did Lucy get her name? “Following my discovery, we were in our camp celebrating and a Beatles tape was playing,” Dr. Johanson shared. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the name of the album and the song called Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was playing and a member of the team suggested that we name the fossil Lucy and the name stuck.” But I thought since she was found in Ethiopia she should also have an Ethiopian name. And Ato Bekele Negusay from the Ministry of Culture who was the Director General said ‘Why don’t you call her Dinkinesh?’ That’s her Ethiopian name.”

As Lucy continues to shape the science of archaeology and evolution Dr. Johanson has been reflecting on what this research can tell us about today’s technology-driven fast-paced world. “The understanding of the common origin of all people from Africa provides an important perspective that we should try to act in a way that has better results in preserving our environments because we are the species in control, and if we are going to continue to survive in the future we need to be careful in preserving the natural world on which we depend,” Dr. Johanson asserts. “But also as humans it is our duty to cooperate with one another in a much better way than we are today. After all we are a single common species that meets the same challenges.”

We asked Dr. Johanson if he had seen the new movie Lucy featuring actress Scarlet Johansson and wherein she connects with her ancestor Lucy.

“Oh yeah, yes I have watched it, I enjoyed it very much,” he responded.

Video: Don Johanson – Lucy’s Legacy: Our African Origins


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Ethiopian Airlines’ Sales Hit by Ebola Fears

Ethiopian Airlines has been hit by Ebola fears. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is losing around $8 million a month in sales as travelers cut back on trips. (Photo: Reuters)

The Wall Street Journal

By ROBERT WALL

ANTWERP, Belgium — Ethiopian Airlines is losing around $8 million a month in sales as travelers cut back on African trips as concern about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa affects far-afield airlines, the carrier’s chief executive said.

“The Ebola scare has caused weakness in demand,” Tewolde Gebremariam said in an interview Thursday. Ethiopian Airlines has been hit even though the airline’s main hub in Addis Ababa is several hours flight time from the Ebola-affected region in West Africa.

Flights across much of the continent have been affected by the regional outbreak, Mr. Gebremariam said. “This is a major concern for African airlines,” he said.

The World Health Organization said more than 5,000 people have died from Ebola. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are the countries most affected.

The carrier has tried to cut back on capacity to help mitigate the effect, he said on the sidelines of the CAPA World Aviation Summit.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

Related:
Africa Sets Up $28.5m Ebola Crisis Fund
Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: WHO
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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Obama Unveils Sweeping Immigration Reform

In televised address, president outlines executive action plan for immigration reform, providing temporary protection from deportation to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, challenging Republican lawmakers .

VOA News

November 20, 2014

President Barack Obama has bypassed Congress on immigration reform, saying the country can no longer wait to fix a broken system.

The president unveiled his plan during a televised primetime address, in which he outlined a plan to temporarily protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, allowing parents whose children are U.S. citizens or in the U.S. legally to qualify for work permits.

“What I’m describing is accountability — a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported,” he said. “If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

Many Republicans have expressed outrage over Obama’s decision to use an executive order to put forth his plan, instead of the usual congressional legislative process.

Republicans have also described the shielding of illegal immigrants from deportation as an act of granting amnesty to criminals.

Obama acknowledged that criticism directly. “Leaving this broken system the way it is” … “that’s the real amnesty,” he said. He then called mass amnesty “unfair” and “mass deportation … both impossible and contrary to our character.”

Obama has waited more than a year for House Republican leaders to put an immigration reform plan to a vote after the Democrat-controlled Senate passed one.

Officials say the president is acting legally and that he is still willing to work with Congress.

Republican responses

Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, soon to be Senate majority leader, says his party will consider a number of options to thwart the president. Some Republicans are threatening another government shutdown, while others want to ban funding for Obama’s immigration plan.

McConnell also said the president’s plan was aimed at securing his political legacy.

“The action he’s proposed would ignore the law, would reject the voice of the voters and would impose new unfairness on law-abiding immigrants, all without solving the problem,” McConnell said.

“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” the president said toward the end of his address.

Obama is also expected to expand an executive order he signed in 2012, known as the Dream Act, that protects young immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation by lifting the age restrictions on people who qualify. The parents of these children, however, would not be eligible for delayed deportation.

Undocumented immigrants eligible for these protections would not be entitled to receive federal benefits, including subsidies to obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Obama will sign the order Friday in Las Vegas, Nevada, which has a large Hispanic population.

Immigration lawyers warn of troubles

On Thursday, as details of the plan circulated, immigration lawyers warned that Obama’s televised address may prove the easiest part of his controversial plan. Implementing it will be difficult and many people may never benefit, some lawyers said.

Immigration advocacy groups say they don’t have sufficient resources to provide legal services to their existing clients, never mind the millions of potential new ones.

Obama’s proposal is not expected to provide federal funding for attorneys to guide immigrants through the process.

Karla McKanders, who runs the immigration law clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville, told Reuters, “If the past is any indication, it’s going to be a significant increase in people asking for legal assistance.”

Also, immigrants who have lived illegally in the United States for many years can be afraid to sign up or lack the proper documentation to back up their claims, said Jacqueline Rishty from the Immigration Legal Services Program of Catholic Charities in Washington.

The lack of immigration lawyers also opens the door for self-described legal experts who give bad advice or even scam clients out of thousands of dollars. The American Bar Association has warned of fraudsters offering legal services in Spanish-speaking communities.

Executive orders

U.S. presidents through the years have decreed a variety of changes through executive action, decisions that often attract little public attention.

Just since July, Obama has issued 10 executive orders, none of them controversial. Among other things, they established an advisory council for U.S. businesses in Africa, revised a list of communicable diseases and set the terms for hiring alcohol, tobacco and firearms agents.

But some executive orders have played prominent roles in shaping U.S. history and often were controversial at the time or proved to be when examined with the passage of time.

President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order that forcibly transferred Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II, an act for which the country has subsequently apologized and paid reparations to the victims.

Later, President Harry Truman abolished racial discrimination in the U.S. armed forces with a 1948 executive order and nationalized all steel mills during a 1952 labor strike.

President Dwight Eisenhower decreed an end to racial segregation in the country’s public schools in 1957.

Through the years, other presidents have issued many more executive orders than Obama.

Several executive orders have been overturned in court challenges, including Truman’s steel mill decree. New presidents can also override their predecessors’ orders with new directives, while Congress can attempt to undo the orders through legislation.

Cover photo: Reuters

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New Book ‘Prevail’: Personal Stories From Mussolini’s Invasion of Ethiopia

Jagama Kello (left) who becomes a General and Imru Zelleke (right) who rose to serve as Ethiopia's diplomat are some of the heroes featured in the new book by author Jeff Pearce. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In a new book entitled Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory over Mussolini’s Invasion, Jeff Pearce, a journalist based in Toronto, focuses on rarely told and fascinating personal stories from the war, each of which is worthy of a big screen movie. Take, for starters, the account of Ambassador Imru Zelleke, 90, who now resides in the U.S. and whom the author interviews extensively about his experiences witnessing the first horrible incidents of Yekatit 12, the Graziani Massacre, and then was taken to an Italian concentration camp the next day. Imru’s narrative is paralleled with other Ethiopian heroes including General Jagama Kello; Ethiopian activist Dr. Melaku Beyan who led and forged close relations between African Americans and Ethiopians as part of his awareness and fundraising campaign in the 1930′s in the United States; and African American fighter pilot Colonel John Robinson (the Brown Condor) from Chicago who volunteered his services and commandeered Ethiopia’s only plane for the duration of the conflict. And, of course, the role of Emperor Haile Selassie, whom the author observes is held in high esteem today by foreigners, ironically, than his own people.

“This is no time to eat ice cream or peel bananas!” Pearce quotes a speaker shouting from a wooden platform in Harlem, New York, where it is said that over twenty thousand people had turned out for a rally in support of Ethiopia. Closer to home, in South Africa, Nelson Mandela recalled in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: “I was seventeen when Mussolini attacked Ethiopia, an invasion that spurred not only my hatred of that despot but of fascism in general. Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined.”

As Pearce points out Mandela was hardly alone in his sentiments. Across the Atlantic in New York City “people were told to listen to the speeches and donate as much money as possible. Cheers went up as the Ethiopian tricolor of green, yellow, and red was waved in the crowd.” Pearce explains that “For New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit — the capitals of black consciousness in 1935 — Ethiopia indeed mattered. It held a spiritual significance for black Americans as an African kingdom where Christianity had flourished since the fourth century. And it was defiantly independent, smack in the middle of the colonial map.” Pearce notes in his introduction that “The Ethiopia crisis could be felt as far away as South America and even touched Asia. The news was everywhere, inescapable, and the word was going out that Haile Selassie’s soldiers would not simply roll over and accept the inevitable.”

Imru Zelleke was a teenager when the Italians tanks rolled into Ethiopia. “It was no longer a vintage scene of colonial warfare; it was a grotesque tableau of anachronism,” Pearce says. “This was not a page out of the Book of Empire from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. This was December 1935. At first, the more ignorant warriors took these strange, lumbering metal things for monsters and ran. But one of them, fearless and proud, circled around and jumped onto a tank, pounding on its tin shell casing. Machine guns were blazing away and slicing men in half, and still the Ethiopians swarmed and flooded their numbers into the narrow gorge of what is called Dembeguina Pass, overwhelming the enemy. When it was finally dusk, the men and their brilliant commander, Imru, would slip away with fifty captured machine guns.”

In an interview with Tadias Magazine Pearce said that his aim is to bring the story alive in a way that is understandable to ordinary readers. “All of the books previously were sort of really for academics and there weren’t that many books geared towards ordinary readers,” Pearce told Tadias. “It’s an exciting story and it should not be left only to the academics, and the world should know how much this war mattered.” He added: “The way we turn on the news and we focus say on Syria today or Ukraine, it’s exactly what happened with Ethiopia and nobody learned their lessons. Look what Putin is doing in Ukraine. Well, we’ve seen that before with Mussolini and Ethiopia. It was exactly the same thing…Oh no I am not invading, oh no those are not my guys, I just want a little bit of it and we are only entitled to so much; well Ethiopians have seen that before.”

Initially, Pearce tried to write the story like a novel because he had heard about John Robinson (The Brown Condor), and there was not that much information available on Robinson at the time. Since then, of course, Thomas Simmons has written two books on it, and Pearce decided to collect more personal accounts. “Quite frankly, it’s safe to say that most Westerners are appallingly ignorant of Ethiopian culture and history. If you told them there were Ethiopian women who put their kids on their backs, picked up their stuff and went on to fight, they would not believe you. It’s an amazing story.”

Regarding the outpouring of international support from regular people particularly in black communities in the United States, Pearce emphasized: “The thing that people have to realize is that the civil rights struggle did not just happen overnight in the 60s. There was a strong movement aligning itself with Ethiopia in Harlem and other parts of America decades before that. People used to walk around Harlem in the 1930s saying “don’t call me the ‘N’ word, I am Ethiopian.”

As for Emperor Haile Selassie who was the globe’s face of Ethiopia at the time, “That’s a very difficult puzzle and tragic really,” Pearce said. “The thing about Haile Selassie is that on one hand you have this stupid book by the Polish writer [Ryszard Kapuściński] called ‘The Emperor,’ which is from page one a bunch of lies and total fiction, and on the other you have the version of how he was portrayed by the Derg. In between there is also some controversial news reports going back to the 1970s famine. But he has more than one side. He was never going to share power, but at the same time as leader, both before and after the war, he recognized that surrounding himself with talented bureaucrats and technocrats was the key to help him advance the country. Unfortunately, as time went on, you have a man who increasingly did not recognize that he probably should have stepped aside. But you have to recognize he is the same person that showed such great courage on behalf of Ethiopia during the war. You can’t take that away from him. One of the most astute observation that was made about Haile Selassie was by the prominent Ethiopian historian Bahru Zewde who said something to the effect that ‘Haile Selassie’s greatest fault was that he lived too long.’”

Pearce also relies on other noted scholars of Ethiopian history including Richard Pankhurst and William Scott who gave him access to their research. “This book is indebted to them and so many other historians,” Pearce said.

Below are photos from the book courtesy of the author:



You can purchase the book at Barnes & Noble or at Amazon.com.

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Tadias Interview With Marcus Samuelsson About His Latest Book

(Photo courtesy: Maya Haile)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The following video is our interview with Marcus Samuelsson during his book talk and signing event last week in Washington D.C. where he was hosted by Joe Yonan, the Food & Travel Editor of The Washington Post. Samuelsson’s latest book “Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home” is available at Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon.com.



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A Look at Athlete Of The Year 2014 Female Finalist From Ethiopia Genzebe Dibaba

As the announcement of the 2014 World Athletes of the Year draws closer, here is a closer look at the three athletes shortlisted for the women's award: Valerie Adams, Genzebe Dibaba and Dafne Schippers.

IAAF Magazine

Genzebe Dibaba

At the end of any outdoor season, it’s easy to overlook some of the performances from the indoor season. But Genzebe Dibaba’s feats in the first few months of 2014 are difficult to forget in a hurry.

The Ethiopian middle-distance runner had shown flashes of brilliance in the past, winning the 2012 world indoor title and setting a national 1500m record that summer. This year, though, Dibaba was better than ever.

In her first race of 2014, she smashed the world indoor 1500m record in Karlsruhe with 3:55.17. The last time anyone ran faster outdoors was in 1997.

Five days later in Stockholm, she was in record-breaking form again as she obliterated the world indoor 3000m record with 8:16.60, the fastest time in the world under any conditions since 1993.

The following week, she set a two miles world indoor best of 9:00.48 in Birmingham, taking six seconds off the previous mark.

Her indoor season was capped by winning the world indoor 3000m title in Sopot.

Outdoors, Dibaba won the 3000m at the IAAF Continental Cup and posted world-leading marks over 5000m and 2000m.

Read the full article at iaaf.org »

Video: Athlete Of The Year 2014 Female Finalists (IAAF)


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In Ethiopia’s Capital, a Resurgent Jazz Scene

Fendika Azmari Bet in Addis Ababa. (Photo Credit: Nichole Sobecki for The New York Times)

The New York Times

By RACHEL B. DOYLE

On a recent Sunday evening, a stylish audience in their 20s packed Mama’s Kitchen, a wood-and-glass lounge on the fourth floor of an otherwise closed shopping center near the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. They were there to hear an adventurous young pianist, Samuel Yirga, as he careened between free jazz, études, R&B and the popular local style known as Ethio-jazz, a bewitching genre that fuses jazz with traditional Ethiopian music.

Mr. Yirga’s fingers flew across the keyboard, and the crowd nodded their heads reverently even through deep forays into dissonance. The musician’s intricate arrangements for his band featured psychedelic guitar lines and funky drumming, but the focus remained on the piano melody, which Mr. Yirga accentuated with the kind of ornaments and leaps characteristic of Ethiopian music.

“I think we Ethiopians love our own thing more than other things,” the dreadlocked 29-year-old, who has signed with Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records label, said before the concert. “We respect and love other cultures, but we love our own music, our own food, dance and clothes the most.”

Mama’s Kitchen is one of several venues featuring different jazz styles — from swing to acoustic, instrumental to free jazz — that have sprung up in the Ethiopian capital in recent years. The resurgent music scene is far from the only change occurring in this frenetic city of nearly four million.

Read more at NYT »



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New Film Puts Spotlight on Legendary Ethiopian Artist Asnaketch Worku

Legendary Ethiopian artist Asnaketch Worku is the subject of a new film entitled "Asni: Courage Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia" by Ethiopian filmmakers Rachel Samuel and Yemane Demissie. (Courtesy photo)

BBC News

13 November 2014

Asnaketch Worku ‘Ethiopia’s Edith Piaf’

A new film looks at the life of the Ethiopian singer, actor and dancer Asnaketch Worku, who the film’s director calls “Ethiopia’s Edith Piaf”.

Rachael Samuel’s new film is called Asni and focuses on the life of the musician.

Asnaketch was deemed very controversial in the Ethiopia of the 1950s and 60s, which was a very conservative country at the time.

Sophie Ikenye reports.

Read more and watch the video at BBC News »

Related:
New Film by Rachel Samuel Profiles Legendary Musician Asnaketch Worku

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Zone 9: Court Requests Detailed Charges

The defendants, who were arrested last spring in Addis Ababa in connection with their work as journalists and bloggers, have now been in pre-trial detention for over six months. (Photo credit: Jomanex Kasaye)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

Nov 12, 2014

An Ethiopian court asked prosecutors to amend charges so they specify the acts of terrorism that 10 bloggers and journalists are alleged to have been plotting, a defense lawyer said.

The order was made today at the Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, where nine out of the 10 accused are standing trial for collaborating with a U.S.-based opposition group, Ginbot 7, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Ethiopia’s government.

The charges “simply say these suspects organized themselves and designed terrorism without mentioning what kind of terrorism did they plot as defined under Article 3” of a 2009 anti-terrorism law, Ameha Mekonnen, the defense lawyer, said today in an interview in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa after Eritrea, its neighbor, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read more at Bloomberg News »


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How Ethiopians in Texas Assisted in Discovery of Almaz Gebremedhin

The body of Ethiopian mom Almaz Gebremedhin who disappeared on her way to work in early October in Wylie, Texas was found Sunday in a pond along the road to her job, Wylie police said. (Family photo/DMN)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In an interview with Tadias Magazine on Monday Mac Mekonnen, Executive Director of the Mutual Assistance Association For Ethiopian Community in Dallas, said that the family of Almaz Gebremedhin — the Ethiopian-born mother of two children who had been missing for almost five weeks and whose body was found last Sunday — will move into St Michael Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Dallas for three days of mourning. Mr. Mekonnen said they will wait for the autopsy reports to be completed before announcing plans for the funeral. Almaz is survived by her husband of 16 years, Sisay Zelelew, her 10-year-old son, an 8-year-old daughter, and her mother who resides with the household in Wylie.

The Ethiopian community in the Dallas/Forth Worth area has stood beside Almaz’s distraught family, quickly mobilizing to raise reward money within days and even hiring the private detectives who eventually led the discovery of her remains submerged in a pond inside her car, between her home and her work in Wylie, Texas. 42 year-old Almaz had been reported missing since Thursday, October 2nd, 2014. Almaz was employed by the Garnet Hill Rehabilitation and Skilled Care, which is located approximately three miles from her residence and less than a mile from the Muddy Creek Farms pond, where the body was found.

“To begin with the Wylie Police Department was really cooperative in helping out in the search. They did a helicopter search. They also conducted a horseback search, and they did what they could given the circumstances and that was pretty much about it,” said Mr. Mekonnen. “We really appreciate what they have done, but there wasn’t much progress after that. As you know Almaz was missing for over one month.”

A week and half into the investigation, Mr. Mekonnen said, they created a task force within their organization regarding the case. “Not only did we raise $15,000 from the community, but we also offered $10,000 reward money for anyone who had any information leading to the discovery of Almaz,” he shared. “And while we were waiting to hear from the police department, and when it took time, the task force decided to hire private investigators.” He added: “We set up a budget and they started working on it and they were also trying to coordinate with the police department.”

Mr. Mekonnen continued: “Our private investigators contacted a non-profit organization out of Illinois that is a water search organization called Team Waters Sonar Search & Recovery Incorporated. They asked us just a minimum fee to do the search and they came on Sunday. They drove all the way from near Chicago with the technology and they went to the area where we suspected Almaz might have been missing. True enough there was a pond, about 12 feet deep. Inside the water when they stared using their sonar technology they located the car. And immediately they notified the Wylie Police Department. Then divers from the County’s Sheriff’s office were called in. They dove and they pulled out the vehicle and, of course, her body.”

In a press release the Wylie Police Department said that officers “were dispatched to the area to assist in the search as well as Collin County Sheriff’s Office Dive team.” The statement added: “The family was immediately notified by Wylie investigators. This case is still under investigation as to how the vehicle ended up in the pond.”

The pond is a mile and half from where Almaz lived, noted Mr. Mekonnen. “So it’s not too far really, it’s a short distance,” he said. “From what I hear right now in the news it’s that the Wylie Police Department is saying that they did not have the right technology to do the water search in that kind of deep water.” Mr. Mekonnen stated: They definitely give credit to the sonar search company out of Illinois.”

“And obviously this task force that we have assembled here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Ethiopian community was determined to see this to its conclusion,” Mr. Mekonnen added. “On behalf of the task force I would like to thank our community, and the Dallas community in general for their concern and assistance. At the moment, as a community, in spite of a lot of talk out there of what happened, we are focused on bringing everybody together to help the family. We are in support mode right now.”

Video: Texas Woman Missing Since October Found in Wylie pond


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Lucy Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Photo from the New York exhibition of the world-famous fossil from Ethiopia Lucy (Dinknesh) at the Discovery Time Square Exposition on Wednesday, June 24, 2009. (Photograph: Tadias Magazine file)

Science News

BY TOM SIEGFRIED

Donald Johanson is always looking at the ground.

“I find more quarters by parking meters than anybody I know,” he says.

As he was looking at the ground four decades ago, in a region called Hadar, named for a dry riverbed in Ethiopia, he saw something a lot more exciting than a quarter. It was a fossil bone.

“I found a little piece of elbow,” he said last week in Columbus, Ohio, while addressing a conference of science writers. “And I knew from studies of osteology and comparative anatomy that this had to be from a human ancestor.”

By two weeks later, Johanson and his colleagues had collected enough bones to reconstruct about 40 percent of a skeleton. Those bones belonged to a primitive human forerunner now known as Lucy.

[This] month paleoanthropologists will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Johanson’s discovery of the elbow bone on November 24, 1974. In the intervening four decades, many more fossils along with other clues have been discovered, rewriting the story of the human race. The evolution of earlier humanlike species and eventually modern humans has grown from the outline of a play with a small cast to an elaborate production with more characters than an Agatha Christie mystery, many remaining enigmatic with relationships still unclear.

Read more at ScienceNews.org »

Video: ‘Lucy’ returns home after 6-years US Tour (CBS News)


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